Blahylur - Auto White Balance

Updating Some of My Photography Mantras (Podcast 593)

Over the years, I developed a number of photography related mantras that seemed like a good idea at the time, but have since changed my thinking as my understanding gets better, the technology improves, and as the times change. Today I'm going to update a few of these mantras in...

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
  • Dave
    Posted at 21:28h, 17 October Reply

    I have gone the opposite way with AWB, I used to shot it all the time and not have any problems. Till this spiring when the bluebells were out, I shot first thing in the morning with nice yellow light and the camera, Canon 5Dmk2 did not do a good job, the next day went to the same wood, with day light selected everything looked good with a nice yellow glow! So now I shoot with day light set all the time now. Up till now no problem! But now you have sown a seed of doubt I might try AWB again.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 21:32h, 17 October Reply

      Hi Dave,

      So, you may have missed my point about the generation of cameras. The 5D Mark II is now 3 generations behind, and that I what I consider the last generation that I still did not trust. I didn’t really use AWB on the 5D Mark III either, but I believe it was probably OK by then. You might be OK to give it a try, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Daylight preset gives better results most of the time.

      Plus, scenes with lots of one color maybe do still confusion the systems. I haven’t really shot fields of flowers over the last year. 🙂


  • Nick Nieto
    Posted at 11:02h, 21 October Reply

    Martin –

    Thank you for this podcast episode. It was very thought-provoking for me. I don’t know if I have any specific mantras that have changed but I definitely have feelings about photography and how I approach (or should I say don’t approach) my art that has changed. Your podcast has sparked me to spend time thinking about that.

    Over the past 2 years, I’ve found myself less and less enthusiastic about creating images. It stems from multiple things. External demands on my time are one. My career has been becoming more and more demanding on my time and make opportunities for photograph harder to come by. I really enjoy what I do but it has hampered my photography. The second thing and the one I dwell on the most was my transition to Lightroom from Aperture. It’s a funny thing. I know it’s just software but I used to love the organization, culling and editing part of photography. When I switched I could never get my workflow to fully feel fluid. I never felt quite organized and found the program to be quite slow to work within and didn’t fit with my organization thought process. As a result, I started to process more and more 1 off photos from a shoot, I would transfer images over edit 1 or 2 then delete the card. I wasn’t interested in going into (what I call in my head “that turd of a program”) Lightroom. It’s been an interesting transition. I know Lightroom just got some updates. I haven’t had a chance to fully look at what that means to me and my workflow. Maybe it will make it better, maybe not. It’s never been about the editing part and always the organization for me.

    Your podcast gave me time to reflect on the changes in my photography life. I appreciate that.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 11:26h, 22 October Reply

      Hi Nick,

      I’m pleased that my post got you thinking. Sorry to hear that you aren’t as enthusiastic about your photography as before, but life sometimes has to come first.

      I fully understand your feeling about your Lightroom workflow. It’s vitally important that your workflow feels smooth, and it sounds like you aren’t getting that from Lightroom. Before I switch to Capture One Pro, I heard from a lot of people that were having problems with LR being slow, although I never had any issues myself.

      I decided to switch to Capture One Pro for image quality, and I’ve fallen in love with the workflow too, but it’s hard to say if you’d find it better, as it’s a different workflow again. I prefer Capture One now, although I was very accustomed to working in Lightroom. It might be worth grabbing a copy of Capture One Pro and using it for the trial period, but with your current situation in mind, it might not be worth the effort.

      Maybe wait until you get fired up about photography again, as it will take some mental energy and time to learn yet another workflow.

      I wouldn’t worry about not being so engaged at the moment Nick. If your passion for photography is still there, it will reel you back in at some point. It’s good that you are still thinking about this stuff though. It shows that the fire is still there.


  • David Glandon
    Posted at 00:22h, 28 October Reply

    Not only in Japan is photography not considered an art worth collecting, but here in the US as well. A friend who has a gallery and farming store has commented to me that most of what sells is anything but photography.
    I think I can summarize the sentiment with my sisters statement to me. “Why would I buy a photo of something that I could take myself? “ She wasn’t being mean about what she said but frank. I think is was a statement that really says what people think about photography. Not all but the majority.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 00:55h, 28 October Reply

      Although I understand your point David, statistically photography sells much better in the US than any other country. But, out of all art sales worldwide, photography only makes up around 1% of the yearly sales, so it’s definitely a small market, but the US has over half that market, with the UK around half the US, and France just under half again. By comparison, believe me, the Japan market is virtually none-existant.

  • Gregory Lawrence
    Posted at 05:23h, 30 October Reply

    A few people would think that I have stupid written on my forehead. Let’s just say that a nagging interest to me about a niche genre over the last 40 years finally took hold and led to a 6 year effort to obtain the wherewithal for a in-home studio specializing in high resolution digital photography of art work and historical objects. Having a technical background, custom apparatus was designed and built in my shop for specific needs.

    Knowing from past experience how time consuming this photography can be, especially digital restoration, it was apparent that no sensible person in my area of the state would show up at my door and pay the going price. I am retired, don’t really need extra income, and don’t want the hassle of a business. Solution, let’s donate some free time to the local communities and do my photography pro bono for artisans, collectors, museums and historical societies who can not afford professional photography..

    High resolution is the key. The full frame of a 50 MP Canon 5Ds provides a 16 x 24 inch native image size for smaller objects such as a piece of jewelry or a coin. Panoramas and matrix panoramas capture larger objects such as a full size antique quilt with image files at least life size or modestly larger. A full size print, gallery print or downsized image for any use is a snap from one high resolution master image file.. A lower resolution Canon 5D MK III is used when job appropriate. Typically the customer provides a USB flash drive and I provide full resolution jpg and downsized files suitable for digital projection. Any consumables are at cost.

    Between client and personal work there is enough free time to go around. Most of my clients are local museums or historical societies that are staffed by volunteers with little operating capital. The client base slowly grows by word of mouth. Clients must express specific needs before any photography is done to meet those needs. My satisfaction from the work and thanks received from my clients is quite rewarding. The technical and problem solving photographic education received through the custom setups in the studio is priceless. Nearly every object to be photographed is unique in some way. Being involved with people who are invested in preserving art and history is interesting.

    There are specific terms and conditions to which the client and me adhere. My portfolio grows. The client has full rights to the high resolution jpg files in order to benefit, promote and/or fund their efforts. Either party must credit the other if imagery is publicly shown. I can not sell their imagery, but I have ownership of the master Photoshop files and derivatives, and can officially copyright when appropriate. Doing work for free works for me and the client.

    A recently completed project: 249 artworks in a collection by artist Helen M. Hastings (1871-1953) done sometime from about 1890 to 1910, were unknown and recently found by the museum staff after over 100 years storage in the attic of the museum building. The recently completed 6 month project photographed 103 oil paintings, and a variety of illustrations, sketches, and watercolors. 536 high resolution images were created: “as is” of all 249 artworks, a few with sketches on the the reverse. The oil paintings were cleaned by the museum staff to remove blooming artifacts and were rephotographed. Then all cleaned oil painting and remaining artwork images were retouched in Photoshop to eliminate all damage and artifacts, essentially creating digital restorations for the museum to use for presentations, promotions and displays.

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