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Processing ambient light images - Color Balance question


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#1 Steve Williams

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 05:58 AM

Hi folks,

I'm struggling processing some of my Isla Mujeres files.  I can't seem to find a white balance I'm happy with.  This manta is a good example.  Do you just play with it til it "looks right" or is there more efficient way to go about it?  I'm finding the black and white mantas tough subjects to process.  

 

Color balance on this file is as shot by the 7D  7050 +45 on the tint.

 

Isla Mujeres-5366_show.jpg

 

Thanks for any thoughts,

Steve


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#2 Gudge

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 07:08 PM

Lightroom's local adjustment brush is your friend. :)  Adjust the global white balance to get the best overall white balance you can then adjust the white balance of any areas that look wrong using the local adjustment brush.


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#3 davephdv

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 07:35 PM

Have had that problem with Mantas

Think that your problem is the dynamic range and not the WB.

To expose the black pretty you overexposed the white.

Since your shooting ambient light, the after the fact answer would be to bracket your exposure and combine the images.

Maybe doge and burn?
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#4 Steve Williams

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 09:07 PM

Thanks guys,  I'll give it a try.  Mantas are tough to expose properly.

 

Cheers,

Steve


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#5 Aquapaul

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 04:09 AM

Steve,

 I think you can to a lot with layers and curves in Photoshop. Below is a tutorial from Kelby.

 

http://kelbytraining...colorwithcurves


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#6 Steve Williams

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 06:31 AM

Thanks Paul,

I was hoping for a solution that would be a liitle faster than PS.  I should have been more specific in my question.  After a mind blowing week in the water I have over 90 images that made the first cut to process further.  I was hoping that someone might have a developed an ambient light preset or color balance standard that I could apply globally in Lightroom.  At least to get started.  I know a few folks lower the saturation but I'm not crazy about that look.

 

90plus_screen-2.jpg

 

 

This could take a while,  not complaining you understand.

 

Cheers,

Steve

 


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#7 Fireflys

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 08:37 AM

Hi Steve,

 

             If this is what you are looking for then it's available as a 'one click' option if set up as a PS 'Action', I've used your manta shot as an example.

 

9457377345_887545a8ea_z.jpg
 
I've found it to work on some but not all 'overblue' shots I've tried it on, instructions on how to are here:
 
9460173116_8f67db6218_o.jpg
 
 
I'd like to see a few more of those manta images.
 
                  Gary.
 

 

 

 

 



#8 RickM

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 12:22 PM

That looks like a nice problem to have Steve! Looks like you have a nice group of shots to play with.


Edited by RickM, 07 August 2013 - 12:23 PM.


#9 Steve Williams

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 02:24 PM

You're right Rick,

Prior to last week, I had exactly one reasonable image of a Manta in 45 years of diving.  Last Thursday afternoon at one point I was surrounded by ten and could see 60 from the boat.  My brain has still not wrapped itself around the concept. :yahoo:

 

Cheers,

Steve 


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#10 Steve Williams

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 09:25 PM

Hi Gary,

That process looks a touch too purple on my screen.  There really isn't any red in the image to bring out.  It does show how far we've come in tools since that was first posted in 2005.  I took a cut at multiple adjustment brushes as Ross suggested and I have an image I'm happier with.  Still not all the way there but closer.  How does this look?

 

Isla Mujeres-5366.jpg

 

Steve


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#11 scorpio_fish

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 10:06 PM

I don't have a simple solution, action or pre-set.   I divide and conquer in PS.   Create a duplicate layer.   Mask off the Manta.  Copy that layer.  Inverse the mask.   Now you have two layers that can be adjusted, one for the manta and one for the blue water.

 

A shorter method is to create a saturation adjustment layer and create a mask for the manta.  Pick the best white balance for the blue water.   Desaturate the manta only to some degree.


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#12 Fireflys

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 11:00 PM

Hi Steve,

 

             I agree with you using Ross's method has produced a better image, nice one.  :0)

 

                       Gary. 



#13 tdpriest

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 03:09 AM

I think Steve's image is great: curvaceous, dude!

 

Even with Photoshop, and I've been slowly learning for many years, I've difficulty with mantas in ambient light:

 

Indonesia 2011 0697 Komodo Makassar reef Manta birostris.jpg

 

 

 



#14 tdpriest

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 03:14 AM

 

 
9460173116_8f67db6218_o.jpg
 
 
I'd like to see a few more of those manta images.
 
                  Gary.
 

 

 

 

 

That looks a hideously complicated way of achieving the same end that carefully tuning the colour and exposure of the RAW conversion and applying Photoshop's color balance and curve adjustments (+/- layers) does faster...



#15 Bentoni

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 03:01 PM

Steve,

 

I like all these suggestions. The beauty of Photoshop is that there are so many ways to skin a cat. I find that the simpler your corrections are, the more natural the results seem to look. (just my humble opinion) Anyway, I took a shot at your sample image, and have posted it below. I used the 'Hue, Saturation, Brightness' tool and with just the CYAN channel selected, I dragged the Saturation slider all the way to the left. Then I bumped up the 'MASTER' saturation about 15%. That's it. The manta is contaminated by CYAN, so by taking it out, your subject looks neutral, and the deep pure blue background will remain almost unchanged. This should work on most images, but the specific color of the background water can sometimes contain enough CYAN that you may need to tweek the results a little more than this. Or you can paint the original color back into the background with the 'History Brush' I hope this helps you.

 

Isla Mujeres-5366_show.jpg

 

 

Isla Mujeres-5366_show 2.jpg


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#16 Steve Williams

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 06:54 PM

Thanks Randall!  that's a new way to look at the issue for me.  I'll play with it.  I really appreciate everyone's thoughts and ideas.

 

Cheers,

Steve


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#17 loftus

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 06:06 AM

Steve,

Of all the adjusted versions above, I like yours the best. And probably the most important reason is that you were there and you know best how to render it the way you saw it.

One of the problems of available light in general, is the way you saw it, is not with a perfect white balance - you saw a cyan/blue/red deficient animal in front of you. Adding strobe actually changes the way our eyes saw it.  So with available light, I think it's a compromise, white balance needs some adjustment but not all the way to keep it real.

That's why very often I simply prefer black and white conversions of available light images.


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#18 Damo

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 01:11 AM

Agree with Loftus Steve

 

Try Black and White :-)

 

Have a play!


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#19 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 04:55 AM

Two tips to always bear in mind:

1) the sea is blue - so always look after that water colour

2) don't over use masking - otherwise the animal looks completely cut out and stuck on. 

 

Just because you can, doesn't me you have to.

 

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#20 tdpriest

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 06:59 AM

Just because you can, doesn't mean you have to show anybody else the results...

 

:evilgrin2:

 

 

... but you know that you want to try it: the guilty secret of Photoshop and the amateur photographer with time on their hands!


Edited by tdpriest, 28 September 2013 - 07:01 AM.