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Thread: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

  1. #1
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    Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Hello All,

    I've recently decided to try my hand at digital photography borrowing a friends camera. I still use film in my hexars.

    Anyway after calibrating my monitor and loading up rawtherapee and gimp, I've started to have a go at processing some files.

    The thing that I'm seeing is that all my pictures seem to have a warm palette, it's not white balance as that seems to be okay.

    I prefer something cooler, but not sure how to achieve it and probably how to describe it.

    Any thoughts?

    tombstone.jpg
    W.
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    Last edited by Colin Southern; 25th April 2012 at 08:32 AM.

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Quote Originally Posted by walnut View Post
    Hello All,

    I've recently decided to try my hand at digital photography borrowing a friends camera. I still use film in my hexars.

    Anyway after calibrating my monitor and loading up rawtherapee and gimp, I've started to have a go at processing some files.

    The thing that I'm seeing is that all my pictures seem to have a warm palette, it's not white balance as that seems to be okay.

    I prefer something cooler, but not sure how to achieve it and probably how to describe it.

    Any thoughts?

    W.
    I think the image looks very good. The WB seems to be about neutral. It is very well saturated, perhaps that is giving it some warmth. If you want the image on the cool side, add a little blue. Image///adjustment///curves///blue channel///pull the center of the curve towards the top left corner a little bit.

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Hi "Wal",

    The warmness of an image is a direct function of the whitebalance; you said "it's not white balance as that seems to be okay", but "seems OK" raises red flags for me.

    Normally for technically correct white balance one would include a spectrally neutral reference ("gray card") in a sample shot, and then white balances all images shot under that light to that gray card. In Photoshop that amounts to clicking the gray card with the white balance eye dropper, and then synchronising those settings across all images in the set - not sure what the steps are in RT, but I imagine it has a similar tool.

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    PS: I just popped the image into Photoshop and measured the white balance around the sign in the top right hand corner (I'm assuming the backing board was supposed to be painted white). Surprisingly, the original was already quite cool (red channel behind blue channel by about 10%).

    Here's a version that's had the white balance adjusted so that the white of the sign is a true white (and probably my best clue to technically correct white balance).

    Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Thanks everyone for the replies, they are much appreciated and I'll spend some time looking into them. They are definitely things and approaches I need to learn.

    I don't think that I'm describing this correctly and will try and find some examples of what I'm trying to describe.

    I think that's a bit like how some TV shows look different to movies. For example, things like soap opera's have a different palette, temperature, warmth to that of movies. It's almost like the palette is warmer or more pastel. The movies still look correct in tones, but it looks different. I get the feeling all my photo's have that soap opera look

    I've also noticed that this is not just in colour photographs. I've seen it too in black and white. Some black and white photographs almost have an almost steely, metallic palette type quality to them.

    I've never been able to acheive this non warm palette in the short time I've been taking digital photos so unfortunately don't have any that I can upload to show the effect, light, palette I'm going for.

    Thanks again.

    W.

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Try slightly reducing the saturation and see if that gives the sort of effect you are wanting. But there are many, more complicated, ways of achieving a similar although slightly better effect.

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Hi Walnut. If you want to set the White Balance but do not have a Gray Card reference in the image, you should be able to set the gray point in Photoshop by using the procedure described in An Easy Way To Find Neutral Gray In An Image.

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    walnut, the main reason soap operas look different from movies is that soap operas are on video tape and movies are on film stock. Maybe you are not yet used to the look of "digital". There is essentially no grain (noise) under good lighting conditions.

    Your thread title says "pastel" but the version you posted looks correctly saturated. Are you sure you calibrated your monitor properly?

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Hi Walnut. If you want to set the White Balance but do not have a Gray Card reference in the image, you should be able to set the gray point in Photoshop by using the procedure described in An Easy Way To Find Neutral Gray In An Image.
    Hi Frank,

    Call me old - all me a fool - but I cannot for the life of me understand how that method can possibly work.

    Yes - it can find a spectrally neutral gray in an image piece of cake, but the problem is that although the grey it finds is spectrally neutral, it's ONLY spectrally neutral because the combination of it's natural colour + the colour cast have made it neutral.

    What we need is something that's SUPPOSED to be gray (so we can adjust it so that it is).

    What am I missing here? And if it were that easy, why couldn't Photoshop automate the process with 100% accuracy??

