Color Temperature

Lightroom Color Temperature (or Colour Temperature if you spell correctly!)

“Andy – why the heck is Lightrooms temperature slider the wrong way around?”

That’s a question that I used to get asked quite a lot, and it’s started again since I mentioned it in passing a couple of posts ago.

The short answer is “IT ISN”T….it’s just you who doesn’t understand what it is and how it functions”.

But in order to give the definitive answer I feel the need to get back to basics though – so here goes.

The Spectrum Locus

Let’s get one thing straight from the start – LOCUS is just a posh word for PATH!

Visible light is just part of the electro-magnetic energy spectrum typically between 380nm (nanometers) and 700nm:

%name Color Temperature

In the first image below is what’s known as the Spectrum Locus – as defined by the CIE (Commission Internationale de l´Eclairage or International Commission on Illumination).

In a nutshell the locus represents the range of colors visible to the human eye – or I should say chromaticities:

1200px CIE1931xy blank Color Temperature

The blue numbers around the locus are simply the nanometer values from that same horizontal scale above. The reasoning behind the unit values of the x and y axis are complex and irrelevant to us in this post, otherwise it’ll go on for ages.

The human eye is a fickle thing.

It will always perceive, say, 255 green as being lighter than 255 red or 255 blue, and 255 blue as being the darkest of the three.  And the same applies to any value of the three primaries, as long as all three are the same.

perception Color Temperature

This stems from the fact that the human eye has around twice the response to green light as it does red or blue – crazy but true.  And that’s why your camera sensor – if it’s a Bayer type – has twice the number of green photosites on it as red or blue.

In rather over-simplified terms the CIE set a standard by which all colors in the visible spectrum could be expressed in terms of ‘chromaticity’ and ‘brightness’.

Brightness can be thought of as a grey ramp from black to white.

Any color space is a 3 dimensional shape with 3 axes x, y and z.

Z is the grey ramp from black to white, and the shape is then defined by the colour positions in terms of their chromaticity on the x and y axes, and their brightness on the z axis:

adobeRGB1998 Color Temperature

But if we just take the chromaticity values of all the colours visible to the human eye we end up with the CIE1931 spectrum locus – a two dimensional plot if you like, of the ‘perceived’ color space of human vision.

Now here’s where the confusion begins for the majority of ‘uneducated photographers’ – and I mean that in the nicest possible way, it’s not a dig!

Below is the same spectrum locus with an addition:

PlanckianLocus Color Temperature

This additional TcK curve is called the Planckian Locus, or dark body locus.  Now please don’t give up here folks, after all you’ve got this far, but it’ll get worse before it gets better!

The Planckian Locus simply represents the color temperature in degrees Kelvin of the colour emitted by a ‘dark body’ – think lump of pure carbon – as it is heated.  Its color temperature begins to visibly rise as its thermal temperature rises.

Up to a certain thermal temperature it’ll stay visibly black, then it will begin to glow a deep red.  Warm it up some more and the red color temperature turns to orange, then yellow and finally it will be what we can call ‘white hot’.

So the Planckian Locus is the 2D chromaticity plot of the colours emitted by a dark body as it is heated.

Here’s point of confusion number 1: do NOT jump to the conclusion that this is in any way a greyscale. “Well it starts off BLACK and ends up WHITE” – I’ve come across dozens of folk who think that – as they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing indeed!

What the Planckian Locus IS indicative of though is WHITE POINT.

Our commonly used colour management white points of D65, D55 and D50 all lie along the Planckian Locus, as do all the other CIE standard illumimant types of which there’s more than few.

The standard monitor calibration white point of D65 is actually 6500 Kelvin – it’s a standardized classification for ‘mean Noon Daylight’, and can be found on the Spectrum Locus/Plankckian Locus at 0.31271x, 0.32902y.

D55 or 5500 Kelvin is classed as Mid Morning/Mid Afternoon Daylight and can be found at 0.33242x, 0.34743y.

D50 or 5000 kelvin is classed as Horizon Light with co-ordinates of 0.34567x, 0.35850.

But we can also equate Planckian Locus values to our ‘picture taking’ in the form of white balance.

FACT: The HIGHER the color temperature the BLUER the light, and lower color temperatures shift from blue to yellow, then orange (studio type L photofloods 3200K), then more red (standard incandescent bulb 2400K) down to candle flame at around 1850K).  Sunset and sunrise are typically standardized at 1850K and LPS Sodium street lights can be as low as 1700K.

And a clear polar sky can be upwards of 27,000K – now there’s blue for you!

And here’s where we find confusion point number 2!

Take a look at this shot taken through a Lee Big Stopper:

2 Color Temperature

I’m an idle git and always have my camera set to a white balance of Cloudy B1, and here I’m shooting through a filter that notoriously adds a pretty severe bluish cast to an image anyway.

If you look at the TEMP and TINT sliders you will see Cloudy B1 is interpreted by Lightroom as 5550 Kelvin and a tint of +5 – that’s why the notation is ‘AS SHOT’.

Officially a Cloudy white balance is anywhere between 6000 Kelvin and 10,000 kelvin depending on your definition, and I’ve stuck extra blue in there with the Cloudy B1 setting, which will make the effective temperature go up even higher.

So either way, you can see that Lightrooms idea of 5550 Kelvin is somewhat ‘OFF’ to say the least, but it’s irrelevant at this juncture.

