Background Trouble

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Postby ggroess » Sun Jul 08, 2012 3:14 pm

Week 1 of the CM101 class is open to everyone and usually has a few images that are good tests for the users of the plug in.  For those of you who are new.  Try your hand at these and please post your results and questions.

For the experienced users please post a description of how you corrected the image so that others can learn from your work.

Background trouble.jpg attached below is a wedding portrait that needs help. According to the customer the greens in the background are too distracting...Fix up the background greens while keeping the bouquet and the rest of the image in a good place.

background-trouble-jpg-2 (999 Bytes) Viewed 4199 times

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Postby mikemeister_admin » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:46 pm

Hi everyone,

One of the benefits that Curvemeister has over Photoshop is the ability to create curves in the HSB color mode (Photoshop only has RGB, CMYK and Lab). Each of these color modes have advantages in particular situations (you'll learn more about this over the next few weeks); in approaching this image, I decided that HSB would be the best way to correct this photograph.

Greg mentioned that the client was unhappy with the background, but that the rest of the image was ok. The principle issue with the background is that it is too vivid; therefore the saturation of the background needs to be reduced.

Selecting the 'HSB' radio button to the bottom-right of the curve window switches us into the HSB color mode. Now we need to find where we need to make our adjustments.

BT_LH_Step-1.jpg (attached) shows my saturation adjustment (before/after). The process was as follows:

  • Find the region of the curve that will effect the background - mark this region for later.

  • Find the region of the curve that will effect the skintone - prevent it from moving.

  • Adjust the region of the curve that will effect the background - reducing the saturation of the background.

To find and mark the region of the curve that will effect the background, right-click the background (over the grass) and select 'Mark' from the context menu.

To find and lock the region of the curve that will effect the skintone (preventing it from being adjusted), right-click on the skin and select 'Contrast Pin'; the contrast pins added (again, you'll learn this during the course) will keep the skintones safe during the saturation adjustment.

To adjust the region of the curve that will effect the background - reducing the saturation of the background - I pulled the top-right end-point of the Saturation curve downwards (again, see BT_LH_Step-1.jpg - attached).


Having improved the saturation of the background, I decided that the foliage was too yellow (for my own taste). This correction is a matter of personal taste, and you may decide that you don't want to make this adjustment. My own point-of-view is that yellow is a very aggressive color - a color that subconsciously attracts attention - by reducing the amount of yellow in the foliage, we can make them less dominant visually. Therefore, my process was:

  • Again, I needed to find out where on the curve (

the Hue curve this time) the skintones and foliage were. If you look at BT_LH_Step-2.jpg (attached) you will see (towards the left of the curve window) two large gray spikes. These spikes show us where the skintones and foliage are on the curve. How did I know this? Right-click on (in turn) an area of skintone and an area of foliage. Select 'Quick Pin' from the context menu to add a point to the curve at the appropriate location.
  • Leave the point corresponding to the skintone color alone.

  • Slightly raise the point corresponding to the foliage, to move that color away from yellow and towards blue. Again, the degree to which you will move this point is governed by personal taste.

  • In addition to the two screenshots that show my curve adjustments, I have also attached my version of the image (after adjustment) and a side-by-side before/after comparison, so that you can see how much I altered the image.

    I hope that my explanations made sense! If you have any questions please let me know...
    background-trouble_lh-jpg (288.61 KiB) Viewed 4199 times
    bt_lh_step-1-jpg (131.66 KiB) Viewed 4199 times
    bt_lh_step-2-jpg (196.45 KiB) Viewed 4199 times
    background-trouble_lh_comp-jpg (118.56 KiB) Viewed 4199 times

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    Postby imported_julie » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:52 am

