Bellagio at Night: Results #case-study-results


Dan Margulis
 

I’ve posted the results of the Bellagio exercise, the fifth in a series of 11 case studies.
 
Reviewing: This image was part of the MIT study. We are not given guidance as to what is wanted.
 
We have 35 entries. 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 #501 to #535. As with past studies, we also have a “par” version, #536. To get it, I chose five that I thought were among the 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.
 
Normally I don't comment on results for two days after they're posted. 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's Photos section, Case Study 2021: Bellagio at Night, 
https://groups.io/g/colortheory/album?id=261018
 
I also have zipped all 36 entries and uploaded a 68 mb file to our Files section,
https://groups.io/g/colortheory/files/
Search for 030121_Bellagio_entries.zip
If you are going to study these versions I strongly encourage you to download these files. Many of these entrants vary only in a minor way and it is hard to see the impact of a change without toggling back and forth between them.
 
I look forward to your comments.
 
Dan Margulis
 
P.S. Our next case study will be announced today, look for a separate post.


sj_90000@...
 

Hi all,
 
First impression: I can't imagine a fountain that sprays pee colored liquid is ever going to look inviting. Unfortunately a large number of entries had this interpretation.
 
Steve


Bill Theis
 

mine is 524

The fountains at the Bellagio are numerous, impressive in their height and patterns, and colorfully lit from below with lights.  Since I couldn't make bigger or more fountains, I went for color.  After all this is Vegas, baby.  This involved a mask and I added a second MMM+CB and went extreme with the settings.  So the colors that were there, were there. No painting in anything. However, the color looked posterized like it does in 505 so I did a blur of both A and B channels to distribute it using a radial blur at 90.  If you are going to photograph one small fountain out of many at a point when it is not tall and powerful, go for color.  Artistic choice.  Replacing the color on the par version with my color looks pretty good (and maybe 50% of my luminosity?)  IMHO

I also went with something I heard someone say that "when everything is colorful, nothing is colorful" so I intentionally didn't go overboard with the building behind the fountains or the sky.  In fact I removed all the purple at the lower part of the building so as not to distract from the fountain as well as keeping the entire background a bit dark

comparing mine to the other entries, I took the fountain color way over the top (the most colorful of any fountain) because, hey, it's Vegas and that's one of the things that impressed me about Bellagio's fountains.  others that went this way were 528 (which looks like the colors may have been painted it-they were not the actual residual colors) as well as 501 523, 529, 531 so I am not alone in the approach.  Colorless water is for waterfalls, not Vegas.


john c.
 

I didn't enter this time, but I have to say that the one that really appeals to me is 528. The par version is a close second. I agree with Steve that any version that had dirty looking yellow or greenish water was displeasing. I do want to see a lot of blue in the sky and it all has to look rich and colorful, fun and exciting as possible to be appealing for Vegas clientele. i think 528 does all that without going overboard.


Gerald Bakker
 

Mine is 534. Unfortunately, it belongs to the worst entries. I spent a lot of time getting the fountain right, hesitating between white (as water is supposed to be), yellow (simulating some artificial illumination) and anything inbetween, while trying my best to make it look as much sparkling as I could. I forgot to pay attention to the rest of the image. Both the hotel and the sky are full of artifacts. The hotel has a dull color. Add to this the fact that I completely forgot to sharpen...

My favorites are 503, 516, 530 and, as usual, the par. I don't like the very colorful fountains like in versions 524 and 528, but this may be a matter of taste.
--
Gerald Bakker
https://geraldbakker.nl


Edward Bateman
 

Hello all-

The aspect of this image that I puzzled over the most was the cyan around the base of the fountains... it made me wonder whether the fountain were illuminated by colored light... possibly because color in the bright fountains was beyond the camera's ability to capture due to exposure? I did try more color in the fountains, but rejected that because the larger reflection in the water didn't show a strong color bias and went with a more neutral color edging towards the warm.

