Upload & Sell: On
I re-read this and the other believability thread and I think I have come to some conclusions.
1. The idea of some sort of automated or software solution to color balance issues seems absurd. As I stated before using a gray card and custom white balance makes no sense when the lighting is unusual. A gray rock will not appear gray when illuminated by warm sunset or sunrise lighting. This does not work at the time of capture. Likewise you cannot use an eyedropper or other WB technique during post processing for the same reasons. I know when I take sunset pictures, I fight with my camera to achieve reasonable exposure and WB. The first thing I need to do is dial down exposure compensation by about -2 Ev. Otherwise the camera wants to turn a sunset into daylight exposure.
2. Trying to fine tune colors on an internet forum is an exercise in futility. Many of us have differences in eyesight and color acuity. In addition there can be huge differences in how images appear on our monitors. I have been playing with my Color Munki and as a result have become very aware of the differences I see at different times of the day with different ambient lighting. I understand even the browsing software we use can alter the appearance of colors.
3. When it comes to color and dynamic range, our expectations and preferences can vary a lot. We all see countless printed images during our lifetimes. The appearance of those images influence how we think an image should appear. HDR is a good example where individual expectations can vary. Look at magazine advertisements. Most of these have HDR images. The general public typically likes the impact of HDR images. We can even make the argument that HDR is closer to what our eyes see. Unfortunately I have seen too many pre-HDR images. I also know how much manipulation is needed to convert the OOC images into HDR images. For me anything with more than a trace of HDR processing appears manipulated. Maybe with time and continued bombardment with HDR images, my tastes will change.
4. Ben intentionally picked some really tough examples for a discussion of believability. If you have never seen an alpine glow, I can tell you that it does not look believable even in person. There can be an intense orange glow that only lasts a few minutes. Ben also gave us an unusual sunrise image where the lighting remained flat and instead of a warm glow, the lighting remained bluish.
5. Finally, I have no belief that any color balance matches the "truth." I do think that subtle alterations can have a big impact on our perceptions. It seems absolutely necessary to tinker with color balance in order to match what we believe we saw. It is also natural to want to add to the impact that we remember. Those enhancements can get us in trouble. A little enhancement can help retrieve the impact we remember. But then we get used to that level of enhancement and want to add more and more. When it is time to print an image all bets are off. Printer/paper profiles are supposed to help us so that what we see on the monitor is reflected in the print. That may or may not work with regard to colors but we can never expect a monitor image to be optimal when printed. There are just too many differences in the media, paper types, gloss, the presence of brighteners, metallic, etc.
Yes the more I think about this subject the more complications I find. I am convinced that this issue needs both an intellectual, technical approach and a final artistic interpretation.