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Amoleup Photographer


How to capture cokl colours

Angela Nicholson explains how the right white balance and colour settings can help you capture the atmosphere of a chilly winter morning

MORE often than not, we use a camera's white balance and colour controls to create images that are as near to being neutral as possible. But in the winter, when the cold seeps through the thickest of jackets and it feels like your hands might freeze to an exposed tripod leg, cooler colours may be more appropriate.

White balance settings

Blue is the colour most often associated with cold, and the easiest way to inject an icy blast into your images is to set your camera's white balance control to the tungsten lighting option. When used normally, this instructs the camera to correct the yellow coloration caused by tungsten lighting by injecting more blue. But when the lighting is nearer to neutral, the end result is a blue colour cast. The results can be very effective, but the coloration is quite extreme and subjects need careful selection. I find it can be of particular use with misty vistas like the one above, which can otherwise be disappointingly grey

In many cases it pays to be a little subtler. In cloudy, overcast conditions, for example, selecting the daylight or sunny weather white balance setting will add just a hint of blue. As the sun is very low during the winter there are lots of long shadows, and on a clear day they are illuminated by the blue sky Shooting with these setting selected usually produces images with a distinct blue note.

Choosing your white balance setting requires particular care if the scene contains mixed lighting. The glowing warm tungsten light from a window, for instance, can be rendered neutral

Colour controls

Most digital cameras offer some colour control in the form of picture styles or scene modes. Although the 'standard' option may be appropriate in many cases, other settings such as 'landscape', which enhances green and blues, or 'muted', which produces less saturated colours, may result in images that convey the cold atmosphere more successfully. It's also worth experimenting with your camera's saturation control, as low saturation images can work well in cold, frosty conditions.

ßß Inject an icy blast into your images by setting your white balance control to tungsten )9

Capturing Cold Colours Technique

1 Keep an eye on the weather forecast for signs of frost, snow or mist, and charge your camera's battery in preparation

2 Carry any spare batteries inside your coat until they are needed. Keeping them warm ensures they will work when you need them

3 Attaching pipe lagging around your tripod's legs will make it more comfortable to carry in cold weather

4 Record raw files, or simultaneous raw and JPEG files, for maximum flexibility post-capture

Below: The Nikon D300 creates a neutral image in auto, but applying the sodium setting in Capture NX2 better reflects the cold conditions

Above: The tungsten white balance image is too blue, but toning down the cast of the Samsung GX-10's DNG file gives a better result by the use of the appropriate setting, while the surrounding garden will have a strong blue cast. Alternatively, the daylight setting will produce an image with both warm and cold notes.


While it is often more satisfying to get the results you want in-camera, it's relatively easy to adjust images on the computer to enhance their cold appearance. Raw files offer the simplest method, as most cameras' raw file conversion software allows the white balance to be altered post-capture: a drab, grey landscape can quickly be perked-up with a distinctive blue cast courtesy of the tungsten setting. The beauty of this approach is that, unlike recording J PEGs with the tungsten white balance setting, if you don't like the effect you can try an alternative without losing any data or compromising image quality. Fine-tuning the white balance value, or altering the image colour balance on the computer, also enables more extreme or subtler colour adjustments to be made. Furthermore, reducing the colour saturation can make a covering of frost or blanket of mist seem even thicker. AP

Accessories Lensbaby Composer

Angela Nicholson

Technical Editor

I FIND it amusing that while most lens manufacturers are preoccupied with creating optics that produce sharp images, some of the most interesting images involve a lot of blur. This may be the result of using a large aperture and selective focus, moving the camera during exposure, applying a blur filter post-capture, or even smearing Vaseline on a filter over the lens element. Lensbaby, however, is a company that appreciates the creative impact of blur more than most. The company offers a trio of lenses that can be flexed to manipulate the 'sweet spot' of sharp focus along the focal plane.

While two of the Lensbaby lenses are updates of the company's earlier optics (the Control Freak replaces the Lensbaby 3G and the Muse replaces both the Original Lensbaby and Lensbaby 2.0), the Composer is a completely new type of lens. Unlike other Lensbaby offerings, the Composer has a ball-and-socket design that enables the lens to be distorted to move the sharp area, or 'sweet spot', around the image frame. Conveniently, a black ribbed ring towards the rear of the lens reduces and increases the friction on the ball to make the movement easier or to lock it in position. Also, in a departure from the concertina-style compression and extension method of focusing, the Composer has a focus ring that moves the optical assembly in and out of the barrel.

Optic Swap System

All three of Lensbaby's new lenses feature the novel Optic Swap System, which enables photographers to produce images with different levels of blur and distortion. There are four optics available:

• Double Glass: 50mm multi-coated optical glass

• Single Glass: 50mm uncoated optical glass singlet like the one used

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Reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information presented in this book is  accurate. However, the reader should understand that the information provided does not constitute legal, medical or professional advice of any kind.

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