X-equals.com + Digest – The Final Sneak Peek

Tue, Sep 15, 2009

Lightroom, Workflow

We’ve been having a blast getting all the content ready for our second installment of the X-Equals + Digest.

For those of you that haven’t yet signed up, you’re still in luck, because today we’re releasing the second issue here as well so you can see EXACTLY how we’re mixing things up!

And remember, there’s a free Lightroom Preset included in the deal (scroll down for the goods) so everyone wins!

We won’t be offering a sneak peek and link to the free Presets in future posts so now is the time to get onboard.

If you like what you see, here’s the link to signup. All we ask for is an email address … we promise to take good care of of you!

|Brandon Oelling
x=photography+consulting+media – image+workflow+technology+business

+X-equals.com + Digest – September 15th, 2009

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Killer content from across the web that not only makes our life easier … but yours too.

Correcting Color Cast with Photoshop

Michael W. Gray – LifeInDigitalFilm

Alright, last time we met we discussed removing color casts from images using the tools presented to us in Lightroom. Although Lightroom can do an admirable job in that respect, Photoshop can handle everything Lightroom can and then some. Today we will look at a few quick and simple methods for removing even the most stubborn color cast from your images.

Before we move on, let me say that these are only some of the most basic and simple methods for dealing with color issues in Photoshop. For each method to do anything in Photoshop there are likely ten more methods just as good, if not better. These methods I am describing work best as part of a Lightroom workflow, using Photoshop as a final correction tool.

For reference as we work through the different methods, here is the starting image. The photo was shot on Ektar film in adverse conditions, and severe color casting occurred due to pushing the film and the environment it was shot with.

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Auto Color and Fade

Many of you will find this method sacrilege, but I assure you that it often works and is quick and simple. Our first step will be to create a duplicate layer of our image {Ctrl +J/Cmd + J}. Select the new layer and then simply apply “Auto Color” from the “Image” menu {Shift+Ctrl+B/Shift+Cmd+B}.

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Once Photoshop completes the Auto Color process, you may find that it has over-corrected, applying too much color. Simply select “Fade Auto Color” from the “Edit” menu {Shift+Ctrl+F/Shift+Cmd+F}.

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Make sure the “Preview” box is checked in the “Fade” dialog box and start adjusting the opacity slider until your image looks right to you. Once right, click “Ok” and you are done.

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While very automated, Auto Color can get reasonable results quick, especially when applying a fade right afterward.

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However it does not offer you a lot of control over your image. For that we will use the same method Auto Color utilizes and manipulate the levels of the image.

Using Levels to Correct Cast

Using Levels provides you with even more control than Auto Color. In fact Auto Color simply applies a levels correction to you image for you. There are two methods by which you can use levels; as an adjustment layer or directly applied to the working layer. Either method will produce the same results, but I prefer to work with adjustment layers whenever possible.

First, make a duplicate layer of your background image as you did before. Afterward, select “Layer” from the menu bar. Now select “New Adjustment Layers” and select “Levels”.

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In the “New Layer” dialog box keep everything at default settings. Click “OK”.

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Your new adjustment layer will be applied, and now you are ready to customize it. From the layer toolbox, select the Black eyedropper and select a black point in your photo. Next, select the White eyedropper and select your white point. Finally, choose the Gray eyedropper and select a neutral mid-tone in the photo.

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Between the three selections, your image’s color cast should be mostly alleviated. If not, try setting the points again, in different areas of the photo. If you want to bring a touch of the original color back, you can lower the adjustment layer’s opacity to allow some of the original image to come through, much like the fade option from before.

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Of note, you can also do this procedure with the Curves Adjustment Layer, in the same manner you just did with the levels. On some images, correcting cast may be easier when doing so with a curve layer as opposed to levels. I always start with levels though, just a personal preference.

Sometimes, when either of the preceding methods does not produce suitable results or when you are dealing with a severe color cast you have to take extreme measures.

Blur the Color Away

Again start by copying the background layer of you image. Once that layer is created, select “Filter” from the menu, select “Blur” and then select “Average”.

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Average Blur will average out all the colors in the image, bringing out the “average” color. The resulting color from the “Average Blur” is the offending color creating your color cast.Now to negate it, simply “Image” from the menu, the “Adjustments” then “Invert” (or just press Ctrl+I/Cmd+I). This inverts the average color to create its contrasting color.

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Now change the Layer type from “Normal” to “Overlay”. Then back off the layer’s opacity until the image looks right to you (I find 50% to 70% to be best). And now you have canceled out the effect of the color cast.

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If you still feel corrections could be made, feel free to utilize a Levels or Curve adjustment layer on top of you inverted average layer. Again, apply and fade until your image looks right.

