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Author Topic: Achieving good color in raw conversion, what is your view?  (Read 13192 times)
Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2012, 08:25:44 PM »
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Informative demo, Hening.

From that I gather we all have somewhat the same reasonable idea on getting good color out of a Raw conversion.

Erik's mentioning at the start of this thread of zeroing out all settings seems to indicate a desired starting point that suggests converter defaults render most images with too much contrast no matter what type of camera profile is used.

I've often thought of developing an optimum starting point Raw converter default that would require the least amount of tweaking because my custom camera profiles and canned ones in ACR don't do a lot of correcting. Most require drastically reducing contrast combined with camera profile (which tweaks hue/sats) especially when shooting in constantly changing non-studio lighting conditions.

Maybe a more helpful goal would be to achieve an optimum or middle ground dynamic range converter setting that matches up with consistent exposures based on preserving highlights.

Just simply brightening an image in ACR causes the highlights to lose definition more unevenly than the rest of the tonal scale where I have to apply highlight curve tweaks to retain detail. Otherwise I have to settle for an overall darker looking image.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2012, 02:38:10 AM »
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Hi,

By 'zeroing out' I didn't necessarily meant to set controls to zero (I would leave them at default). The intension is to get a baseline using a DNG-profile (or similar) based on a color checker. The setting would take camera peculiarities and illumination spectrum into account.

Having that you can adjust rendering to taste, and possibly save as preset (in Adobe speak).

Best regards
Erik


Informative demo, Hening.

From that I gather we all have somewhat the same reasonable idea on getting good color out of a Raw conversion.

Erik's mentioning at the start of this thread of zeroing out all settings seems to indicate a desired starting point that suggests converter defaults render most images with too much contrast no matter what type of camera profile is used.

I've often thought of developing an optimum starting point Raw converter default that would require the least amount of tweaking because my custom camera profiles and canned ones in ACR don't do a lot of correcting. Most require drastically reducing contrast combined with camera profile (which tweaks hue/sats) especially when shooting in constantly changing non-studio lighting conditions.

Maybe a more helpful goal would be to achieve an optimum or middle ground dynamic range converter setting that matches up with consistent exposures based on preserving highlights.

Just simply brightening an image in ACR causes the highlights to lose definition more unevenly than the rest of the tonal scale where I have to apply highlight curve tweaks to retain detail. Otherwise I have to settle for an overall darker looking image.
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2012, 04:25:28 AM »
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Erik's mentioning at the start of this thread of zeroing out all settings seems to indicate a desired starting point that suggests converter defaults render most images with too much contrast no matter what type of camera profile is used.
Why would you think that ?
When everything is zeroed, LR/ACR is working at it's default values, with the Adobe's standard camera profile for that model. I don't think that suggests at all that raw converters are too contrasty by default.
I think most people who expose normally will find that a very good starting point and accounts for why so many people choose LR/ACR as their raw conversion software of choice.

Going down the custom profiling route doesn't necessarily make huge changes to the colour rendition, sometimes it's difficult to see much difference. It can improve the "accuracy" of the profile, it's also possible to edit the file to give a particular 'look' if you're unhappy with the standard rendition of the camera.

As Erik suggests, if you're not happy with the defaults of LR/ACR (and I presume most other raw converters) it's possible to set up an import preset that allows every image you import to start off with a different set of base parameters.
Personally in process 2012 I use a preset that uses a custom QP card profile for my 5Dii, has slightly higher than default sharpening and a little noise reduction. That suits how I like most of my shots now, but with past cameras and processes I chose slightly different base settings.
Overall this workflow gives me 'good colour', plus I have the controls to change the rendition if I think I'd like an image to look different.
I think matches Erik's original proposal, that the best way to good images is to understand one process and get good at it.
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Hening Bettermann
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« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2012, 09:11:18 AM »
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Hi Bill,

thank you for your response.

> my custom camera profiles [...] don't do a lot of correcting

I don't understand that. Are you sure you have zeroed everything? This will give you a tiff with the gamma of the output profile, 1.8 for ProPhoto, but without other tweaks.

