What To Do When The Colors Look Wrong

Written by:

Have you ever taken a photograph, looked at it on your computer or camera’s viewfinder, and find that the colors are off? The reds look more orange, or the blues look more green? There are four culprits you can look at when trying to discern the problem.

One – Problems with the camera. Worst case scenario, there is an issue with your camera’s sensor that will need to be addressed by a professional. Many times, though, the camera’s vibrancy or white balance settings are not appropriate for the scene. Simply changing the white balance settings makes an enormous impact upon the resulting photograph.

Two – The quality of light. The kind of lighting used in the photograph has an immense impact on the colors that are captured. Natural light tends to capture true colors more faithfully than artificial light. In tandem with this is the photograph’s exposure time. If you are using a shutter speed that is too short or too long, colors within the photograph can be skewed.

Three – Issues with your monitor. In many instances, your monitor’s calibration and settings may need to be adjusted. Here is an excellent (and technical!) article on how to correctly adjust your monitor.

Four – Your post-processing program. In most of today’s programs, the software needs to be calibrated with the monitor upon using the program for the first time. For example, Adobe Gamma installs when you load Adobe Photoshop. Gamma leads you through a step-by-step process in order to correctly calibrate your monitor. Here is a good article from Adobe to step you through the process.

I hope I’ve helped point you in the right direction for your color troubleshooting. If you have further advice to share, please do so in the comments!

Photo credit: “Color Your Life” by uaeincredible on Flickr Creative Commons.

Previous Post:

  • marcus

    This should probably be a five point list. You've included shutter speed in with quality of light, but I think exposure ought to be its own point. Under-exposing an image can cause color saturation while over-exposing an image can desaturate the color in an image. These settings are often chosen for effect, but if you're trying to get accurate color then exposure is as important as the other good points you've made.