Where the real confusion sets in is shown in the image below:

1 Color Temperature

“Andy, now you’ve de-blued the shot why is the TEMP slider value saying 8387 Kelvin ? Surely it should be showing a value LOWER than 5550K – after all, tungsten is warm and 3200K”….

How right you are…..and wrong at the same time!

What Lightroom is saying is that I’ve added YELLOW to the tune of 8387-5550 or 2837.

FACT – the color temperature controls in Lightroom DO NOT work by adjusting the Planckian or black body temperature of light in our image.  They are used to COMPENSATE for the recorded Planckian/black body temperature.

If you load in image in the develop module of Lightroom and use any of the preset values, the value itself is ball park correct(ish).

The Daylight preset loads values of 5500K and +10. The Shade preset will jump to 7500K and +10, and Tungsten will drop to 2850K and +/-0.

But the Tungsten preset puts the TEMP slider in the BLUE part of the slider Blue/Yellow graduated scale, and the Shade preset puts the slider in the YELLOW side of the scale, thus leading millions of people into mistakenly thinking that 7500K is warmer/yellower than 2850K when it most definitely is NOT!

This kind of self-induced bad learning leaves people wide open to all sorts of misunderstandings when it comes to other aspects of color theory and color management.

My advice has always been the same, just ignore the numbers in Lightroom and do your adjustments subjectively – do what looks right!

But for heaven sake don’t try and build an understanding of color temperature based on the color balance control values in Lightroom – otherwise you get in one heck of a mess.

Monitor Calibration Update

Monitor Calibration Update

Okay, so I no longer NEED a new monitor, because I’ve got one – and my wallet is in Leighton Hospital Intensive Care Unit on the critical list..

What have you gone for Andy?  Well if you remember, in my last post I was undecided between 24″ and 27″, Eizo or BenQ.  But I was favoring the Eizo CS2420, on the grounds of cost, both in terms of monitor and calibration tool options.

But I got offered a sweet deal on a factory-fresh Eizo CS270 by John Willis at Calumet – so I got my desire for more screen real-estate fulfilled, while keeping the costs down by not having to buy a new calibrator.

%name Monitor Calibration Update

But it still hurt to pay for it!

Monitor Calibration

There are a few things to consider when it comes to monitor calibration, and they are mainly due to the physical attributes of the monitor itself.

In my previous post I did mention one of them – the most important one – the back light type.

CCFL and WCCFL – cold cathode fluorescent lamps, or LED.

CCFL & WCCFL (wide CCFL) used to be the common type of back light, but they are now less common, being replaced by LED for added colour reproduction, improved signal response time and reduced power consumption.  Wide CCFL gave a noticeably greater colour reproduction range and slightly warmer colour temperature than CCFL – and my old monitor was fitted with WCCFL back lighting, hence I used to be able to do my monitor calibration to near 98% of AdobeRGB.

CCFL back lights have one major property – that of being ‘cool’ in colour, and LEDs commonly exhibit a slightly ‘warmer’ colour temperature.

But there’s LEDs – and there’s LEDs, and some are cooler than others, some are of fixed output and others are of a variable output.

The colour temperature of the backlighting gives the monitor a ‘native white point’.

The ‘brightness’ of the backlight is really the only true variable on a standard type of LCD display, and the inter-relationship between backlight brightness and colour temperature, and the size of the monitors CLUT (colour look-up table) can have a massive effect on the total number of colours that the monitor can display.

Industry-standard documentation by folk a lot cleverer than me has for years recommended the same calibration target settings as I have alluded to in previous blog posts:

White Point: D65 or 6500K

Brightness: 120 cdm² or candelas per square meter

Gamma: 2.2

Screen Shot 2017 04 02 at 13.04.25 Monitor Calibration Update

The ubiquitous ColorMunki Photo ‘standard monitor calibration’ method setup screen.

This setup for ‘standard monitor calibration’ works extremely well, and has stood me in good stead for more years than I care to add up.

As I mentioned in my previous post, standard monitor calibration refers to a standard method of calibration, which can be thought of as ‘software calibration’, and I have done many print workshops where I have used this method to calibrate Eizo ColorEdge and NEC Spectraviews with great effect.

However, these more specialised colour management monitors have the added bonus of giving you a ‘hardware monitor calbration’ option.

To carry out a hardware monitor calibration on my new CS270 ColorEdge – or indeed any ColorEdge – we need to employ the Eizo ColorNavigator.

The start screen for ColorNavigator shows us some interesting items:

colnav1 Monitor Calibration Update

The recommended brightness value is 100 cdm² – not 120.

The recommended white point is D55 not D65.

Thank God the gamma value is the same!

Once the monitor calibration profile has been done we get a result screen of the physical profile:

colnav2 Monitor Calibration Update

Now before anyone gets their knickers in a knot over the brightness value discrepancy there’s a couple of things to bare in mind:

  1. This value is always slightly arbitrary and very much dependent on working/viewing conditions.  The working environment should be somewhere between 32 and 64 lux or cdm² ambient – think Bat Cave!  The ratio of ambient to monitor output should always remain at between 32:75/80 and 64:120/140 (ish) – in other words between 1:2 and 1:3 – see earlier post here.
  2. The difference between 100 and 120 cdm² is less than 1/4 stop in camera Ev terms – so not a lot.

