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― Architecture ShowcaseTo Flash or Not

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Ceropegia
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To Flash or Not

Post by Ceropegia » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:59 pm

Two handheld shots of Pasadena City Hall at night from the courtyard in the back. I almost never use a flash when taking a shot like this because it really isn't powerful enough to do much, but my hope had been to throw a little more light on the fountain. What surprised me was the differences in color that resulted. Here they are without any color adjustment.

The first was without flash, the second with.
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Post by TomCofer » Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:10 am

Yup, any time you start mixing light sources/types the color will shift. I've taken a lot of photos in churches with mixed lighting. Throw in the light coming thru stained glass, and trying to get the color "right" becomes a real challenge.
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Post by LindaShorey » Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:49 am

Very neat comparison. I love both the blue hour, cool feel and the warmth of #2. A great reminder to practice the "what have I got to lose" method of digital photography :)
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Post by minniev » Wed Jun 07, 2017 9:45 pm

You got a totally different look with the second one, with the slight uptick in shadows and the dramatic change in color balance. I don't use flash enough to offer any explanation. It is an interesting effect that I wouldn't have expected.
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Post by Charles Haacker » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:34 pm

Yeah, I keep coming back here and puzzling over it. The flash absolutely opened the shadow enough that you can see the fountain, but at the same time some areas of shadow that were further back blocked up even more. Then there's that color shift, and the sky going nearly black. Martha, do you recall if your flash was in fill mode, or was the flash trying to light the whole scene? I suspect that might (might) be the case. If it was set for fill it should have done just that, filled the shadows as best it could but left the rest alone, i.e., the overall exposure should have been the same for the ambient, well, dark. But if the flash was set to try to light the whole thing, then it would try to override the existing illumination, which would explain the black sky, the dome and cupola disappearing into the sky, so on. It's a puzzlement. :?
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Post by Duck » Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:21 am

The difference in both images is due to the automatic nature of your camera's settings. The camera is set to AWB so in the first (no flash) exposure the white balance is likely set for some kind of daylight (hazy or shadow) mode, making the existing structural (halogen?) lights yellow. The camera also detected the lack of ambient light and increased exposure time to 1/20th sec. shutter speed, effectively picking up the light in the sky.

The second image with flash automatically goes into the default flash settings. White balance defaults to flash mode, making the halogen lights appear less yellow (flash color temp is warmer than shadow color temp). The camera also looks like it went into the default sync speed of 1/60th sec. because of the flash use, effectively cutting down the ambient light and killing that awesome blue sky. Remember, the camera assumes you're going to take a photo of a subject somewhere within the effective flash range of the camera (10' to 15' max usually) so it presets for that exposure. In effect, the flash is only lighting the lower part of the building, if only slightly, because that's the full range of the flash. The upper part of the building is still lit the same as the previous image but appears slightly darker because of the 1 1/3 stop difference in exposure and less yellow because of the shift in AWB.

I'm not sure if this is the type of explanation you guys are looking for or if I missed something in the conversation.
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Post by LindaShorey » Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:12 pm

Duck wrote:The difference in both images is due to the automatic nature of your camera's settings. The camera is set to AWB so in the first (no flash) exposure the white balance is likely set for some kind of daylight (hazy or shadow) mode, making the existing structural (halogen?) lights yellow. The camera also detected the lack of ambient light and increased exposure time to 1/20th sec. shutter speed, effectively picking up the light in the sky.

The second image with flash automatically goes into the default flash settings. White balance defaults to flash mode, making the halogen lights appear less yellow (flash color temp is warmer than shadow color temp). The camera also looks like it went into the default sync speed of 1/60th sec. because of the flash use, effectively cutting down the ambient light and killing that awesome blue sky. Remember, the camera assumes you're going to take a photo of a subject somewhere within the effective flash range of the camera (10' to 15' max usually) so it presets for that exposure. In effect, the flash is only lighting the lower part of the building, if only slightly, because that's the full range of the flash. The upper part of the building is still lit the same as the previous image but appears slightly darker because of the 1 1/3 stop difference in exposure and less yellow because of the shift in AWB.

I'm not sure if this is the type of explanation you guys are looking for or if I missed something in the conversation.
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Excellent information, Duck!
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Post by Ceropegia » Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:08 pm

Thanks, Duck! You are right, I just let the camera do its thing. My goal with the flash was to try to make the fountain more visible. I have edited the flash version to somewhat restore that "awesome blue sky", removed some of the red cast of the building, and done a little dodging and burning to bring out the fountain a little more.
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Post by Duck » Thu Jun 08, 2017 4:25 pm

Ceropegia wrote:Thanks, Duck! You are right, I just let the camera do its thing. My goal with the flash was to try to make the fountain more visible. I have edited the flash version to somewhat restore that "awesome blue sky", removed some of the red cast of the building, and done a little dodging and burning to bring out the fountain a little more.

HAve you considered doing a tonemap blend of the two images? There may be something there worth pulling out. I can't say for sure but it doesn't hurt to experiment.
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Post by Charles Haacker » Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:53 pm

Martha, that most recent effort looks great! And Duck's got a point; maybe you could combine them if they will merge.

Duck: where are you getting the EXIF? I have an EXIF viewer as a Chrome extension but I'm not very happy with it, and it seems unable to get the kind of data you've uncovered here.
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