Photos lacking color saturation, what am I doing wrong?

Blind_Io

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I'm getting really frustrated with my photography recently, the colors that I see with my eyes seem really washed out when I try to photograph them. The reds of the soil seem brown, the blues and greens in the vegetation seem muted and lifeless.

I'm shooting with a Nikon D80 body and Nikon lenses.

This shot looked way better in person, the reds of the soil and the rust on the desk were much more red and the vegetation was green with a bit of blue. None of that comes out in the photo and the gray sky is completely washed out with no definition to the clouds at all.

J8sX0x5.jpg


These two images are of the same subject at the same time. One was taken with the camera set to the "sunny sky" white balance setting, the other with the "overcast sky" setting. Neither do a good job of getting the reds and browns of the building and the greens of foliage. All the photos taken at this location also had a washed-out sky and showed no cloud definition at all.

3n6l0hI.jpg


rvbVIca.jpg


This is another building at the same location, this time showing how washed out the sky appears

vJVKhMj.jpg


Reds and greens both appear muted here, but not as bad.

frhxkIa.jpg


All my photos look this way, none seem to capture the colors that I'm seeing and it is starting to get very frustrating. I know how to get the effects I want with a film camera, but digital just doesn't seem to behave the same way. If I'm shooting black and white and want cloud definition I would put on a K2 filter, with color I would use a polarized filter - but none of that helps with the color saturation. If I was going to shoot for greens and blues I would typically use Fuji film, for reds and yellows I would shoot Kodak.

Is there something I can do with manually adjusting the white balance on the camera? Is there some other setting deep in that computerized monstrosity that will get me the colors that I'm looking for?
 
There is a setting in there for saturation, or at least there is for my D7000. What mode are you shooting in, is this automatic or manual? The colours on the building look pretty good in the 4th photo but the blown out sky suggests that it's over-exposed to me.

Of course there's no guarantee that you'll be able to expose the sky correctly without under-exposing the foreground.
 
Nothing. You want the DSLR to capture the images as flat as possible so you can then adjust in post. This way you use as much of its dynamic range as possible and no information is lost. And before anyone says that's cheating, it's no different to adjusting bath times during old-school photo development. People have been doing it for as long as cameras existed, so shush.

However, if you really want the images to "pop" (fuck I hate that word) out of the camera, you can adjust the Picture Control. I haven't used a D80 in a long time, but the menu logic should be the same.

1) Shooting menu
2) Set Picture Control
3) Pick something other than Neutral and see if it's any more to your liking. If not
4) Pick profile and hit the adjust button
5) Fiddle with settings (in your case probably Saturation)

This would be effectively changing the type of film as you mentioned in your post.
 
Nothing. You want the DSLR to capture the images as flat as possible so you can then adjust in post. This way you use as much of its dynamic range as possible and no information is lost. And before anyone says that's cheating, it's no different to adjusting bath times during old-school photo development. People have been doing it for as long as cameras existed, so shush.

However, if you really want the images to "pop" (fuck I hate that word) out of the camera, you can adjust the Picture Control. I haven't used a D80 in a long time, but the menu logic should be the same.

1) Shooting menu
2) Set Picture Control
3) Pick something other than Neutral and see if it's any more to your liking. If not
4) Pick profile and hit the adjust button
5) Fiddle with settings (in your case probably Saturation)

This would be effectively changing the type of film as you mentioned in your post.

For step 3, with my D300, I normally use a modified Vivid for sceneries. It doesn't look good for portraits, so I have another modified preset for those (can't remember if it's based on Neutral or something else, I can check tonight).
 
I shoot completely neutral, at times even using a color chart to use with calibration software and then adjust everything in post.
 
OP, are you shooting JPG or RAW? And, is your colorspace in-camera set to sRGB or Adobe RGB?

If JPG, you should have a setting where you can set "Standard", "Landscape", "Vivid", "Neutral", etc. I don't what's called on your camera.

If Adobe RGB, I *think* it's flatter since most online pages can only render sRGB correctly. Anything other than sRGB will usually look washed out.
 