Always something to lear, re-learn and puzzle over on these. Doing well always feels like an accomplishment. And as someone who teaches and gives critiques, it is a rare treat to get a meaningful critique from a master.
THANKS!!!

Mine was 516.

-Edward Bateman



Quoting Gerald Bakker <gc.bakker@hccnet.nl>:

Mine is 534. Unfortunately, it belongs to the worst entries. I spent a lot of time getting the fountain right, hesitating between white (as water is supposed to be), yellow (simulating some artificial illumination) and anything inbetween, while trying my best to make it look as much sparkling as I could. I forgot to pay attention to the rest of the image. Both the hotel and the sky are full of artifacts. The hotel has a dull color. Add to this the fact that I completely forgot to sharpen...

My favorites are 503, 516, 530 and, as usual, the par. I don't like the very colorful fountains like in versions 524 and 528, but this may be a matter of taste.
--
Gerald Bakker
https://geraldbakker.nl



Frederick Yocum
 

Mine was 513.   This the first time I saw the par as hands down the best of the bunch.  Though, I was also surprised at how many variations to which I responded positively in isolation from others. There was a lot of room for interpretation.
regards,

Frederick Yocum
frederick@...


Gerald Bakker
 

On Mon, Mar 1, 2021 at 10:19 PM, Edward Bateman wrote:
Always something to lear, re-learn and puzzle over on these. Doing well always feels like an accomplishment. And as someone who teaches and gives critiques, it is a rare treat to get a meaningful critique from a master.
Now that I revisit some of the entries, I realize what made this exercise so difficult. The two important parts of the image (fountain and hotel) require a completely opposite strategy.

  • For the fountain, fine detail is absolutely essential. The more definition of water spray, the better, up to the point where individual drops become visible. Color doesn't matter.
  • The hotel however needs a shiny appearance. No fine detail at all, but rich color is required to give it a glamorous Las Vegas look. 
The entry that really stands out for me, for exactly the above reasons, is #530.
I don't think the handling of the sky is that important.
--
Gerald Bakker
https://geraldbakker.nl


Paco
 

Hi! Mine is 528.

williamtheis is correct in saying that I painted the colors in the fountain but is not correct if the assumption is that the colors were not there to start with. The colors in the water come from what's behind the fountain. The way I found them is by making a variant where I pushed the H/S to 100%. Then I painted them in. The explanation follows.

Processed in C1 where tried to pull the most detail out of the water and shadows but keeping things on the flat side to work on those further in PS.

 

Through a mask from the R channel, worked overall on the sky and then used that same mask but inverted to work on the overall colors in façade of the hotel. Flattened.

 

On 2 Dodge and Burn layers, enhanced the different densities in the water spray dodging highlights and burning the grey in between. In one of them only enhanced the topmost spray and droplets and the thin highlights then I could control those separately from the other D/B layer. Proceeded to make the letters in the name more readable by painting on them with a yellowish black sampled in the area.

 

With curves and through same masks from the R channel, darkened the sky colors and highlights in Color and Normal modes. On an inverted copy of those masks accentuated the colors in the façade in a Y to M gradation which was manually applied.

 

From the Mantillas exercise I learned that making extreme color and contrast versions a lot of that excess can be applied to another image and, by blending, a better result could be achieved. Personally I have come up with the workflow that on the extreme versions (be they made with a pixel layer of correction layer) I can mask completely to K and then slowly and with a low Flow and a soft Brush, paint those into other layers. If I make a mistake just paint back with W.

 

That's how I found all those colors in the fountain. If I hadn't pushed the Saturation to the extremes I would have missed them completely. So on that H/S layer I masked with B and with W painted in the colors where I wanted them and at different intensities.

 

The lightness and color of the foreground water also had to change and that was done on separate masked H/S and Curves layers.

 

Flattened, duplicated and to that applied sharpening which blended at 50%

 

If you use are planning on using C1 as your RAW processor Dan came up with a solution to it opening only as a DNG file. Make a new document with the exact same dimensions and resolution, and to it paste a copy of the JPEG made with the results of the C1 processing.

