Using Canon’s Picture Styles

Back in the old film days, there were many different ways for you to capture images. You could shoot color slide film that had lots of saturation or maybe choose a roll of black and white that would let you create an entirely different version of the same scene. To your eyes the original scene might look the same but your interpretation of it could vary based on the kind of film you decided to load. Many digital cameras offer black and white or sepia modes and some even offer an entire palette of color choices that you can apply. If you’re working with recent Canon digital SLRs there’s an extensive range of monochrome or color or choices available through the camera’s Picture Styles menu. All recent EOS digital SLRs camera’s have six built-in styles:

• Standard looks like what Canon calls a “successful snapshot.” The Color Tone and Saturation levels are set to obtain vivid colors.

• Portrait has its color tone and saturation set to produce natural skin tones. Sharpness is one step weaker than in Standard mode and is designed to be kinder to skin tones.

• With Landscape, the color tone and saturation are set to produce deep, vivid blues and greens for skies and foliage. Sharpness is set one step more than Standard so that the outlines of mountains, trees, or buildings look crisp.

• Neutral is the same as the default settings for previous (prior to August 2005) EOS series digital cameras that were made before the introduction of Picture Styles

• Faithful applies no sharpening and produces images that are similar to the subject’s colors when shot under “normal” daylight (5200K) lighting conditions and tends to produce colors that are similar to Neutral because it uses lower saturation and contrast settings.

• Monochrome’s sharpness and contrast is set at its middle value and can be further customized by applying the digital equivalent of yellow, orange, red or green color camera filters through a series of submenus. In traditional black and white photography, a Yellow filter slightly darkens the sky, emphasizing clouds but when shooting in snow, it can also produce brilliant, dynamic textures. An orange filter produces effects that are similar to the yellow filter but skies become darker and clouds that are more defined. The orange filter can also be used, especially under warm household light sources to produce smooth skin tones for portraiture. The red filter produces dramatic landscapes. Skies turn almost black and the contrast in the scene is maximized. A green filter is useful for landscape photography as it lightens vegetation but doesn’t darken the sky as much as a red filter. These monochrome images can be further enhanced by in-camera toning options such as sepia, blue, purple, and green. None (no toning) is also an option.

You can refine these six preset styles by using the camera’s “Detailed Setting” function that allows you to manually adjust sharpness, contrast, color tone, and saturation, so personalized settings are easy to develop. This allows you to, for example, mute the color in the Standard Picture Style or make skin color pinker in the Portrait Style.

Picture Styles can be directly applied to JPEG files at the time of capture or to RAW files during postproduction using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional or EOS Utility software for the Mac OS or Windows that is bundled with the camera. If you’re concerned about applying Picture Styles at the point of capture because you want to make sure you still have access to the original color image, you can shoot files using the camera’s RAW + JPEG setting the original in color and the Picture Style JPEG file at the same time. That way if you need access to the original full color photograph, it’s always available as a Canon .CR2 RAW file.

Author: Joe Farace

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