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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 2:22 pm 
Hi,
I've been reading a few articles where people say, instead of carrying around a piece of gray or white card with you, you can just use the palm of your hand, whatever your skin colour, to use as a reference for white balance.

I'm not sure if it's only for people who shoot in RAW, but I was wondering if you could do the same with just a compact, does anyone know?

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You can also do that by using your camera to read off any tone that you know the reflectance of, such as the palm of your hand, a grey card or a white card, then adjusting the reading accordingly.

When they say, "adjusting the reading accordingly." how would I do that, what would I be looking for?

Mark


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 7:45 pm 
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Oh boy, that sounds weird to me!
The white balance depends on you defining what a neutral white or grey is. So I can't imagine, that the colors you get when balancing with the palm of your hand are any good. In theory your skin should then be reproduced as a neutral grey. I really think that is B.S. :shock:
Personally I don'tcare any more about white balance. I have never done this with the compacts I had and I certainly will not start this with my D80.
1. The automatic white balance is quite good - I suspect it is even better than your memory of the color temp.
2. You can correct wrong color temp in most software without problem.
So I never fiddle with this on my camera :idea:

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 8:01 pm 
Yeah, it does sound strange! I'll have an experiment with it though, sometime soon. I think in the meantime I'll concentrate on learning about the more important and useful things :)


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 8:28 pm 
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You know, Mark,

with all the useful things that you can do in postprocessing with software the only really important things that you should get right at the shot is exposure, focussing plus depth of field - and keeping the cam steady. Because no amount of postprocessing can really tidy up a blurred pic :wink:

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 8:49 pm 
I think you're right and it also makes me wonder if the real skill in photography these days is really in the picture taking or in the post processing!!

So my plan now is to become a master of Lightroom and to concentrate on subject matter and the composition of pictures, and to get the exposure, focus and depth of field right...and I'll shoot in raw all the time so that any other mistakes I can correct. I'll practice, practice, practice and then I'll become famous and make loads of money selling my pictures :D

Thomas, can you do me a favour when you get a sec? I uploaded some pics taken in Beijing last year to Flikr. Could you cast a critical eye over them and tell me what you think...any tips, pointers, that kind of thing. I've never actually asked anyone to critique pics I've taken before, but I value your opinion.

Thanks,
Mark

http://www.flickr.com/photos/16343811@N00/


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 9:28 pm 
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Hey Mark, was that first set of photos from a Beijing theme park of the world?! Looks pretty good!

Gordon

PS - as for white balance, I used to be an auto man, but now find myself manually setting it more and more, especially on cloudy days. If you're using any kind of physical filter, you should also set it to daylight. And since most cameras continue to get tungesten indoor light wrong, I often take a white balance reading from a white plate! Not sure a hand would work though, unless you had a very low blood pressure!


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 9:44 pm 
Hi Gordon,
Yes, some of them were from the theme park. It was funny actually because a friend of mine had come over from the UK and on our last full day in BJ we weren't sure what to do. We picked up a flier in the hotel that mentioned the theme park and it looked like a bit of fun so we went. It turned out to be great!! It was a beautiful day and they've done the park out really well. Thinking about it, I've got pics from every country represented so I might upload them and put them in a separate folder.

Thanks for the white plate tip. I'd read another forum where some people use those cheapo white styrofoam coffee cups to take readings. I'll have to try that too :)

Mark


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 9:53 pm 
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Been there, done that :D
All your pics seem to be sharp, straight and well exposed. So you certainly don't have a prob with the technique.
Some pics seem to lack a little punch / contrast. But that may be a result of atmospheric conditions an can be dealt with in post processing. It's not always clear & bright in China.
As to your compositions, I have the following remarks, which are strictly my personal view:
- I'd love to see more people in your pictures. They make photos more lively. They can even be interesting in themselves (picture 135).
- Add even more close-ups or crop more. Try to separate the interesting structure / color / "thing" even more from the "background"
- Watch the perspective. Some photos drag you more into the picture than others - do you feel it too?
- Perhaps with some objects try to get closer / more personal and zoom out. Some pics on the Great Wall also show a nice perspective to the surroundings, others look more flat.
- Some of the birds in your picture look like you've focused on their eyes / head - and than kept the cam there. I have to remind myself constantly of that: focus first, than compose the picture (plus watch that the focus is not changed).

My favorite is picture 468 - the fish. Unexpected sujet, colorful, lively!

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Last edited by Thomas on Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:14 pm 
Thanks Thomas, I really appreciate that :) I went to BJ in May last year and it's not the best time to go. Most days were overcast and cloudy, which was a shame. I'm going to time it better next time so I'll have no excuse if they still turn out a bit bland, but then like you say, I can always do a bit of PP.

I've got another batch to upload soon from Nanjing so I'll take your tips and go through them again, include some more people shots, do some cropping etc. Try and brighten up the dull ones.

Yeah, I know what you mean about perspective, I felt that too. I'll keep that in mind. The thing with the birds, yeah, I focus on the eyes/head and then either I take the picture straight away or I recompose and then they move! I look back at them now and I think I had such a good opportunity at that time, why didn't I bloody stay there longer and keep taking more!

Once I finished sorting out my old pics, I'll spend more time looking at other peoples and look out for the things you pointed out. You've taken some great pics by the way, particularly like your "nature" set. I love landscapes and sunsets etc. I'm going to upload some pics soon from my last trip to Yellow Mountain. The sunrises and sunsets there are stunning and we were really lucky with the weather, got the cloud sea and everything.

Thanks again, much appreciated :)

P.S. I forgot to add. You know picture 135, apparently he's wearing the type of dress that eunochs used to wear in the old days so I reckon that's why he's got such a miserable look on his face :D


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:34 pm 
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Yeah, China is very impressive.
B.t.w. visited Beijing in 2004. You can see some photos here
And never mind, when you find the same faults with my photos as I addressed with some of yours. It's always easier to give advice than to adhere to it :twisted:

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 11:14 pm 
See what you mean about the "been there done that!" :D

Nice pics, I like the angles and perspectives you use. Looks like you had better weather at the Great Wall too. Next time I go, I want to go to a part which is well off the beaten track and hopefully time it right for few tourists and good weather...I'll be so lucky! I'd really like to go in winter too and see it covered in snow, I've seen pics before and it looks stunning.


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