If this does not work, how do you make your profiles? If you are using the DNG profile editor, are you sure you have set everything to zero there, too? Even then, there is visual judgement implied, which may lead to bias. The Passport works automatically, but the results I have seen did not convince me. ICC profiles are created by the parameters you enter, but without visual interference.

BTW you seem to have changed your view of color since the last time we talked on this forum :-) I recall that you had abandoned Raw Developer because you found the default rendering too *dull* :-)

My procedure does indeed give an image that looks dull in the first place - but the rest is a job for the tone response curve. In my final image shown above, it was this one:
This curve is working on the L axis of the Lab image alone.

Best regards - Hening.

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Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2012, 12:51:12 PM »
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When everything is zeroed, LR/ACR is working at it's default values, with the Adobe's standard camera profile for that model. I don't think that suggests at all that raw converters are too contrasty by default.

Did you happen to see Hening's before and after demo pix? He basically adjusted contrast which influenced shadow and highlight detail. Didn't see hardly any color change into "good color".

The real issue here is that Raw converters and digital editors in general don't provide controls that apply an equal adjustment across the entire tonal scale otherwise Adobe wouldn't have provided Fill and Recovery sliders as well as two sets of curve tools. And this isn't just Adobe's software. Other Raw converters do the same thing.

Just on this observation I've surmised that the more what seems redundant tools a software vendor provides suggests that the data isn't such a stable, consistent and predictable medium to work in whether jpeg or Raw in getting consistent "good color".

The custom camera profile probably remedies about 20% of the work and thank god Adobe provides this tool for free. But I find contrast adjustments profoundly affects the rest of the image unequally for both color and local and global contrast over any other tool adjustment except for my mentioning what Brightness/Exposure increases do to flattening highlight detail while the rest of the image retains definition and separation of detail.

Note in Hening's edited image the flattening of the foliage detail in shadow. I get that as well when I make similar edits where I have to apply pinch nodes on a custom curve to bring out separation and beef up definition. It's a lot of work.

I find contrast being the most unequalized adjustment of the bunch with regards to making colors turn into NOT "good color" working on both jpegs/tiffs and Raw files.
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Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #25 on: October 21, 2012, 01:09:37 PM »
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I don't understand that. Are you sure you have zeroed everything? This will give you a tiff with the gamma of the output profile, 1.8 for ProPhoto, but without other tweaks.

If this does not work, how do you make your profiles?

It doesn't matter what default ACR setting you make your DNG profiles from as instructed by Eric Chan. The DNG Profile Editor Wizard is going to adjust hue/sat and a bit of color luminance which is influenced by the chosen illuminant (either A or D65 or both in the case of a dual illuminant profile). The camera profile is not designed to act as an image restorer/fixer. That's the job the photographer.

So, no, I don't zero out any settings. I just build my DNG profiles from ACR's default settings.

This isn't my point, anyway. I'm discussing the unequal behavior with regard to definition and separation of detail applying tool adjustments which has nothing to do with camera profiles. In fact the camera profile at least helps in maintaining a hue/sat balance relationship when trying to overcome this unequal tonal adjustment behavior.

Tim Lookingbill
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Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #26 on: October 21, 2012, 01:20:17 PM »
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BTW you seem to have changed your view of color since the last time we talked on this forum :-) I recall that you had abandoned Raw Developer because you found the default rendering too *dull* :-)

Its core color engine is Lab. I prefer Thomas Knoll's color engine which applies saturation equally down into the shadows where Raw Developer doesn't which is the characteristic of working in Lab on a gamma encoded output space and display.

IOW ACR/LR is more optically pleasing to work with because it follows traditional cool against warm color adaptation characteristics established by renaissance painters who never if rarely used straight black paint to form shadow detail. Shadows are not colorless optically speaking. I see this happening in your previous before and after demo.

