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Thread: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

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    Antonio Correia's Avatar
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    Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    The practice of Aikido requires the use of an uniform which is black and white like the ones we can see in the photo I retrived from Wikipedia.
    I am going to take pictures of practitioners in action. I want to take their pictures in action but completely still/frozen and for this I intend to use flashes or strobes.

    It can be inside a studio or even outside. I was expecting to be able to do this in a park at night in spite of the public lamps. Inside I can control better the darkness and with the use of a movement detector fire the flashes at the precise moment the action is rolling.

    No second curtain flash, nothing of that kind.

    My problems: how am I going to get some detail in the black trousers and white shirts areas at the same time ? Braketing perhaps ? Just kidding
    And the background ? White or black ? Grey perhaps in order I can separate the human figure later in Photoshop.

    This is like taking pictures to brides and grooms...

    Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    Hi Antonio,

    So long as you're not using an extreme high-ISO mode, the camera will capture detail anyway (assuming you're shooting RAW) - it just doesn't normally show it because the levels are normally too low for much detail to be revealed on a monitor or a print (a print is even worse).

    Basically, there's about 4 stops difference between white and black - and that's all that a print can handle (although a monitor is only slightly better) - so when you have a white part of the uniform (say that's reproduced as 1 stop down from the maximum), then the black part of the uniform will be 5 stops down from the maximum, and won't be able to be reproduced on paper (and will struggle on a monitor). The camera will capture information to about 12 stops down at the normal base ISO (usually ISO 100 for Canon, ISO 200 for Nikon) - so if you're shooting at something like ISO 1600 - you'll still have about 8 stops to play with. So the "trick" is to simply reveal the "black" detail using a combination of the brightness and fill light sliders in your post-processing package.

    In essence - by doing this - what you're doing is moving those tones from "black" to a lighter tone like dark grey (nothing is truly black -- if it didn't reflect any light we would never be able to see it).

    Sorry this is a bit technical!

    Does this help?
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 7th September 2011 at 12:49 AM.

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    So the "trick" is to simply reveal the "black" detail using a combination of the brightness and fill light sliders in your post-processing package.
    Colin, since the brightness and fill light sliders are global, might it be a simpler process to get the white detail right (hopefully along with everything else), and then use the adjustment brush to reveal as much black detail as is desired. I chose getting the white detail right because I find that I am much more picky about white detail than I am with black. Thanks.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 7th September 2011 at 05:28 AM.

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Howard View Post
    Colin, since the brightness and fill light sliders are global, might it be a simpler process to get the white detail right (hopefully along with everything else), and then use the adjustment brush to reveal as much black detail as is desired. I chose getting the white detail right because I find that I am much more picky about white detail than I am with black. Thanks.
    Hi Lon,

    Good theory (and nothing wrong with it in theory), except that if you need to do it to 1200 images, you're going to still be at it well into the new year

    If the exposure is consistent then it's a trivial process to apply global adjustments to one image, and then replicate those to the others. If the correct application of the fill light slider and/or brightness slider results in other areas getting too bright then it's usually pretty easy to deal to those with the GND tool (one of the best tools ever invented in my opinion ).

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    I think I would shoot for the whites then produce 2 raw conversions as Smart Objects with one exposed for whites and the other for blacks then combine them.

    But as Colin said, it would take a bit of time.

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    If you were using LR would you be able to expose for the whites, note what the black level should be, use the adjustment brush to bring black detail back and if you've got tons of images to do, just synchronise the settings?

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    Fantastic answers from all of you. Thanks.

    I do like Geoff option
    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    I think I would shoot for the whites then produce 2 raw conversions as Smart Objects with one exposed for whites and the other for blacks then combine them.
    But as Colin said, it would take a bit of time.
    because time is not an issue and I am not going to produce 100 images but just 10 (??), the most.

    Watch this video which I received today. Very very interesting

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    Yes that video covers quite a lot of Smart Object details.

    Personally, and probably because I am from a 'pre-digital' age, I struggle to understand any instructions which appear on a screen. I need to see it in a written form.

    But I do like the offer of a free beautiful Chinese Lady which appears at the bottom of that video screen!

    What I do (using CS5) is to adjust the first Raw file and convert to normal Photoshop work screen but hold Shift while converting. Then right click on the image thumbnail label and select Create New Smart Object via Copy.

    Then double click on the new object thumbnail which takes me back to the Raw Studio for different adjustments. Click OK when ready which now produces two Smart Objects with different adjustments.

    Adding a suitable Mask allows me to mix and match between the different adjustment options.

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    Hi Antonio,

    Very instructive, thanks for sharing,

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    Quote Originally Posted by NigelD View Post
    If you were using LR would you be able to expose for the whites, note what the black level should be, use the adjustment brush to bring black detail back and if you've got tons of images to do, just synchronise the settings?
    Hi Nigel,

    Doesn't work unfortunately, as it's extremely unlikely the area manipulated by the brush would be in exactly the same part of each frame - plus - the adjustment brush is quite a non-precise tool.

    In all honesty, all that's needed is a relatively small fill-light slider correction, which is quite normal (I use it on just about every image I shoot) - what Antonio is asking about here is a completely normal / everyday thing.

    Typically (even after shooting with a shutterspeed / aperture given by my light meter) I'll add one stop to the exposure in post-processing - then raise the fill light to reveal the shadow detail - and then adjust the brightness slider to get the right amount of contrast in the midtones (rinse and repeat if necessary). The images invariably have areas that are toned down anyway, so if the fill light slider makes some areas a little flat, it's usually of no consequence.

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    Yes that video covers quite a lot of Smart Object details.

    Personally, and probably because I am from a 'pre-digital' age, I struggle to understand any instructions which appear on a screen. I need to see it in a written form.

    But I do like the offer of a free beautiful Chinese Lady which appears at the bottom of that video screen!

    What I do (using CS5) is to adjust the first Raw file and convert to normal Photoshop work screen but hold Shift while converting. Then right click on the image thumbnail label and select Create New Smart Object via Copy.

    Then double click on the new object thumbnail which takes me back to the Raw Studio for different adjustments. Click OK when ready which now produces two Smart Objects with different adjustments.

    Adding a suitable Mask allows me to mix and match between the different adjustment options.
    If I understand correctly, what you do is obviously correct.

    In the video he does the same procedure with some small difference like ... In fact I must go and see it again.

    But I think it is worth it.

    And this poses another question: Why go to New Adjustment Layers when we have already this versatility in ACR ? If everything is there all the time ?

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    Antonio Correia's Avatar
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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Antonio,

    Very instructive, thanks for sharing,
    Be my guest

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    Colin, that's too much for me.

    Shoot 1600 ISO ? I am not understanding very well. I am sorry.

    Let's be - if you allow me - more practical/pragmatic: Studio lights, strobes whatever, 1600 ISO, 1/250 and aperture ordered by the light meter ?

    Am I missing something ? I sure am ...

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonio Correia View Post
    Colin, that's too much for me.

    Shoot 1600 ISO ? I am not understanding very well. I am sorry.

    Let's be - if you allow me - more practical/pragmatic: Studio lights, strobes whatever, 1600 ISO, 1/250 and aperture ordered by the light meter ?

    Am I missing something ? I sure am ...
    Hi Antonio,

    I'll try to break this down into just the important bits:

    1. So long as you don't severely under-expose the shot then the detail you're after will be captured by your camera, so we can worry about the best technique to use for processing afterwards.

    2. Although all the techniques being described here will work, I think many of them are overkill. The problem you have is very common, and easily fixed.

    I would be more worried about capturing the images correctly in the first place. You'll need a fairly high shutterspeed to freeze the action (typically 1/640th or faster) - the 1/250th you mention will give you a bit of motion blur. But studio strobes won't sync at 1/640th or faster (usually about 1/160th is as fast as they'll go). If you're relying on the studio strobe to freeze the action, be aware that the standard studio strobe won't do that very well (they have quite a long duration - and the brighter the light the longer the duration). Small flashes (like the 580EX II) will freeze the action (for the bit that's illuminated by the flash), although for best results you need to use HSS mode, which you can only do with the flash either on the camera - or connected by a off-camera-shoe-cord - or triggered by a radio system that supports ETTL (like the PocketWizard TT1 / TT5).

    Here's a shot taken with studio strobes to illustrate how they DON'T freeze the action ...

    Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    Sorry if the language barrier makes this hard ... lets just keep at it until we get it sorted!

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    And this poses another question: Why go to New Adjustment Layers when we have already this versatility in ACR ? If everything is there all the time ?

    If I understand your question correctly, Antonio, and I am probably starting to get out of my depth of knowledge here.

    I create two Smart Objects (more can be used) with different exposure and other adjustments and use one as the main background image then add a Mask (Reveal All or Hide All) to the other Smart Object which is on another layer.

    I then edit the masked image to reveal the improved areas as required. Using a low opacity brush allows me to make subtle (slight) alterations which will gradually affect the overall image.

    This allows for a greater variation in tone/brightness between the two smart object layers. The basic adjustments given in ACR are sometimes a bit excessive (adjusted for full white or full black) so using an edited mask allows me a lot more variation in how the adjustments are applied.

    There should be more information at www.russellbrown.com

    Today I have been doing exactly what you want to do. Working with images of Line Dancers wearing white shirts and black skirts/trousers. But I am struggling to easily explain what I did.

    But I do initially achieve a lot of suitable adjustment with the Exposure and Fill Light settings, as Colin said.

    The main problem with my current photos is that the scene was dark and I had to shoot with high speed flash at ISO 800 which didn't give sufficient light coverage.

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    I would like to thank Colin and Geoff for the kind explanations.
    @ Colin - I may be wrong but I think that the strobes have 500 watt power and they are enough to freeze motion but not the way - perhaps - you shot the dog.
    I am thinking to take the picture in almost total darkness and fire the flash at the "right moment". As you know better than I do, the duration of the strobe is for example, 1/6.000 and this speed will freeze the action. Camara in bulb mode. Darkness all over.
    This is an hypothesis of work. The other is on the contrary take advantages of low speeds and register the movement / motion.
    Here are two examples.
    Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?
    Last image from here

    @ Geoff - I have now yet "discovered" this "Reveal all" but I am working the way you described regardless the image. It was a most useful link. Thank you.

    And Geoff have you seen this ?

    In this image here I used the technique you described with lots of success. with two layers as smart objects
    The image belongs to my Theme "Postal Cards"

    Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ? Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?


    Have a look
    Last edited by Antonio Correia; 14th September 2011 at 03:32 PM.

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    You certainly have plenty of colour and exposure range with those images, Antonio.

    Russell Brown uses the same principle of Layer Masks as I use; but he seems to do it more professionally.

    He adds a Mask Layer from a button at the bottom of his layers menu while I tend to create the same thing from the Layers Menu. Either way there is a choice between a show everything mask and a hide everything mask. With his method you can 'invert' the mask to switch between the two options.

    Either way allows you to edit the effects by using a suitable low opacity brush on the mask. And, of course, any Adjustment Layers used in Photoshop (or a few other programmes) has a show (reveal) mask automatically attached to the layer.

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    Re: Uniforms with black and white. How to get details in both areas ?

    Thank you Geoff
    I must go and have a look at Russell Brown with his peculiar style

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