color

Another Example of False Infrared Colour

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GX1 Infrared image converted with a red blue channel swap to create a false colour
GX1 Infrared image converted with a red blue channel swap to create a false colour

In my last post I shared an example of the false infrared colour technique and explained how it was achieved. I also confessed that in general I don’t like the effect, although in some cases it does work well. I thought it would be good to share another example that I think works reasonably well (although not as well as the previous post)  although I will admit that I still prefer the traditional black and white conversion.

This example is a little more stylised than the previous image and was created by first converting the image to colour before applying a Fuji Provia Slide Film simulation in Exposure 6. This was then further edited with a boost to the Vibrancy slider and a negative Clarity to give the soft effect. My reasoning for these adjustments was to prepare the image for conversion to black and white but I found I quite liked the colour image.

When converting the images with the Channel Mixer it can seem a bit hit and miss. It appears to help if you have both sky and foliage in the image. With a Red/Blue channel swap such as shown here the sky will turn blue and the foliage will go red. Most other areas (in landscapes) tend not to be affected.

You can improve the results by picking a white balance point during RAW conversion which causes the foliage to take on a blue tint. Typically this will leave the sky with some red tint and when the channel swap is made with the channel mixer the red tint in the sky turns blue and the blue tint of the foliage turns red.

Also try to avoid images which have been shot in the shade (such as tree lined country lanes) as you won’t get such a good effect. You really need direct and strong sun to make this work well.

Hope this helps anyone who is also struggling with Infrared false colour.

Infrared conversion from my GX1 Infrared camera
Infrared conversion from my GX1 Infrared camera

Free GM1 Camera Profile for Lightroom

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Panasonic GM1 shot processed using custom camera profile - the colours are more realistic and vivid
Panasonic GM1 shot processed using custom camera profile – the colours are more realistic and vivid

I have some good news for all you Lightroom users who own a Panasonic GM1. You can now download for free my custom camera profile at my Lenscraft website. This profile works with Lightroom and can be used instead of the “Adobe Standard” profile.

Once installed you can select the profile in the Develop Module under the Calibration section.

Lightroom Camera Profile found under the Calibration section of the Develop Module
Lightroom Camera Profile found under the Calibration section of the Develop Module

 

In order to access the profile you will need to be working on a RAW file shot with a Panasonic GM1. If you are editing a TIFF or JPEG file you will see “Embedded Profile” in the Calibration section. If you are editing a RAW file and can’t see the profile you have either:

  1. Installed it to the incorrect location
  2. You need to restart Lightroom (following the installation)
  3. You are working on a RAW file that isn’t from a GM1

Have fun.

Olympus OMD EM5 Colour Profile

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Captured on an Olympus EM5, converted in Lightroom using new color profile and tweaked in Nik Viveza
Captured on an Olympus EM5, converted in Lightroom using new color profile and tweaked in Nik Viveza

I admit that it’s been a while coming but I have finally managed to shoot the XRite ColorPassport in suitable lighting conditions to generate a profile for the Olympus EM5. To be honest, I didn’t expect the new profile to achieve much as the EM5 produces good colours already and in any event, Lightroom includes a few alternate profiles. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I generated this profile and tried it out in Lightroom. The images are noticeably stronger and more natural than using the Adobe Standard profile. I also like the new profile more than the other options that now come with Lightroom for this camera.

If anyone uses Lightroom and an Olympus EM5 (shooting in RAW format) then you can download the colour profile for free from my Lenscraft web site.

Sony RX10 Colour Profile for Lightroom

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Image captured on the Sony RX10 and converted in Lightroom using the new Colour Profile I created.
Image captured on the Sony RX10 and converted in Lightroom using the new Colour Profile I created.

I have finally managed to find a little time to produce and upload a new Colour Profile for the Sony RX10. The profile can be used with Lightroom and gives a nice improvement over the standard Adobe profiles that come with Lightroom. The improvement isn’t quite as marked as some of the other cameras I have profiled but it’s still better. Blues have more punch and the reds are more natural.

You can find the free download on my Lenscraft website.

I hope you like it.

Just Thinking of Summer

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Dreamy summer effects with Nik Color Efex Pro.
Dreamy summer effects with Nik Color Efex Pro.

