Mastering Colour Settings

Discovering North Yorkshire through Photography and Video

Mastering colour settings in the days of film was far less efficient than it is today. With digital photography, we master our own colour dependent of the equipment we are using and a certain measure of skill. The way we manipulate colour is not only at the time of shooting, but also through editing software such as Adobe Lightroom and equivalents.

Colour at the time of Shooting

Mastering Colour Settings

Unless you are purposely taking black and white images, colour and the way we capture it can make an enormous difference to our photos. In winter, when landscapes are bleak and lighting conditions are low, it can be more difficult to achieve a colourful shot. However, this does not mean to say that there is no colour at all. White Balance and understanding its purpose goes a long way at achieving near perfect colour.

White Balance and Mastering Colour Settings

Mastering Colour Settings

White balance could be described as the temperature of your images. We are not talking about literal heat here, but rather the appearance of a photo. This temperature however, is oddly enough measured in Kelvin! Daylight is often around 10,000 to 15,000 kelvin whereas a candle is measured around 10,000 to 20,000. Cooler appearing images will look more bluer in appearance whereas a warmer image would be more yellow. We certainly do not want to be a lazy photographer and leave it in automatic mode, but rather select that right White Balance for the environment. In some cases you may want to use the custom setting in the interests of perfection and being creative. Many digital cameras allow you to adjust the temperature manually these days. It’s important to get it right at the time of shooting, but if you make a mistake do not worry. If you have taken your images in RAW format you can adjust the White Balance in a photo editing application. Jpeg images can also be adjusted but to a lesser degree as the camera will have already processed the image.

Mastering Colour Settings: Selecting the correct colour temperature (White Balance) is important if we are to capture a subject colour effectively.
Mastering Colour Settings: Selecting the correct colour temperature (White Balance) is important if we are to capture a subject colour effectively.

LCD and Paper Colour

Mastering Colour Settings

What complicates the subject of colour somewhat is the source we are displaying our images on. What you view on your camera’s LCD may completely differ to a computer monitor and even on paper. The model and quality of a colour printer will have a bearing too on how the colour is portrayed. Many photographers prefer to capture natural colours that we see with our eyes. Other photographers like to enhance colour according to the scene through photo editing applications. For example, a photographer in a landscape scene may want to adjust and enhance the greens, blues and perhaps browns in the shot. What might look fantastic to one person may not entirely suit another. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this is certainly true in photography. Many situations effect colour starting from the actual sensor in our camera through to the ink and type of paper we use.

Mastering Colour Settings: Colours on a LCD Screen may appear slightly different on printed paper. In fact, both the ink and paper we use will influence the colours from your images.
Mastering Colour Settings: Colours on a LCD Screen may appear slightly different on printed paper. In fact, both the ink and paper we use will influence the colours from your images.

Colour Profiles and Mastering Colour Settings

Mastering Colour Settings

Your camera will more than likely have various colour profiles such as Pro Photo RGB, Adobe RGB, and SRGB. As you have probably worked out for yourself already, the RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. A Pro Photo RGB brings about the best and strongest colours. Adobe RGB would return just a tad more vibrancy than standard RGB.

Although Pro Photo RGB returns the best colours, it is important to remember that not all of these colours can be printed. In this case, you may want to adhere to standard colours. Adobe RGB are also rich in colour but to the point where they can be reproduced. The choice is very much associated with how you intend to display your images, on paper or on LCD screens.

Most cameras by default are set to SRGB because the images are easily displayed on monitors and suitable for internet web pages. You might find that your camera does not feature a Pro Photo RGB and your only other option is the popular Adobe RGB.

Colour Post Shot

Mastering Colour Settings

LCD screens on your camera’s rear are extremely useful. Using a smartphone app connected to your camera can be even more useful as smartphone screens tend to be larger. However, they may not be the best way to judge colour effectively. Bright sunlight on the LCD screen can also make it unclear. The best way to assess colour is to use a computer screen such as on a PC, Mac or laptop indoors out of the way of sunlight. However, it is vital to have captured your images in RAW files as opposed to jpeg. RAW files contain all the data you have gathered in your shots, giving you more room for editing such things as colour. The simple way to remember this is RAW is not processed, jpeg has been processed. However, you need to ensure first that you have the software application that will edit RAW files. Many camera manufacturers provide a free software application to download that will be similar to Adobe Lightroom and give you the ability to edit RAW images. In such software, you can manipulate the colours as well as adjust the White Balance.

Key Camera Skills

Camera Shutter Settings

Aperture Value and Depth of Field

Image Quality Settings

Mastering Colour Settings

Photo Sharpness

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