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Thread: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    I photographed some red flowers and some pink flowers and for the shots where I zoomed in on just the flower, ie; the photo is mostly just red or all pink I would like to know what to look for when editing. The histogram is not clipped anywhere.

    The WB in the photo looks pretty much as was but if I hit the auto white balance in Lightroom it turns the flower a very funky, unreal colour (as do all the other WB presets)

    Not that I'm using the auto tone button, but I do hit it to see what LR does and it overexposes the flower, and blows all the colours and ruins the photo. Hence I'm curious what I should look for in close-up flowers that are pink or red.

    Thank you.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Christina - the problem with any of the "automatic" functions is that they "assume" that you have shot an average scene and will make adjustments in the colours to bring back that average. In your case, the scene has an overabundance of red in it, so the software will try to reduce the red values and crank up the blues and greens, and you get something that is not even close to reality.

    Unless you have something in the image that you know to be neutral; black, white or "pure" grey; i.e. equal portions or red, blue and green as a reference, you are going to have to adjust the colours by eye. If you want to use automated functions in Lightroom, have a shot of a colour target; one that is white, grey or one with reference colours (something like the x-Rite color checker passport). Put that into one of your shots of the flower under the same lighting you are shooting with, and use the color sampler eyedropper tool and your colours will be balanced for you.

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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Hi Christina, I've been shooting flower pics lately and I have a long-running battle with a sunflower snap taken in July 2012! So maybe I can help, maybe not . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I photographed some red flowers and some pink flowers and for the shots where I zoomed in on just the flower, ie; the photo is mostly just red or all pink I would like to know what to look for when editing. The histogram is not clipped anywhere.
    Unfortunately, the prettiest flowers can have very saturated colors which are often outside of sRGB or even Adobe RGB. So, for me, I look at the histogram in ProPhoto working space, and I check each color red, green and blue to make sure they are not clipped at either end. I have found that the luminance histogram can hide clipping because of the way it is calculated. Even then the battle is not over . .

    Assuming that the desired output is to be in the sRGB color space, the question of rendering intent rears it's ugly head. Have you encountered that as a subject yet? It's important because choosing the wrong intent can mess up the image when colors in the source (ProPhoto working space) are outside the gamut of the target (sRGB monitor image).

    There are ways and means, of course. I've had some success reducing the saturation slider in my Editor before converting from ProPhoto to sRGB. I've also tried a different rendering intent (perceptual) with indifferent results, the most appropriate intent being somewhat dependent on the scene content.

    The WB in the photo looks pretty much as was but if I hit the auto white balance in Lightroom it turns the flower a very funky, unreal colour (as do all the other WB presets)
    You would be well served to try and get the WB correctly set for the type of lighting falling on the scene and accepting what the camera gives you.

    Not that I'm using the auto tone button, but I do hit it to see what LR does and it overexposes the flower, and blows all the colours and ruins the photo. Hence I'm curious what I should look for in close-up flowers that are pink or red.
    This mauve one put up quite a fight but I beat it into submission with lots of tweaking in RawTherapee . . .

    What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers
    .
    Last edited by xpatUSA; 1st June 2013 at 06:14 AM. Reason: re-worded intents

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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Christina:

    Manfred has it covered very well. Any single coloured object that fills a major part of the frame is always a problem.

    I might suggest these approaches (if you didn't use a WB target when you shot the flower):

    1) adjust the red from memory (I do this, but I'm not worried about being off a bit as no two red flowers are identical).

    2) pinch a small bit of petal from another similar flower and compare it to your image - this requires an accurately calibrated monitor (as any other approach does),

    3) if you can remember what time of day you shot the flower, the WB can be adjusted to suit. If at midday, use a daylight WB, and adjust to suit your preference. I use this quite often; for example if the flower is in full shade, the Shade setting can get me a close starting point.

    4) I never use the Landscape camera profile for flowers - I think it over-saturates with a resulting loss of definition in the petals - particularly with red.

    5) make it look like you want it to look - what is reality anyway?

    Glenn

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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Hi Christina,

    Here is a sample of Manfred's technique. The gray cards are very cheap.First is out of the camera, then with the eyedropper applied. Once you have the settings its good for the whole shoot under those light conditions.

    George

    What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Hi Christina,
    Using a grey card to 'set' white balance is the most effective way to do what you want, as Manfred and others have suggested.

    You can also sometimes use specular highlights (those 'white' highlights that often crop up in an image) as something to try setting a white point.

    Every now and then someone asks me to take a 'look' at an image they have taken and 'do something with it! (Usually my wife, cousins and close friends.)

    Relying on someone else's colour memory is always interesting so, in extreme cases rather than try to set a white point 'up front' I do the following: -

    1) open the image in PS and got to the 'Layers' panel
    2) check the histogram is displayed correctly and then select each colour channel in turn.
    3) for each colour channel I then set the equivalent of a 'black' point by moving the left hand slider to the right until it is at the foot of the histogram. I then do the same for the 'white' point by moving the right hand slider left to the foot of the histogram.

