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05-14-2014, 10:16 AM   #1
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Photos are not as vibrant as I would like/expect

I have a Pentax K-7. I feel as though many of my outdoor pictures are not as vibrant as they should fact they look a little washed out.

If I post process in PSE and adjust the levels (even using auto adjust the levels) and then brighten each one up, they look much better. What settings on my camera should I use to try and improve this out of camera? I have played around, but not found anything that seemed to work well.

I've attached an example photo...mainly I notice the difference in the skin tone and the grass. Some photos are much more dramatic than this one, but I could find this one quickly. (My son is the main kid in the picture....I intentionally blurred the other kids faces.)

Thank you all so much.

Last edited by Michele85; 05-14-2014 at 10:37 AM. Reason: add photo and information
05-14-2014, 10:39 AM   #2
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I think you will need to post some examples for us to play with!
05-14-2014, 10:45 AM   #3
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If you're shooting jpeg, you can adjust the vibrance, contrast, etc in the camera settings. Otherwise, you can continue to do it in PP, which is fairly normal for me. Most photos will benefit from some PP, such as exposure/WB adjustment, curves/levels, sharpness, etc.
05-14-2014, 11:24 AM   #4
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Are u using a lens hood? it helps to get better contrast.

05-14-2014, 11:49 AM   #5
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This solution is extra work but comprehensive. Next time you are taking shots under similar conditions, set the camera up to take RAW+. Press the Menu button, down arrow to select File Format, then right arrow, then down arrow to choose RAW+, then OK, then Menu. That makes two copies of each shot, one that is unprocessed by the camera.

When you're back to the computer, you want to open the RAW files in the software that came with the computer, Pentax Digital Camera Utility 4. You may have some kind of automatic importing thing that starts up to bring your photos into PS Elements. If you can cancel that and move only the RAW files to a separate folder, then you can go on to use the regular JPEG files as normal.

The point of all the extra work is to open a RAW file in the Pentax software, in the Laboratory section. Then you can apply all of the possible camera settings to that file. On a bigger screen, you can pick the JPEG processing options that make the photo look like you want. There is a pull-down menu that says "Camera setting" that shows the nine main JPEG styles, and the saturation, hue, high/low key, contrast and sharpening options. (The software also shows Picture and Scene modes that aren't on the K-7. You can get the same effects, just more work.) Once you get the settings you like, change the camera settings to duplicate the software. Now they will be applied to all your shots. You can set the camera back to taking JPGs.
05-14-2014, 11:49 AM   #6

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I don't see the examples but I think I can comment anyway.

Check your white balance setting. It should be "auto" or "daylight" for most outdoor photos.

If you're using JPG format, press the right button on the 4-way controller. I think that brings up the custom color settings. Try "natural", "bright", "vibrant", etc. to see what you prefer. You can manually adjust individual colors but I don't think that's advisable for most shooting situations.

If you're using raw format (DNG or PEF), the above color setting might not have any effect. I don't know enough about PSE to be certain. I use Lightroom and that has "presets" to automatically set the saturation slider (or any other setting) for every photo that gets loaded.

Finally, regardless of shooting mode, a circular polarizer can increase color saturation for outdoor photos. That's something else to purchase, though.

---------- Post added 05-14-14 at 02:51 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by schnitzer79 Quote
Are u using a lens hood? it helps to get better contrast.
05-14-2014, 12:01 PM   #7
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If you are shooting RAW the picture probably won't "pop" until you process the image. One of the posts above about adjusting your JPEGs should work, but that is a lot of work to get your JPEG files to Look good. I suggest you use RAW and enjoy the greater flexibility of the file. You can always batch edit all of your files using Lightroom. Happy shooting!
05-14-2014, 12:43 PM   #8
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A sample photo would help to identify the issue; however, if I have to start looking for the reason, the first one comes to mind is the lens used. Did you have the k-7 set to 'natural' setting?

05-14-2014, 12:45 PM   #9
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It also helps to know what lenses you are using, as some of them are known to lack pop without some post processing tweaking.
05-15-2014, 08:09 AM   #10
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It seems you have two separate issues going on. 1. Your exposure isn't quite right. Are you using Spot, Centered, or Matrix? After watching a few talks and practicing I like using the Matrix mode, then I adjust my shutter speed by whats in my frame. If there are light colors in the frame, I make it a bit brighter and darker for darker colors. (Look up some of Jerry Ghionis's talks on exposure, he is pretty awesome). 2. Check your white balance. Try to get out of Auto White Balance as much as you can. That will REALLY help your pictures.

Edit: I didn't see any added photos?

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