Tuesday, January 11, 2011

White Balance

Technically, this is slightly more about metering than white balance, but since it involves white yarn, it's snowing out (yea :-) and I lost my balance walking back from the barn this morning (but luckily didn't break one of my favorite and probably irreplaceable coffee cups), we'll call this post "White Balance".

I had a couple singles on bobbins at the wool house that had been sitting there for months. Yes, months (hanging my head in shame :-/). I finally wound them off into center pull balls and plied them. Of course, because they'd sat for so long, I needed to revive the yarn's original twist and my favorite way to do this is to bring them to the house and hold them over a steaming kettle. Watching wool dance in steam is My Favorite Thing To Do.

The dark brown and silver yarns were sitting on the kitchen counter together and I kept walking past them, petting them, marveling over the difference not only in the color, but texture as well between the soft, fluffy brown and the fuzzy, coarser silver.

"I should take a picture of that." (She's feeling a little better ;-)

This is not what they look like in real life.

I had added in a couple skeins I'd spun from my neighbor's Clun Forest sheep. Bright white Clun Forest. Not tan. Yuck. What was wrong?

1. I'd forgotten to re-set the white balance on my camera to "auto" instead of "cloudy". I frequently do that and if there was ever a resolution that needed to be made, it would be "Re-set the camera after Each Use". Saint Tim would vote for "Shut the Gate" but that's a story for another day.

2. I also could have picked a spot with better lighting.

Much better. Isn't it neat, the difference in the three yarns? Well, yeah, if the yarn closest to me wasn't so out of focus it would be easier to see. Time for a better prop.

This is a little dark, but the three colors (light, medium, dark) together bring up something fun to experiment with - metering.

My photography, much like my spinning, probably comes closest to being described as the "redneck method". I'm okay with that - not that I'm not always trying to learn more - but I'm perfectly happy being the person who inspires either:

1. If she can do it, anyone can do it.

2. Whatever you do, don't do it like she does.

Someone's learning something either way ;-).

Bottom line, remember I have No Training and my very best advice for you is Read Your Owner's Manual. However, I've heard friends complain about how hard it is to take pictures of yarn and I agree.

Here is one (of many) simple things to try and I'm not going to get into all the technical stuff. If you have to use the word "stuff" to explain something technical, you probably shouldn't be trying to explain it anyway. There are many ways to affect this, but if you don't want to read your owner's manual and your pictures are coming out too light or too dark, here is something you can try. But read that camera manual anyway!

For the three "metering" shots, I have my camera set to completely automatic. The camera is doing all the thinking for me. Often the best idea.

Yikes! What happened here?

In 25 words or less, I focused the camera on the dark yarn. The camera tried to compensate for the darkness and washed out the white.

Here I focused on the white yarn and it compensated by making everything else too dark.

Here I was able to conveniently split the difference, focus on the gray yarn and while it's still a bit too dark, everything is pretty well balanced.

So what if you aren't taking pictures of white, gray and black yarn? Say I'm taking a picture of Iris, our border collie, or black faced Renny. If the pictures are coming out too dark or too light, I'll quickly move my focus area around a little and let the camera pick up different amounts of dark and light. Same for taking a picture of a light gray felted sheep out in the dark green grass. Eli, Comby and Claire Bear sitting together on the porch railing? Try focusing on each cat separately and see how your pictures change.

There is also probably a setting on your camera (even the small point and shoots) to "manually" change how your camera is looking at the world...but you gotta read your owner's manual ;-).

And remember to re-set it when you are finished.


Anchor Cottage said...

My friend Sylvia turned me on to this blog and I just adore it!

Mary Ann @ Anchor Cottage

Alice said...

An informative blog with an injection of humor (one of my favorite kind). You must be feeling better even after the slip 'n fall!

Pam said...

Uh, what? I have never had my Panasonic Lumix off Inteli-Shot.I have no problem having a camera smarter than I am. I can live vicariously through smart people like you.

Nancy K. said...

yeah, right!


Glad to hear that you're feeling better!

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

You have a gift with photography, an ability to frame the object or subject in an interesting and compelling way. That's why your photos stand out from the crowd. Great job!

Peruby said...

I love manuals. My problem was when they moved the manual from a physical unit to be read on-line from a CD. UGH!

thecrazysheeplady said...

Amen! I HATE paperless manuals.

Peacecat said...

It's really interesting to read about the photography. Thanks for posting! This yarn reminds me of a pattern I want to knit - it's a celtic design with a cowichan flair...
Grey and white.

bj said...

You know how much I appreciate this! Great suggestions ~thanks.

junelle said...

You are a great teacher. I think this is such a clear way of explaining something that I mess up on so often. I need to put a sticky note on my camera to *check the settings* before I start shooting.

I think for me it is hardest in the snow when the sun comes out. Sheep in snow with sun~ ouch.
I adore you always~

Ed said...

Well said, its all about trying different settings and constantly checking the white balance, if all else fails get an Expo Disc, it fits over the lens and helps set the white balence manually..:-)


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