C&C appreciated - Basics balancing ambient and flash...

Started Apr 7, 2013 | Photos
Atoche
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C&C appreciated - Basics balancing ambient and flash...
Apr 7, 2013

I have been spending some time practicing with off camera lighting.  In this shot, there is an umbrella camera right, classic setup (high and 45degrees).

My question is this - it seems clear to me that the ambient light provided by the lamp (camera left) and my flash are two different temperatures.

Any insight how to better handle this situation would be appreciated....

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Klaus dk
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Re: C&C appreciated - Basics balancing ambient and flash...
In reply to Atoche, Apr 7, 2013

You can gel the flash to match the colour temperature of the ambient and then adjust WB in camera or in post processing to match the light.

Have you had at look at the strobist's blog?

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BAK
BAK
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What are you trying to do?
In reply to Atoche, Apr 7, 2013

Lots of thins to do, depending on what result you want.

1/ change the shutter speed to 1/200, change the aperture to f8, and take the picture.

That will get rid of the yellow, but the picture will now have a darker side.

Or

2/ Leave you light where it is. Put a yellow filter over the flash. Change the camera white balance to tungsten. Now, when you take the photo, the unfiltered "regular" light will shine yellowish light on the side that was yellowish int eh first shot.

And the yellow filter on the flash will make the light from the flash yellowish, too.

The white balance setting on the camera will convert the image so the yellowish color from both lights is changed to clean white.

Or

3/ Turn off the regular light and put a white reflector over there, so the light bounces back into the shadowy part, and is the same color as the flash. Set camera white balance to flash.

BAK

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Atoche
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Re: C&C appreciated - Basics balancing ambient and flash...
In reply to Klaus dk, Apr 8, 2013

Thank you for your comments.  Yes, I have read the Strobois blog - I'm just confused about white balance, and having the flash and the ambient light a the same temperature...

I will have to go and re-read - apparently I have missed something.

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Atoche
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Re: What are you trying to do?
In reply to BAK, Apr 8, 2013

BAK wrote:

Lots of thins to do, depending on what result you want.

1/ change the shutter speed to 1/200, change the aperture to f8, and take the picture.

That will get rid of the yellow, but the picture will now have a darker side.

Or

2/ Leave you light where it is. Put a yellow filter over the flash. Change the camera white balance to tungsten. Now, when you take the photo, the unfiltered "regular" light will shine yellowish light on the side that was yellowish int eh first shot.

And the yellow filter on the flash will make the light from the flash yellowish, too.

The white balance setting on the camera will convert the image so the yellowish color from both lights is changed to clean white.

Or

3/ Turn off the regular light and put a white reflector over there, so the light bounces back into the shadowy part, and is the same color as the flash. Set camera white balance to flash.

BAK

Thank you for taking the time to respond.  Basically I was hoping that I would be able to have both lights the same color in the picture.

Your suggestions are very helpfull

1/ - understood, change the exposure so that the ambient light is "shut down" and not seen?

2/ - understood, seems like with this method I am basically coloring the flash yellow...

3/ - understood, seems like I may need a reflector.

In hindsight - I think I need to remember that I am the photographer and it's my responsibility to control - and adjust ALL of the lighting to get the results that i want.  I did not stop to think about the whole setup - it seems I should have been able to "see" this...

Thank you again, back to the practice!

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Sailor Blue
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Re: What are you trying to do?
In reply to Atoche, Apr 8, 2013

Atoche wrote:

BAK wrote:

Lots of thins to do, depending on what result you want.

1/ change the shutter speed to 1/200, change the aperture to f8, and take the picture.

That will get rid of the yellow, but the picture will now have a darker side.

Or

2/ Leave you light where it is. Put a yellow filter over the flash. Change the camera white balance to tungsten. Now, when you take the photo, the unfiltered "regular" light will shine yellowish light on the side that was yellowish int eh first shot.

And the yellow filter on the flash will make the light from the flash yellowish, too.

