Have you ever uttered the words, “I can do that later in Photoshop?” I hear versions of this phrase often and even worse is, “I can fix it in Photoshop.” STOP!
Have you ever shot next to someone, looked in the back of his or her camera, and said, “Wow, my image doesn’t look like that.” I do this regularly, LOL. However, several years ago, I was puzzled why the image in my friend’s camera, the same brand and model as mine, was much richer in color. He looked at the back of my camera and asked, “Are you shooting on cloudy?” I responded, “No, I am in auto white balance.” This changed my world.
When editing in post, I found myself constantly warming up my images from Africa. By changing my Auto White Balance to cloudy, it warmed up and saturated the image when captured. Especially when photographing in Africa, along the equator, the light goes flat within the first 45 minute. Once the light is flat, I found if I changed my settings to cloudy and underexposed slightly, I could shoot for longer with a bigger smile when viewing my images. Then, I upped the creativity again and set the kelvins to a cool setting between 2800-3500 when the light was flat or grey. This would add a mystical look.
This year, I led a group to Mana Pools, Zimbabwe, which is the most indiscernible magical light I have seen in 14 years of photographing throughout Africa. However, even with the dappling light, through the forest, there were the typical challenges. The first image below was shot during the magical first moments of the day. The next image was shot about ½ later, on cloudy. You can see, through the back of the trees, the warm color in the light is fading. In the third image, even with the white balance on cloudy, I have lost most of the warm light. Since I still had the moodiness of the damp dropping light, In the image at the top of the page, I put my kelvins on 2800 and created the mystical look of the image in camera.
Yes, you could probably match most of the color tones in Photoshop, with the exception of the image taken at sunrise. It is a personal choice, but I find that being creative in camera adds much more instant gratification, gives you endless possibilities, and is just good for the soul. Yes, half of you may not like the creative color of the first image, as art is subjective, but I find being creative in camera continues to push the level of my photography. Are you shooting on AWB? Have you tried playing around with your auto white balance settings?