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Photography Question 
Todd Burch
 

In Real Life, the Walls are White...


 
  Hand Check
Hand Check
Inside photo using daylight film
© Todd Burch
 
 
In this typical (of my efforts) photo, the white walls in the background do not show up as white walls, but have a gray/green cast to them. The photo was taken with a Nikon N90s with SB-28 using full program mode, Auto-TTL flash setting and (shame on me) Kodak 200 daylight film.

There are times when I don't take all 24 pictures outside in bright sunny light. How can I compensate to get better (more true color) inside photos in situations like this one?

Thanks a bunch, Todd.


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9/9/2001 11:39:03 PM

 
John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Todd,
The first thought that comes to mind from your description is fluorescent lighting, which can cause a "gray/green" cast to daylight film. If the existing lights are sufficiently bright, and your film speed high enough (200 isn't that high), the "daylight" balanced flash added may not be enough (by comparison) to overtake the manmade lighting color balance. If there are no fluorescents in use, then look for anything that could cause the color cast (curtain colors, ceiling color, etc.).

There is a filter for "fluorescent to daylight" (typically called an FL-D) but it is made for available light (no flash) and it doesn't always work that well. Fluorescent light color balance varies too greatly by manufacturer and bulb type.

Your print processor should be able to correct all or nearly all of this. Many print processors set color balance on the first frame of a strip of film and *assume* it's the same for the entire roll. This is often an incorrect assumption. A good print processor will color balance each print individually, or at the very least will note when it has obviously changed in the film strip and adjust it accordingly. If you haven't had a reprint done of just one of these frames, try that and see what happens.

-- John


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9/11/2001 4:50:30 AM

 
Todd Burch   Hi John, and thanks for taking the time to comment. There are some fluorescent lights in the kitchen which is right next to the den where this was taken. Good point.

However, your comment about having my print processor reprint it is something that I have not even considered. I've had some problems with them lately too; out of a 37 print roll, they managed to scratch 29 prints... I think it's time for a new processor.

Todd.


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9/11/2001 8:57:17 AM

 
Jim    This is a common problem. The N90s is using fill flash in this instance unless you over rode the settings. The film is not the problem. The problem is fundamentally, your brain knows the walls are white. No matter what the color of the ambient light is, your brain sees the wall as white. Film has no such intellegence. The wall relected whatever color was hitting it. During the daytime, most of the light in a room is relected skylight. The Sky is blue because it reflects absorbs the remainging parts of the spectrum. This is also why objects take on a blue cast when shot in the shade on a sunny day. Also, Electronic flashes tend to be cooler in temp than direct daylight. I also notice an overall color cast to the photo, which can be corrected in printing.

There are other infulences here as well. The meter averages the scene to 18% gray. A true white has about 90% relectance... most walls are considerably less than that. The Nikon matrix system in combination with D lenses will try to discount the background and expose for the subject. While its success rate is amazing, it can be fooled. Besides reprinting, in the future, move closer to your subject (less background, more people), try center weighted metering if the subject is dead center, and if there is substantial white in the background, set the camera to overexpose 1 to 1 1/2 stops, but leave the flash at its normal compensation. I do this often in such situations.


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10/4/2002 12:41:06 PM

 
Todd Burch   Jim, thanks again for the advice. I'll try the 1 to 1 overexposure next time.


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10/4/2002 7:37:17 PM

 
John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Todd,
Do not forget that the print is a photograph of the film (the negative). Color negative has wide latitude, and the printer makes decisions about color balance in setting the filter pack on the enlarger. Everything I see in this photograph could have been corrected, both color and print density, during printing.

It is entirely possible that a negative overexposed by a full stop could be printed to look very nearly *exactly* as this one does. Automagic print machines are particularly susceptible to this as they are calibrated to make prints that average to approximately 18% gray across the highlights and shadows, and their areas, in the entire print.

BTW, print "density" is the jargon for how long the print is exposed to the negative in the enlarger. Increase density and the print is made darker. Decrease density and the print is made lighter.

-- John


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10/4/2002 11:58:25 PM

 
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