The white balance setting on the camera will convert the image so the yellowish color from both lights is changed to clean white.

Or

3/ Turn off the regular light and put a white reflector over there, so the light bounces back into the shadowy part, and is the same color as the flash. Set camera white balance to flash.

BAK

Thank you for taking the time to respond.  Basically I was hoping that I would be able to have both lights the same color in the picture.

Your suggestions are very helpfull

1/ - understood, change the exposure so that the ambient light is "shut down" and not seen?

Setting the camera to Flash sets the WB to about 5400K.

Mixing tungsten with a color temperature around 3000K and flash with a color temperature of around 5400K with the camera set to "Flash" is what caused the tungsten light to look yellow.

2/ - understood, seems like with this method I am basically coloring the flash yellow...

Yes, that is what to do.  Buy a sheet of 1/4 CTO gel.  For balancing tungsten with flash you need to stack four sheets to get a full CTO gel.  Here is a good link on how to do this.

KelbyTV - RC Concepcion Showing How to Stack Gels

3/ - understood, seems like I may need a reflector.

This is the best way to go.  Just go to a craft store and buy a sheet of white foam core board.  Foam core boards make great reflectors.  Get one around 36" square or a bit larger - whatever they have as a standard size.

Using this with the shutter speed set to 1/160 to 1/200 sec. will keep any tungsten light from showing up and you can use your flash without an added gel and get good colors if you keep the camera set to Flash.

In hindsight - I think I need to remember that I am the photographer and it's my responsibility to control - and adjust ALL of the lighting to get the results that i want.  I did not stop to think about the whole setup - it seems I should have been able to "see" this...

Thank you again, back to the practice!

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Atoche
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Re: What are you trying to do?
In reply to BAK, Apr 8, 2013

BAK wrote:

Lots of thins to do, depending on what result you want.

1/ change the shutter speed to 1/200, change the aperture to f8, and take the picture.

That will get rid of the yellow, but the picture will now have a darker side.

Or

2/ Leave you light where it is. Put a yellow filter over the flash. Change the camera white balance to tungsten. Now, when you take the photo, the unfiltered "regular" light will shine yellowish light on the side that was yellowish int eh first shot.

And the yellow filter on the flash will make the light from the flash yellowish, too.

The white balance setting on the camera will convert the image so the yellowish color from both lights is changed to clean white.

Or

3/ Turn off the regular light and put a white reflector over there, so the light bounces back into the shadowy part, and is the same color as the flash. Set camera white balance to flash.

BAK

Ok, I felt a little silly for some reason - but the reflector seemed to be the simplest way to go.  Nice results!

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Barrie Davis
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Re: C&C appreciated - Basics balancing ambient and flash...
In reply to Atoche, Apr 8, 2013

Atoche wrote:

I have been spending some time practicing with off camera lighting.  In this shot, there is an umbrella camera right, classic setup (high and 45degrees).

My question is this - it seems clear to me that the ambient light provided by the lamp (camera left) and my flash are two different temperatures.

Any insight how to better handle this situation would be appreciated....

Any of the following would work:---

1) Live with it and call it "creative"...

2) Turn off the light with the oddball colour...(even better with repositioning of the main light to other side.)

3) Filter the oddball colour lamp with a blue gel to match the colour temperature of the flash, or..

4) .. filter the flash with an orange gel to match the colour of the oddball light. Adjust WB accordingly.

5) Replace the oddball light with a reflector of white card, or, for stronger effect, silver foil on card.

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And then there's this . . .
In reply to Atoche, Apr 8, 2013

Keep in mind that you have the option of balancing the color temp in post. It's the result that counts, and sometime you can get the desired result a lot faster in post.

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Atoche
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Re: And then there's this . . .
In reply to Peano, Apr 8, 2013

Peano wrote:

Keep in mind that you have the option of balancing the color temp in post. It's the result that counts, and sometime you can get the desired result a lot faster in post.

