Ralf's Ramblings...

January 28, 2017 - Does white balance affect RAW image data?

Short answer - No ( but it does affect most preview screens!).  Allow me to explain more of what I've recently learned, my perception was pretty much right, but I learned some new things along the way!

I've always heard and believed that the RAW image is "exactly what the camera saw when the image was made, just all of the light hitting your sensor.  So, I decided to test my experiences by deliberately shooting some images on AWB, Custom White Balance and other random choices available in my menu.  (Like flourescent, tungsten, daylight, K temperature, etc.)

QUICK TIP:  Shoot in RAW + JPG if your camera supports it.  I end up using JPG 99.5% of the time for the client, because it delivers the quality result that I need for the job and it saves time post processing.  Does RAW save your ass some times?  YOU BET!  :)

Sorry... I digress, let's get back on theme ...  does WB affect the RAW image file?  No, it doesn't, but you must realize that your camera dispay, previewing software as well as editing software often create JPG thumbnails or use embedded data in the RAW file that contains the camera settings at the time of the shot.  That means that they are generating a preview based on the JPG, not the RAW.  I was able to adjust system settings within FastStone so that the preview window rendered the RAW data, rather than show me the out of balance JPG.  Check out the two screen captures below.

Ok, so I think I get it Ralf... can you summarize already and come up with a quick and easy conclusion???

  • JPG Thumb and Preview Out of Color Balance

    Notice the larger preview window on the left, the color balance is shifted into the green in our experiment - this is the JPG created by the camera and displayed by my favorite viewer, FastStone.

  • RAW Preview OK, Thumbnail Out Of Color Balance

    In this screen capture, notice that the preview of the RAW (CR2) file is close to "normal" in color balance. This is what the camera saw and recorded, even though the photographer chose the wrong white balance on purpose! The smaller thumbnial is based on the embedded JPG within the RAW file - it is out of color balance.

Conclusion:  Your RAW image file is in it's native format, it is not affected by having the wrong white balance set, however it's embedded metadata is used by your camera display, previewing software, slideshow software and editing software.  These will usually read the settings data and create a preview for you that looks like like the white balance setting your accidently used when you made the image.

The file viewing software that I use most often is "FastStone".  I dug into the settings to find an option that will show me the full screen RAW data, but the thumbnail is still rendered using the shooting data.  (See images above)  Result:  The thumbnail in this experiment is "too greenish", but the full screen view displays the RAW colors captured during exposure.  I was tricked by the camera viewfinder and the thumbnail preview!  :)

- Ralf (1/28/17)

Sep. 5, 2016 - Exposure Time and Water

Happy labor day to my US fans, enjoy the holiday!

So, I was reviewing images from earlier in the year, and wanted to show you a comparison of the same image of a London fountain.  One shot at a fast exposure, the other at a very slow exposure.  Both are interesting for various reasons...

  • This exposure was fast at about 1/640 I believe. The water doesn't blur.

  • Exposure was very slow, 1/2 second. Use a tripod or a fixed object to steady the camera!

Click on either picture above and click right and left so that you can see the differences in the image.  I like them both, they have different things to consider;

(Left) Fast exposure:   Shot at 1/640th of a second, this is what I consider a normal travel image, meaning most automatic cameras will capture this kind of shot.  Looks fine!

(Right) Slow exposure:  Shot at 1/2 of a second, this adds something different and hopefully desireable to your image, but be warned, if the camera shakes or moves, the image will be blurry - so use a tripod or at least rest the camera on a fixed object!

- Ralf (9/5/16)

August 23, 2016 - Opportunity Knocks!

Today I received an amazing gift.  It's time to rekindle my passion in life, which is photography.  It opens so many doorway to connect with others!  Stay tuned to find out what I do with this bridge to the next chapter in my life.  I'm looking forward to sharing it with everyone...

Sun rays on viaduct in Scotland (March 2016)

I'm excited, this is a really good thing!

- Ralf (8/23/16)

May 30, 2016 - Why We Constantly Create Fresh Art!

Most important and first order of business today - I salute all veterans, but today specifically, those who gave their all for preserving freedom in our United States on this Memorial Day, 2016.

I'd like to share with you a photographic image I created for a talented artist, Kevin McMahon.  This is one of his original oils on canvas, perfect for this special day.

We are a collection of citizens from every demographic, from every side of the spectrum, from all over the globe!  Most of us came from somewhere else and were accepted and integrated into this amazing country.  As a citizen, I don't have to agree with our leadership and the decisions our political leaders make all the time, but I do fully respect those who serve our country, have served our country and have given the ultimate sacrifice for this amazing collection of souls we call the "United States"!  A humble and heartfelt "THANK YOU" on this Memorial Day.

This is a motivational blog post...  it's about having a 'muse' or reason to make fresh images.  It could be a stranger leaving an unexpected a great comment from the other side of the globe or a loved one who simply can't wait for the next image you make.

As a photographer, you may produce images that please yourself first - whether they were at someone elses request, or of your own creation - but regardless, you put your energy and soul into each final image.  You hope that the image you created will be at least 'liked', maybe even loved.

Sometimes, we get into a rut, or are shooting so much that we cannot even keep up with post-processing.  Know this - show off your work one way or another, someone somewhere is looking at it.  Be passionate about your images, pour your heart into them, your audience will let you know and thank you for it.

We live in a free country thanks to brave men and women, now get out there and make them proud by creating images and art to share!  Honor them.

- Ralf (5/30/16, edited 2/2/17)

May 8, 2016 - Cactus Macros in Broad Daylight

For mother's day, I visited the family ranch near Mt. Palomar.  It was a perfect spring day, so I decided to connect a single speedlight with a micro softbox to my lightweight travel tripod.  Using a remote trigger, I started shooting angles of the blooming cactus flowers on the property, along with other interesting items that caught my eye.  All of these shots were created using the same setup.

Notice the first image of the set - you can see the lighting rig and what the image looks like from that shot.

So what am I doing?  Manual mode folks, both the camera and speedlight.  The specific rig I used on this day was my 6D, Cowboy trigger and receiver, Yongnuo 560 II mounted on my lightweight Slik tripod.

I wanted a deep depth of field, so usually shot at f/16 to f/22.  Since my radio trigger has lagtime, I was shooting at my fastest sync of  1/160th of a second.  Think about the speed and the higher f-stop (smaller lens opening), it under exposed most of the daylight, which is where the speedlight comes in to add light where I want it in my composition.  (I usually shoot the Yongnuo at about 1/4 power and once in the field, I vary the amount of light by the distance between the speedlight and the subject.)

Happy shooting!

- Ralf (5/8/16)

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