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Photography Question 
Rachel Larson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/3/2005

Problem with Shooting Red Flowers

When I shoot red roses on my Canon 40D or on my Canon XTi, with a tripod, the color seems difficult to capture. I can be in diffused natural light, and the white balance set correctly, but the capture still isn't that great. The detail of the flower petal seems to be overwhelmed by the intensity of the color. Does anyone else have this problem?

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1/23/2009 9:17:01 AM

Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  I have two suggestions.
1. Use a black background.
or 2. Use backlighting and get in really close.
Good luck.

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1/23/2009 4:36:56 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  There is nothing wrong with your camera, Rachel.
ALL digital sensors on DSLRs suffer from over-saturation in the red channel to some extent. Yellow is another tough one for a digital sensor.
What you are seeing are blown highlights in these color channels when referenced to a RGB value of grey or (128 in the RGB system). In other words, when exposing properly for the entire scene (i.e., matrix or evaluative metering), the inherent limitations of digital sensors will over-saturate the reds ... yellow too.
Sparing you the calculus as to why, you have a couple of options to overcome this.
1) Reduce the f/stop by 1 to 1.5 .. This is great if you are only shooting, let's say, a RED flower. If you want to shoot a frame with red, blue, green and yellow flowers, you will have to exercise some trickery to balance the image for color and tonality.
The easiest way is to underexpose the entire image by a stop to a stop and a half. Raw will produce better results in this scenario. (Another discussion for another time).
Using your image editor, mask off the RED flowers which should be properly exposed, and now use "levels" to raise the remaining exposure.
2) Shoot B&W, although even B&W will suffer from this problem.
3) HDR (High Dynamic Range).
Some will advocate simply reducing the red channel saturation in post-processing. This is flawed advice. Just like white, once the red channel is maxed out at a RGB value of 255, there is nothing left to recover.
Hope this helped a bit.
All the best...

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1/23/2009 7:16:06 PM

Tom Schmitt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/22/2005
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  Which "Picture Style" are you shooting in? When I had my XTi set on "Landscape" it was terrible, but now that I shoot only in "Faithful" it is great! None of the blown out reds any more!

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1/27/2009 5:11:36 AM

C, William Dunsay
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/6/2005
  I have had the same problem and I think if I found switching to Spot metering helps. I'm going to try these suggestions and am glad for your question.

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4/5/2009 12:18:39 PM

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