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  #1  
Old 06-07-2009, 05:07 PM
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Default White Balance and Skin Tones

OK, this might be a really subjective topic, but what is the "right" color balance for human skin? I mean, some people like their images warm, some do not. I like my people to look warm, colorful...alive! I just read an article that says the warm color balance is not acceptable for skin. I guess I'm just asking for some opinions.

The first image below is straight out of the camera using Auto white balance. As you can see, it's a little cool.
jgaughan_2009-05-31 18-20-49 - DSC_0048.JPG


When I started to balance the color off of the white in the shirts and dresses, they looked much better to me.
jgaughan_2009-05-31 18-21-01 - DSC_0052_edit2.jpg

But, with "fair skinned" kids like this, do they "really" look this way, or am I creating something different than how it actually is?

All opinions welcome!

The full gallery is here

It really went well!
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Old 06-08-2009, 03:40 PM
azikaphotography azikaphotography is offline
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I think you are the artist and they are your photos and if you want warmer skin tones than adjust the skin tones to be warmer. I personally like them warmer too. Not too warmer, just a tad. Just because someone says skin tones shouldn't be warm doesn't mean they shouldn't be. KWIM?

Did you meter off of their skin for this photo? My son is very, very fair skinned. I always meter off of his face, even in pictures with my daughter who is a little darker. Pale children are hard to get good skin tones off of and they can sometimes look bluer even with a CWB. Do you have a gray card or always use AWB? With pale kids you might get better results with a gray card but I am lazy with my kids and shoot on AWB.

I love, love, love that session. They all look great and so does your pping
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Old 06-08-2009, 05:06 PM
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I'm no expert but I agree with Amanda. I think your post is fine as far as the warmer tones go. Only thing I might suggest is weeding out some of the shots. You could easily drop 25% of the shots and still have some excellent choices. Giving too many choices serves only to make it more difficult for your customers to decide. 75-85 shots should be more than enough for them to look over.
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Old 06-08-2009, 05:28 PM
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I wish I was more of an expert on the subject of portrait photography but, alas, I am not.

However, my observations and experiences are that shooting RAW is a good fallback because you can tweak the white balance after shooting. It is always best to try and set a custom white balance but failing that, RAW conversions can work, as well.

Now tweaking in post production means that you should do this on a calibrated monitor; if you want to be reasonably confident that the changes you are making represent true colours. When I look at your 'warmed' portrait on my monitors I see some magenta colour cast. Almost, as if, you went too far the other way from the blue. You should be able to adjust red, green, blue and amber. Maybe swing back a little toward the green/amber zone.
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Old 06-08-2009, 05:31 PM
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Keep in mind this is coming from a film shooter who is only slightly delving into digital.
For setting the white balance, I'd use something white in the same light as the subject. Shadows can make things look very cool and would therefore warm up if the white balance is done using a white card in the shadow (basically getting you to "normal" not necessarily warm).
The alternative would be to shoot RAW and use the one that looks the best later.
How warm to make them depends on how they look. Some pale people have yellow undertones and some have blue. These will look different with warm light and you'll just have to make the decision on a case-by-case basis.
For metering off light skin, your best bet may be to meter off a grey card (I use an incident meter as long as I can get it in the same light as the subject). That would get to pretty much a middle exposure that can be tweaked in either direction if needed.
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Old 06-08-2009, 07:09 PM
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This discussion came one before in this thread. You may (or may not) find some useful tips there, as well.
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Old 06-08-2009, 09:51 PM
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Wow, you guys are great. very helpful.
I presented the session to the family yesterday. They were thrilled. I guess that's what matters the most, right?

Thanks for all the advice. I really take it all into account.

Angie, you know I never thought about tat, having too many choices. Coincidentally, the family did say that they didn't know how they were going to choose from those.
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Old 06-08-2009, 09:56 PM
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And Fred, I do see the magenta now. Hopefully the lab will correct that, but that's just one more thing to be aware of.

In the program I am using for post, I used the white balance correction tool and sampled the light falling on the white in her dress, and left it at that.
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Old 06-09-2009, 04:24 PM
azikaphotography azikaphotography is offline
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FYI - I always shoot raw and I always limit my number of shots I proof for clients. It makes them easier to choose and you get bigger sales. Honestly, I really don't care about the money because I love doing this so much but I do like the fact that it is easier to choose. I personally loved all the shots and I have no clue how they are going to choose. Those kids looked like a lot of fun and that family is beautiful.
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