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Checking the temperature


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Checking the temperature

9 Apr 2021 10:56AM   Views : 578 Unique : 390


I wonder if you’ve got things in your photographic past that you’re ashamed of? I remember sending a colour correction filter back to Photax because I didn’t like the results it gave me (completely neglecting the effect of the film stock – and indeed the light – involved in some disappointing pictures of Lindisfarne Priory). The filter may well be lurking in a cupboard somewhere…

Now, these aren’t the pictures involved: though they’re on Kodachrome, they sate from two or three years later, and were shot with my first Contax RTS. Kodachrome was renowned for accurate colour, though I felt that both Agfachrome Professional and Fuji Astia rivalled it. Colour correction wasn’t really a ‘thing’ for most people, although you could get an awful lot of colour correction filters to allow you to adjust the colour temperature of the light: there were even meters so you could calculate what you needed.


And with colour prints, they could do that at the lab, though often they didn’t. But my point is that it’s often much more important that it looks as you remember it (or possibly as you want to show it) than strictly accurately. And beware any effects (or Efex) filters, which will throw it all out anyway. The important thing is to take charge, and not let an algorithm make the decisions for you.


Shooting on film, I used daylight balanced stock, so that if the sunset was very red, my pictures would be: on a cold day, the light was chilly. And when I started using digital, it was logical to emulate my old way of working, so my cameras are semi-permanently set to daylight balance. I alter this in processing if I want a different look, and occasionally change the camera setting in particular conditions where daylight isn’t giving me what I want.

With film, you chose your type to suit your preferences: maybe you can still do that, as different camera brands give slightly different results, but I doubt if many people decide what to buy on this basis. Forego your favourite lenses for brighter reds? Maybe not… But do move away from ‘AWB!


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
9 Apr 2021 10:57AM
But whatever you do, don't get lost in adjusting the camera while the light's changing: work out some fallback settings at home, and use them - if you have a preset for preferences, consider using that...
PaulCox Avatar
9 Apr 2021 11:22AM
As a youngster I didn't know any better, and Kodachrome 64ASA was the transparency film of choice, and the colour stability in my case as stood the test of time, 50 years stored and they were generally still good when they were scanned to digital format. Paul.
GGAB Avatar
GGAB 7 31 1 United States
9 Apr 2021 12:56PM
Hi John being exclusively a digital camera person with no film experience, did you use the filters on the camera or during developing for color correction?
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
9 Apr 2021 1:30PM
George -

The only option for slides was to use filters on the camera: perfectionists carried up to half a dozen pale straw, and half a dozen pale blue ones for critical slide work. Correction in printing was possible, if you shot print film, or had prints done. All forms of colour printing defeated me: it was remarkably hard work, as well as slow and expensive.

It was possible to make some changes with slides if you added the right chemicals to the colour developer, but to a limited extent, and it was more about correcting differences due to trace chemicals in the water than anything else. Again, outside my experience.

But - as I've tried to convey above - it felt like far less of a problem than most digital workers seem to think. AWB causes more problems than I ever experienced with daylight film!
GGAB Avatar
GGAB 7 31 1 United States
9 Apr 2021 2:00PM
Thank you John.
An insight into a world I never knew.
pink Avatar
pink Plus
20 7.4k 11 England
9 Apr 2021 4:24PM
Surely John shooting in RAW digital format negates the AWB issue?
Colour temperature can be altered easily in post, I use AWB most of the time and adjust to suit taste/conditions when processing, its probably a different matter if you shoot jpegs?
mistere Avatar
mistere Plus
10 38 8 England
9 Apr 2021 4:36PM
I remember, "Pick Up the Pieces" by the 'AWB', a Scottish funk and R&B band, formed in the early 1970's.
Also known as the Average Whit Band. Smile Don't really have much more to add, they were very Disco, I wasn't.

Daylight balanced studio lighting differs from studio to studio and the Daylight setting on
cameras differs between makes and models. One of the most frequently asked questions at group shoots and
workshops was "what settings are you using?" Unless they have the same camera and lens (never happens)
somebody else's settings wont produce the same results on your (or my) camera. I've started using the kelvin
white balance settings but even that can be problematical.
dark_lord Avatar
dark_lord Plus
19 3.0k 836 England
9 Apr 2021 8:50PM
I shot the vast majority of film on transparencies and while carrying a warm up filter or two didn't use them that often. Perhaps I should have done more, but that said I wasn't dissatisfied with results on the whole. I think it was because it semed a hindrance. For shooting action it was even more so. Light loss, albeit small, was an issue (no luxury of grain free high ISOs) and on a 300 mm f2.8 not practical even if it were ever possible.
Colour rendition due to automatic 'correction' is one reason why prints, especially from inexpensive outlets, were so, er, underwhelming.
I leave my cameras set to Daylight as it's a fixed point for refeence and I know what to expect. Shooting RAW means it's easy to chang later, if necessary. The golour piocker and a neutral tone are your friends.
Studio flash does vary and again a grey card is useful, and generally I've found it's magenta that spoils the party.
GGAB Avatar
GGAB 7 31 1 United States
9 Apr 2021 9:05PM
Ok, I'll bite. What's "golour piocker"?
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
9 Apr 2021 10:07PM
I'm betting it's (British) keyboard spelling of 'color picker'...
philtaylorphoto Avatar
philtaylorphoto 22 334 2
10 Apr 2021 10:18AM
When I had those clubbing columns I always used to shoot random frames between towns to differentiate jobs. One night I forgot, but I noticed something odd, women in Rochdale were more orange than those in neighbouring Oldham. Just to save sending wrong files to page I checked the times, then panicked, convinced there was a colour temp problem with flash or camera.

I even started correcting the colour on all the Rochdale files, but noticed any blokes were going blue. Something very odd was going on.

A few weeks later a headline in the Rochdale Observer announced that local beauty salons had been offering injections that basically turned you into an Oompa Loompa.
Jestertheclown Avatar
Jestertheclown 14 8.8k 255 England
10 Apr 2021 8:35PM

Quote:Surely John shooting in RAW digital format negates the AWB issue?
Colour temperature can be altered easily in post, I use AWB most of the time and adjust to suit taste/conditions when processing, its probably a different matter if you shoot jpegs?

I too use AWB. In fact, I always have done.

I've tried using supposedly appropriate settings but I've always found that the results never look as I'd like them to and perhaps more importantly, constantly changing settings as conditions change, is more trouble than it's worth. Particularly if you forget to make those changes.

I can't recall, although I suppose it must have happened, an occasion when AWB let me down.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
10 Apr 2021 9:08PM
We all do what suits us, and delivers the colours that we want. Even with a RAW file, the colour balance you set to begin with provides the starting point.
philtaylorphoto Avatar
philtaylorphoto 22 334 2
10 Apr 2021 9:54PM
Sometimes nothing seems to work. This was daybreak. I shot in AWB, daylight, and open sky settings. Everything looked awful. I asked the agency to do a white click, but they didn't. Ended up half page in a national.looking a chilly blue.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
11 Apr 2021 10:40AM
And chilly blue actually suits the mood...

Which is more important than a pure white, for me!

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