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Old Mar 8, 2011, 6:48 AM   #1
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Default Lumix FZ38 portrait tips

Hi i am the proud new owner of a Panasonic Lumix FZ38. I got the camera around 4 weeks ago and have been experimenting with various settings and have had some really great results. The only thing i am having trouble with though is indoor portraits. I would like to take decent photo's of my kids but so far the results have not been as good as my outdoor photos. I have been using both IA and manual settings. The colours on the photos have been very vibrant but for some reason my daughters blonde hair appears as if it is orange. Any tips? Apart from this the camera is fantastic.
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Old Mar 8, 2011, 7:49 AM   #2
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Sounds like the white balance is off. You can set the white balance for indoor lighting (I'm guessing that it is incadescent lighting) and get a truer white balance. Alternatively, on most cameras, you can set the WB by calibrating the camera using a grey card or white card, and then use that WB in your shots. Just remember to reset it for outdoors when you are through. I believe that your camera doesn't have a hot shoe for external flash. If it does, bounce flash is an excellent way to get natural-appearing light indoors. If the flash provides the main illumination, you can leave the WB on the outdoor setting because a flash provides light of a similar "temperature" to sunlight. Finally, if you shoot raw (is that a possibility with your camera?), you can adjust the WB in post-processing. This takes a little bit of practice to learn to do, but it is the most robust approach to these issues.
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Old Mar 8, 2011, 8:13 AM   #3
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The above advice is good. But I wanted to add to it.
First: are you using a flash? Let us know.

One of the challenges with white balance is if your subject does not have a consistent light source across the whole subject. For example - a table lamp next to them - this will produce a different color temperature on that side of the subject than on the other side.
For example, here is a shot where you can see the table lamp producing a color cast on one side of his face that doesn't exist on the other side. There is no single correct WB for the whole image:

However, by making some adjustments to exposure we get a more constant color temperaturue:

Now, even in the 2nd shot there is still a slightly different color cast but not as bad. But the point is - these shots help illustrate how having a light source on one side of the subject can cause problems even when combined with flash.

So, the key is:
1) use flash
2) keep your subject away from a strong light source from the side or even a low-hanging ceiling light which can create uneven color temperature across the subject.
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Old Mar 8, 2011, 8:20 AM   #4
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In addition to the above, this condition is often caused by mixed lighting, when the flash is not powerful enough to overwhelm the incandescent lights. The camera will often choose white balance based on the flash (which is towards the blue end of the spectrum), but the mid-tones and shadows end up looking very yellow/orange/red, due to the room lights.(different cameras render this in different ways) This can be compensated for by using a colored filter over the flash (gel) or by replacing the room lights with daylight balanced lighting. (I have been getting promising results using an orange prescription pill bottle cut to slip over my flash head)

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Old Mar 8, 2011, 8:29 AM   #5
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Thanks for all the sound advice. I guess it is all trial and error until i get used to the camera. I have only recently returned to photography and i am trying to re-educate myself. In response to John G, yes i have been using the pop up flash as there is no hot shoe. I will try out all the tips you have all kindly supplied and let you know how i get on.
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