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As you can see, correcting casts in Photoshop requires much less effort than doing so in Lightroom, with superior results. However, the more correction you can do in Lightroom means less altering your images pixels in the end.

So keep trying to get it right in Lightroom, and when you can’t, fire up Lightroom’s best plug-in: Photoshop.

Cool Free Stuff

Michael W. Gray - LifeInDigitalFilm

This issues preset was inspired by the work of the photographic genius Tom Hoops. I spent a few hours trying to get an image I was working on to get some of his style infused into it, and this was the result. It is a single preset that converts your image to a harsh monochrome, bringing out the minute details in your subject. For portraiture it brings out a hard edge many would not consider flattering, but the impact of the conversion cannot be denied. The black and white tones are lifted from a Fuji Neopan 100 Acros preset from the Cold Storage Collection available at LifeInDigitalFilm and was adjusted to bring out harsh details and strong contrast. Once again the preset comes with both Lightroom and ACR versions.

Here is a Before/After image of the

Hardcore Acros

Photo © Michael W. Gray

Here are a few tips to know when using this particular preset.

  • Exposure is not set in the preset. Apply the image and adjust your exposure slider until the image gets the tone your desire.
  • Do not adjust Recovery, Fill Light or Clarity unless you need to. Those three sliders produce the graphic detail that makes this preset what it is.
  • The tone curve is pretty steep and if it causes artifacting in your image you may want to flatten out the curve a bit. However, the stark contrast is the heart of this preset, so bring town the curve just enough to correct any artifacts.
  • If you want to push the detail in your image even more, apply some heavy sharpening with high detail and masking. Doing so will enhance fine detail more and the masking lessens the effect where extra detail is not desired.
  • To throw some extra punch in your image, you can take the Black slider much higher than where it is preset to.
  • Don’t forget to use the White Balance Selector to test out different tones in your image. Try setting the white balance at different points in the image, you will find a multitude of different tones by just playing with the white balance.

These tips should get you up and running with the new preset. Get creative and have fun!

Adorama Pix Photobooks – A Great Product From Great People

We’ve previously written about how much we like Adorama’s Photo Book service, so we though it would be a good time to give Ingrid Spangler over at Adorama a chance to discuss the Photo Book Product and how they differentiate themselves from other vendors.

What are AdoramaPix Photo Books?

They are professionally bound, hand crafted hardcover photobooks that are *real* photo books. Printed on Fujifilm Crystal Archive Album photo paper, so whether you’re printing your portfolio or offering the books as a product to your clients, this is optimal – high-quality image presentation.

How does this service differ from other services available on the web?

PixPublisher is completely web based. This means that not only is there no memory-draining software to download, but that you can work on editing your book anywhere: home, office, or studio! We are working on a downloadable version of the software, too, but that’s down the road a bit.

What is required to setup, create, and print a book?

Not much at all, it’s really pretty easy! All you need are enough images to fill a 26 or 50 page book, an idea for the sequence of the photos and a little bit of time! It helps if you have an idea in your head for the way the book should look, and it’s easy to create a custom layout of your own, but if that’s not your thing, we have a ton of templates for you to choose from.

Once you go to the photobook homepage and choose your book size, length and style, you’re ready to import your images.

If you already have an account with us, you can access your temporary or permanently stored galleries, or upload a fresh batch of images from your hard drive or a storage device. After that, just drag your images from the pane on the left to the position you want them on the pages and drop them. Add a title, add captions to the photos, create custom backgrounds to compliment your images, all the tools are there! After you order it takes about a week, give or take, to produce the book and ship it out.

What sort of quality and durability can I expect?

AdoramaPix has been around for over ten years serving the most demanding photographers in NYC. We’re known for producing professional quality prints at the best prices, and now we’ve brought that same obsession with quality to our hardcover photobooks.

Since the pages are printed on photo paper, they are fully archival (meaning they last in normal home display for 100 years) and are really durable. The bindings are secure and the UV-cured covers stand up to repeated viewings and handling. I think you’ll find the paper and quality in general are head and shoulders above the press-printed books that are out there now.

How can I manage color output?

As with image files you send us for prints, files must be in sRGB color space. Also, we have ICC profiles for the books available for download on our website. If you have a calibrated monitor, the profiles are the *best* way to maintain maximum control over your color. We also have a tutorial on using the profiles if you aren’t used to working with them.

If you choose to have us do your color corrections, our techs are experts and have been doing this for an average of 10 years. Both the ICC profiles and the color correction is done at no extra charge.

Head on over to Adorama Pix’s site for full details and to start your own book today!

Thank You, Thank You, Thank … YOU!

Thanks for all of your support and referrals … we promise to keep bringing you great X-Equals + Digest content at NO CHARGE to you! Free stuff Rocks!

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