    I found this quite difficult to do.
    Used lab
    I tried cloning the background to eliminate all the bright sky and lighter leaves and it seemed to focus the attention back on the couple.
    I did not leave this done as I am a really lousy cloner, but someone else may like to try this.
    Looking forward to the feed back

    wedding-lab-1-jpg (219.31 KiB) Viewed 4199 times
    lab-2-jpg (220.82 KiB) Viewed 4199 times
    background-trouble-jpg (284.14 KiB) Viewed 4199 times

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    Postby leeharper_admin » Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:04 am

    Hi Julie,

    I think that you are using more Hue Clocks than you need to for the foliage. The angle of the hue clocks on the grass/leaves are pretty much identical - therefore, a single hue clock will give you all the information you need. In thinking about where the viewer's eye is being led through the picture, a hue clock on the grass between the happy couple will be fine...

    As for cloning the background to eliminate the sky, the question isn't so much how difficult the cloning is, but rather would doing so improve the image's composition? Try temporarily cropping out the sky; to my eye, if the top of the image is only foliage the image's depth is compressed, and the sense of receding space is compromised. For this reason, my personal opinion is that the sky needs to remain within the image - although others may disagree...

    I think that you've done a nice job reducing the saturation of the background. As previously stated, I prefer it a little bluer, but again these are matters of taste so it's not wrong to leave the hue of the foliage where you have.


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    Postby ggroess » Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:03 pm

    I am so glad you took a swing at this.  This is a common issue with some outdoor shots.  The foreground is in the shade and the background has a strong direct sunlight problem.  Get the foreground right and you risk the background.  While I found no issue on the final print the customer did...they pay so they get what they want.  My solution was a bit different from Lee's and I'll share it later in the week. 

    Look for a new image later today something everyone can sink their teeth into...

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    Postby Bursal » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:14 am

    Well the first image I found difficult for a starter. I felt like I had been thrown in at the deep of the pool and did a lot of splashing around.
    Greg, is it possible to give us a hint of where in the Manual, Help or tutorials to find some info that would get us going in the right direction.

    I resisted the tempation to look at the other posts because I needed to work it out for myself.

    Here is what I did:
    1. I used Lab because the a channel is green/magenta.
    2. Need to very careful because of skin tones and the green in the bride’s bouquet.
    3. Set a Hue Clock on bride’s upper arm and another and the light coloured grass.
    4. I worked a channel carefully and then a very slight change in the L channel.

    My adjustments were very slight because I was feeling my way.

    background-trouble-lab-1a-jpg (157.73 KiB) Viewed 4199 times
    background-trouble-lab-1b-jpg (190.09 KiB) Viewed 4199 times
    (52 Bytes) Downloaded 128 times

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    Postby ggroess » Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:24 am

    Hello Di,
    Sorry about the deep end of the pool we will do our best to make this easy...

    The reason for the difficulty is to tempt the more experienced users to participate and share some knowledge.  I know it is overwhelming at times but I assure you that by the end of the class we will be able to tackle this image easily.  Trouble is this is a fairly common issue and one which CM can tackle. 

    The help files might not actually help that much for this since it is technique driven.  One thing you could look at is the masks.  My solution will be coming out later today.  While it is not the definitive answer it will show another way to tackle this image.

    BTW the Waterfall image should be easier.


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    Postby mikemeister_admin » Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:08 pm

    I don't know... I just toned down the green a bit. 
    background-troufble-1-jpg (153.14 KiB) Viewed 4199 times

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    Postby ggroess » Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:22 am

    Here is a link to a short video about how I solved this troublesome background. 
    This is by no means the definitive answer but it does show off a bit of the Curvemeister tools for you.

    Further discussion is highly encouraged...


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    Postby sjordan93436 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:31 am

    Sorry, I took another approach.  Too saturated meant too dark and too focused.  I select the couple and used a blur filter and then use cm to lighten the back ground. 

    Then I used a pin and mask to make the sky blue.
    background-trouble-sj2-jpg (118.55 KiB) Viewed 4199 times
    ss-back-sj-jpg (59.18 KiB) Viewed 4199 times

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