Folksy Ltd

Photographing red items

Continuing the discussion from Taking photos:

I don’t have a fancy camera, only an iPhone which generally takes pretty good pictures. Sometimes I use a light cube and sometimes a bit of editing software and generally, although not brilliant, my photos are acceptable (and improving all the time!). However whenever I photograph something red the camera seems to go into overdrive with the red becoming so glaring that any detail in the photo is lost and editing software, whilst improving it slightly, can not cope with it. Any tips as to how I can overcome this. Thanks, Roz

I don’t have a iphone or any kind of editing software. DH suggest you may be something to do with the colour balance on your iphone.

I use a digital SLR Pentax K110 and all my lens have a UV filter on them.

I’ve never had any problems with red backgrounds other then when I had a shiny red background. I use a plan red non shiny cotton cloth. I prefer the deeper reds or burgundy red myself, or a nice dark navy blue but then only for items that are mainly white.

White on white and my camera doesn’t really know what to focus on. The background or the object in the foreground.

I do sometimes use my little digital compact Samsung E538 which is very easy and simple to use and I’ve never had a problems using it with red backgrounds.

Sorry I can’t really help but I’m sure someone who relays on an iphone for taking photo’s will know more.

I take most of my photo’s with my iphone Roz and have found not using the flash and having the light or sun behind me usually gives decent results, and when it doesn’t there’s always GIMP lol oh and a 100W natural daylight LED light bulb comes in handy too :slight_smile:
Donna x

Red is a colour that most digital cameras have difficulty reproducing accurately. (I have nine digital cameras and only one comes anywhere close to realistic reds.) This is due to the design of the ‘photosites’ in the chip or sensor, and iphones are no better in this respect. However, with care you can get reasonable results. You might need to set the white balance, go into the settings, although not sure if an iphone has that much control, but should do. You can buy a colour square grid sheet as a control from a specialist photo shop. Yes, software can help adjusting colour saturation of red and other colours as well as alter the white balance. Finally, bright, cloudy days outside make good lighting in general for objects with a suitable background.

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I’ve found the way to deal with the glaring red problem is to reduce the saturation a little using photo editing software - I use Picasa and it works fine for this. Now if anyone can tell me how to get purple to photograph accurately (without buying a new camera!) I will be eternally grateful!

I didn’t know so many people had problems photographing reds.

It’s one of the colours I’ve never had any problems with for me its white that can be a problem and usually down to too much or not enough natural light :frowning:

Purple is a variation on red. If you are serious about colour accuracy, then purchase a colour grid (either in a small folding wallet or matrix sheet) which you can get from better photo shops or some online graphic shops. You can then put the colour grid in your picture and take the object. Then adjust the settings on white balance, etc., to get it nearer to the colours in the grid. A bit trial and error, but it’s what pro-photographers do, particularly on food photos, textiles, and similar. Good ones are not cheap, but they gave away a free one in amateur photographer last year, although it was fairly basic.

Here is a link to one on Amazon, also Warehouse Express sells them too.

Useful for helping to calibrate computer monitors for colour accuracy too.

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@HelenSmith you could try - it’s a free online photo tweaking site that I use all the time to try and get as close a match as possible for reds, purples and magentas. By playing around with the sections “Advanced” “curves” and “Basic” “hue and saturation” I usually end up quite happy with the results.


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Try using a softbox, - it’s a white cover that goes over your flash, usually made for bigger flashguns but they do small ones too. This diffuses the flash and makes for a softer image. I sometimes use a flexible device, that I bounce the flash -off, which fits on top of the camera, and that works well.

You can even make one yourself and save some money.
Here is a link to some reviews:

The flash bender diffuser is really good. Excellent for portraits, and some close-ups.
There is a really cheap plastic polythene clip-on diffuser which places like Jessops sells, sto-fen, and works OK, but the others are more effective.

Getting true whites and true blacks takes a lot of practice, and sometimes an exposure meter, otherwise you rely on the exposure and white balance of the auto camera settings.