Lightroom 4 is Here

Lightroom 4 has been released early this morning. Lightroom is a major part of my work flow and for good reason. It rocks! New features this year include video editing, book making, maps, and more. These are all exciting but what I'm most excited about is the new algorithms. Beta testers, including myself, have noticed better images coming from Lightroom. Simply put, Lightroom 4 makes your photography look better! Adobe has also decreased the price to $149 for the full version! That is a great deal! The upgrade version comes out at $79.

Here is a link to B&H to order the full version of Lightroom 4

Here is the link to B&H to order the upgrade version of Lightroom 4

White Balance

White Balance is a critical part of photography. If you shoot Jpeg even more so. In this weeks post I will go over how to adjust your white balance and the products and tricks that I use. There are a couple ways to adjust your white balance. The most simple way would be to use one of the settings in your camera. For instance if you are shooting in shade use the shade white balance setting. If you are in florescent light use the appropriate setting on your camera. You get the idea. To figure out how to change your white balance settings refer to your almighty manual.

There are also several products on the market that will help you set a custom white balance, again refer to your cameras manual on how to set a custom white balance. I use a product called the WhiBal gray cards. I hold this up in the scene, in the same light as my subject, and set the custom white balance. The important part is making sure you set your white balance under the same conditions as your subject. There are products on the market that you attach to the front of your lens to set custom white balance, but those are only useful when the light is consistent throughout the scene.

For example, if your subject is in the shade and you are in direct sunlight when you use a product that attaches to your lens you will be measuring the white balance of the sunlight not the shade. There fore your subject which is in the shade will have an inaccurate white balance.

The thing that I do being that I shoot in RAW, is I have my subject hold the card, or I set the card up in the scene, and take a photo. Then in post processing I use my white balance tool and click on the grey card that I photographed. My photo will then always have the proper white balance. I can then proceed to batch process all the images I took under the same lighting conditions. Easy peasy!

My WhiBal card saves me time and frustration, along with giving me the results that I am looking for.

Why is the Snow Blue?

Many of us like to get out and photograph fresh fallen snow. In one of my previous posts I went over how to keep snow looking white instead of grey. Click on the link for some Winter Photography tips. Another problem is when we head out and come back with a card full of blue snow images? What causes this? How can we fix it? The cause is how the snow reflects light. In bright daylight it's not a big issue but when you are in the shade the snow has this blue cast. If the scene is not being lit directly by the sun then its being lit by reflective light. So in essence the snow is being lit by the blue sky. This is why in shady scenes the snow looks blue.

It's not difficult to fix, in camera turn your white balance to shade setting. This is often symbolized by a little house with ray thingies coming off to one side, symbolizing shade.  This will help with the blue cast, but your best bet is to shoot in raw and use a white balance correction in your photo editing software. The shade setting on your camera will get you close but it may not always be as accurate as you would like. Look at the before and after images below.

This image was shot without color correction.

This is with color correction added in post processing.

As you can see there is a bit of a difference in the images and the white balance. You will also notice the sky is much more blue in the original image. I used Lightroom's eye dropper white balance tool to select a snowy area that was lit by direct sunlight. This gives me  white snow, and shady snow that doesn't look blue.

Now that you know how to fix the "problem" is it worth it? Sometimes I will keep the blue cast as it makes the image look and feel colder. This is another reason I shoot in raw. I can change my mind. Like most things in photography there is no right or wrong answer, it's what you prefer.