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Photography Question 
Apriyile D. Vidales

Colors Dull, and Background Not Bright

  colors dull and background not bright.
colors dull and background not bright.
© Apriyile D. Vidales
Nikon D50 Digital ...
Hi: Thanks to all who helped. I did go and change my White Balance and it's better than the one before. But a new problem has arisen. Why are the colors in the photo two 1000 watt. continuous lights. Should I have them turned to the max for optimum brightness?
For John Siskin: You are absolutely right when you say, "I can do a lot of practice and work with books,or take a class." I now realize that I indeed need to take a class! Thank you for wording it in a way that really hits home!

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12/21/2007 9:32:46 PM

John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
  Hi Apriyile,
You might want to try increasing the saturation on these shots. I shoot in Raw, and you can increase the saturation, warm the color, and increase the contrast on almost every shot. The image you make with your camera is a beginning, but the camera is designed to get as much information as possible. It is up to the photographer how to make the Raw information into a picture. Richard Lynch has several excellent Photoshop classes here at BetterPhoto. It is also important to remember to have a good time. Iíll look for you in my classes. Thanks!

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12/22/2007 12:19:28 PM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
Part of what you are experiencing here is compression in your exposure. There are some ways to enhance images in Photoshop, as John says: using saturation controls, but also enhancing exposure with good techniques in post processing, like levels corrections, color balancing, contrast enhancement, etc. My courses can give you some great methods for working out the kinks on the back end. I took a couple of minutes to show you where this might go ... and admittedly there is plenty more that could be done. This was done using techniques from my course: Photoshop 101: The Photoshop Essentials Primer
However, as John may want to emphasize, another part of the issue seems to be in lighting and exposure ... which would be things to discover and explore in his classes. For example, the lighting seems to be too centered on the face, and while that is not always a bad thing, there may be better ways to have handled the lighting in this shot. I think he can help you out!

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12/22/2007 5:38:29 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Hello Apriyile,

While the information is accurate from John and Richard; please allow me to add the following.

Photoshop is indeed a wonder tool and invaluable to photographers.

That being said, please do not expect ANY post processing software to cure all ills. While you can cover a multitude of sins with post processing, don't think of it as a crutch or life raft.

All good photography begins with essentials prior to post processing. Understanding light, shadows, exposure, color balance, focus, depth of field etc, are prerequistes to a good image.

Composition plays a major role in how we perceive the finished product. One could get the exposure and color bang on and yet have a poorly composed shot that causes us to often believe the color, contrast off.
In other words, do all you can to get the best possible shot from the camera.

You did not mention what camera you are using. Some cameras simply will not give you the desired result due to poor lens performance, sensor performance etc...

Unsure of your current understanding of photography, I might say you have chosen the hard path of portraiture.
If you are just starting out, you might try still life first.
Good portraiture is not easy to master.

I'm not saying you should entirely avoid it..what I am saying is that shooting scenery, or still life will quicken your understanding in the nature of light and shadow.

More specifically concerning your example photo.

You need a backdrop light.
Open your aperture a little more..portraits are more appealing with a softer look.

White balance: Use manual white balance.
Preset white balance settings are unable to account for stray color unless you have unusually high control over your lights.

When all else fails, get a good book and start with "cook book" setups. These will get you on the right track, but don't get handcuffed by them.
Experiment, take notes on your setups and draw diagrams of your setups.

Above all..shoot-shoot-shoot and then analyze-analyze-analyze.

all the best,


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12/23/2007 5:53:09 PM

Christopher A. Walrath
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/25/2006
  Hi, Apriyile. A basic understanding of light might help here as well. There are three basic colors in photography, Red, Green and Blue. These are the primary colors. There also complimentary colors. It is best to imagine a clock. Starting at red and moving toward green. At 12:00 is a primary color: Red. At 2:00 is a complimentary color: Yellow. At 4:00 is a primary color: Green. At 6:00 is a complimentary color: Cyan (bluish green). At 8:00 is a primary color: Blue. At 10:00 is a complimentary color: magenta. And back to red at 12:00.

This works for color effects on computer software as will as for color correction filters. If you reduce red, you emphasize cyan (blues and greens). Note you do not increase it solely by adjust the red. Conversely if you increase red, you emphasize the red and do not reduce the blues and greens, only 'override' them with red hue. If you go to 4 and 10 o'clock, If you increase green (4:00) you deemphasize reds and blues by overriding them with green. Now, if you have a bluish tone in your subject you want to reduce, you can either reduce the blue which might flatten the look some, increase the yellow which might really overdo it or find a happy medium by slightly reducing the blue and upping the yellow.

You are photographing, recording light. A basic understanding of the very thing you are working with would go a LONG WAY to helping you make better images EVERYtime you pick up your camera.

Happy shooting and Merry Christmas.

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12/24/2007 12:15:46 PM

Rich Collins
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/24/2005
  Lots of very good advice here Apriyile.

But look at the photo again. The light is softened more than you are comfortable with. You might want to start out with a given look in your mind. Then try differing setups.

Your D50 Nikon is certainly capable of producing excellent images. Don't know about the lens, as you didn't mention.

But your 2-1000 watt lights are enough IF you have them less diffused than I am guessing you had them in this shot. If you are using soft boxes as modifiers, especially if you are using secondary diffusing panels, barn doors or grates. Any & all modifying elements will turn down the power, in a sense. Try every combination you can change when it comes to lighting a subject. Turn the lights at angles to achieve strong light in one directions while complimentary light from another. Add reflective panels or natural light from an open door or a window, or reflective panels. Bump up the strength if you don't see what you like. Put both light together with opposing reflective panels from the opposite side. Move lights closer, change the angles, raise or lower the source of lights.

You can always add a hotshoe flash on your camera shooting up so as to not cause red eye or too strong a catch light, to set off another balanced overhead for a hair light if you don't have a snoot.

The key is just keep mixing it up until that look you are hoping for, is getting closer.

I'm sure we'd all enjoy an update as you achieve better results. Great question.

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12/26/2007 4:45:02 PM

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