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Trouble with Color Noise Correction

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  #11  
Old 05-31-2003, 06:20 AM
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Richard_Lynch Richard_Lynch is offline
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Jeff and Susan,

This reply is directed perhaps not so much at you as in that direction...Hope it helps a little.

Controlling layers and layer modes as opposed to playing with them takes time to understand. You need to digest color theory and understand what the layers do to one another, not necessarily just what the mode means. I've listed the descriptions in the tool menus and in the back of the book so you have access to the descriptions -- that only gets you part of the way there.

The difficulty in trying to teach a Photoshop or Elements 'method' is that people want fantastic things to happen. They often go right for the filters...and Layer modes (used on the tools as well) are not far behind. My digital art students play with these things all the time -- not really understanding what is goig on, but enjoying the effects. The misunderstanding gained is that these are toys and incomprehensible. Methods are pretty much boring theory until they can be applied to make something fantastic happen.

Even with a lot of experience trying filters and modes, you'll see I only really use a handfull of filters in the book (noise, blur, sharpen, clouds) and only a few modes (Luminosity, Color, Screen, Multiply, Overlay). As i 'preach' at the beginning of the book, there are a few tools you will learn to use all the time -- and those tools will have most used modes and functions. Focusing on these will give you fewer things to remember. But these modes are really fairly simple in function, and that is why they really become staple: they are easy enough to figure out to apply with consistency (and overlay may even stretch that definition). Part of the problem may be that you are trying to think of the multiple layers cumulatively. More important is to consider the layer groups -- as that is where you are really doing complicated calculations. To over-simplify: if you have a group wher the botton layer is a Screen mode layer and that stack is topped by 100% green (0,255,0) Multiply mode layer, it will be effecting the green channel -- no matter what or how many changes and undercurrents fall in the group. Unless you have another such group (and I'd try not to do that unless you are quite conscious of why you are doing it), that group is, in effect, your green channel. Think of it separately from the blue and red, and the mass of calculations becomes less challenging.

there are other ways to accomplish what I was doing in the book, and some are damned near magic -- they'd have taught you nothing about color and mode and what is affecting the image. I chose what was sometimes a little more difficult because it makes a little more sense. It is also a book that gathers YEARS of learning about digital images. If you can pick it up and in months or weeks understand even half of it as well as I, not to boast, but I've quite done the job I set out to do -- and then some. If you are picking it up quickly, all the better -- but don't get fooled into thinking it is easy, even if you are a quick study (you'll see a few reviews on amazon that are result of thinking even the advanced is 'easy'). I've tried to show results in the book that are easy to accomplish while demonstrating the power. That CMYK separation...if you really get it, you are beyond 98% of users -- Photoshop or otherwise. It is a complex assembly of cumulative theory in the book, and practice that spans pre-press from before there were digital images and how pre-digital separations were made using cameras and film. There are digital masters who would say you couldn't do it. it isn't their fault, they've never really thought to try because Photoshop will do it for you -- leaving them without a clue as to how it works or why, and putting the results in the hands of calculations made by Adobe engineers.

All this is to say: take your time and absorb it. Keep the mode definitions on hand. See an image and try to figure what you want to do with it and how before you go to it...and if it fails, figure out why it didn't work. That is learning from mistakes, and it will lead to the permanent understanding of one mode at a time.

OK?
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  #12  
Old 05-31-2003, 09:24 AM
Susan S. Susan S. is offline
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That's interesting Richard. Thinking about the layers cumulatively is exactly what I was trying to do. I will readjust my thinking. And it is the CMYK chapter that I've got bogged down in....but I'd rather have it more difficult if in the end I get a better understanding of how photo editing works. (trouble is, at the moment, for that particular chapter that end is not yet in sight - reflecting the fact that I really need to go back to the earlier stuff and go over again things that I thought I understoood, but obviously didn't quite). Part IV was much more straightforward, techniques that I knew bits of or variants of anyway, and it just put everything nicely into place. Part V I've only dipped into.

Susan S.
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  #13  
Old 05-31-2003, 02:46 PM
Jeff F Jeff F is offline
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Richard,

I, too, like Susan would rather it be difficult if I will garner a better understanding in the end. There's a world of difference between knowledge, understanding, and experience. I know and understand very well how a jet engine works, but I'd be hard pressed to build one right now. My knowledge and understanding of the color and layer concepts are skyrocketing right now thanks to your book. But I know it's going to be quite some time before I can start to apply them to my own photos reliably and with good results. For example, the "bottles" picture in your book in which we isolate the blue bottles so as not to make the same color changes that we make to the rest of the picture: I can do all of the steps now and totally understand why it works the way it does. But knowing this procedure, if you were to hand me a picture that needed a similar fix, I wouldn't make the connection. It's very difficult for me to see what a picture needs to look better. I can only hope that it will come with experience. Until then, I'll plug along increasing my knowledge and (hopefully) understanding and wait for the experience to catch up. I haven't gotten to the CMYK separations section yet, but it looks like I'll be in for a treat.