What struck me as odd though was the white point setting of D55 or 5500K – that’s 1000K warmer than I’m used to. (yes- warmer – don’t let that temp slider in Lightroom cloud your thinking!).

1000k Monitor Calibration UpdateAfter all, 1000k is a noticeable variation – unlike the brightness 20cdm² shift.

Here’s the funny thing though; if I ‘software calibrate’ the CS270 using the ColorMunki software with the spectro plugged into the Mac instead of the monitor, I visually get the same result using D65/120cdm² as I do ‘hardware calibrating’ at D55 and 100cdm².

The same that is, until I look at the colour spaces of the two generated ICC profiles:

profile Monitor Calibration Update

The coloured section is the ‘software calibration’ colour space, and the wire frame the ‘hardware calibrated’ Eizo custom space – click the image to view larger in a separate window.

The hardware calibration profile is somewhat larger and has a slightly better black point performance – this will allow the viewer to SEE just that little bit more tonality in the deepest of shadows, and those perennially awkward colours that sit in the Blue, Cyan, Green region.

It’s therefore quite obvious that monitor calibration via the hardware/ColorNavigator method on Eizo monitors does buy you that extra bit of visual acuity, so if you own an Eizo ColorEdge then it is the way to go for sure.

Having said that, the differences are small-ish so it’s not really worth getting terrifically evangelical over it.

But if you have the monitor then you should have the calibrator, and if said calibrator is ‘on the list’ of those supported by ColorNavigator then it’s a bit of a JDI – just do it.

You can find the list of supported calibrators here.

Eizo and their ColorNavigator are basically making a very effective ‘mash up’ of the two ISO standards 3664 and 12646 which call for D65 and D50 white points respectively.

Why did I go CHEAP ?

Well, cheaper…..

Apart from the fact that I don’t like spending money – the stuff is so bloody hard to come by – I didn’t want the top end Eizo in either 27″ or 24″.

With the ‘top end’ ColorEdge monitors you are paying for some things that I at least, have little or no use for:

  • 3D CLUT – I’m a general sort of image maker who gets a bit ‘creative’ with my processing and printing.  If I was into graphics and accurate repro of Pantone and the like, or I specialised in archival work for the V & A say, then super-accurate colour reproduction would be critical.  The advantage of the 3D CLUT is that it allows a greater variety of SUBTLY different tones and hues to be SEEN and therefore it’s easier to VISUALLY check that they are maintained when shifting an image from one colour space to another – eg softproofing for print.  I’m a wildlife and landscape photographer – I don’t NEED that facility because I don’t work in a world that requires a stringent 100% colour accuracy.
  • Built-in Calibrator – I don’t need one ‘cos I’ve already got one!
  • Built-in Self-Correction Sensor – I don’t need one of those either!

So if your photography work is like mine, then it’s worth hunting out a ‘zero hours’ CS270 if you fancy the extra screen real-estate, and you want to spend less than if buying its replacement – the CS2730.  You won’t notice the extra 5 milliseconds slower response time, and the new CS2730 eats more power – but you do get a built-in carrying handle!


Good Contrast Control in Lightroom CC

Contrast Control in Lightroom

Learning how to deploy proper contrast control in Lightroom brings with it two major benefits:

  • It allows you to reveal more of your camera sensors dynamic range.
  • It will allow you to reveal considerably more image detail.

ContrastControl Good Contrast Control in Lightroom CC

I have posted on this subject before, under the guise of neutralising Lightrooms ‘hidden background adjustments’.  But as Lightroom CC 2015 evolves, trying to ‘nail’ the best way of doing something becomes like trying to hit a moving target.

For the last few months I’ve been using this (for me) new method – and to be honest it works like a charm!

It involves the use of the ‘zero’ preset together with a straight process version swap around, as illustrated in the before/after shot above and in the video linked below.  This video is best viewed on my YouTube channel:

The process might seem a little tedious at first, but it’s really easy when you get used to it, and it works on ALL images from ALL cameras.

Here is a step-by-step guide to the various Lightroom actions you need to take in order to obtain good contrast control:

Contrast Control Workflow Steps:

1. Develop Module Presets: Choose ZEROED
2. Camera Calibration Panel: Choose CAMERA NEUTRAL
3. Camera Calibration Panel: Choose Process Version 2010
4. Camera Calibration Panel: Choose Process Version 2012
5. Basics Panel: Double Click Exposure (goes from -1 to 0)
6. Basics Panel: Adjust Black Setting to taste if needed.
7. Details Panel: Reset Sharpening to default +25
8. Details Panel: Reset Colour Noise to default +25
9. Lens Corrections Panel: Tick Remove Chromatic Aberration.

Now that you’ve got good contrast control you can set about processing your image – just leave the contrast slider well alone!

Why is contrast control important, and why does it ‘add’ so much to my images Andy?

We are NOT really reducing the contrast of the raw file we captured.  We are simply reducing the EXCESSIVE CONTRAST that Lightroom ADDS to our files.

  • Lightroom typically ADDS a +33 contrast adjustment but ‘calls it’ ZERO.
  • Lightroom typically ADDS a medium contrast tone curve but ‘calls it’ LINEAR.

Both of this are contrast INCREASES, and any increase in contrast can be seen as a ‘compression’ of the tonal space between BLACK and WHITE.  This is a dynamic range visualisation killer because it crushes the ends of the midtone range.

