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Bluebells wrong colour!

Discussion in 'Colour or Not' started by Bocat, May 3, 2009.

  1. Bocat

    Bocat New Member

    Hi, I'm new to this forum. I have been out taking loads of bluebell photos today, but however much I tried to use different white balance settings to make them the real purply colour they were, they kept coming out more forget-me-not blue, which they weren't! I don't want to alter colours on my pc, just to take the image with the right colour to start with - can anyone help - do I need a filter or what am I doing wrong?
  2. frank1

    frank1 Well-Known Member

    If I remember rightly they're almost inpossible to get right. That was using film I'm not sure how they are with digital. I may be barking up the wrong tree but that's as much as I know, not alot is it
  3. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    Yes ... the problem with bluebells (and quite a lot of, but by no means all, other blue flowers) is that they reflect quite strongly in the infra-red, which the red layer of colour films is sensitive to but the eye is not. Therefore bluebells tend to come out pink. With digital the problem is the opposite - most (but not all) cameras have heavy blocking of the infra-red, and some of the visible red, in the anti-alias filter which is stuck to the front of the sensor. Something is required because otherwise the IR sensitivity of the sensor would be overwhelming, and the colour correction of (most) lenses is such that the IR would blur images, but most cameras seriously overdo the job when correct depiction of bluebell tones is required.


    1. Try to photograph these flowers in sunlight - that was a prescription for "pinkbells" with film but may help "ordinary" digital cameras to get a better colour.

    2. Use a camera without heavy IR blocking - the Sigma SD14 allows you to remove the blocking filter. Or a camera which has been modified for astronomical use by replacing the standard anti-alis filter with one which passes infra-red. You can still use these cameras "normally" by adding a dichroic UV/IR blocking filter to the lens. (Astronomers want extended red/IR sensitivity to pick up important emissions especially of hydrogen alpha, 656.3 nm, which is well in the visible red but nevertheless heavily suppressed by the anti-alias filters in many cameras).

    3. Fudge the colour by using colur replacement in Photoshop!
  4. Fen

    Fen The Destroyer

    I thought it was don't shoot bluebells in sunlight? I thought it was shoot with overcast skies or not in bright sunlight.
  5. Manofolympus

    Manofolympus Well-Known Member

    The advantage to the plant is that pollinating insects vision extends into the near infra red, presumably making the flowers stand out in shady conditions. As far as your photographs are concerned, if your particular camera isn't doing a good job there isn't much you can do, realistically, short of buying a specific "bluebell camera". Fiddling in photoshop is probably the easiest option-removing any built in filter will almost certainly void the cameras warranty unless it is designed to be user removable.
  6. Manofolympus

    Manofolympus Well-Known Member

    Yes I thought it was that way round since IR scattering in the atmosphere is slight-hence sky lit shade will be IR deficient
  7. Manofolympus

    Manofolympus Well-Known Member

    Though with a digital camera where the problem is insufficient red recording bright sunlight may give the better colour balance!
  8. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

    I shot bluebells last Sunday, both en-masse, and in close-up. I was using my Eos 5D and a Fuji Z10fd compact. Shooting under tree cover and in the open, on the 5D I tried both AWB and Custom White Balance using an Expodisc.

    With both cameras, reducing the exposure somewhat more than normal to retain highlights, gave me good colour.

    And I think it's close to what I remembered... ...as if any memory of colour can be remembered that accurately!

    Some of the more distant shots under tree cover were however disappointing - they'd lost saturation, and the "blue" was less than I remember it.
  9. Mojo_66

    Mojo_66 Well-Known Member

    It does, but if you do that then the pics just come out in various shades of red. Looks great converted to mono though, but perhaps not the effect the OP was after.
  10. parisian

    parisian Well-Known Member

    Spot on, but isn't it funny that something so quintessentially British and so apparently simple as a bluebell proves to be an almost impossible photographic challenge?
    Wonderful :D
  11. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    Hmmm. Not simple at all. The "British" bluebell is almost hybridised out of existence, the culprit here being the Spanish variety imported through garden centres, which is a different shape & colour ....
  12. Manofolympus

    Manofolympus Well-Known Member

    It is possible to buy British bluebell bulbs for the garden-got some in a Daily Telegraph offer a few years back. Can't remember the nursery of origin but should be findable!
  13. spwalker

    spwalker Member

    The best results I have had (Nikon D300S) have come from: a) using RAW; b) taking a custom white balance; and c) under-exposing by at least one stop.

  14. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    Alternatively just borrow an Olympus - they just cope and produce a lovely natural colour. That's one reason I am keeping my Oly in spite of having a 6D as well
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2014
  15. Fen

    Fen The Destroyer

    Just to let you know...

    The original post was from May 2009 and the person who made the post has never been back.
  16. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Darn, and I nearly answered too.

    I was very happy with my bluebell shots last year even though, without a car in Belgium, it was one heck of a hike to get to the Bois des Halles/ Hallebos and seemed a lot further getting back!
  17. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    Bluebells, when available, should be a subject used in every AP camera test.
    Perhaps there could be an annual event to retest all cameras for which bluebells were not available when the review was carried out. A slight problem with this concerns the performance of our screens, and even our eyes.
    Bluebells provide the ultimate test of colour reproduction. T'was always the case with colour film processes and it still is the case for digital.
  18. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

    But wouldn't that require AP to buy the cameras they review?
  19. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    I'm mildly surprised this topic has stayed dead for six years - given how often people must chimp their bluebell pics and think "WTF?"!

    It inspired me to go find some today, though, and test the G10 - they're a bit on the pale side, more like a Scottish bluebell (Campanula sp. rather than Hyacinthoides sp.), but not as odd as some I've seen in the past.


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