Monday, January 25, 2010

Photographing Red Flowers

I was reading some posts in the Blotanical Forum on photographing flowers where SueInMilan was expressing frustration with trying to capture the color red with her digital camera.  Despite all her efforts she was unable to produce an image that properly rendered the true color.

As Izyjo explained in a response to Sue’s post, it’s one of the problems with digital photography.  The camera sensor doesn’t seem to capture reds particularly well, especially on the automatic setting.

Of course, a proper exposure (the perfect combination of shutter speed and lens opening for the ISO speed being used) is helpful.  Also, photos of flowers (of any color – but especially red) should never be taken in direct sunlight.  If you want to photograph the flowers in your garden wait for an overcast day.  If you’re in another location and want to take the photo when the sun is shining on it, try to shade the flower with your body, or have someone hold something above it for shade.

Even then, the results aren’t always satisfactory, as you can see in the photo below.  The color isn’t too bad, but if you click on the image to enlarge it, you’ll see some of the annoying magenta colors that creep into where shades of red should be.

IMG_4488before

I adjusted the colors and the tonal range of the photo on my computer using Picasa, a free photo management program.  In the editing mode, using Basic Fixes, you can click on “I’m Feeling Lucky” – a quick fix for lighting and color.  If you don’t like the results, you can ‘undo’ the adjustment and click on the ‘Tuning’ tab.  There you can adjust the amount of ‘shadow’ to help darken the reds.  Then in the ‘Effects’ tab, you can sharpen the image a bit, and get the following result.

IMG_4488

Some may argue that the adjusted image is a bit too saturated with the red, but I think it is an improvement.

18 comments:

  1. Huge difference - software has become so amazing that I don't miss much about photography in the 'before'. I want to see what else Picasa can do, so I can decide how upset to be that I bought my software! Your photo and roses are gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I certainly agree that it is improve. You have more depth and less glare too. The reds and the greens are richer. Lovely photo by the by. ;>)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hank,
    If I were to visit your garden to admire the roses, which red rose would I see growing there? The one in the top photo or the one in the bottom?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for these tips. I've found I have more trouble getting a true picture of my yellow roses than of the red, since there seems to be even more glare. But a truly overcast day might help with that, too. Your rose photo is beautiful, color-true or not.

    ReplyDelete
  5. One in a while I get a more satisfactory red when I photograph red flowers (I find the darker wine and deep hot fuchsia tones also make me crazy). My newish (last fall) Canon SX1200 has some options for setting colour enhancements/fades while shooting, and I've found occasionally that setting the selection to neutral tones the magenta vibe down enough to get a more satisfactory colour. Bumping the red setting up seems to help sometimes, other times not.It's a strange thing, but I asked my camera seller a couple of years ago, and he explained about the digital sensor just not getting the colours right sometimes. Nice to know it's not always my fault...:-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for all you comments. I really appreciate your responses.

    @Allanbecker, your question has me wondering whether the same rose could be seen in different ways so they seem to be different plants. Perhaps it's like a road trip where the landscape appears totally different on the return trip. Short answer, Allan, is you're welcome to come and admire the red roses in ways that you'll see as many as your imagination will allow. Thanks for picking up on this little bit of magic just from the online presentation. :)Hank

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very interesting post Hank, I do find that colours (especially blues) don't come out true to form. I haven't manipulated them since I feel like it's cheating in some way, but your post brings up an interesting point...if the image is being modified by the camera, then perhaps 'changing' it is actually 'changing it back'. Something to ponder. ~ Rebecca

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Rebecca, indeed, the idea is not to manipulate it into something unrealistic, but rather to correct what the camera seems to distort - bringing it back to what the eye actually saw. Hank

    ReplyDelete
  9. Gorgeous photo. The edited version is an improvement, definitely. Since I love to grow red flowers, this information will be useful to me this season. Thanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I like the second photo - you did a great job adjusting the red. Thanks for the tips!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Very helpful post Hank. The problem with using cheap, or free, photo editing software is that rather than just increase the red in the roses they will make the whole photo more red.

    Your tips were great though about shooting in overcast conditions and shading the elements. The second image was definitely better than the first.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hank,
    I love photographing flowers. You did an awesome job.
    red is always tricky, for me.

    ReplyDelete
  13. You did a great job Hank. I love it no matter what shade of red it is.

    Your garden in the header, is rather lovely.

    When does spring come by?

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
  14. Must admit when using editing software I often venture into the unrealistic - you get get some really amazing effect.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Certain roses have a deep red - not so much saturated, not so much dark, but "deep." It's difficult to express. I tried several cameras, including a Sigma with the special Foveon sensor, but none of them got it. Nor could I get it in post processing, although a blue filter helped a little.

    ReplyDelete