Red Admiral Butterfly (and a word about saturation)

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I had an exchange a few weeks ago on saturated backgrounds resulting from narrow depths of field. I am not sure that there is a scientific relationship between narrow depth of field and saturation, I believe there is a heightened sense of the background with a narrow depth of field and I am further convinced that the narrow depth of field and large aperture to get it encourages a bit of under exposure that results in saturation of primary colors. Try under-exposing with exposure compensation and you will more than likely see this. I used to shoot Kodak film rated at ISO 160 at 200 ISO so that when it was processed at 160 I got more realistic blues. The science helps you understand what is happening but it’s not necessary, it’s experimentation that takes you from understanding to doing.

18 responses

  1. Great photo and thanks for the tip about under exposure!


    December 18, 2014 at 7:26 am

  2. Not sure I understand all that you wrote since I haven’t taken a photography course, but the result as evidenced by this photo is lovely! Thanks for sharing.


    December 18, 2014 at 7:34 am

  3. Victor, the saturation on this butterfly’s wings seem to really enhance the beautiful colors. Did you do any changes to saturation or clarity in postproduction?


    December 18, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    • Could not answer sooner as I had no access to my files. Processing in lightroom I added 1.4 stops of exposure and a .9 contrast. I took the highlights all the way down and added a bit of shadow. Balanced the blacks and whites. The only change in saturation is the default adjustment in Nik detail extractor, and its really to bring colour back. In short no clarity or saturation per se.


      December 20, 2014 at 9:20 am

      • Thank you. Quite a process. I hope you have most of this set up in presets.


        December 20, 2014 at 12:20 pm

        • I like the way they have set up variable presets in the MacPhun software, but I have never been a preset person. I enjoy working from scratch and getting things the way I like them. I find with even my own crafted presets its harder to assure myself I go things right. I do ensure that lightroom applies medium contrast on import, but that is it.


          December 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm

          • I use LR5 and NIK but MacPhun is something I’ll have to look us. Thanks


            December 20, 2014 at 7:09 pm

            • I use Nik Clr EFX pro more than Intensity pro and Tonaity Pro has replaced Silver efx. Macphun software requires a Mac. Hope this helps.


              December 20, 2014 at 10:34 pm

  4. Excellent level of detail captured in the photo.


    December 18, 2014 at 7:08 pm

  5. Absolutely stunning!!!


    December 19, 2014 at 5:16 pm

  6. Lori Ono

    Love this post!


    January 24, 2015 at 6:35 am

  7. I often bracket so I can either combine for HDR or just select one of the shots. In some circumstances it also means I have an exposure that shows me what it should look like and I then process another further exposed to the right.


    January 27, 2015 at 9:56 am

    • Thanks. I appreciate the comment. I wrote last summer in getting realistic HDR results. It is certainly a solution for static scenes. Where. Overeat is likely or flash is used its a bit more complicated.


      January 27, 2015 at 10:09 am

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