We humans looooove color! All you have to do is walk down the aisle of your local supermarket, and you can see how important color is to us humans. We’re pretty color-conscious—even if we’re not consciously thinking about it. If you’re into “visually communicating,” an eloquent way of saying “taking photographs,” then you need to be tuned into colors. And just for the record, black and white are colors. You shoot in color—but do you think in color? Do you consciously use it, manipulate it, and make it an important element in your photo, like that little thing called light?
For many years, we've been told that color casts—those shifts in color towards blue or yellow—are a bad thing and should be corrected at all costs. In the film days we used color-correction (CC) filters to battle them and, in the digital age, most choose to set their cameras to auto-white-balance (AWB), in effect telling the camera to detect and neutralize color casts automatically. After all, neutral whites and lack of color casts are desirable and natural, right? Wrong!
Auto white balance sounds like it solves every issue regarding colors in your pictures, but it doesn't. For example, when you shoot at sunset or sunrise, AWB wants to 'correct' the golden tones that we love so much when the sun is close to the horizon. It desaturates the yellow and red portion of the spectrum, and the colors look weak and disappointing. By contrast, if you shoot with daylight white balance, you will capture the colors you see. The yellows, reds, and oranges will be saturated and dramatic.
Hi, everyone. I’ve been asked to write a series of articles for B&H Insights, and despite my hectic schedule, I will try to write on a somewhat regular basis. Let me start this series by writing about one of my favorite products. I use this little piece of gear constantly, and found it quite by accident.
One of the cooler attributes of digital capture is the fact that you retain the ability to 'fix' your pictures long after you've taken them, especially if you shoot RAW files. In the wrong hands however, this can become a not-so-cool attribute if it's seen as a green light for sloppy shooting habits. Even if you shoot RAW files it makes sense to set your camera controls properly (and thoughtfully) because if your JPEGs are dead-on, you'll also be spending less time diddling with your RAW files. And regardless of your personal taste in color rendition, it's always a better idea to pump up the tonal values of a 'clean' image as opposed to trying to neutralize a pumped-up image.
Color management in digital photography is effectively the supervision of color from input to output. A camera captures color, a monitor displays this color accurately, and a printer outputs what's on screen. Seem simple? It's not. Plagued with a lack of standards and countless variables, color management is among the most confounding, perplexing, and difficult concepts to master in digital imaging.
Video cameras seem to be getting more and more complex, which can be a blessing and a curse. Even the basic "record-your-son's-football-game" camera seems to have features today that were unimaginable only a few years ago. Sony now has a camera that can detect whether or not someone is smiling. Sounds more like science fiction to me. While these new features can be useful in a variety of ways, getting the best possible footage is always paramount. The truth is that the most critical settings are always the most universal. They include white balance, shutter speed, and audio levels.
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