Summary: I’ve added a new body to my street bag. The color is different between body models. While color-correcting images I found that the white found on a can of Lone Star Beer is a very convenient way to do a quick white-balance correction in Adobe Bridge.
I’ve been shooting all Nikon D3oo bodies last year. A few days ago I traded up one of the bodies to a newer D300s. Now the RAW unprocessed color across the different models is different in a bad way. I find my new D300s uncorrected RAW images to be a few points magenta and blue (purple). This wrecking havoc on my workflow as I’m having to color balance all 70+% of my images in a way that is different from the 30% of the images I’ll shoot with an older D300 at an event.
If it were a few images I wouldn’t care. However New Year’s Eve was my biggest shoot day ever only to be followed up with 10 days of Free Week Austin which will result in about 1200-1300 published images. If I spend and extra 10 seconds on each image to color correct it then that is 3.5 hours of extra time. You get the idea.
First thing was to change the color balance in the camera. As I us AUTO white balance for most of my event work and it works well for the vast majority of pics. I went in and made a small tweak the AUTO color balance to A1 / M1. This pulls the automatic color balance away from the blue / magenta cast I was getting in skin tones.
Now I’m getting good results from the D300s that are comparable (yet not identical) to the default Auto setting on the D300 bodies.
Here’s the cool part…
As I was color balancing hundreds of photographs I found that Lone Star beer cans were a frequent common denominator – they were in lots of shots. I started doing a simple white balance correction within Bridge using the top radiating white stripes in the can. I liked the results. This really sped up processing time.
I decided to do a quick studio test on ‘Lone Star’ white. These test were done setting the WB to Flash if only to lock down the camera and remove minor changes that can occur between two shots in AUTO.
Here is an images pulled out of RAW with no post processing other than resizing the image for this post.
I see the whites and greys shifting a bit blue and green. Even on an uncorrected monitor you should see the image below is warmer.
Now If I white balance this print using a middle grey value in Bridge I get this:
The middle grey at 115 is grey and the darker grey goes a little blue. Note that the Green values do not change only Red and Blue change. Now look at the values for hte ‘Lone Star’ White. The ‘balanced’ images has a slight reduction in blues and a larger bump in the reds. This is fine as I don’t mind slightly warmer skin tones.
Now if I were to white balance a real world image using point #2 I would blue up the image a few points. So I can take the uncorrected image in RAW and white balance it using ‘Lone Star’ White to get a fairly close white balance. Almost as if I was shooting with a grey card in the scene.
Keep in mind that this is MY set up for shooting a SB-900 on a D300s
I haven’t tested it with a PBR but in practice I get similar results doing a whilte balance off of the white on a can of PBR.