moderated Case Study: A Toast to Greece

Dan Margulis

While discussion continues of Monument Valley, we move on to our final four studies. I’ve posted the next, again due Monday. Find it in our Photos section, labeled Case Study: A Toast to Greece. 

This shot comes from a first-rate camera dealing with third-rate lighting conditions. No raw capture is available. Frequently people present such an image as a challenge. Can it really be corrected? Generally, I reply that I don't care, because I would discard it rather than work on it.

Sometimes, however, this is impossible. Just as with the Panama 1978 exercise, the picture can be of great value to a family, with no alternative available. Below I will explain why this one is so important, followed by a thumbnail.

*Background: Right now is a difficult time for all of us. In the United States conditions are on the verge of being worse than during the Great Depression, with the exception of the Dust Bowl region of the Midwest, where my late mother grew up. And they are IMHO now worse than conditions in the U.S. during and after the Second World War, though perhaps not the First.

Western Europe was not so lucky during that period. Our many members who hail from that region have all heard stories about the wartime horror from their elders. But as terrible as the situation was in these nations, it was much worse in parts of central Europe, and in the Soviet Union. 

Greece suffered as much as any of them. In late 1940 the Italian army invaded and, against all odds, was defeated by the Greeks. This forced the hand of Hitler, who had to commit major forces he needed elsewhere to come to Italy's aid in a place where the local resistance was formidable. The German occupation was exceptionally brutal, causing mass starvation, and the death of perhaps a tenth of the Greek population.

Southern Greece, the Peloponnesus, was hard hit. My wife's grandparents lived in a small village there; they found the need to socially distance themselves from the Gestapo and fled, leaving my late mother-in-law, as the oldest girl, in charge of a family of ten children. She would never speak of that dreadful time until a couple of years before her own death, and I am not about to repeat what she said. I will say that in late 1943, there took place in the nearby village of Kalavryta an atrocity whose scale and barbarity was appalling even by Nazi standards.

Less than a year later, the Germans were gone but were replaced by something just about as bad, if possible: a brutal Communist insurgency and civil war. All civilians who could flee the area tried to do so, including the eight children who had survived the war. Some made it to Brazil but everyone hoped to somehow get into the United States, which was then, as now, very difficult. My mother-in-law's method was to first get across the Atlantic by means of a fictitious marriage to a Canadian. Once in Canada, the family arranged a non-fictitious marriage to a Greek-American living in New England. There being no at the time, the two first met on their wedding day. The marriage was apparently a happy one, with four children.

This family is quite long-lived. The grandparents reached 102 and 98. My mother-in-law passed away five years ago, at 93, as did an older brother. That prompted the part of the family that had remained in Greece to suggest a two-week-long family reunion near the ancestral village, in June 2017. More than 30 people showed up, three generations.

Hopefully our Colosseum exercise prepared you for another night shot like this one. It's from the welcome dinner. At the head table is the first generation, all of them in their nineties, all of them still alive today. So let's raise a glass to those who survived impossible adversity 60+ years ago, and to their descendants.

*You can use whatever methods you like to improve the picture, including unsharp mask.

*Please keep clear records of what you did for discussion. List members find these very valuable.

*In the Photos section, Case Study: A Toast to Greece, I have uploaded the original JPEG. No raw capture is available.

*The designated size of this exercise is the original, 2647 x 1800 pixels. Do not crop, rotate, or alter the sizing, and don't delete any objects, because any of these things will make it impossible to use your version as part of a par assembly.

*Your final file is to be sRGB with a proper tag. If you work in a different RGB you must Edit: Convert to Profile>sRGB before submitting the file.

*When finished, save in JPEG form, quality level 9. E-mail it to me, dmargulis (at), with a brief explanation of how you produced it, DO NOT POST IMAGES TO THE LIST.

*Remember that some e-mail clients default to downsizing image attachments. Make sure you’re sending it to me at the original size.

*Entries close Monday morning, 13 July, at 06:00 Eastern/1100Z/12:00 ora italiana.

*Rather than confirm every entrant I've received, I will periodically post the initials of everyone whose file I have.

*As soon as convenient after the deadline, I'll post all the entrants in a random order. Names will not be revealed except for those entrants that I or somebody else has declared to be particularly good, which will come later.