Tim Lookingbill
« Last Edit: October 21, 2012, 01:22:54 PM by tlooknbill » Logged
Rhossydd
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« Reply #27 on: October 21, 2012, 03:08:49 PM »
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Did you happen to see Hening's before and after demo pix? He basically adjusted contrast which influenced shadow and highlight detail. Didn't see hardly any color change into "good color".
Yes, and where doe he mention anything other than colour correction ?
....
B (top) is my take on "good" (at least: better) color. This satisfied my then fresh memory much more than A. My ColorChecker-based profile. WB as shot, Tint set to zero.
(Don't mind difference in crop and sharpness. A is just 1 out of 5 focus slices, B is my final image)......
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Hening Bettermann
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« Reply #28 on: October 21, 2012, 04:03:19 PM »
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@ tlooknbill:

> Did you happen to see Hening's before and after demo pix? He basically adjusted contrast which influenced shadow and highlight detail. Didn't see hardly any color change into "good color".

Indeed it seems that my dissatisfaction with default renderings is primarily a matter of contrast, which I find to steep, and the over-saturation to which this leads. And obviously, compared to you, my ignorance makes me more easily satisfied with what I get out of my procedure. In the first line of defense, I am happy if I can get something that looks more natural than this exaggerated stuff which is tailored to "please". Obviously, my problem is on a more basic level than your observations on shadow color.

For this reply, I had hoped to be able to present a version of the image with Raw Developer default colors, just the tone curve set to linear, then with my tone curve applied. Unfortunately this is not possible to do. However, just moving the Tint slider from the default +17 to zero is a step in the direction of better color, in my eyes, rather: to my then fresh memory.

> It doesn't matter what default ACR setting you make your DNG profiles from as instructed by Eric Chan. The DNG Profile Editor Wizard is going to adjust hue/sat and a bit of color luminance which is influenced by the chosen illuminant (either A or D65 or both in the case of a dual illuminant profile).

It's a while since i used the DNG profile editor, but IF memory serves me, Eric also advised how to make a profile for a scene-referred image, and that implied setting all contrast controls to zero.

@ Rhosssyd:
> When everything is zeroed, LR/ACR is working at it's default values, with the Adobe's standard camera profile for that model.

If memory serves me, it is possible in ACR to combine your own profile with zero settings everywhere else.
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Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2012, 10:52:52 PM »
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Just found this guy's work linked to at Photo.net...

http://lucasfoglia.com/a-natural-order/

Frame 5 is what I call good digital color under natural light. Shots like that usually start out with too much contrast and very flat or sometimes murky tonal definition in the shadows with my DSLR.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #30 on: October 21, 2012, 11:44:34 PM »
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Hi,

As a comment, I generally think that default colors are oversaturated. My impression is that default processing pushes saturation a bit and may add something of an S-curve to increase midtone contrast. Both changes are intended to give pleasant color.

Best regards
Erik


@ tlooknbill:

> Did you happen to see Hening's before and after demo pix? He basically adjusted contrast which influenced shadow and highlight detail. Didn't see hardly any color change into "good color".

Indeed it seems that my dissatisfaction with default renderings is primarily a matter of contrast, which I find to steep, and the over-saturation to which this leads. And obviously, compared to you, my ignorance makes me more easily satisfied with what I get out of my procedure. In the first line of defense, I am happy if I can get something that looks more natural than this exaggerated stuff which is tailored to "please". Obviously, my problem is on a more basic level than your observations on shadow color.

For this reply, I had hoped to be able to present a version of the image with Raw Developer default colors, just the tone curve set to linear, then with my tone curve applied. Unfortunately this is not possible to do. However, just moving the Tint slider from the default +17 to zero is a step in the direction of better color, in my eyes, rather: to my then fresh memory.

> It doesn't matter what default ACR setting you make your DNG profiles from as instructed by Eric Chan. The DNG Profile Editor Wizard is going to adjust hue/sat and a bit of color luminance which is influenced by the chosen illuminant (either A or D65 or both in the case of a dual illuminant profile).

It's a while since i used the DNG profile editor, but IF memory serves me, Eric also advised how to make a profile for a scene-referred image, and that implied setting all contrast controls to zero.

@ Rhosssyd:
> When everything is zeroed, LR/ACR is working at it's default values, with the Adobe's standard camera profile for that model.

