Author Topic: Color management and picture taking  (Read 4143 times)

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Offline Clive

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Color management and picture taking
« on: August 29, 2005, 04:45:04 PM »
Prologue: I'd ask this at photo.net, but I seem to get "snooty" answers there. Folks here seem a little more down to earth. :)

Here are my questions .. I am not even sure what my questions are..
1) Do I need CS to manage color in my images?
2) Are we too infatuated with software versus trying to "get it right" in the camera?


In the other forum I asked about jpg or RAW and then we got into color management...thanks for the comments....this is sort of a continuation. First I want to reiterate what ISO3200 said.. it's all about "composition" .. yes, and light too. In the (occasional) classes that I teach --usually one-evening affairs--we cover two things: composition and light. I tell folks about the "the three Ls of photography" .. light light and light. Light is 'all' and surpasses composition--and I don't mean to belittle composition as it is hugely important too.

Anyway....for the past 46 years (and 130,00+ images later) I've been trying to learn about light and composition and do okay. I can take "snapshot" pictures as well as anyone and occasionally I get brilliant and get a good shot. I do occasional photo shoots and folks seemed pleased ... they still pay me...a good sign.  

I have used Photoshop 5 and LE for years and been using Elements 2 for two years. I've probably tweaked 20,000 digitals and scans from slides. I do basic stuff like overall color 'corrections", crop... basic stuff. I use "light levels" and sometimes tweak RBG colors together or individually with 'curves"...I must learn more about this stuff.

Don't I have a large enough "color gammut" already? Do I need a gzillion colors to mess with? Are we getting TOO technical with images?

So why do I need CS or Elements 3? What does it do to "reds" (say) that I can't already do. If I have a good shot already will it become THAT much better if I get CS instead of what I do now with Elements ... and I've used curves in Dimage Viewer as well.

Remember I am 58 years old and we (old farts) are notorious for resisting change--even tho I am a bit of a image geek and have way too many cameras.

I asked these questions on photo.net (are we doing too much playing with images?) and folks were sort of snotty in their replies. (If I did not have the very LATEST stuff for my pictures I was "not with it." I sort of bristled at some of the replies. I sense that a lot of photo.net users are "full of themselves" or as we say here, "they have SDS syndrome."  :) (See note below.)

See? I am a cranky old fart. :)  Not really.
Questions repeated ...
1) Do I need CS to manage color in my images?
2) Are we too infatuated with software versus trying to "get it right" in the camera?


Your comments about software and digital enhancements are much appreciated.Thanks.

Clive

PS:
SDS Syndrome?? Describes folks who think their "sh*t don't stink" ... :) :) It's common here in Canada in some circles.
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Offline Akshay Jamwal

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Color management and picture taking
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2005, 07:05:07 PM »
Hi, Clive.

Quote from: Clive
Prologue: I'd ask this at photo.net, but I seem to get "snooty" answers there. Folks here seem a little more down to earth.


I know what you mean. There are the know-it-alls, the 'my technique is better than your technique' guys and there are, of course, the 'my camera is WAY better than your camera' variety.

Quote from: Clive
I have used Photoshop 5 and LE for years and been using Elements 2 for two years. I've probably tweaked 20,000 digitals and scans from slides. I do basic stuff like overall color 'corrections", crop... basic stuff. I use "light levels" and sometimes tweak RBG colors together or individually with 'curves"...I must learn more about this stuff.

Don't I have a large enough "color gammut" already? Do I need a gzillion colors to mess with? Are we getting TOO technical with images?


For all practical purposes, I think most people (read amateurs, even serious amateurs or part-time professionals) don't need larger gamuts or colour spaces. I think it would also largely depend on what you're planning to do with the image.
First of all, what colour space are you shooting in? Second, does that colour space fulfill your requirements, whatever those may be?

If the answer to the second question is yes, then what colour space you're shooting in (or converting to, if you're using RAW for example) is completely irrelevant, and discussions such as these become purely academic.

If say you're shooting in AdobeRGB or sRGB and getting whatever you need, then no, you don't need a gazillion colours to mess with :). You already have plenty.

AdobeRGB has quite a large range of colours, larger than sRGB; it's generally recommended as the colour profile to use, since it was designed with printer colour ranges in mind. Professionals are now harping on about ProphotoRGB, which has even a bigger space than AdobeRGB. Apparently the colour space with that profile (Prophoto) even encompasses some colours which the human eye can't see (which begs the question: what's the point?), resulting in some really freaky lookin' colours, if your printer can reproduce them.

I either shoot in or convert to AdobeRGB, as it's pretty much an industry standard. Not because I'm a snot and like to harp on about how it's better than sRGB like some people do, but because that's what the lab I go to uses as well. If the lab only used sRGB, I'd shoot or convert to that profile.

I do this as a profession, so getting the most out of everything is more or less a prerequisite. It certainly doesn't have to be the case for everyone around the world. If there are conflicting colour profiles between what the image was shot in and what the image was printed with, then you're going to see some differences for sure. Heck, you'd even see differences if your monitor wasn't properly calibrated.
Best case scenario: you wouldn't notice too much of a difference between what you saw on your LCD or your monitor and what you saw on the prints. Worst case scenario: you get colour casts or muted colours, or colours that just didn't look like what you saw either while you were shooting or even afterwards.
However, this really depends on the lab responsible for printing. If you're printing everything yourself, then I would have to say, yes, you do need CS (or similar program) to manage colour, and to calibrate your monitor with your printer, take test prints.. etc.

