moderated Case study announcement: Courtyard Wash


Dan Margulis
 

And now for something completely different: our eleventh and final case study.

When we worked on Shasta, I described it as sort of a forensic image, where we were trying to enhance an object that was hardly there at all. The word forensic implies that a crime has been committed, an element that was absent in the Shasta exercise, unless you want to include the climate change that caused the fires that shrouded the mountain in smoke.

This time, however, we will be working with a picture of a crime, and on something that may remind us of the High Andes exercise, in that it has to do with the inhabitants of the Americas in pre-Columbian times.

I noted in a previous post that success in the ten case studies we've worked on this year heavily depended on channel blending—but not as much as the one we're about to work on does. Here, you have a base capture, plus eight alternate versions. But don't think you can use one of the alternate versions as a base: they're shot infrared, so their color is likely worthless. Some of them do, however, contain detail that the base capture apparently doesn't. Here is the story of why the scene was shot this way.

The indigenous people of North America were by no means as advanced as the Inca civilization we recently visited. Nor do we know as much about their ancient history. It is believed that we are talking about a culture known as the Fremont people, which existed in what is now Utah for about 1,500 years beginning roughly at the outset of the Christian era, and disappearing for reasons unknown at roughly the time Columbus landed.

During their heyday they were active artistically. They liked to paint on exposed flat rock formations, which are common in Utah. Often one generation's work was painted over another's. The pigments they used were long-lasting and many of these petroglyphs can still be admired.

The most famous of all was the large decorative panel at Courthouse Wash, in Arches National Park. I say was because in April 1980, some highly motivated person or persons arrived there on a moonlight night with wire brushes and a large quantity of bleach, and spent several painstaking hours attempting to erase everything.

Legend has it that the culprit had recently been dumped by his girlfriend, whom he knew was a frequent visitor to the site and loved it dearly. Officially, however, no one knows who did it, any more than we know why the Fremont people vanished.

28 years later, the late Bud Turner, a retired photographer who was experimenting with infrared exposures, volunteered his services to the park. He knew that ancient pigments respond differently to different wavelengths of light. He proposed setting up a tripod and taking multiple exposures of the damaged panel, which he would then combine in Photoshop to create something that suggested the beauty of what had been found there pre-vandalism.

He had imagined that the second part would be easy, because he had discovered that his national park images, featuring as they did dull, subtle color effects, benefited hugely from the use of LAB, which he had learned about from a recently published book. This had convinced him of the doubtful proposition that any photograph could be resurrected by a sufficiently skilled technician. 

After tens of hours of trying, he concluded that he was not that technician, so he sought out the author of the book to find out how to do it. I was at the peak of my career at that point and could not give him the time he wanted, but I sat down with him and gave him some ideas, hoping for the best because I could tell from his difficulty breathing that he didn’t have many years to live.

He presumably knew that too, because he gave me all his files, including a lot of other images of Arches, some of which appeared in my later books. The Courthouse Wash captures, though, have mouldered in my files for 13 years, perhaps waiting for a pandemic to release them.

So, here is the final 2021 case study challenge: cancel the cancel culture by restoring the Courthouse Wash petroglyphs to their pre-1980 glory.  Or, more accurately, turning the scene into something more understandable. According to Bud, the infrared exposure picks up fragments of pictographs that the naked eye can't see. If, so, it would be reasonable to bring them out, perhaps even color them differently?

Obviously, this exercise is a lot of work and won't be to everyone's taste. We'll give it a bit more than the normal week until it’s due. Sorry for the delay in posting it; I hope you find the exercise worthwhile.

Dan

********

RULES:
*The designated size of this exercise is 4272 x 2848 pixels. Do not crop, rotate, alter the sizing, apply any lens correction, or delete any tangible objects, because doing any of these things will make it impossible to use your version as part of a par assembly. We recommend that as soon as you acquire, you apply the default version (5002) to it to make sure that all pixels line up.
 
Except as indicated in the above paragraph, you can use whatever methods you like to improve the picture.
 
