Category Archives: Cranky Photography

Cranky Photography: The Color of Light – Learning Your White Balance Settings

Posted by: Maggie

Today’s photo tutorial is one that is pretty simple to learn and use and will make a big impact on the images you take!

When we look at a white object our eyes adjust to the lighting conditions, no matter the light, we still recognize that object as white whether we are indoors in lamp light or out in the bright sunlight. Our eyes are excellent at making this adjustment, but camera’s aren’t and the same object will appear different depending on the color of light in the scene we are shooting. This can leave our photos with a blue or yellow tint to them.

Luckily, our cameras have a setting that helps to fix that problem! The White Balance setting allows us to tell the camera what color light is available so that it can reproduce the whites in our photo as they should be. Once it gets the white right, all the other colors are adjusted accordingly, and we’re left with an image that is close to what our eyes see.

So, it’s important for you to set the white balance in your camera before you start shooting. That way you’ll get images that look fabulous straight out of the camera, without having to fix your colors with photo processing software. Using the right White Balance setting means more time shooting and less time behind that computer. If you don’t know where the white balance setting on your camera is at, now is the time to get out your camera manual. If you don’t have it anymore, you can usually find a PDF online from your camera maker

Here are some of the basic White Balance settings you’ll find on cameras:

  • Auto – this is where the camera makes a best guess about the available light. You’ll find it works much of the time,  but to get the best color I recommend choosing the setting based on what your eyes see.
  • Daylight – for using in bright sunny conditions, this will slightly cool a warm, yellow image.
  • Shade – shade is usually a little cooler, more blue, than shooting in direct sunlight so this mode will warm your image.
  • Cloudy – as with shade, this setting warms your image.
  • Tungsten – this mode is for shooting indoors, especially under tungsten/incandescent light. It generally cools down the warm, yellow color of bulb light.
  • Fluorescent – this compensates for the blue light of fluorescent bulbs and will warm up your shots.
  • Flash – the flash of a camera can be quite a cool light so flash mode will warm up your shots.
  • Custom – Many cameras also allow you to manually adjust your White Balance setting. This allows for the most accurate reading. You will need to check your camera manual on how to do this, and shoot a grey card to set the custom setting. (A grey card is a fantastic little tool that is just what it sounds like: a grey card! It is used as a neutral reference to help determine both the correct White Balance and Exposure for your shot. As great as it is, I rarely use one, it’s just one more thing to carry with you.)
  • Color Temp/Kelvin – The color temperature of light is measured in degrees Kelvin and can range from cool to warm casts of white light where candle light has a temperature of approximate 1900, tungsten photographic lights 3200, and overcast sky 6000. If you know your color temperature numbers you can set your camera by degrees of Kelvin. But honestly, I don’t know who uses Kelvin settings, I certainly would never remember what setting was for what light.

Now, that you know what to do, go forth, use the white balance settings that best describes the color of light you are shooting! I personally, have found that Auto does a fantastic job for me and gives me one less thing to think about as I’m shooting. But I’ve also found that the better the camera, the better the Auto White Balance. So give your camera’s settings a try and see what works bets for you!

Have a question for me or a suggestion for another photo lesson? Comment below!

Cranky Photography: All About Cameras

Posted by: Maggie

Many of you have asked me to write more photography tutorial posts, so I’m finally getting on top of that! I thought I’d start out with a question I get asked a lot: What’s the real difference between a Point & Shoot and a fancy DSLR?

POINT & SHOOT vs. DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex)

Image Quality – There is definitely a difference in image quality.  The larger size of image sensors in DSLRs allows for larger pixel sizes, which reduces the grain or noise in your images.  Although, today’s point-and-shoots are still able to capture very good quality images. But you may not be able to create as large a print with them. If you’re looking to post pictures online, or create prints 8X10 and smaller you’re probably fine with a point & shoot.

Versatility – Point & Shoot cameras are not nearly as versatile as DSLRs. With a DSLR you have the ability to change lenses, ranging from wide angle to very long zooms. Image quality and photographic style is greatly impacted by your lens choice and quality. You also have the ability to use a variety of other accessories (flashes, filters etc) that are not available with a Point & Shoot.

Speed – DSLR’s are generally faster when it comes to things like start up, focusing and shutter lag.

Viewfinder – Because of the reflex mirror, what you see is what the lens will capture in a DSLR. With a point & shoot your viewfinder does not show you what the lens sees, but usually shows a slightly higher and wider view. The live view on the LCD display does show you what the camera is capturing, but is difficult to see out in sunlight.

ISO Range – This varies between cameras but generally DSLRs offer a wider choice of ISO settings, which allows greater flexibility in shooting in lower light conditions.

Manual Controls – While many point and shoots come with the ability to shoot in manual mode, a DSLR is designed assuming that the photographer using it will want to control their own settings. While they do come with good auto modes the manual controls are generally designed for quick and easy use while shooting.

Price – DSLRs are significantly more expensive. The least expensive DSLR is still several hundred dollars more than the most expensive Point & Shoot.

Size and Weight – DSLRs are big and heavy and when you add a lens or two to your bag it’s a lot to carry!

When to move to a DSLR

Digital SLR cameras offer a lot of extra features that aren’t available on a point & shoot camera. When you shoot with a DSLR, you gain more control over the lens, a faster picture taking rate, better focus modes, and a host of other features that you don’t realize are important until you start using them. Having said this, many people own a camera that’s too powerful for their needs.

It’s a good idea to know why you’re upgrading your camera before you decide to spend more money. If you are just going to put your camera on Auto mode and not spend the time to learn how to use the array of features available on a DSLR, I recommend sticking with a high quality point & shoot. Your pictures will be virtually identical using a good Point & Shoot in Auto Mode as they are with a DSLR in Auto.

More photo tutorials coming soon! Have a question for me or a suggestion for another photo lesson? Feel free to comment below!

Make Art a Part & a Giveaway!

Posted by: Maggie

If you follow my photo business blog, you’ve heard that I had the pleasure of contributing a project to Kaitlyn from is a virtue’s new ecourse, make art a part (of your life). make art a part is an eight week course with contributions from a number of fabulous artists, who each give you a project in their medium to help you make art a part of your life. It looks like an amazing class with so many interesting projects. Registration is now open! You can click the image below to check it out.

To celebrate, Kaitlyn has offered to give one very lucky cranky reader a set of camera stationary created just for my readers!

You’ll win five envelopes, ten sheets of writing paper and five envelope seals!

How to Enter:

All you have to do is leave a comment below with your favorite item from Kaitlyn’s etsy shop!

You have until this Thursday August 11 at 11:59pm PST. I’ll announce the winner on Friday!

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