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11-28-2011, 08:44 AM   #1
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Very new to photography in general - Trying to get vibrant photos

Hi guys. I'm new to photography and I have a Pentax K-X. I've been trying to figure everything out on my own and so far I'm getting nice photos, but they aren't vibrant. I want to avoid post-processing as much as possible as my aim is just to shoot and upload to Flickr. I know how to post-process to get the vibrancy, but I'd rather the vibrancy come from the settings on the camera.

This is the kind of thing I am aiming for... see the photo with the kids and umbrella

Please can you advise me on this... Thanks


Last edited by Raindrops; 11-28-2011 at 09:05 AM.
11-28-2011, 09:10 AM   #2
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If you are just shooting jpegs then you can adjust how the jpeg engine cooks the raw files in camera. Hit the 'Info' button, look at the top left icon it has a hexagon looking kinda thing on it. Go in there and you can adjust saturation, hue, high/low key, contrast, and sharpness. The Pentax jpeg engine is set to produce a little more natural looking photo than some other brands expecially Canon so it can look a little underwelming if you are used to photos with more punch. So just adjust until you like what you see. This is also located under Menu>Custom Image

Note that these settings do not affect a RAW file only the jpeg produced by the camera.
11-28-2011, 10:13 AM   #3
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The kid on the right might be an alien.

The examples all show a rainbow of solid colors, which is kind of like showing clothes on a fashion model vs. clothes on real people. It sure helps the results to start with that subject matter. But you can help out your real-world subjects too.

Even, neutral lighting without shadows helps. One example is photos of fall foliage, taken on a day with a mostly or entirely cloudy sky. The clouds are a giant diffuser/reflector for the sunlight. Even a rainy fall day can be great for foliage photos. Large white tents have a similar effect. Shade or the north side of a building are other possibilities.

When you get your even lighting, make sure the white balance matches the conditions. It is influenced by the reflecting surface. I think there's a cloudy and shade setting. (In shade, the reflector is the blue sky.) If you are under a tent, a custom white balance might be useful. Here in Colorado, the sky is often totally cloudless, and photos taken in the shade look really blue until the white balance is adjusted.

The link mentions nailing exposure. If you do have clouds or shade, the scene won't have extreme highlights (bright spots) or shadows. I like to have a cloudy sky just a bit underexposed, to retain a little detail in it. Otherwise it's really boring and featureless. That tends to make a darker overall scene, but one that can be easily processed to brighten midtones. If you do have solid colors, especially reds or blues, it is a good habit to check the RGB histogram to make sure those two colors are not overexposed. The sensor is sensitive to those colors and the meter only sees total light, so sometimes there's a problem. Red, blue or purple flowers are a classic example. I think underexposure and sometimes processing is the way to go for vibrant colors.
11-28-2011, 10:18 AM   #4
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Also: If you choose to shoot RAW instead of JPG, you have considerable control over how your pictures look. Any on-camera JPG settings for contrast, sharpness, saturation, WB, NR, etc) will carry-over into RAW development as defaults, easily tweaked or overridden to suit your taste. If you want the bright plasticky Canon look, you can have it! Or any other look.

11-28-2011, 11:01 AM   #5
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I too am a big fan of vivid, realistic colors in photographs. That look isn't as much in vogue these days, but when I was just a wee photographer, I found myself wishing I my photos would turn out all crisp and vivid like the photos in National Geographic. Now days people are trying to make their vivid photos look like my old crappy photos did. There's no accounting for taste I guess.

The photo on the bottom with the mounds of pigment was almost certainly corrected using an X-rite color checker. I know you say you want to avoid PP as much as possible, and we all do, but by using a color checker in a reference photo, you can correct a whole afternoon's shooting with a few clicks in Lightroom and then it will even export them to Flickr for you.

Mark Wallace has a great video that explains how it is done:
11-28-2011, 11:16 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Go take a picture of something with colors in a well lit condition, then go into your INFO menu and select the scene scheme you want. There's like 5 or 6 options, Bright, Muted, Monochrome, something, something, Vibrant, etc. You can preview each scheme with the image you shot to determine which one you like - and if you want, you can custom set the scheme (play around with it). This applies only to JPEG shots, not RAW shots (although the preview you get after you shoot is the applied settings)
11-28-2011, 11:23 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Raindrops Quote
Hi guys. I'm new to photography and I have a Pentax K-X. I've been trying to figure everything out on my own and so far I'm getting nice photos, but they aren't vibrant. I want to avoid post-processing as much as possible as my aim is just to shoot and upload to Flickr. I know how to post-process to get the vibrancy, but I'd rather the vibrancy come from the settings on the camera.

This is the kind of thing I am aiming for... see the photo with the kids and umbrella

Please can you advise me on this... Thanks
Whatever setting you're currently using, try bumping up the Saturation and Contrast options, probably Sharpness as well That might get you a more vibrant image, but "Landscape" or "Vibrant" mode should already have similar settings as default. You may also try to under expose just a 1/3 stop or so, this will help saturate colors but you might need to do some PP.

The "crisp" part will be all on the use of your current lens, you will need to stop it down a bit and then you got to take distance to subject in to play as well, and this is all assuming you have good even lighting. Another trick is to try some fill flash as well, but this will take practice knowing how much to fill etc., etc., etc...

Bottom line, there is no setting you can use that will automatically produce clean crisp images with no PP but if you have a well exposed AND finely focused subject, you'll get pretty close. Practice...
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