Date   

Re: Seeking Clarification of Procedure for Averaging Images

Thomas Hurd,MD
 

John, 

Thanks for showing that maneuver. I hadn’t tried it before, but it worked very well!

Obviously, the having fun with the the stack modes was just a little too much fun when I tried them. Maximum and minimum are good tricks to have. Imexpected a bit more from standard deviation.

Tom Hurd




On Jul 8, 2020, at 6:24 AM, John Gillespie <john@...> wrote:

You can make an average version by loading the images into a stack (File->Scripts->Load Files Into Stack). Select browse then click the images you want.
Once loaded (which may take a while if you choose a lot of images) select all the layers and then select Layers->Smart Objects->Convert To Smart Object (there is an option to do this on the file selection dialog but it doesn't always seem to work). Then select Layers->Smart Objects->Stack Mode->Mean.
You can also have fun with the other stack modes.

The alternative is to load all the images individually then adjust the opacity for each item, which needs to be done in proportion 1/N where N is the position from the bottom of the stack. So for 3 images it is 100% then 50% then 33%. With more than 5 images this is tedious and increasingly inaccurate as the percentage must be a whole number. So the first version is better if you are happy with a strictly equal contribution from each image. The second method is easier if you want to experiment with different weights.


Re: Monument Valley: comments on individual versions

Thomas Hurd,MD
 

Sorry for the partial post.

I’ve already outed myself as the owner of 827. At Dan’s suggestion in his comments, I did try the multiply though blue mask, and it worked just fine, better than a hue saturation adjustment layer.

 I’m not surprised Dan wasn’t sure what I did, because I just reread my description, and I could hardly understand it myself.

 I will try once more, maybe simpler.

 I blended three versions: 

Monday one was a quick mmmcb only, default values.

The second was a bit more detailed, with BIGGER HAMMER action and H-K before the MMMCB.

 Having a satisfactory version safely in my pocket, I went for broke Sunday afternoon and evening. 

I did a few unusual moves (for me) on the third version. 

  • After initial correction of the purplish cast, I tried to kill the red by blending the green channel into the red in a duplicate channel. For this layer I then used color mode. This was a little over the top so I had to add a curve layer to decrease the green a little bit in the mid tones.
  • This was correct in color, but I wanted to get the color variation compressed even more so I could use mmm and CB to my heart’s content when the time came. 
  • Also, I wanted to eventually increase the contrast to the max because there was no sharpening allowed and I really wanted to demonstrate the contrast between the reddish colors of the butte and the blue/gray.
  • So I used H-K and skin desaturation (it’s magenta and yellow so why not?)
  • Then (because some days I like to make pig of myself) I used S/H from the PPW Panel 6x in a row. (What the heck, I know I’m blending this with other images)

 

At last my colors dulled down, my contrast overdone with S/H, I tried something new (for me) the MMM fine-tuned action that Gerald Bakker developed as a refinement to the regular PPW. For the selection I drew a rectangle around the face of the butte. After the MMM fine-tuned (for those who haven’t tried it, you can find it as an action in “my actions” in the PPW Panel download), I used the color boost 2018, again from the same action panel.

  • Within the group that’s comprises the MMM-CB, I used the inverted yellow channel (gaussian blurred) to mask the color boost moves.
  • I made a composite layer.
  • I duplicated it several times.
  • The first layer up from the composite I multiplied on itself. This multiplies the L and overlays the a and b. Better color intensity and contrast.
  • The next layer I overlaid the a and b on themselves. I used a gradient mask to hide this from the lower half.
  • I inserted a curves layer, with the a and b curves flat across zero so there was no color. I decreased the opacity to about 40%, and made a gradient layer to hide this desaturation from the face of the butte.
  • I took the last duplicate and blended the inverted a channel into the L channel. This made the greens slightly lighter and the butte slightly darker to stand out from the background clouds.

 

I took this mountain of layers and made a composite layer.

I took the three versions. and blended them with color and luminosity % to taste.

 

The upshot is I really took more steps than I needed, but eventually got the luminosity changes I wanted, and blended the week’s worth of layers together.

 

Tom Hurd

 

 

 

 

Thomas Hurd, MD




On Jul 9, 2020, at 10:29 AM, Thomas Hurd <tomhurd@...> wrote:

I’ve already outed myself as the owner of 827.
I’m not surprised Dan wasn’t sure what I did, because I just reread my description, and I could hardly understand it.
I blended three versions: 
one was a quick mmmcb only.
The second was a bit more detailed.
Having a satisfactory version safely in my pocket, I went for broke Sunday afternoon and evening. 
I did a few unusual moves (for me) on the third version. 
After initial correction of the purplish cast, I tried to kill the red by blending the green channel into the red in a duplicate channel. For this layer I then used color mode. This was a little over the top so I had to add a curve layer to decrease the green a little bit in the mid tones.
This was correct in color, but I wanted to get the color variation slammed so I could use mmm and CB to my heart’s content when the time came. 
Also, I wanted to eventually increase the contrast to the max because there was no sharpening allowed and I really wanted to demonstrate the contrast between the reddish colors of the butte and the blue/gray.
So I used H-K and skin desaturation (it’s magenta and yellow so why not?)
Then (because some days I like to make pig of myself) I used S/H from the PPW Panel 6x in a row. (What the heck, I know I’m blending this with other images)
At last my colors dulled down, my contrast overdone, I tried something new (for me) the MMM fine-tuned action that Gerald Bakker developed as a refinement to the regular PPW. For the selection I drew a rectangle around the face of the butte. After the MMM fine-tuned (for those who haven’t tried it, you can find it as an action in “my actions” in the PPW Panel download), I used the color boost 2018, again from the same action panel.
Within the group that’s comprises the MMM-CB, I used primarily 

