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Thread: Colour Correction Question using RawTherapee

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    Member MadMax1412's Avatar
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    Colour Correction Question using RawTherapee

    Hi Guys,

    I'm using RawTherapee, self taught, to modify my photos.

    In this photo I've increased the exposure compensation to make her face a bit clearer to see but you can see the sky in the background is now looking washed out.

    To be honest, being self taught, I just move each of the sliders to see what the effect is until I get something closer to what I like.

    I try to get the histogram in the top right to reach from the left side to the right as I believe that indicates a good balance, although not sure if it's balance of light/dark or colours.

    In this 2nd photo, I tried to "fix" it by changing the "blue/red balance" under the colour management tab in the top right corner of RawTherapee. This has made the sky look darker and the hills have that "bluer" look you see for distant hills.

    What photo do people prefer? The original (on the left in both shots), the first adjustment, or the 2nd adjustment where the blue/red balance was changed?

    Thanks in advance.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Hmm! Whatta choice! I flicked back and 4th until I was seeing triple! I'd have to say "none of the above/beside/following".

    All have good and bad points. In every case the girl's face is (IMO) too shadowed. Work on 1 thing atta time. Start with the face,
    say. You need to be able to work on the appropriate tones (say darks, but maybe mids) and have minimal effect on the others (say
    highs). Then, for color adjustment, work on a range at a time, like the cyans, or reds, without much effect on the others.

    You are to be lauded for perseverance and self-discipline in teaching yourself. I'm not a RT user (had it once but that's all) and use
    Photoshop instead. You've got to look for a Levels adjusting tool in RT, and then for colors, a saturation control tool, where you can
    also select a range of hues to work on. I could do the adjusts in 2 shakes using Pshop, but can only be general for RT.

    Am.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 02-09-2015 at 7:31pm.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Can fill flash be used to brighten you subject a bit in the first place?
    Does RT have a selection tool that allows you to brighten the young lady and not the BG?

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    ......
    Does RT have a selection tool that allows you to brighten the young lady and not the BG?
    Not that I remember(unless they have added it since I stopped using it, at least). Actually the reason I stopped using it too.

    For 'correct' white balance, where the term correct is a matter of opinion! .. use the spot WB tool, which is the dropper tool up in the WB adjustment area.
    What you do is select the cropper, and you should have a dropper/sampler tool for your cursor.
    With that dropper as your cursor, you then find a white/grey/black area in the image and click on that. The trick is to find an appropriate area to click on.
    In this selection of images, the obvious points to select as your white balance are the clouds in the background!

    Note that while this usually works really well, there are some caveats to using this method.

    As Am said too, what you really want/need here tho is the tone adjustment tools.
    Look for a midtone adjustment tool if available, and bump it up a touch. Also a little increase in the shadows can also help.

    Haven't used RT for a few years now, so can't really remember it all that well, other than it allowed for so many different ways to render the actual raw file(demosaic) which piqued my interest for it.

    I noticed too: you already have some seemingly better exposures in the film strip of this scene(of the girl), so I'm assuming your thread is simply to deal with the processing part of question as opposed to how to make the image simply better?
    That is, image called DSC_2855 seems to be the one to work with in this series, and if the image you are working on is too hard, then mark it as a non keeper.

    Which then follows on(if you're simply interested in learning more processing!) .. have you tried to use Nikon's CaptureNX-D to help with PP work too?
    While I'm not a fan of CNX-D due to it's incessant crashing and glacial movements .. it does have some nice features for working with Nikon NEF files!
    If you haven't already tried it, I recommend that you give it a go(and try to persevere a little with it, if you find the same hideous performance).
    It's major benefits are the simple and nice handling of WB and more so the way it renders tones with the use of Picture Controls.
    For this specific situation tho, I reckon you may like the D-Lighting slider and how it works.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
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    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the replies. I took a series of photos of my daughter using different settings which is why DSC_2855 looks better from the get-go as I used a fill-in flash. I was trying variouis settings to get the background blurred enough for her to "pop" but not too blurred if that makes sense.

    The trouble with taking lots of photos is that there are poses I like between similar shots so rather than just keep # 2855, I wouldn't mind trying to fix this one. As I said, I'm only self learning so really don't know what tool I should be looking for when trying to resolve a particular problem. I would love to be able to look at a photo like you guys and be able to say "I need to use the midtone adjustment tool", or "Increase shadows" etc rather than doing what I'm doing which is grabbing sliders at random and seeing what effect it has.

    I'll have a go at your suggestions, probably over the weekend as work takes up too much time.

    Thanks again.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Aha! .. OK.

    Something to keep a very keen eye on, while you're processing any image, is the histogram.
    It's important both on the camera, and then later in your PP editor.