*Please keep clear records of what you did for discussion. List members find these very valuable.
 
*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) aol.com, with your brief explanation of how you produced it. DO NOT POST IMAGES TO THE LIST.
 
*Remember that some e-mail clients automatically downsize image attachments. Make sure you’re sending it to me at the original size.
 
*Entries close Monday morning, 10 May, 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. Once discussion begins, those who wish to identify themselves publicly may do so.
 
*If the filename of your version contains your name or initials, they will be deleted before posting. If you want to be able to identify your version by name once posted, throw in a few extra letters at the end of the filename; I won't delete them.
 
*I will leave discussion of the results to the group for the first two days after posting, and will then weigh in with my own opinion.


IN THE FOLDER:
The Folder is in the group's Photos section, 2021 Case Study: Courthouse Wash,

5001: The current informational sign found at Courthouse Wash, featuring a retouched version of the pre-1980 panel.

5002: A default acquisition of the Turner photograph that we will be working on.

5003: A modern photo of the site, after attempts at restoration.

5004: A pre-1980 photo of poor quality.

5005: A somewhat better pre-1980 one, lacking in resolution.


IN THE ZIP FILE FOR DOWNLOADS:
There is basically no alternative here but to work on the raw files. Due to groups.io size limitations, there are two downloads. They contain these text instructions, the five photos listed above, plus the base exposure raw file (IMG_0044) plus eight alternate exposures at different wavelengths. Everything was shot from a tripod so all versions should line up for blending.

In our Files section, download the following two files:
2021_Courthouse-Wash_case-study_source1.zip
2021_Courthouse-Wash_case-study_source2.zip


LINKS FOR INVESTIGATION/UNDERSTANDING:

1) A national parks service article on Bud Turner's work:

2) Bud Turner himself explains his spectral imaging project, with special emphasis on the Courthouse Wash image you’re about to work on.

3) A local discovery site’s discussion of Utah petroglyphs generally, with lots of other stuff about Arches National Park.

4) A general description of the Fremont people:

5) Historical description of the “Barrier Canyon Style” in Utah rock art, such as those of the Fremont people.

6) A 2013 blog describes the 1980 vandalism, with a couple of pictures:

7) A modern-day tour of the Courthouse Wash area, with a naturalist:

8) The more things change, the more they stay the same: Just this month, we learn of a similar vandalism of ancient petroglyphs, this time in a national forest in Georgia:

9) A 2011 video obituary of Bud Turner, featuring his photographs.


Harvey Nagai
 

On Wed, Apr 28, 2021 at 04:24 PM, Dan Margulis wrote:
IN THE ZIP FILE FOR DOWNLOADS:
There is basically no alternative here but to work on the raw files. Due to groups.io size limitations, there are two downloads. They contain these text instructions, the five photos listed above, plus the base exposure raw file (IMG_0044) plus eight alternate exposures at different wavelengths. Everything was shot from a tripod so all versions should line up for blending.
Has anyone else found that the alternate exposures do not line up with the base exposure?

It wouldn't be that much of a problem if I could get Photoshop to align them to the base exposure, but tips I have found  to
align layers to a reference layer do not seem to work in Version 22.2.0 (windows 10).


Dan Margulis
 



On Apr 29, 2021, at 10:33 AM, Harvey Nagai via groups.io <hnagai@...> wrote:

Has anyone else found that the alternate exposures do not line up with the base exposure?

Well, that’s awkward, but it’s grace itself compared with trying to wrestle with the base only. I think that some line up with the base and some don’t, but it would take a lot of work whether they line up perfectly or not.

The question is how many people are going to grit their teeth and try to get something out of this.

Dan


Robert Wheeler
 

I find that file 42GR00605_080528_IMG0052.CR2 is the one most out of alignment (notice in particular the left upper corner and the upright seam line toward the right). I plan to omit that one. The others seem close enough to use. How to use them optimally remains an open question. Very interesting puzzle.
Robert Wheeler


Kent Sutorius
 

This option might work on aligning the images. You can put the images you want to use in a folder and open the folder in Adobe Bridge. Then click Tools > Photoshop > Load Files into Photoshop Layers. Photoshop will automatically open and load all the images as one file. I don't think it would need alignment but if so you can select all your layers and then select Edit>Auto-Align Layers and click OK.
Kent Sutorius

On 4/29/2021 11:37 AM, Robert Wheeler wrote:
I find that file 42GR00605_080528_IMG0052.CR2 is the one most out of alignment (notice in particular the left upper corner and the upright seam line toward the right). I plan to omit that one. The others seem close enough to use. How to use them optimally remains an open question. Very interesting puzzle.
Robert Wheeler



Robert S Baldassano
 

WOW! This looks like a lot of fun. I am sure it will be difficult but will also teach us a lot. I can't wait to review all the enclosed files and other source data. Thanks, Dan for providing such an interesting project.


Dan Margulis
 



On Apr 28, 2021, at 4:24 PM, Dan Margulis <DMargulis@...> wrote:

And now for something completely different: our eleventh and final case study.

There is another potential problem with this study. We are submitting files to me by e-mail. Certain e-mail clients don’t like attachments of 10+ mb. It was pointed out offline by one person that because of the large size of this study, a level 9 JPEG may be more than that.

I have therefore tested sending the default file (11 mb) to myself and there was no problem. But if you run into any difficulties either at your end or mine, just save at level 8 or whatever will bring the file size down.

Dan


Said Nuseibeh
 

On 4/29/21 at 8:01 AM, dmargulis=aol.com@groups.io (Dan Margulis via groups.io) wrote:

The question is how many people are going to grit their teeth and try to get something out of this.


Well, I'd sure love to sink my teeth into this. Nice to apply photo techniques to such a worthy project, creating some semblance of restitution for a wanton act of destruction.

Sadly, I have to send my laptop back for logic board repair again. The repair I endured back in February, the one that caused me to miss 3 case studies, was insufficient. As the repair warranty expires in a few days, I cannot postpone any longer.

Since this Courtyard Wash is such a novel and unusual Case Study, I petition that we work on it individually and as a group for more than 2 weeks?!?

Thanks Dan for bringing the project to us.

Cheers,
-Said


Dan Margulis
 



On May 4, 2021, at 10:49 PM, Said Nuseibeh <photo@...> wrote:

Since this Courtyard Wash is such a novel and unusual Case Study, I petition that we work on it individually and as a group for more than 2 weeks?!?

We don’t have another exercise scheduled after this one, so I have no objection if the group wants to take more time. I myself haven’t started my own version yet.

So if there at least three more people want an extra week, I’m fine with it, otherwise it’s due Monday morning as originally scheduled.

I confirm receipt of entries from the following:
KH
KSu
RT
RW

Dan


Roberto Tartaglione
 

It’s ok for me, more time to review my submission too!

Roberto Tartaglione

>>>>>So if there at least three more people want an extra week, I’m fine with it, otherwise it’s due Monday morning as originally scheduled.



Robert S Baldassano
 

I have not starred mine and would support either time frame. I have never used Adobe RAW so I have just figured out how I will start in RAW and process each image before I combine them in a stack.



Alec Dann
 

I'd like the extra week. Hope that makes three.  Alec


bill bane
 

I could make this Sunday, but I would not mind having another week.

Anyway, I would like to see the 3 (or more) versions that we might not otherwise have if we do not delay a week.

 

I can see many ways to skin this cat, and I am sure I am not seeing them all. It is an interesting problem on multiple dimensions.

 

Bill

 

From: colortheory@groups.io <colortheory@groups.io> On Behalf Of Alec Dann via groups.io
Sent: Friday, May 07, 2021 9:31 AM
To: colortheory@groups.io
Subject: Re: [colortheory] Case study announcement: Courtyard Wash

 

I'd like the extra week. Hope that makes three.  Alec


Dan Margulis
 



On May 7, 2021, at 6:54 PM, bill bane <bill.bane@...> wrote:

I could make this Sunday, but I would not mind having another week.
Anyway, I would like to see the 3 (or more) versions that we might not otherwise have if we do not delay a week.