*A discussion will follow within a few days after posting the final files. 

Dan Margulis

Monument Valley: Results

Dan Margulis

I’ve posted the results of our Monument study.

Reviewing: This is from the MIT study of 5,000 images and represents one of the most iconic scenes of the American west. The MIT study employed five intermediate retouchers to correct each image, and made their results public. Our entrants today include the one I judged did the best job, plus the averaged version of the five. I have never used this image in a class so I don’t know how well a more experienced group would have done.

We have a 30 entrants. When a person submitted two or versions, I chose the one I thought was better. Most people also submitted a list of their steps, thanks very much. I haven’t read these, because I’d rather get a sense of who was successful and who wasn’t before investigating why. 

The files don’t have people’s names on them, and were random-generator numbered from #801 to #830. As with past studies, we also have a “par” version, #831. To get it, I chose what I thought looked like the five best entrants, and averaged them, each one weighted 20%. This often creates a version that is superior to most if not all of its parents.

I’m going to have some things to say about this assortment, but as usual I’d like to open it up to group discussion first. What do the successful versions have in common? Meanwhile, if you’d like to know how your own version stacked up, download the par version and compare the two directly. Do you think you got the same kind of quality? If not, I hope you’ll find further discussion useful.

The folder is in the group Photos section, named Case Study: Monument Valley

Because some of us would like a closer look at these, I also have zipped all 28 and uploaded a 67 mb file to our Files section,
Search for

I look forward to your comments.

Dan Margulis

P.S. The next case study is announced today, look for a separate post. The countdown continues, we have four case studies left, and this one could be the hardest of the four.

moderated Re: Case Study: Monument Valley

Gerald Bakker

Hi Jeanne, this is how to download the image. On the menu left, click Photos. Open the group called "Case Study: Monument Valley". You'll see two representations of the same image: one the original, the other a flattened version of it. Choose whichever you prefer to work with and click to open it. Click the blue Download button below the image and you'll see the photo in its original resolution. Then, right mouse, Save image as...
Gerald Bakker

moderated Re: Case Study: Monument Valley

Jeanne L.D. Tifft

I've been lurking here for quite awhile and meant to try this case study for starters.  I tried to download it and got only a solid black image?  Please direct me to your instructions for adding to these little cases.  Thank you!
Jeanne Tifft
JLD Tifft Images

moderated Re: Case Study: Monument Valley

Dan Margulis

A reminder that entries are due in this case study in 48 hours, at 06:00 eastern time Monday/1100Z/12:00 ora italiana.

Two entries have already come in in the wrong colorspace. Please make sure you are sending tagged sRGB. I have converted the incorrect ones.

I confirm receipt of entries from the following individuals:

*indicates that a corrected version was submitted

Entries from the following were at an incorrect size/cropping and would have to be resubmitted:



Re: Panama 1978: results

James Gray

Very interesting.  I was very pleasantly surprised by how well it worked.  Based on my experience, DeNoise AI seems optimized for use on digital files straight out of a digital camera.  On scans of my old slides it often does not work very well.  I sure did not see what you seem to have found.

James Gray

On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 10:34 PM jwlimages via <> wrote:
On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 06:35 PM, James Gray wrote:
I Used Topaz DeNoise AI to get rid of texture.
Hi James,

I played around with DeNoise AI also, and was quite disappointed. It seemed to work reasonably well on parts of the image, then not at all in other areas. Had to run it multiple times on different layers, then blend after the fact - very frustrating! In fact I think I saw similar results on a couple entries - wait a minute, the image has the texture suppressed here but not there? If this is AI, then it has more to learn.

John Lund

Re: Panama 1978: comments on individual versions

Dan Margulis

On Jul 1, 2020, at 3:01 PM, Dan Margulis via <dmargulis@...> wrote:

Here are my notes on this set.

We had more trouble with pattern reduction in this exercise than might be hoped for. Part of the reason was that many people were using the Dust & Scratches filter for this purpose, but their notes indicated that at least two people, and likely more, were misusing it.

If you think you might be one of them, it’s probably worth reviewing the following discussion of how Dust & Scratches works in various settings, and how it compares to Surface Blur.