Tom Hurd

On Jul 8, 2020, at 9:46 AM, John Gillespie <john@...> wrote:

Pleased to be selected for the par version (812). Even if quite arbitrary, I'll take it!
One odd thing about the original is the vantage point. At first glance, as the foreground and the butte are so similar in colour and darkness, it looks like we are are seeing a horizontal foreground from which the butte emerges. But the tree on the left indicates that it is in fact a vertical bank and that the photographer is standing in a ditch or dried river bed.
Perhaps the ground dips again and the photographer is using this angle to obscure distractions such as other people, or a road etc. in the space between the bank and the butte. Or perhaps it is just to create some foreground interest.
Entry 827 makes the geography of the scene very clear (to my mind). You get a real sense that moving up the bank would take a bit of effort, and that there is a distance between the top of the bank and the main rock.
It may not accurately depict the colour of the foreground, but it does I think accurately show the shape of it more than any other, although 822 does a good job as well.
Blending with it definitely improves my version (or degrades 827 depending on your point of view).

 


Re: Seeking Clarification of Procedure for Averaging Images

Dan Margulis
 



On Jul 9, 2020, at 6:23 AM, Gerald Bakker <gc.bakker@...> wrote:

I don't want to draw many conclusions from just one example, but I noticed something that may be typical. Zooming in to 100%, the "mean" version looks smoother, whereas the "median" shows a bit more color noise and is slightly more splotchy. I think the reason is that averaging pixel values has a smoothing effect. Taking the median however implies that one pixel may come from version A and a nearby pixel from version B, causing a more rough appearance. The more differences between the base versions, the stronger this effect. 

Correct. Median is generally more useful when comparing gross objects, not individual pixels. If, for example, we wanted to know our consensus view on how colorful to make Monument Valley, well I suppose it would be possible to write a routine that evaluates how colorful each individual version is. In determining our consensus we would want to pick the median, because the mean would be too colorful (there are  more extremely colorful versions than extremely dull ones).

On a pixel level the noise occurs in transition areas. For example, everyone had different ideas about how to transition into the shadows of the greenery, some people basically just plugged them and others had a lengthy transition zone. In that transition zone, every change in pixel value from its neighbor affects the mean. It may affect the median but it may not. So the transition in the mean is smooth and in the median not.

Dan



Re: Seeking Clarification of Procedure for Averaging Images

Gerald Bakker
 

On Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 12:01 AM, Rick Gordon wrote:
Based on the maxim that "the median is affected by outliers and skewed data than the mean, and is usually the preferred measure of central tendency when the distribution is not symmetrical" <https://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/a3121120.nsf/home/statistical+language+-+measures+of+central+tendency#:~:text=In%20a%20distribution%20with%20an,value%20is%20the%20middle%20value.&text=Advantage%20of%20the%20median%3A,the%20distribution%20is%20not%20symmetrical.>, that brings up an interesting note: as to whether doing this with Median as opposed to Mean would mitigate the damage of "one bad apple spoiling the apple cart."
That's an interesting thought for sure. I couldn't resist trying this out on one of the exercise images, the Panama photo, the only for which I had downloaded 5 versions. Well, the result surprised me, as the two procedures give quite different results. Different color ("mean" version somewhat more saturated) and different weight ("median" version a bit lighter).

I don't want to draw many conclusions from just one example, but I noticed something that may be typical. Zooming in to 100%, the "mean" version looks smoother, whereas the "median" shows a bit more color noise and is slightly more splotchy. I think the reason is that averaging pixel values has a smoothing effect. Taking the median however implies that one pixel may come from version A and a nearby pixel from version B, causing a more rough appearance. The more differences between the base versions, the stronger this effect.
--
Gerald Bakker
http://geraldbakker.nl


Re: Seeking Clarification of Procedure for Averaging Images

Rick Gordon
 

Based on the maxim that "the median is affected by outliers and skewed data than the mean, and is usually the preferred measure of central tendency when the distribution is not symmetrical" <https://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/a3121120.nsf/home/statistical+language+-+measures+of+central+tendency#:~:text=In%20a%20distribution%20with%20an,value%20is%20the%20middle%20value.&text=Advantage%20of%20the%20median%3A,the%20distribution%20is%20not%20symmetrical.>, that brings up an interesting note: as to whether doing this with Median as opposed to Mean would mitigate the damage of "one bad apple spoiling the apple cart."

