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Old Mar 17, 2007, 9:23 AM   #1
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Ok guys I am new to photography and to be honest I am a little overwhelmed with this camera. I have 2 lenses. The one it came with and a micro (macro) lens for close up shots. I also have some special lights and a white reflective backdrop from calumet photo for taking pictures. I want to take some close up pictures of metal parts for a ebay listing. All of my pictures with the Nikon are either grey or blue in the background. I want pure white. Just like the item is floating in air. Can you guys give me some tips. I am getting much better results with my cheap sony point and shoot. Oh and the metal parts have either a black finish or shiny metal finish or both. Just in case that matters. Thank you in advance for your help.
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Old Mar 17, 2007, 10:40 AM   #2
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Look in your manual for information about setting White Balance.

You can use an available preset (incandescent, sunny, etc.) so that it understands the termperature of the lighting you're using, or even better, use a custom white balance.

A custom white balance allows the camera to set it's white balance using a Photographic White or Gray card (and even something like a white coffee filter can be used in a pinch). Basically, it measures the temperature of the light (since the target is a known color), and adjusts color for other images you take in the same lighting using that custom white balance setting.

If the temperature of your lighting is closer to daylight, flourescent or tungston, try the available White Balance presets first. If none of those work well enough, just set a custom white balance to get it right (and you could even use something like a white coffee filter in your lighting as a target the camera can set it by to get it close).

There are many other solutions for setting white balance available, too. Check with your local Photographic equipment dealers for Photographic Gray cards and other available solutions.

Is your lighting continuous, or are you using strobes? If strobes, you may be able to use a daylight or flash preset for white balance (or set it using the kelvin temperature options under White Balance in your camera to match the temperature of the lighting you'll see in it's manuals).

You can also shoot in raw and adjust white balance during post processing.
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Old Mar 17, 2007, 11:27 AM   #3
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In addition to Jim's advice, you need light, and lots of it. A few 500 watt shop lights are a good start. You will also need to overexpose the image slightly, as the majority of your scene is the white background, and the camera will try to read it as 18% gray. How much you overexpose will depend on how much light you have. The more light, the less you'll need to overexpose to blow the background. I'd start at about +1 EV and go from there. Finally, you will need to do some post processing, and adjust the levels. Select the background as the white point, and bring up the black point a bit for added contrast, and you should get the results you're looking for.
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Old Mar 17, 2007, 11:41 AM   #4
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Exposure may even be your only issue. When I noticed the part about "blue", the first thing that came to my mind was all of the blue photos I've taken in the past, when I forgot to change my White Balance from Incandescent to Flash indoors when using a non-dedicated flash (or when walking from indoors to outdoors and forgetting to change it). I should have paid more attention to the grey part.

I tend to shoot a lot indoors and have to switch my white balance back and forth for the flash and non-flash photos (since I'm using a non-dedicated strobe that my camera does not know is attached). If I forget, blue photos are common. lol

So, make sure to try the suggestions made by rjseeney



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Old Mar 18, 2007, 10:09 AM   #5
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Thanks for the great information. I will try later today and let you guys know what happened. Your advice is appreciated.
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Old Mar 24, 2007, 8:58 PM   #6
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ok guys I got a light meter and now I am running f5.6 iso200 and exposure of 20. If I bump up the aperature I start to get blue in the background. But I think I am losing my black. Any ideas???? the object is floating just how I want it, but now the black what is normally dark is kind of faded.
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Old Mar 25, 2007, 8:19 AM   #7
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Exposure of 20??? I'm not sure what that means. You usually express exposure in terms of shutter speed, aperature and ISO. If you are using enough light, you shouldn't be shooting at 200 ISO. Shoot at the lowest available ISO (in the case of the D200 100iso). THis won't get rid of a bluish tint, but it will provide you with less noise and the best IQ. You should try to set the white balance to match the temperature of your lighting, or use a gray card to set a custom white balance. Also, as I said earlier, you will have to do some level adjusting. In post processing, you simply select level adjustment and manually select a black and white point.
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Old Mar 25, 2007, 8:30 AM   #8
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If you're getting blue, chances are, it's a White Balance issue. Use a custom white balance.

If you're also having exposure problems (underexposed background if you don't overexpose the subject), your lighting is not consistent enough. A camera can be much more sensitive to the differences in darkness and lightness within the same image compared to the human eye.

If you get the White Balance set correctly and still have exposure issues, another technique that you sometimes see used to accomplish what it sounds like you're looking for is this: Use a flash setup pointing behind your subject in a way that you're deliberately "blowing" the background (overexposing it by using a flash power setting sufficient to do so), while properly exposing your subject. You'd need to make sure the temperature of all lighting used was approximately the same for White Balance purposes with this technique.

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Old Mar 26, 2007, 4:06 PM   #9
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This is one of the most common problems in digital photography. Buying an expensive camera is not the answer to becoming a good (skilled) photographer. Taking good technical photographs is more about lighting than cameras. Get a good book about lighting and practice seeing how light affects the subject. When you take a photograph you capture the light reflected from the subject and you should teach your eyes to see this - photographing shiny surfaces, especially black and silver is capturing the reflection you create with your lights.
Reading about exposure and colour balance will be useful - digital cameras do a lot of the work for you but understanding these topics will help you diagnose and correct the problems you encounter.
I am a photographic lecturer and find that many students take quite a long time to learn how to control light, exposure and colour balance. Be patient and try and learn methodically and thoroughly - it is much easier with digital than it was with film as you can see the results immediately. Having your computer on hand to examine results as you experiment is very useful.
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