Anyone care to take a swing at this one....

Do you have a systematic way to process your images?
ggroess
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Postby ggroess » Tue Mar 24, 2009 4:46 pm

Please post your entire work flow.  Break it down as much as you like....
Here is an image that can use some help...

Greg

derekfountain
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Postby derekfountain » Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:30 pm


Please post your entire work flow.  Break it down as much as you like....
Here is an image that can use some help...


Hmm, no takers? OK, I'll give it a go...

Step 1: straighten and crop. No point wasting time and effort on correcting colours you're going to lop off anyway.

Step 2: Shadow, highlight, neutral. This pretty much always comes first. It's a rare image that I don't do this on right at the start. Shadow for this image was under the rocks, left of lower centre. Highlight was the breaking wave on the extreme right. To be honest, these didn't make much difference because this image already uses just about all of the tonal range. Neutral was tricky. There's no obvious cast to this image, but that doesn't mean there isn't one. Instinct says to try biggest rock, in the middle, but that's got a bit of natural colour in it. It's very slightly reddish yellow. I settled on a single neutral (LAB mode) on the second rock from right, the one furthest out to sea.

Those 2 steps are almost always my starting point for any image. Now it's time to look at the image to see what needs correcting.

Step 3: Lightness and contrast. The image foreground is too dark and dull, while the rocks are bright and risk losing contrast. Mike and Greg won't thank me for saying this, but I always fix these issues with the Photoshop Shadow/Highlight filter in LAB mode. I find it more flexible that fiddling with sections of the LAB curve. On this image I boosted the shadows with 15%, 80% and 30px, then pulled down the highlights with 15%, 60% and 30px. The result was a bit harsh, so I turned down opacity on that layer to 65%, ensuring I kept the detail now found in the reflections in the water.

Step 4: Saturation. The image now looks tonally correct, but it's flat and the plants in the foreground look somehow wrong. Back into CM in LAB mode and boost the colours using the slider. This made it better, but it pulled up the faint colours in the rocks so they looked all wrong. Reset that and try again. This time Ctrl-Click on the big rock to set a point on the A and B curves, then try the slider again. Much better - the colours boost around that point on the rock, leaving the rock colours themselves alone. I whack the colours right up to silly "Man from Mars" levels then reduce the opacity of the layer in PS to about 30%. (Mike, can I please have this 'fading' facility in CM? :))

Step 5: Splash colours. The colours are now looking about right, but there's no, er, "oomph" in the image. The focal point should probably be the red moss (or whatever it is) in the right third, so it's back into CM to try to boost this area. I needed to lock the blues and greens, and boost the warm colours. That's easy in LAB, so I pinned the cold halves of the colour curves, and steepened the warm halves. The yellow part of this correction had a pleasing effect on the plants - they look a bit healthier! Note from the curve image attached that I put a couple of points just inside each of warm halves of the curves. These prevented boosting of reds and yellows outside the required area. (For instance, the brown earth on the outcrop to the left of image looked silly with the whole magenta half boosted - it went red! Fortunately pinning down a bit more of the magenta curve fixed this - no need to fiddle with masks to keep it out of the correction.)

6) Sharpen.

Unsharp mask, as usual. Tricky image to sharpen this: it's high frequency, and doesn't need much. I gave it 70% at radius 0.4 on the L curve, then faded that to 50%.

This all represents a fairly quick correction, as I typically use on images that come out of my DSLR. It could benefit from more advanced techniques - the plants in the foreground in particular could be brighter and more cheerful. If I had more time, I'd try the "Greens of Nature" technique in the LAB book (pg 47) to bring them out.

mikemeister_admin
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Postby mikemeister_admin » Thu Mar 26, 2009 5:23 pm

Here is my take on this shot...

I cant say I care for the image - doesnt do a whole heap for me.  I dislike the blown highlights - but when actually checking them they are not as blown as my eye tells me!  I can not find a focal point and so will want to explore cropping or find someway to improve the composition. 

- So I would either crop off the top 9%, to bring the horizon onto a 3rd and then another 8% off the right edge to bring the middle of the 3 lumps on another 3rd and the left rocj getting that way [crop1]
- or enlarge the image at the bottom and on the left to improve it [crop2].

