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09-20-2019, 07:05 PM   #1
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Why do my night photos look pastel

Why do my night photos using the K5 II look pastel ? Is there something I can do about this like using another shooting mode ? Currently I use the "Natural" shooting mode for everything. During the day, i am more than satisfied with this mode, but at night it seems like the Sensor is having problems recording the right colors. I have included some attachments to show you what I mean.

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09-20-2019, 07:38 PM - 1 Like   #2
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They look pastel because the lights (and surfaces closest to the lights) are strongly over-exposed. HDR techniques can help.
09-20-2019, 08:16 PM   #3
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Nothing wrong with these a bit of post-processing won't fix. This is a 5 minute job in lightroom. Just pushed the sliders around a bit in the Tone section to flatten it out a bit, then dropped saturation and vibrance. You can spend a little more time and dial it in more how you like it. Sorry about watermarking it with my name...it's an automatic thing from my Lightroom publish, and I'll just delete this after you've had a chance to see it.

09-20-2019, 08:57 PM   #4
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I'd wager the real scene is closer to the pastel original than you may realize. Our eyes/brain does a lot of editing in challenging light.

Try monochrome and see if the times look ok without hdr and with it. If you prefer one over the other then start tinkering with color balance and saturation etc.

09-20-2019, 11:26 PM   #5
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man... I wish our gas was $2.27/gal. It's currently at $2.89/gal. Anyway, I'd have to agree with everyone else that it's an overexposure issue on the lighting. You might need to pick a better spot to meter off of. You could also stop down a tiny bit, or try working with another color mode like reversal film (this will probably really mess with your colors).
09-20-2019, 11:35 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by hjoseph7 Quote
but at night it seems like the Sensor is having problems recording the right colors.
I don't know of any camera that can properly expose these in one shot. Shoot RAW format and the lowest ISO possible and you have tons of options to post process to your liking. For scenes like these I generally under expose to make sure I do not blow the highlights. Then in post you can pull out a lot of detail from the shadows. Different cameras have various levels of shadow recovery capability based on their sensor. K1 is the king along with 645Z. My K3s were not as good. I am not sure about K5II.
09-21-2019, 05:36 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by hjoseph7 Quote
Currently I use the "Natural" shooting mode for everything
You might try "Bright" mode to increase saturation and contrast, if you prefer to start with jpeg.
09-21-2019, 05:54 AM   #8
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Aggressive noise reduction tends to do this to an image also. Can happen with high iso values.

09-21-2019, 06:50 AM   #9
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If I am shooting jpeg at night, I use the Muted Colors setting instead of the Natural for this reason. Try it, I like the results a lot.
09-21-2019, 08:01 AM   #10
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From what I'm seeing, overexposure of strong light sources and their respective cones could be an issue. Notice that highlight clipping can also occur with specific colour channels (often the red channel). And yes, shooting at base ISO and in RAW mode would give you a lot more leeway and processing options. Exposure bracketing and judicious use of HDR techniques would widen your possibilities even further. I bet neither your K-5 II nor having it set to Natural Custom Image Mode is the problem here.

However, the scenes you have attached likely include such a mix of artificial light sources - tungsten, fluorescent, and possibly other - that the very goal of a "neutral" WB for every part of the image is pretty much unattainable. Then, it would be up to you, the photographer, to decide which way you want to go for the effect of your image exposure-, saturation-, and WB-wise. Also, note that it could be an approach to embrace a given mood of a scene and even accentuate it. After all, signs and lights of the sort used in your images are intended to put potential customers in a particular mood.
09-21-2019, 10:08 AM   #11
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These kind of images can go lots of different ways, and photos will never look like what you thought you saw at the moment. Our eyes and brain trick us by being able to pick up much more detail in the extreme lighting contrast than any photo method can. Personally, I like what you are getting out of these, but you seem to be looking for something else. Explain more about what you are looking for,

As others have pointed out, the lights are getting blown out by over exposure. You are losing color detail in the highlights. The K5 series has good ability to pull detail out of the shadows, but overexposed highlights are impossible to recover. There is essentially no information there.

My thoughts, shoot in RAW, and bracket by 3 or more stops under what the camera meters.
If you shoot with a tripod, you could either combine several of these into an HDR, or process just one as you like. RAW will give you a lot more latitude to pull shadows up and play with the colors.

And to all of you complaining about sub $3 gas, Enjoy it! We haven't seen that for years, WA has one of the highest gas taxes in the country
09-21-2019, 10:20 AM   #12
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In Italy, gas is roughly 1.55 €/liter...
...a US liquid gallon is 3.7854[...] liters, i.e. 5.86[...]€, i.e. 6.45 USD...
09-21-2019, 01:39 PM   #13
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Photoptimist has nailed it - overexposure. Take a look at post #21 here at the gas station. Iso invariance - Page 2 - PentaxForums.com

Get back to base iso (100) and expose for the highlight areas.
09-21-2019, 02:49 PM   #14
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Great ideas. I'm going to go back to the same spot tonight since its not going anywhere and try all these solutions(bracket, expose for highlights, even change the shooting mode to mute) to see what I get. However I must point out that I don't get the Pastel Colors with different brand cameras(i.e. Canon). So I'm guessing it's something about the Sony sensor. This one here came out OK, although with a little post processing.
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09-21-2019, 03:45 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by hjoseph7 Quote
I must point out that I don't get the Pastel Colors with different brand cameras(i.e. Canon). So I'm guessing it's something about the Sony sensor.
Or the "in camera" processing. You'd have to compare raw to raw to know for sure.
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