    This effectively sets a 'default' black and white point for the image. (Bear in mind that the original image may not have any true black or white, so if necessary, for each colour channel move the sliders back out from the edge of the histogram until to have what seems the most natural look.)

    Once you have set black and white points that you are 'happy' with, you can then adjust the brightness of the image generally by switching to the composite RGB channel and moving the middle slider right or left as suits.
    Alternately you can change the brightness of each colour channel selectively by moving the middle slider when the channel is selected.

    Moving the middle slider allows you to change the 'grey' mid point to your image.

    It all sounds a bit fiddly, as I'm describing it, but once you have done it once or twice you will get the hang of it.

    If you have not already seen it, I suggest you look at the CiC tutorial which covers the same technique.

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/levels.htm

    (Only difference is that I prefer to selectively adjust each colour channel, whereas the tutorial simply adjusts the composite RGB channel)

    James

    James

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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Christina,

    This is slightly off topic, but I have another suggestion for you if you are shooting largely monochromatic flowers. You said that there was no clipping. However, the combined histogram (gray on my camera) can show no clipping even when there is clipping of one of the individual color channels. I have found that this is particularly likely to happen with reds. Therefore, my advice for shooting flowers is to set the camera so that the histograms show separately for all three color channels, and use the highest as the guide to exposure.

    Dan

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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Wow! Thank you to all for your very helpful and informative replies. I'm always amazed by the wealth of information and knowledge of the members of Cambridge, and truly appreciative of how everyone jumps in to share and help others.

    Manfred, I am going to go back and try again using a grey card. Geoff, thank you for the how-to sample.

    Ted, I use Adobe RGB, and check each of the colours for clipping. Thank you for the tips.

    Glen, thank you for sharing a bunch of simple tips. I am going to pinch a petal of the flower next time around. My camera should not be set to landscape, just normal but I will double check.

    Steve, as always thank you for a very detailed and informative reply. It sounds a little daunting but I will try it once I buy the colour monitor thing... Spyder Express. And I will review the levels tutorial - I find I learn something new each time I review them.

    Glen, thank you for sharing. I've learned to look at each of the colours separately and do so. Thanks to Cambridge!

    A BIG thank you to all!

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Manfred and Geoff, I am going to go back and try the grey card, and next time I will use a tripod so they are sharper... I also noticed that the water droplets had all kinds of colours reflected in them which I'm not so sure is a good thing.

    Ted, that de-saturation tip comes in handy. And yes, I had some clipping in the green in some photos.

    Steve, I did the tutorial again and tried adjusting each colour in the levels bar but it was not so easy to figure out. I noticed that when I moved those sliders the histogram became spiky which I don't think is a good thing so I tried to avoid those spikes as much as possible. Nevertheless I must say that it was a good exercise and I learned how to adjust individual colours. Thank you. (and yes, I will practice)

    To anyone who is following this thread, I have deleted my pink flower photos because my monitor is not calibrated, which means it is a misleading exercise (in terms of the sample colours)... ie; photos were not accurate representations of the pink colour
    Last edited by Brownbear; 31st May 2013 at 01:14 PM. Reason: delete misleading pink coloured photos

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I also noticed that the water droplets had all kinds of colours reflected in them which I'm not so sure is a good thing.
    This is a completely normal phenomena; the water droplets act as tiny prisms and you are just seeing effect of light traveling through the water drops.

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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Christina,

    There is nothing meaningful to be accomplished when asking people to let you know how the colors look on their monitor unless you know that theirs and yours are calibrated. You already know that yours isn't calibrated so that alone renders the exercise unhelpful and potentially misleading. Personally, if I were being really discriminating about that, I would ask only people to comment who are also using the same browser than I am using.

    Hopefully your images look the same on your monitor when viewed in your post-processing software and on the Internet. If not, that's a whole other discussion that needs to take place before asking people to review your colors can be helpful to you.

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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Christina:

    1) I think you will have better success with RAW images than with JPEG ones.

    2) Does your camera have an RGB histogram? It is a valuable tool - I use it extensively.

    3) I mentioned that I set my camera's CONTRAST to minus 2 or minus 3. This has no effect on the RAW file at all, but when the camera generates a JPEG to display on the LCD, it is closer to output level of the RAW file.

    This means you can push the exposure closer to the right and still avoid clipping. By pushing the exposure to the right (ETTR), more detailed information is captured in the RAW file. One caveat - you must watch all three channels (R, G, B) and keep all three from clipping.

    Glenn

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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Christina, your on a bit of a steep learning curve! You will learn to trust your own judgement regarding colour balance, but as I said earlier it takes a little time.