Dan Margulis

Re: Panama 1978: comments on individual versions

Dan -
Thanks for taking the time to comment on all the entries. Mine is #706, and your reminder to double-check everything with a quick Auto Tone is valuable.

Auto Tone is a nice yes-but-could-it-be-better step: I’ll keep it in my bag o’ tricks. As we all know, staring at an image too long in one sitting tends to change the way we perceive and judge color and tone in that moment. I often return to an image the next morning and wonder how I possibly thought that was a good choice! 

Rick McCleary

Postscript Process Color Guide AVAILABLE

Kevin Gepford

To the Color Theorists,

A couple of months ago I noticed the thread here about the classic and out-of-print Agfa "Postscript Process Color Guide."

Well, in doing some unpacking after a recent move (from NYC to Portland, Ore.), I found my copy:


My career moved away from color work several years ago, and this book has been sitting in a cool dark box for quite some time. But it's too soon for retirement! This book deserves to be in the hands of someone who will love it and use it.

Of course eBay can be a great place to find a new home for such items, as well as find out their fair value. But wanted to run it past our Color Theory group first, to see if there’s any interest, before I go further afield. I’d really rather keep it in the “family" if possible.

LMK if you’re interested.

Kevin Gepford

Panama 1978: comments on individual versions

Dan Margulis

Here are my notes on this set. Where names are used, the person has already identified himself in a post to the list.

701 The yellowish feeling is deliberate on the part of Gerald Bakker, who calls this one the most difficult case study so far. He blurred the AB channels and used Dust & Scratches on the L to try to eliminate the pattern. The color overall is conservative yet reasonable, but the overall impression lacks depth. As noted in one of my posts, the easy way to fix this, even now, is by blending the green into the red on a layer set to Luminosity. It is important that this blend be done in Darken rather than Normal mode, as otherwise all the blue clothing will be damaged.

It should also be noted that, like the Cinque Terre study, this one benefits from H-K, and for the same reason. Forgetting the green parakeet and the little girl’s pink color, which are too small to matter, there are plenty of different colors here but nothing particularly intense. In a situation like that H-K is useful to create more variation. Here, it also has the benefit of darkening the wall, which creates an attractive contrast with the faces. Even with this completed image in its current state, it would still be beneficial to run H-K followed by some kind of color boost to restore the overall feeling.

702 An excellent presentation but, like the similar #713, no effort to cut the pattern. Otherwise quite realistic.

703 Every now and then we need a reminder of why we need a full tonal range every time. This person used a fairly simple process to establish vibrant but believable color and then wrecked it by not establishing a valid white point. At this point running Auto Contrast changes the image from one of the worst entrants to one of the best.

704 The contrast/detailing is good, the result of several blends plus H-K and the Lesser Hammer. The blurring is somewhat overdone. The overall impression is marginally too gray. An easy way to change that impression is to use the Sponge tool to saturate the parakeet and the little girl’s magenta collar. Such small flashes of brightness help convince the viewer that he’s not looking at a grayscale image, and we don’t have to worry about holding detail in things this small.

705 Similar to #704 in being basically correct for color but somewhat gray, with reasonable detail. The person writes, “I found it quite a challenge to get good detail and contrast in this image and to manage the tradeoff between sharpness and noise so it will be interesting to see the group results.” He used that Pattern Suppression plugin, followed by a light application of Dust & Scratches and the addition of some noise to cover up the obvious moves.

Such a combination is a good way to reduce a pattern unobtrusively. Ask yourself, which version does the best job of reducing the pattern while retaining realism? The answer is, the par version. Why? Because the five people who made its parents used five different approaches to attack the pattern. All of them left some kind of artifacts, but they’re no longer visible because each is only seen at 20% strength in the par version. 

706 This person was particularly careful with the darker area of the image. To get more weight into the fleshtone, he multiplied through a blurred layer mask based on the red channel. This is the correct choice, since the red is lightest in the faces. Multiplication produces a softer look than direct blends into the red channel and gets pleasing faces here.

For all that effort, this is a junior version of #703. I’ve suggested that everyone, when they think they’re done with an image and have returned it to RGB, always test Auto Tone. Hopefully this will rarely make a difference; if it does you’re probably made a mistake. And that’s the case here. There’s no point in being fastidious about protecting highlights here. Nobody is going to care if the whites in the background blow out, or even the white stripes on the tallest girl’s dress. Applying Auto Tone to #706 increases snap considerably and makes it competitive to the par.

