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How do you set the perfect white balance?

A lot of photographers seem to be wondering what exactly is the best way to set their white balance. It seems like if you ask ten people you’ll get ten different answers. Some photographers use a dedicated device like an ExpoDisc to nail custom white balances based on the available light in a scene. Some folks use a gray card to achieve the same sort of thing. Other people just set their white balance off of anything white available in the frame: a shirt, a tablecloth, a sign… So who’s right? There are a lot of different ways to set white balance, and no single approach is always the best. For me, a gray card placed in a scene is perfect for custom white balancing when I process the RAW files in Lightroom, because I can simply click the eyedropper on the gray card to set the exact white balance—and I don’t have to do it before I shoot. But I don’t always worry about setting a custom white balance at all. For example, I know that with my external strobe setup I get good results with my camera’s flash white balance preset (it looks like a lightning bolt) and that I like the look of my studio strobes when the color temperature is manually set to 5200 degrees Kelvin. Of course, all of those are particular to my personal equipment, but the idea holds true: One photographer can use multiple methods to get great white balance results in a variety of situations. There is no single “best” way to set your white balance. (Also, for what it's worth, just about the only time I use auto white balance is when I'm mixing hot-shoe strobe with ambient light in a fast-paced, changing-light scenario.) The point is this: if you’ve got a method that works for you, stick with it.
DPMag
A lot of photographers seem to be wondering what exactly is the best way to set their white balance. It seems like if you ask ten people you’ll get ten different answers. Some photographers use a dedicated device like an ExpoDisc to nail custom white balances based on the available…

Don’t be a cameraist. Be a photographer!

I’m a big fan of Paul Burwell’s Wildshots photo blog. I’m an even bigger fan of this idea: there are cameraists, and there are photographers. A cameraist, according to Paul, is somebody who can’t see the forest for the trees. These cameraists somewhere along the line became more concerned with gear than with pictures. Cameraists also may not know about great photographs, but they know about great cameras—even if they don’t really know how to use them. Basically, cameraists don’t seem to have their heads on straight. Read Paul’s blog to learn the top 10 ways you can keep from becoming a cameraist in your quest to become a better photographer.

http://www.paulburwell.com/blog/2010/09/top-ten-ways-to-separate-the-cameraists-from-the-photographers/
DPMag
I’m a big fan of Paul Burwell’s Wildshots photo blog. I’m an even bigger fan of this idea: there are cameraists, and there are photographers. A cameraist, according to Paul, is somebody who can’t see the forest for the trees. These cameraists somewhere along the line became more concerned with…

Optimizing Images for the iPad

I’ve been playing with my iPad a lot lately. I’ve been trying to put it to good photographic use, though in truth I’m mostly playing games and Facebooking with the thing. When I finally put my portfolio on my iPad, I discovered that some images looked perfect while others were just a bit off. Why? Because I didn’t optimize my photographs for display on the device. Thankfully there’s a great article from Serious Amateur Photography about making your photos display perfectly on the iPad. From image sizing and sharpening to the perfect proportions for your pictures. If you’re looking to make your iPad promos look perfect, it’s a must-read.

http://jefflynchdev.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/the-ipad-portfolio-how-to-look-your-best/
DPMag
I’ve been playing with my iPad a lot lately. I’ve been trying to put it to good photographic use, though in truth I’m mostly playing games and Facebooking with the thing. When I finally put my portfolio on my iPad, I discovered that some images looked perfect while others were…

Wire Worm

Ever made a perfect picture except for the telephone lines running through the frame and ruining the scene? You’ve always had a couple of choices: live with it as is, or spend hours in Photoshop cloning away those tiny little lines. Well now you’ve got a third choice: the Wire Worm Photoshop plugin by developer Martin Vicanek. It looks like a marvelous little program with a powerful effect: automatically removing power lines and wires from photographs. I may not want to use it to remove zoo bars from the foreground of an image (as one example demonstrates), but I may definitely put it to the test pulling power lines from the skies of my outdoor images. If it works half as good as it looks, this free software just might be invaluable.

http://www.vicanek.de/plugins/wireworm.htm
DPMag
Ever made a perfect picture except for the telephone lines running through the frame and ruining the scene? You’ve always had a couple of choices: live with it as is, or spend hours in Photoshop cloning away those tiny little lines. Well now you’ve got a third choice: the Wire…

Selling RAW Image Files

Digital Photography School recently published a short piece by photographer Elizabeth Halford. In it, Ms. Halford advocates that photographers who earn any part of their living licensing images never turn over to clients (or friends and family) unprocessed RAW image files. It’s a good argument too. After all, if you put your unfinished photographs into your clients’ hands, who knows how the finished product will turn out? That’s especially bothersome if you’re the one whose name will be attached to the finished photo. While Ms. Halford’s advice is certainly sound, the discussion that it provoked makes some interesting other points too. For instance, if you’re in the business of selling images to clients, wouldn’t you be well served by providing what your clients want? After all, isn’t the customer always right? Wherever you default on the issue, it’s extremely interesting and informative to consider both sides of the story. It shows how complex many professional photographic issues can be, and how they do apply to photographers at every level of the business. So if you’re a working pro or considering dipping your toe into the business waters, it’s a great opportunity to learn about one of the most common, and somewhat controversial, issues facing professional photographers today.

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/should-we-ever-sell-raw-unedited-images
DPMag
Digital Photography School recently published a short piece by photographer Elizabeth Halford. In it, Ms. Halford advocates that photographers who earn any part of their living licensing images never turn over to clients (or friends and family) unprocessed RAW image files. It’s a good argument too. After all, if you…

Behind the Scenes of a Fashion Shoot

Perhaps my favorite consequence of this whole photo/video convergence thing is how prevalent the behind-the-scenes video has become. It seems like every photographer, and every fashion house, is now producing behind-the-scenes videos that show just how complex and involved their shoots can be. Best part about all this is that we photographers can use this as a learning tool. For instance, in this behind-the-scenes look at a Forbes Company fashion shoot, I realized a few things about lighting gear that I can apply to my own shoots, and I also saw just how much work from how many different people goes into a successful fashion shoot. It may not be quite as direct as a true “how-to” video, but that’s partly what makes it so interesting. You’re not learning from examples set up in a conference room or a hotel ballroom—you’re learning from an actual fashion shoot with actual photographers and actual talent. It’s invaluable to see actual pros at work.

http://vimeo.com/15234619
DPMag
Perhaps my favorite consequence of this whole photo/video convergence thing is how prevalent the behind-the-scenes video has become. It seems like every photographer, and every fashion house, is now producing behind-the-scenes videos that show just how complex and involved their shoots can be. Best part about all this is that…
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