Fresh picked berry fruit on the tart.Selective focus on the front berries

Photography: Finding the Balance

Most of us just press the shutter release on our cell phone cameras, (or if we are lucky, a DSLR camera) load the data, throw a filter on it and release it into the wild via Instagram or Facebook. That’s all well and good but if you own a business or just want to know how to make your pictures look a little better, there are a few things you can do to improve your shots.

If you have more than a few photos you need to take that will represent your business, it’s always a good idea to go to a pro. We Pros have been shooting for a long time and have pressed that shutter-release button hundreds of thousands of times.

But, if you have that one iPhone shot you want to post on your social media and you need to make it pop, there are three things you need to pay attention to: White Balance, Exposure Adjustment, Contrast, and Saturation.

Look at this unprocessed photo: bland, yellow, and needs help.

Fresh picked berry fruit on the tart.Selective focus on the front berries

Fresh picked berry fruit on the tart.Selective focus on the front berries

White Balance:

Most photos you take will have a definite color tinge. There is an easy fix to this, open whatever software you use to adjust your pictures. GIMP is a free program you can download, Pixlr is a browser editor that works quite well, and most phones will have editors built in. Find the white balance slider and slowly move it until the picture looks correct. It is easy to tell when you’re done by finding something that you know is a neutral grey or white in life, and making that a neutral white or grey in the image.

Fresh picked berry fruit on the tart.Selective focus on the front berries
Nice deep darks and bright whites.

Exposure adjustment and contrast:

Sure, you really want to get exposure right when you are taking the photo. However, digital cameras these days have enough forgiveness that you can make small adjustments. Figure out what the focus of the image is and gently change the values until the detail is just right. You don’t want it too bright where the photo gets grainy, but neither do you want it too dark so that you can’t see detail.

Contrast is possibly the most important global adjustment. This can make an otherwise bland image and bring some much-needed life to it. The contrast adjuster makes the highlights as close to white without removing all detail, and the shadows and darks as close to black without destroying the detail.

Saturation Too High, this makes things look jarring.
Saturation Too High, this makes things look jarring.
Reducing the saturation to achieve a vintage look.
Reducing the saturation to achieve a vintage look.

Saturation:

Please be careful with the saturation. There is a fine line between a picture with vibrant colors and a picture that looks like it was taken straight from Willy Wonka’s Factory. Ramp up the saturation just a tiny bit for more pop, or decrease the saturation for a more vintage look.

Before
Before
After
After