Sometimes, photography can get so cluttered with techniques and illusions that it can be very hard to know where to start if you wanna improve! So I thought it might be nice have a little practice session: to just focus on one tool that photographers use, and how it can completely change the way you take photos!

This time, it’s all about saturation.

What is Saturation?

Before we go into the different things you can do with saturation, we must first understand what it is. Saturation, in photographs, refer to the intensity of colours. This can be manipulated to produce all sorts of effects and change the entire mood of the photo!

But to illustrate, you first need, well, a photo.

Photography 101: Saturation

High Saturation

Photography 101: Saturation

Okay, so this might be a little too saturated, but you get the idea. When you push the saturation up, the colours get more and more intense, creating a sort of toy camera look. It’s very commonly seen in a lot of post-modern/kitsch artwork – Andy Warhol was definitely a fan – and it varying levels of saturation can do everything from convey the vibrancy of a season like Spring or Summer, to the feeling of overstimulation: like Johnny Depp’s character on LSD in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Low Saturation

Photography 101: Saturation

Of course, if a high saturated look overstimulates the senses, then the low saturated look would do just the opposite: dull the senses. It generally makes things very sad and lonely. You know, the whole Soviet Russia look. Which works if you’re, say, shooting a winter scene, or want to convey a sense of melancholy.

Black and White

Photography 101: Saturation

And of course, if you get rid of saturation altogether, you are just left with a black and white photo. Black and white photos rely quite a bit on high contrast to give it a bit of definition, so remember to bump up your brightness and contrast settings!

Colour Isolation

Photography 101: Saturation

If you wanna get real fancy with it, you can also isolate a single colour to make your subject pop. In this case, I’ve just isolated Red, and pretty much turned all the other colours off. It’s a kind of fancy photoshop way of adding a new dimension to your photos!

I hope that this guide to saturation helps you in your photography journey! Do you have a favourite way to play with colour in your photos? Let me know in the comments below!


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