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How do I get more Dynamic Blues


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#1 tyanea

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 06:02 PM

I have been shooting photos underwater for a few years now, but I haven't had a lot of opportunity to shoot Wide Angle.
There are A LOT of questions that I have....and A LOT of things I need to work on.....but I want to start with my Blues (or Greens given location).

The Wide Angle I have shot I am often frustrated that I am not able to get the wide range in my blues as many other great photographers do.
Honestly I often wonder.....Can you REALLY get that deep range of blues when you are shooting or do you have to do some tweaking in Photoshop to make a RAW file Pop

As a comparison....here are just a few of many links to other photographers that I really like their Blues:

http://underwa.ter.n...p?g2_itemId=147
http://www.bluereefp...b74f9#h3afb74f9
http://www.philsokol...19584&k=GFdFChF
http://www.stephenfr...1&p=10&a=0&at=0
http://www.aaronspho....php?wide-angle

Here are a few sample shots of my own.....I am having a hard time finding the right words to describe how I feel about my blues when compared to others.
I feel like they are kind of flat.....they don't have the pop that others photographers blues have.
Any Advice is welcomed......

All Images shot were with a Canon 5D Mark II (Also, all images are raw - no editing unless specified)

Photo 1: Komodo
Photo Info: Lens-8-15mm Fisheye (shot at 15mm), ISO-160, f/13, 1/200 - with 2 x DS161 Ikelite Strobes


Posted Image
_MG_7505-1-raw by TyDivChic, on Flickr

Photo 2: Bonaire
Photo Info: Lens-15mm Fisheye, ISO-160, f/16, 1/200 - with 2 x DS161 Ikelite Strobes


Posted Image
_MG_2758-1_raw by TyDivChic, on Flickr

Photo 3: Red Sea
Photo Info: Lens 17-40mm (shot at 21mm), ISO 100, f/8.0. 1/100 - with 2 x DS125 Ikelite strobes


Posted Image
IMG_1151-1-raw by TyDivChic, on Flickr
Love Photography! Love Diving! Love that I can put them both together!!

#2 Steve Williams

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 10:36 PM

Hi Tyra,
I think you are really cutting your self short. These are exceptionally fine images considering they are raw files with no processing. Especially Canon files. In my world it's not a negative thing to process the file to get the most out of it. The effects of good processing will be subtle if done well and the image is made so well in the camera. What you may be seeing when you compare your images to others is the total effect of a combination of sharpening, slight midtone contrast adjustment (Clarity in LR) and other simple adjustments.
I will leave to the folks you referenced to discuss their images but I think you're doing a great job in camera.

Cheers,
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#3 adamhanlon

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 10:51 PM

I second Steve's points and also think your images look great.

You don't say what white balance camera setting you are using. Warmer whiter balance (which your strobes will deliver) will enhance your blues. Ikelites have a color temp of 4800°K (I think), if you match your camera WB setting to this, it should help bring out the blues.

Alex wrote an article about this some time ago:

http://www.amustard....age=news&size=s

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#4 JimG

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 12:20 AM

Well I thought at first I must have activated the links and was looking at your favourite photos! Nowt wrong with them - i'd be very pleased.

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#5 tyanea

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 10:17 AM

I really appreciate everyone's suggestions and kind comments. I am thinking, as I look at these images on the web vs. how they look in Lightroom that I might be starting to discover possibly part of my problem.

Adam - My white balance was set to Auto White Balance - I am going to read Alex's link you gave me....sounds like I should probably be doing something else there.

Ok..this might be a bit winded......but here goes....
When I compare how these images look on the web vs. Lightroom 4.1 - it is definitely a bit different. These images look "more blue" than they look to me in Lightroom (which as tired as I was yesterday I don't think I was paying close enough attention to notice this) My process to get these images into my post was as follows:
- I took my raw files and did an export to jpg from Lightroom so I could upload them into Flickr for the ability to put them in my post here.