707 This person used H-K and two Hammer actions to get decent shape in the people seated on the wall, although the overall appears too brown. One original idea: he vignetted these people, artificially darkening the folks at left of the image and making it appear that a spotlight is shining on the main subjects. In a tropical setting with the sun almost directly overhead this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but it does in many other image categories.

708 Accurate color, but very washed out. I’ve already discussed three solutions, which can all work in tandem where needed: 1) blending the green into the red, Darken mode, on a Luminosity layer; 2) multiplying the image through a blurred red layer mask; 3) The H-K action.

709 The person’s listing of steps doesn’t explain what’s wrong here: the subjects, and particularly me, look like they’ve been cut out of the picture and pasted back in. I surmise that the background wall was selected and then lightened. Also, the eyes needed to be excluded from the attempts to remove the pattern.

710 Chosen for the par version. Robin Mark D’Rozario posted a full description of his procedure. Basically he and Gerald were striving for the same yellowish look but this is more successful than Gerald’s #701. I still think this is too washed out. Also, the pattern reduction posterized my hair.

711 Strong purple cast, easily measurable in the wall and in the people’s hair. Remember, someone with black hair should be 0a0b or close, someone with dark brown hair should have AB equal and positive, anyone with lighter hair the B should definitely be higher. Having the A higher than the B is rare and should be confined to dark-haired people. Here, the woman at bottom left, whose hair is relatively light has an A value 14 points higher than the B.

712 See #711, way too magenta.

713 Lile #702, this is quite a pretty presentation but no real effort was made to eliminate pattern. The person reports that the entire correction took only a few minutes. He got the color essentially right, then used the green>red Darken blend as others did, plus the Bigger Hammer action at an opacity of 60%.

714 The chilliness of this one, submitted by John Furnes, was discussed in another post.

715 Chosen for the par version  This one, by John Lund, like #714 was discussed in the main thread. The yellow color is nice and the weight is about right, but John admits being one of the people who took blurring out the pattern too far and got fuzzy reproduction.

716 Rather chilly, face badly blurred. Submitted by mistake in Prophoto RGB. The strong wall is the result of running H-K.

717 Attractive color and weight. My face is a little flat, although this guy did make one version with the green>red Darken move. He then blended it into another. Not clear what was done to reduce the pattern but it seems acceptable.

718 This is basically pretty good but hurt by two factors: first, the guy produced some sort of vignette to try to lighten up the area surrounding the parakeet. This had the unpleasant effect of seeming to put my face into shadow.

More important, my face was damaged by a misapplication of the Dust & Scratches filter, which this guy used on the L channel having blurred the A and B. He chose a Radius of 3 and a Threshold of 0. When Threshold is 0 the Dust & Scratches and Median filters are identical. Putting a non-zero Threshold value in D&S tells the filter that any differences less than the threshold are natural detail that should be left alone, but anything greater is garbage that should be blurred out. So, the higher you can set the Threshold, the more natural-looking will be the result.

It follows that anyone using D&S should be using one setting for my hair and another for my skin, because the noise is extremely pronounced in the hair and not so much in the skin. It happens that in #420, I used D&S with a Radius of 3 also, but I put a Threshold of 30 or so in the hair and 15 or so in the skin. Compare the two faces and hair, and you’ll see that #718 looks plastic and posterized.

719 Chosen for the par version. Colorful but believable. Extreme, though acceptable, contrast added to my face. The FFT filter used to reduce the pattern created the sensation of noise in the face.

720 Chosen for the par version   This one is mine and I don’t object to its strong coloring. This is the tropics, after all. H-K was helpful in keeping it somewhat subdued. Anyone who says it’s too colorful should remember that seeing it next to 27 less colorful versions tends to bias the judgment.

721 The purplish cast in this one, by James Gray, was discussed in the main thread.

722 If you find the fireworks of #719 and #722 too much, this is a reasonable alternative, which good contrast and probably the best rendition of the sloths. The color measures as slightly purple, certainly not in the league of ##711, 712, and 721, but if there’s going to be a cast I’d vote for something sunnier, #715 for example. In the main thread, I suggested that although a certain amount of pattern remains, I do not find it objectionable, and certainly prefer it to many of the overly blurry ones described above. The workflow as described is complicated with a lot of individual selections, but handled carefully. For example, he painted a new fleshtone into my face in Soft Light mode. Effective and inconspicuous. 

