Thursday, February 14, 2008

The First - and Welcome

Talk about a late start. So this is the first time I have ever written a blog or had any interest in doing so. It seems I'm among the last but better late than never. So welcome, I hope you are of a like mind and will stop back again in the future and participate.

I'm creating this blog for a few reasons. One, as a place where photographers and lovers of photography can enjoy my occassional ramblings on the subject, as well as discuss products, talk about fantastic places to shoot, offer tips and guidance, and share any interesting news related to photography.

Another far more sinister reason is to shamelessly promote myself, my prints for sale, and my services as a photographer. But what would a blog be without shameless self promotion anyway? But I'll try to keep that part of the blog as easy to swallow as possible.

Just to give you a bit of my background, I'm 36 and live in New Jersey with my wonderful better half, Francesca. I have been interested in photography for years - I think the first time I used a camera I had to be under 10 years old when my mother gave me her Pentax K1000 to use. I took it to Arizona to visit my grandmother and it seems that's all I wanted to do was take pictures. I could not wait to get back and make enlargements and photo albums.

Unfortunately, I only dabbled in photography after that. I shot in highschool, some in college, and then it wasn't until several years ago in the late 90's that I began to get the shooting bug again. Eventually I purchased a Nikon F100 and then a Nikon D70, which hooked me on shooting digitally.

Over the past several years I've been shooting mostly nature and wildlife photography, with some commercial projects along the way, which I've very much enjoyed. Recently I upgraded to the Nikon D300 which is probably the most phenomenal camera I've owned and has allowed me to expand both creatively and professionally and has certainly made the commercial work much easier and pleasant.

Recently I have begun to sell prints, but locally in shops and on the internet. The latest venue is on Etsy. For those of you who have never been there, that really is a fantastic website. It's dedicated to artists and craftspeople, selling their handmade items from around the world. My shop can be found at
Self promotion on the very first blog....criminal.

I hope to hear from lots of different people so please feel free to suggest topics to talk about, ask questions if you're a beginner, etc...the blog will shape itself I'm sure.

Thanks for reading and I will publish more very soon!


Lynne said...

Welcome to blogging Rob! I came here via your Mom's site. I'll kick off the questions- could you offer some advice about understanding white balance? I have a Canon Rebel xti but have used a point and shoot for a long time and consider myself very much a newbie to DSLR.
Your photos on Etsy are beautiful.

Robert said...

Thanks for the question, and it's a good one!

White balance is basically a way for your camera to figure out the "color temperature" of the light in the scene you are shooting so that your camera records the true colors in the scene.

We can look at a white object in the sun, the shade or anything in between and our brains are able to always see it as white. With cameras, unless they know what type of light is available, they might read it wrong.

You've seen shots or maybe taken some, where the entire color of the photo seems to move in one red/orange, too blue or too green. This is because the camera was probably set to the wrong white balance, and the camera thought the subject was lit with one type of light, when in reality it was another.

The spectrum of light is measured in Kelvins.
1000-2000 K Candlelight
2500-3500 K Tungsten Bulb
3000-4000 K Sunrise/Sunset
4000-5000 K Fluorescent Lamps
5000-5500 K Electronic Flash
5000-6500 K Daylight with Clear Sky (sun overhead)
6500-8000 K Moderately Overcast Sky
9000-10000 K Shade or Heavily Overcast Sky

You don't have to memorize this chart, it just shows you that depending on what the conditions are, you need to change your camera's white balance so that color is recorded correctly.

In the days of film cameras, you might have seen multi-colored filters at the camera store to attach to lenses. This was how white balance was handled then. If it was "cool" light, which would normally produce a blue color, a red or orange "warming" filter was used.

Now with digital cameras, this is all done automatically. It's not perfect and you can get situations where it's a little tricky.

You will most likely get good results with your camera set to "auto" white balance. It generally does a good job and if you use Photoshop or another editing software you can make minor adjustments. If you shoot RAW files, you can completely change the white balance even after you've already taken the photo.

I will usually leave the white balance on Auto, or if it's bright and sunny I'll switch to "daylight". Indoors with household bulbs, switching to incandescent really does work well.

The trickiest situations are always shade and overcast skies. Even on a cloudy day, sometimes you switch the white balance to "overcast" thinking you've done the right thing, and the camera compensates too much and the photo looks orange. Same thing for shade. In these two situations it's always best to take a test photo and change the white balance if needed.

The Rebel Xti should have a WB setting for Auto, daylight, fluorescent, tungsten, flash, overcast and shade. To test out what happens, bring your camera to one source of light..indoors or outdoors, and take a picture of the same subject, each on a differnt white balance setting and you'll see how the color of the photo changes.

I hope that helps you out about what it is and how to use it.