As I look at the pictures today and compare them to Lightroom I can definitely see some differences. I looked at my export settings and it converted the raw files to sRGB, which is the correct format for the web......but the output is definitely a little different than the pure raw file. I use a Syder4Elite calibrator to try to keep my monitor in check...but I am realizing there are so many factors that impact how the image looks....it can be overwhelming.

Steve - I think you are probably correct in that most people do post processing to get that pop.....and is it unrealistic of me to think I can get that rich blue from a Canon raw file without some post processing?

What do most people convert their images to when all is said and done and ready for print?

Thanks again!! I really appreciate everyone's feedback.
Love Photography! Love Diving! Love that I can put them both together!!

#6 tyanea

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 10:26 AM

Hi Tyra,
I think you are really cutting your self short. These are exceptionally fine images considering they are raw files with no processing. Especially Canon files. In my world it's not a negative thing to process the file to get the most out of it. The effects of good processing will be subtle if done well and the image is made so well in the camera. What you may be seeing when you compare your images to others is the total effect of a combination of sharpening, slight midtone contrast adjustment (Clarity in LR) and other simple adjustments.
I will leave to the folks you referenced to discuss their images but I think you're doing a great job in camera.

Cheers,
Steve

One more note.....I totally agree with you on the post processing. I have no problems with doing a few tweaks to get the image that was in my mind.....just trying to figure out if there is a fundamental thing I am missing, or setting....etc... :-)
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#7 gina

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 01:40 PM

The Wide Angle I have shot I am often frustrated that I am not able to get the wide range in my blues as many other great photographers do.
Honestly I often wonder.....Can you REALLY get that deep range of blues when you are shooting or do you have to do some tweaking in Photoshop to make a RAW file Pop


Hello,

Ditto what the others have said - your photos look good and I think your blues look great. I also agree that there's nothing wrong with a bit of tweaking to make everything look just right.

I wanted to add one other thing just in case you hadn't thought about it - do you calibrate your monitor? That may affect what you're seeing on-screen. Per an earlier Wetpixel thread I picked up a ColorMunki (http://www.colormunki.com/) calibration tool and that made a difference in what I was seeing.

-Gina

#8 tyanea

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 08:50 PM

Hello,

Ditto what the others have said - your photos look good and I think your blues look great. I also agree that there's nothing wrong with a bit of tweaking to make everything look just right.

I wanted to add one other thing just in case you hadn't thought about it - do you calibrate your monitor? That may affect what you're seeing on-screen. Per an earlier Wetpixel thread I picked up a ColorMunki (http://www.colormunki.com/) calibration tool and that made a difference in what I was seeing.

-Gina


Hi Gina - thanks for your comments. I appreciate the suggestion of the monitor calibrator. I do use the Sypder4Elite monitor calibrator.
Thanks Again :)
Love Photography! Love Diving! Love that I can put them both together!!

#9 adamhanlon

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 10:19 PM

I think I may have the reason!

All of the above holds true but:

When you shoot an image in RAW, the camera will display a (typically) 8 bit JPEG on its LCD. This will even include the histogram information.

When you download it into LR, the image you are seeing is the original RAW file. This is why the images appear a bit "drab". Once you export into JPEG, some rendering takes place, and your colors are restored. The trick is to process your RAW images to resemble the JPEG versions!

It is not uncommon to shoot what seem like great images on the LCD screen, only to be disappointed with them when you import them as RAW files. It sounds like you know your way around Lightroom and the RAW pipeline-I think this will correct your concerns about your "Blues." That said, getting the white balance correct on capture will make the process easier.

For print, it depends on what/where you plan to print them. If you are printing at home, I would leave them in Prophoto RGB and use the soft proofing function together with an ICC profile for the printer/paper I plan to use. If I am going to send the images away for printing, I would find out how they want the image preparing. If it is for publication, they will want it in CMYK, which will mean a trip into Photoshop....The key with color spaces is to chose one that is appropriate for the purpose.

Adam

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#10 tyanea

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 09:06 PM

I think I may have the reason!

All of the above holds true but:

When you shoot an image in RAW, the camera will display a (typically) 8 bit JPEG on its LCD. This will even include the histogram information.

