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ben egbert wrote:
4 separate and different color corrections
Ektachrome vs. Kodachrome vs. Fujichrome vs. Agfachrome
Many years ago ... when I first starting shooting ... I would get prints back from the lab that weren't the exposure or color that I aspired for. This was because the "computer" would analyze the negative and made its own decisions as to what it "thought" was supposed to be correct. The more control I learned @ exposure and in camera controls to put my values where I wanted them, the more the lab would "undo" my vision into something that was "normal" or average.
From that I had planned on learning to do my own printing ... which was when I was introduced into CMYK and the need for color correction. It made my head spin, and I ran faster than Jesse Owens in the other direction to chrome. I lived in the land of "what ya shot was what ya got" for decades ... until I embarked down the digital road.
Starting with AWB ... it became clear that I was back to the whole issue @ print labs with a computer making an interpretation. So, I instantly relived the decision @ either a process that included a computer variably assigning color balance, or shooting from a fixed temp or doing my own color correction. Since I was "happy" with my years of shooting chrome, I opted to begin shooting a fixed color temp, in a similar vein.
Old school, was to shoot chrome, and use filters to compensate or render to my aesthetic. As far as color & light goes ... nothing has really changed since "Let there be light."
One thing that was kinda tough to get my head around was the "getting it right" part. Then I came to realize that while I shot Fujichrome 50 for its fine detail, it also had a "profile" that was different from Ektachrome which was different from Kodachrome. Three well regarded slide films ... without lab/computer corrective influence ... that would render differently. From that, I deduced that it is not totally possible to "get it right" ... but rather there is a degree of "preference" involved.
Part of this preference is in regard to "how much" do we want to allow the color temp/sat of light to be shown in our image. Film choices were of course very limited @ color temp ... i.e. daylight or tungsten as predominant options. Even with daylight balanced film, the colors of the light throughout the day would render in accord with the amount of deviation from the film temp ... and we largely accepted that as such coming out of the camera ... which is necessary to yield the range of lighting colors. Whether we embrace or enhance vs. correct and reduce those variations is a matter of aesthetic choice.
For some, this was perfectly fine and seeing the "crayons" that the changing light brought were embraced. . For others, there was a desire to "correct" them when taking them to print (i.e. Cibachrome). I printed little from my slides, but when I did it was at a pro lab with a HUMAN making the decisions at color correction. I would convey to them (much like Travis has here) ... I want to change this, enhance this and leave this alone. Again, what came out of the camera was not the final product ... and a computer can't be trusted.
Somewhere in FM land ... I ran across a recommendation for Dan Margulis books on Photoshop color correction. I have two (old books) and they are rather "technical" oriented ... dry, boring and dull reading. Dan aspires to teach understanding, rather than "do this, do that" or cookie cutter style. Likely his most well known book is Photoshop LAB Color: The Canyon Conundrum and Other Adventures in the Most Powerful Colorspace.
Well, I decided that it was finally time for me to embark down the journey of learning color correction. It was either that ... or let the computer make those decisions for me. Rest assured ... I don't "get it right" and I don't pretend that it is a "simple" thing all the time. But, I find it very rewarding to achieve what it is that I want from my image making. I would love to "push the button" and have it convey what I want to convey ... but the darn thing is only a machine that has been programmed by someone else who has tried to write a program that will accommodate ... oh, gee ... more than one person. Combine that with the fact that the computer really can't assess whether you are in the nuances of mixed lighting, or homogenous (it largely must assume the latter).
For those of us who aspire to convey "our vision" ... I subscribe to the concept that it is NOT POSSIBLE for it to always do so. So, as I try to give you a "nudge" down the color correction path, I'd suggest this:
Don't be dissuaded by the complexity of it, but like any elephant ... you eat it one bite at a time. I have had Dan's books for a few years now and was only able to digest it in rationed doses. I've screwed up plenty along the way and had to "reload" and try again ... but, it has been a very rewarding (and some frustrating) journey.
I should also reference my realization that AA didn't "get it right" or the way he wanted to convey it on his first attempts and he spent years developing his "workflow" ... and he mostly avoided color in his passionate work.
To that end, I put it in the category of "If it was easy, anyone could do it." We take on the challenge of carrying our gear to remote locations, watching and waiting, enduring weather, shoot from various vantage points, with various lenses, exposures, apertures, speeds, filters, etc. ... then we repeat the effort because we didn't get the result we aspired for. We embrace the challenge and take a degree of resolve in our efforts that go beyond what those who stop at "easy" will do.
To that end, I'd challenge those who aspire to take their image making to another level to embrace color correction beyond the ease of "global" correction, one click WB (particularly @ nature/landscape/ambient). Make no mistake ... it'll be fraught with mistakes and redo's ... but then what aspect of image making hasn't been along the way to garnering control of your image making (nobody ever talks about that part).
How refined you want your control to be ... that's an individual choice ... but in the land of "micro-nit", global WB in challenging "mixed lighting" scenes leaves me yearning for something that a global correction (where you gonna click ) just can't achieve.
As always, S&P to taste.
... I need one after all that.