 

All the best!

 

Paco


Harvey Nagai
 

Welp.

Excerpts of my notes which I sent to Dan:

    "I'm sure someone will think I made the world's most spectacular urinal"

    "I watched the Andrea Bocelli yootoob, and it changed my mind a little about
    plain old white fountains"

So I sent Dan two versions, yellow and white, and asked that he pick one for my entry.

Evidently I like urinals more than Dan.

Hence 526.

While I was watching that yootoob, I was thinking that I had seen the colors before.  They were
what I got from completely neutralizing the sprays for blending down too-colorful verions.
Not very realistic, they should be tainted by colored illumination from elsewhere, but the colors
of the hotel and lake were close to what could be seen at times in the video.

I put a lot of thought into the colors of my urinal and absolutely none into the white fountains,
but if they were good enough for that spectacular Bocelli performance, and Dan thought them better,
who am I to argue?


Christophe Potworowski
 

Mine is 535. I’ve never been to Las Vegas, or their urinals, but I get the point: too yellow. I had separated the sky and the foreground as separate work areas through masks, and I even selected the fountain but, alas, only for clarity and not for colour cast.

Christophe


On Mar 1, 2021, at 4:08 AM, Dan Margulis via groups.io <dmargulis@...> wrote:

I’ve posted the results of the Bellagio exercise, the fifth in a series of 11 case studies.
 
Reviewing: This image was part of the MIT study. We are not given guidance as to what is wanted.
 
We have 35 entries. 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 #501 to #535. As with past studies, we also have a “par” version, #536. To get it, I chose five that I thought were among the 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.
 
Normally I don't comment on results for two days after they're posted. 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's Photos section, Case Study 2021: Bellagio at Night, 
 
I also have zipped all 36 entries and uploaded a 68 mb file to our Files section,
Search for 030121_Bellagio_entries.zip
If you are going to study these versions I strongly encourage you to download these files. Many of these entrants vary only in a minor way and it is hard to see the impact of a change without toggling back and forth between them.
 
I look forward to your comments.
 
Dan Margulis
 
P.S. Our next case study will be announced today, look for a separate post.


David Remington
 
Edited

My version is 514
 
 
I aimed for a balance between the warm bronze colored hotel and the deep blue after sunset sky. I wanted a feeling that was imposing but exciting, electric. A glossy metallic look (I mostly worked on this on a glossy screen and that is how I pictured it). It is dark in image and most of the lighting is artificial. I aimed to keep that feel. This is a revision that I made post Beach at Sunset feedback. i.e. warmer.
 
I started with the DNG file in Camera RAW and finished in Photoshop. I worked on recovering detail in the fountain and balancing blue and gold. I added a duplicate Layer with some high radius sharpening and blended it into the fountain, the water and a bit in the hotel. The sky was too saturated and cyan as exported from Camera RAW. I went back to see if a cooler white point would produce a better sky but I did not like that result so I adjusted the sky in the version I had. Reduced saturation, darkened, and shifted the hue toward a more magenta blue.

There are always afterthoughts, but one thing I would change is adding more definition to the hotel name!
 
I like several of the other versions. 503, 528, and 536 and parts of others.


Robert S Baldassano
 

My entry was 501. As a series these exercises have been a humbling experience. I used to think I was pretty good using PPW, at least on the images I created, but when I moved from San Jose CA to Napa in late 2019, my computer was down for about 6 months before I managed to fix it and just the effect of not doing any post processing, it made my familiarity of using PPW a bit rusty. In general I did not spend much time on this image  as it seemed simple. I used 2 color set points one on a high window and one on white water. I then went through the usual steps. I did reference the video and tried to match the color of the building, and that is why my building is pale. I am guilty of having some yellow in my water, but I thought that reflected possible yellow lighting in the fountain. Other images without yellow water I liked were 504,511, 536 and 527. I guess the last image of the lion will be my only chance to redeem myself.