    I reckon the easiest writeup on what the histogram is, comes from Luminous Landscape's(Lu-La) Understanding Histograms

    Basically, you want to separate the histogram box into 3 separate zones. Lu-La says to separate the histogram into 5 distinct zones, but just to start with you should think of it as three areas.
    Reason why is simply to correlate what we refer too as shadows, midtones and highlights with those three areas.
    So if you can imagine that histogram box as being equally divided into 3rds, then as per Lu-La's writeup, the zone on the far left is the shadows, the zone in the centre is the midtones, and the zone on the right is the highlights.
    As you edit an image, the histogram graph will alter itself too.

    I suspect after editing a few images yourself, you will just instantly see what's what in an image and what needs to be edited and what can be left alone.
    That is, while it makes sense to lift the shadow area of your daughter's face in this instance, sometimes it can be appropriate to leave strong shadows or highlights depending on the type of rendering you want to create.
    eg. in an image with strong highlights(ie. blown out a bit) that would be considered 'high key'. Conversely an image that is very strong in the shadow area and looks quite dark would be considered noir or 'film noir'.

    Lastly with respect to the histogram. As you process more and more images, you may notice one thing about histograms. (in my experience!!) Any non manufacturer software for raw files never displays the histogram of the resultant raw file as the camera does.
    Now I'm a Nikon shooter(as you seem to be), and I mainly use Nikon software. I can safely say that all of my raw files when loaded from camera to PC and viewed in Nikon's software all display the same histogram both on camera and in software. You won't see this with non manufacturer raw software(to a degree, as there are some backend tricks that can help). But if your software renders it's own raw image, then there is a very high probability that the histograms are different between camera, and non manufacturer software.
    I've also seen the same histogram correlation with Canon images and Canon software(DPP) too. I've never experienced if there was any differences in histogram between non Canon software and Canon camera tho.
    All I can tell 'ya for sure is that in Nikon terms .. there almost always is.
    What to do about it? .. nothing! You don't need to worry about it at all.
    If you do want a start point where camera and PC version of the image is the same, like I said earlier ... try Nikon's software.
    ViewNX2 has some good points, and tools, but is limited overall, and many times you will want more to work with.
    This is where CNX-D is handy(only to a degree tho) .. it has many more tools, but is like RT in that you can't edit the image in a localised area(ie. such as brighten you're daughter's face only). It's a global(entire image) editing tool only.

    One last thing: If you're a bit like me and don't really want to spend too much on software you know you won't get value from .. ie. Photoshop! .. try a program called Paintdotnet(exactly like that!)
    If you google it, it'll take you to getpaint.net. You can get it from there, it's only 4Mb to download, and easy to use as an addition to your raw file software.
    This program is basically a very lean version of PS, with layers and all that jazz.
    I once spent about 1/2 to 1 hour in a trial version of CS6 trying to work out how to edit a png file, only to close it down and forget the idea completely!
    Then I had the idea to load this program onto my computer, and within about 10 mins which included loading it onto the PC! .. I had the png file all sorted, which included creating 5 layers and separating the respective elements of the png file into those 5 layers.
    Basically CS6(or lets call it PS) is so insanely convoluted as a learning curve (ie. figuring out what each tool does, and what each icon is for the required too!) .. well, it's just easier to remove it from the computer and use less convoluted software
    The only thing it doesn't do is recognise raw files at all(that I know of).
    But this isn't important. What you would do is to pre edit your raw file with your raw software(in this case RT if you stick with it), and create a tiff version of that file for further editing in something like PDN.
    This is how PS works anyhow. PS itself can't open a raw file, it uses an intermediate software called ACR.
    So, if you used a workflow as per above, PDN replaces PS, and your replacement for ACR would then be your raw file processing software.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    . . . Does RT have a selection tool that allows you to brighten the young lady and not the BG? . . .
    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Not that I remember(unless they have added it since I stopped using it, at least). Actually the reason I stopped using it too.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMax1412 View Post
    . . . I took a series of photos of my daughter using different settings which is why DSC_2855 looks better from the get-go as I used a fill-in flash. I was trying variouis settings to get the background blurred enough for her to "pop" but not too blurred if that makes sense. The trouble with taking lots of photos is that there are poses I like between similar shots so rather than just keep # 2855, I wouldn't mind trying to fix this one.


    If you are intent on fixing that particular image, then consider downloading and installing ‘Picasa 3’ and using the “Fill Light” Slider.

    I just downloaded your image did exactly that, I only used the “Fill Light” slider, in combination with the “Shadows” and “Highlights” Sliders and I obtained an acceptable result, from which I could begin to fine tune the image using another Post Production Editing Program.

    Notwithstanding the above advice, I would encourage you to put the time into nailing the exposure using Flash as Fill as I think that is time better utilized, even though the picture that you want to rejuvenate is very nice.

