a couple shots from tonight
Anyway, one of the most common questions I get asked is this- "How much photoshop do you do to your pictures to make them look so vibrant?"
Well, I spend about 1 minute per image optimizing the color in Adobe Camera Raw on pictures that I post on my blog. For photos that are being published or sent to my stock agency, I spend a bit more time on them.
The 1 minute I spend on the image does make quite a visual difference, but the BIG SECRET to getting photos full of color and vibrancy is the TIME OF DAY! For the type of shooting I do, the time of day and quality of light makes the biggest difference, a whole lot more than anything photoshop can do! If you shoot the wrong time of day, it's basically impossible to make the photo look as great as it would if you shot it at the right time. Sometimes the best time is sunrise, sometimes it's sunset, night with a full moon, night with no moon, and sometimes it's at noon with the sun directly overhead. It is totally dependent on your image and the look you are trying to achieve.
During the 6 or so years I've been taking photos, I've found that my favorite time to shoot for maximum colors is about 30 minutes after the sun dips below the horizon. The colors may be very faint and barely visible, but with the right conditions the blue in the sky will be more vibrant than any other time of day.
Here are a couple photos I took this evening that are a perfect example of that prefect time of day thing.
If your interested in reading more about this, a photographer named Ken Rockwell published a page on his site with example photos an explanation of what's going on. Check it out.