Ever get that feeling sometimes your images look a bit…washed out, lacking some color or contrast? It doesn’t happen all the time, but under certain lighting conditions, cameras have a tendency to get the exposure wrong. Recognizing this is happening is half the battle, the other half is doing something about it.
Today we are going to have a look at both halves of the equation and help you put some punch back in your shots.
See the Problem
Recognizing a washed out photo can be tricky if all you use is the preview on the LCD. A better option in the field is to use the histogram. If the majority of your histogram if bunching up to the right then you are close to over exposure. This gives the potential for washed out images. If the histogram has a very narrow band with a very steep and narrow mountain peak then you might be looking at low contrast. This can be another factor in washed out images. There are two ways we can deal with washed out images:
In the camera, and
In post production.
Get it Right in Camera
In this scenario (above) we've recognized some potential issues using the histogram. So, what can we do? Firstly, we can try to reduce exposure a little. Close down half to one stop or increase the shutter speed and monitor the histogram. If it moves back to the left or expands a little, you should reduce the washed out look. Secondly, we can try to bracket our images. This involves taking a series of shots at varying exposure both over and under the metered exposure. This gives us two advantages. One we can choose the punchiest least washed out shot and two, we can create an HDR image in post production. Another way to avoid washed out images in camera is to use filters. Polarizers, in particular, are great when you have strong bright sunlight that's giving an overly bright look to your images. The polarizer will return some contrast to the image, reduce glare and increase saturation.