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Colour cast issues


Haley bella rouge
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Okay!! I'm officially done with colour casts. HELP! I've been a natural light newborn photographer for years and I've always struggled with the colour casts in my family photographs. They look great in BW but when I print them in colour.. I hate them. Sure my customers don't notice but I do and I want to be better! I shoot directly on the (light cream painted) wall of my studio there is a window on the left of me and I also have a JINBEI (which I put on the left of me also as I like shadows on faces and don't want flat light) to add more light and catch lights in the eyes. My newborn photographs are fine as they are not usually on white. Anyway... How do I prevent this easily? I don't specialise in family portraits it's just a bonus for when people get newborn photographs so I don't want to invest heavily into the issue. use a Reflector somehow? moving customers further away from wall? get better at editing? learn to use more lights and add one to the wall to blow out the colours? Use a grey card and custom WB? screw the wall and buy a dark cream backdrop? haha I'm out of ideas.. Thank you for your help!!

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21 hours ago, Haley bella rouge said:

use a Reflector somehow? moving customers further away from wall? get better at editing? learn to use more lights and add one to the wall to blow out the colours? Use a grey card and custom WB?

Yes.

What color do you want to shoot against? Do you want white? A reflector and stand on camera right will help.


From the photo above, the light source is stronger and the light fall off due to the inverse square law isn't helping. I would start with moving them away from the wall as 1-2 feet will make a difference with your color cast issues. Of course, you might be shooting with a prime so backing up in a small space might not be an option. A LARGE reflector will be needed and they have reflector stands so you don't have to have an assistant. I'd also invest in a backdrop. Color consistency as opposed to a painted wall is more of a guarantee on a backdrop, in which I would get a WHITE BACKDROP and not any other color. (More on this later.)

You could also invest in a set of lights, with a 1 stop power difference between the two of them, which is the usual starting point for portraits. One light would be at 1/4 power and the other would be at 1/8 power. (or 1/8 and 1/16, etc.) This is known as a 2:1 Ratio. You will often see this listed in a diagram as the Key (Main) Light being @ f/11 and the secondary or fill light @ f/8. What that means is "Proper and True Exposure" for the Main Light / Key Light...your aperture is at f/11. The other light "Proper Exposure" (as if we were only shooting with that one light) is f/8. In reality, 3 lights would be better. Two to blow out the background and one as a Main Light. With a reflector thrown in. Or four lights. Or just one. It really boils down to the look you are going for. You could have one powerful light and a 7 foot octabank modifier and produce beautiful portraits. Or not. You could start with umbrellas or softboxes. It's like chocolate chip cookies, there are 100's and 100's of recipes out there. If your strobe / off camera flash, whatever is more powerful than the ambient light, your color cast issues will more than likely go away. The problem isn't the quality of light, your problem is with natural light...you don't have enough of it and it isn't completely even from left to right.

Now, I'm sure you are wondering, why not f/4 or f/2.8? With flash, things are a bit backwards. First, your camera's meter is completely worthless when it comes to off camera manual flash. The reason is that it's reading the ambient light and not the light coming from the off camera strobes, because they haven't been triggered yet. :) Also, the rules change a bit when obtaining proper exposure. Aperture relates to Flash / Strobe Power and Shutter Speed (and ISO) relates to Ambient Light. The reason is your light source isn't 93 Million Miles away, it's only 4-8 feet or so. (Conversationally speaking.) Since the light source is so close, feet as opposed to millions of miles, your aperture setting becomes much more important. If you want to use apertures at around f/4 or wider, you simply lower the power on the light. That said, any modifiers that might be on a light will eat some of the light and if you don't have enough "Umph" coming from the Off Camera Strobe, photos tend to look "Icky." Why two lights? Why not one? You could get a light and a large reflector and give it a try. It will be cheaper and will force you to figure out your own style.

Speaking on style, the reason that I recommended that you start with a white backdrop is you can turn it into a gray backdrop or even a black one...All with the distance increased or decreased between the subject, backdrop and light. What you are doing, is using the "Inverse Square Law" to your advantage. You can see it in your sample photo as the wall on the left is brighter than on the right.

As for a custom WB, yes...it's a good idea. Especially with some lights like Alien Bees. Those suckers tend to change in the WB dept, especially when you change light power.

I think you should check out Zack Arias' stuff. He is an excellent teacher and I would start with these videos: http://nofilmschool.com/2015/03/light-shoot-seamless-white-background-start-finish

I want you to watch both videos on that website. Now before you go, "I don't have that kind of room or can't afford, blah-blah-blah." The whole point of those videos is to get you in the right frame of mind, to see how Zack does things.

Oh, I'm pretty tired when I typed this. Hopefully I didn't confuse you more as I seem to have rambled on. @Christina Keddie @Kim any ideas?

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Brian has given you heaps.  I have a similar issue in my studio.  Moving them further from the wall will help a LOT.  Also what is outside your window?  I find that I get colour inside based on what is outside mine.  If the sun is out, I get a colour cast from the grass in the paddock outside.  And if there is a brightly coloured car parked beside the paddock, that bounces colour inside too.  Plus any colour inside the studio too, such as the clients clothing (I make sure I wear neutral colours).

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