Rick Gordon

--------------------
On July 8, 2020 at 2:54:31 PM [-0700], John Gillespie wrote in an email entitled "Re: [colortheory] Seeking Clarification of Procedure for Averaging Images":
Once loaded (which may take a while if you choose a lot of images) select all the layers and then select Layers->Smart Objects->Convert To Smart Object (there is an option to do this on the file selection dialog but it doesn't always seem to work). Then select Layers->Smart Objects->Stack Mode->Mean.
You can also have fun with the other stack modes.
___________________________________________
RICK GORDON
EMERALD VALLEY GRAPHICS AND CONSULTING
___________________________________________
WWW: http://www.shelterpub.com


Re: Monument Valley: Results

Rick Gordon
 

What I've done for the last couple of weeks is to download all of the entries and:
  • Load them each into a separate layer with File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack.

  • Usually I convert the file to Lab at that point, since I find that most of my adjustments tend to be in Lab, and if I need another color space for something, I can create a smart object to do it in.

  • Locate mine and group it alone into a layer group, so that I can then I can add adjustments clipped to my own image.

  • By option-clicking between the various entries, I can see what I like from them, and then try to improve my own image, without affecting the others, since all of my adjustments are within a clipping mask.
Doing these exercises, and then trying an improved version after viewing all of the others as been a revelation — often humbling — but once having seen what cues I missed, the fixes are often surprisingly trivial.

My entry this time was 802, which got a better review than the previous disaster, but was much more improved after going through this process.

Rick Gordon

--------------------
On July 8, 2020 at 11:40:45 AM [-0700], Gerald Bakker wrote in an email entitled "Re: [colortheory] Monument Valley: Results":
I always identify my own submission by comparing it with each entrant. Open a browser on one side of the monitor, a Photo viewer with my version (as on the local hard disk) on the other side and scroll through the list. Never any doubt which is mine. Only the carnival image was hard as the versions were so close to each other.
___________________________________________
RICK GORDON
EMERALD VALLEY GRAPHICS AND CONSULTING
___________________________________________
WWW: http://www.shelterpub.com


Re: Monument Valley: Results

Gerald Bakker
 
Edited

On Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 02:03 PM, Dan Margulis wrote:
No need to go to all that effort. Just open all the suspects. With your own known original file active, simply Image: Apply Image one of the others, but don’t click OK—the preview will show instantaneously whether or not the images are identical, no need for Difference mode. If the first suspect isn’t a match, then change the dialog to the second, etc.
 
I always identify my own submission by comparing it side-by-side with each entrant. Open a browser on one side of the monitor, a Photo viewer with my version (as on the local hard disk) on the other side and scroll through the list. Never any doubt which is mine. Only the carnival image was hard as the versions were so close to each other.
--
Gerald Bakker
http://geraldbakker.nl


Re: Monument Valley: comments on individual versions

John Gillespie
 

Pleased to be selected for the par version (812). Even if quite arbitrary, I'll take it!
One odd thing about the original is the vantage point. At first glance, as the foreground and the butte are so similar in colour and darkness, it looks like we are are seeing a horizontal foreground from which the butte emerges. But the tree on the left indicates that it is in fact a vertical bank and that the photographer is standing in a ditch or dried river bed.
Perhaps the ground dips again and the photographer is using this angle to obscure distractions such as other people, or a road etc. in the space between the bank and the butte. Or perhaps it is just to create some foreground interest.
Entry 827 makes the geography of the scene very clear (to my mind). You get a real sense that moving up the bank would take a bit of effort, and that there is a distance between the top of the bank and the main rock.
It may not accurately depict the colour of the foreground, but it does I think accurately show the shape of it more than any other, although 822 does a good job as well.
Blending with it definitely improves my version (or degrades 827 depending on your point of view).

 


Re: Monument Valley: Results

Dan Margulis
 



On Jul 7, 2020, at 12:05 PM, Robert Wheeler <bwheeler350@...> wrote:

Rex, I got caught with the same problem early on. Dan does shorten the submitted file name, but leaves some of what was submitted in place. When submitting, you can shorten the file name and add a personal identifier earlier in the string if you like.

Good suggestion. I am real happy with the current situation where names are not revealed unless the individual decides to fess up publicly. So, I delete any part of the name that would serve to identify the source. Many members identify their files with their initials, which I delete. But something non-specific, like v5, or for that matter xxx, normally stays.

In my case, I ended up looking at the entries to narrow down the list of ones that could be mine, then opened mine in Photoshop, and added the candidates in a layer set to difference mode. The pair that ends up pure black (no difference) identified my entry. Tedious, but effective.

No need to go to all that effort. Just open all the suspects. With your own known original file active, simply Image: Apply Image one of the others, but don’t click OK—the preview will show instantaneously whether or not the images are identical, no need for Difference mode. If the first suspect isn’t a match, then change the dialog to the second, etc.

