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Niagara Spray--comments on individual versions.


Dan Margulis
 


These are my notes on the specific versions in this case study. I thank all participants and hope you found it worthwhile.

Dan

*********************

401 Straightforward and effective. Pretty much a straight PPW with various blends. Used both Bigger and Velvet Hammers, and Shadows/Highlights, to try to get more detail into water. Blended red into RGB composite, luminosity mode, to lighten the face.

402 Chosen for par version. The person briefly describes making three different versions, each attempting to darken the background and lighten the face, then averaging them 33% each. I find the whole thing too dark so chose it somewhat reluctantly, but the falls themselves are excellent, and it has a certain excitement not found in, say, #401.

403 Chosen for par version. I’m not thrilled about choosing this one either, because the falls are definitely the wrong color, even though they make a nice contrast of mood and tonality with the woman. Note how the photobomber was desaturated to avoid distraction, too much IMHO. The young woman came out really good, it’s everything else that might be objectionable. The facial quality appears to derive from extensive work on the red channel.

404 Nasty cyan cast. The fleshtone isn’t necessarily wrong by measurement but a couple of areas are: the light background area between her shoulder and the photobomber measures 90L(3)a(4)b; something that light can be slightly biased toward coolness but this is too much. Also, the slicker (rainwear) is clearly supposed to be yellow. It gets affected by the background because it’s so transparent, but the tie area should be a strong yellow, and it’s 75L(8)a19b, greenish. The same point in the par version is 83L(12)a67b, lighter and much yellower.

405 Chosen for par version. My official entry, so no comment.

406 A very nice face, but basically a void where the falls should be. This person was very concerned with the prominence of the photobomber, and tried various things to emphasize the woman and de-emphasize him. In this he was successful. The photobomber is understated, but in a more natural way than #403.

407 another nice effort, downgraded for making the skin too dusky. He made several trial versions and blended them. He used Screen mode to lighten the face in a couple of them, and a false profile in another. The falls got a convincing dose of MMM.

408 similar basically to #407 but not as good because the slicker takes on added greenness, and so does the face. This person used a false profile at 0.75 gamma to reduce the darkness differential between face and falls. He also used Bigger Hammer, which accounts for the added pop in the water, missing from #407.

409 Contrast way overdone, top of face is plugged, shirt is losing color and lightest part of slicker washed out. Like many people, this guy had four different versions.

410 Similar to #403, which I preferred slightly because of a better face. The blueness of the water is wrong, but it sets off the woman nicely. Most of the work was done globally in Camera Raw, which accounts for the lightness of the falls. Some fairly standard manual retouching of the face. And, like #403, a serious effort to downplay the photobomber.

412 Chosen for par version. I really didn’t want to choose this because I don’t think it’s a picture of Niagara Falls; the water isn’t pronounced enough. OTOH this is one of the very best portrayals not just of the face but of the yellow slicker. The explanation: “I tried ALCE and VH, also ACR, none especially improved what I didn’t like, so it’s all soft masks and channel chops.”

413 This is mine but it is only to make a point about strategy. Many people worked with multiple versions but AFAIK they all were trying to make multiple *good* versions. Not me: I had one “good” version already, the one I made to give to the woman in 2017, #419. I was looking for a way to jazz it up, so I created this second version. There was no need to make #413 a usable image by itself as it was to be used only for blending. Making an overstated version like this has the additional advantage that it makes certain hidden problems obvious. I did not realize that I needed to worry about making the slicker too green, but this version made it clear that I did.

414 Another reasonable version with good background. It falls short of the best ones of this type because the face is slightly too dark and the slicker/face combination somewhat green. The workflow was largely PPW, employing a red>RGB blend in Lighten mode on a Luminosity layer to lighten the face. This necessitated masking out strongly red areas, such as her identification tag.

415 Here the presentation is not as attractive as #403 and #410, which also had them blue waterfalls (incorrect) but used a lighter touch. Here the face is too dark. The person tried to help it out with Velvet Hammer, which couldn’t go far enough. The falls were multiplied on a layer limited to blues, which may account for the purplish sleeves of the photobomber.

416 Face too dark and too red. The magenta cast can be measured at the top of the falls. The water may look green in comparison to the face, but according to the Info palette, it’s 2a(3)b, a light purple. The dark receptacle or whatever it is at left should clearly be black, but it, too, is purple.

417 Awful green cast. My guess is that the person was concentrating so hard on getting a good facial color (which he did) that he overused MMM and created a mess elsewhere.

418 Falls are interesting and overall the image is more or less neutrally correct, but the face is too gray. The person laid out his steps and commented, “Not satisfied, but too discouraged to try a redo.”

419 My 2017 version. Probably I am so used to compositions like this needing to feel sunny that I overlooked the physical setting. As many people pointed out, we could use a cooler feel.

420 Pretty good, interesting treatment of the sky, face rather colorless. This person used a false profile/multiply routine to try to lighten the face. Finding that not enough, he also blended, on a Luminosity layer, the red into the green. He overlooked the need to mask out the bright red stripe at the bottom of the ID tag.

421 Dark and foreboding,

422 Forgot to check range when complete. The colors are basically OK but just running Auto Tone on the final version makes a big difference.

423 Chosen for par version. This is my personal favorite because it has an excellent face while giving reasonable prominence to the falls. It also has an attractive coolness that others only achieved by making the falls blue. I would wish for a yellower slicker but that’s about it. Nice handling of the sky/falls intersection. The person’s explanation of his steps is long, but worth the reading:

The image from the Falls has color that is quite flat, and though there are no true highlights, the "white" of the Falls blocks up and suggests a sort of yellow-green cast overall. At the same time the girl in the foreground is too dark and will need a boost in contrast as well as color.

1. I started with a conventional approach, using separate curve layers to pull our some of the yellow-green color cast and add brightness/contrast;
2. then made a loose selection of the Falls portion & added a CRV layer in Multiply mode to increase contrast in the Falls;
3. and a separate HSL layer to pull much of the green cast out of the Falls & sky.

This produced an overall lighter image (except the Falls now with more detail), no huge color cast, but overall pretty anemic color- still flat & lacking color contrast. I thought about going further down this road, but I decided to experiment and do a second version with completely different technique. So I brought the original jPeg into Lightroom Classic.

4. In Lightroom I started with Color Balance, pulling -12 for the Color Temp (Blue) and +5 Tint (Red);
5. For tonal adjustments I added +.35 stops exposure, then -35 for Highlight Recovery, +55 Shadows and +12 for whites;
6. Then a high Dehaze setting (+45) and +15 Vibrance, but no use of Texture or Clarity - they just seemed to overdo it (maybe I should have anyway, could have dialed them back later?);
7. I also applied two different radial gradients, both centered in the face - for the effect outside the face, darkening exposure + highlight reduction and +15 Clarity, and for the effect on the face only, a slight exposure increase, shadow lightening, bumping up the white a bit and a slight contrast decrease.

The result was an image worlds apart from what I had done in Photoshop - bright, good color contrast as well as overall tonal contrast - for a moment I thought, hmm, maybe I'll do the whole thing in Lightroom, that would be fun! But I wanted to work on a few more local areas in the image, and I had to admit as bright and punchy as LR color is, it can look a bit unreal sometimes. So…

8. I blended the Lightroom image into the file from step 3 above at 50% opacity, this produced more believable color with better tone on both the foreground (the girl) and the Falls & sky;
9. Her face needed some work though, so first I worked at brightening, esp. the shadow areas with CRV layers, then a HSL layer to move the skin tones away from orange toward pink;
10. then I decide to get the man to recede a bit - built a quick mask, used HSL layer to slightly desaturate & darken him, then ran a 3.6px gaussian blur on him (85%);
11. returning to overall image tweaks - another layer to slightly darken the blue in the sky;
12. some final touches on her - a burn & dodge layer to tweak shadows on her face & under eyes, a vibrance layer to very slightly enhance her lipstick, and a pixel-retouch layer for skin blemishes & jPeg artifacts on her skin;
13. a Sharpen 2018 layer (50% opacity), masked to include only the girl and the area of the "Natural Wonder" sign; and finally
14. a Soft Light layer (60%) with Add Noise (gaussian) about 7px - to ease some of the harshness of the sharpening layer and try to help some of the unevenness & jPeg artifacts in the highlight areas of the Falls.

424 The triumph of technique over common sense. This person desaturated the background and the sky, which I find successful in creating the cold look that many of us wanted. And the overall image weight is right. This guy apparently got carried away with channel blending, however. It looks like he must have tried to blend the red channel into the green (at least) to lighten the face, which it certainly did. It also wiped out detail and leaves her looking like some kind of ice-woman.







ROBIN MARK D'ROZARIO
 

Thank you for the comments.
Despite multiple blends my effort(407) ended up with a darker, colder face and greener poncho. I concentrated too much on the falls.
Two questions out of this:
1) Is False Profile/Multiply superior to Screen/Multiply or is it user/photo specific.
2) Is there a permanent way to deal with the purple/Magenta blotches that magically appeared in this iphone image?  I assume they are an issue in other highly processed smartphone images as well.

Regards,
Robin Mark D'Rozario


Dan Margulis
 



On Jun 10, 2020, at 9:52 AM, ROBIN MARK D'ROZARIO <rdrozario@...> wrote:

Two questions out of this:
1) Is False Profile/Multiply superior to Screen/Multiply or is it user/photo specific.

To some extent it’s image-specific but basically FP (or Exposure)/Multiply is more flexible and less dangerous.

If you look at these entries you’ll find several where the lower half of the face looks nice but the top half, around the eyes/eyebrows/forehead is too dark. The chances are that these are the people who used Screen mode.

Screening an overly dark face definitely adds contrast to it because lighter areas lighten much more rapidly than relatively darker ones do. With FP the face actually loses contrast temporarily, it becomes closer to the lighter areas (in our case, closer to the weight of the background falls) and overall the image is temporarily too light.

Tonal contrast in a face is sometimes a good thing and at other times not. I would prefer not to pre-empt the decision of whether to add it by using Screen while still in RGB. I’d wish to postpone the reckoning for another day, preferably when I’m in LAB.

Screening also may not lighten the image enough, and you may or may not have to make some kind of artificial mask. With FP/Multiply at least eight ready-made masks are available; by default I’d use the RGB composite from the background layer unless the dark areas are considered more important than the light ones, in which case I’d use RGB/Merged layer. There are also six individual channels that might make a better mask as well. Here, for example, I’d be looking for a mask that was light in the waterfall and darker in the face. That would be the green channel, where the contrast between these two areas would be greater than in the RGB composite.

If handled carefully all methods work, though some people make them more complicated than others. The PPW panel carries 1.0 and 1.4 gamma false profiles. The false profile, artificially lightening the image, is needed because otherwise the multiplication would probably plug the shadows, mask or not. The only time I use anything other than 1.0 and 1.4 is when the image already is somewhat light and there is no danger of shadow plugging. In that case I sometimes assign ColorMatch RGB (which is 1.8 gamma, rather than the 2.2 most of us use) and multiply away.

It was interesting to note, however, that many of the people who assigned false profiles in the Niagara exercise said they were using some gamma value other than the above.

2) Is there a permanent way to deal with the purple/Magenta blotches that magically appeared in this iphone image?  I assume they are an issue in other highly processed smartphone images as well.

They are indeed an issue at least in iPhone captures. In my experience they affect color only, not darkness, so they can be fixed directly in the A channel of LAB. Although the B channel is home to these defects as well it is not nearly as pronounced as the A so it can usually be ignored. 

These blotches show up  in areas of little color variation. Apparently Apple’s engineers have decided to save on storage and computation by ignoring minor AB variations. The area around the magenta splotches is a splotch as well, basically no variation in the channel at all, we just don’t recognize it as a splotch because it’s the color we expect.

If they needed to save on resource use, I tend to agree with them: these splotches can offend a professional audience but I doubt that the viewers of the Niagara Spray image would even notice. So I rarely bother taking them out.

There are several ways to fix them, some more complicated than others. If a similar blotch for some reason appeared in a capture from a better camera, there wouldn’t be much alternative to working directly on the A channel. But with the A and B in these areas being so detail-free in iPhone captures, the following kloodge generally works:

1. In LAB, make a duplicate layer

2. Make a rough feathered selection around the blotch, keeping the blotch to less than half the selection area.

3. Filter: Blur>Average.

4. Change layer mode to Color and adjust opacity if needed.

Again, this is unlikely to work with captures from a higher-quality source.

Dan


ROBIN MARK D'ROZARIO
 

Dan,

Thank you for the comprehensive reply.

My early efforts were all screened and I thought harsher in transition than the subsequent false profile workflow.

"Screening an overly dark face definitely adds contrast to it because lighter areas lighten much more rapidly than relatively darker ones do"

However, one of the images used in the final blend was screened and perhaps was a contributing factor as below or maybe I just missed lightening the face enough!

"if you look at these entries you’ll find several where the lower half of the face looks nice but the top half, around the eyes/eyebrows/forehead is too dark. The chances are that these are the people who used Screen mode"

Regarding masks for the multiply layer-

"Here, for example, I’d be looking for a mask that was light in the waterfall and darker in the face. That would be the green channel, where the contrast between these two areas would be greater than in the RGB composite."

I never even considered this and conventionally used the merged RGB.Something new learnt here!

"It was interesting to note, however, that many of the people who assigned false profiles in the Niagara exercise said they were using some gamma value other than the above"

I used 1.4 and 1.5 on two images contributing to the final blend.While I preferred the final result using 1.5,However, the steps subsequent to FP involved were not the same in both images.

I personally find the purple spots terribly irritating.

"the following kloodge generally works:
 
1. In LAB, make a duplicate layer
 
2. Make a rough feathered selection around the blotch, keeping the blotch to less than half the selection area.
 
3. Filter: Blur>Average.
 
4. Change layer mode to Color and adjust opacity if needed.
 
Again, this is unlikely to work with captures from a higher-quality source."

Not knowing the above I spent considerable time to avoid aggravating them in the sky/falls and hid them in the concrete pillar bottom left by desaturating and darkening it.

Thanks very much.

Regards,
Robin Mark D'Rozario



Andre Dumas
 

A low-quality image to start with, I’m looking at her face, in many entries the rendering is excessively pixelated, but so is the original. In a few, the results are blotchy, patchy skin.

Judging them for acceptable skin rendering (texture) and skin tones (believable smoothness and gradations), some are very good, some are good, some are not bad. Just looking at the face; number 404 is a winner, but too blue, 401 a close second, 406, 410, 411 are good, 402, 407, 412, 422, 423, 425 are not bad.

Just my opinion about the entries. Mine is 404… ;-).

André Dumas


Gary Bailey
 

Hello. I am a member of this group but I have not posted or uploaded a photo to it.
I cannot see how this is done. Can yu help?

Thanks.
Gary

-----Original Message-----
From: colortheory@groups.io <colortheory@groups.io> On Behalf Of Andre Dumas
Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2020 10:37
To: colortheory@groups.io
Cc: Andre Dumas <dumas@magma.ca>
Subject: Re: [colortheory] Niagara Spray--comments on individual versions.

A low-quality image to start with, I’m looking at her face, in many entries the rendering is excessively pixelated, but so is the original. In a few, the results are blotchy, patchy skin.

Judging them for acceptable skin rendering (texture) and skin tones (believable smoothness and gradations), some are very good, some are good, some are not bad. Just looking at the face; number 404 is a winner, but too blue, 401 a close second, 406, 410, 411 are good, 402, 407, 412, 422, 423, 425 are not bad.

Just my opinion about the entries. Mine is 404… ;-).

André Dumas


Dan Margulis
 



On Jun 11, 2020, at 2:06 PM, Gary Bailey <ggb18@...> wrote:

Hello. I am a member of this group but I have not posted or uploaded a photo to it.
I cannot see how this is done. Can yu help?

Thanks. 
Gary

When we moved the list to groups.io we never activated member uploading. I have done so now, so you should be able to create a new folder in the Photos section. Photos are still not permitted in the Files section.