Thanks for all of your help,
Jeff
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  #14  
Old 05-31-2003, 03:31 PM
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Richard_Lynch Richard_Lynch is offline
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Jeff,

The art of change is not something I really address -- and I think it is a whole other topic. I guess my point would be to give you the controls so that you can test out which things you think you want to change, powered by the understanding of how to do it. I also can't guarantee a right and wrong in an artistic decision: if you wanted to make the bottles another color, it is possible it would be better than the color I chose -- either as a general concensus or in your own eye. I think an appropriate name for *that* book would be the Art of Photoshop (I am not advocating anything that may exist by that title). I hope, however, that you are telling me you'd be able to change a specific color, but just wouldn't know which to choose. You'll see later in the book that I try to make sure I am not suggesting my corrections are the only possibilities...For example, changing and recreating the scene in chapter 7 is a judgement call. You may either like the result or not, and that isn't the point. The point is to learn the technique of re-defining, creating possiblities, and giving you the tools to apply.

Eventually you will get to the point where you look at an image and make a list of what you want to change...Playing with images and seeing the possibilities (and how to carry them out technically) is a first step in the process.

Susan,

it is fine to go back...less good to skip forward...and probably possible to go entirely through without absorbing a thing. The latter being possible but not desireable from my perspective. My suggestion would be that going slowly and repeating sections before moving on will give you the greatest understanding of the result and the best possibility of making appication successfully to any image.

Eventually you will both get it all...I have no doubt.
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  #15  
Old 05-31-2003, 04:25 PM
Jeff F Jeff F is offline
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Well, if you ever decide to write such a book (on the art side) I'll probably be first in line. There's no question that the artistic side of my brain has atrophied from disuse. I'm making photography my one big endeavor into the artistic realm if for no other reason than to preserve memories, which are important to me. The saddest thing is that many of your "before" photos look just great to me until I see the "after" version. Then I look back and see that maybe the "before" image wasn't so great after all. But why didn't I see it the first time? Lack of experience? Lack of discriminating taste? My daughter is very artistic and has been all of her life. That makes me wonder if it's something one must be born with, and I'm just out of luck. I love to sit at the computer and play with an image to try and make it look its best, but I don't have all the time in the world to sit and do random corrections with every picture I take and hope I eventually find the right combination. After all as you say, there is more than one way to go at it, and, therefore, thousands or more combinations of ways to change a photo. Therefore, I need to learn to be able to see what it needs up front to cut down that time. That, I'm afraid, will be a long, long journey. On the other hand, there's something to be said for a long journey as long as you enjoy yourself, I suppose. I've probably rambled on here a little too much, but thanks for your time.

Jeff
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  #16  
Old 05-31-2003, 08:07 PM
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Richard_Lynch Richard_Lynch is offline
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I did include a 'procedure' which mechanically gets images 'correct'. Pages 4-6. This will start your image in the right place and bring you through the process. Only steps 8-10 are really 'artistic'. A levels correction by itself will improve many images.

Don't dispair.

There was a time, not all too long ago where I would only work with B&W images digitally. I got good with them and was dumbfounded when my B&W techniques worked on Color images...and I took apart the theory before I realized why. The more you play with images the more you will see.
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  #17  
Old 05-31-2003, 09:04 PM
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CJ Swartz CJ Swartz is offline
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Hi, Jeff!

You've said "It's very difficult for me to see what a picture needs to look better. I can only hope that it will come with experience."

and

"The saddest thing is that many of your "before" photos look just great to me until I see the "after" version. Then I look back and see that maybe the "before" image wasn't so great after all. But why didn't I see it the first time? Lack of experience? Lack of discriminating taste?"

Your words remind me a lot of thoughts that I had when I started getting into photography (as a serious hobbyist) after just "clicking the shutter" for many years. I took a few jr. college classes and started to realize that there were REASONS why one photo caught my attention and another didn't. But putting those reasons into thoughts and words that I could understand and USE wasn't as easy as just "knowing what I like". (Let me admit now that I still not very good in these areas, but I have learned a lot.)

I don't know what you are already doing to gain more experience in this area (yes, I think experience can help those of us who weren't "born" with the gift.), but I hope you will consider one or more of the following:

Reading different points of view on what needs to be included for a photograph to be judged Good or Excellent. (There's agreement on a few points, and arguments about all the other points. )
Google results for "evaluating photos" Also take a look at www.photo.net -- a photography forum filled with pros, hobbyists, and wannabees alike.

Visiting our Photo Art forums to play around with images submitted for practice, and look at others' submissions. I'm not suggesting that you'll see a lot of photo art that is great, but you'll see a lot of people's original photos and what different people do with those photos to enhance them or "artify" them , and seeing a lot of different peoples' work in one location that is free -- this is good! Also, everyone is friendly, and you can try your hand at some photo manipulation (practicing what you're learning from Richard's book and Richard) without fear of showing it to friends and family. There are lots of newbies there, so you don't have to worry about how you compare -- it's not a competition, it's a funfest.


RetouchPRO -- Photo Art Forums
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  #18  
Old 05-31-2003, 09:58 PM
Jeff F Jeff F is offline
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Richard,

You can bet I'll be using the mechanical procedures on my own photos for quite some time. I don't mean to lament the fact that I lack experience or artistic ability. But these tools and procedures given to me are like car keys being given to a child. Now he can go anywhere he wants, anytime he wants -- if he only knew how to drive. I'll be working on it though.

CJ,

Thanks for the links. I will definately check those out. I almost never pass up an opportunity to learn. I'm just not as absorbent as I used to be.

Thanks to both,
Jeff
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