The back story: Tuesday night I got a phone call from a friend. Kina,
her daughter, will play a cello solo with a local musical organization
at the end of the month. They just told her that they need a picture of
her for their online newsletter. Could I do it? When's it due? Umm,
I arranged to come to the friend's house when Kina got home from school.
I had about 90 minutes to do everything. It was gray and rainy, so
outside light wouldn't work. I don't own any lights, but Kina's Dad had
some. They turned out to be halogen. Oh, well. I found the most blank
wall in the house, bounced the lights off the ceiling, set the camera's
white balance with a sheet of white paper held in front of Kina's face.
I set the output files to full-size JPG plus RAW, and did the shoot.
Rapport was good. Things went well. I brought along my now-freeware
image editor, Picture Window Pro on a flash drive, put it on the family
computer, made a few adjustments to the best out-of-camera JPG. They
send it off to the musical organization. I rushed home, wolfed down
dinner, went to my own orchestra rehearsal, got home, looked at the
photo. Their family computer was brighter than my calibrated monitor,
so the photo is too dark. I readjusted it, did a couple of little
dodges and burns, and sent it off as a "correction if there's time."
Then I fooled with the RAW file to see if I could make it any better.
The Olympus out-of-camera JPG is quite warm. Kina and her Mom liked it.
Capture One, using a photo of the white paper as the white-balance
standard, gave me a muted, almost pastel rendering of the RAW file.
The wall color is accurate, but Kina looks a bit paler than she actually is.
Often, I find that if I take the average of the too-warm initial white
balance and a "correct" one derived from something white in the picture
(or shot under the same conditions), that average is close to what I
like. Not this time--whatever tweaks I tried made it worse.
The out-of-camera version is usable as-is. But I have a few other shots
from the session that I'd like to work up. Of course they could be
converted to B&W. But I'm wondering what I can do to make the
white/color balance better. And I'm wondering if I should invest in a
couple of reasonably-priced lights or flashes (Is that an oxymoron?) if
more people ask me to do this sort of thing. Re-arranging the living
room lights works fine for B&W, but not always for color.
Themed Olympus Photo Exhibition: http://www.tope.nl/