Set up your camera
Find out how your camera’s exposure and settings will affect the colour in your shots
Prepping your camera is the first step in any successful shoot, so we’ll start by exploring camera settings. Firstly, make sure you’re shooting in RAW mode so that the white balance and tones can be tweaked easily later on at the editing stage. If you want to get out of Auto White Balance mode, set your camera to match the light source falling on your subject. For example, Daylight suits outdoor scenes under clear skies, whereas Tungsten is designed for indoor scenes under incandescent lighting. Setting a custom white balance using a grey card will give you readings with even greater accuracy.
Exposure determines how light or dark an image appears, but also affects what and how colours are recorded. Every camera has a specific dynamic range it’s able to capture, and if a tone fall outside of this because of incorrect exposure, it’ll appear as white or black. Say for example you wanted to record the rich red of a velvet dress in a shadowed room, you’d need to increase the exposure so that the red tone was recorded accurately, rather than as a dark brown. Put simply, consider what colours are important to the scene, and alter your exposure accordingly.
Check the RGB histograms of your images when reviewing them, to make sure the most important colours haven’t been clipped.
The Brightness histogram combines the brightness of all three colour channels rolled into one, whereas the RGB version shows you the values for each individual channel, so you can discover any potential problems with colour saturation.
Scene modes or filters are no longer a gimmick reserved just for entry-level cameras. Even high-end DSLRs, the recent Canon EOS 6D Mark II included, have modes such as Food that work to enhance certain colours and tones in an image.
Picture styles are another way to change the way your camera ‘sees’ colour. The Standard picture style is an all-purpose mode that produces the colours and contrast levels for general photographic subjects. As a more specific example, the Landscape picture style changes the colours; blues should become more vivid and deep, and greens will appear more vivid and bright. Most DSLRs will enable you to set your own custom picture style, so that you can alter the saturation and contrast levels manually.
Right PICTURE STYLES Mel sinclair (MELSINCLAIR.COM.AU) used her DsLR’s standard scene mode to capture this vibrant landscape. While a standard style suits a broad array of subjects for easy editing, a vivid picture control emphasises primary colours
Below WHITE BALANCE here, photographer hesham Alhumaid (500PX.COM/ HESH4M) used evaluative metering mode and Auto White Balance to accurately capture the three primary colours of the composition