I was thinking of summer whilst looking through my archive and came across a rather drab looking picture of flowers in a field. Looks a lot better after I had a play around in Nik Color Efex.

Playing Around

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Olympus EM5, 9-18mm lens, 8 stop ND filter and post processing in Nik Analog Efex. Click the image to see a larger version.
Olympus EM5, 9-18mm lens, 8 stop ND filter and post processing in Nik Analog Efex. Click the image to see a larger version.

I have just been playing around with some of my images from the trip to Filey at the weekend. Here is another of the images shot from Filey Brigg. The Brigg is a huge lump of rock extending out into the sea. It’s quite dark, moody and dare I say it, difficult to photograph.

This particular image was shot with an 8 stop graduated filter which gave a 4 second exposure at f/7.1.

I quite like the resulting image but I decided to play around some more with Nik Analog Efex Pro which is where the corroded effect/moody texture comes from. I can’t make up my mind if I like it or not now but thought I would share it.

Sometimes photography is about experimenting.

If you don’t experiment you don’t learn.

If you don’t learn you don’t grow.

If you don’t grow you will never be great.

Keeping it Real

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Real colours or not?
Real colours or not?

Over recent years I have noticed an increasing trend towards what I would call Unbelievable Realism in photography. To my mind, this is most noticeable (and objectionable) in the area of Nature and Landscape Photography.

If you are wondering what I am talking about, it’s the amazing colours and saturations that seem to dominate, increasingly dramatic images. I have a friend who calls this fast food photography and I have to agree. I look at a series of these photographs and find myself skipping through, quicker and quicker, trying to get to the next one to see if it is even more dramatic. At the end, I feel exhausted but strangely never fulfilled. There is seldom more to these images than the immediate hit of colour.

It’s easy to see why this is happening. In the days before digital, you had to work the magic in camera. It was a skill you developed along with your eye for a good image. Now, you still work the magic in camera but it’s only part of the story. For example, if you shoot RAW you can’t stop with the in camera image or it looks dreadful (especially if you use techniques like exposing to the right). At the same time, software for manipulating the images has become increasingly advanced, capable and in some cases easy to use. Magazines and website are also flooded with such images so those new to photography see this as what they need to aspire to rather than developing their own vision.

As a user and enthusiastic advocate of plug-ins, I have to admit that these may be causing part of the problem. These tools make it very easy for people with little experience (who also may not have developed their personal vision/eye yet) to produce dramatic effects. I too have found myself guilty of creating images that have too much impact at times and stray into the area of unbelievable realism. It’s very easy to push those sliders just a little too far and not realize you are doing it until it’s too late.

What I would like to propose is an alternative approach to Landscape and Nature photography where we try to keep it real. In the picture above you can see an image that I have tried to process a number of times.  The difficulty I have experienced is that the image, no matter how I process it, has never appeared real to me. Often the grass comes out too green, the sky too blue or the sunset too orange and saturated. The subtlety of colour and the balance between the colours just isn’t right. What unfortunately I am missing is a good reference point to work from. So far the above example is the best I have been able to produce but I think it’s a work in progress.

To end, I would like to pose two questions to anyone reading this:

  1. Which approach do you prefer when looking at other peoples work, the drama of “Unbelievable Realism” or the subtlety of “keeping it real”?
  2. Which approach do you try to adopt for your own work?

Black & White Converter Update

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In my last post I was vigorously outlining the benefits of the RX100 and especially the Low Light Hand Held mode. I also presented one of the images I had shot on my recent trip to France and which I had converted to Black and White using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

Well here is a new version of the image that I have just made using a new Black and White converter (new in that I haven’t discussed it before). I know I have introduced colour in there abut I like this muted tone effect.

Reprocessed version of my RX100 image discussed in the previous blog post.
Reprocessed version of my RX100 image discussed in the previous blog post. Click the image to open a larger version.

If you are wondering what the converter is that I used, it’s Perfect B&W. I expect to post more about these tools in the future.

Free Lightroom Printing Article

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Natural colours like these need special attention when printing. I have found Lightroom to be a particularly good solution.
Natural colours such as these found in the Artist Palette in Death Valley need special attention when printing. I have found Lightroom to be a particularly good solution. Click the image to see a larger version.

