Old 04-08-2015, 07:23 PM   #1
CSX1702
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Default White Balance on Night Shots

Recently, I've been trying to get more into night photography, or at least learn more about it. So I've been staying out trackside at some of my favorite spots waiting for night to fall. Last night, I took some shots that aren't spectacular but are decent, in my opinion. I couldn't figure out how to set the white balance and make it look the best. Bear in mind, I am still amateur, lol. So I have two examples:

This was the camera set on auto. The first thing I noticed is that I probably should've been standing in my truck bed or had Jim Thias' tripod with me for this one. This seems to be a more natural look to me. But the ground has a greenish tent to it and the signals don't seem to be the right color of red.



The exif on this one says it was auto, but I remember setting it to cloudy. It gives the signal and the ground a more natural color but to me it looks like there's some kind of nuclear warfare going on outside of town.



Is it the white balance or am I doing something else wrong?
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Old 04-08-2015, 08:14 PM   #2
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First off, the first one looks "fairly" accurate. The second one, not so much. If you have software that will allow you to edit photos in RAW format, I would suggest that you shot in RAW. It allows you to fine-tune, or even completely change the White Balance "after the fact". That way, you can just set the White Balance on the camera to Auto, and then change it later, if the camera happens to get it wrong.

Most cameras now-a-days will shot in RAW format. Even the cheap point-and-shoots...
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Old 04-08-2015, 08:14 PM   #3
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My 2 cents -
Shoot in RAW? adjust WB in RAW converter , try Auto(In Converter) first then adjust usually back off from blue.
In PS try setting white point in curves or levels and then probably adjust back a little,
Try auto tone also.??(In PS)

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphot...=525416&nseq=1
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphot...=525085&nseq=4

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Sometimes it is near impossible due to quality of light then go to B/W
The South Shore orange would just not look right.

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphot...=525541&nseq=0

It is a running battle here as the standards are just hard to meet(for me) with existing light. At some point blue cast or some other cast is OK but not sure when that happens.

To get the "brown" out of the clouds you will need to do some manipulation I think?? I don't mind it myself since I see it and it is there in reality but is not much accepted.

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Old 04-08-2015, 08:25 PM   #4
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Default a quick fix???

Quick try in RAW

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Old 04-08-2015, 08:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobJor View Post

It is a running battle here as the standards are just hard to meet(for me) with existing light. At some point blue cast or some other cast is OK but not sure when that happens.
Warm lights against a deep blue background are the best (IMHO).

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Old 04-08-2015, 09:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin B. View Post
If you have software that will allow you to edit photos in RAW format, I would suggest that you shot in RAW.
I'm using UFRaw and GIMP right now because I don't feel like paying for Photoshop.

Quote:
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Warm lights against a deep blue background are the best (IMHO).
I like that idea, I'll go for that next time.
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Old 04-09-2015, 12:34 AM   #7
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Are GIMP and UFRaw any good? I use the Nikon ViewNX. Should I be using these other softwares?
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Old 04-09-2015, 12:50 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSX1702 View Post
I'm using UFRaw and GIMP right now because I don't feel like paying for Photoshop.



I like that idea, I'll go for that next time.
Well all you have to do is move to Switzerland. Smile. But, You almost have that light going on in your first photo with a little different composing.
I think like anything you have to scout out locations, which have the qualities you like, plan ahead some looking for when their will be train during the right time.

Anyway, I think processing is more intense with night shots so PS in some form..... I also got this program called DXO for 129 on a special which has a lot of good features if you don't like Adobe subscription.

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Old 04-09-2015, 01:21 AM   #9
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Are GIMP and UFRaw any good? I use the Nikon ViewNX. Should I be using these other softwares?
They're pretty decent for being free. UFRaw is a standalone program on Windows, so I use that to convert to jpeg and then GIMP for everything else. You can use UFRaw to edit your pics but it's not very user-friendly.

Quote:
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I think like anything you have to scout out locations, which have the qualities you like, plan ahead some looking for when their will be train during the right time.