Too much of a headache for me. I'll confess I've never tried it, but based on what I hear and see from other people who've tried, I just decided to play it safe and give my files to a reputed lab.

So anyway, to sum up, my point is that you don't necessarily need CS or similar programs to manage colour, but you just might, depending on your situation. I hope that makes sense.

Re: "2) Are we too infatuated...."
I think this one's another 'yes and no' answer, and would, again, depend on a number of things, like a) whether you shoot RAW or JPEG, or b) whether you (again) give your files to a lab or print them yourself.

If you shoot RAW, then I think it's kind of a necessity. It takes a while to get accustomed to handling colour and various other things yourself, but once you've absorbed all the required knowledge, it just becomes part of the process. It does add quite a bit of time, which is a big disadvantage.
However, I don't think of it as 'software vs. camera'. The software becomes a requirement in this instance, part of the post-capture procedure.

There probably are a few people that are in fact infatuated with the software phase of things, but I really don't see anything wrong with that, really. Unless they're stressing that everyone else should also follow suit.

The thing is, you might get it right in the camera and still need software. I don't think even half of the people out there shooting negatives would realise that labs adjust exposure for them if they mess up exposure, but some of these folks get kind of riled up if you enhance anything digitally. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and in this case, it can be an extremely irritating thing.

On the other hand, if what you're saying is that digital cameras have made it easier for everyone to screw up and still get away with it, I disagree. Whether you're shooting film or digital, 'getting it right' is kind of a relative term, in my opinion. You might get the exposure right but the composition wrong. You might get the exposure right and yet get a colour cast, say if you have a prolonged exposure, or if you didn't use the right filter. In the absence of an ND filter, you might have a beautiful composition and an averaged out exposure, resulting in an 'ok' photograph.
Digital has made all those things easier.
High Dynamic Range in CS2 now makes it possible to blend multiple exposures together rather than figuring out which ND filter to use, whether it should be hard edged or soft edged, etc. You can remove colour casts more easily than you'd be able to on film, especially if you're shooting RAW.
In each of those cases, I wouldn't call it infatuation if you knew what the software solution was, I'd call it a 'replacement' for techniques or practices you would use with film.

The whole issue is quite subjective, don't you think?
Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.  ~Ansel Adams

Offline Clive

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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2005, 07:27:56 PM »
Akshay. WOW! Thanks. I appreciate your comments. Will read your notes in detail tonight and get back to you later.

SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTION to anyone:  Who here is using Pain Shop Pro 9 or 10?

I hear it is pretty "hot" and probably way better than Elements 3 for the price. And it handles RAW too. Anyone?

Thanks again.

Clive
PS: This new 7D is going to consume me!! I love it. It is a whole new photographic adventure. The quality of slides and I get instant feedback!!
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Offline ISO3200

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Color management and picture taking
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2005, 07:49:34 PM »
Photography is light. :o
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Offline fenijs

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Color management and picture taking
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2005, 07:20:26 AM »
I use PSP9, mostly because I haven't taken the time to really get to know CS and CS2.

One would think that in similar programs they would name similar effects similar but I fidn this is not really the case and there is a big difference in handling between PSP and PS.
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Offline Clive

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Colors
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2005, 11:48:58 AM »
Thanks again Akshay. I have a friend at a local college who is looking into buying a "teachers" copy of CS2 and he knows people at the college who know CS2 color management stuff and perhaps I could spend some time with them. He's looking into it.

fenijs, thanks. I am also looking into PPS as it apparently does lots too.

For now I will use Dimage Viewer and Elements. BTW, I shot in RAW yesterday and it results in wicked colors. Wow.

ISO3200...as you said, photography IS light. See below. This image has had ZERO done to it other than resized to 600 pixels from 3,000 wide. Remember I said we would get some cool evening light. The sky was full of virga clouds and just as the sun set it was very wild....this is the top of my neighbor's house...well it was wild color. Honest NO color touching here at all. Light is all. :)

Thanks to all.

Clive
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Offline fenijs

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Color management and picture taking
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2005, 01:26:42 PM »
Light at sunset never seases to amaze me.

And you can call me Frans ;) (Silly forums never let me choose a username and show my proper name :p)
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Offline Akshay Jamwal

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Color management and picture taking
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2005, 02:18:56 PM »
Hi, Frans and Clive.

You're absolutely welcome, Clive. If you've been taking pictures for so long, I'm sure we have lots to learn from you :).

Nice shot too :).

I've never used PS Elements. What's it like? Most people who I know say that it's way too bareboned, but then all of those people are Photoshop users and are kind of biased.

Quote from: fenijs
One would think that in similar programs they would name similar
effects similar but I fidn this is not really the case and there is a big difference in handling between PSP and PS.


Yeah, it's probably a better idea to stick to one program. They probably have different names for the same effects because they're worried about patenting or whatnot. People get sued for the most idiotic things these days.
Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.  ~Ansel Adams