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Why the heck are the whites BLUE

Discussion in 'People' started by omarma, Oct 3, 2008.

  1. This is my humble effort with my new grandson at 6 weeks, who also happens to be the primary reason for my new camera.
    But, I don't get it... the stripes on his shirt are reasonalby white, so why are the whites of his eyes so blue. I used the flash in some of the shots and the whites were white but the pics looked washed out.
    Did I use the wrong settings? Can I fix them in Elements somehow?
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  2. Do you have a filter on the lens?
  3. No, would that help?
  4. demosaic

    demosaic Guest

    It's the stripes' fault.

    Auto white balance works by looking for tones in your image near the "blackbody line" (possibly neutral colors, depending on the illuminant) and adjusts the color channel gains accordingly so that these regions appear neutral (colorless). Normally this system works really well, but very occasionally it has a hard time figuring out what to do.

    The white balance system is attempting to come up with a single best-fit solution that causes as much of the nearly-neutral areas of the image (the shirt stripes, and possibly the dark background) to appear neutral.

    Colors too far away from the blackbody line, such as the orange stripes and skin tones, are ignored. And the whites of your grandson's eyes, while prominent to a human viewer, make up so little of the image area that the white-balance solution barely takes them into account.

    So the white balance system concludes the faintly-yellow stripes are "white," causing the whites of your grandson's eyes to appear slightly blue.

    However, when you use the flash, the white balance system knows the color temperature of the illuminant (the camera's own xenon flash tube) so it can do a better job. It doesn't have to guess.

    Unfortunately, your results with the flash were washed-out. That's a different problem. It can happen sometimes with a shiny subject and a dark background. The exposure system is trying to compromise by preserving some signal in all that blackness, but the highlights on your grandson's skin are so bright that the two extremes don't fit in one exposure.

    The solution: skip the flash, and set the white balance manually. For example, if the room is lighted by incandescent lamps, set it to "light bulb" mode. This tells the camera the color of the light so it doesn't have to guess.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 4, 2008
  5. OMG I can't thank you enough!!! I had a small inkling about the white balance but beyond that I was in the weeds. Your answer was perfect and understandable to beginner me.
    We were in a window lit kitchen that has mostly white walls and floors.
  6. Seneca


    Dec 4, 2006
    It's very fixable tho...if you have CS3 I can give you the instructions on how to do it.
  7. Darn, I only have elements 5....but, don't they have a new trial version of photo shop out??
  8. Seneca


    Dec 4, 2006
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  9. Seneca: WOW that is so much better and so sweet of you to do that. You totally rock, as the kids say. Thank you so much!
    So, take it that I can't do that in Elements for the other 80 that I have with blue eyeballs? :tongue:
    Hah, I was starting to wonder if that baptism that he just had really took :wink:
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