Saturday, March 22, 2014

Adventures in Color Balance

My photography class was interested in shooting slow speed water shots of the fish ladder at the St. Charles, Illinois dam.  As I was processing this shot, I found some interesting color balance issues

Image 1
Fish Ladder Redux

Image 2
Fish Ladder Redux - Version II

Image 2 is the exact same picture as image 1.  After I posted image 1, I looked at it on my phone.  It was so brown that it highlighted the color balance issue.  My computer doesn't emphasize browns like my cell phone does (and probably most of your screens).  All the other colors look fine, just the browns. 

Anyway, that really wasn't the point

This picture has an interesting color balance problem.  Most of the water is in full sunlight.  But this was early enough in the morning that the top of the fish ladder was in shadows.  So we now have two different colors of light in the same picture.  Part of the picture is in sunlight, and part of it is in shade.  Since I like a slightly brownish cast, I set the white balance based on the whites in the shadow area.  This made them greyish as you can see in the image 1.  But this made the sunlit water a little brown - actually, too brown when I see the photo on other screens.

So I thought I would post a version where the only change I made was to set the color balance for the foam in the sunlit areas instead of the shadows - image 2.  Now you can see that the shady areas are blue and the brown is pretty much gone.  But who wants blue shady areas? Hmm, "blue shady" - name for a jazz band?

I could probably fiddle with this in Photoshop, but I'll just use the all-purpose lazy-but-often-effective solution to color balance problems - make it black and white!  See image 3.  Note that this one has a little warmth to it...I added a touch of sepia because I DO likes me some brown.

Image 3
Fish Ladder Redux - Version III

And, what the hell, since I'm being didactic... here's the image without sepia - just 50 shades of gray. (snicker)

Image 4

St. Charles, Illinois
March 15, 2014

COPYRIGHT 2014 by JimFrazier All Rights Reserved. This may NOT be used for ANY reason without written consent from Jim Frazier.

No comments: