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Author Topic: Digital "muddier" than film?  (Read 4365 times)
Hank
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« Reply #20 on: August 27, 2004, 02:08:35 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']One thing you might try is Michael's "Local Contrast Enhancement."  It doesn't work in all cases of "muddiness," but it's the first thing I try when opening almost any digital image:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorial...hancement.shtml[/font]
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #21 on: August 27, 2004, 03:57:21 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I forgot to mention, in case it's relevant to anyone's theories, that I do *everything* in the Adobe RGB color space, both in the camera and in PS, and have a Spyder-calibrated monitor.

Lisa[/font]
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #22 on: August 27, 2004, 10:48:52 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I think we're getting off-track here with the yellow-green cast of that one photo, which isn't really what I'm talking about.  I agree now, it was slightly yellow-green - the problem is, if I try to correct it more than a little, the cliffs start looking unattractively blue-magenta.  I did notice that the black point wasn't where it perhaps should have been, so here's my second attempt at correcting it, with a little less yellow-green:

d70 version 2

It still has the "muddy" look to me.  I'm guessing that what I'm complaining about has something to do with green tones being dark and brownish, even though other parts of the color spectrum look OK, but I'm not sure - let's try again with another pair of examples to see if you see what I mean:
film example #2
D70 example #2

Comments?

Lisa[/font]
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Lin Evans
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« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2004, 11:39:08 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Hi Lisa,

One thing to keep in mind is that the digital "negative" is totally unprocessed and will generally come from the camera with a rather low contrast and "flat" appearance which has some beneficial properties. By not oversaturating and driving contrast levels up, optimal dynamic range is preserved and the photographer has the option then of making the image look like he or she wishes.

After looking at your two samples, I think that the defaults in your camera are quite probably set for low sharpness, and either low or medium contrast and saturation. Though it's probably "possible" to change these settings and get more "pop" from the native capture, it's probably better for you as the photographer to develop skills in post processing to get the images to look like you want. With film, the processing lab is making the decisions that you will make yourself with digital. Once you get a good handle on the post processing workflow, you can set up PhotoShop actions to automate the process and apply them to a batch of photos.

Here's a link to what I would have done with your second photo - is this what you would like to see? I applied a slight deconvolution correction to optimize focus, adjusted shadow/highlight and slightly boosted saturation and contrast.

Lin

http://www.lin-evans.com/samples/d70a.jpg[/font]
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Lin
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« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2004, 12:24:57 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']
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the problem is, if I try to correct it more than a little, the cliffs start looking unattractively blue-magenta.

On your first D70 example: Try setting a grey-point on some of the mountains with a curves adj. layer with the mountains in the farthest distance. Use a gradient at about 20% opacity in the layer mask to keep the mountains from becoming too blue/magenta.

Like what I did to it here (psd). Hope ya don't mind. The adjustments I made were done real quick. I'm sure ya can get them better with some tweaking.

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I have a difficult time sometimes figuring out what the "right" color balance is, and often resort to trying to get clouds or overcast sky to neutral gray.  Perhaps it's time to find a different approach.

You eat Pringles? Even though you are shooting RAW sometimes it can be handy to set WB before shooting the frame anyway (not all images have neutral grey in them). Use a Pringles can lid to set a custom WB. Just hold the lid in front of the lens and use that single image as the base for your custom WB. It's suprisingly accurate.

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I am still struggling to figure out how to get it [curves] where I want it for digital RAW with ACR.  Perhaps it just needs practice.

I can't speak for ACR but I'm sure it's the same as C1. The problem with adjusting contrast before you convert from RAW is the the contrast adjustments are done in RGB mode resulting in an alteration of color contrast and (sometimes more than other times) hue. I find adjusting contrast after conversion in Lab mode far better.[/font]
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #25 on: August 29, 2004, 12:40:52 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Thanks, all, for your suggestions.  I'm still left with the mystery of why the D70's default values produce such muddy-looking greens compared with scanned negative film (even when the color balance isn't bad, as in the second of my D70 examples); perhaps that's a color that the D70 just doesn't render as well as others.  My soon-to-come experiments with the color checker chart will hopefully confirm whether or not that's the case.  However, regardless of the cause, it appears that people have come up with reasonable methods for improving them, and some experimentation and practice on my part are needed (along, perhaps, with custom white balance work in the future - thanks for the Pringle's tip).

Comments to Alberio:
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Interesting thread. With the limited goal of "un-muddying" the pictures without overt sharpening or levels work, here's what I could do.
An interesting exercise!  I really liked your improvements to the first two.  What did you do to get the greens to look so much better for the cliff-and-waterfall photo?  For the first one (Half Dome), I would guess that it was a combination of increased saturation (a bit too unnatural compared with the original scene, but that's OK) and local contrast enhancement; is that right?
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Maybe it's just me, but I found it difficult to judge the color using a browser because you saved the original JPEGs with Adobe RGB 1998 instead of sRGB. This may be the root of the white balance criticisms.
I don't *think* that's the problem, since I see the same issues in Epson prints of the images (and I'm reasonably certain that I have color management done right for those).
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Was the hill picture taken in the Stanford foothills?
Nope!  I wish.  No rocks that interesting around here.  That was taken in New Zealand (South Island, a place called something like Castle Ridge or Castle Hill).
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P.S. Nice pictures at the site in your sig!
Thanks!  It's nice to know that someone likes them...  

Lisa[/font]
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Alberio
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« Reply #26 on: August 29, 2004, 02:50:54 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']
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P.S. Nice pictures at the site in your sig!
Thanks!  It's nice to know that someone likes them...  
Something just clicked and I went back to your site to check. It looks like all your pictures -- though well-shot -- are under-saturated because they were encoded in the Adobe RGB color space. Of course, some of them look way too saturated when opened in Photoshop, but many look much better for it.

If you are seeing no difference yourself, I'd recommend checking your monitor's color calibration as well as Photoshop's color settings. Images destined for web pages as JPEGs have to be converted to sRGB: just check any of Michael's images here on Luminous Landscape.

Good luck![/font]
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