True color not coming through


TPF Noob!
Apr 27, 2013
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I was out today playing with my D5100 taking some pictures of my sister's golf cart I just finished painting Plum Crazy Purple. I too almost 40 pictures in different settings, like M, A, and S . Tried different scene modes, also did , vivid, landscape, normal, etc. All of the pictures came out looking more blue then purple. All I have right now for software is what came with the camera NX2. I did some tweaking in there , not that I really know what I am doing but I managed to make the cart look more purple but then of course everything else around changes also. I am a completely new to DSLR photography. All I had before was a 10 yr old P.S that sucked. Usually what looked like a good picture on the view screen sucked when it was downloaded. Wonder what I need to manipulate in the camera setting to get the right colors. By the way I think the Nikon colors are set to sRGB or something along those letters.

Here are some pictures of before and after.

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The second picture of Plum crazy is more like the real color to the naked eye. All though I messed around in NX2 and got a blue that would be my choice if it was mine. But my sister is a purple freak.
Is your monitor calibrated? If not, then you really can't rely on it for faithful colors.

The first image looks more true-to-life to me. Your edit looks like you added too much red. The last one looks like you painted the grass yellow.
Another issue is WB - White Balance.
When shooting with Auto-WB harsh light and different times of day will shift colors.
And Auto White Balance doesn't always get it right.
Couple that with all digital sensors have color bias issues.
Requiring tweaking depending on degree of shift and Color.
Optimal would shoot during a cloudy day with more diffused light.
And would see a different result and minimize color shifts.
I think my monitor is calibrated. I did something with it a few weeks back when I was reading about calibration. The second pic is what the color actually looks like in real life. The first one is blue. But then again I did have WB set to auto. Try it without next time. And the one where it looks like the grass is yellow is what happened when I manipulated the settings in NX2 software. I don't have PS lightroom. Something that is on the want list. The sun was also at my back so that probably didn't help anything. Thanks for the info so far. Only way to learn is ask questions and experiment.
Place the cart in full shade. In the first photo I think the problem is blue sky reflected in the shiny new paint.
I think my monitor is calibrated. I did something with it a few weeks back when I was reading about calibration. ...........

You think? If it were, you'd know.
Try overexposing by half a stop or so for this colour. It's probably a little lighter than mid grey and so your meter is turning it out a little darker than it should. Overexposing should put it back where it belongs.
If you set the camera up to shoot in RAW then you can play with white balance in viewnx2 to your heart's content. I think if you ask viewnx2 (NOT the camera!) to automatically calculate the white balance, it will do something and then give you a color temperature slider you can play with, which should give you pretty much a full range.

For more detailed alterations, you will need an editor of some sort, to let you adjust individual color channels, rather than a single "color temperature" control.
On my laptop monitor the 1st pic is definitely a vivid royal blue, not purple. The 3rd picture it does look purple and the last, adjusted picture really purple (but also the yellow grass because of the color edit on the whole photo).

Ah, another fun thing with digital....not everyone's monitor displays things the same.

Another expense for a monitor more suited for this...weeeee...
Wonder what I need to manipulate in the camera setting to get the right colors.
Basically, you need to get two things that you probably don't have yet:

1. A white balance tool. A neutral gray card is standard. They come in many different materials, sizes and costs, from something you can keep in your wallet or even on a keychain, on up to big whopping reflectors with a neutral gray target pattern on the back to be used for white balance. Some are very expensive, and don't necessarily do any more than the cheaper ones. The key is that it must be a neutral gray in order to get proper white balance, which is in turn key to getting proper color adjustment.

2. A monitor calibration device. This is a puck type instrument that you hang in front of the monitor that assesses your display and adjusts it to the correct color balance settings so that your white balance tool will actually work. Xrite and Datacolor make popular ones, like the ColorMunki and Spyder series of calibration devices. They too come in various versions and prices. Some will also calibrate your scanner(s) and printer(s), in addition to your monitor(s). No other method, especially not those involving your eyeballs, will do the job of calibrating your monitor.

So, that's the hardware you need to get that you probably don't have yet. But there's more you need to get a handle on. Get those two things, and you'll be able to get the a much better rendition of the correct colors of everything from golf carts to people's skin, and everything in between, as long as it fits in the monitor's color gamut (which includes most things that actually exist in the real world).

But it doesn't end there. Color is about hue, saturation and brightness. Even after correctly using the tools above, if your photo is too dark or too light, the colors in it will be darker or lighter than they looked naturally when you shot it.

But the same is true about color in real life, though our eyes adjust automatically, so we don't notice it as much. Look at this golf cart (or anything else) in dim light after the sun's dipped below the horizon vs noon sun, and the colors will look much different - darker or lighter. Look at something in bright sun, then shade, then in the light of a tungsten light bulb, then a fluorescent light - every different lighting condition makes it look slightly (or sometimes vastly) different in color. So the light conditions you shoot in will render different colors as well, and you can begin to ask yourself the question, "what color is this REALLY?" Is it darker or lighter? It all depends on the light it's in; the viewing circumstances, and that's where the REAL problem in color matching lies.

So the next device you need to have and learn to use is a light meter to get the brightness correct. The one built into your camera will do a decent job if you learn to work it correctly. It has different settings such as spot, center-weighted, and so on. You need to learn about these settings and understand which is appropriate for which photographic task you wish to achieve.

Then there's reflectivity, which affects hue. Just as the chrome wheels look greenish when they're reflecting the green grass, everything, even things that aren't shiny, pick up the colors of the things around them, even if only slightly. Again, our eyes and brains tend to take those things into account and make automatic adjustments, so we don't notice it much, but the camera just renders what gets thrown at it, and that can affect the outcome as well. What happens when you mix purple with green? You get colors that don't necessarily match your expectations.

Bottom line: Color matching isn't as easy as you might have thought or hoped for, and there's no camera setting you can flip to that will fix it outright. It's a combination of knowledge and tools that you'll have to learn about to get a handle on this aspect of photography.
Yeah without having your moniter properly balanced you don't know wether the changes your making are the right changes, they may look right on your screen but be wrong on everyone elses. i'm at work right now and i have two screens your first picture on 1 screen looks blue. i slide the photo over to the other screen and it shows up purple (my second screen is calibrated). So that can be playing a huge amount with why it's off.
Colors can be manipulated using various programs. I have been using GIMP (which is a free online download).
First, if you don't have a calibrated monitor, what you see on the screen may not even be close to what's in the file. If you make adjustments without calibrating the monitor, you may be overcompensating for what is an already good image. You're just guessing. Secondly, getting accurate color depends largely on proper white balance. Set the white balance to match the conditions of the scene, or use a white target for custom WB. Third, and I think the most important, shoot RAW and use the ColorChecker Passport for custom color profiles. These profiles snap colors into place automatically and instantly. This takes all of the guesswork out of color. With this and custom WB, you will get perfect color guaranteed. If you shoot RAW, settings like curves, saturation, color space and sharpness are irrelevant as the RAW file is unprocessed and you control the settings through development, giving you more flexibility. I'm giving you professional solutions that cost money and I realize they're not for everyone or everyone's budget, but you asked.

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