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Issues with contrast and colors

  Hi guys, last night I had setup a party photoshoot with a Lastolite HiLite box iluminated with to strobes inside as a background and two flashes with a shot through umbrella just a little to the right of the camera and about 2ft higher. I did this setup a couple of times and never had any problem.
  The lights on the room where mixed lights, so I've set the camera about 3stops under ambient to kill the lights. I was shooting at f11, 200th/sec and ISO around 300. 
  The light were set up using light meter. 
  Camera: Canon 6d
  Lens: Tamron 24-70 2.8 VC
  File type: L JPEG
  Printer: DNP40 (last job I had no problems with the same equipment)
  Windows 8 HP computer, uncalibrated screen. But the photos where printed without any editing using DSLRBooth software.
The problem: photos had very low contrast and color had magenta/red tint, mostly visible on the print. I could not get proper exposure because of luck of the contrast. At the end, I had to overexpose in camera to get somewhat decent photos. 
  This time my front light light was closer to the subject and background at about 8-9 feet from the background. I was not allowed more room. I can not figure it out, why I had this problem.  This time, like last time I had a wall next to the setup(camera left) but last time the wall had a matte texture and this time was just a light vanilla paint. I am not sure if that could create magenta/red tint. any help appreciated. Few example below.

Thank you!


  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Couple of questions.

    1] Were all the pics taken in the same location, same background, you have 3 entirely looking different backgrounds

    2] You had to over-expose you said in camera to get a decent image. They certainly were over-exposed by around +0.75 ev and you can see that on their faces, clothes.

    3] WB: I am presuming the shirt and suit were supposed to be black, there was a lot of blue in them which affected the colour overall.

    4] You said L Jpeg, meaning Low, that can cause some problems as you are not giving the image 'full information' and although in theory it's should only alter file size, it does have an effect on things especially in Canon. I have a mate, he shot smallest jpeg size, and once he went to full res, he got much better results.

    5] You said you had done same set up before, and with a meter, and yet you had to over-expose in camera to get a decent result, does not make sense, unless you had flashes in TTL where a light meter is totally useless then, as it will measure the pre-flash. But, I am presuming because of the preceding set-ups with no problem, you were in manual flash setup.

    I opened each in ACR, tweaked the WB on each (around +11-13 on Temp and around -3-5 on Tint, and reduced exposure and got a decent result. Although the backgrounds were still over-exposed, lots of clipping when I even reduced by -0.80 ev on the family shot the background still blown.




  • Thank you Trev for your prompt response. You adjustments made a huge difference, but my photo booth software does not let me apply any editing. 
      The background is the same but I was playing with lights adjustments.
     JPEG files were set on "large jpeg"
     White Balance was on "Flash"...since the ambient light was killed by -3 exposure. I've tried to do custom WB off the background and came out way green.
     Flashes were all on Manual as well as the camera. and started with background and front lights evenly exposed. 
     It was a bad day overall. I've decided to use LR tether and apply some correction and LR decided not to connect to my camera that night. No problem with photo Booth software. 
     Here, I've attached a random shot from previous session. The set of the lights only toke me  few minutes. 

    I want to recreate this scenario at home and see what I can get. It drove me nuts. I was thinking, maybe the light vanilla colored wall on camera left was casting yellow color on my background, forcing me to over expose it to get red of the yellow. I don't really now the answer yet. The floor was white vinyl. 
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Even if you get it 'right in camera' (which to me is not totally possible) you need to give it that kick of contrast.

    I misread the L jpeg, thinking low, instead of Large, Medium and Small, it's been sooooo long since I've ever shot it that I forgot, sorry.

    Honestly I would edit in LR still to fix WB and contrast/sharpness, but I am just realising now that you are shooting, outputting via Photo Booth direct to printer and sell on the night?

    It didn't gel with me that's what you were doing, sorry. You will have to compromise somehow, and I still don't understand if you metered correctly that you had to over-expose in camera to bring them up, something's not right. I suppose you did check the meter that you had ISO/Shutter set to camera to get an Aperture output.

    Have you considered setting a Custom White Balance with a grey card and saving that as a Custom/User Setting in camera along with you ISO/Shutter/Aperture. If you do that, no matter what venue, as long as you choose that, and set up the lights to give correct reading you should be spot on.

    You can do that anywhere prior, your home, etc. with the settings you want, setting up lights, taking a custom WB/Exposure and then save it.