It’s also a detail killer, because 99% of the subject detail is in the mid tone range.  Typically the Lightroom tonal curve range for midtones is 25% to 75%, but Lightroom is quite happy to accept a midtone range of 10% to 90% – check those midtone arrow adjusters at the bottom edge of the parametric tone curve!

I hope you find this post useful folks, and don’t forget to watch the video at full resolution on my YouTube Channel.


Lightroom Instagram Plugin

instag Lightroom Instagram PluginLightroom Instagram Plugin

Even though I suppose I am rather tech-savvy for an old fart, I have major head-problems with most social media.

Facebook took me years to get the hang of..

And even though I have an account, followers and everything I simply CANNOT get my head around Twitter …. it makes NO f***ing sense to me at all!

Over the last year I’ve also been aware of the growing use by professional of this other “thing” called Instagram.

About two months ago I asked my son Richard to explain how it works:

“It’s simple Dad, it’s Twitter for images”………..I couldn’t work out who to shoot first, me or him.

But, after much grief I was eventually shown how to put an image on Instagram.  I have an iPhone and an iPad but bare in mind it took me ages to work out how to put pictures on them.

And ALL mobile apps confound the hell out of me – so overly-simplified I find them difficult to use and I run out of patience!

So here I am looking at Instagram and seeing that I have to send an image to my iPad then I can upload it to Instagram – WTF????

I put a single image on there – it took me at least 30 minutes, and Rich was pissing himself laughing which didn’t help!

I tried a couple of programmes that were supposed to help put images on Instagram from a desktop machine, but they turned out to be more bloody complicated than the iPad method.

Needless to say I put Instagram on the back-burner.

BUT………………..someone has done something EPIC.  They’ve made a Lightroom Instagram Plugin – and it works!

It’s called LR/Instagram and you can download it HERE

LRInst Lightroom Instagram Plugin

Simply click the download link, unzip the the file and copy the LRInstagram.lrplugin file to your Lightroom plug-ins folder.

Open up your Lightroom Plug-in Manager and click “ADD” then navigate to the file itself

lrinst2 Lightroom Instagram Plugin

and click Add Plug-in.

The plug-in will appear under Publish Services in the bottom left panel of your Library Module.

Lrinst3 Lightroom Instagram Plugin

Click “Set Up”

Assuming you’ve actually got an Instagram account (if not then get one) all you need to do is fill in your account U/N and P/W and click Login:

Lrinst4 Lightroom Instagram Plugin

Once logged into your account you need to set the export preferences – I actually leave them set as above (default) with added standard screen sharpening and a custom watermark.

Simply click ‘Save’ and you’re done!

Using the Lightroom Instagram Plugin is easy if you are used to any of the other publish services inside Lightroom, but if you want to see it in action here is a short video on my YouTube channel – if you are viewing this post via email then the video will not show up – read it on the blog itself

This Lightroom Instagram Plugin seems to work flawlessly and definitely speeds up and simplifies publish images to Instagram – all I need to do now is work out an effective hash-tag method!

Lightroom Folders Panel

Lightroom Folders Panel

cc2015.6 1 Lightroom Folders PanelI find a lot of people are either confused or just plain unsure of what functions you can carry out in the Lightroom folders panel.

All Lightroom users should be familiar with the perennial problem of missing files, folders or drives from their Lightroom Catalogue, as indicated by the “!” exclamation mark in the top right corner of their image thumbnails.

Adobe really hack me off – for ages Lightroom indicated “missing” files with a question mark on the thumbnail.  But in their infinite wisdom they changed that to an exclamation mark (of course, still keeping the question mark in the Folders Panel!) just to confuse the bejesus out of everyone.  So now we have TWO TYPES of exclamation mark, each with a different meaning – nice one chaps……………….

Screen Shot 2016 07 12 at 11.15.50 Lightroom Folders Panel

With the exception of disconnected drives, missing files and folders are usually the result of moving files and folders via Windows Explorer on PC or Finder on the Mac.

And I find that in the majority of cases folk are just simply unaware that the same operations can be carried out within Lightroom via the Lightroom Folders Panel.

  • We can move files between folders.
  • We can move folders between drives.
  • And we can create new hierarchical folder structures on any attached drive.

All with the added bonuses of:

  1. Not leaving the Lightroom GUI.
  2. Lightroom does NOT loose the file/folder locations, so we avoid the dreaded “!” problem!

So I have created a couple of video lessons on YouTube:

If you are viewing this post via subscription email the please view the physical blog post – sometimes the video links do not show up in the emails.

Hopefully these two short lessons will enable you to understand the folder structure and placement options available to you via the Lightroom Folders Panel.


The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

cc2015.6 The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

Important – if you are reading this post about the new Guided Upright Tool via subscription email PLEASE view it directly on the blog instead.

Guided Upright The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

Yesterday Adobe released updates for Lightroom CC 2015, Lightroom 6 (non CC) and Photoshop CC2015.

These updates reconciled a few bug fixes and added new camera support BUT, Lr CC subscribers got themselves a new tool – yeah!

And what a useful tool it is – the Guided Upright Tool.

Below you’ll see a video of me showing how to deploy the tool, but basically it makes a damn fine job of getting rid of awkward and complex distortions from wide angle lenses that I’ve always had to resort to fixing with the Photoshop Warp Tool.