Dan


Re: Seeking Clarification of Procedure for Averaging Images

Dan Margulis
 



On Jul 8, 2020, at 6:24 AM, John Gillespie <john@...> wrote:

The alternative is to load all the images individually then adjust the opacity for each item, which needs to be done in proportion 1/N where N is the position from the bottom of the stack. So for 3 images it is 100% then 50% then 33%. With more than 5 images this is tedious and increasingly inaccurate as the percentage must be a whole number. So the first version is better if you are happy with a strictly equal contribution from each image. The second method is easier if you want to experiment with different weights.
_._,_._,_
This is how I make the par versions, a stack of five layers with the top four at opacities of 20, 25, 33, and 50. I use this approach for flexibility. I make the tentative par version a day ahead of time based on what I think then are the five best versions, and then if better ones come in at the deadline it’s easy to substitute the appropriate layer(s).

Dan


Monument Valley: comments on individual versions

Dan Margulis
 

Here are my comments on the individual versions of this exercise, with some discussion of the techniques used. I start off by saying there are at least a dozen excellent versions here so that my choices for which ones made par are quite arbitrary,

Dan Margulis

801 This is the averaged version of the five MIT retouchers. The sky came out well, but without an adequate means of creating variation in the foreground the result is boring. So is #826, which is the one I judged the best of the five.

802 This excellent version shows off the PPW advantage in this type of image; just compare it to #801. This person did some mild adjustments in ACR, but he then wheeled out H-K and MMM, being properly conservative with his color boosting. He also made a CMYK copy to steal a black channel for blending. As a reminder, that can be done automatically by option-clicking H-K in the panel. All these things, plus a luminosity blend with the green channel, created great definition in the butte.

Also, note that he could have created a whole lot more definition in the clouds at the top of the sky, but chose not to. I think that was the right decision. No point in creating a diversion from the main attraction.

803 Chosen for the “conservative par” version. Granted the lighter foreground, it makes sense for this version to have a more detailed and darker sky than #802 does. Robert Wheeler created a separate contrast version outside of Photoshop, which accounts for decent detailing, but did not use MMM. His full description is posted in the main thread.

804 Chosen for the par version. The coloring is extravagant but I’m not going to criticize it in view of what a cliché the image is. His steps are basically the same as #802, just done with a heavier hand, note how much yellower the near foreground is than the butte itself.

805 As #804 is to #802 this one is to #803: same basic concept but more intense coloring. This one could have benefitted from H-K to create some more neutral areas. Also, the person describes a complex series of six versions, each with their own problems and strong points, which he then blended to create his final. And with all that effort, taking the second or two to try out Auto Tone at the end would have made a nice difference.

806 Here’s a straightforward assignment of contrast without much color variation. In both this one and #805 the upper right blue sky is very different from what’s at lower left, which I find distracting.

807 I did this one in 2017, limiting myself to three minutes. As with all the MIT images in this category (deserts, canyons, etc.) PPW showed a huge advantage. Here, for example, my competition was #801. I hope you will agree that #807 is decisively better, which is how I rated it.

808 The individual did not state a workflow but the end result is a flat image. Also, the lightest clouds are blue, not white. Just try Auto Tone at the end and it makes a major improvement in both color and tonality.

809 Chosen for the “conservative par” version. Very pretty. Attractive sky due to whiteness of the clouds. Although the clouds are detailed he is careful to avoid giving them enough punch to compete with the foreground. He adopted a sensible strategy for this image. First, he made a version entirely in Capture One. Then he started over and went crazy with PPW. There was no harm in doing this because he had a much tamer version available for blending. In fact, there’s often a lot of good in looking at something overly colorful, it helps us understand what the danger areas are. After blending the two, he did some manual adjustments, such as painting in the yellow flowers.

810 Chosen for the par version. Gerald Bakker is not a big fan of some of the more spectacular renditions of this scene and was looking for something more conservative. His approach was basically PPW, but his first pass struck him as too contrasty in the butte, so he made a second pass with the intent to blend.

Now we turn to artistic intent because Gerald made a couple of decisions that others specifically reversed. First, he decided near the end of his process that his greens were unnaturally saturated, and he toned them down. This disagrees with some who said they made them more intense, thinking that it would complement the reds of the landscape. Second, he applied his MMM Finetuned action to the sky. It produced a very soft and interesting effect. Several people, however, tried to avoid this as being too distracting from the butte. I had this experience myself in my #824; I originally put in a sky similar to Gerald’s and then decided it had to be toned down.

Since this came right after #809, which is also somewhat conservative, a comparison seems inevitable. #809 avoids the complex sky, and makes the clouds very white. It also is slightly more of a golden color. The greens are lighter and more saturated, especially in the yellow flowers.

I therefore rate #809 better for color and would describe its look as warmer and friendlier. #810, however, looks more realistic while retaining interesting variation. So in choosing for the original par version I threw up my hands and took #810.

Not before, however, attempting a blend. It seems logical that if #809’s color is better then blending it into #810 in Color mode would make an improvement. It does not. These two versions are integrated enough that neither can accept either the color or luminosity of the other without damaging the concept.

The way to get the best of both: blend #809 into #810 in Darker Color mode. This preserves Gerald’s sky and subdued greenery, while adding nice accents to the butte. I think that would be my favorite entrant, if it existed.

