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Archive 2013 · Color Help: Insight Welcome!
  
 
iteraoka
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p.1 #1 · Color Help: Insight Welcome!


Hello everyone!

I'm new to the whole "forum and discuss" thing, but I really wanted to get some feedback on my photography. I've never taken a class (intending to in the fall), so at times getting input can be difficult, but over the years I've done my best.

My main concern now, however, is of color. I've seen many photos have much more brilliant colors than my own, and I've noticed that a lot of my photos seem to have really "flat" coloring in comparison (by that I mean the colors are very light in nature, not too sure how to describe it), something that I've tried to fix but so far haven't found too many solutions to. Even things such as HSL customizations in Lightroom don't work, I'm wondering if it is a problem of overexposure, contrast, etc.

Anyways, this is the photo in question; I took this on a hike in Japan, Mt. Takao. What do you guys think? Any constructive feedback is greatly appreciated.




by IanTeraokaPhotography, on Flickr


Thank you so much!



May 07, 2013 at 03:58 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #2 · Color Help: Insight Welcome!


Welcome to FM and to the PC Forum.

Well, you've presented a rather unique image for consideration @ color. This one has some rather complex issues going on with it ... no matter who would have taken it at that time of day. If you have questions about your processing, you might want to post up a different image that is a bit more simple to discern how you are processing vs. such a complex color lighting scene as this one.


That being said ... this may be more than you bargained for, but hopefully I can present it in a way that makes some sense for you.


As I look at the image, I see the stonework on both sides of the stairs. If I look at the left side, it is toned very warm. If I look at the right side, it is toned very cool. I suspect (i.e. guess) that the stonework on both sides is actually the same color made from the same stone and the fact that one side is in more direct sunlight, while the other side is in the shadows is responsible for rendering the difference between the two sides.

Shooting the image at this time of day ... it is what it is when we take a picture that involves "mixed lighting". The lightly colored stonework is reflecting the portions of the sun & sky vs. open sky only to present "mixed lighting". But, in addition to that, we have the expanse of green leaves that are also contributing color cast/reflections into our scene. In that manner, this is a very unique/challenging image to have render color "accurately" in all areas. This is why I might suggest you try posting a different image as this one is "very challenging" with the lighting that is present for that time of day/conditions.

I've taken a partial/preliminary stab at correcting both sides of the stonework relative to the warm/cool differences. Then there is the green and that complicates matters even more, but I've posted it up without doing much for the green, just to illustrate the differences at the left/right sides mostly and to allow the green influence to be evident also. So, please don't think that my rendering is finished or correct ... it is mostly to help illustrate how much this is a "mixed lighting" scene. In fact, if we look at the steps, we can see some clue/cyan that didn't previously exist where I over corrected in some areas.

But here's the thing ... ANYBODY taking this shot at this time of day would have experienced the two sides being two different colors coming out of the camera (when in person, we'd see them much closer to the same color) ... so, and here's the important part ... Don't let that discourage you. This is a VERY CHALLENGING mixed lighting scenario.

Part of me wants to delete this post, as I don't really like how I've done with it so far. But, hopefully, it can still be of value for conveying the challenges vs. something more routine so your expectations of yourself won't be misled from this image as a guide to judge your work from.

Again, welcome to FM and the PC Forum.

I hope I didin't confuse you, but I mostly wanted to convey that this particular image is a "tough gig", no matter who would have taken it.

HTH ... looking forward to seeing more.







May 07, 2013 at 05:50 PM
iteraoka
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p.1 #3 · Color Help: Insight Welcome!


Wow! This helped so much, I wasn't even aware of mixed lighting situations until this. Is mixed lighting better off corrected or let be depending on the photo? And thank you so much! How did you go about correcting the white balances so accurately may I ask?

As for another picture, how about this one?





Haha, I know it's a bit ridiculous but I was practicing food photography and this was in my room at the time.



May 07, 2013 at 11:24 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #4 · Color Help: Insight Welcome!


iteraoka wrote:
Is mixed lighting better off corrected or let be depending on the photo?


That is a REALLY SUBJECTIVE ... depends.

For a LOT of people, they are fine with the mixed colors ... going along with fact that it is a property of light & color. This is part of the reason we are able to get the really cool colors at different times/places in nature. But it can also be part of the reason we get strong blue shadows, blue hair, cyan wedding dresses, blue snow, etc. Some folks just roll with it, others don't. Some people think color correction looks unnatural, others think it looks correct.

Me, I lean pretty strong toward correction to at least close to neutral, then if I want to have it "toned" for mood, that's easy enough. Mostly I strive to find my dominant/prominent neutrals and get them close to neutral. In the case of your stairs, stone work ... one person might find the warm/cool juxtaposition really cool and intriguing, while another says the color is off.

Like I said ... really subjective @ depends.

As to the correction, I tried to isolate the blue channel and warm it up on one layer. Then I tried to isolate the red channel on another layer and cool it down. As you can see, this left the greens unattended to a bit and wasn't a great job because I've not got some blue in some areas that probably are neutral.

Desaturation and masks can be an effective strategy also. I tend to strive for color balancing neutrals first because while desaturation can reduce the offending areas in the neutrals, it doesn't really make an adjustment for the cast in other non-neutral areas as much. Imo, reducing casts, improves clarity in addition to making the colors more accurate, so it is my first choice when I can see to do it that way.

As to the "how" ... mostly I check a scene to find either areas that I know I want to be neutral and the simply tweak on color balance sliders until I equalize the R,G,B numbers, or if I've got a color that is NOT neutral (say a blue shirt) but I know it is being lit by two different light sources and compare the two sets of RGB values (which would be the same if it were the same light). Reading the differences between the two sets will show me have much difference there is between the two light sources. Then, I have a decision to make at whether I want to try to "split the difference" or allow one to be "correct" and then adjust the other one closer to it.

The key to most of it is to be able to recognize it the lighting is predominantly from the same source or from different sources. Most people associate outdoor lighting with just one color of "daylight" but you stairs example is a great one to illustrate that outdoor lighting can actually be multiple/mixed. If you've got only one primary light source, then global correction can work pretty well. But if you truly have very mixed sources, then selective correction is likely more warranted. At which point most people just "go with it".

As to your potato chips ... there are different things that you can do that I refer to as S&P to taste. regarding how much contrast, sharpening, saturation you want to put into your image. Stick around and you'll readily realize we can often times have a wide variance of opinion on measure and approach ... as others show their input as well.





May 08, 2013 at 01:11 AM
Almass
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p.1 #5 · Color Help: Insight Welcome!


Interesting picture. As already mentioned, this is not your run of the mill picture and need some delicate color balancing.

The original stone color must be greyish as bronze or reddish stones are not usually the norm for japan.

The correction was done to balance back both sides to a more realistic color.

You are the one who was there and only you can tell what the original color should be.
On the other hand. different color rendition for each side, does also make an interesting picture.

Just to conclude that photography is not only camera bodies - lenses - people and landscapes but also post production.







May 08, 2013 at 08:35 AM
odnanref
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p.1 #6 · Color Help: Insight Welcome!


Adding some contrast (post processing with the tone curve) will add a lot to your images. I would not go the route of choosing particular colors to enhance. Try to get a good histogram when shooting the images so when you edit them later they will have that brilliance you desire.


May 08, 2013 at 10:56 AM
 

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iteraoka
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p.1 #7 · Color Help: Insight Welcome!


Thank you all for the advice! I really appreciate you guys taking the time to help me with my project I'm glad I found a forum with truly constructive and insightful people, and I'll be sure to take the mixed lighting and contrast tone curve into mind.

And hmm...what defines a "good" histogram from a "bad" one? I know that it's another subjective topic but for this shot in particular I'm curious.



May 08, 2013 at 11:08 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #8 · Color Help: Insight Welcome!


Almass wrote:
Interesting picture. As already mentioned, this is not your run of the mill picture and need some delicate color balancing.

The original stone color must be greyish as bronze or reddish stones are not usually the norm for japan.

The correction was done to balance back both sides to a more realistic color.

You are the one who was there and only you can tell what the original color should be.
On the other hand. different color rendition for each side, does also make an interesting picture.

Just to conclude that photography is not only camera bodies - lenses - people and landscapes but also
...Show more

+1 @ much of this.

The correction lost some of the color in the process, most notably the red lettering on the left side. That's one of the things about corrections (in general), it so easy to change something you didn't necessarily want changed, you have to have an ever watchful eye ... or post it here in front of a bunch of micro-nit watchful eyes.



May 08, 2013 at 01:09 PM
Almass
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p.1 #9 · Color Help: Insight Welcome!


Actually, I lost on purpose the red lettering as I don't know if it is an artifact of the OP manip or part of the stone, hence my question to the OP as to what are the real original colors

Bringing the red in the lettering is pretty straight forward but is it on one side or should it be on both sides. For all I know, the stones could be of different colors altogether.

So the question to the OP:
What are the original colors of the stones on both sides.
Is the lettering red?
Does the red apply to both sides?




May 08, 2013 at 02:34 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #10 · Color Help: Insight Welcome!


Gotcha.

+1 @ "guessing" since we weren't there.



May 08, 2013 at 03:22 PM
iteraoka
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p.1 #11 · Color Help: Insight Welcome!


The loss of color is actually a nice touch; it gives it that sort of "ancient" feel. Originally, there was red coloring on the actual characters (interesting, because few other inscriptions had this now that I look back).


May 08, 2013 at 09:40 PM





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