Adjusting Color in DSLR Photo and Video

Colors set the mood in a scene. It may add drama and convey emotions. Every skilled cinematographer should know how to adjust the colors straight from the camera.

The Canon Digital Learning Center staff demonstrates how you can make the most of your camera’s functions such as the white balance, white shift balance and the picture profiles.

“It’s important how you interpret light, how you see it, and how the camera interprets light.”

Watch how each scene can be transformed from warm atmosphere to a cold one.

Here are more detailed tips on adjusting the three functions in your camera:

1. White Balance

Adjusting camera colors help make better cinematographers because it gives them the flexibility to create a mood in the scene just like these two screenshots of Joey during his training. This can be done by adjusting the kelvin setting. Kelvin is how colors are measured.

Kelvin makes the image looks warmer or colder. Raising the number to 6000k will make the scene warmer while decreasing the temperature to 3200k will make it colder because of the blue color.

“Cinematographers use the kelvin setting so that they can decide how the scene will look. It also helps them to see light much better.”

2. White Balance Shift

White balance shift is used to fix problems in situations where one color is more dominant among the others. Cinematographers also use this function to add emotion. For example, pointing the dot on the blue side would make the scene appear rugged or pointing it to amber would make the scene intense.

white balance dslr

Here’s a four-screen comparison which shows the effect of magenta, blue, green, and amber on the image.

color effects

3. Picture Profile

Cinematographers and photographers alike shouldn’t miss experimenting with the picture profiles. Changing the profiles can dramatically change how the image looks.

“You use the picture profile to convey what you’re trying to say and who it is that you’re shooting. It will also have an impact on how the viewer feels on what the image looks.”

The picture profiles include sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color tone. Some of the effects when you adjust the profiles:

  • Increasing the sharpness of an image may create a raw and gritty feel.
  • A high contrast would result to a harsh look while a low contrast may seem weak.
  • Meanwhile, a highly saturated image makes colors pop out. On the other hand, a low saturated image makes a viewer cold.
  • When your subject has a different skin tone which makes it off for the whole picture, you can adjust the color tone to either red or yellow to correct the skin tone. By dialing to -4, the skin tone will be red while increasing it to +4 will make the skin tone yellow.

Additional tips:

*When shooting using a wide angle lens, decrease the sharpness.
*When shooting a wedding, tone down the contrast between the white gown and its background.

Experimenting with color adjustments can make you more flexible and creative. Check out how an image looks like by combining the functions.

dslr video color tones

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