Thanks everyone for pitching in. It never ceases to amaze me how many different ways there are to the same end in Photoshop. It is clear that everyone of you have made a drastic improvement on the original product.
I am curious, I never dabbled much in LAB color and am not sure of the advantages. Perhaps someone could explain the benefits of going that route.
On LAB color, I recommend Dan Margulis book The Canyon Conundrum.
There are several things you can do in LAB that you can't do elsewhere. Steepening the A and B curves drives colors apart. You can also separate colors selectively by manipulating the curves. Conversely, lowering the slope of the A and B channel has the effect of driving colors together.
Next, the L channel contains only the contrast, so you can manipulate it without changing color. It is the best place to do shadow/highlights adjustments or general sharpening. It really makes a difference for these in highlights and deep shadows.
And for selective color changing, nothing works as well as LAB.
Next time you are in a good bookstore, you should see if they have the Margulis book and glance through the first couple of chapters. I had Elements until I did that. When I saw what LAB could do, I had to get the full Photoshop.
For some reviews from here on the Margulis book, check:
and if you want some very interesting explanations, summaries and discussion, check:
I found both of these yesterday while farting around. (Ever wonder why they call it surfing the web instead of farting around the web?)
Too dark photos - when processing them, we should keep in mind the important
- to avoid color fringing, color shift and color spots
- to preserve details in Highlights
Using Gimp I made following steps:
I decomposed the photo into CMYK with channels as layers
Filters -> Colors -> Decompose
I activate channelK-layer (black channel) and using Curves I preserved
Highlights making "anchor-point"A and then I lightened lower Midtones
by moving the curve up - see Attachment.
Depending on photo we can, after this quickly and simple correction,
also run USM on this layer (whole or edges only). Up to taste.
When satisfied with results on channelK-layer we can now compose
those CMYK-layers into one RGB-image back
Filters -> Colors -> Compose
Dan Margulis in his priceless book about color corrections gives lot of great
tips and observations concerning digital images processing general.
I use Gimp and I am able to implement most of Margulis' great tips/methods.
Alan, you can try it - Gimp is a great Open Source project and is free for
personal AND commercial use.
- duplicate original
- shadows/highlights to bring out the darker areas
- converted a duplicate to LAB and used curves adj in lightness channel to improve the definition of the water
- copied and pasted back over-top of the RGB version
- selctive color adjustment for skin tones
i'm a little surprised here at the lengths to which some folks are going on this correction. this is just a matter of light. that's it really. a simple contrast/brightness adjustment layer can easily handle all that's wrong here. and this could even be set up on an action/script with batch processing for doing many images.
and as for the picture taking, i'd guess offhand that the cameraman needs a little correction with camera settings and adjustments. this is a simple matter of being slightly underexposed.
there is a tendency sometimes in doing the work we're doing, to get a bit of a case of 'complicosis', that tendency towards making things more complicated than they need to be. the old 'KISS' (keep it simple, stupid) mandate is one we shld be aware of. what's the final product and how do we get there as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality is something we shld ask ourselves constantly. this particular image is targetted for a quick turn-around business. they take the pictures of tourists, who at the end of their journey are going to be presented with an image to purchase. so speed is essential here. so if the cameraman is having a bad day or needs to be re-trained or the camera is acting up, you want a quick fix.
so, whereas i see a lot of good results, i think this is more of an exercise in 'getting up to speed' than in 'getting up to quality'.
Barbara, thanks for your explanation. I have downloaded GIMP but just have not learned to use the program yet. Your post is just the inspiration I need.
Craig, In the case of these photos, I am looking for more than just lightening them up. Most of the images our photographers are shooting, are much better and require a minimum of correction. Usually a little levels and H/S is all they need. These cases are the exception. As soon as we lighten them up the lack of color information adversely effects the quality to the point where in good conscience I cannot turnout the image to the customer. These people all pay in advance expecting that when they get home they will recieve a nice reminder of their vacation that they can enjoy for years to come.
We do not sell our photos cheap, $24 for one 5x7 is our starting point (most of our custmers buy in series of 5 action shots) and we are not the only show in town. Also remember that almost every boat will generate multiple orders (this particular photo has come up on at least 4 different orders). Multiply these numbers with number of rafts that went down the river that day, probably around 125, and you will begin to understand why I am looking for a bit more more than a levels adjustment. The photographer has been dealt with but that does not solve the problems with these images.
Our customers come in after their trips and view these images on computers and pick the ones they want. They are viewing low res images and expect that the actual printed version will look better (unfortunately our sales people will agree with them) and 99% of the time they do. We are not in a huge hurry to get these done as we normally ship the images and most work CAN be done quickly, so if we need to go the extra mile for our customers on occasion, we will. Many of our customers come back year after year. If we don't take the time to get it right they will be buying from the other guy. Then there is the old addage that says, "If you keep the customer happy he may tell somebody, If he is unhappy he will tell everybody."
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