Last week was a big week for me. After 5 years of painfully slow service I decided to replace my PC. The PC in question is an old quad core HP with 1TB storage across 2 hard drives running Vista 64bit and 4GB of memory. It was state of the art 5 years ago but is now painfully slow. To give you some idea it takes 40 minutes to start up. My new PC starts in under 30 seconds running Windows 8. I also want to say that I now hate Microsoft with a vengeance for what they have done to the Windows operating system and the amount of time I am now wasting trying to find my way around.

Anyway, the point of this blog post is that it took me most of last week to migrate my computer data and install all my software to the new system. In all this activity I forgot to post that I had just added a new comprehensive article to the Members area of my Lenscraft website covering Printing in Lightroom. So if you are a Lightroom user you can download it for free by following this link – you do need to be signed in as a member but joining is also free.

Alternatively you can wait for it to be published on ePHOTOzine some time in the next few weeks.

The Black art of Colour Management

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Sunset images can be particularly challenging to edit and print if you don't have a colour calibrated workflow. Captured on a GX1 and edited with Nik Viveza.
Sunset images can be particularly challenging to edit and print if you don’t have a colour calibrated workflow. Captured on a GX1 and edited with Nik Viveza.

In my last post I discussed some of the choices we photographers now have in choosing paper surfaces for printing. Someone raised a question that I responded to about how to get the colours accurate but I think this subject deserves a more in depth answer; so here is a little more on the subject.

The secret to getting prints to look the way you want them to is all wrapped up in Colour Management. This can be a very simple process but it can quickly become a wide discussion with lots to confuse. I will try to keep this simple and discuss two areas of colour management that are essential to achieving accurate colour (and for that matter black and white) prints. These are:

  1. Screen calibration
  2. Printer calibration

It’s necessary to have an accurately calibrated screen so that you have confidence the colour you see on screen is the colour of the image. This is really vital because you could make your image look great on screen only to find you have compensated for all kinds of colour shifts and contrast problems with your monitor.

There are software solutions that allow you to calibrate your screen visually but these will never be as accurate as a hardware solution that measures the colours on screen, creating a specific profile for your monitor. There are a number of solutions available that will quickly allow you to generate a bespoke profile for your monitor and I suggest you invest in one of these. Its money well spent. Which model you invest in will depend on your budget and the approach you intend to adopt for printing.

When printing, it’s necessary to have your printer calibrated to the specific ink and paper. This allows you to ensure colours and tones are accurately reproduced for a given paper. There are three options here:

  1. Download and install the ICC colour profile for your printer and the paper you will be using. This is good but not as good as having a custom profile created for your printer.
  2. Have a custom profile created using a profiling service. This involves printing out a target image which is then measured to generate a profile. You can then install and use the profile for printing. There are a number of such services advertised in the back of photography magazines. Alternatively if you purchase Permajet or Fotospeed papers, they offer this service for free.
  3. Invest in a hardware solution that allows you to generate your own profile. This is good if you have a lot of profiles you want to create or switch papers often. This is the option I have chosen and have purchased a ColorMunki Photo tool. This allows me to calibrate both my screen and printer. So far the results have been exceptional.

Even if you intend to send your prints away to a printer, it’s still necessary to calibrate your monitor.

When it comes to printing, the printer and paper combination you have selected may not be able to represent accurately the range of colours and tones you see in your image. To compensate for this the printer will adjust the colours so that they fit within the Gamut that the printer can handle. This can affect how some colours appear as well as the contrast level in the image.

The solution to this problem is to use soft proofing for your images. Photoshop, Lightroom 4 and other packages will support soft proofing. This involves selecting the profile you are going to use to print your image and then the software tries to represent the image on the screen as it will ultimately appear on paper. There are lots of solutions here so your best option is to look up how to perform soft proofing for your chosen package. I would even recommend you soft proof your image when sending them off to a third party printer.

So, in summary:

  1. Profile your monitor and set it to use the customer ICC profile (most calibration units do this step automatically for you).
  2. Print using a profile generated specifically for your printer and paper combination. You should then use this profile when printing so you will need to print from an ICC aware application such as Photoshop or Lightroom. I use a package called QImage for reasons I won’t go into here other than to say it makes the job easy.
  3. Check your image using soft proofing before you printing to see if you want to make any further adjustments before you print.

Follow these steps and you will end up with accurate colours and tones in your prints.