Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Manual Color Balance In-Camera

So I tried a few new things when I went shooting this past weekend. I mentioned yesterday about keeping the aperture wide open (by the way a good friend lent me his Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 Prime for the long Mem Day weekend - great guy & a great photographer, check him out at if you have a chance).

Besides shooting wide open, another thing I played with (and fell in love with) was controlling the color balance in-camera. I'm all about photography "in the raw," so to speak, so I shoot handheld only - on the fly - ALWAYS. I've never used a tripod and hopefully never will. And I've always liked to say I also shoot 100% manual. But to be perfectly honest if I'm using presets for color balance, it's really not 100% manual. So this past weekend, I gave it a shot.

I have to say it made all the difference. My Nikon D80 has a manual white balance setting using the K scale (2500 is way blue, 9900 is way red, and 5000 is neutral). So every time I'd come up on a shot, it forced me to look closely at the lighting and ask myself "what do I need to do in-camera to compensate for the lighting conditions?" Because I just don't believe in doing it in photoshop (minor adjustments only - calibrating for a printer, that kind of thing). So for example, if it was shady, I would shift a little higher towards red. If it was really hard sunlight, I would shift a little lower towards blue.

What a great new set of variables for my nerdly self to tweak and play with endlessly! I found myself shooting the same flower 5-10 times, at different points on the scale, looking at the subtle nuances between say 4000 and 4300 on the scale. I felt like a kid in a candy

Well anyway, one more thing I can claim I'm going "all manual" I guess. I'm going to Western Colorado this weekend to see the in-laws, their puppies, and of course the Rocky Mountains. So I'll take my new "sweet skills" and Don's prime lens, and have myself a blast. And hopefully, I'll have some good stuff to share when I'm back next week.

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