Saturation and Your Camera
One frequent question is how to achieve saturated colors in your images. Many people feel that their camera’s images don’t just pop right from the camera.
What a lot of photographers don’t realize is that colorful photos take a lot of work to accomplish. Most snapshots just don’t have the pizazz that we expected to see. There are many reasons for this, so let me go through some of them and provide some solutions as well.
Circular Polarizer Filter
A polarizer does a number of things for your photographs. The first (and most obvious) is to give more contrast between a blue sky and white clouds. The second use is to reduce reflections and glare from surfaces such as plants, windows. leaves, and water. The third thing a polarizer does is help saturate colors.
Learn more about polarizers at this site: http://www.mat.uc.pt/~rps/photos/filtersuvpol/.
Contrast is a great way to emphasize saturation as seen in the above image. Contrast can be light on dark, smooth against rough, bright color over dull colors, There are many ways to show contrast and it is one of the elements of design that creates the biggest impact in an image.
It is well known to many professional photographers that if you want to saturate the colors in your image, then under expose a little bit. This is easily done in manual mode. Make sure you take multiple shots using varying under exposure levels.
Flowers & Fall Colors on Overcast Days
Macro and close-up photography really benefit from the light on overcast days. If you allow direct mid-day sun to fall on your image, parts of it will be totally blown out and parts of it will be lost in shadows. Overcast lighting illuminates everything evenly and helps your colors really shine through.
Optimize Your Camera’s Menu Settings
Most cameras have a menu item in them called “Optimize Image” which allows you to change the Color Mode and Saturation levels. Typically you can choose from Color Mode I, Mode II or Mode III. Each of these Modes relates to color saturation. Mode III is the most color saturated of the three choices, so try this one if you want that color to come through. Beyond that, your camera frequently will allow you to choose “Enhanced Saturation” in the optimization menus. Use this to add even more punch to your colors.
Almost all post processing software has the ability to add saturation to an image. However, you have to be very careful! Adding saturation is either done “globally” (Adds saturation to the whole image.) or selectively (You pick which part of the image to add saturation.) For instance, in Photoshop Elements you can add saturation through the “Enhance” Tab and then select “Adj. Color” > “Adjust Hue/Saturation.”
Personally, I’m not a fan of global adjustments, and prefer precise edits. Take the two images below.
Take the image above. It is straight from the camera with no post processing. I wanted to kick up the color saturation in the top purplish portion of the front tulip and leave the rest of the image as is. Viveza from Nik Software allows me to choose exactly where I want to increase saturation without using complicated selections or layers masks as you’d have to perform with Photoshop.
The image below is the finished product.
Using Viverza it took me less than one minute to add the saturation exactly where I wanted it. Really, it is as easy as one mouse click, use a few easy-to-use sliders to adjust not only saturation, but also brightness, contrast, shadows, red, green, blue, hue, and warmth.
Learn more about Viveza here: http://www.google.com/nikcollection/products/viveza/
There you have it! A few way to add saturation to your images.
Thank you for taking the time to visit and I hope you can take away some ideas to enhance your photographic experience and make your photos pop.