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  1. #1
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    Default WB headache while shooting badminton

    Hi there all badminton photographers
    Malaysia Open is starting tomorrow at Cheras Stadium, and im am still having problem with the lighting in that arena. If im not mistaken they use flourecent lights in there. With a 30D's 5fps, i notice all consecutive frames have different WB. That's is during my 2005 experiance.

    How do i overcome this? i am using AWB most of the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lurker
    Hi there all badminton photographers
    Malaysia Open is starting tomorrow at Cheras Stadium, and im am still having problem with the lighting in that arena. If im not mistaken they use flourecent lights in there. With a 30D's 5fps, i notice all consecutive frames have different WB. That's is during my 2005 experiance.

    How do i overcome this? i am using AWB most of the time.
    Hi Lurker, welcome to join us.
    I shared same experience as you when I first used my 30D to take local badminton tournaments 2 weeks ago. Some friends suggested me to try using the preset WB- (set at the menu and shoot on a white paper putting in the court). However, I still not satisfied with this method. Finally, I need to adjust the WB of all photo and found that those using Auto WB were adjusted more easily in Photoshop. For your consideration pls.

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    Yep switch the white balance from auto to a preset (fluorescent lights vary terrifically in colour temperature) and shoot away, all photos will be consistent. Or if you can shoot in RAW and then you can always alter the color balance in post shoot processing.

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    As the colour temperature in the badminton court is fixed, all you need is to use a gray card to set your white balance. Once set it is good for all shots for that court or nearby courts, assuming all the courts are illuminated by the same light source. You can buy photographic gray cards from professional photo stores. Just cut a small piece to fit into your pocket. Make sure you don't dirty it with your finger prints.

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    Quote Originally Posted by taneepak
    As the colour temperature in the badminton court is fixed, all you need is to use a gray card to set your white balance. Once set it is good for all shots for that court or nearby courts, assuming all the courts are illuminated by the same light source. You can buy photographic gray cards from professional photo stores. Just cut a small piece to fit into your pocket. Make sure you don't dirty it with your finger prints.
    Taneepak, I am green to badminton photo. However, I am not agreed with that the wb is constant in the courts from my little experience. It greatly depends on the design of the court. In order to save energy, many sport centres are partly illuminated by daylight from door or windows e.g. Choi Hung Road Indoor Sport Centre (HK), Kowloon Park Sport Centre (HK), many badminton courts in local clubhouses or some courts in France (I saw the pictures from Ekinox). Besides, lighting is a combination of white & yellow, different angles show different color. Even though in QE Stadium, I don't think the wb is constant. I also guess as we use ISO 1600, the sensitivity on changing of wb is more prominent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AChan
    Taneepak, I am green to badminton photo. However, I am not agreed with that the wb is constant in the courts from my little experience. It greatly depends on the design of the court. In order to save energy, many sport centres are partly illuminated by daylight from door or windows e.g. Choi Hung Road Indoor Sport Centre (HK), Kowloon Park Sport Centre (HK), many badminton courts in local clubhouses or some courts in France (I saw the pictures from Ekinox). Besides, lighting is a combination of white & yellow, different angles show different color. Even though in QE Stadium, I don't think the wb is constant. I also guess as we use ISO 1600, the sensitivity on changing of wb is more prominent.
    Yes, the lighting combination will be different for different halls but shouldn't the same court have only one lighting combination? The gray card is the standard used for setting the white balance and is also the standard used to calibrate all exposure meters. It is best used for incident light, not reflected light, as this is more precise. The gray card works on the principle that any illumination source, be it single or a combination of daylight, tungsten, flourescent, etc., etc., will read the gray card as gray, even if the gray card looks far from gray under extreme combination lighting. This means a gray card is not fooled by strange lighting conditions. The only time a gray card can be dispensed of is an average daylight scene on mid-day. The more complex the lighting source the more useful a gray card becomes. If possible you place your gray card as near to the court as possible where the lighting combination falls on the gray card and then use your camera to set both the white balance and read the exposure. Your camera's auto exposure assumes that what your meter reads is gray, but is it? That is why proper exposure is sometimes far from ideal with auto exposure. A gray card will technically give you the perfect exposure-just place a gray card where it is illuminated by the same lighting as the subject of the picture you are taking.