 

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

 


Frederick Yocum
 

Robert,

A quote from Samuel Beckett, often consoles me during these exercises.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

regards,
Frederick Yocum

On Mar 2, 2021, at 21:18, Robert S Baldassano <robsbphotog@...> wrote:

I guess the last image of the lion will be my only chance to redeem myself.


sj_90000@...
 

Hi all,
 
More observations:
 
The sky should probably be the least important part of the image. Especially since the name of the exercise was "Bellagio at Night", and also Dan mentioned this in his intro. So images where the sky competes with the other elements is a distraction from the focal element; the fountain. As an example, 518 seems lost as to where your eye should be looking – *all* the elements seem to compete. But the sky being the lightest, well that's where my eye goes. Or 503, which I like a lot, except, for me, the sky's too light and competes for focus. Ultimately the sky determines whether this is a front or rear lit scene - I vote for front lit. Otherwise the building needs to be darker than the sky, and that creates other ambiguities, like how can the sky be that light and not contribute considerably to the overall lighting?
 
The fountain reflection is another area that detracted/distracted from the realism in a lot of images - sometimes with obvious disparities, ignoring how reflections work. As an example take entry 528. I really like this interpretation a lot, but something just didn't seem right. I didn't realize exactly what it was until flipping between other entries. What I noticed is the almost complete suppression of the fountain reflection - what liquid doesn't reflect? Consequently the fountain seems to float in some sort of light absorbing material. Remember the rule of thumb, the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection? So an otherwise superior image slips into the realm of the surreal. And unfortunately, once I noticed that anomaly, I can’t unsee it. Or take 503, another well done image, but where does the cyan/blue color in the reflection come from? Nothing else in the image has that color. So what is the reflection of? I’m guessing that the “par” version included 503, as it also shows this issue.
 
Please don’t take any of these comments personally. I’m still learning too! These are just ramblings. If you disagree, please speak up. Thanks.
 
Steve


jorgeparraphotography
 

As I have done quite some work on Lighting Design Photography projects for public spaces and private ventures, with several hundreds of LED luminaires pre-programmed and blasting all sorts of color combinations, I felt inclined to assign a colored value to the water and it's reflection and not remotely consider a neutral approach to it. So yes, the pee versions are, in my opinion, totally justified. 

Only the shooter who was there at the right moment could tell if the color of the water was more yellow, more green more orange, more neutral or whatever in-between mix, to be assigned as the "right" color for the water.  Actually, in such dynamic flow of the lighting programming, you may be shooting with a starting color and a fraction of a second later have a different one, and the end result in a photo may be a non-existent mix of those.

All other color considerations follow this decision-making process and the lack of this piece of info, is what brings out so many versions of the fountain. Very interesting indeed!!

Jorge Parra
Jorge Parra 
www.jJorgeParraPhotography.com
Miami


john c.
 

Indeed it’s true that the water might’ve been any color when the pic was taken, but for the purposes of a single tell all version, it’s legitimate to tell the story that all colors are possible in one still frame. This image demands a video, but we’re stuck with one view, so permission to lie is granted.
 
j castronovo
 
 

Sent: Wednesday, March 03, 2021 12:57 PM
Subject: Re: [colortheory] Bellagio at Night: Results
 
As I have done quite some work on Lighting Design Photography projects for public spaces and private ventures, with several hundreds of LED luminaires pre-programmed and blasting all sorts of color combinations, I felt inclined to assign a colored value to the water and it's reflection and not remotely consider a neutral approach to it. So yes, the pee versions are, in my opinion, totally justified.

Only the shooter who was there at the right moment could tell if the color of the water was more yellow, more green more orange, more neutral or whatever in-between mix, to be assigned as the "right" color for the water.  Actually, in such dynamic flow of the lighting programming, you may be shooting with a starting color and a fraction of a second later have a different one, and the end result in a photo may be a non-existent mix of those.

All other color considerations follow this decision-making process and the lack of this piece of info, is what brings out so many versions of the fountain. Very interesting indeed!!

Jorge Parra
Jorge Parra
www.jJorgeParraPhotography.com
Miami