Saturation?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by manaheim, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    A friend was talking to me about how he was doing X or Y (I think he was using EV exposure compensation) to get better color saturation in his images.

    I'm often feeling like my images lack saturation and contrast off-camera. I COULD turn these things up on the camera settings, but that always feels wrong to me.

    I was wondering if people could help me understand how to improve saturation and contrast, and how any individual method works and why it doesn't just do this normally.

    Also, in case it matters, I shoot RAW pretty much exclusively and I use a Nikon D300.

    Thanks so much!
     
  2. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You could try doing a -1/3 on your exposure value or even bump it more. My camera shoots hot if left to it's own devises.

    And in post you could try going into the exposure adjustment and playing with the gamma slider. It's a lot like the middle slider on the levels adjustment.

    You know, you can de-saturate too. ;)
     
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Why? Photographers have always controlled contrast and saturation. It can be done by controlling the light, using accessories, choosing extra saturated or high/low contrast materials, adjusting exposure and development, printing, etc...

    I leave my in-camera adjustments set as neutral as possible so I can see a more accurate histogram. With the in-camera saturation and/or contrast pumped the LCD is going to show blinkies before the actual raw file is in trouble. Then I adjust in processing.

    Darkening the midtones usually results in a slight increase in saturation. If I were shooting slides I'd intentionally underexpose 1/3rd stop. Shooting raw I prefer to get the max signal to noise ratio to start working with as it's so easy to precisely adjust exposure, and darkening a raw file usually decreases noise, while underexposure can increase it.

    A polarizer can do amazing things for color saturation, particularly on a bright day. It's a whole different world when I'm wearing polarized sunglasses or shooting through a pol filter.

    I adjust contrast by using a mix of lighting control and processing techniques. Getting the light right to start with is easiest in the long run, but not always possible or convenient. With digital I do most processing contrast adjustments using curves, or some variation. Some of the sharpening techniques I use also adjust contrast a bit. With film I adjusted it by altering exposure and development to expand or contract the tonal range, and then again during the printing stage with multicontrast papers and filters.
     
  4. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    +1
     
  5. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Everything in my camera also is set to give me neutral saturation and contrast levels. I also turn off any noise reduction option and set my white balance to auto. The reason for that is so that I can apply consistent settings across a group of shots that are in similar environments via post processing.

    I do find that when using high end Nikkor lenses, I need less sharpening, less contrast and less saturation changes, though.

    A lot of the trying to get it in camera is due to understanding the Zone System for me and metering the right amount off the right object.
     
  6. davebmck

    davebmck TPF Noob!

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    Since you're shooting in raw, you camera is going to put a minimal "default" saturation in your files. In Camera Raw or Light Room, I generally bump up the saturation just a tad. I don't use the Saturation slider much now, though, I use the Vibrance slider. The saturation slider adds saturation globally and can easily over saturate some colors. The vibrance slider only adds saturation to colors that the program sees as needing it.
     
  7. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Ok, thanks everyone. Some great thoughts here. I'm going to need to go tinker a bit, and I need to go look up the Zone system thing. I've seen you mention it before, Jerry. Just keep forgetting to look it up. :)

    I'm just scratching my head because I saw an absolute WALL of images yesterday taken by a lot of different people and they just POPPED. Like they may as well have been 3d. I know that sounds stupid, but my images just don't look like that. Something is missing and I'm not sure what.

    I do have a cpol, but I can't always use it (like if I'm indoors it tends to be a little challenging).
     
  8. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I'm using LR2 almost exclusively for my edits now. Yeah, I'm "lazy" and hate spending time processing. *notes backlog of unprocessed images* With LR2 I might bump the saturation up ~5-10% and reduce the luminance a few %'s to get the look that is good enough for me. I also play with exposure, WB, fill lights, the "S" curve etc. It's a minimal effort on my part. Probably lends itself to the lack of responses to the photos I posts, but I don't care. I'd rather have a wanque (avoiding the censorship) than to sit there for hours massaging an image.
     
  9. TwoRails

    TwoRails TPF Noob!

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  10. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Chris, just for kicks, check your meter. Find an 18% gray card and fill you viewfinder with it and take a shot. The histogram should spike in the middle. There is a product out there that has 18% grey, white and black so that you have 3 spikes to test it all.

    Anyway, if your meter is off it will effect your exposure (duh I know). If it is off a little it could explain your lack of saturation/contrast.
     
  11. davebmck

    davebmck TPF Noob!

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    Manaheim, what are your raw file processing steps?
     
  12. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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