    Also, you can apply a tad more contrast/sharpness in your jpeg settings and then you should be right for 'it'll be right in camera'.

    btw: Great shot of the young man mate, I really like that a lot. Good job. :)

  • Thank you again Trev! Live and learn. At least somehow I was able to save the night. I think I will be using that software only when I do a print with multiple shots in it. They are smaller and more forgiving and use LR or Capture One for full prints. The kid shot was done tethering in LR. 

  • Trev - I've been reading all your comments and suggestions, which have been great, but there is one I don't get: if setting the WB using a grey card, don't you have to be in the venue/situation/setup where you actually take the photos? I don't get how you can shoot a card in your living room, save it, and then go to a venue where everything is completely different, and use that Wsetting
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited January 2016

    You can do that IF you are under-exposing the ambient like above, and have the same flash set up like mgmotomx is, since the same flashes, produce the same light on the subject.

    Since they are people, you need to have skin tones accurate, so, with the same setting ISO/Shutter/Aperture; kicker light from camera left, main from camera right, as long as it's the same flash units it works. Now, the only variable would be the background, but since that does not matter as the wall/whatever is a different colour, it just won't matter, since if the WB/Custom Settings are done right, any other colour in the background should and will fall into place.

    eg: My mate, the one who shoots jpegs for formals/seniors/graduations, has the same light setup each and every time at different venues, with the same settings.

    Using a 5D MkII, one day I took along my 'tri-colour' WB disc (has a white/black/50% grey triangles in a big foldable setup) and once he set up his lights, ISO 400, Shutter 125th, f9 (those settings were enough to kill any ambient) and with his 2 Bowens in big umbrellas in front, a hair light from top behind, and a magenta gel he puts onto any background, then took a Custom WB, then set all of those parameters into a Custom Setting (C1) on his camera, he now just sets up the lights at a certain distance/angles, clicks to C1 on camera, and test fires the flashes and takes a light meter reading and he may have to increase/decrease the flashes by only 1/10th of a stop.

    Then he bangs away all night, no exposure changes (unless they miss the mark X on floor) and more importantly the WB is absolutely perfect, blacks can read like 18/18/18 (RGB) or a bit less or a bit more and true greys come in around 124/124/124 to 130/130/130, highlights around 235/235/235 if correct white colours.

    He initially had trouble getting everything to gel, and asked my advice. So I went with him at beginning of a season, set up like above, did the Custom WB/Exposure, saved it to C1 on his camera, and that was close to 3 years ago, and from that day to this, he gets the precise same result each and every time with WB/Exposure (as long as he checks his flashes with a meter at each set up) and it does not matter one bit with the colours on any thing in the room, ceiling, walls, backgrounds, etc., since ambient is killed anyway.

    Even maybe a couple of fluros coming in from above, but if big sodium lights, he will turn those off, that's it.


    Edit: attached show something similar to mine only more triangle. I forget the name of it.

    wb.jpg 36.9K
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Just a comment about the WB ... Flash WB might be too warm. This will explain the yellow color cast. Try Cloudy WB instead and see if that makes a difference. 
  • Hello, I want to deal with macro photography. I have a EOS REBEL T2i and would like a help on how to start looking for a macro ring flash. I thought to BOLT VM-160 LED MACRO RING LIGHT I'm not sure if it's the right decision. Thoughts?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Hi Sarah,

    Would you mind starting a new discussion with this topic, since this thread may not attract persons interested as it's about Contrast and Colour.

    On the Home Page, to the right at top you will see the 'New Discussion' button, click, type in a heading, then your post, then a lot more people may see it better instead of in this thread.

    Once you have done that I will delete your comment above. Thanks very much.

  • Hi everyone, I think I've found the issue with contrast and color. Today I've replicated the same setup in my garage. I've used a big octa with Bowens mount with a different mount strobe using an adapter. The reason for this is that I've used my Bowens mount strobe into my Hilite background box, since they provide more powerful modeling light, making the box look better during the event.  Now, as soon I've changed the softbox with an umbrella, everything back to normal. Than I used one of the strobes with Bowens mount on the same softbox and everything was good. Back to the adapter and previous strobe....no contrast and blueish cast. I think the adapter moves the strobe back into the softbox aluminum mount, getting the gray/blue tint and preventing the light to diffuse properly. This is the only reason I can think about. Weird!
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Good to hear that.

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