Dan Margulis


Gary Bailey
 

 

From: colortheory@groups.io <colortheory@groups.io> On Behalf Of Dan Margulis via groups.io
Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2020 11:39
To: colortheory@groups.io
Subject: Re: [colortheory] Niagara Spray--comments on individual versions.

 

 



On Jun 11, 2020, at 2:06 PM, Gary Bailey <ggb18@...> wrote:

 

Hello. I am a member of this group but I have not posted or uploaded a photo to it.
I cannot see how this is done. Can yu help?

Thanks. 
Gary

 

When we moved the list to groups.io we never activated member uploading. I have done so now, so you should be able to create a new folder in the Photos section. Photos are still not permitted in the Files section.

 

Dan Margulis

 

Thank you. Once signed in, can I add my attempt to the Niagara Spray works? I found it interesting and look forward to the critiques.

 

G

 

 


Dan Margulis
 



On Jun 11, 2020, at 4:34 PM, Gary Bailey <ggb18@...> wrote:

Thank you. Once signed in, can I add my attempt to the Niagara Spray works? I found it interesting and look forward to the critiques.

Gary,

No. The case study folders are read-only. You are welcome to download and compare on your own, but we have moved on to the next exercise, for which the deadline is Monday.

Dan


Paco
 

Hi! Just for laughs, did you notice how "management" illustrated the color of the falls on the plaque at the left side of the photo? };-> 


Doug Schafer
 

Dan,
Something you might consider on furture image corrections. Simply an idea/suggestion:

I know you personally like to fix images in under 5 minutes. I spend way more time as I am slow, try stuff, and fix stuff....so an hour or two for me is normal and OK as I'm not in business for correcting images. Others may be like you or more like me???

So the suggestion is each person include how much time was spent fixing the image and include that time with the self process notes.

If included it will help sort proficiency/skill and results vs. time.
I fully appreciate anyone that can fix an image to 80-90% in under 5 minutes when I may be 85% in 2 hours.

Your choice, simply an idea.

Doug Schafer


Beat C
 

>> Doug wrote : 
>> So the suggestion is each person include how much time was spent fixing the image and include that time with the self process notes.

I like the idea very much.

Beat Cornaz


Dan Margulis
 



On Jun 19, 2020, at 9:58 AM, Beat C <b.cornaz@...> wrote:

>> Doug wrote : 
>> So the suggestion is each person include how much time was spent fixing the image and include that time with the self process notes.

I like the idea very much.

I don’t think people are going to put a stopwatch on themselves and even if they did, many of us, including myself, would not be inclined to tell the truth under certain circumstances.

I’m not talking about my 2017 versions of the MIT study. The MIT retouchers had to do 5,000 images in a bit over a week. So I think they were limited to about three minutes apiece, So I was trying to do the same. It meant that I could not, for example, do a lot of messing around with the water in the Cinque Terre image.

OTOH, yesterday I did my version of the Colosseum and it took me about an hour because every time I tried to fix something another problem developed elsewhere. When I reviewed it this morning I said the New Jersey equivalent of “I CANNOT believe I am such a bonehead” and started again from scratch, this time taking about 15 minutes and coming fairly close to what I had done in three minutes in 2017, although somewhat better. As for the one I did yesterday, it is unusual for me to spend so much time on one and not be able at least to blend with it, but no, maybe I can give it to the cat. I will post it as a candidate to remind myself of the time I wasted on it.

Private comments from others, particularly the less experienced, often have this experience of wasting time on wild goose chases. They apparently are willing to admit this to me, but perhaps not to the list. I think it’s highly unlikely I would have mentioned my own experience if Doug hadn’t brought up the question of timing.

Anyhow, people can add this information if they like; if not, since I’m reporting what techniques they were using, we can stick to that.

Dan



Paco
 

Hello!

Why the need to work so fast on these exercises?  I'm in the group to learn and have fun. I've enough pressure from clients wanting everything for yesterday! For me these exercises are a distraction, a challenge and a way to learn from others; done for fun and not competition. Of course, I still find it daunting to submit an image to Dan no matter how long I get to work in it! I will never get over that because of how much it means to get a nod from him. So I suggest to savor the process of trial and error slowly and... Dan, take it easy... try for 17 minutes instead of 15 😁

All the best!

Paco