If memory serves me, it is possible in ACR to combine your own profile with zero settings everywhere else.

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Rhossydd
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« Reply #31 on: October 22, 2012, 12:45:23 AM »
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If memory serves me, it is possible in ACR to combine your own profile with zero settings everywhere else.
Using a preset allows you to do almost anything on import.
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Hening Bettermann
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« Reply #32 on: October 22, 2012, 07:03:23 AM »
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Just found this guy's work linked to at Photo.net...

http://lucasfoglia.com/a-natural-order/

Frame 5 is what I call good digital color under natural light. Shots like that usually start out with too much contrast and very flat or sometimes murky tonal definition in the shadows with my DSLR.

So it seems we agree, and not only frame#5, for my part.
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Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #33 on: October 22, 2012, 10:21:28 AM »
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Puzzling thing about those Foglia images is that rarely does he force dynamic range optimization on most of his work. The blacks in a lot of his overcast outdoor daylight shots don't go below 20RGB sampled in sRGB space such as in the deepest dark areas of grass and tree foliage but yet he still maintains definition and separation down into the darkest shadows.

Never thought of doing that. I've always tried to expand the tonal range as far as I could to where the blackest black went to at least 5,5,5RGB in most of my edits regardless of lighting/exposure parameters in a captured scene.

Wonder if that was intentional in Foglia's edits if in fact he even applied edits seeing he used a 30MP digital back on a Hasselblad body. I downloaded frame 18 and tested DR expansion optimizing the black point to 5,5,5RGB using Levels in Photoshop and noticed an improvement to definition but not much change to color. It's as if Foglia desired that somewhat flat soft look. Of course it could be his display is calibrated differently than mine.
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Peter_DL
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« Reply #34 on: October 22, 2012, 02:45:14 PM »
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By 'zeroing out' I didn't necessarily meant to set controls to zero (I would leave them at default). The intension is to get a baseline using a DNG-profile (or similar) based on a color checker. The setting would take camera peculiarities and illumination spectrum into account.
As a comment, I generally think that default colors are oversaturated. My impression is that default processing pushes saturation a bit and may add something of an S-curve to increase midtone contrast. Both changes are intended to give pleasant color.

S-curves, or tone curves in general, always have their side effect on color saturation when applied on RGB data.
It is a math thing in the first instance, whether we find it pleasing or not.

The Chart wizard of the DNG profile editor does not delete the tone curve supplied by the source profile,
it is maintained (see Tone Curve tab: Base Tone Curve = Base Profile),
unlike with the "LookTable" e.g. from the Adobe Standard profile or the default Camera matching profiles which are stripped off, thus returning to the baseline matrix (matrices) before building the Hue/Sat.-corrections per patch.

But, this tone curve - even though being part of the profile - is ignored when the Hue/Sat.-corrections are built. My understanding is that the HueSatDelta table resulting from the Chart wizard always refers to a linear state, while the tone curve and its side effect on saturation comes on top. Color saturation is increased from the shadows to the mid tones and decreased again towards the highlights.

From a mechanistic point of view, it can be of help to consider the tabs from left to right as given below.  The Hue/Sat.-corrections resulting from the Chart wizard are dependent on the Calibration tab settings (left), but are independent from the Tone Curve tab setting (right). The Base profile: ColorChecker which appears in the Color Tables tab after running the Chart wizard indicates the baseline matrix obtained from the source profile after removal of the LookTable.

If desired, the tone curve can finally be eliminated a.) within the profile by selecting Base Tone Curve: Linear, while staying with the camera default settings in LR/ACR PV2010: Brightness 50, Contrast 25, Point Curve: Medium Contrast), or b.) by selecting Base Tone Curve: Camera Raw Default, and a linear preset in LR/ACR PV 2010: Brightness 0, Contrast 0, Point Curve: Linear.

However, unlike with accurate Hue/Sat. which may not deliver a preferred rendition but which is typically not perceived as way off, such scene-referred tonality is quite dark and dull and it may not be everyone’s case even as a starting point for editing.