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    actually, if i understand it correctly, the problem lurker faces is not fixable.

    fluorescent lighting flickers at around 120Hz due to the characteristics of the main power and fluorescent light. and while it is flickering, the color of the lighting varies. when we shoot badminton, our shutter speed usually go above 1/120sec which means we might catch the light at different part of the WB changing cycle. where we actually catch it is totally non-deterministic.

    the end result is that consecutive frames will have different white balance. sometimes even within a single frame, the white balance changes. i have had many photos looking very screwed up due to this.

    and since this is the combination of the light in the stadium and the fast shutter speed we use, there is no solution.

    if you shoot say 1/60s, you will find that the WB is quite consistent on consecutive frame, as the slower shutter speed averages out over many flickers.

    take a look at this photo, notice the far wall, part of it has a pink hue? that's the color of the lighting changes. if i shoot the same place with longer shutter (or look at it with my eyes), it is perfectly fine constant color throughout the wall.

    we have seen this on different cameras, canon/nikons, which we expect as this phenomenon is not dependent on the camera itself but the nature of the light and the camera settings.


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    Quote Originally Posted by kwun
    actually, if i understand it correctly, the problem lurker faces is not fixable.

    fluorescent lighting flickers at around 120Hz due to the characteristics of the main power and fluorescent light. and while it is flickering, the color of the lighting varies. when we shoot badminton, our shutter speed usually go above 1/120sec which means we might catch the light at different part of the WB changing cycle. where we actually catch it is totally non-deterministic.

    the end result is that consecutive frames will have different white balance. sometimes even within a single frame, the white balance changes. i have had many photos looking very screwed up due to this.

    and since this is the combination of the light in the stadium and the fast shutter speed we use, there is no solution.

    if you shoot say 1/60s, you will find that the WB is quite consistent on consecutive frame, as the slower shutter speed averages out over many flickers.

    take a look at this photo, notice the far wall, part of it has a pink hue? that's the color of the lighting changes. if i shoot the same place with longer shutter (or look at it with my eyes), it is perfectly fine constant color throughout the wall.

    I don't quite understand the flickering of the lighting and its impact on light temperature. In a hall there are many, many lights, and they all combine to produce a lighting combination, which is the colour temperature a gray card reads. The flickering does not change the colour temperature of this multiple lighting combination. It will change the WB only if the WB is set on auto, but the use of the gray card is to set a fixed WB for that particular colour temperature of the court's lighting-the auto WB is disconnected. Once fixed with a gray card the WB is good for that court. At another place, another hall, you use the gray card to set the WB again, which is necessary because of a change in lighting conditions that will produce a different colour temperature.
    For good photography, the auto WB is quite useless and should be permanently disabled.

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    Quote Originally Posted by taneepak
    I don't quite understand the flickering of the lighting and its impact on light temperature. In a hall there are many, many lights, and they all combine to produce a lighting combination, which is the colour temperature a gray card reads. The flickering does not change the colour temperature of this multiple lighting combination. It will change the WB only if the WB is set on auto, but the use of the gray card is to set a fixed WB for that particular colour temperature of the court's lighting-the auto WB is disconnected. Once fixed with a gray card the WB is good for that court. At another place, another hall, you use the gray card to set the WB again, which is necessary because of a change in lighting conditions that will produce a different colour temperature.
    For good photography, the auto WB is quite useless and should be permanently disabled.
    for your information, that photo was taken with a fixed WB, not auto.

    the key to remember is that with some light, and quite popularly lights used in indoor gyms, the color of the light is not constant and may affect the color differently in different shots, regardless of the WB setting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kwun
    for your information, that photo was taken with a fixed WB, not auto.