    WW

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I have to say .. not a fan of Picasa(at all) .. as a raw processing software.
    It's tools are a little convoluted to say the least.
    (of course everyone has their own opinion, and this is just mine .. so YMMV)

    What I don't get(with Picasa) is that the shadow tool only allows darkening of the shadow areas, no recovery at all.
    Same with the highlights, only in reverse.
    Raw files have a lot of leeway in them to extend the dynamic range of the original capture, which is why we all try to shoot in raw mode and use a raw processor to extend what our original file can be set too.
    With the highlights slider, all you can do is to set blown out highlights(easily recoverable with most raw file software) to be more blown out!
    I'm thinking .. what's the point in that!

    Picasa seems to concentrate predominantly on it's many effects features .. proof of which lies in the vast numbers of almost similar(usually ghastly) processing effects compared to the number of useful tools to tweak a file to it's nth degree.
    Then there's the issue of it occasionally doing weird things to some images.
    an example of that is that in a series of 4 almost identical images I have, which I've viewed with various raw software, with Picasa, for an unknown reason it displays the 4th of that series with a wild magenta tone. It's inexplicable. None of the other software display this for that same series, so I'm at a loss as to why Picasa does.
    There's more, but not for this thread to elaborate on this issue.
    Picasa appears to use it's own idea of a raw rendering engine .. which from my experience isn't particularly good.
    This is evidenced by the way that the preview thumnail of this magenta affected raw file is displayed perfectly in the info area, yet the raw file itself is heavily magenta cast!

    Picasa seems to be a newbies play thing for people that have access to a computer and predominantly shoot with their smartphones for the purpose of using any number of the currently most popular instagramish effects to those images .. not really a serious image processing tool.

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    Many a 'newbie play thing' may provide a particular tool to do a particular job.

    Bias oft makes one blind.

    WW

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    .....

    Bias oft makes one blind.

    WW
    Of course! .. and I can tell 'ya without any shadow of a doubt that I definitely have my personal biases.

    But in this instance, it's not about bias, it's about a consistent workflow routine that most others seem to follow.
    I haven't tried all editing software, but I have trialled many(and own many) .. and they all seem to adjust shadow and highlight details in the same way.
    With shadows, when you 'up' the slider, they all brighten the shadows(ie. recover) .. and conversely with the highlights.. when you slide the adjustment upwards, they recover the highlights hence tone them down.
    Picasa works in reverse.
    What Picasa should have labelled them as are Blacks(to increase black point) for shadows .. and Whites(to increase white point) for the Highlights.
    Calling those two sliders shadows and highlights is misleading.
    I have no issues with the fill light tool, and while it does work, it's not as ideal as capable as some other software can be.

    Those comments above are not so much a bias on my part, but more of a running commentary of the differences between Picasa and most other software.

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    It is apparent that the above from Arthur was a personal commentary about the general workings of Picasa 3.

    However, it also occurs that such a commentary, especially from a senior and respected member and a Moderator of the Forum, might create a bias in the OP.

    Noting the OP is a beginner who seems to be on a budget; is being self taught and is very keen to fix up that one photo.

    As a consequence of reading such a strong opinion piece, it is reasonable to consider the possibility that the OP might be steered off even making the effort to try the "Fill Light" Slider in Picasa 3.

    That's what the comment 'bias oft makes one blind' means and where it was directed.

    The comment - to not allow bias to make one blind - was a reiteration of the suggestion for the OP to still try the 'Fill Light' slider in the Picasa 3 Editing Program, even in spite of him reading such a strong commentary, which lambasted that particular Picasa 3 software.

    ***


    The "Fill Light" Slider is not a difficult function to use in Picasa 3.

    Picasa 3 is a free download.

    The 'Fill Light' slider will adequately do the one step in the job that the OP wants to do and seemingly that is a step that he can not do with his existing software.

    The suggestion to use the 'Fill Light' Slider in Picasa 3 was made for that one reason: to assist the OP to achieve the specific task that he described.

    WW

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    I've got Picasa 3.9...

    But I was just wondering how MadMax has fared with the pic now that we've progressed far Beyond RawTherapeeDome?

    Back to Picasa 3.9... (hereafter Pic)

    Generally I would have to agree with AK about his views on usability of the tonal adjustments. The MAIN difference between the Pic operation
    and those of other programs (using for comparison Photoshop, GIMP, FastStone, and my own raw converter) is that the Pic ones do NOT start
    in the middle and so allow ONLY positive adjustment. OK, the Color Temp slider is the exception, but it logically has to be.

    The only other observation I would make is that it is differently set up from the other progs as well, in the organisation of the functions.