I was shooting in jpg because I didn't have any editing software (or a big enough drive) to handle RAW. I will switch over to RAW for future use.

Honestly, I'm frustrated at the constraints of digital, it just isn't as forgiving as film.
 
Say what? Digital is far more forgiving than film. There's a lot more to learn until you get a full grasp of everything.
 
For step 3, with my D300, I normally use a modified Vivid for sceneries. It doesn't look good for portraits, so I have another modified preset for those (can't remember if it's based on Neutral or something else, I can check tonight).

Now that I have my camera in hand, here are my settings:

Shots where the subject is not a person:
Vivid
Sharpening 6
Saturation +1

Shots where the subject is a person:
Standard
Sharpening 6
Saturation +2

I now shoot in Raw + JPEG, and most of the time the Jpeg looks better that what I can do from the raw with my limited post-processing talent.
 
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I was shooting in jpg because I didn't have any editing software (or a big enough drive) to handle RAW. I will switch over to RAW for future use.

Honestly, I'm frustrated at the constraints of digital, it just isn't as forgiving as film.

You'll find shooting RAW will product more flat shots out of camera, but the dynamic range will take over and you'll realize you've got some really good colors in the data. Furthermore, I find it easier to expose for the sky with my D610, and open up the foreground shadows in post.
 
On my canyonlands trip I tried to take more control of the camera, using the aperture priority setting. So what did the camera do? Decide to max out the ISO so everything was overexposed all to hell.

I fucking hate arguing with computers. The shot that used to take me a few seconds to compose now takes several minutes of digging through menus - and once I get one setting where I want it the camera decides to change something else. If I wanted a 1000+ ISO then I would not have set it to 200.

I'm about ready to sell this POS and just take snapshots in HDR with my phone.
 
Why did you set ISO to auto?
Why did you try to avoid aperture priority?
Why don't you listen to what we tell you?
It's really not that hard! Aperture priority, ISO to minimum, aperture to widest possible, unless you want everything in focus.

:rolleyes:
 
The quick menus in my D610 are what make or break the camera. The ability to bind different functions to buttons on demand is incredibly powerful. Right now, my pinkie taps a button and it pulls up my auto ISO settings, which are first either toggled on or off (off defaults to ISO 100) and then what I want my shutter-speed floor to be. Once I've hit that floor, it will adjust with the ISO, up to 6400 (which is what I set it to).

I used that a lot during airshows, whereas when I'm shooting landscapes off a tripod, it's two steps and I'm back locked into ISO 100.
 
The sky is bright white in the images, could a filter work? like a physical one to put on the lense? a polaroid filter often helped me get a blue sky again.
 
A polarized filter can work, but you need to make sure it's graduated if you just wanna polarize the sky. I find exposing for the sky gives me the best possible sky, and I can always open up the shadows in the ground in LR because of how powerful RAW is. That's what I did for this image:

Spiderflare by Ben, on Flickr
 
Ko
Why did you set ISO to auto?
Why did you try to avoid aperture priority?
Why don't you listen to what we tell you?
It's really not that hard! Aperture priority, ISO to minimum, aperture to widest possible, unless you want everything in focus.

:rolleyes:

I set the ISO to minimum, I set it to a wide aperture except for the photos where I wanted deep depth of field. The camera reset all the settings when I switched to a different mode for close-up shots of wildflowers and then forgot what the hell it was at before.

I just don't see how all these farkles result in better photographs. A simple meter computer does fine and is way easier to use. I wish someone made a camera with a kickass sensor and just a basic equivalent exposure meter like on my old Minolta.

- - - Updated - - -

Yeah, I was running my polarizer on the trip.
 
Apparently it does something, because all the shots not in the macro mode were shit. The few that I shot in automatic mode were ok too (not great), so that annoying as fuck little picture wheel sure did something different.

Plus, I didn't expect the camera to change it's own settings from ISO 200 (overcast day) to ISO whatever-the-fuck-maximum-it-can-handle.
 
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