811 Another very nice version, notable for its treatment of the yellow flowers in the greenery. It is hard to say how this was accomplished, since the person was working mainly in Photoline, not Photoshop. Like several others, he treated the sky completely different from the rest of the image. He also selected the butte itself for special attention, moving it toward a rust color and adding contrast. So as I understand it he did not use MMM or equivalent, but tried to get a similar effect via selections and maskings. To me, the result is a little busy, with the greenery, the yellowish foreground, the butte itself, and the very active sky all competing for attention. But who’s to say this isn’t right?

812 Chosen for the par version. The person writes, “Right now the image looks colorful and well saturated, it will be interesting to see if I still believe that after seeing the other entries.” I have to agree that it is. The impression is very powerful and it seems like the saturation is much more than #810. In fact, they are about the same. The big difference is the overall weight. That this one is heavier also makes it seem more powerful colorfully. It only gets away with this by strong doses of MMM and H-K, otherwise it would become a fireball like ##805, 813, 821 and others.

813 Extremely red, not helped by the fact that the background clouds are quite blue.

814 The color is correct and the sky is nice, but the lack of variation in the foreground stands out. 

815 A complicated series of blends led up to what was apparently an overdose of Davide Barranca’s ALCE plugin which, being a form of sharpening, should probably not be permitted here but hasn’t specifically been banned. But it can give us an important reminder about sharpening practice.

In #814 we just saw an ultra-conservative counterpart to this violent version. Blending the two can be instructive but would generally be a matter of taste. Here’s one that isn’t a matter of taste IMHO: #815 suffers from the equivalent of light haloing, which damages some of the color. Generally light halos are worse than dark ones. Blend #814 in at 40%, Darken mode, and these halos are much improved. (Since #815 is basically a darker version than #814 except in the halos, this blend mode works well to target them.

816 In principle this is an adequate conservative treatment with many of the features that characterize the best results. It ought, therefore, to be directly comparable to Gerald Bakker's #810, which also answers that description. Unfortunately, #810 is clearly better. A casual observer might say it is because #810’s sky is much more interesting without being a distraction.

The real reason, though, harks back to the village in Cinque Terre. Everybody will find a highlight in the clouds and has a choice of shadow areas, so everybody will have approximately the same overall tonal range (particularly those who take my advice and check with Auto Tone after “completing” their correction).

But when one object or area dominates the scene, as the village did in Cinque Terre and the butte does in this image, then the question is how much range is assigned to that. To find out, I measured a large relatively light rock near the bottom of the butte and a shadowy area at its top right. In #816 the range is 65L-12L, 53 points total range, whereas in #810 it’s 76L-9L for 67L total range.

This is why #810 is the better of the two versions. And the “conservative par” version, of which #810 is not a parent, has almost identical values: 76L-8L.

817 Chosen for the “conservative par” version. This is the yellowest of our serious contestants. The technique is straight PPW starting with the flat version, including H-K, and the Lesser Hammer action aimed specifically at the sky.  The person stresses, “I believe that this exercise shows and confirms (as if we needed confirmation) the importance of an accurate correction of color before any other steps. I have tried this one with several curves and the result varies greatly even with small variations in the color curve.”

818 A reasonable non-PPW version. Why no PPW? Because this guy is using Photoshop CS3, which is indeed a capable program.

819 The foreground is reasonable PPW, no H-K, but a luminosity blend from the blue to the red. The person was concentrating so much on the foreground, which came out well, that he left the darker clouds much too blue. Clouds do get bluer as they get darker, but not so much as that. 

To see how important this is, grab a copy of #817, which has nice white clouds, and paste it as a layer on top of #819. Add as a layer mask the blue channel from the bottom layer. As this mask is quite dark, basically it substitutes one sky for the other while not changing much in the foreground.

820 Flat and washed out compared to most others. The clouds were not used as a white point as they should have been. By placing a white point in the lightest clouds and then darkening the midtone overall the version becomes much more acceptable.

821 Chosen for the par version. John Lund writes, “ I  found this image a simpler challenge than even the Cinque Terre, much less the other ones, mainly because it’s a decent capture of a straightforward landscape with pretty simple lighting. So no need for heroic measures to extract something usable.” He states he is familiar with the colors of the area from trips to Utah, which has similar lanscaping, but was not intending realism. Instead, he used Lightroom to enhance the colors of everything; the oranges, the sky, and the greenery. He then moved into LAB and added MMM+CB, saying “I liked the overall ‘hyper-saturated’ look. Nevertheless, he came back the next day and added an H-K layer, Luminosity mode, to get more tonal contrast in the butte. I don’t understand why he wouldn’t have also used H-K to subdue some of the more neutral areas and make the overall color less oppressive. But, it is what it is. Unsurprisingly, John vindicated my earlier prediction when he announced in the main thread that he prefers the main par version to the “conservative par”, putting him at odds with others. But, as his private comments make clear, “The final may be a bit over-cooked, but that’s how I experience those wonderful Utah landscapes, so maybe I can get away with this under the rubric of ‘pleasing color.’”

822 This person describes the image as one trap after another and says he eventually decided that less is more. It’s a reasonable conservative effort.