723 Good color but washed out and blurry. See comments to #708 for solutions.

724 Too light, colors not pronounced but acceptably conservative. Pattern still in face although reduced. The individual reports unsatisfactory results with FFT.

725 Yellowish and somewhat washed out. At first, I thought this is very similar to Gerald’s #701, but when I compared the two this one is better. The apparent reason should be interesting to fans of MMM.

The original MMM as incorporated in the PPW panel alters hue in the entire image to create variation in the user-defined area. Usually that works well, sometimes not so well. Effective with v.5 of the panel we incorporate an action that Gerald wrote and calls MMM Finetuned. It tries to restrict the effect to things that are fairly close to the user-defined area.

First, let’s admit that MMM is not particularly effective in this image. My face is too small to really appreciate the effect. The clothing is all of different colors and we don’t need MMM to help us break them apart. PPW does have an advantage on this image, but it’s the channel blending, the hammers, and H-K, not so much MMM.

Here, both people defined the faces anyway to give MMM a try. #701 uses Gerald’s version and #725 the standard. Using standard MMM everything gets pushed away from red, which is another way of saying, toward green. And I can read a green cast in the stone wall. This would ordinarily be a bad idea but in #725 it seems to work, it makes the faces, which are not strongly colored, stand out better.

726 Chosen for the par version and apparently well liked by the group in spite of rather subdued color. The definition is excellent. By request, I post what the individual supplied as his steps:

Hi Dan,
Hope you're doing well. Here's my attempt at a memorable snapshot. I used the Photoline application for my adjustments.
1) Set aims (highlights/shadows/gray balance)
2) Round trip through FFT filter to mitigate repeating embossed pattern on print
3) USM ~ 15pix @ 80% (maybe too aggressive) on L channel
4) H&S to increase saturation and adjust hues
5) Lasso Dan's face/neck - H&S to adjust red balance, add density
Also several blending steps - if the color got out of hand, but I liked the lumi, then I’d blend that into a previous versions color. Likewise, if the lumi went south, I’d blend the good color into a previous versions lumi.
All told (many short sessions), took about an hour.

727. Nice color but somewhat washed out, and quite blurry. Going over the steps it appears that his favored tool against the pattern was the Median filter. As I pointed out in the comment to #718, Median is just Dust & Scratches with a zero Threshold, so there’s never any reason to prefer it to D&S. So, this skin has the same plastic, posterized look as #718, and the suggestions there apply to this one too.

728 The par version.

Dan Margulis

List Rules and Objectives

Dan Margulis

Applied Color Theory list
General Description and Rules
(This document is posted monthly)

In November 2019, this list moved from yahoogroups to The yahoo group will remain open due to the large number of links to it. All message and file archives have been moved to the new group.

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Last revised 20 May 2020
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Re: Panama 1978: results

John Gillespie

Regarding the pattern suppression approach, re-running the process (FFT then dust and scratches filter) I see that the second step adds more softness than the first. So if some noise is acceptable then this can be reduced to get back some sharpness.

In my original submission I also added noise (3% I think) back to the image then removed it with Neat Image. This is because removing the pattern with the FFT did leave the texture of the flatter parts of the image looking a bit strange, so this step helped to make them look more natural. Again this would also have added some more softness to the edges.

To make a much better image I have taken 726 and blended it with my own through an edge mask. I used the smart blur to create the edge mask then blurred this and auto-toned it. The density of the mask can then be adjusted along with the layer opacity to mix the sharpness of one with the noise reduction effect of the other to taste. I find that this can produce a version that is acceptable at all magnifications. 

Re: Panama 1978: results


My entry is 710.

