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08-27-2009, 07:24 AM   #1
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How can I get better/bolder colors?

Hi everyone. New member, but I've been lurking for a couple of weeks now. My wife just had our first child (baby girl) in June and that sparked my parents to subsidize the purchase of a DSLR. Long story short, I have a K200D with the SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4, and here I am.

I had not really planned on joining, but once I saw the https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/27739-m-club.html thread, I couldn't stand it anymore.

So I have to ask. How do you all seem to get such bold crisp colors?? Do you do a lot of PP color corrections? Or is it that your photos just come out of the camera looking like that? My pics all seem to come out with the colors looking a bit...drab. Or something. Something about the colors just does not pop or stand out the way that all your photos look.

Additional information: I shoot in PEFs then do random stuff in GIMP. I have messed around with the in-camera settings for contrast, sharpness, etc., but that doesn't seem to get me the results that I want. Sometimes I adjust the white balance, a lot of times I leave it in auto. I have a polarizing filter, which I believe was used in the second picture. I do not have a lens hood, but am considering getting one. Is it the lens? Is it the user? Is it PP? Is it lack of other good equipment? Anything that any of you more experienced photographers can diagnose?

(please do look at the EXIF data or even if you are inclined, download the pic and do your own color corrections or what-have-you)

Bottom line is that I want my pics to look much closer in color to the ones that are all over this site. Let me know if you need more information. Thanks.

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08-27-2009, 12:27 PM   #2
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On my k200d I use jpeg on BRIGHT mode with +1 on contrast and +2 on sharpness and images come out pretty good

Shoot this way using raw+, this way if you like what you get you then can delete the raw and keep the jpg ones, if not, you delete the jpgs and use the raw files to work on them.

Just my 2c !

And congrats on your new princess
08-27-2009, 12:30 PM   #3
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My settings: Jpeg, Bright, +1 contrast, +2 *fine* sharpness (on K20D, not sure if K200D has fine sharpness.)

Glad you liked the M-club thread!


.
08-27-2009, 12:36 PM   #4
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Thanks netuser and jsherman. I believe I currently have my in-camera settings on vibrant, +2 contrast, and +2 sharpness. The K200D does have fine sharpness, but whenever I change one sharpness setting, it automatically adjusts the other sharpness setting to match, so I can't change them independently.

I will change to bright colors and see how that goes. It'd be great if it were just that simple to fix my color "problem."

08-27-2009, 12:50 PM   #5
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Shoot in RAW, the open you photos in your favourite raw editor such as Raw Therapee and find the tonal curve tool. It's near the exposure settings and it will look a bit like this (those pics are from Photoshop, it looks slightly different in RT but it works the same):



The simplest adjustment is to change it so that it resembles an "S" like this:



Try tweaking the shape of the "S" until you like the result. Save the image to jpeg, and you can continue tweaking in GIMP. More information can be found in this tutorial:
Photoshop tutorial: Tonal range and the Curves tool
08-27-2009, 12:53 PM   #6
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Thanks Impact. I will look into that as well. I use GIMP because, after all the recent purchases, I definitely don't have the funds to get PS. I can picture in my head exactly how to do this using the UFRaw GIMP plug-in though.
08-27-2009, 12:58 PM   #7
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Don't worry about it, Gimp is perfectly fine for this. Here is an example:

Straight from the camera (On a side note, I actually like the bland colors. If I have to isolate a subject, I take advantage of the narrow depth of field a DSLR provides, open the lens aperture as much as I can and just blur anything that is not in focus).


Detail of the armour with the curves adjustment done.
08-27-2009, 01:01 PM   #8
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Impact,

This might be part of what I was looking for. I had been wondering how a lot of the pro pics I've seen got that sort of high-contrast-y look to them, and that second picture of the armor suit has that quality. It's a bit more contrast than I would have in my baby's pictures, but definitely a step in the right direction.

Thanks!

08-27-2009, 01:22 PM   #9
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I did 4 quick steps in photoshop on this, maybe 5 mins from download to upload.

a calibrated monitor helps, then removing color casts unless it's complementing the picture helps before you start playing with the brightness of pixels. you have to decide if you want real or unreal, will you be compositing multiple shots together? etc.
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08-27-2009, 01:54 PM   #10
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It's worth noting that since you are shooting in RAW to begin with, most of what you adjust in camera won't have an affect on the RAW image itself. You may see an affect on screen, but that will be on the jpg preview embedded in the RAW, and not the RAW data itself.

The only thing that you will probably see an influence is the white balance since a lot of RAW processors tend to default to what the camera setting was.

Otherwise, the curve editing as has been suggested works well, and I find that I am often making slight tweaks to the white balance, which helps quite a bit. A lot of RAW processors also have some sort of color adjustment abilities be it saturation, vibrance, or color specific. I don't use those much as I find that very little can easily become too much.

Overall, I think the examples you showed at the beginning are pretty good to begin with including the color.
08-27-2009, 02:01 PM   #11
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I shoot in RAW when the lighting is very tough, but I find a simple on-click contrast adjustment in picasa3 (freeware) on the jpeg gets me a very well-balanced curves adjustment 95% of the time - quick, easy, non-destructive. I highly recommend shooting in jpeg bright and trying picasa3. It's almost all I do now, and I like my results.




