White balance you say?

You know what I like about taking photographs with my iPhone? Simplicity.

At its core there are no settings. You select the Camera app…. it selects the focus area (or you can do such if so inclined)…. you press and release the virtual button. And you’re done.

Granted, there seems to be millions of apps by which to edit your image, but the actual act of snapping the photo is brain-dead simple. And this is a good thing as I’m pretty brain-dead a lot of the time. But for every moment the iPhone is just fine for capturing something in a lovely stream of 1’s and 0’s there is a moment when a dSLR (or something relatively equivalent) certainly comes in handy. But the price we pay for shooting with fancier cameras is complexity. And complexity, my dear readers, opens up opportunities for mistakes.

But this isn’t necessarily always a bad or undesirable thing. For example…

West Milton Falls in Fluorescent White Balance

West Milton Falls in Fluorescent White Balance Setting

I snapped the above a few days ago while re-visiting a local waterfall, which is actually part of a city’s drainage system. I had thought I ‘fixed’ all my various settings to the appropriate… uh… settings, when about half way through the shoot I realized the white balance setting was still on Fluorescent (I had been shooting in my kitchen a few days previously).

Sigh.

I quickly made the necessary adjustment to Cloudy and continued shooting knowing I could easily alter the white balance setting in Lightroom as I shoot in Raw. Notice I said I shoot in Raw and not in the Raw, which would be a completely different matter altogether.

When I returned home and popped my pictures onto the computer I finally had the opportunity to see them on the large screen which allows for a better view. I moved along through all the pictures with the incorrect (Fluorescent) setting and then came upon the ‘correct’ ones. And you know what? I was disappointed with them. Yes; they were much more accurate in terms of color, but they seemed to have lost something. And so I tried an experiment.

I created a virtual copy of the above image and set its white balance to Cloudy within Lightroom and obtained this result…

West Milton Falls in Cloudy White Balance

West Milton Falls in Cloudy White Balance

So… is it just me who thinks the image with the much more appropriate white balance setting is less appealing or what?

I confess I prefer the foliage in the corrected version, but the focal point of the image is and should be the waterfall and there I find the incorrect white balance setting to offer a much more pleasing effect. Perhaps more importantly is the fact it was my intention all along to work my final selection of photographs such that any greenery showing would be fairly desaturated as to take away its potentially distracting qualities and help keep the viewer’s focus upon the water.

Once I factor in my additional editing plans I can’t think of a single reason to not use the incorrect white balance setting on all my keepers and let the work speak for itself with those who view them. However, I elected to seek some opinions from others and shared these two images with a handful of friends and family. The consensus? None.

There were those who liked the correct white balance and those who preferred the incorrect one, AND they were evenly split. Good grief. It’s bad enough when I myself have difficult selecting for more impact, but when everyone puts the decision up in the air…. Wow.

So where does this leave me? Well I’m going to work the keepers with the incorrect white balance and edit as previously mentioned. However, I think I will include at least one copy with the same edits, but with the corrected white balance and see what folks on flickr say about the choice. Can’t wait to see where the choices fall.

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Pimpin’s hard work…

I see I have, yet again, been a completely lazy sod of a blogger.

Sigh.

But hey! You get what you pay for, am I right?!

However, let us not equate a lack of blogging entries to mean humble narrator hasn’t been taking pictures. Nothing could be further from the truth my dear readers. To be both frank and honest I’ve been taking more pictures over the past month than has been the norm throughout much of the summer. Unfortunately, one of my more recent photographic projects did not go quite according to plan, but instead followed my usual tried-and-true route of revealing large gaps in both my skills and talents.

And so it was humble narrator become a bit dejected. After a few days of sulking it suddenly occurred to me that my so-called ‘failure’ wasn’t actually a failure at all. Nope. Perish the thought. A ‘learning experience’ it was rebranded and suddenly all was right in the world. Lesson learned: models may be late, especially if they aren’t really models and don’t understand the value of available daylight.

Like I said… lesson learned.

Reinvigorated with my learning experience I opted to take a more casual approach to photographing of late and came back with some pleasant results.

Falls @ West Milton, Ohio

I was actually turned onto this small waterfall by some fellow Flickr friends in my area, but took great advantage of a then recent thunderstorm, which I had anticipated would swell the creek and turn this otherwise quiet fall into something more interesting. I think I was right, I might add with a just a hint of self-satisfaction. I even got a little crazy with the processing in that I dropped the Vibrance pretty heavily in Lightroom so that the green foliage would be more muted, thus making certain the viewer’s attention remained more focused upon the actual water.

Another evening I found myself suddenly struck by the urge to go out and snap some night time pictures, which is something I have rarely done. I had actually wished to grab a particular shot of a sign in the downtown Dayton area of which I had a nice daytime picture. I had hoped the neon lighting would be all lit up and that it would be… well… awesome.

