Choir: Results


Dan Margulis
 

I’ve posted the results of the Choir exercise, the seventh in a series of 11 case studies.

Reviewing: We have 34 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 #701 to #734. As with past studies, we also have a “par” version, #735. 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, 2021 Case Study: Choir
 
I also have zipped all 35 entries and uploaded a file to our Files section,
Search for 031521_Choir_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.
 


Kent Sutorius
 

Mine is 708. I thought this image might be from Italy so I made the dresses a Milano Red - darker than traditional red 😁

Kent Sutorius


On 3/15/2021 7:04 AM, Dan Margulis via groups.io wrote:
I’ve posted the results of the Choir exercise, the seventh in a series of 11 case studies.

Reviewing: We have 34 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 #701 to #734. As with past studies, we also have a “par” version, #735. 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, 2021 Case Study: Choir
 
I also have zipped all 35 entries and uploaded a file to our Files section,
Search for 031521_Choir_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.
 



Bill Theis
 


mine=#712: I went for shape in the faces as my goal and was happy with the result.  My color was a bit tepid since I was attempting to avoid oversaturating the faces (no swarthy faces!).  However with a saturation adjustment layer (+100 saturation at say 30% opacity) and I pretty much recover par color.  So maybe a good idea is that when I do the Auto Tone check I might also do a quick test with such a layer? 

Another matter is printing that red:  isn't it out of gamut?


With regard at par, I am not fond of the greens of the leaves of the poinsettias and the wreaths--dull and too yellow.  Do this and you get saturated blue columns on the altar, which I find attractive.  Same for the painting--so is this important?  or are the faces the emphasis?

Good shape on the faces for 704 and 711.  Good alter greenery on 704, mine, 731, 720, and 712. 


Gerald Bakker
 

Mine is 727. Compared to par color-wise, I think my background is slightly greenish. On the other hand, the gold ornaments stand out better in my version than in par.
Luminosity-wise, I am not so sure. The par has lighter floor tiles and stairs, but I'm not sure which to prefer in that respect.

I found this a hard image to process. Make the background too light and the golds get washed out. Make it too dark and it becomes too heavy. Make the foreground too light and it looks unnatural. Too dark and the background predominates over the choir. Also, there is a lot of brilliant color, and it's important to emphasize it. But the pitfall of course is to make everything overly colorful. The question is, how to dose.

Here are a few of my favorites: 709, 716, 729 and 735 (par).
--
Gerald Bakker
https://geraldbakker.nl


Robert S Baldassano
 

Mine was 705 and comparing it to the PAR version, I found mine was a bit more blue and darker. So after trying color and luminosity blends with PAR I found that I liked a version where PAR luminosity  blended at 38% gave me a image that was more balanced top to bottom.  In general I did not try to deemphasize the background as I saw many entries did. I actually liked the fact that the painting and the rest of the background showed detail. I don’t know if that was the right call or not but I was happy with it. From the PAR blend it was clear that I need to lighten up the choir more but in general other than luminosity me colors were close to the PAR values in the area of the Choir. I found many of the entries too dark compared to mine. I probably could have done a better job of bringing detail out in the dresses. I did add a color boost to the red dresses in the MMM+CB step. I am looking forward to Dan’s comments, and hope I at least got one step out of the doghouse, to get more comments than don’t do it this way. 😊

 

Robert S Baldassano

 

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

 


James Gray
 

I was quite pleased to see these results.  Mine, #732, was a lot closer to the par than I was expecting.  In my judgement there are 16 I would say are inferior to mine, some only slightly so.

Jim Gray



Hector Davila
 

Mines is #711.

It appears most of the light is coming from behind the choir.

(most of these church type photos have dark, not too light interiors. Dim like.)


So, I hesitated to make the choir brighter.

Since my focus was the choir girls
(because the photographer seem to have centered the choir)

I noticed the choir faces were kind of...soft focused.

(actually nothing appears to me to be in focus in the photo)

So, I restored the faces.

(closer examination of the choir faces you will notice
#711 is much clearer than the default photo given to us.)

Hector Davila


David Remington
 
Edited

My version is 709.
 
I found this to be a difficult image as well and was not very satisfied with what I came up with. It looks okay in context, but some parts look pretty rough. The gold figure in the top left, and the gold in general, is blocky looking. Several people handled the gold better. Same for the singers. Not much finesse in mine. I wanted to open it up and add color and contrast so maybe I went a bit too far. Not sure about my choice of dress color either but it seems to be within the range of consensus. I could have done a better job with the window as well. Layered with par in color mode is mostly an improvement. Better dresses, better gold. Luminosity mode, par is much smoother. A bigger improvement.
I like parts of several images. Particularly those that achieved some delicacy in the gold and that showed attention to the painting as well as the singers.
 
David


Edward Bateman
 

Mine was 723

I usually have a bit of a personal agenda with these challenges. I mentally allowed myself to go back to when I was a full-time retoucher (before becoming a photo professor) who had to do anything that came through the door.

I figured that the choir was the most important element in the picture… why else would we have it? The photographer would have waited for the choir to arrive… not for them to leave so he could photograph the church. So making the choir the visual focus was my goal.

So in many respects, I felt like I achieved that goal - in part by darkening the (overwhelming and lighter) background and foreground. I wrestled with the red dresses - and darkened them both for “gravitas” and to set the focus on the faces… which I suspected proud parents would be most interested in. And I feel pretty good about my results and have a pretty good balance of things. I think that compared to the Par, mine does have more visual focus on the choir.

And then I sometimes think I went Dr. Frankenstein on this image and made it into something very different… especially when I look at the range of submissions. Mine felt rather different. My gold was definitely more brassy than the best. And a sense of light and lightness was lost.

I tried blending the Par on mine as both luminosity and color... and not sure that I preferred either. But would concede that some aspects of the color felt like an improvement to me.

So I’m still pondering this and studying the comments and images of others. This is really cool!

And thank you again for including the submission of my class.

Number 728.

My students did this as a group as a bit of an experiment by making 3 versions. (We did this over zoom with a student doing the work with others suggesting moves.) Two in Photoshop using the regular and flat versions - and one doing everything with Raw tools. The students were pleased with what they did in Raw… but when we compared as layers, that one was judged the least effective. So they did simple opacity blends from their 3 images to make their final image.

My students now agree that the power of channel blending and Bigger Hammer has become important in their tool set. I’m especially proud that they are really seeing and noticing aspects of images more precisely… and they are too. One student has been going back to his earlier work with a new eye.

SO THANK YOU!!!

Edward Bateman


John Gillespie
 

The par looks the best entry to me.

Mine is 731. It is less red and less saturated overall than the par. I think it is a bit too much in the par, a 50/50 blend in colour mode looks nice to me.
My version is a bit light, stealing some luminosity from say 727 (which is a very good entry) helps a lot.

A very illuminating challenge, I look forward to Dan's detailed comments.


Robert S Baldassano
 

Edward, I think your students are very lucky to have you for a teacher. You are clearly exposing them to powerful knowledge. I am a dinosaur of the film days. I never had a formal photography class in darkroom arts, but I read books verouciously. I am not a pro but a hobbiest. 
I had a darkroom room, and experimented a lot. When I moved to digital processing, my past experience was helpful.  Again I taught myself Photoshop, through books and videos. I also learned to use Nikon SW as well. But my exposure to Dan's work was my best experience. These sessions are also excellent as I get to see the work of true professionals.

Robert
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Said Nuseibeh
 

This was certainly not a PPW 3-minute exercise! However, I barely noticed the time ebbing away because it was such an exciting challenge. As a student of Late Antiquity, I am partial to marble, gilding, and carved, painted ornament. So working with the altar was most exciting for me and eliminating (or at least minimizing) the dreadful yellow cast.

However, the choir was the subject. As flesh-tones are rare in my work, I had to go running for the Canyon Conundrum to get my bearings with caucasian skin. I tried to do much in LAB but just could not fiddle those curves with Dan's finesse, getting the fleshtones into the zone and keeping the changes out of the background and gold. So I went back to my RGB efforts and tried a second time, experimenting so much with channel blends that I had to pull out a spreadsheet to keep track of the many options tried and untried. Sometimes I see the path ahead clearly with these blends & modes, where one channel is weak and can be helped by another. But this time I had to resort to dumb trial and error. Hopefully, proficiency will come with more practice... with channel blending AND with curving in LAB

The fun thing about experimenting is that even when a move does not do what you want it to, you never know when it can come in handy later. As I was laboring with the skin-tones, I remembered that one of my blends had a marked effect mostly in the faces. Since I was keeping notes, I could actually go back and find that move. That (and a Channel Operation) finally enabled me to isolate the flesh in LAB and bring it into true, by the numbers.


Some people remarked that they were trying to get more detail in the conductor’s black dress. I don’t understand why anyone would think this is important. This image is already very busy with things we *do* want people to look at.
I for one did not want a big black featureless creature from the black lagoon looming in the foreground.


Looking forward to having my efforts raked across the coals and learning something tasty in the process.

-Saïd


John Furnes
 

 

Mine is 734

I found this to be the most difficult so far, with skin tones, saturated red, all the gilded things and different light sources and colour casts, and of course noise.

And again I have gotten the magenta into everything.  Adjusting for magenta and luminosity, I think my version is not too bad – still a bit dark though.

I did much in ACR before PS, and most of the treatment happened in LAB and PPW

I think no. 727 is very good with a more interesting focus and all over balance than any other.

 

Having seen the results, I tried to go all PPW using the recipe for faces 2015 (page 406 second edition  LAB), but used Lesser Hammer instead of Velvet Hammer. The result was much better than my 734, but it would need some more adjustments.  Time spent was less than 5 minutes as opposed to several night hours for the first entry.

By reading L*a*b numbers, this is not far off the par version, but as said, still a bit dark/ murky

 

So, the learning has to be kept going.

 

John Furnes