Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Photographing YELLOW - 3 Tips

Are your lemons  turning into oranges? Or are they turning into creamy cheesecake?   Where's the ZING gone? You can see it, but your camera just won't!

Frustrating, right? I know, so I've played around with some settings to help you. Whether you're trying to create a beautiful image, or whether you're trying to capture your beautiful creation, artwork, product, design -  Here are 3 tips to get the best yellow out of your yellow.

1. Choose a neutral light.

Although most cameras have settings to neutralise yellow light (from tungsten light bulbs) these capabilities are limited. So don't put the poor camera or yourself under unnecessary pressure. Switch off the lights and wait for daylight - Not very early in the morning (generally blue light) and not very late in the afternoon (warm yellow light), somewhere inbetween.  

When photographing outside the light looks neutral to our eyes, but the camera is not as sophisticated as our eyes. Many cameras have automatic settings here, but if your yellow is not clear yellow the automatic setting may be confused. Manually setting the right White Balance (WB) could take out the bluey light and put that clean zing back into your lemon.

Here are some colour casts to consider:

  • shady light is bluey - your yellow will go green! 
  • overcast light is less bluey - your yellow could still be murky
  • sunlight is white light - pretty yellow! But directly it could be too strong and wash out the colour.

2. Indirect Light 

Bad weather? Daylight means daytime, not sunlight. In fact photographing in direct sunlight is NOT what you want to do. The extremes of dark shadows and bright highlights are just too strong for a camera to handle. Yellow doesn't seem to have such a good range of lights and darks either. From pale blue to deep dark blue, blue generally looks good, but yellow is a little less photogenic. Your range of yellow tones is more limited, so often dark yellow just doesn't seem yellow anymore.

Look at my example of the yellowy leaves below:

I would say rather stay in the shade, under an overcast sky or go indoors, when photographing yellow. Yellow shows up better in soft light. A window is generally a wonderful source of natural neutral light. Choose a time of day when the sun isn't shining directly in through the window, but there's enough soft light glowing into the room. Place your yellow near the window and experiment with the direction you want to shoot from. If you then balance a piece of white card next to your yellow, it can act like a mirror, bouncing a little more light into those murky shadows. Have a look at my melon below:

3. Picture Style

Manually choosing the Picture Style could really make all the difference in the intensity of your yellow. If you're up to fiddling, see whether your camera has a setting called Picture Style. One of the numbers in the Picture Style is the Saturation of your colours. This is how bright or intense your colours are.

  • The Landscape Picture Style has a high saturation and will exaggerate your colours slightly and make your yellow pop out bright. 
  • Portrait has a lower saturation, so that skin colours don't end up looking orange. 
  • Neutral has the lowest saturation and may even make your yellow look dull. 

Sometimes if your saturation is too high, your yellows end up looking orangey. The best thing to do is fiddle around with these settings until you find just the right amount of yellow for your picture.

There you have your 3 Tips. I hope they're clear enough and not too technical. Out you go - try them. See whether it makes a difference. If you have any questions post them in the comments below and I'll try and help. Do you have any more tips? What have you experienced when photographing yellow?

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