A feature of my camera I only discovered a few months ago is the custom
White Balance (WB) adjustment. Basically it corrects for the fact that
different lights have different color balances. The ability to easily
adjust the color balance is a real feature of digital cameras over
film. With film you had only a limited ability to correct the color -
mostly by the choice of film. With a digital camera the colors can be
corrected by pointing the camera at piece of white paper under the
lighting and pressing the WB key while holding down the shutter (at
least that is how it works on my Olympus E-500). This sets a custom WB
that is stored in the camera. You can also correct the white balance
later with most digital photography editing software. I use Aperture 2
on a Mac and I adjusted the WB in the picture series shown below.
The colors in this image are too red and the sky too short
This section of the layout is lit under some daylight fluorescents and,
even though I set the camera WB to the "daylight" setting, the colors came out too red compared to the layout. My carefully colored granite lost its blue-gray color. I have found
that even if you always buy daylight fluorescents they have a wide
variation in color temperature. The color temperature is also affected
by the reflected light, light coming windows and so forth. I measured
the correct WB with the camera and found it to be 4800K. The camera was
set to 6000K when I took the picture.
The same image with the WB adjusted to 6000K and the sky cropped
I adjusted WB in Aperture and got
the second image. I also cropped the sky. The colors are bluer and a
lot closer to the actual colors on the layout.
Image with level adjusted and the sky retouched to remove screw holes and seam
For the third image, I
adjusted the levels of the picture as it was a bit dark and I retouched
the sky to get rid of the blemishes. The artifacts you see in the sky
near the trees and rocks is actually a result of reformating the
picture as a jpeg and not on the original image.
differences between the original image and the final one are subtle but
they really bring it to life and take away some of that look of "this
picture was shot indoors under artificial light" look that improperly
color balanced pictures have.
To me the retouching and adjustment abilities of
digital pictures is simply amazing. My father was a professional photo
retoucher and most of his work can now be easily by anyone with a
basic computer skill level. It took my father a lot of time and skill to remove
blemishes from photographs and then he had to take the picture to an
expensive lab to have it rephotographed without losing too much of the
quality. The whole process took a few days. The equivalent process can
be one with a few mouse strokes on a computer in a few seconds. If you
don't like the result you can just hit the undo button.