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Frank,

    Call me old - all me a fool - but I cannot for the life of me understand how that method can possibly work.

    Yes - it can find a spectrally neutral gray in an image piece of cake, but the problem is that although the grey it finds is spectrally neutral, it's ONLY spectrally neutral because the combination of it's natural colour + the colour cast have made it neutral.

    What we need is something that's SUPPOSED to be gray (so we can adjust it so that it is).

    What am I missing here? And if it were that easy, why couldn't Photoshop automate the process with 100% accuracy??
    I was hoping you'd chime in. I've tried this technique on several occasions and it does seem to help but I have no way to verify that it actually works 100% of the time. I've found that just because something is posted on the WEB doesn't guarantee that it is accurate.

    Would it be possible to verify by using an image that we know the white balance is off but includes a gray card in the image? Or would we be casting the result to the luck of the draw?

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Quote Originally Posted by benm View Post
    walnut, the main reason soap operas look different from movies is that soap operas are on video tape and movies are on film stock. Maybe you are not yet used to the look of "digital". There is essentially no grain (noise) under good lighting conditions.

    Your thread title says "pastel" but the version you posted looks correctly saturated. Are you sure you calibrated your monitor properly?
    I checked the photo on a friends calibrated monitor and it looks the same.

    I think that my use of the word pastel probably wasn't correct. From reading through the thread it could be that I just haven't got used to the digital look yet and more used to film.

    I did notice that this photograph by Brian, has a less warm look about it.

    I really apologise for my lack of correct terminology and not being able to get my point across. I have a feeling it's a combination of the light and the look of digital.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    I was hoping you'd chime in. I've tried this technique on several occasions and it does seem to help but I have no way to verify that it actually works 100% of the time. I've found that just because something is posted on the WEB doesn't guarantee that it is accurate.

    Would it be possible to verify by using an image that we know the white balance is off but includes a gray card in the image? Or would we be casting the result to the luck of the draw?
    Hi Frank,

    Piece of cake to do that. I'll try to remember (translation: "if it's not up in a day or two, remind me!")

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Shooting at high noon at Tombstone would appear to be only slightly preferable to getting shot in Tombstone at high noon.

  14. #14

    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Quote Originally Posted by benm View Post
    walnut, the main reason soap operas look different from movies is that soap operas are on video tape and movies are on film stock.
    Also the vast majority of movies will have extensive lighting design or post production to get a particular artistic effect.

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    I was hoping you'd chime in. I've tried this technique on several occasions and it does seem to help but I have no way to verify that it actually works 100% of the time. I've found that just because something is posted on the WEB doesn't guarantee that it is accurate.

    Would it be possible to verify by using an image that we know the white balance is off but includes a gray card in the image? Or would we be casting the result to the luck of the draw?
    Hi Frank,

    I just tried it, and as I suspected, it doesn't work. The article seems to confuse middle gray with neutral gray ... the procedure finds areas that are medium gray piece of cake -- the only problem is (due to the colour cast) they're not SUPPOSED to be middle gray!

    Try it on this image here and see what I mean (there are medium & neutral grays all around the outside (alternated with whites).

    Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Frank,

    I just tried it, and as I suspected, it doesn't work. The article seems to confuse middle gray with neutral gray ... the procedure finds areas that are medium gray piece of cake -- the only problem is (due to the colour cast) they're not SUPPOSED to be middle gray!

    Try it on this image here and see what I mean (there are medium & neutral grays all around the outside (alternated with whites).
    Thank you for the test image Colin, particularly as I don't have a colour card. In order to confirm that I end up with the correct result, I looked for the hex codes of Neutral Gray and Medium Gray and found hex numbers that are all over the place. Can you tell me the correct hex numbers for these two grays?

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Thank you for the test image Colin, particularly as I don't have a colour card. In order to confirm that I end up with the correct result, I looked for the hex codes of Neutral Gray and Medium Gray and found hex numbers that are all over the place. Can you tell me the correct hex numbers for these two grays?
    Hi Frank,

    This should do the trick for you

    Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

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    Re: Photos appear to be 'pastel' looking

    Thanks Colin. I looks like the numbers are all over the place in the real world.

    I'm guessing that Medium Gray would be 128,128,128 (80,80,80 HEX) and from what your colour card shows, it looks like Neutral Gray should be somewhere between 93,93,94 and 108,108,107. Not sure what sample point #9 is supposed to be - somewhere in between Neutral and medium perhaps?

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