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I tried and tried, and could not get the result that you did... any tips?  I use LR4, simply adjusting the temp slider bar did not produce the results for me - that you were able to achieve.  Did you just "warm up" the white balance until the yellow matched everywhere?

I guess when it comes to white balance, I am off balance!

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Re: And then there's this . . .
In reply to Atoche, Apr 8, 2013

Atoche wrote:

I tried and tried, and could not get the result that you did... any tips?  I use LR4, simply adjusting the temp slider bar did not produce the results for me - that you were able to achieve.  Did you just "warm up" the white balance until the yellow matched everywhere?

I guess when it comes to white balance, I am off balance!

I don't have LR, so can't advise you there. But in Photoshop you do this in layers, so you can selectively warm up the cool areas without "overwarming" the parts that are already warm. I don't know whether LR allows you to work in layers.

EDIT... Here's how I did it: From ACR, open as a smart object in Photoshop. Make a "new smart object via copy," reopen that in ACR, and warm it up. Back in Photoshop, put a black mask on that warm layer and paint with white where you want to warm it up.

The black areas of the mask protect the parts that are already warm:

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Sailor Blue
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Re: And then there's this . . .
In reply to Atoche, Apr 9, 2013

Atoche wrote:

Peano wrote:

Keep in mind that you have the option of balancing the color temp in post. It's the result that counts, and sometime you can get the desired result a lot faster in post.

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~ Peano
www.radiantpics.com

I tried and tried, and could not get the result that you did... any tips?  I use LR4, simply adjusting the temp slider bar did not produce the results for me - that you were able to achieve.  Did you just "warm up" the white balance until the yellow matched everywhere?

I guess when it comes to white balance, I am off balance!

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"I may be a geek, but it pays for the car...!"

In LR you can make selective area WB adjustments with the Gradient Tool and the Adjustment Brush.  Start at a low value to match the areas where the least adjustment is needed then add multiple adjustments to stack up the adjustments where needed more.  The New command allows you to stack up additional gradients or brushes.

I would use the Adjustment Brush to paint in a bluer WB on the yellow areas to give me natural color.

If you want the entire image to be yellow then do it like this.

Use the WB Tool to sample the yellow area.  This will turn the entire image yellow.  The original area will now be way too yellow so use the Adjustment Brush with the WB set to a WB that will make the area painted more blue to "erase" the overall WB adjustment from that area.  Work with small WB adjustments and stack them up by adding additional Adjustment Brush adjustments.

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Re: And then there's this . . .
In reply to Sailor Blue, Apr 10, 2013

i do a lot of product photography. And usually bounce the flash (on a flash bracket). But a lot of times I use an off-camera flash in a softbox. This is usually in my dining room, and so if I want fill light and it is daytime, the open window and sunlight match the WB color of the flash.

If it is night and want fill, I set a large white piece of cardboard in a chair opposite the flash. Then,  to eliminate off-color light from the room lights overhead, I just increase the shutter speed and and stop down the lens. This eliminates stray ambient light.

There is a reason that professional photo studios typically have matte black walls and ceiling. My wife worked at Warner Brothers studios for years. You have to kill unwanted, stray light sources.

To tell the truth, when I use two off-camera speedlights in softboxes, I can't really tell the difference between having a single light and a cardboard reflector on the opposite side. I sometimes go to the extreme of using my 35 year-old Minolta flash meter to set lighting ratios between multiple flashes. But it doesn't improve much over the simple cardboard reflector.

Move the reflector back so it is twice the distance from subject as the main light, and bingo. You have a pleasant 4:1 lighting ratio. Perfect for portraiture. The meter is mainly for my ego. Lookout, Ansel Adams, here I come!  

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Atoche
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Re: And then there's this . . .
In reply to Atoche, Apr 10, 2013

Thank you all very much For taking the time to comment.  Your comments and suggestions have helped me understand both post processing AND  lighting techniques better.  I find all of the suggestions very helpful, and will help me improve both skill sets  (post processing and lighting technique)

I have been playing with a cardboard reflector, and getting nice results.

