How to get better color in your pics.

Color has a big impact on the mood and success of any image.

Otherwise those warm skin tones you see with your eyes might turn out cold and blue-ish.  Or overly orange and nasty while shooting indoors.

Let’s talk through 3 steps to getting things dialed in.

File Feb 02, 9 40 44 AM

Step #1: Turn your camera from Auto to Program mode.  If you have a DSLR, you likely have a dial on top of your camera with letters and symbols.  Program mode is indicated with a “P” and is a lot like automatic, but you get to make a few customizations.

Step #2: Set your white balance. Look for a “WB” on your camera.  Push that button.  Then switch to the appropriate scenario:

  • Auto (AWB icon): the camera chooses. Usually one of the below works better.
  • Sunny (sun icon): “Choose this when your subject” is in direct sunlight.
  • Cloudy (cloud icon): “ ” is in cloudy conditions.
  • Shade (shade icon): “ ” is in the shade.
  • Tungsten (light bulb icon): “ ” is inside with normal light bulbs on.
  • Fluorescent (strip light icon): “ “ is inside fluorescent light bulbs on.
  • Flash (lighting bolt icon): “ “ when you use your flash.

Here’s a shot I took of Kerbi in her bedroom.  I was using only window light, but it was cloudy outside.  And what do ya know: the cloudy WB definitely nails it better than any other.


Auto was too gray.  Shady too yellow.  However, if it had been sunny outside, shady would’ve worked better (as we would have been in the shade, just inside…I know, crazy right?).

Step #3: Light it well.  You can have the white balance dialed in to the exact kelvin degree (another topic), but if your light source is too harsh or there’s simply not enough light volume, you’ll struggle to capture bright, vibrant, clean tones.

Lighting is a whole course in and of itself.  For right now I’ll put it simply: Choose natural daylight, but stay in the shade.  

This includes window light, especially when the windows are big, as was the case in the pic below.  So here it is, in all of its cloudy WB glory:


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2 thoughts on “How to get better color in your pics.”

  1. First, I’ve just finished receiving the 7 snack tips and they were very helpful. I’ve also been enjoying browsing your website for more tips. I have a two part question I’m hoping you can help me with. What is the best way to take pictures indoors at night time with low lighting? Like and old farmhouse with no overhead lights. And say you have photos taken previously indoors with low lights that all have a grainy yellow look, what is the best way to edit? I’ve done a free trial of light room and debating on purchasing but know very little about editting. I am just a stay at home mom who loves to take pictures. I also have all the original photos from my wedding that we had a friend do to save money but unfortunately all the ones during the reception have horrible light and I’d love to touch them up.

    1. Hi Amy,
      We’re so glad that the Snacks were helpful!

      The best way to take indoor pics at night is going to be to use a tripod and a long shutter speed if you’re not including living subjects and to add light if you are. Usually that means a speedlite (external flash) for more flattering, natural looking light.

      The grainy yellow look would be due to a white balance issue and high ISO. You can try to adjust this in Lightroom using the temp slider and pushing it toward blue. For the noise (grain), you’d want to push the luminance slider (near the bottom of the develop panel) over. Do be careful as going too far will produce a plastic looking result.

      Kyle will be releasing a Lightroom course later this spring, so keep an eye out for that!

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