1. Use a polarizer filter.
A polarizer filter takes away reflections when used at the right angles. By cutting out the reflection you can see the “true” colors. These colors can be more vivid than the human eye can see, but are very real. It especially works great on leaves, the sky, water, and skin tones.
2. Underexpose a little or a lot.
Your camera’s built-in metering system tends to err on the side of lighter exposures. This leaves colors looking faded or washed out. If you underexpose your images the colors will be much richer. Try -2/3rds of a stop.
3. Adjust your in-camera saturation level.
If it’s an overcast day and you know the colors might be a little dull, you can adjust your in-camera saturation. Most every camera has this option. This has two advantages over photoshopping it later. One is you can see the colors in front of you and can select a more “real” saturation level than you can looking at your monitor in an office abstracted from the context of the photograph. The other benefit is that it just saves time.
4. Use your white balance.
Your in-camera white balance is an amazing tool for correcting different lighting and adding mood to your photos. Try taking a portrait on cloudy and auto, and you will see your camera auto WB generally shoots on the blueish side of the spectrum. Good use of white balance can improve a photo’s colors immensely.
5. Switch your color space.
Your camera is set by default to SRGB, which only shows the colors visible on the web. If you switch to Adobe RGB, the color gamut is much wider and your camera can capture a larger variety of colors.
6. Shoot at optimal times of the day / year.
For example, if you want great fall colors, take your shots on just the right day and at just the right time. You will get amazing colors in your photos and the pleasure of seeing them with your eyes as well.
*If your goal is to be a travel photographer, the MatadorU Travel Photography program has the resources you’re looking for.
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