Firstly, lets take a look at the develop module panel where it lives:

cc2015.6 2 The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

Compared to the old Lens Correction Panel in previous versions of Lightroom:

2015.5 The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

As you can see from the comparison image at the top of the page, this tool does a fine job of quickly and effectively removing the skewed field curvature from the lighthouse – watch the video below on how I did this – really simple!

You might want to click the YouTube link at the bottom of the video to view at full size.


Something I forgot to stress in the video – you MUST check the ENABLE PROFILE CORRECTIONS in the lens corrections panel in order for the Guided Upright Tool to function.

You can only use a maximum of 4 lines, so choose them wisely!

When you add a third or fourth line you MAY get a warning “ ! Invalid Guide Configuration” – if you do, simply hit the backspace/delete key to remove the line causing the conflict.

Because the resulting correction can result in a major ‘crop’ to the image, you may loose vital pixels and end up with a less than desirable composition.

Plus Points:

Fast, effective and a time-saver; giving you the ability to correct for distorted horizontals and vertical at the same time.

I rate this as one of the best tools Adobe have added to Lightroom in ages, though I can’t give it 10/10 because we end up with a cropped image, and as I hinted at earlier, there are ways to do this in Photoshop that maintain ALL the pixels in the image.



Lightroom – Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Lightroom – Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation.

We all know how good Lightroom is – but it’s also a total pain in the arse!

Ages ago, I did a post about Lightroom 5 and accurate colour HERE and, according to this blogs page-view stats, that post still gets a large global viewing figure every month – so it’s something of an on-going problem for a lot of users.

But things have moved on a bit since then, and we are now working with the v5 release of Lightroom 6/CC 2015 – and things haven’t got any better, sadly, from the perspective of actually “seeing what you captured”.

The problem lies in the fact that Lightroom, for a long time, ceased to be a “neutral” RAW handler.  It uses a variety of ‘behind the scenes’ algorithms to add what it thinks are good adjustments in terms of exposure brightness and contrast.  In other words Lightroom adds hidden adjustments which we cannot see because they are not registered on the adjustment sliders under process version 2012.

Why does it do this – God only knows!

But when I take into account the support Lightroom currently offers for mobile phone cameras, cloud synch etc, I can’t help thinking that Adobe are trying to give Lightroom some sort of mass-market appeal by adding what the designers and coders think is some sort of WOW-factor to image previews – though I might be wrong!

But whatever Adobes reasoning, the fact remains that SOME OF US want to see our raw files for what they are – straight gamma 2.2 encoded versions of what the sensor recorded.  Only by learning how to Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation  can we actually arrive at a suitable starting point for the development process.

The Case To Answer

Firstly, a lot of you might be wondering WTF I’m ranting on about – your RAW image previews look great before you start doing anything to them – mmmmm….

If that’s the case then NEWS FLASH – RAW files should look as flat as dish-water pre-process, and you have do some work to make them look good.  So believe me, if your raws look “nice ‘n punchy” from the get-go then something is wrong somewhere!

Out there in photography land there are two RAW file handlers that are notorious for being “neutral” in their initial raw render – Raw Digger, and Iridient Developer.

Let me demonstrate the “case to answer” by using the same image I used the other day when giving Canon an indirect slagging off over lossless compression:

FW1Q1351 2 600x400 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Raw file opened in Lightroom with no user adjustments BUT WITH Lightroom ‘hidden exposure compensation’.

Now let’s open the same file in Raw Digger:

RawDigger Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Raw file opened in Raw Digger with no user adjustments.

And now in Iridient Developer:

IridientDev Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Raw file opened in Iridient Developer with no user adjustments.

And now, just for good measure, my Lightroom-processed version of the image:

FW1Q1351 600x400 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Raw file processed in Lightroom WITH user adjustments.

Both RAW Digger and Iridient Developer give the user a much better processing start point simply because they are neutral and don’t go about making contrast-loaded ‘background adjustments’.  And I’m sure you can see that the final Lightroom processed version of the image bares more resemblance to the RAW Digger and Iridient screen grabs than the Lightroom ‘as is’ preview.

Now if you are a total maniac then you can go and download either of the two aforementioned raw developers and get yourself super-confused or you can learn how to ‘neutralise’ the Lightroom background adjustment ‘crap’ – which is far easier!

How to Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation in Lightroom.

Step 1.  Scroll down to the Camera Calibration Panel in the Develop module and switch the Process Version from PV2012 to PV 2010:

Step1 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 1 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

Step 2.  Scroll up to the Basics panel (a very different looking one if you never used Lightroom 3!) and make the following changes:

  1. Blacks from 5 to 0
  2. Brightness from +50 to 0
  3. Contrast from +25 to 0
Step 2 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 2 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

Step 3.  Move to the Tone Curve and change the Medium Contrast tone curve to Linear:

Step 3 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 3 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

DO NOT concern yourself with the fact that your image has gone dark and flat, it’s to be expected!

Step 4.  Scroll back down to Camera Calibration and switch the process version BACK to PV2012, then scroll back up to the Basics Panel:

Step 4 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 4 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

Step 5.  Yes I know it still looks awful, but if you now change that -1EV to 0 on the exposure slider you’ll get a great process start image:

Step 5 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 5 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

Looking at the before and after images you can see that we have got contrast under control – in other words we have removed the excess contrast added to the image with the  Lightroom hidden background shenanigans.