When you download it into LR, the image you are seeing is the original RAW file. This is why the images appear a bit "drab". Once you export into JPEG, some rendering takes place, and your colors are restored. The trick is to process your RAW images to resemble the JPEG versions!

It is not uncommon to shoot what seem like great images on the LCD screen, only to be disappointed with them when you import them as RAW files. It sounds like you know your way around Lightroom and the RAW pipeline-I think this will correct your concerns about your "Blues." That said, getting the white balance correct on capture will make the process easier.

For print, it depends on what/where you plan to print them. If you are printing at home, I would leave them in Prophoto RGB and use the soft proofing function together with an ICC profile for the printer/paper I plan to use. If I am going to send the images away for printing, I would find out how they want the image preparing. If it is for publication, they will want it in CMYK, which will mean a trip into Photoshop....The key with color spaces is to chose one that is appropriate for the purpose.

Adam


Adam....You Nailed it!!! Your words express my exact feelings after I upload my images. I should have questioned the camera LCD vs LR, but I just kept thinking I was missing something else. While I feel I still have a lot to learn in making quality Wide Angle images, I will admit it is nice to hear there is a reason for my madness. :)
I think I will stress less now about the LCD vs LR....Make sure I am happy with what I see underwater and know I can get it back with a few tweaks.
Now I need to focus on subject and composition....as well as continuing to improve my strobe lighting.

I really appreciate everyone's comments......I must admit I am happy to have a better understanding of what is happening.

Time to start brainstorming on where to go next...... :)
Love Photography! Love Diving! Love that I can put them both together!!

#11 tdpriest

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 01:47 PM

A couple more things: an image shot and post-processed in a colour space like Adobe RGB will look more vibrant on the web if converted to sRGB. Increasing saturation will often increase the intensity of the blue, but one of the big secrets is to match reddish strobes to blue water and bluish strobes to green water; using filter gels can change the colour of your strobe, a straw filter on the strobe helping in blue water. This is what Alex Mustard describes in detail, and very clearly.

Tim

Edited by tdpriest, 17 August 2012 - 01:51 PM.


#12 johnspierce

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 06:54 PM

When I went to one of John Shaw's workshops about a year ago he spent quite a bit of time discussing digital sensors, histograms, and how to shoot to get a good RAW image. He said if your RAW images don't look flat and slightly overexposed when you first import them into Lightroom you are doing it wrong Posted Image

I remember back in the days of slides the workshops I took always told me to underexpose just a bit to bring out the shadows and colors in my Kodachrome Posted Image No longer. Shaw said there is actually a better signal to noise ratio in your sensor if you have the histogram biased slightly to the right of center. Not enough to blow out, but enough where the RAW image will need some tweaking to bring back the shadows and color. I can't remember exactly, but something about 2/3 of the bits of data live on the right hand side of the histogram, so there's just more data to work with if you bias to the right. Of course, that doesn't always work -- like with a silhouette or sun ball.

Anyway, his point was well taken in that to get the best image you cannot be underexposed at all with digital or the noise gets nasty in a hurry, but you can be a bit overexposed and still get all the highlights and shadows back.

Oh, and I think the blues in these photos look great.

Edited by johnspierce, 17 August 2012 - 07:07 PM.

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#13 John Bantin

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 02:48 AM

One of the gret myths of digital photography has been this idea that you 'see' your finished picture on the LCD. What you see is the software writer's best guess at making a jpeg. I don't think I've had a camera since the original Fuji S2 Pro that gave a really accurate idea of what you get on a RAW file! On the other hand, once you get into processing a RAW file...Wow!

Edited by John Bantin, 18 August 2012 - 02:49 AM.

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#14 tyanea

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 07:12 AM

Thanks guys, I appreciate your additional comments. It helps me better understand how things work and what to expect.
I clearly had a misunderstanding of what I was seeing on the LCD vs the RAW image in LR. I am definitely making a bit of a mental shift now and resetting my expectations so I don't get as frustrated when I load the RAW file.
I also read about the strobes in Alex Mustard's article.....found that to be very helpful information.
Thanks Again! :)
Love Photography! Love Diving! Love that I can put them both together!!