Photography Friday: Color

(Yeah, I slacked off last week - sorry!)

A couple people have asked me how I get such great color.

It's simple: I use a Canon.


(Just kidding to my Nikon buddies!)

Actually, I'm only half kidding. I have found that when I use Canon lenses with my Canon camera, I have great color. The quality of the lens plays a big part too. I have a Tamron lens (because I couldn't afford the Canon version at the time) and when I compare the two, the Canon lens is sharper and the color is perfect. The Tamron lens is a great lens and pretty sharp too but when you compare them, it's hard to put down the Canon. Some people can't tell a difference but I tend to be nitpicky about things. It makes post processing a breeze when the color is fabulous straight out of the camera! If you can, invest in some good lenses instead of a fancier camera. Those little dSLR's can pack a pretty good punch when paired with the right lens.

My Tamron lens is warmer:

My Canon lens is just right:

But then every lens is different, even the same exact brand. My Tamron was a little soft and the color was much warmer so I sent it in to be calibrated and it was much better after that. It's actually a really good little lens for the price. But then I got another Canon lens and now I see the difference again. Maybe you didn't? And maybe the lens you get will be spot on and you won't have this issue!

Color is very important to me. That is why I calibrate my monitor and work hard to see color issues in my images. Sometimes I let this slide with random pics of my kids that I just want to post quickly but every client image and anything I am printing that is important to me gets a good exam to make sure the color is just right.

There are a variety of monitor calibrators. I happen to use Huey but there are lots of good ones to choose from. Calibrating your monitor ensures that my prints will match my screen. So I don't get a perfect picture on my screen and then get the prints back and everyone is red or green. If you are doing any work for clients or just want to save your sanity after training your eye to see color problems, I would suggest investing in a calibrator.

Good color starts with the right exposure. But keep in mind it might not necessarily be your camera's idea of the right exposure. There are several conditions that throw your camera's sensor off of what you want the image to look at. The camera makes great choices as far as the auto exposure but sometimes you want something different and need to tweak the settings to get just what you want.

Then there is always Photoshop. There are SO many ways to tweak color in PS. If you shoot RAW, you will have more options and control over the color in the editing process. So until you are happy with color straight out of the camera, I'd suggest shooting in RAW instead of jpg. I need to talk about the difference next week, don't I? You can edit some good color in by altering the saturation of each color or playing with the sliders in Color Balance. Or play in Curves. There are just SO many ways to do things in PS! Maybe one day I'll post screen shots of my work flow? Is anyone intested in PS stuff too?

Oh and I can't forget WB - White Balance! This is pretty important! It's very important to get a good white balance. There are several ways to do this. You camera can do this automatically for you. If you have a good camera, you can trust this most of the time. I find that my camera does a pretty good job with this so I use Auto WB most of the time unless there is some serious crazy color going on. But even then, I can fix it later if I shoot in RAW. Most cameras have the option to choose daylight or tungsten (regular light bulbs in your lamp) or flourescents... If you are having trouble getting the right color, you might select the option that is the same as your shooting condition. Flourescent lighting is AWFUL so choosing that option may give you a better color easily.

Sometimes I use a grey card. It's 18% grey and that is what your camera reads. It's complicated. With my Canon, I can also use something white. For example, I was shooting a girl in a very green garden and it made the whole image greenish. So I grabbed a white cloth and used that to set my WB and viola! The images were no longer green. Check your camera manual about setting custom white balances. It can be a wonderful thing!!!

I think I choose my topics too wide. Once I get to typing, I find there is so much to it that I can't possibly explain enough in one post! Specific questions would help. *hint hint*

I suppose I'll go into more depth on these sub topics?

A post isn't as much fun with out a pic so here are some headshots of the boys. I wish I could have gotten them to look more similar as far as the positioning but I'll take what I can get. And yes, Jeremiah tends to look a little yellow/orange-ish due to drinking too much of his favorite "Red Juice" - V8 Fusion Strawberry Banana. It's chock-full of Carrots, Tomatoes and Sweet Potatoes. If he won't eat his veggies, he'll drink them! And the funny thing is that he'll choose this juice over a Sprite or Kool-Aid anyday! So score one for me! lol

Joshua in the shade...

They are getting so big!!!