Color is everything to me. As much as I love to manipulate it in post, I’ve learned that getting the colors right in camera makes my job infinitely easier and gives me room to be creative. Here’s a thinking-outside-of-the-box tip that I use a lot to get brilliant colors in my macro photos in particular: in my Sony cameras I use the lesser-known Autumn Leaves Creative Style.
The Autumn Leaves Creative Style isn't just for autumn. I use this lesser-known setting in my Sony cameras all the time to get photos with beautiful color right out of the camera. Sony α9. Sony 90mm f/2.8 G Macro lens. 1/400-sec., f/2.8, ISO 400.
What first may seem to be delegated to the rich leaves of autumn actually works brilliantly for any scene rich in greens. In my photography, I’m particularly concerned with the rendition of green as it can shift from a pleasant shade to a garish neon look quickly. The Autumn Leaves Creative Style renders natural looking greens while intensifying the warm and beautiful tones of the golden hour.
Reducing the Saturation and Contrast in the Autumn Leaves Custom Setting creates pastel hues. Sony α9. Sony 90mm f/2.8 G Macro lens. 1/125-sec., f/2.8, ISO 640.
Like other Creative Styles, Autumn Leaves can be customized in the menu. You can adjust contrast, saturation, and sharpness. The scene should always dictate how to adjust the settings. I often lower contrast to -2 and saturation to -2 to create lovely pastel hues that are reminiscent of slightly over-exposed film. Sometimes I push the contrast to +2 and the saturation to +2 to intensify the color for golden hour images that are rich in warm tones. Low contrast scenes often call for an increase in contrast and saturation, while ahigh contrast scenes are ripe for a reduction in contrast and saturation.
At golden hour, try boosting the Saturation and Contrast settings in Autumn Leaves to add warmth without making garish greens. Sony α9. Sony 90mm f/2.8 G Macro lens. 1/320-sec., f/2.8, ISO 640.
Using Autumn Leaves is a great way to get wonderful colors straight out of the camera, but I also suggest you shoot Raw + Jpeg just in case. I always shoot Raw + Jpeg so I if I don’t get it right in camera, I have options.