Interesting that quite a few of us used the Pattern suppression/FFT filter yet ended up with a wide variety of results.
I too used the Pattern suppression V2 macro. My earlier efforts were too soft after this. 
My submission is the fifth version I tried and in an attempt to retain some detail I followed an unorthodox approach. It's not blended as I didn't think my other versions offered anything more.
1. Sharpen  in RGB Amount 500, Radius 1.5 and Threshold 0.
2. Run the extension in 3D Colour mode normal suppression. There are still artifacts left over after this. I painted with black on the slits of Dan's eye to protect them.
3. Convert to LAB and run Median/D&S on the individual channels with different settings 3,2 and 4 respectively.Again Dan's eyes are protected. After this moire is gone but there is a fine checkered pattern and edges are now wavy with ghosting.
4.To try and hide the above I added 1 pixel of monochromatic Gaussian noise to the L channel.
5. USM to L channel Amount 150, Radius 0.5 and Threshold 0. There is a reasonable amount of detail in the image now, however, there are no free lunches and the is an elevated amount of noise and blockiness especially in darker tones.
Back to RGB from here to work on colour. I didn't use MMM or CB for this image. I tried for warmer colour overall with a curve in colour mode/Auto Colour/Hue Saturation, early efforts were too cold and didn't seem right. A dilemma on how much colour/contrast to put into Dan's face. I  was conservative and looking at it now I should have made it pinker.
Lesser Hammer was useful for emphasizing details in lighter areas.
To combat the extra noise my second to last step I used Piccure+ plugin in noise suppression at 65 on a composite layer masked to darker tones and with lowered opacity. Surface blur also would do the same thing more or less. This cleans up the darks a bit.
In hindsight the submission needs more contrast. The Green channel applied to a blank layer on top and layer mode to Luminosity adds some pop without damaging anything.

Best regards,
Robin Mark D'Rozario 

Re: Panama 1978: results

John Furnes

Thanks for the instructive and direct evaluation of my image. It is amazing that the obvious is not so obvious when you are immersed in a problem. Normally, I have problems with too much magenta or too much yellow.


I tried to start over, and after having learned that the FFT method does away with Moiré, I tried it as well. It needs some practise, but impresses me with its simplicity.

Well, the result of the corrected version came out better, but it seems I have some way to go before this is satisfactory.

Just for fun, I tried to print it, and found that the Moiré was still lurking below.

However, the colour cast disappeared, and I did get better colours.


John Furnes



From: <> On Behalf Of Dan Margulis via
Sent: 30. juni 2020 22:39
Subject: Re: [colortheory] Panama 1978: results



On Jun 30, 2020, at 2:29 PM, John Furnes <johnfurnes@...> wrote:


I am 714, and can now see how blue it is.


Cyan, really, but you don’t have to see it, you can measure it, just as James could measure the magenta cast in his #721,


#1 stone in wall, to left of child’s knee

EXPECTED: possibly 0a0b, more probably positive in both A and B and approximately equal, but a lot of variation due to people wanting to incorporate a “sunny” look.

#714: 43L (1)a (7)b

par: 40L 4a 4b


#2 top of head of woman seated with back to us


#714: 53L 6a (4)b

par:  51L 11a 14b


In both cases both the A and especially the B are seriously shifted toward coolness.


As in James’s case, neither of these points is at all important to the composition. What they *are* important for is that they can indicate that something is wrong in a way that my fleshtone, say, or the sloths cannot. You have that woman’s hair as being more blue than it is yellow. Impossible.


As with James, running Auto Color significantly improves this image.




Re: Panama 1978: results

Hector Davila

I tried to grab a copy of #726 and do the Luminosity thing but it didn't work for my #719. So, I did a little of #726 improvement and came up with this:

Hector Davila

On 6/30/2020 9:17 AM, Dan Margulis via wrote:

P.S. For those interested in the power of luminosity blending but not in duplicating the above steps, grab a copy of #726, which a couple of people have already commented has excellent detailing. I agree. I rate its color OTOH as acceptable but I’m not a big fan of it. Apply it to a layer on top of your own final image, and change layer mode to Luminosity. It definitely improves John’s #715 and would do the same to most other entries. To see it in dramatic form, grab #706, which has attractive color but is too flat, and apply #726 in Luminosity mode. The result, I think, is at least as good as the par, maybe better.