823 Chosen for the “conservative par” version.  This very nice rendition has the rosiest butte, and is thus the counterpart of #817, the yellowest one. This guy did much of his contrast-enhancing work in CMYK. And why not? It’s not like there are any brilliant colors that are out of the CMYK gamut. And so he got better handing of shadows than many did by paying special attention to the black channel. He also added a golden tone to the highlights and used an unspecified channel mask to prevent it transitioning into the butte.

824 Chosen for the “conservative par” version.  It’s mine, and features H-K, MMM+CB, and the Darken Sky action. A couple of days after doing it I reopened it and decided that the effort I had put in trying to make the sky fascinating (including Bigger Hammer) had been counterproductive, so I drastically lightened the upper clouds and am glad I did.  Interesting to compare it with #807, the one I did in 2017. Looks like my sky was too heavy-handed there.

825 Interesting that this one comes right after the discussion of the sky in #824, because this person had the same idea, Bigger Hammer plus Darken Sky actions to make something interesting happen in the sky. It is similar in conception to #824 anyway, if I had to choose one I’d pick #824 because of superior contrast in the butte (see the discussion of #816 being compared to #810), however this #825 has slightly better color in the clouds and the greenery. So, if you put #824 on top of #825 in Luminosity mode, I prefer the result to either parent.

826 This was the best individual result from the five MIT retouchers. It can speak for itself.

827 An outlier, a version that isn’t similar to any other. It takes the philosophy of #814 that the sky should be lightened a bit farther. Here, the clouds are suppressed to much that the butte seems almost to be silhouetted. This person identifies the shot as being a winter scene based on what seems to be frost in the foreground. He describes an exceedingly complex workflow that I don’t fully comprehend. I think I underrated the unusual result, because it is most like #823 but in comparing the two directly I prefer this one as being more realistic. I do think it has too much unused real estate in the midtones, so I would multiply it through a blurred layer mask based on the blue channel of the multiplied layer. 

828 Lee Varis has declared that he has become less of an LAB aficionado than in his youth and now prefers something like this version, as opposed to a fireball like #830, which he says he would have shot for after being introduced to LAB. I’m here to tell you that tastes do change over time but that certain concepts do not, including the idea of using full range every time. A hit of Auto Tone makes this a better version.

829 Another reasonable PPW effort making use of MMM, H-K, and channel blending. As this is a comparatively dark treatment, the greenery began to close up, so this person made the sensible choice of using Channel Mixer to lighten the green channel within the greenery.

830 Chosen for the par version. Like John Lund in #821, the person is familiar with the actual colors of the scene, but preferred what he called this “eye candy” version. He spent a lot of time experimenting with various method and blending them into his final; it included two separate hits of H-K to try to prevent the color becoming totally ridiculous. Some would find the final result over the top but I rather like it.

831 The par version, which I subsequently said unduly favored some violent versions like #830.

832 The “conservative par” version, not included in the original .zip file, based on five other versions that I identified as being good, but not spectacularly colorful in the sense that #830 is.







Re: Seeking Clarification of Procedure for Averaging Images

John Gillespie
 

Interestingly to make sure I set out the steps correctly I ran through it quickly with with a random selection of entries from the Monument Valley exercise and the result was a really nice image with good colour and contrast. 


Re: Seeking Clarification of Procedure for Averaging Images

John Gillespie
 

You can make an average version by loading the images into a stack (File->Scripts->Load Files Into Stack). Select browse then click the images you want.
Once loaded (which may take a while if you choose a lot of images) select all the layers and then select Layers->Smart Objects->Convert To Smart Object (there is an option to do this on the file selection dialog but it doesn't always seem to work). Then select Layers->Smart Objects->Stack Mode->Mean.
You can also have fun with the other stack modes.

The alternative is to load all the images individually then adjust the opacity for each item, which needs to be done in proportion 1/N where N is the position from the bottom of the stack. So for 3 images it is 100% then 50% then 33%. With more than 5 images this is tedious and increasingly inaccurate as the percentage must be a whole number. So the first version is better if you are happy with a strictly equal contribution from each image. The second method is easier if you want to experiment with different weights.


Seeking Clarification of Procedure for Averaging Images

Rick Gordon
 

Dan,

So far, I haven't found a clear breakdown of how you layer your images to create a par result — in such a way that the result is not affected by the order of layering or which image is at the bottom of the stack. I've searched around, but am not finding a clear explanation of the procedure.

Also, a second question: How are you building the flat versions of your images?

It seems as though this should be simple, but my experiments are not giving me exactly the results that I'd expect.

Thanks.

___________________________________________
RICK GORDON
EMERALD VALLEY GRAPHICS AND CONSULTING
___________________________________________
WWW: http://www.shelterpub.com


Re: Monument Valley: Results

jwlimages@...
 