Best regards, Peter

--
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stamper
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« Reply #35 on: October 24, 2012, 02:49:57 AM »
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Quote tlookibill

The blacks in a lot of his overcast outdoor daylight shots don't go below 20RGB sampled in sRGB space such as in the deepest dark areas of grass and tree foliage but yet he still maintains definition and separation down into the darkest shadows.

Never thought of doing that. I've always tried to expand the tonal range as far as I could to where the blackest black went to at least 5,5,5RGB in most of my edits regardless of lighting/exposure parameters in a captured scene.

Unquote

That I believe is the philosophy behind Lightroom 4 and ACR 7. It is a big change from PS thinking and takes a bit of getting used to. Adjust exposure, 1/4 tones, 3/4 tones and contrast and then the endpoints, if at all?
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Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #36 on: October 24, 2012, 07:45:49 PM »
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That I believe is the philosophy behind Lightroom 4 and ACR 7. It is a big change from PS thinking and takes a bit of getting used to. Adjust exposure, 1/4 tones, 3/4 tones and contrast and then the endpoints, if at all?

That answers some questions concerning digital image editing, but it doesn't solve the consistency and efficiency issue on knowing where and when to stop editing. I don't think Adobe or anyone else can solve it because all of this technology is still in its infancy and we humans IMO weren't meant to use our eyes this way tone mapping images with such immediacy. Airbrush and photo realistic painters had to take time to get the image the way they wanted. Their eyes and mind had time to ponder and adjust.

For example this discussion got me to go back and rework what I thought was a problem image when in fact I found the problem was with my eyes not adjusting and adapting quick enough (or too long in some instances), along with my misjudging my use of one ACR tool over another that caused me to take longer when either tool, method or approach delivered the same results.

I actually saved three settings that I swear my eyes saw each as progressively improving the image over the other by starting over from scratch when after clicking on each setting and watching the preview change didn't really make that much of a difference. I just wasted so much time finding this out. And I end up doing this on a lot of images.

My main issue fixing/editing primarily contrasty images is whether to just Brighten first and reduce Contrast or just add Fill and reduce Exposure and tweak shadows with a curve adjust. Each different scene seems to respond better using one over the other when it turns out there isn't that much of a difference.
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Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #37 on: October 24, 2012, 08:20:23 PM »
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Here's an example of what I'm talking about.

Below I've posted the original unedited Raw image I worked on last night where I was trying to brighten and bring out the separation of the stone work and shaded porch detail since it started out so flat, dark and murky.

This is not a typically exposed image I tend to start out with. Most are much closer to finish but still have that flat, dull appearance that needs some "pop", clarity and definition that a simple Clarity slider and Brightening adjust along with camera profile don't often deliver at least it appears that way to my eyes.

The first edit took some time coaxing the separation in the stone work, toning down the grass highlight and opening up and adding separation in the shaded porch detail. It involved tweaking a custom curve and fiddling around with Fill, Contrast and Brightness sliders with Recovery & Clarity set to +100.

The second version is the above saved edit and setting the custom curve back to Medium Contrast, hitting ACR's Auto and maxing out Brightness slider to 150 and keeping the rest the same.

Do you see a big difference or improvement to either one?

And each individual image requires something slightly different every time.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2012, 08:25:30 PM by tlooknbill » Logged
stamper
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« Reply #38 on: October 25, 2012, 03:01:10 AM »
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Faced with this situation I would have tried to lighten the dark areas in PS by creating a luminosity mask and inverting it on a layer and change the blend mode to screen and adjusting the opacity to suit. A good starting point for a little dodging and burning if needed. I don't think your image is easily sorted in LR or ACR . PS is the way to go?
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« Reply #39 on: October 25, 2012, 04:29:23 AM »
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In his Kelby Training title There Are No Bad Originals,  Dan Margulis demonstrates that just using default values in ACR and doing the rest editing in Photoshop can ALWAYS produce much better results.

http://kelbytraining.com/course/margulis_no_bad_originals2/


Which is the Original? (09:14)
Is the RAW file the real original?
« Last Edit: October 25, 2012, 04:31:35 AM by mshi2008 » Logged

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