New Flash Photography Color Matching Technique To Save Time & Please Clients

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How would you like to substantially reduce your post processing time, in the area of color correction? The softest light, of course, is achieved by bouncing it off a much larger object, such as a ceiling or wall. The most natural direction for light is from above, bounced off a ceiling. It is also the most convenient surface off which to bounce light. However, when confronted with a ceiling that is other than white in color, like orange or blue, use of the ceiling may seem out of the question. This article will give you a different perspective on the situation.

The secret is this: The real problem is not actually the color of the ceiling. The real problem is the mixture of colors that is created as a result of bouncing light off a colored ceiling, using a diffuser that in effect contributes a different color.

Let me explain. Generally, the ceiling color (white) matches the diffuser color (white). Under this ideal condition, the two light paths striking the subject are similar in terms of color temperature, which is vital to producing an image that is color matched and easily adjusted to perfection. You don't want your subject's face or the bride's wedding dress to be duo-toned, do you? This is what happens when the light bounced from a colored ceiling is mixed with the white diffuser providing forward fill light. So how can you fix this? Think in terms of the expression, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

That's right. You can't practically change the color of the ceiling, so change the color of the diffuser! Once this color matching is attended to, you can set your camera's white balance to this light, or just leave the camera's white balance setting to auto and then later adjust the white balance in your favorite image processing software. I recommend shooting in RAW and using the "eyedropper" tool to adjust the white balance with a couple of mouse clicks.

There is a little pre-planning and leg work called for to color match the diffuser to the ceiling. This extra effort is very worthwhile, as your post processing time devoted to color balancing will be dramatically reduced. Your clients will be very happy with your quality work and quick turnaround time, too!

Here's how to color match the ceiling:

* At the time when you scope out the venue, as wedding photographers do prior to the event, take a picture of the ceiling along with a gray card or white balance tool.

* White balance the picture of the ceiling by using the "eyedropper" tool in your favorite image processing software.

* Print the picture (which can be cropped) of the ceiling on regular paper (matte, non glossy) or thicker card stock.

* Create a custom insert, by cutting the printed picture of the ceiling to size.

You may also add a gel to compliment ambient lighting, though the gel is entirely optional and has nothing to do with color matching the ceiling.

Now you are ready to shoot.

Don't be alarmed when you chimp through the images on your 3" LCD and they all look bluish. That's exactly what you want to see. The blue ceiling and blue diffuser will produce bluish light, which will be easily corrected in post processing (we recommend shooting in RAW). Of course, if you had white balanced your camera to this bluish light beforehand, then the images would look perfect on your 3" LCD without post processing. Either way, the final results will be superb.

This article has described an advanced flash photography technique to substantially reduce your post processing time, in the area of color correction. Utilizing this new color matching method should help you as a professional photographer to both save time and please clients.

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