Anyway, I think processing is more intense with night shots so PS in some form..... I also got this program called DXO for 129 on a special which has a lot of good features if you don't like Adobe subscription.
Yeah. I have a few locations in mind already. Next time I go to the spot pictured above, I'm going to get some elevation as mentioned, and maybe try some other stuff. It's on a little bit of a grade and there is a curve about a mile behind me, which would make it a good spot for a headlight-glow shot, I believe. I tried that last night and well....failed. Anybody have any suggestions on settings for that type of shot?
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Old 04-09-2015, 02:58 AM   #10
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I've been shooting at night for over 20 years, and intensely for about the past 15. I have some thoughts. First, you might get the book, "Light: Science & Magic." It's THE textbook on light and how to use it. I found it very helpful. There are some basic things to understand about light. First, artificial light comes in a number of different "flavors," i.e. color temps. Daylight is generally accepted as being ~5600K (K stands for Kelvin, the Kelvin temperature scale.) Artificial lights can be all over the place in color temp. Tungsten light is something like 3500K, which is why it appears to be very orangey-warm. Flourescent light generally has a green cast. Then there's those nasty Na-vapor lights, along with some other types. Tungsten light can be adjusted to look like 5600K (our brains do this automatically) using either an 80B filter or by selecting that WB, or by adjusting WB in RAW. FL light can be also, although beware that it's color isn't steady and does fluctuate with the cycle of the AC current powering it. Halogen light is roughly between 5600K and 3500K, somewhere. The light I've mentioned so far can be easily dealt with, because they emit a full spectrum of light. The spectrum is there, it's just skewed a bit. Na-vapor lights and others are much more problematic. They do NOT emit a full spectrum of colors! You really can't color correct them. You can play around with the color balance, yes, but it will never be "correct." And there is one final problem. Most of the time, outdoors, you are dealing with more than one type of artificial light, and each has it's own K and problems! I've not seen anyway to really "fix" that (not saying a fix doesn't exist, just saying I've not seen anyone do it.) My strategy? I just work around it. I know the color temps will be different and that's part of the fun! If I'm working with something especially nasty I do what I did when shooting film--I just shoot it in black & white. My other strategy is to bring my own lights and simply blast the crappy ambient light into oblivion. You only need to overpower it by three stops to do that.

Here's a shot I took where I started towards doing the monochrome conversion thing, but ended up just desaturating the ugly Na-vapor light by about 75%, maybe a bit more. I kind of like the way it turned out. Usually I shoot these scenes using 4x5 with b&w film and a ~100 yr. old lens rather than my DSLR.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/96826069@N00/16356009540/


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Old 04-09-2015, 05:12 AM   #11
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You really can't color correct them. You can play around with the color balance, yes, but it will never be "correct."

Here's a shot I took where I started towards doing the monochrome conversion thing, but ended up just desaturating the ugly Na-vapor light by about 75%, maybe a bit more.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/96826069@N00/16356009540/


Kent in SD
Sure, some sodium-lighted scenes are tough, but this one wasn't:
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Old 04-09-2015, 01:30 PM   #12
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The best way to correct sodium vapor lights, is to keep them out of the scene


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Old 04-09-2015, 01:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Sure, some sodium-lighted scenes are tough, but this one wasn't:

I lucked out in that this one had another major light source in play (albeit faint.) That light was sunlight. Sunlight, reflected from a full moon onto a snow covered landscape. By desaturating most of the color that did allow the full spectrum of the moonlight come through a bit. I didn't color correct it so much as I color "suppressed" it.


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Old 04-09-2015, 09:29 PM   #14
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Those pics from inside the abandoned house are terrifc Noctfoamer.
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Old 04-10-2015, 12:46 AM   #15
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Those pics from inside the abandoned house are terrifc Noctfoamer.

Thanks. I'll confess it took me a couple attempts to nail them.


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Old 04-12-2015, 02:06 AM   #16
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Keep sodium vapor lights out of a scene.....well, like everything else, it depends


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