    1) I think you may be 'examining' the image too closely and becoming overcritical of you own efforts. I often walk away from an image ad leave it for 24 hrs. It gives me a chance to reassess my progress and get a bit of perspective on what I've generated.
    2) Make sure you are also viewing out from the screen from time to time, it is easy to become fixated on specific areas that are causing problems and not see the overall 'goodness' of the image.
    3) Keep in mind that until you have a calibrated monitor, others are unlikely to see the image as you do. At the same time though, the exercise of assessing Black and White points, using levels to adjust colour channels etc.is all valid for images viewed within your own system.
    4) As regards monitor calibration softeware , there are 'free' tools out there to try. I did a quick search on the web for instance and found these links...
    http://hex2bit.com/products/product_mcw.asp
    and
    http://calibrize.com/

    Once you have your monitor calibrated you can have more confidence that others can see your images as you do when you send them out. Additionally, having a calibrated monitor will make it easier to get good print match either on your own printer, or from your local photo shop.

    5) If you can you should start capturing images in RAW format, it gives you much more to work with. The spiking you observed when using levels adjustment on jpeg will be much reduced. Once you are capturing RAW you are no longer letting your camera 'process' the image before presenting it too you as a jpeg. Usually you can shoot raw and jpeg simultaneously so there is no need to go 'cold turkey' into raw. (If you compare the size of a raw file with the jpeg it is much larger, giving you more information to start from.)

    James

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for advising. I was hoping to find out my edits of the pink colour using levels was a good one, or not. And that is why I posted two versions of the pink to compare to the original. Are you saying that colours also look different in different browsers?

    I'm not so sure now, but I don't think my colours are way off, or surely someone would have told me by now.. Anyway I understand what you are saying, and I see that although I have received plenty of informative comments no one, has commented on the pink colour. Thank you for taking the time to teach me something else.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Christina,

    There is nothing meaningful to be accomplished when asking people to let you know how the colors look on their monitor unless you know that theirs and yours are calibrated. You already know that yours isn't calibrated so that alone renders the exercise unhelpful and potentially misleading. Personally, if I were being really discriminating about that, I would ask only people to comment who are also using the same browser than I am using.

    Hopefully your images look the same on your monitor when viewed in your post-processing software and on the Internet. If not, that's a whole other discussion that needs to take place before asking people to review your colors can be helpful to you.

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Thank you, Mike, Glenn and Steve for your very informative and helpful replies.

    I shoot in raw and jpeg, and the photos posted above (except for the original jpeg to show the colour as captured in camera) were edited in raw. Why does everyone think I'm using jpegs for the posted edits?

    Manfred, great to know!

    Glenn. Thank you for the great tips which I will check out. I just notice the rich pink colour of the flower in your profile. Beautiful!

    Steve, thank you for some great advice and the links for the calibration. I'm going to purchase Spyder 4, in a couple of weeks.
    (I do photograph in jpeg and raw)

    Thank you everyone. When I have my monitor calibrated I will try the flower thing again.
    Last edited by Brownbear; 31st May 2013 at 01:10 PM. Reason: add comment

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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Are you saying that colours also look different in different browsers?
    Yes. For one example of that, review this thread.

    If you're not using sRGB as your color space for image files displayed on the Internet, there is the additional issue that browsers that are not color-managed will most definitely display the colors even more differently than usual. Most browsers are color-managed these days, but I would be willing to bet that some people are still using one that isn't. Even so, browsers that are color-managed will still display photos differently, as proven in the thread mentioned above.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 31st May 2013 at 01:07 PM.

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Thank you Mike. Do you use RGB for the internet and Adobe RGB for printing, ie you change the settings for each photo in camera and on your editing program?

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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Almost everyone seems to find it heresy or something close to that that I use sRGB for everything -- from capture through every form of output. I have my reasons for doing so, including my philosophy about viewing a photograph in the various possible output formats, and they work for me. There is no reason to think that one choice could be the best choice for everyone.

    I would not advise anyone to use sRGB for all parts of the workflow without first understanding the characteristics of the various color spaces and how those characteristics affect workflow. Only then can a photographer make an informed decision about what works best for him or her.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Thank you Mike. Do you use RGB for the internet and Adobe RGB for printing, ie you change the settings for each photo in camera and on your editing program?
    Christina - there are different philosophies on the best way to approach ones workflow; I tend to work in the highest quality colourspace available (I do use a calibrated and profiled wide gamut screen for my work). Bottom line is that most commercial photo printers assume sRGB and colour managed browsers also display in sRGB. Regardless of your workflow (I use ProPhoto colour space in Photoshop and shoot AdobeRGB for jpegs in my cameras), you should manually convert the sRGB and tweak the colours as required yourself, otherwise you leave yourself open to whatever conversion routines the downstream sources use. In general, if you don't do your own conversions, you will find that the colours look flat when viewed on the web or in prints.

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    Re: What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    For Geoff and Manfred.

    My screen is now calibrated so I returned and used a grey card.

    It was my first time using a grey card and I must say that it was nice to set the WB all in one shots... Then again I can see why WB can be a creative thing.


    The pink poppy
    What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers


    and the red poppy

    What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

    The red poppy with the background darkened using my selector pen.... I think some of the reds are blown even though the histogram did not show this. Anyway just for practice with colour and selecting.

    What to look for when editing the WB and colours of red or pink flowers

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