OK, what with a couple of off-line requests, enough people have stated the preference, so we will postpone the deadline by one week. Entries are now due Monday 16 May at 06:00 eastern U.S. time.

People are finding this an interesting and challenging exercise. Admittedly you’re unlikely ever to get an assignment like this in real life, but the request is a legitimate one and if people consider you an expert in imaging or in color, odd requests do occur. Some additional points:

*Everyone who sees the final result will presumably be informed that it represents an alternate reality. Therefore, when I said the assignment was to make it look like it did in 1980 prior to the vandalism, that shouldn’t have been taken literally. I should have said that the idea is to suggest what was lost, so it could just as easily be what it looked like in 1880 or 1480 or whatever.

*Nevertheless, the substrate, in this case the canyon wall, has to be somewhat compatible with reality, which isn’t much different then than it was in the time of the Fremont people. You have videos that show similar rock formations or you can Google Arches National Park for other examples.

*Also, we must remember that these glyphs are at least 500 years old, possibly much older. They can’t look as if they were painted yesterday.

 *Good records are essential. People are going to be extremely interested in what was done, also in what feeling you were trying to get.

*The two pre-1980 photos that were posted for reference show thin white halos around the glyphs. So does at least one entry so far. Since I have not seen any indications of such halos in the Turner original photos, I am assuming that they represent unsharp masking on the part of whatever scanner operator or Photoshopper worked on those early images. I am not telling anybody to avoid USM, it can be useful in an assignment like this, but if the Fremont people were doing something similar I would like to know. So if anybody sees evidence that the halos were deliberate, please indicate.


I confirm receipt of entries from the following:
KH*
DS
KSu
RT
LV*
RW

*indicates revised version received

Dan


sj_90000@...
 

Dan said:
 
*The two pre-1980 photos that were posted for reference show thin white halos around the glyphs. So does at least one entry so far. Since I have not seen any indications of such halos in the Turner original photos, I am assuming that they represent unsharp masking on the part of whatever scanner operator or Photoshopper worked on those early images. I am not telling anybody to avoid USM, it can be useful in an assignment like this, but if the Fremont people were doing something similar I would like to know. So if anybody sees evidence that the halos were deliberate, please indicate.
====================
 
My take on it is that there were three phases. First the petroglyphs were etched. Then, at a later date and probably by a different tribe, white pigment was added/overlaid creating pictographs. And ultimately everything was trashed. But on two of the included sample images there are definitely white outlines on most of the glyphs. And I do see extremely faint traces of these outlines around certain glyphs in my enhanced version of the default image. While they are not as defined or bright as the samples, I believe they are real. Also, has anyone else noticed all the gouges in the glyphs? These seem “new”, as I don’t see them in the supplied samples. Was this part of the original defacement, or is this a second one?
 
HTH – Steve J


Dan Margulis
 

Entries for the Courtyard Wash exercise are due in 48 hours, at 06:00 eastern daylight time Monday/1100Z/12:00 ora italiana. I'm sorry not to be able to acknowledge entries arriving later.

I confirm receipt of entries from the following individuals:

RoB**
KH*
HN
SN
DS
KSu
RT
LV*
RW

*Indicates a revised version was received.

The following were submitted at an incorrect size/cropping:
None

Dan


Dan Margulis
 



Entries for the Courtyard Wash exercise are due in 24 hours, at 06:00 eastern daylight time tomorrow/1100Z/12:00 ora italiana. I'm sorry not to be able to acknowledge entries arriving later.

I confirm receipt of entries from the following individuals:

RoB**
JF
KH*
SJ
HN
SN
DS
KSu
RT
LV*
RW

*Indicates a revised version was received.

The following were submitted at an incorrect size/cropping:
None

Dan