Indeed, we can see exactly how much contrast has been removed with this ‘by the numbers’ process by looking at the -33 Contrast value – DO NOT RESET THIS BACK TO 0!!!!

The process has decreased contrast still further by lifting the Blacks value to +25.  You need to check the shadow areas on the image in this respect.  If they are looking a bit noisy (Hello Canon!) you might want to drop the blacks value to maybe +5 to +10 and open the shadows a bit more with a small positive adjustment to the Shadows slider in the basics panel.

And so processing is just a matter of a few subjective tweaks until I’m happy with the image:

Final 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Click to view larger image.

In the Tone Curve panel you can see the multi-point Custom Curve the process has added.  If you click the up/down arrows to the right of the word Custom you will see a menu giving you the option to save the curve:

SaveCurve Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Saving the custom curve.

I save the curve with the name 2010to2012 – by default it saves as an .xmp file, and to the user/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/Curves file path (Mac).

Saving the curve is useful as it makes for a very quick adjustment of further images.

However, there is a caveat (isn’t there always!) and it’s this:

The majority of  adjustments in Lightroom are specific to camera sensor and ISO.  In simple terms the same numeric value of adjustment to any control slider can have differing effects depending on the sensor it was made by and the ISO at which it was shot.  It’s very important that you wrap your head around this fact.

The curve I’ve produced here is correct for a Canon 1DX at the shot ISO which was 1000 or 800 if my memory serves correctly.  I could apply this curve to a 100 ISO image shot with a Nikon D800E, and it would do a good job, but I might get a slightly better result if I go through the whole process again to produce a custom curve for the D800E using a 100 ISO shot to begin with.  But even if that new curve visually gives a different result it will still have the same numeric values in the basics panel!

If I save the curve and then apply it to another image via the Tone Curve panel the contrast and blacks Basic Panel values do NOT change – but you will get a better distribution of contrast.

You may want to generate and save at least a low and high ISO variant of the curve for each of your camera bodies; or you could be a smart-arse like me by just using one curve and eye-balling the finer tweaks.

You can also create the curve and then save the settings as a User Develop Preset and then apply it to future imports via the import module.

So there you have it, how to Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation in Lightroom and see you images properly – have fun folks!

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Raw File Compression

Raw File Compression.

Today I’m going to give you my point of view over that most vexatious question – is LOSSLESS raw file compression TRULY lossless?

I’m going to upset one heck of a lot of people here, and my chances of Canon letting me have any new kit to test are going to disappear over the horizon at a great rate of knots, but I feel compelled to post!

What prompts me to commit this act of potential suicide?

It’s this shot from my recent trip to Norway:

FW1Q1351 2 900x600 Raw File Compression

Direct from Camera

FW1Q1351 900x600 Raw File Compression

Processed in Lightroom

I had originally intended to shoot Nikon on this trip using a hire 400mm f2.8, but right at the last minute there was a problem with the lens that couldn’t be sorted out in time, so Calumet supplied me with a 1DX and a 200-400 f4 to basically get me out of a sticky situation.

As you should all know by now, the only problems I have with Canon cameras are their  short Dynamic Range, and Canons steadfast refusal to allow for uncompressed raw recording.

The less experienced shooter/processor might look at the shot “ex camera” and be disappointed – it looks like crap, with far too much contrast, overly dark shadows and near-blown highlights.

Shot on Nikon the same image would look more in keeping with the processed version IF SHOT using the uncompressed raw option, which is something I always do without fail; and the extra 3/4 stop dynamic range of the D4 would make a world of difference too.

Would the AF have done as good a job – who knows!

The lighting in the shot is epic from a visual PoV, but bad from a camera exposure one. A wider dynamic range and zero raw compression on my Nikon D4 would allow me to have a little more ‘cavalier attitude’ to lighting scenarios like this – usually I’d shoot with +2/3Ev permanently dialled into the camera.  Overall the extra dynamic range would give me less contrast, and I’d have more highlight detail and less need to bump up the shadow areas in post.

In other words processing would be easier, faster and a lot less convoluted.

But I can’t stress enough just how much detrimental difference LOSSLESS raw file compression CAN SOMETIMES make to a shot.

Now there is a lot – and I mean A LOT – of opinionated garbage written all over the internet on various forums etc about lossless raw file compression, and it drives me nuts.  Some say it’s bad, most say it makes no difference – and both camps are WRONG!

Sometimes there is NO visual difference between UNCOMPRESSED and LOSSLESS, and sometimes there IS.  It all depends on the lighting and the nature of the scene/subject colours and how they interact with said lighting.

The main problem with the ‘it makes no difference’ camp is that they never substantiate their claims; and if they are Canon shooters they can’t – because they can’t produce an image with zero raw file compression to compare their standard lossless CR2 files to!

So I’ve come up with a way of illustrating visually the differences between various levels of raw file compression on Nikon using the D800E and Photoshop.

But before we ‘get to it’ let’s firstly refresh your understanding. A camera raw file is basically a gamma 1.0, or LINEAR gamma file:

LinVsHum3 900x271 Raw File Compression

Linear (top) vs Encoded Gamma

The right hand 50% of the linear gamma gradient represents the brightest whole stop of exposure – that’s one heck of a lot of potential for recording subtle highlight detail in a raw file.