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Re: And then there's this . . .
In reply to bravozulu, Apr 10, 2013

bravozulu wrote:

i do a lot of product photography. And usually bounce the flash (on a flash bracket). But a lot of times I use an off-camera flash in a softbox. This is usually in my dining room, and so if I want fill light and it is daytime, the open window and sunlight match the WB color of the flash.

If it is night and want fill, I set a large white piece of cardboard in a chair opposite the flash. Then,  to eliminate off-color light from the room lights overhead, I just increase the shutter speed and and stop down the lens. This eliminates stray ambient light.

There is a reason that professional photo studios typically have matte black walls and ceiling. My wife worked at Warner Brothers studios for years. You have to kill unwanted, stray light sources.

Professional photographic studios do NOT have matte black walls and ceiling. The usual colour is white, to encourage bounce around, and to provide bounce surfaces without having to erect them specially. As a concession for very small studios, light grey may be used.

The Warner Brothers studio being black would be for technical reasons associated with the film industry, rather than a straightforward lighting requirement.... for instance, when using a background projection system, Transflex Front Projection, say, when bounce around is unhelpful because it reduces contrast in the screen.

If a photographer makes the mistake of painting his studio black, because he thinks it will give "more control," he will simply find that his studio work costs more in equipment and electricity, and that he is working in a more cluttered space. This is because, without any bounce around whatsoever, he will have to make up the lack by buying, erecting and  plugging-in, more lights !!

Also, when the mistake is recognised, it costs quite a lot of money to overpaint black with sufficient COATS of white to prevent the black paint from showing through! Oh yes!

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bravozulu
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Re: And then there's this . . .
In reply to Barrie Davis, Apr 10, 2013

About the color of studio walls  — I might have blurted out based on too little info. My wife's tenure at Warner Brothers really put her in an environment dominated by film and film lighting.

But atop that reference, hear this out. We have a friend we've known since he was a kid. His day job today is as a still photographer shooting exclusively on movie and television sets. He is fortunate to be a member of a Guild devoted to that craft.

The first week I had my Nikon D7000, I asked him for some lessons. I was primarily interested in multiple speedlight lighting. Off camera. So he invited me over to his home, which is also used as a studio.

We did some test lighting with triggered off-camera strobes outside. We then went into various rooms of the house he uses. One was his PP room. With only shaded goosenecks for lighting. Windows blacked out with tar paper.  Gooseneck lights clamped to walls, closet door frames, above and next to the desk. He said that for computer PP, it is vital to calibrate the screen and avoid stray ambient light.

The walls were black, and he emphasized the importance of damping down stray light. So, maybe I was exaggerating in my remark. Afterall, PP is not really the same as shooting.

I had better call Martha Stewart right now and get my studio color schemes right!!!!  

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Sailor Blue
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Re: And then there's this . . .
In reply to Barrie Davis, Apr 11, 2013

Barrie Davis wrote:

Professional photographic studios do NOT have matte black walls and ceiling. The usual colour is white, to encourage bounce around, and to provide bounce surfaces without having to erect them specially. As a concession for very small studios, light grey may be used.

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Baz
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Barrie, I suspect that many professionals have white or light gray walls instead of black because black is so depressing to work in.

If the studio is really small then the white walls could can a stray light control problem but not if the studio is of a reasonable size - the inverse square law at work.

Small studio space is also a reason to use softboxes instead of umbrellas since they control light spread better.  Add some flags and for the most part stray light ceases to be a problem.

The same applies to post processing.  It is important that you don't have any light shining directly on the face of the monitor or lights in positions that cause reflections.  Having a constant lighting level is important, which is why windows are bad, but hardware color calibrators can automatically adjust the monitor brightness to compensate for reasonable changes in the level of room lighting.  It is a good idea to use daylight color temperature lighting to make comparing prints with monitor images easy, but not vital.  Room color really isn't all that important except psychologically.

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