View Full Version : Dealing with difficult yellows

Geoff Chandler
12-04-2007, 10:34 AM
I have mentioned in the past the problems with Red's - they can come out a bit wrong at times.
Now I want to bring up the Yellow problem.
Quite often, and particularly with delicate flowers, the correct shade of Yellow is either lost or washed out. This is a tricky one and even with a bit of experience I admit to finding it a bit tricky
The problem usually comes with Yellow flowers and more often than not with close ups.
This first example is how a camera may expose these yellow flowers (with a dark foliage background) -if it is set to an automatic setting: -
You will see from the below pic that some of the fine detail is washed out
It could be worse with a basic camera - or you could just get lucky.

Geoff Chandler
12-04-2007, 10:38 AM
Here's my attempt - with my D80 -to get these flowers to look right.
I slightly under exposed (-0.3ev) and also used the best White balance (in this case daylight) available.
Nothing was really over exposed - but the picture is definately NOT a stunner!!!
What I am saying though - is that you do have the material to work with in a Photo shop package.

Geoff Chandler
12-04-2007, 10:41 AM
Beware, however, Histograms can sometimes be decieving!

Using an automatic fix in one particular graphics package - it simply
adjusted all the histograms so they were even and the result was quite wrong (look at the colour of the leaves!)

Geoff Chandler
12-04-2007, 10:45 AM
Going back to my second example I decided to adjust the image manually using curves. I did not touch the individual colours as I was happy the hue was correct and looked how I had seen the flowers in the first place.
Basically I added contrast and saturation to the image - coupled with a gentle bit of unsharp mask.
It might be worth trying one of the custom settings on your camera if you have them - in my case I could have tried the 'Vivid' setting which increases contrast and saturation - this would have a very similar effect.
Here's my adjusted image:

Geoff Chandler
12-04-2007, 10:48 AM
Finally you can add your own personal touches - maybe a crop
Here I have cropped it to a square image.

Watch out when you photograph those yellow flowers!!

12-04-2007, 11:35 AM
Very nice explanation to a problem common to most of us. Also a nice shot you had to work with. The result is A1 as I would expect from you.

12-04-2007, 01:20 PM
Very nice result and yeah.. yellows, particularly on flowers are always tricky.. they always come out muddy for me...

I guess learning how to use Curves would be helpful eh? Any pointers there?

Geoff Chandler
12-04-2007, 01:56 PM
Just a quick answer - I will think about this through - there must be a tutorial on the subject somewhere....

Basically - in curves - you have a diagonal line from bottom left to top right.
The bottom left represents darks and shadow detail and the top right the highlights etc.
(Also you can go into the seperate colours and fine adjust those as well.)
If you can also see a histogram - if the right hand side has a flat line then to adjust that you grab the top right (curve) and keeping it at the top drag it to the left.
A gentle lightening adjustment would be to grab the centre and slowly lift from there.
You can anchor different points then move others.
Lifting the bottom left areas increases, lightens, shadow details - but reduces contrast and apparent vividness.
For my increased contrast I anchored the middle 9put a spot there) then gently lowered the shadow 9 (left) and raised the highlight (right) and also slightly moved the top right over left - fiddled around until it looked OK

Best way to learn is to play and study the effects.

If I get some time I might post some examples - if anyone else knows of any ready made tutorials or examples - please feel free to share

12-04-2007, 02:01 PM
thanks for the quick rundown... I will play around later tonight and see what i can accomplish, but yeah if anyone else knows of any nice and easy to understand tutorial, i think it may help some people with their post processing. :D

12-04-2007, 02:15 PM
i must say i don;t think i;ve ever taken a pic of a yellow flower, (apart from a sunflower which i had no issues with). i think it is a combination of the colour, lighting and texture of the petals as opposed to just the colour itself.

have no idea how you managed to get the result from the first image. that is terrible.

Geoff Chandler
12-05-2007, 02:11 AM
Unfortunately - I don't keep all the bad really bad photos usually
Here's one where some Yellow daisys have washed out a little - I remember photographing them with difficulty and them coming out almost white!!
This, as I said, is about the only example i could find

Geoff Chandler
12-05-2007, 02:13 AM
~ whereas on this closup you can see what the actual shade should be