Last edited by jsherman999; 08-27-2009 at 02:09 PM.
08-27-2009, 03:56 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChooseAName Quote
Hi everyone. New member, but I've been lurking for a couple of weeks now. My wife just had our first child (baby girl) in June and that sparked my parents to subsidize the purchase of a DSLR. Long story short, I have a K200D with the SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4, and here I am.

I had not really planned on joining, but once I saw the https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/27739-m-club.html thread, I couldn't stand it anymore.

So I have to ask. How do you all seem to get such bold crisp colors?? Do you do a lot of PP color corrections? Or is it that your photos just come out of the camera looking like that? My pics all seem to come out with the colors looking a bit...drab. Or something. Something about the colors just does not pop or stand out the way that all your photos look.

Additional information: I shoot in PEFs then do random stuff in GIMP. I have messed around with the in-camera settings for contrast, sharpness, etc., but that doesn't seem to get me the results that I want. Sometimes I adjust the white balance, a lot of times I leave it in auto. I have a polarizing filter, which I believe was used in the second picture. I do not have a lens hood, but am considering getting one. Is it the lens? Is it the user? Is it PP? Is it lack of other good equipment? Anything that any of you more experienced photographers can diagnose?

(please do look at the EXIF data or even if you are inclined, download the pic and do your own color corrections or what-have-you)

Bottom line is that I want my pics to look much closer in color to the ones that are all over this site. Let me know if you need more information. Thanks.
First of all, I try to get it right in the camera as much as possible and do as little pp as possible.

You say you shoot RAW (PEF) so in camera adjustments have absolutely no effect on the RAW file itself, only on the embedded jpeg which is used to display the image on your LCD screen on the back of your camera so it is just used for preview purposes.

IMO it is your PP-ing that is letting you down and in my eyes the WB is off as well in both pictures (I had a look at both in PS and in these two particular images, the WB is off). Furthermore, the images are clipped but that could be because of your PP-ing.

The most important thing is to get your histogram tight and WB correct. That will make a world of difference.

If you have a copy of the RAW file, I can have a look at it if you like. The images you posted are already clipped and working on such a small jpeg is not going to give good results. I am not familiar with GIMP or UfRaw but most RAW converters work similarly.

I took shots of my Grandson who was born three weeks ago (flash was used in this shot):



Is this the sort of result you are after?

As I said, if you can upload the RAW somewhere, I can have a look at what is right or wrong with the shots and tell you how to correct it.
08-27-2009, 04:07 PM   #13
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I use the same settings here; haven't been using the *fine* setting but I've switched it on and I'll see if there is a noticeable difference in results.


QuoteOriginally posted by jsherman999 Quote
My settings: Jpeg, Bright, +1 contrast, +2 *fine* sharpness (on K20D, not sure if K200D has fine sharpness.)

Glad you liked the M-club thread!


.
08-27-2009, 04:15 PM   #14
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René,

Thanks for you help. Could you clarify what you mean by getting the histogram tight? Do you mean in PP? If so, is it something like the attached image? I have a feeling that it's not though, because adjust the color curve like that throws the colors completely off, making it look like a film negative.

The color of the picture of your grandson look nice, bold, and sharp. That is definitely a number of steps in the direction that I'm looking to go towards.

Where would I be able to upload the raw image so that you can get to it? Can you put stuff like that up on Flickr? Or can I attach it in a PM? The problem is that my DSL connection is $20/month and that gets me an upload speed of about 128kbps max.
EDIT: I have managed to upload the raw image to my Gmail. I can either mail it directly to you (or anyone else who would like to play with it) or I can wait till I get to work tomorrow to upload it elsewhere (I sent it to my work e-mail as well, and the upload speeds there are comparable to my *download* speeds at home)

Again, thanks for your help.
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Last edited by ChooseAName; 08-27-2009 at 05:00 PM.
08-27-2009, 05:00 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChooseAName Quote
René,

Thanks for you help. Could you clarify what you mean by getting the histogram tight? Do you mean in PP? If so, is it something like the attached image? I have a feeling that it's not though, because adjust the color curve like that throws the colors completely off, making it look like a film negative.

The color of the picture of your grandson look nice, bold, and sharp. That is definitely a number of steps in the direction that I'm looking to go towards.

Where would I be able to upload the raw image so that you can get to it? Can you put stuff like that up on Flickr? Or can I attach it in a PM? The problem is that my DSL connection is $20/month and that gets me an upload speed of about 128kbps max.

Again, thanks for your help.
Hi,

By saying getting the histogram tight, I mean look at the unedited image in The Gimp and open up Levels. Here you will see the histogram and any gaps you see whether on the left (shadows) or right (highlights), you should close up so the histogram runs fully from the left to the right. If the histogram is cut off either on the left or right (or both) means that the shadows/highlights are clipped. You can correct clipping if not too severe in your RAW converter by using the tools provided (shadow correction, highlight correction, fill light etc.). The naming of the tools vary from converter to converter so you need to have a play with it.

What you are showing is a curve and quite a severe one at that (and the wrong way). This will make your image look even worse. Forget about curves for now and learn the basics first.

As for uploading a PEF; use a file sharing website such as Sendspace. You need to sign up but it is free. Once uploaded they email you a link to the file which you can then post here. I don't know how big your PEF's are but it might take a while @ 128k. It's up to you if you want to do it.

It is 01.00 AM here now so I'll check back in the morning. Excuse any typo's as I am replying off an iPhone now.

Last edited by Cloggie_UK; 08-27-2009 at 05:06 PM.
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