It also represents the area of tonal range that is frequently most effected by any form of raw file compression.

Neither Nikon or Canon will reveal to the world the algorithm-based methods they use for lossless or lossy raw file compression, but it usually works by a process of ‘Bayer Binning’.

Bayer Pattern Raw File Compression

If we take a 2×2 block, it contains 2 green, 1 red and 1 blue photosite photon value – if we average the green value and then interpolate new values for red and blue output we will successfully compress the raw file.  But the data will be ‘faux’ data, not real data.

The other method we could use is to compress the tonal values in that brightest stop of recorded highlight tone – which is massive don’t forget – but this will result in a ’rounding up or down’ of certain bright tonal values thus potentially reducing some of the more subtle highlight details.

We could also use some variant of the same type of algorithm to ‘rationalise’ shadow detail as well – with pretty much the same result.

In the face of Nikon and Canons refusal to divulge their methodologies behind raw file compression, especially lossless, we can only guess what is actually happening.

I read somewhere that with lossless raw file compression the compression algorithms leave a trace instruction about what they have done and where they’ve done it in order that a raw handler programme such as Lightroom can actually ‘undo’ the compression effects – that sounds like a recipe for disaster if you ask me!

Personally I neither know nor do I care – I know that lossless raw file compression CAN be detrimental to images shot under certain conditions, and here’s the proof – of a fashion:

Let’s look at the following files:

14bitUC1 258x400 Raw File Compression

Image 1: 14 bit UNCOMPRESSED

14bitUC2 258x400 Raw File Compression

Image 2: 14 bit UNCOMPRESSED

14bitLosslessC 258x400 Raw File Compression

Image 3: 14 bit LOSSLESS compression

14bitLossyC 258x400 Raw File Compression

Image 4: 14 bit LOSSY compression

12bitUC 258x400 Raw File Compression

Image 5: 12 bit UNCOMPRESSED

Yes, there are 2 files which are identical, that is 14 bit uncompressed – and there’s a reason for that which will become apparent in a minute.

First, some basic Photoshop ‘stuff’.  If I open TWO images in Photoshop as separate layers in the same document, and change the blend mode of the top layer to DIFFERENCE I can then see the differences between the two ‘images’.  It’s not a perfect way of proving my point because of the phenomenon of photon flux.

Photon Flux Andy??? WTF is that?

Well, here’s where shooting two identical 14 bit uncompressed files comes in – they themselves are NOT identical!:

controlunamplified 258x400 Raw File Compression control 258x400 Raw File Compression

The result of overlaying the two identical uncompressed raw files (above left) – it looks almost black all over indicating that the two shots are indeed pretty much the same in every pixel.  But if I amplify the image with a levels layer (above right) you can see the differences more clearly.

So there you have it – Photon Flux! The difference between two 14 bit UNCOMPRESSED raw files shot at the same time, same ISO, shutter speed AND with a FULLY MANUAL APERTURE.  The only difference between the two shots is the ratio and number of photons striking the subject and being reflected into the lens.

The Levels Adjustment Layer had values of 0, 50 and 150, and is going to be added to the following comparison images:

Firstly 14 Bit UNCOMPRESSED compared to 14 bit LOSSLESS (the important one!):

14bitUCvLosslessC 258x400 Raw File Compression


Please remember, the above ‘difference’ image contains photon flux variations too, but if you look carefully you will see greater differences than in the ‘flux only’ image above.

14bitUCvLossyC 258x400 Raw File Compression 14bitUCv12bitUC 258x400 Raw File Compression

The two images above illustrate the differences between 14 bit uncompressed and 14 bit LOSSY compression (left) and 14 bit UNCOMPRESSED and 12 bit UNCOMPRESSED (right) just for good measure!

In Conclusion

As I indicated earlier in the post, this is not a definitive testing method, sequential shots will always contain a photon flux variation that ‘pollutes’ the ‘difference’ image.

I purposefully chose this white subject with textured aluminium fittings and a blackish LED screen because the majority of sensor response will lie in that brightest gamma 1.0 stop.

The exposure was a constant +1EV, 1/30th @ f 18 and 100 ISO – nearly maximum dynamic range for the D800E, and f18 was set manually to avoid any aperture flicker caused by auto stop down.

You can see from all the ‘difference’ images that the part of the subject that seems to suffer the most is the aluminium part, not the white areas.  The aluminium has a stippled texture causing a myriad of small specular highlights – brighter than the white parts of the subject.

What would 14 bit uncompressed minus 14 bit lossless minus photon flux look like?  In a perfect world I’d be able to show you accurately, but we don’t live in one of those so I can’t!

We can try it using the flux shot from earlier:

losslessminuscontrol 258x400 Raw File Compression

But this is wildly inaccurate as the flux component is not pertinent to the photons at the actual time the lossless compression shot was taken.  But the fact that you CAN see an image does HINT that there is a real difference between UNCOMPRESSED and LOSSLESS compression – in certain circumstances at least.

If you have never used a camera that offers the zero raw file compression option then basically what you’ve never had you never miss.  But as a Nikon shooter I shoot uncompressed all the time – 90% of the time I don’t need to, but it just saves me having to remember something when I do need the option.

