Monday, July 30, 2007

Getting "what you see" with the Gold-N-Blue

A while ago in the Nature Photographers Online Magazine, Darwin Wiggett shared his enthusiasm for the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer and offered some very useful comments. After referring many digital SLR photographers to Darwin's story, Fields of Gold (or was that blue?), we requested permission to pass along parts of it here for all those using, or planning to use, a Gold-N-Blue Polarizer.

"With slide film," says Darwin, "Gold-N-Blue Polarizers are easy to use. They are 'what you see is what you get filters.' Just spin them around until you see something you like and then snap away—what you see through the lens is what you get on film."

To illustrate this point, Darwin first shows us this set of three images shot on film. At left is a scene of Emerald Lake in Canada's Yoho National Park shot with just a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer.
The next two versions of the same scene are taken with the Gold-N-Blue to give blue accents (left) and gold accents (right). As Darwin points out, "Slide film really likes the Gold-N-Blue Polarizer."

"With digital cameras," Darwin cautions, "things are different. First, if you try to use 'auto white balance' on your camera with these polarizers, the camera will freak out. It simply does not know how to color correct a blue and gold cast in an image simultaneously! It is best to shoot using 'daylight' white balance when shooting with the Gold-N-Blue... even then, what you see on your preview screen will not look like what you saw through the viewfinder. Usually the preview image will look very magenta or orange. Not to worry, though. There is a way to get the Gold-N-Blue images to look like they did through the viewfinder.

"Here's how I do it. I shoot RAW capture and have my default white balance set to 'daylight.' In my RAW processor (I use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), I simply take the gray eyedropper and click on anything in the photo I want to be neutral (e.g. white snow, white clouds, black shadows, gray sky or gray rocks). I try several spots until I get colors similar to those I saw in the viewfinder. Then I let ACR do its magic. Often the color temperature in the ACR-corrected image is in the 2500 to 3200 K range and the 'tint' is shifted to -25 to -60."

Darwin shows us a RAW capture of a mountain scene (left) shot with the Gold-N-Blue Polarizer rotated to give gold reflections. "It looks nasty," admits Darwin. "This is why digital photographers using the Gold-N-Blue often flip out! With ACR, I simply use the gray eyedropper on one of the foreground rocks to get the colors back to where they needed to be to give me an image similar to what I saw at the time of shooting. I also did a little local lightening (to the foreground) and darkening (to the sky and peaks) using Photoshop to give a more even exposure to the scene." It's easy to compare the two photos.

To further illustrate the simple ACR gray eyedropper technique, Darwin presents another pair of before and after examples taken with his trusty Gold-N-Blue Polarizer.

To read Darwin's article in its entirety, visit Nature Photographers Online Magazine.

Editor's note: By setting a "Custom White Balance" in the field with the Gold-N-Blue in place on the lens, virtually all digital SLR cameras can compensate for the magenta tint and display a correct image on the LCD. The color temperature and tint settings on the RAW file will be similar to what Darwin describes here, and should require minimal correction. Refer to your camera's manual for specific instructions on setting a Custom White Balance.


Andoni Lamborena said...

Wonderful job! I have recently bought a gold 'n blue polarizer and I will try to do this! Thank you for sharing!

markt said...

By custom, do you mean setting to 2500-3200k manually, or setting via taking a dummy exposure?


Singh-Ray Filters said...

Mount the Gold-N-Blue to the lens, then follow your camera's instructions for setting a custom white balance. This usually involves taking a "dummy" frame of a grey card or a known neutral subject.