Re: Panama 1978: results


On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 06:35 PM, James Gray wrote:
I Used Topaz DeNoise AI to get rid of texture.
Hi James,

I played around with DeNoise AI also, and was quite disappointed. It seemed to work reasonably well on parts of the image, then not at all in other areas. Had to run it multiple times on different layers, then blend after the fact - very frustrating! In fact I think I saw similar results on a couple entries - wait a minute, the image has the texture suppressed here but not there? If this is AI, then it has more to learn.

I got better results from the Reduce Noise part of Studio2, although still way too much overall softening of the image. I will look into the pattern-suppression plug-ins people have cited here.

John Lund

Re: Panama 1978: results


On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 09:42 AM, Dan Margulis wrote:
Color-wise I went for a warm look, I think that fits the Panama-in-summer situation, even though there is obviously no direct sunlight. Cold colors like in 714 do not work for me. 
Me either.
Ah, color. Here's something I've been thinking about. I deliberately went for a warmer color look in my version (715) - you know, pleasing skin tones & all that. But... I know that film in 1978 would not look like that (chromes or negatives, whichever was used to make the print). It would have been tinged with blue (I doubt the photographer was shooting with say, an 81C filter trying to correct this), and a lot less overall color saturation than we're used to seeing on our monitors these days. (yes, I know Dan says the people squinting indicate a bright sunny day, but I just don't see sharply defined lines of shadows anywhere, so I think it's high overcast light which would be blue-ish) So there's a choice to be made - go for the kind of pleasant (i.e., warm), vibrant looking color we're used to now, or try to reproduce how it appeared with vintage (analog) materials, like how the print probably looked before it spent 40 years fading. Just for fun!

Maybe not a significant issue (unless you're one of those noble souls concerned with documenting/preserving/reproducing art made with film & photochemical prints). But I could see someone approaching this from a more "faithful rendition" angle, who might find my version, for example, as quite over-the-top color...

John Lund

Re: Panama 1978: results


On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 09:17 AM, Dan Margulis wrote:
For those interested in the power of luminosity blending but not in duplicating the above steps, grab a copy of #726, which a couple of people have already commented has excellent detailing. I agree. I rate its color OTOH as acceptable but I’m not a big fan of it. Apply it to a layer on top of your own final image, and change layer mode to Luminosity. It definitely improves John’s #715 and would do the same to most other entries.
Exactly right Dan, thank you for pointing this out. I need to learn more about these kinds of blending techniques.

I'm curious about #726 - the best overall sense of sharpness (IMHO) and the texture is hidden, but it has a pronounced kind of gritty, chalky noise quality in it. Would love to hear its creator explain the process.

John Lund

Re: Panama 1978: results

James Gray

Thanks for the very specific advice.  I have not yet attempted to go back and create an alternate version or to just color correct the final image.  I did try auto color on the image.  Yes, it was better, but very inferior to the par version.  I will add some more comments about what I did that might be interesting to some.

  1. I Used Topaz DeNoise AI to get rid of texture.  Noise = 74, sharpen = 50, recover detail = 10.  I did this on a separate copy then added it as a new layer.  The results were better than expected.  However, some of the image, especially clothes were too smooth.  So I used a mask, mostly 3 different curved versions of the B channel to allow some of the texture in some parts to the image. I do not know if anyone else found that to be a good way of dealing with texture to allow some of it to show. It probably was not effective in the fur of the sloth.

I think this is close to what Dan has been suggesting in other messages.
  1. Applied green to red 100%,  Applied A inverted to red 100% overlay mode.  Applied K into red 75% multiply mode.

  2. Applied Blue into Blue 67% multiply mode.  Applied A inverted to blue 50% overlay mode.

  3. Applied revised red to green 100%.  Applied green into green 40% multiply mode.

  4. Curves to set highlights and shadows in red and green. This layer was set to luminosity mode.

Unless somebody asks I will skip details of steps that included MMM+CB

I used Fixel Detailizer and Fixel Edgehancer for sharpening and some local contrast improvement. Complex masks were created for these layers.

James Gray

On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 2:22 PM Dan Margulis via <> wrote:

On Jun 29, 2020, at 11:41 PM, James Gray <james@...> wrote:

Ultimately I thought this was very difficult and had little hope of creating something very satisfactory.  However, I thought mine came out fairly good in the face of how difficult it was.  The colors had clearly shifted and faded and I assume we all tried to bring the colors back.  I thought that Dan's shirt in the original looked somewhat purple, so I made his shirt a dark magenta.  Clearly most made the shirt blue.  I tried to adjust the flesh tones to be reasonable.  They were too yellow in the original.