It wasn’t.

The sign wasn’t lit at all. But instead of being dejected and resigned to this fate I elected to drive around the area and look for another opportunity. And could you believe one presented itself?

Firefly Building

This is actually a triptych (duh!) of some of the pictures I took that evening. It was a complete fluke that I came across this building’s entrance way as it’s not quite visible from the main drag. Regardless, I thought it so unusual it merited at least an attempt by me to get something out of it. Long exposures… tripod… not so bad results. Actually, my fav from this particular building is this image…

"NG"

Please do not ask me to explain why I like this one so much, but I do and that’s enough for me.

Now… keeping in mind my aforementioned issue with my lack of talent and skill, I elected to take part in a free class on flower/garden photography offered at one of my local parks. The price was right. The weather reasonable. And I have no problem sitting through a lecture which helps reaffirm what I’m doing right and makes me question what I’m doing wrong.

After the lecture I, along with many in attendance, ventured into the garden and snapped away merrily. I hadn’t really intended for this to become a major deal, but before I knew it almost four hours had passed (including the 1.5 hours of lecture). As I hadn’t gone to the garden with the intention of photographing flowers, insects, etc. I had become very relaxed about the entire event. It wasn’t one of my projects, where there is a built-in need to feel as if I’ve successfully accomplished something, but a simple afternoon of photography. A simple afternoon of trying to incorporate the things the instructor had discussed.

I must say I think I had some pretty nice pictures come from it as well…

I need more days like that one.

It Felt….. It Felt Good. Damn Good!

This morning while enjoying breakfast with my wife I suddenly thought “Holy shit! It has rained like crazy over the past two days. I wonder if the water fall at Charleston Falls Preserve is doing anything interesting?” Between loads of melting snow and over 2-inches of rain it occurred to me that the normally ‘dull’ waterfall might actually be a ‘real’ waterfall.

See… normally it looks like this (please forgive the rather heavy-handed post-processing effects):


(photo courtesy of my iPhone)

It is a pretty place, but not much of a waterfall to be frank. But what about after some serious rain? Well let’s just say it got a lot better!


(photo courtesy of my iPhone)

Now isn’t that better?

But the issue of the waterfall isn’t the real thrust of this posting. Nope. Instead, I guess this posting is, in a way, an extension of my last post regarding my attempt to get back into this photography game. Today’s adventure was a pleasure. A real pleasure.

My original intent was just to run out to Charleston Falls Preserve, see if the waterfall was more interesting photographically speaking, and if so snap some pics and come home to watch the inaugural Formula 1 race from Bahrain. As the above picture shows the waterfall was far more interesting than it has ever been before during any of my visits.

And so I puttered about snapping pictures from this position and that place and eventually found myself satisfied. Satisfied that I had done both what I wanted and needed (“need” being the need to get out and take some pictures again). But as I packed up my kit I thought “You know… I wonder if there are any other photographic treats in the park today?” After all it was perfect shooting weather in so many ways: 41-degrees Fahrenheit (5-degrees C), lightly misting, quite grey and overcast (soft, diffuse light with no shadows) and everything covered in water such that colours looked rich and dark. And so I took off on the trails in search of other valuable targets.

Now… I do not have any of the pictures from this excursion yet available as I haven’t yet gone through them. I’ve been busy since I got home. Sorry. But the tale is just as important in this instance because it was the simple act of getting out and enjoying myself that, in a manner, recharged my batteries for this hobby.

While out there I managed to nab a handful of pictures related to my first shooting assignment for my photography class and I spent about 30-minutes stalking a small herd of deer I chanced upon. Granted, the end result was a meager one photo for all the time I devoted, but let me tell you…. it was EXCITING!! Moving slowly and carefully with camera in hand I tracked them from the trail while they made their way through the woods, eventually leading me to a tall grass prairie where I managed my one picture. But the great thing is now that I know there are deer there AND I know a place where they congregate I can return one day (hopefully soon) and play the game of sit & wait in hopes of nabbing some additional pictures. (keep in mind I only got the one picture because I didn’t have my camera out and in hand when I chanced upon them – they were unexpected as I had never seen deer there before)

Of course, any great day must have its less-than-stellar moments, which for me was when I tried to snap some pics of the quite large vultures gliding in the grey skies above me. For whatever reason…. probably a brain fart or a bit of senility creeping in…. I turned my 70-200mm zoom lens to 70mm and began shooting wildly into the mid-March air. Wondering why the damn birds looked so far away in the viewfinder I put down the camera and took a quick glance at my settings where I discovered my 70mm boo-boo.

However, this very minor mistake is not going to ruin my otherwise perfect afternoon! Three hours of glorious hiking, stalking and photography more than compensate me for such stupidity.