I am an amateur photographer, I had a question how do professional photographers manage to make the green color so bright in their images.

For example:

Is this all done in post-processing? Could anyone tell me a Photoshop or Lightroom process to achieve this effect?

  • the 3rd photo is an HDR and that's a whole different story! :) Feb 27, 2012 at 4:01
  • achieving great color is not a mystery - flickr.com/photos/67206964@N03/6139866108/lightbox -this shot is taken with a Nikon D90 with default settings.
    – Michael K
    Feb 27, 2012 at 8:34
  • 1
    You say "pros", but note that only one of the photographers in your examples is really a pro; the first says in his Flickr bio that he's been a passionate hobbyist for 20 years, and the third lists occupation as "QA technician"
    – mattdm
    Feb 14, 2019 at 17:21

5 Answers 5


The question that you are asking is a very common one, but the answers are not as straight forward as you may think. How does a professional make the colors so bright, the contrast so well defined, the focus so perfect, etc ? Well, it isn't just one thing, ever. It isn't a single setting on the camera, or a single post processing technique or button. It is a combination of talent, skill, technique, equipment, patience, etc - all things that cannot be adequately described in a short answer such as this.

The article "Magic Camera Settings" by Thom Hogan really gives a great example of this. Many times amateur photographers are looking for one magic bullet, such as a setting or preset - but you will find none that gives such a general "pop" to photos, as it is a combination of many things.

I won't leave you without helping you out a bit though :) I would suggest picking up a circular polarizing filter. It will help a great deal in giving your greens a very rich vibrant green color. It also helps blues to pop, and can assist when reflections exist in the frame as well. As for post processing, you can use sliders in Lightroom for vibrance, saturation, and clarity to get the photos to pop. You also can single out the green channel and boost the saturation of just that. Don't go too overboard though or you will end up with a very fake looking photo.

  • On small nit, that Thom Hogan article seems totally unrelated to the OP's post. Its an article talking about 'camera settings to take great photos', not really 'how to make specific colors pop'. Just trying to save somebody from a long read :)
    – Shizam
    Feb 28, 2012 at 1:39
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    I disagree. The article is about a "magic bullet" to take great images. The OP was asking about basically a magic formula for great greens. As no magic setting exists for this either, I think the article does apply :)
    – dpollitt
    Feb 28, 2012 at 2:24

You can give yourself a lot of help at capture time as well as in post-processing. A lot of the greying of leaves and grasses is reflection of the sky off of their protective waxy surface, and a polarizing filter can work wonders. So can a skylight or a mild warming filter (but don't forget to adjust your white balance to account for the filter). You can get the best of both worlds by using a warming polarizer, which is essentially an 81A or an 81B with a polarizing film in the same filter.

The other answers already posted have given some great advice for boosting the greens in post-processing.

  • I agree to some extent and would use a polariser but would shoot raw and leave WB and temperature for post-processing (for digital at least).
    – Simon
    Feb 27, 2012 at 13:15
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    @Simon: The difference between using a skylight or warming filter and shooting "straight" is that the filter (a good one, at least) actually prevents recording of the near-UV reflections that will pollute the blue channel. Simply reducing the blues (or bringing up the greens) will either desaturate the desired blues or drive the green channel to clipping. Since our eyes are less sensitive to the near-UV (or at least unable to perceive them as distinct colours rather than merely as luminance), there's no real advantage to recording them most of the time.
    – user2719
    Feb 27, 2012 at 13:23

To make your colours not only green to be bright, your photo firstly should be taken with proper exposure and secondly, you should use "Vibrancy" slider (not Saturation slider) in PS to add richness to the colour. As for the photos you put as example, third one is an HDR shot and this is a completely different type of post processing which usually takes 3-5 merged exposures to achieve this effect.

  • What is "proper exposure"? Would you consider this image to be properly exposed [Jonas Peterson] (jonaspeterson.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/…)? I could say that grooms pants blend in with the ground, so therefore blacks are not "properly exposed". But image as a whole, captures much more than proper exposure. You as an artist sometimes have to decide what parts of the image are most important to you and expose for that area and let the other parts of the image fall in their place.
    – Alen
    Feb 28, 2012 at 2:38
  • In my opinion those two shots are under exposed, but I can't quite work out the time of the shooting, it appears to me as if it was when the sun was setting down, unless it was post processing in PC that made it look that way. Of course in some cases it's almost impossible to expose all parts of the image properly. Yet those photos as examples for the question were of the nature and landscapes, for that situation there are meant to achieve a good exposure, like using filters for camera.
    – TheMalni
    Feb 28, 2012 at 10:30

Then again, in some countries, especially in the semi tropics, colors are very green. Depending upon the camera, you can also use settings which enhance colors. Like in the Nikon you can set color to Landscape or Vivid, etc.

  • Setting color to Vivid or any other setting only applies if one is shooting in JPEG. For people who shot RAW, you can still 'apply' these settings but in post-processing and only in Nikon software.
    – Alen
    Feb 28, 2012 at 1:39
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    Alen's point is good, but I think it's still very useful to point out that in-camera JPEG settings can yield highly-saturated, vivid greens. In fact, with the exception of the tone-mapped ("HDR") image, the examples linked in the question could probably all be gotten straight from a camera.
    – mattdm
    Feb 28, 2012 at 2:23
  • Vivid is as advertised, but I find Landscape fairly dull. It may enhance greens, but not that I could detect.
    – MikeW
    Feb 28, 2012 at 4:38

Last two images are HDR images; this technique produces overly saturated colors.

As for the original question:

To boost saturation of green colors simply play around with saturation in your favorite editing software. Try accessing individual color channels and adjusting saturation to your likings.

If you shoot in RAW and use Photoshop, play around with vibrance/saturation sliders. Also try accessing individual colors by going to HSL/Grayscale tab and adjust individual colors.

Be aware not to clip any color channels. By clipping, you lose data within that color channel. Photoshop will try to match lost data and guess the color it should be there, but most often you will see serrated transition between the color values. But this is mostly a concern if you are printing your photos relatively big. These bad transitions might not be evident in small prints like 6x4.

  • I don't see any indication that the 2nd image is an HDR, but it could be.
    – dpollitt
    Feb 27, 2012 at 14:57
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    There is a Flickr tag of 'HDRaward' on the second image. My assumption was based on that and saturated colors.
    – Alen
    Feb 27, 2012 at 15:26
  • be good use of hdr when you don't notice it at first glance ;) May 28, 2013 at 6:51
  • HDR can result in overly saturated colors, but doesn't necessarily have to. You can reduce the saturation all the way down to monochrome and still do HDR.
    – Michael C
    Sep 19, 2013 at 4:12

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