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Anyone else color correct their photos and videos?

Discussion in 'Animal Photography' started by Sarus Crane, 8 Mar 2020.

  1. Sarus Crane

    Sarus Crane Well-Known Member

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    It dawned on me about a year ago that many of the photos and videos I've taken at zoos over the years are a bit off in terms of color. I've discovered color correcting in Adobe Photoshop using the color balance tool and it really makes a difference in viewing the photos as if you were there in real time. Now depending upon what your computer you're using, whether its a PC or Mac it will look slightly different, but basically I've found out that cameras of any type will let in a majority of blue light dissipating the other colors when you take a photo. When I edit a photo, I'll move the lowest bar in color balance tool (yellow/blue) -30 towards yellow and then add +15 saturation. If I'm shooting through glass or plexiglass I'll add another +15 saturation and then adjust the cyan/red or magenta/green depending upon the colors still present within the photo.

    For videos I color correct them as well. In Adobe Premiere Pro I'll take my finished video clip and then apply the fast color corrector where I change the amount of saturation to 115% and then play around with the color wheel until I achieve the right results. If I have a clip of an animal in bright sunlight, I'll duplicate the video layer then select "multiply" under the blend mode and set it at 50%. This usually is good for what my Canon SX530 HS gives me after I film a clip with it. Edits will vary under different lighting circumstances and the settings that I use for my camera will not work for everyone's. I just figured I'd let you know what I use to color correct my photos and videos in case you want to try it yourself.
     
  2. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    I do things rather differently. I have always set my Nikons on 'Auto Colour Balance', which usually does a pretty good job. However there are occasions when things don't look quite right, usually when indoor exhibits have coloured lights (my pet hate). I will use Photoshop's colour balance tool if there is a colour cast in the shadows, midtones or highlights, but my first step is always part of the conversion of my NEF (raw) file into a 16-bit TIFF file with Nikon Capture NX. This has a very useful colour balance tool (labelled White Balance): you can set a numerical value for the colour of the light as its Kelvin temperature - but I never do. I use the eye-dropper tool to select a neutral spot in the image (preferably a neutral grey, but perhaps pure black or white) and that changes the whole image - the nice thing is that if you are not happy with the result, you can Undo and choose a different area until you like the effect. I can also correct the lightness, chroma (intensity) and hue if required of particular colours if necessary (usually to tone down green leaves if they seem oversaturated).
    I then export my file into Photoshop for cropping, Levels control (setting black and white points), resizing, conversion to 8-bit, a tiny bit of Unsharp Masking and finally saving as a JPG file.
    The only problems I find it difficult to solve are the red lighting sometimes used in Nocturnal Houses and the greenish lighting in some reptile exhibits (from mercury vapour lighting?) which is not really obvious to the naked eye, but can look lurid in a photo. I reduce the red in the nocturnal photos, but leave some red colour cast to match the way my eyes and brain remember the scene. I haven't solved the green problem, but I am experimenting with using a small LED light to improve colour rendition in my reptile photos.
     
  3. littleRedPanda

    littleRedPanda Well-Known Member

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    I've tried different things over the years, but long since realised lightroom/photoshop can't always save a poorly taken photo.
     
  4. RetiredToTheZoo

    RetiredToTheZoo Well-Known Member

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    I appreciate you sharing your workflow with us, but if I had to constantly color correct everything, the first thing I would check is that my monitor is properly calibrated. The photos and videos could be spot on and it's the monitor that's off.

    I have found that most of today's cameras do very good job auto adjusting white balance, but not perfect, especially with mixed types of source lighting, Sometimes when I shoot in difficult light conditions I will use manual white balance and carry an 18% grey card, place it somewhere in the frame so It receives the same light as the rest of the scene, then take a reference photo, then the shot without the card. In post processing you can tell the software the card is neutral grey and it will adjust the white balance correctly in the reference photo, then you can transfer or sync those adjustments to the photos without the card. This has worked fairly well for me.
     
  5. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    Good points. A decent monitor which is properly calibrated is so important. I remember the problems I had with a monitor which was wonderful for word processing, but when I started to use it for photos, I noticed that the left hand side was distinctly red and the right hand side was rather blue :mad::confused:
    The grey card technique is classic, but it won't work if you are trying to photograph animals in a glass-fronted exhibit when the light in the exhibit can be quite different from the ambient light in the viewing area.
     
  6. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    I use Lightroom to edit RAW copies of the originals (although I've been editing the jpgs since getting my EOS 5DSr because Lightroom 5.2 doesn't recognise the CR2 format used in that camera).

    Normally, the only colour corrections I do these days is to crush the blacks a little on most photos, and sometimes bring up the shadows or bring down the whites and/or highlights. I sometimes then have to adjust the exposure or contrast to compensate for the changes.

    If I'm shooting with blue sky in the background and it looks a little pale, I might enhance the blue a little.

    Otherwise, cropping and sharpening is about the only other things I do before saving as a jpg, and then compressing the file before uploading it onto the web.

    :p

    Hix
     
  7. Terry Thomas

    Terry Thomas Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    A little colour and light correction is usually no problem, but it is easy to make the colours a bit too bright. Many good shots are spoilt by over correcting.
     
  8. RetiredToTheZoo

    RetiredToTheZoo Well-Known Member

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    I think in this discussion we are confusing color correction with other adjustments. To me, color correction is about making adjustments to ensure the colors captured by the camera are being displayed and/or printed accurately. This is what color correction hardware and software does. It makes adjustments to devices so red is in fact displayed or printed red, blue is blue, green is green, etc. It provides somewhat of a standard so everyone will see the same thing (in theory anyway. Many other factors affect this.) Cameras do this internally thru their firmware so they are recording colors accurately. Adjustments to luminance, contrast, and saturation, whether globally or to individual colors, are artistic or specific adjustments to suit certain preferences or goals. Having said that, it is sometimes necessary to color correct certain images in post processing because the camera didn't get it right in the first place whether thru technical limitations or user error.
     
    Last edited: 20 Mar 2020
    Terry Thomas and gentle lemur like this.
  9. RetiredToTheZoo

    RetiredToTheZoo Well-Known Member

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    You are exactly right. The light hitting the grey card must be exactly the same as the light hitting the subject. Otherwise it will be of no use.
     
  10. qthemusic

    qthemusic Member

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    I'm an amateur when it comes to photography, however I do shoot in RAW, and process in ON1 photo RAW. I don't process every shot though, just the ones that need a tiny tweak.