This is an example of how not to evaluate color. You have looked at objects that are important but whose color can’t be determined. The range of acceptable fleshtones is wide particularly under these sunny conditions. Blue garments are much more common than purple ones, but this could have been a purple shirt for all I can remember now.

But it seems that the woman seated on the ground is wearing purple jeans. The person holding a child in the background has purple shorts. Blue would be a much more common color for each, so now we’re looking at a considerable coincidence.

But there’s no need to speculate. I don’t know that any of these garments are not purple, but I do know that hair is not. 

The test would be to run Photoshop’s Auto Color, which is a primitive tool but knocks out most casts (and then some). According to me, it makes a big difference for the better in #721


Re: Panama 1978: results

Thomas Hurd,MD

Pleas excuse the double post.
Thomas Hurd, MD

On Jun 30, 2020, at 4:38 PM, Thomas Hurd <tomhurd@...> wrote:

My entry is 723.

I started with a regular photo correction process, fairly confident I could wipe out the moire in LAB. Unfortunately, the A and B channels did fine with a Gaussian blur of about 2-2.6. However I could not blur the L channel without giving up too much contrast.

I searched for several days until I came upon a Photoshop plug in called Pattern Suppression 2.5, which does some Fourier transform operation and identifies repeating patterns.

It has both grayscale and color mode, but since I felt good about the minimal effort needed to remove the pattern from the color channels, I decided to concentrate on the luminosity portion. So I had to come up with a suitable candidate for the eventual L channel. I tried the operation on 3 candidates: the L channel, the magenta channel and the RGB composite desaturated with an adjustment layer. I tried both normal and aggressive suppression. 

Eventually I chose the desaturated RGB composite with normal suppression, and used that for the L channel.

In for a penny, in for a pound, so I took another two cents worth at the noise in ACR, using luminosity and color noise reduction globally. This was good for the girl’s hair and face to remove the purple and green noise. I then used an adjustment brush with some moire reduction and dehaze to remove some stubborn spots on the foreground shirt. 

After that I proceeded with a somewhat pedestrian attack at color and contrast with the PPW panel primarily false profile with multiply to set up mmm and color boost, and then sharpen 2018.

I returned to camera raw to add texture via adjustment to the hair (Or fur and feathers) of the main characters.

I tweaked the colors a bit toward blue At the end, although I had taken out a cyan cast initially in the color correction. 

I did some mild dodge and burn curve layers and set the endpoints to the highlight on the shirt of the man in the background, and a shadow point under the foreground blue jeans.

I was very satisfied with the trade offs to eliminate the moire. Once I knew it was there it was driving me nuts. I played around with different curve shapes to trade off weight vs. luminosity contrast. In this group of entrants I would say I was lighter than most in the highlights.

Tom Hurd

On Jun 29, 2020, at 9:16 PM, jwlimages via <jwlimages@...> wrote:

Wow! What a huge range of variation in these renderings: in overall color range, saturation, casts, etc., in sharpness, global and local contrast, whether & how folks dealt with those artifacts from the textured paper.


I was tearing my hair out trying to eliminate those white specs without ending up with a soft blurry mess - then I saw some folks just left the texture in place, and one seemed to exaggerate it - HaHa on me! Seriously I hope to learn something about reducing/removing that kind of noise while enhancing overall sharpness - I think #705 & 726 did pretty well with (looking at the the fur on the sloths). In trying to stamp out the noise in my own version, #715, I overshot & lost too much definition, turning the fur into blotchy shapes, e.g. The par version holds up much better, even though some of that texture pattern is still visible. (and it also has that weird color noise-looking effect in the light blue pants worn by the little girl on the left)


I look forward to hearing about people's choices in color treatment, since there is such a great range from warm to cool to desaturated to intensely vivid, light to gloomy dark (again, wow!). And #707 looks virtually re-lit by the vignetting - I guess that's a story-telling choice? Actually maybe that's part of what makes this one interesting, all the different renditions reflecting each person's imagining of the story.


Now I wonder if any of these were created strictly for blending purposes…

John Lund

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