    I would say that once used to it you could manage well enough. I remember on the installation that you had to (at least I did) DECLINE a lot of
    options whereby Pic wanted to take control of every image on your computer. My only way out was to restrict it to a few folders on the main drive.
    The other thing was to decline a heap of options to do with "cloud" storage and usage.

    Now here's my opinion: it is not as "mainstream" as the other programs cited. My preference is for Photoshop, firstly for familiarity and secondly
    for the scope of what it can do. I also think it comes ahead in the organisation of its functions. Of the others, FastStone would be second for
    similar reasons with the exception of "scope". I still don't know its limitations, but I suspect they come pretty soon. But for quick and basic workings
    of the main tonal and color and textural functions, yes. Next wold be GIMP, but only because of its organisation. I used to have RT a long time ago
    but only for a short while, but if it's useful and straightforward, then OK.

    Well, that's it from me. No it's not!
    I nearly forgot ONE important aspect: ALL these are free if you include the free CS2 Photoshop. Other Adobe versions are not.

    Am(now finished - I hope!).
    Last edited by ameerat42; 04-09-2015 at 11:52am.

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    If the OP chooses to download the free version of Photoshop CS2, (instead of, and NOT as well as Picasa 3), then a similar result to using the Picasa 3 "Fill Light" Slider can be attained in CS2 by using:

    Image > Adjustments > Shadow/Highlight

    Increasing the "Shadows" in separate 2% increments (need about ten I would guess will be required), and all at a Tonal Width of 100% and at mid~top range of the "Pixel" slider will achieve a similar result to using the "Fill Light" Slider in Picasa 3.

    There are other methods in CS2, but that is a simple one to use for that particular image.

    Obviously then, as AM alluded, the OP will have a copy of CS2 for his other work.

    WW

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Yep. That's what he'd use, but the Tonal Range slider would need be only at about 15 or so, just for the darkest tones.

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    AHHHHHHHHHHHHH

    Thank you.

    Sorry.

    That was my typo in post #13 - 10% not 100%.

    ***

    Text in post #13 should read:


    "If the OP chooses to download the free version of Photoshop CS2, (instead of, and NOT as well as Picasa 3), then a similar result to using the Picasa 3 "Fill Light" Slider can be attained in CS2 by using:
    Image > Adjustments > Shadow/Highlight
    Increasing the "Shadows" in separate 2% increments (need about ten I would guess will be required), and all at a Tonal Width of 10% and at mid~top range of the "Pixel" slider will achieve a similar result to using the "Fill Light" Slider in Picasa 3.
    There are other methods in CS2, but that is a simple one to use for that particular image.
    Obviously then, as AM alluded, the OP will have a copy of CS2 for his other work."



    Sorry for any inconvenience.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 04-09-2015 at 2:45pm.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Just for clarity on the topic of my bias against Picasa!

    The bias isn't directly against Picasa itself, it's centred around the shadow/highlight tool only.
    Something that almost invariably happens when you just use the fill light tool especially with an image such as the OPs is that it brightens the image.
    The fill light tool, while it's simple, doesn't just operate on one specific set of tonal value .. it operates on a wider range of tones.
    So as it lifts up the middle to low tones that the OP is looking to achieve, it's also brightening up the highlights as well.
    So in trying to achieve one edit, the tool also affects another area of the image that the OP may not want to lose.

    This is where my comment re the 'highlights' tool came into the discussion.

    What WW calls bias .. I'm going to claim that it should more accurately be labelled as criticism! .. Criticism of the product being discussed.
    Personally it doesn't bother me how people view my opinions comments, and I don't think that I'm that respected here anyhow!

    My comments were made simply as a 'review' based on a fair amount of having trialled other software, and more importantly extensive use of many other types of software for doing exactly what is being discussed in this thread.

    Many other software can easily adjust the tones that the OP is asking about using a simple slider. Picasa is definitely not a leader in this field!
    Most software do it the same way .. you simply adjust a slider. RawTherapee has the same tools.
    The major difference between those other tools(many free!) and Picasa is that those other software can also recover the blowing out highlight areas that the shadow recovery tool invariably creates with a tool to counter this effect. Picasa not only can't .. but it can only make it worse.

    If that's 'blinded' bias .. then I'm giving up on making any further comparisons between the various products available.

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    Arthur, as an aside, but important:

    Your last post (#16) completely misunderstands and/or misrepresents my comments, which clearly I have clarified once already, but for the record:


    My reference to 'bias' and being 'blinded by it' was directed to the OP - it was NOT directed to you; nor was it stating nor implying that your commentary on Picasa was 'biased'.

    ***

    And, further for the record and on the topic of 'respect':

    Indicative by this conversation there is at least one member here who respects your views - and this is indicated by the effort that has been made to clarify the above point: twice.

    WW

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