HDR – Too Much Color

We’ve all seen incredibly gaudy colors in HDR photos. It’s not enough to have unrealistic lighting and overly sharpened images. People often bump up the saturation slider when it is not needed. Sometimes it’s better to back off on the saturation to avoid information overload.

The photo below I decreased both the saturation and the vibrance. The colors and amount of detail is overwhelming to see in person. You can try to capture this but I think photography is often about focusing and creating some organization from the chaos.

Desaturated photo, photomatix processing, buddhist temple

Desturated photo to provide more focus on details.

I could have made the photo above black and white, but while that allows you to focus on the details, there are so many that can be overwhelming as well. So we have overwhelming color and details. By backing off on the saturation and vibrance in Lightroom it allows parts of the wall paintings, Buddha statues to pop out giving the eye something to focus on.

We’re familiar with selective coloring where basically a black and white photo has an object that has color. It’s often overused and a bit gimmicky at times. A better option is to selectively remove colors that give unwanted color casts or detract from the image. Above I’ve also toned down the reds, blues and some greens. I think it makes for a more pleasing image.

Normal saturation, Buddhist shrine, HDR processing, Photomatix processing

Full color photo of Buddhist shrine.

Here’s the original Photomatix processed image without any color adjustments. I did not increase the saturation at all in Photomatix or Lightroom. To me it is very busy and fatiguing. Notice the statues are almost overcome by the color with less perceived detail. Some may prefer this image but I wanted to suggest an alternative.

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