    the key to remember is that with some light, and quite popularly lights used in indoor gyms, the color of the light is not constant and may affect the color differently in different shots, regardless of the WB setting.
    May I suggest you get a Kodak Gray Card and try to use it both as an exposure aid and colour balance test. I can assure you that with a gray card you will never have that flourescent lighting problem again.
    A gray card is a very powerful tool for exposure precision and colour accuracy, especially under non-standard lighting conditions like flourescent lights, overcast days, mixture of flourescent lights/daylight, etc.
    All cameras have exposure meters that are mostly of the reflected type and are calibrated to read 18% of the reflected light from the subject. Almost no subjects in your viewfinder have this exact 18% reflectance. A gray card has an exact 18% reflectance. So, why not use it? You can use your meter to read it and presto your camera meter is now super accurate.
    As a colour test, the gray card is a must for non-standard lighting conditions like flourescent lights, overcast days, mixture of flourescent lights/daylight, etc., etc. to eanable you to take colour-accurate pictures. The reason is that the gray card is of known colour and can therefore either be photographed together with the subject (for lab processing later) or to set your camera's WB. Without the gray card there is no way you can take colour accurate-although lab manipulations can help but never match-pictures, because there is simply no standard for you to base on.
    The gray card is little understood by many photographers except for professionals and advanced amateurs. Its cheap appearance and cost belies its usefulness. The more non-standard the lighting illumination, the greater the need to use the gray card. It is mandatory under flourescent lighting.

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    Re gray cards, don't use home-made ones. Professional gray cards are cheap. Buy a big sheet, about an A4 size, and cut into business card size and post card size. When taking badminton photos, for each light setting take the first shot, on AWB, of your gray card, which should be illuminated by the same lighting as the court-if you can place the card on the court that will be ideal. That is it. All your subsequent shots can then use that first shot of the gray card as your colour reference.
    When you move on to another badminton hall, take out your gray card again and repeat the above. Simple as that.
    However, the use of the gray card under indoor flourescent lighting will reproduce pictures that look like they are being taken in ideal daylight- brilliant, sparkling, evenly balanced; but for those who want the ambience of flourescent colour tint or yellowish/greenish cast the gray card should not be used.

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    taneepak, may i suggest you read my post again. i fully understand how a gray card and the meter in a camera work.

    a gray card won't help when the color of the light keeps changing.

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    the fluorescent light flickering is definately the fact. i was once screwed up by that in the past!
    let's take a look at my little demonstration.
    my first set of pictures were shot consecutively at 1/1000sec F/1.4 under fluorescent lighting.


    do u guys has experience of shooting monitor screen? it's just similar.

    my second set of pictures were shot consecutively at 1/60sec f/6.3. it's also under fluorescent lighting.



    taneepak, for checking the white balance. we will normally use a white card rather than a 18% gray card. that grey card can only be used to determine a correct exposure from reflected light. nothing more than that.
    Last edited by red00ecstrat; 01-18-2007 at 05:42 AM.

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    Thanks Kwun & Red for the explanation & illustration of light flickering.

    What do you think the reason of inconsistency in wb of the following pictures. I took those pictures at the same shooting location within 3 minutes, using auto wb setting by D70S. I don't think it's all because of auto wb, it actually triggered me to change 30D immediately.
    Setting of the pictures:
    1,2) 1/100, F/4.5, +0.7EV
    3,4,5,6) 1/200, F/2.8, +0.7EV
    7) 1/250, F/2.8, +0.7EV
    Attached Images Attached Images              

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    i really don't know the answer anita. you said it had nothing to do with auto wb setting. but what makes you so sure?
    in order to find out the answer. i guess u've gotta use a fixed wb setting to shoot next time. after all, let us know! hehe......
    just curious, what mode did u use for those pics? A, S, P or M?

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    thanks RED!!! that is exactly the effect i saw.

    i seriously have not found a solution to it. if i make the shutter slower, it won't be fast enough for badminton. i cannot use flash/strobes, and i don't think the gym owner will replace all their lights due to photography alone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by red00ecstrat
    i really don't know the answer anita. you said it had nothing to do with auto wb setting. but what makes you so sure?
    in order to find out the answer. i guess u've gotta use a fixed wb setting to shoot next time. after all, let us know! hehe......
    just curious, what mode did u use for those pics? A, S, P or M?
    or shoot in RAW and look at what the camera thinks the WB is. if it fluctuates frame from frame, than the WB mechanism is not reliable.

    to be honest though, i also have a D70, the auto WB is one of its many weak features.

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