5 Simple Steps to Better Camera Color Pictures your lens from direct lightOne of the biggest image degrading factors I have seen is lens flare. When direct light enters the front of your lens, it bounces around in the lens lowering contrast and destroying color saturation. You will mostly encounter lens flare when photographing a backlit subject.
That is to say when the sun is in front of you and behind the object of the photograph. There are several things you can do to eliminate this problem. One of which is to always use a lens hood. There are times when a lens hood will not be enough. When this is the case, you can “flag” the light by blocking it with your hand, a cap or a flag you cut out of cardboard.
Just make sure the “flag” is not in your image area. Get the proper exposureProper exposure is key to getting good color. One way to ensure a correct exposure is meter off of a gray card. You can pick one of these up at just about any camera store.
All camera meters are calibrated to give you a middle toned picture. Therefore you need to meter a middle toned object. That is what a gray card is.Another solution would be to use an incident meter. This in my opinion is the most accurate way to do it.
An Incident meter actually meters the light falling on your subject not the light reflected from your subject, so you get a more accurate reading of the light. Once you have determined the proper exposure you can help to ensure a good picture by bracketing your exposure.
You do this by taking 3 shots
one at your determined exposure value, one slightly underexposed and one slightly overexposed. You can do this in 1/3 stop, 1/2 stop or full stop increments. The choice is up to you.
Just use aperture priority, select your f-stop and vary your shutter speed. Some cameras have this function built in so read your camera’s manual.Underexpose for positive film and digital, overexpose for negative filmYou can increase your color saturation by slightly adjusting your exposure. Generally speaking, for negative film, color saturation will increase with slight overexposure.
For digital and positive film a slight underexposure should increase your color saturation. Play around with it by bracketing as mentioned above.Use higher saturation film or camera settingsIf you are using film you can purchase films that are designed to yield higher color saturation.
If you are using digital, most digital camera’s will let you select different degrees of saturation. Read your camera manual to learn how to do this.Fill in shadowsA lot of the scenes you will photograph will have a contrast range that is outside the ability of your film or digital camera to record.
That is to say the exposure range from the shadows to the highlights is too great to record all the detail. Either the highlights will “blow out” (be solid white) or the shadows will “block up” (be solid black) or both! The best way I have found to handle this situation is to get the proper exposure for the highlight areas and fill in the shadows with some form of supplementary light, such as an on camera flash or a reflector fill card.
A reflector fill card can be white, silver or gold and you use it to reflect light into the shadow side of your subject. As for using your on camera flash, read your manual to see how to set up the flash for “fill flash” and give it a try.
If your camera allows for it, make sure your flash exposure is set so it is a stop or two weaker then the main light of your scene. A lot of camera’s now have a way to change your flash exposure when it is set to fill flash