On Tue, Jul 7, 2020 at 12:34 PM, bill_iverson_washington wrote:
It's obviously a matter of taste how much to exaggerate colors (most of us tend to remember landscapes as having more intense colors than they actually did) and how much to separate colors to add drama.  I'm less certain about changing colors as a matter of taste or convenience.
Agreed! I decided that for my entry I would allow some exaggeration of the color - I have shot a fair bit around southern Utah, and am used to seeing things in early morning or late afternoon light, so I rendered the color more like what I remember. Yes this was shot probably mid-day, sun high overhead - color should be much more "brownish" & contrast much flatter - but what's the fun in that?  ;-) I assume you are correct about the rabbitbrush plants as well, but I found that a bit of hue change made the reddish-browns appear even more vivid - maybe I took too much license there?

Looking through the group there are a lot of successful entries, with color ranging from probably faithful to fairly extreme like mine. A couple things I don't understand though - seems like many of these have skies that seem way too cyan-blue, lots of negative a* values even in areas that should be neutral-to-pinkish (slightly). It does make the brown of the dirt seem warmer, but doesn't look believable to me. And #830, mentioned above has a huge edge-darkening effect on the butte, which to my eye looks wildly unreal. A few others seem to have rendered the foreground lighter than the butte itself, which, again might be sort of realistic (from the high angle of the sun), but seems like a strange way to present a photo of the butte.

I think I prefer the original par image (no surprise there!) over the the "conservative" par one. Oh yeah, my entry is #821.

John Lund


Re: Monument Valley: Results

Thomas Hurd,MD
 

**not the zip file

On Jul 7, 2020, at 3:34 PM, bill_iverson_washington <bill@...> wrote:

It's obviously a matter of taste how much to exaggerate colors (most of us tend to remember landscapes as having more intense colors than they actually did) and how much to separate colors to add drama.  I'm less certain about changing colors as a matter of taste or convenience.  The rabbitbrush plants that dominate this scene are a yellowish-green, not a dark bluish green (Google images of them).  Based on memory and several hundred images taken here in late August 2008, Monument Valley mesas and soil are not red; the a and b values tend to be about the same, with the b's slightly higher in probably the majority of cases.  I'm certainly not suggesting that those with redder mesas and soil, or bluish-green plants have sinned; this is also ultimately a matter of taste, I guess.  I'm also surprised that more people haven't commented on the sky.  This is not the most dramatic scene in Mounument Valley; some cloud definition helps the scene, but I found it mildly effortful (is that a word?) to work definition into the clouds while keeping the overall cloud feel very bright and light.  The sky itself should be a believable blue, but probably not an overly deep blue since this is a desert  at something close to midday.   In my submission, 825, I may have yielded to temptation in making the sky a bit too intense a blue.  Overall, I liked 802, 803, 807, 808, 809, 810, 811 (kudos for the only rabbitbrush plants with good yellow flowers), 824 and 825.  I found the par version of 831 I downloaded today too intense, but I'm not certain whether its the original or the conservative.


Re: Monument Valley: Results

Thomas Hurd,MD
 

831 is the original. 832 is in photos (not the zoo file) and is the conservative version.

Tom

On Jul 7, 2020, at 3:34 PM, bill_iverson_washington <bill@...> wrote:

It's obviously a matter of taste how much to exaggerate colors (most of us tend to remember landscapes as having more intense colors than they actually did) and how much to separate colors to add drama.  I'm less certain about changing colors as a matter of taste or convenience.  The rabbitbrush plants that dominate this scene are a yellowish-green, not a dark bluish green (Google images of them).  Based on memory and several hundred images taken here in late August 2008, Monument Valley mesas and soil are not red; the a and b values tend to be about the same, with the b's slightly higher in probably the majority of cases.  I'm certainly not suggesting that those with redder mesas and soil, or bluish-green plants have sinned; this is also ultimately a matter of taste, I guess.  I'm also surprised that more people haven't commented on the sky.  This is not the most dramatic scene in Mounument Valley; some cloud definition helps the scene, but I found it mildly effortful (is that a word?) to work definition into the clouds while keeping the overall cloud feel very bright and light.  The sky itself should be a believable blue, but probably not an overly deep blue since this is a desert  at something close to midday.   In my submission, 825, I may have yielded to temptation in making the sky a bit too intense a blue.  Overall, I liked 802, 803, 807, 808, 809, 810, 811 (kudos for the only rabbitbrush plants with good yellow flowers), 824 and 825.  I found the par version of 831 I downloaded today too intense, but I'm not certain whether its the original or the conservative.


Re: Monument Valley: Results

bill_iverson_washington
 

It's obviously a matter of taste how much to exaggerate colors (most of us tend to remember landscapes as having more intense colors than they actually did) and how much to separate colors to add drama.  I'm less certain about changing colors as a matter of taste or convenience.  The rabbitbrush plants that dominate this scene are a yellowish-green, not a dark bluish green (Google images of them).  Based on memory and several hundred images taken here in late August 2008, Monument Valley mesas and soil are not red; the a and b values tend to be about the same, with the b's slightly higher in probably the majority of cases.  I'm certainly not suggesting that those with redder mesas and soil, or bluish-green plants have sinned; this is also ultimately a matter of taste, I guess.  I'm also surprised that more people haven't commented on the sky.  This is not the most dramatic scene in Mounument Valley; some cloud definition helps the scene, but I found it mildly effortful (is that a word?) to work definition into the clouds while keeping the overall cloud feel very bright and light.  The sky itself should be a believable blue, but probably not an overly deep blue since this is a desert  at something close to midday.   In my submission, 825, I may have yielded to temptation in making the sky a bit too intense a blue.  Overall, I liked 802, 803, 807, 808, 809, 810, 811 (kudos for the only rabbitbrush plants with good yellow flowers), 824 and 825.  I found the par version of 831 I downloaded today too intense, but I'm not certain whether its the original or the conservative.


