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  • Density

    Hello, basic questions: When color toning your image, let`s say you add blue to the shadows by raising black point in curves, blue channel. Do you loose density in the image? if so ,do you compensate this by moving blackpoint right in RGB channel to add more density?
    If i want to add blue to the shadows without loosing density would it be better to just add cyan and magenta?
    I would appreciate if some of you could explain this, or could point me in a direction, where i can find information regarding this.

  • #2
    Re: Density

    Density: how much black vs. white is there in the area.
    If it's an entire image, you loose linear contrast, but not that much change in density unless you're going into posterization levels.

    You add blue using "color" blending mode, so you change color, yet the luminosity remains. Have you tried that?

    And even if you change the luminosity, who cares, as long as you like the image. After all, retouching is about enhancing the image, not sticking to what you already have.

    Hope I helped.


    • #3
      Re: Density

      Well decreasing contrast is kinda intended in this vastly overused, "retro" look.

      You can go either with a curve or a gradient map with blue in the low end which maps the blacks to shades of that blue but they will become lighter in effect - or you can use color balance which by default adjusts luminosity changes and creates a "deeper" look in general.


      • #4
        Re: Density

        Moving your rgb black point to the right is just going to clip detail, which will make it look ugly. If you want it to look retro in some way, you should examine the original stuff. It had a lower dynamic range, especially when printed. If it looks too grey, don't raise the blue so much. It's also worth noting that while you lose some control in later tuning, it's easier to apply a significant portion of this in raw processing than it is to translate the entire thing later.


        • #5
          Re: Density

          Yeah that's what all the VSCO-type of effects are all about - they clip a lot in the edge portions of histogram. But thats okay for a lot of people since an image starts to look "better" if the highs are more punchy, "milky" so to speak. Particularly the highlights change the overall mood the most or at least this is what I usually feel when retouching.

          But the thing with that kind of vintage look is that you have to think about the image of choice as a whole, meaning it will look fake if your photograph is razorshap and has virtually no noise. That's why these plugins have 'looks' which alter a lot of parts at once.

          I'd say gradient map is the easiest tool to use if you're going for this look. You can easily make presets and edit points should you need a more sophisticated tonal mapping across the photograph. I have about 50 of gradient map presets for a lot of things, also toning b&w shots. Usually applied on color 10-30% opacity and an s-curve to pop up the contrast just a little bit - as I'm actually going to decrease the density.

          Funny thing - I've been scanning negatives lately (on Nikon Coolscan) and it's a pretty common think for me to get a slightly tinted (for someone looking for a vintage feel, in a good way) shots from the latest Portra 160 (the new version that replaced both the NC and VC). I've also had a lot of these on VC likely because the color was more vibrant overall.


          • #6
            Re: Density

            Thanks for the replies, so just by darken the image you add density!?! I'm not going for the retro look. The haze and all that. I´m more trying to get that deep look with rich blues in the blacks. (something like the look in the attachment. Although that`s maybe a bit to strong toning but you get the idea) I`ve tried using solid color set to color. But sometimes i feel like it`s just a color layer on top( and it is) instead of getting the colors "baked in" So i feel lose a bit of punch? That`s why i thought it could be better to add blue in the shadows by mixing cyan and magenta, since then the picture get more density in the blacks? Is this correct?
            But maybe color balance is a good approach as mentioned

            I watched Timothy Sexton using selective color for toning the blacks. He added color but then added a - value on the blacks ( look at the attachment) why the negative value? is this to prevent the blacks getting too clogged.?
            Attached Files
            Last edited by Rust; 03-01-2015, 11:17 AM.


            • #7
              Re: Density

              It may be a good idea to consider tone and colour as two distinct moves. However, it seems to me that you are already tuned in enough to see some very subtle differences, so perhaps the idea is to trust your eye more and not worry too much about over-analysing things. If you prefer to think in terms of subtractive colour and you like that way of working, you may find using Color Balance through luminosity masks interesting.


              • #8
                Re: Density

                Originally posted by AKMac View Post
                It may be a good idea to consider tone and colour as two distinct moves.
                Gold right there.


                • #9
                  Re: Density

                  I tackle the issue usually in LAB by doing two separate color (A/B) curves for highs and lows and then another on in luminosity channel for contrast boost. I guess you can do the same in ten different ways but this I find the easiest and most responsive.

                  That being said, I need to switch spaces for the trick so that's not very good if you're in the middle of something and just want to keep the layer stack instact. I do the grading in the end so that's fine with me but everyone is different.

                  I also don't use the selective colors' black slider very often, it's too harsh for me. I mean, it clips too easily for my taste but of course you cannot live without selective color at all can you.


                  • #10
                    Re: Density

                    The black change he has made is only really noticeable in print, black ink on its own looks very different to a black made from cyan magenta and yellow. You can vary the amount, changing the balance to achieve the black colour you're after, but in the example he removes a touch of black and adds colour to keep the total ink density value the same.


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