March 22, 2009

Accurate Flower Colors

Daisy Blue

Spring is officially here, by the calendar if not by the temperature here in Montana. And that means wildflowers will soon be poking their heads up through the last bits of snow and mud. When you go out to photograph them with your digital camera, be aware that the camera may not always record the colors you see with your eyes. The way your digital camera captures flower colors is affected by the shooting mode you use.

I purchased a bouquet of flowers to practice close-up photography indoors. In the bouquet was a chrysanthemum of a lovely pale pink. I photographed it using three different settings on the camera. Each of them recorded a different color!

With the camera set on AUTO exposure, I got a flower that was definitely in the purple category. It looks nothing like the real thing!

Automatic Mode

Then I tried the Scene setting called Foliage. This brightens and intensifies colors and has worked very well for fall leaves. I thought it might do well with the flower. This version was closer to the flower's real color, pink, but a little on the dark side.

Foliage Scene Mode

For the third version, I switched the camera to Program mode. This is similar to automatic, except it allows you to customize several camera settings. I changed the exposure compensation to +2/3 to make the image a little lighter. And I changed the white balance to daylight instead of auto. These two adjustments gave me a photo that is closest to what the flower looks like to my eyes.

Program Mode with
+2/3 Exposure Compensation &
Daylight White Balance


So when you take flower photographs, experiment with different camera settings, including exposure compensation and white balance. Changing these can make a world of difference in the colors you record.