Problems with Colour in Photos

Why are the colours in the photos different from how they normally look?

There are a number of factors as to why your photos might not look the same as they do to your naked eye.  While we do our best to create neutral looking images we are making a best possible assumption based on what the camera captured, it is beyond the scope of our regular service to match the colours exactly to the colour in a paint can or on a fabric swatch.  

Have you ever noticed at a paint store that they always ask you to view your paint colour under a variety of light sources and conditions - and maybe walk you around to different light or windows to check the paint chip? It's because the light in an given room and different times of day can change dramatically change the appearance of the color to your eye. Cameras are similar to your eye but not nearly as good at it.


Here are the biggest factors affecting the color in your photos:


The human eye vs a camera sensor

To start, the human eye is very adaptable, it can adjust for bright and low light situations and it also compensates for warm or cool tones.  This ability makes a room appear "normal", warm tones become neutralized and dark spaces appear brighter. 

Eg. When you put on a pair of sunglasses, at first it's dark and maybe a little warm depending on the tint of the lenses but after a few seconds, everything appears normal.  

A camera sensor isn't as adaptable.  While it can compensate for various tones, it cannot adjust for mixed lighting as it can only adjust for one kind of light source at a time, it also has limitations to it's light sensitivity overall.

Mixed Light (overhead lighting, lamps and natural light) 

Most people use a variety of different lights throughout their home.  They might have tungsten bulbs in one lamp, warm LED lights in overhead, fluorescent overhead and then some natural light streaming in through the windows.  This mixed lighting creates a variety of warm and cold tones across a room as it hits various objects and mixes with other light sources.  One wall might look grey, white, and orange across a couple of meters.  While the photographer can balance some of this light with the camera settings, they can't match both warm and cool tones at the same time, which then creates a variation in colour across various objects. The camera has a limited color range.

Time of Day and Time of Year 

During the heart of summer in the middle of the day, many homes are lit with an abundance of natural white light.  This light tends to create the most accurate colour and it's blasting away other light sources.  However, at the opposite end of the spectrum, on a dark, winter day there is much less natural light and thus most light in a home will be coming from light fixtures, lamps etc which are not natural light - most often bulbs have some kind of warm/cool colour cast that will change the colour of objects it hits. To complicate it further, the light colour at the beginning and the end of the day is more red and during the middle of the day is more blue. That is why sunrises and sunsets have that red/orange glow.

So, depending on the appointment time of day, the colors captured will change.


Light reflection

Light bounces off of various surfaces, this can create various castes on objects nearby.  

Eg. Green light through windows from the lawn, orange light from warm wood floors, saturated wall colours on nearby objects and other walls and ceilings.


Display / Monitor Calibration -

Most people view our photos from their computers, ipads and iphones.  Has your device been calibrated recently, or ever?  If the answer is no, there is no way to guarantee the accuracy of the colours on your screen.  Each device has a certain natural colour tone which can also be warm, cool, red, green, dark, light etc.  

Calibrating matches the tones and brightness to a certain set ratio that is standardized, so what you are seeing on your monitor and screen is the "same" as what some else on a different calibrated screen is seeing (assuming their monitor is calibrated).

SeeVirtual uses calibrated monitors to process your photos.  If you haven't calibrated your monitor it is entirely possible that what you are seeing is not what we are seeing.



If accurate colour is very important to you, the first step is getting a monitor calibration system. Once you your monitor(s) calibrated, then adjusting the colors will be much easier.


Let us know if you have any questions!








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