I prefer the 2nd idea and now feel that there is an image I can play with - it leads the eye in from the bottom left and now the extra rock on the right side seems worth keeping as it somehow balances it.  The sky has not been cropped and so the break in the clouds seems to mimic the diagonal of the eye sweep.

I shall post this and proceed onwards.

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Postby mikemeister_admin » Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:00 pm

Start of Post-processing, with milestone (!) images.

Normally if the image was worth doing a little work on it, I would use NeatImage and then FocusMagic - so I'll do those, each on their own layer.  In my work pattern I tend to do each change on a separate layer, so that it is easy to twiddle the change if required.  Because the image was downsized, NeatImage removed quite a bit of noise and FocusMagic brought out the detail in the front edge of the 1st rock (just 1 pixel of focus).

Now I would tend to work out what I want to achieve before diving in and changing things.

The highlights still bother me - and I'll probably try a bit of blown hilight action (basically take it into lab having painted some colour over it on it's own layer, flatten and bring it back to rgb as a new layer)
I would like to add contrast to the rocks and enhance the sky and maybe the sea.
- then I'll see if anything else can be done.
...

So into CM for contrast enhancing - just a touch in lab L channel only - colours and general tones seem okay. Didnt bother with Shadow/Hilight/Neutral points as the image seemed okay-ish and I didnt think it would gain by being exact - oh horrors!! [California-Coast CM1.jpg]

Now to play with the sky and rocks.  Another action which basically applies an inverted Blue channel in overlay mode and places a copy of the image so far on top of it in darken mode.  Reduced the effect on the sky by 60%, but kept most of the rest of it and slightly lighten the greens by reducing the opacity of the top layer to 85%. [California-Coast invertBlue.jpg]


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Postby mikemeister_admin » Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:03 pm

Next plaster the highlights with yellow (!) and reduce the opacity of that layer to 8% just to take the white edge off.

Now needed some colour - so Lab Sat on own layer, removing the red by BlendIFs and reducing opacity to 48%. [California-Coast LabSat.jpg]

Now have another look at it and see if I can make it better/worse!

Image seemed a little flat - so added some blur [another quick action] (masked out the rocks) in basic multiply mode and reduce opacity to 50%. [California-Coast Blurred.jpg]

Notice that I did not sharpen (FM does an excellent job unless one wants to focus the eye on some detail or other), as I wanted mood not sharpness.

So that is probably more of a play than a proper enhancement, but I'm quite into PhArt (thats Photo Art!) to try and emphasis the story I want to tell.  I think more time could have been spent on the reflections beneath the 1st rock.

This image does not reflect what was taken, but perhaps what the photographer wanted to see when he took it?!  and as is my wont it is slightly (?) OTT.

Okay - I'm a little mad (?), but a 'normal' correction doesn't bring it to life or give it any depth


ggroess
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Postby ggroess » Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:38 pm


Step 4: Saturation. The image now looks tonally correct, but it's flat and the plants in the foreground look somehow wrong. Back into CM in LAB mode and boost the colours using the slider. This made it better, but it pulled up the faint colours in the rocks so they looked all wrong. Reset that and try again. This time Ctrl-Click on the big rock to set a point on the A and B curves, then try the slider again. Much better - the colours boost around that point on the rock, leaving the rock colours themselves alone. I whack the colours right up to silly "Man from Mars" levels then reduce the opacity of the layer in PS to about 30%. (Mike, can I please have this 'fading' facility in CM? :))


Derek,
Actually you do have a fade in CM for this...When you go to CM, Set a neutral you are confident in, do the Man From Mars moves,  then choose a K Channel Mask and rotate it until the curve is Horizontal.  Select both ends of the curve with a Ctrl-Click.  Use the up and down arrow keys to move the curve line vertically in the curve window...*Pooof* instant fade slider....
If you really want to go nuts, Curve the K channel and select the areas you want to boost by using the mask and then fading the entire layer later.  You can play around a bit and you will see what I mean...if not it might be time for another movie...Shot 1 was done in less than 5 minutes.
Greg

derekfountain
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Postby derekfountain » Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:56 pm


Actually you do have a fade in CM for this...When you go to CM, Set a neutral you are confident in, do the Man From Mars moves,  then choose a K Channel Mask and rotate it until the curve is Horizontal.  Select both ends of the curve with a Ctrl-Click.  Use the up and down arrow keys to move the curve line vertically in the curve window...*Pooof* instant fade slider....


