We’ve all been there. You’ve got a shot that’s fundamentally sound but lacks rich, strong colours or any kind of atmosphere. They can be tricky to fix and you can spend hours experimenting with settings that don’t seem to get you any closer – and you don’t want to resort to flashy and obvious effects filters.
So there’s a three-step technique that can transform these workaday images into something a whole lot more colourful. It doesn’t suit every shot, admittedly – it works best with images that have mixed light sources, or at least areas of different colours.
This is my start shot. It was taken inside a cathedral where there was a mix of daylight and artificial light, and it’s this difference in lighting that I’m going to exploit.
01 Turn up the saturation
The first step is very simple – I’ve pushed the Saturation slider up to maximum. In other image-editors this would be a mistake, since it would introduce all manner of artefacts and unpleasant effects, but Capture One is relatively subtle, so we can get away with it.
02 Change the white balance
Next, I alter the Kelvin slider in the White Balance panel. This gives the neutral daylight a strong blue tone, but the artificial light on the right hand side stays a warm orange colour. You need to experiment with the Kelvin slider to get the best balance of colours, and it’s sometimes useful to adjust the Tint slider too, which changes the picture’s green-magenta tint.
03 Increase the contrast
This is the last step. It intensifies the colours and gives the picture a little more drama. It doesn’t take much to make all the difference.
04 The finished picture
This is quite a transformation compared to the original picture. The colours aren’t exactly realistic any more, but I don’t think that matters if you’ve managed to capture the mood you’re looking for.