White-balance red

 

I never considered myself a good (Lego)photographer, there are so many great toy-photographers out there. Yet, I am getting there, slowly but surely. This year I will write some blogposts on the things I learned over the past five years I’ve been photographing lego. This first episode is on white-balance. It is very, very basic; but at the time it was a real eye-opener to me… showing how little I actually knew about photography. Makes me wonder how many basic things I am oblivious to.

To me, the hardest part of lego photography is lighting indoor scenes, composition of a scene coming in as a close second. There are so many factors to consider before you can take the shot. In the beginning I didn’t really look at specific lighting at all. I just saw to it that my subject wasn’t dark and that was about it. At some point I started paying a little bit more attention, using the lights I had in and about the house, lightbulbs, Leds, iphones, etc… The photos back then didn’t really come out my camera the way i wanted. So i would turn to photoshop and correct them as much as I could. However… I couldn’t really get them right. I had no clue what I was doing, shadows everywhere, uneven lighting, reflections… etc.

The problem: white-balance

One thing I found very, very annoying was the fact I couldn’t get the color temperatures/ white-balance right, At first I thought I could solve that problem by just shooting in raw and post-processing the white balance in photoshop…. again, it didn’t work. Even two photo’s that were lighted approximately the same way gave completely different results at exactly the same settings for color temperature in photoshop.

I considered that was a huge problem for the comic. In those times I shot each episode the day it went up and for the better part I couldn’t get them consistent (just take a look at the first comic and you’ll see).

The crucial finding… providing more problems

It took me some time to figure out that not every light had all colors incorporated. For the comic episodes I used more than one type of lamp, all simple home lamps, all with different types of lightbulbs. Furthermore, for each episode the scene was lighted a bit different because I moved the lamps and so their light wasn’t evenly distributed. I didn’t notice with the naked eye… but, as a result, in post-processing I couldn’t get the temperatures the same.

To solve this i bought daylight lamps. And that solved most of that problem! At least the scenes were lighted the same regarding temperature. So most of the time I shot all photo’s in those lights (I became afraid of all other types of lights) and then corrected the white-balance in Photoshop, coincidentally introducing more problems. It was a lot of work, I had to remember all kinds of settings and, not surprisingly; mostly these photo’s looked artificial even when i longed for a more realistic look.

Solution(s)

Nowadays, i don’t let the lights control me anymore, i control the lights! I still use the daylight lamps, but added smaller lights with different colors and temperatures whenever necessary (I got them at Brickstuff – check them out!). That means more consistency and less post-processing and more time for the shoot itself. Yay!

White-balance moodTwo different moods, in one scene. Is Dwaas inviting the rat from its cold and lonely hideout into his warm and cozy area?

At least now I know how to basically get the white-balance right. However, there is so much, less basic, stuff to now and learn. I’m working on that and hopefully take you along for the journey.

So if you are into (toy-)photography what was something very basic you didn’t realise at first? And how do you deal with the white-balance in your photo’s, straight out of the camera, or mostly in post-processing?