Hmmm, I'm not sure 'instant' is the word here. :) A simple slider on the GUI would be easier to use and would work if I was already using the mask facility.

But I see what you're saying, and give you 10/10 for ingenuity. :)

mikemeister_admin
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Postby mikemeister_admin » Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:21 pm

Well, I've just read Derek's post (which I ignored before having my bash).

It raises an interesting point (to me anyway) - the use of the Shadow/Highlight tool in CS3.  Although I have CS3, I very rarely use it, preferring the PS7 (quicker and I'm use to it) version.  I can simulate the new tool using Gamma and BlendIFs, but I'm not sure it is really the same.  So when we start discussing work flows it must surely be more about the attributes of the step (what we are trying to achieve), rather than the workings of the actual tool. 

There are many ways in PS and other software of doing an adjustment - just consider sharpening!  Many different mechanisms which all give slightly different results.  I tried comparing 11 of these over a number of images, setting the results up so I did not know which technique had been used and then being able to compare them instantly.  This was after I had read the Bruce Fraser book.  This experiment was illuminating and showed (to me) that one method stood out from the crowd and was the way to go - but then it falls back on what I, as opposed to others, thought was important in the sharpening step.

So I think we have to be quite careful to differentiate between the tools and settings we use and the effect of the adjustment step we are trying to make.

Is that a sensible statement or not?

BTW regarding Lab saturation (I never use the Saturate command in rgb - who does?).  I never use CM for Lab Sat or Man from Mars, but always use PS, in a duplicate image and then bring that back to the original image.  I have a standard Action which does the saturation and then vary the opacity of either lab colour channel and frequently use the BlendIF to take out the extremes before copying that back as a new layer.  So, I think, the important point is that we treat saturation separately from tones, rather than the mechanism we actually use.  Oh yes, for snapshots, I will use CM in lab mode to do both tones & saturation in one layer step - but in my mind they are separate adjustments.  Certainly when using rgb for tone control (changing the blend to Luminosity), I then go into lab for the saturation.

This is a huge subject we are undertaking and I think we need to discuss the sort of issues I've raised here or we will very quickly get side-tracked into the nitty gritty and loose sight of the overall objective.

yes/no?




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Postby mikemeister_admin » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:34 pm

"Fogbank approaching Guano Island"I see a fogbank on the right so I tried to inject some menace into the image.
Step1  Msnap correction
      2  Lab correction-slight s curve for contrast,boost to green while pinning magenta in a channel
      3  Mild sharpening
   Image when posted was muddy not menacing so I  did a little boosting at the bottom of the Brightness curve

ggroess
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Postby ggroess » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:46 pm


This is a huge subject we are undertaking and I think we need to discuss the sort of issues I've raised here or we will very quickly get side-tracked into the nitty gritty and loose sight of the overall objective.

yes/no?


I agree with you the discussion is most important. 
I'm thinking we need to start framing the process with possibly the goals. 
It seems like the Goal for the image dictates some of the work flow for you as well as for me. 

Everyone:
Do you feel we need to start with a set of goals like...

What is a work flow?
Decision Process for image correction
Destination: Start by defining where you are going to end up.
• Print
• Web
• Pre-Press
Origin: Acquire images
• Scanner
• Camera Raw
• Jpg
Starting points: Gross image corrections
• Composition
• Crop
• Clean up image
Color and Contrast: CM and PS tools
• Color Space
• Shadow Highlight and Neutral
• Expands the Dynamic Range
• Color Cast
• Contrast and Saturation
End points
• Masking
• Spot color or contrast correction
• Detail rescue Shadow and Highlight
• Sharpen
• Flatten Image
Output
• Prints
• Web
• Pre-press

Or have I put too many boundaries in place just yet??


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