Am I ready to post a tutorial? I hope so. Here's one on white balance and timing...

Top Geek

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I've just recently started setting my white balance manually and I am completely wowed by the results! It's just so satisfying to get your shots just how you want them with little or no tweaking!

Additionally, I've finally discovered something great about living in longitudinal middle of the northern hemisphere where we have 6 months of crap winter weather: starting around September/November and going until March/April, the sun never rises more than about 45 degrees over the south horizon, which means that on a sunny or mildly-overcast day, I have hours, not minutes, of sunset-like lighting with long shadows and golden reflections!

Unless otherwise noted, the only adjustment I've made to the following images is increasing the contrast because my camera just doesn't crank it quite high enough for my taste. I may have also sharpened them, but only to compensate for inherent softening of resampling.

It's also noteworthy that I set my in-camera image optimizations to full sharpening, full contrast and +1 tone compensation.

Onto the examples...

This pile of firewood is facing west. I took this about 30 minutes before the sun set behind a building that was west-south-west from where I was standing. White balance was set to shade to get the warm colouring.

If I could have, I'd have used a tripod and set a smaller aperture to get all the logs sharp...but I didn't have one with me.



I had taken another shot a few seconds previous to this one with the white balance set to sunny. *yawn*, BORING! It just looked like any old pile of chopped up dead trees.

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This next one was about five minutes after the sun had gone behind the afforementioned building. My white balance here is shade to make the sky yellow colours.





To demonstrate the importance and effect of white balance, here's the same subject shot a few seconds later with the white balance set to florescent.



What a difference! It's still yellowy-orange right near the sun where the sheer intensity overpowers the white balance, but now it fades through pink into a deep blue sky (I think...I'm a wee bit colour-blind, but I'm quite sure the sky is blue anyway ;)).

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This one was taken about a half-hour after sunset with the white balance set to florescent. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw what this looked like straight from my D40!



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This one was taken at 5:30 in the afternoon. The camera is pointed south-east, the sun is shining from the south-west. White balance is set to shade, which, in combination with the sun shining on the autumn-coloured leaves makes for some wonderful golds against the blue sky.

I used the auto-balance feature in Corel PhotoPaint, which upped the brightness and contrast a bit, and made some minor curve adjustments to bring out the blue sky.



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This was taken in uber-crappy weather this afternoon at 1:30. A cold, windy and overcast sky made for boring lighting, but white balance came to the rescue with a setting of shade! I just pointed my 55-200 VR down at the pavement, set it to 122mm to fill the fame how I wanted it, added some contrast in post-processing and this is what resulted.



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Getting the right timing and white balance has gotten me to the point where I can go through most of my images and simply run them through a batch process to get the results I want, I hope it can do the same for you!


P.S.: Yes, this is also an excuse for me to post more than one image per day without using the "Lens Flair" thread :p

Any comments, criticisms and suggestions on my very amateur efforts are more than welcome.
 
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Nocturnal

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You're right, WB is one of the biggest factors in taking a shot, that a lot of people overlook. It might be worth adding that you can remove the hue of an image in Photoshop, by going to Image > Adjustments > Match Colour and then selecting the 'Neutralise' box. It's not as accurate as getting it right first time like your tutorial, but can be a life-saver if you have an image you really like, and find the colours aren't right when you get home.
 

LeVeL

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Good write-up! Thanks! +1

Edit: never mind, it wont let me +rep you :(
 
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