Re: Monument Valley: Results

Thomas Hurd,MD
 

My entry was 827, and it was my personal favorite for eight hours. From midnight until 8 AM when I saw everyone else’s color.
I still learned a lot about scratching out contrast, especially in the absence of sharpening.
And although it appears very desaturated, if I place any of the more colorful versions and either blend them in color mode, or mine on theirs in luminosity it gets to be a pretty good image.
I had these objectives:
1. Bring out variation in the color of the butte face, so that the relative blueness of it was apparent.
2. Create contrast with the foreground and the sky.
3. Tone down the color in the foreground.
I tried to make the butte stand out more by making it overall darker than the sky and foreground. I blended the A channel onto the L channel in overlay mode. I got the result I wanted at the time, but I think I missed a chance for better contrast by not darkening the sky more.
I tried to tone down the greenery in front as well.
In the end, my submission needed better and more saturated color with the contrast.
A recurrent challenge I have is zeroing in on the appropriate color of the image. I knew the soil and rocks were reddish orange, but how far to take them down from there?
I enjoyed many of the entries: 
830 is a good blend of color, contrast and drama.  
828 and 829 are both enjoyable but are almost inverses if each other with 29’s contrast using a dark faced butte and 28 a lighter face. If you overlay either on the other at 50% the result seems identical.
824, 825 and 826 also excellent PPW versions
821 stands out with the spotlight effect on the butte.
817 and 818 are both good, but I like the sky in 817 better.
810, 811, and 812 are similar good colors with seemingly increasing saturation. But I think in 811 the yellow flowers drive the butte face more blue in my mind.
Like Gerald, I admired 811. I’d like to know the technique for bringing out that yellow. 
802-809 all seem to vary by taste without any glaring problem.
Both par versions are excellent to me and I favor the conservative version.
Thanks to all for sharing their images and their technique.

Tom Hurd

On Jul 7, 2020, at 2:18 PM, James Gray <James@...> wrote:


I am not so much afraid of telling which is mine.  I was wondering if anyone would praise it or pan it before I revealed which is mine.  It is interesting that those commenting have mentioned many they liked and some they disliked, but not mine.  My result was heavily influenced by my own photographs in Monument Valley as well as many other photos from Monument Valley taken by friends who were mostly shooting closer to sunrise or sunset.  I do tend to agree with Gerald that colorfulness, luminance contrast, and color variation may largely be a matter of taste.  However, I find the original too flat.  This may give it away, but I think color and luminance contrast would be the key to a good score in the competitions I enter often.

James Gray 

On Mon, Jul 6, 2020 at 2:02 PM Gerald Bakker <gc.bakker@...> wrote:
This exercise is similar to the Cinque Terre image as it may again evoke discussions about "how colorful (or how contrasty) should it be".  I myself find the par version too much of both, but this is likely a matter of taste.

I found one of the crucial aspects of the successful versions a good color distinction between the foreground soil (orange) and the background rocks (red). Versions 811, 823 and 829 have this.
Another thing to consider is what to do with the harsh sun/shadow contrast. Should we keep/emphasize it or soften it to bring some detail back in the dark shadows? I prefer the latter, but after all there are not many shadow areas in the image, so the choice could be to keep them very dark and gain a bit of overall contrast.

Like James, I like my own version, but I am not afraid to tell which one it is: 810.
--
Gerald Bakker
http://geraldbakker.nl


Re: Monument Valley: Results

Gerald Bakker
 

On Tue, Jul 7, 2020 at 06:34 PM, Dan Margulis wrote:
This brings up the issue of the par version. With maybe fifteen really good possibilities, choosing only five is a hassle. And, I think, I was biased in favor of the most spectacular, so, yes, I chose #830 as one and a couple of others that were in the same ballpark. Consequently, the par version is rather loud.
 
So this morning I looked at the field again, and chose five different images to make a par from, but this time limiting myself to what I consider conservative treatments, my own included. So, that’s the “conservative par”. Personally I would split the difference between the two pars, but it certainly is to be expected that some people will prefer one version outright.
 
I definitely prefer the "conservative par" over the other one. I had the same idea to come up with an alternative par, constructed from my own 5 favorites. It would have been close to this one.
This new par happens to be rather close to my own version too (810). My rocks are less colorful but more pinkish, my sky is worse but my clouds are better.

Only now I notice that I completely missed the yellow flowers. These are worth emphasizing to give a nice touch to the dullish greens. One of the things that makes #811 so attractive.
--
Gerald Bakker
http://geraldbakker.nl

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