Shooting hot and cold

Over the past year I’ve been playing with the auto settings on my camera. My aesthetic would normally be to go as natural as possible, but there are many times the result simply looks too flat for my taste, even after I sharpen the image or otherwise tweak it afterward. (In the early years of this blog, I didn’t even do that much. Rarely did I even crop the pic except in the camera as I was shooting.)

As I focused on New England foliage last fall, though, I was really struck by how much the supposedly natural settings differed from what I felt I was seeing. The vibrant colors seemed to turn cold by the time I viewed them on my laptop.

On the other hand, the “magic” setting often ran too hot, occasionally even turning lurid. Sometimes the image simply blew out in a burst of red.

Admittedly, often the foliage does appear subdued, but that’s not what we’re looking for. We want that “oh, wow,” to kick in. That brings up the matter of light, which can pop the leaves from so-so to absolutely glorious in a flash — not that the camera always captures that.

What I’m concluding is that cameras have a mind of their own, and sometimes you just have to respect that. Here are two shots from Dover’s Community Trail. Which do you prefer?

Hot …
… and cold.