FW1Q4469 600x400 Raw File Compression

Would this 1DX shot be served any better through UNCOMPRESSED raw recording?  Most likely NO – why?  Low Dynamic Range caused in the main by flat low contrast lighting means no deep dark shadows and nothing approaching a highlight.

I don’t see it as a costly option in terms of buffer capacity or on-board storage, and when it comes to processing I would much rather have a surfeit of sensor data rather than a lack of it – no matter how small that deficit might be.

Lossless raw file compression has NO positive effect on your images, and it’s sole purpose in life is to allow you to fit more shots on the storage media – that’s it pure and simple.  If you have the option to shoot uncompressed then do so, and buy a bigger card!

What pisses my off about Canon is that it would only take, I’m sure, a firmware upgrade to give the 1DX et al the ability to record with zero raw file compression – and, whether needed or not, it would stop miserable grumpy gits like me banging on about it!


Colour in Photoshop

Colour in Photoshop.

Understanding colour inside Photoshop is riddled with confusion for the majority of users.  This is due to the perpetual misuse of certain words and terms.  Adobe themselves use incorrect terminology – which doesn’t help!

The aim of this post is to understand the attributes or properties of colour inside the Photoshop environment – “…is that right Andy?”  “Yeh, it is!”

So, the first colour attribute we’re going to look at is HUE:

ColWheel1 1 Colour in Photoshop

A colour wheel showing point-sampled HUES (colours) at 30 degree increments.

HUE can be construed as meaning ‘colour’ – or color for the benefit of our American friends “come on guys, learn to spell – you’ve had long enough!”

The colour wheel begins at 0 degrees with pure Red (255,0,0 in 8bit RGB terms), and moves clockwise through all the HUES/colours to end up back at pure Red – simple!

Hue1 Colour in Photoshop

Above, we can see samples of primary red and secondary yellow together with their respective HUE degree values which are Red 0 degrees and Yellow 60 degrees.  You can also see that the colour channel values for Red are 255,0,0 and Yellow 255,255,0.  This shows that Yellow is a mix of Red light and Green light in equal proportions.

I told you it was easy!

Inside Photoshop the colour wheel starts and ends at 180 degrees CYAN, and is flattened out into a horizontal bar as in the Hue/Saturation adjustment:

ColWheel2 Colour in Photoshop

Overall, there is no ambiguity over the meaning or terminology HUE; it is what it is, and it is usually taken as meaning ‘what colour’ something is.

The same can be said for the next attribute of colour – SATURATION.

Or can it?

How do we define saturation?

Sat1 Colour in Photoshop

Two different SATURATION values (100% & 50%) of the same HUE.

Above we can see two different saturation values for the same HUE (0 degrees Hue, 100% and 50% Saturation). I suppose the burning question is, do we have two different ‘colours’?

As photographers we mainly work with additive colour; that is we add Red, Green and Blue coloured light to black in order to attain white.  But in the world of painting for instance, subtractive colour is used; pigments are overlaid on white (thus subtracting white) to make black.  Printing uses the same model – CMY+K inks overlaid on ‘white’ paper …..mmm see here

If we take a particular ‘colour’ of paint and we mix it with BLACK we have a different SHADE of the same colour.  If we instead add WHITE we end up with what’s called a TINT of the same colour; and if add grey to the original paint we arrive at a different TONE of the same colour.

Let’s look at that 50% saturated Red again:

Sat2 Colour in Photoshop

Hue Red 0 degrees with 50% saturation.

We’ve basically added 128 Green and 128 Blue to 255 Red. Have we kept the same HUE – yes we have.

Is it the same colour? Be honest – you don’t know do you!

The answer is NO – they are two different ‘colours’, and the hexadecimal codes prove it – those are the hash-tag values ff0000 and ff8080.  But in our world of additive colour we should only think of the word ‘colour’ as a generalisation because it is somewhat ambiguous and imprecise.

But we can quantify the SATURATION of a HUE – so we’re all good up to this point!

So we beaver away in Photoshop in the additive RGB colour mode, but what you might not realise is that we are working in a colour model within that mode, and quite frankly this is where the whole chebang turns to pooh for a lot of folk.

There are basically two colour models for dare I use the word ‘normal’, photography work; HSB (also known as HSV) and HSL, and both are cylindrical co-ordinate colour models:

HSBHSL Colour in Photoshop

HSB (HSV) and HSL colour models for additive RGB.

Without knowing one single thing about either, you can tell they are different just by looking at them.

All Photoshop default colour picker referencing is HSB – that is Hue, Saturation & Brightness; with equivalent RGB, Lab, CMYK  hexadecimal values:

col3 Colour in Photoshop

But in the Hue/Sat adjustment for example, we see the adjustments are HSL:

ColWheel2 Colour in Photoshop

The HSL model references colour in terms of Hue, Saturation & Lightness – not flaming LUMINOSITY as so many people wrongly think!

And it’s that word luminosity that’s the single largest purveyor of confusion and misunderstanding – luminosity masking, luminosity blending mode are both terms that I and oh so many others use – and we’re all wrong.

I have an excuse – I know everything, but I have to use the wrong terminology otherwise no one else knows what I’m talking about!!!!!!!!!  Plausible story and I’m sticking to it your honour………

Anyway, within Photoshop, HSB is used to select colours, and HSL is used to change them.

The reason for this is somewhat obvious when you take a close look at the two models again:

HSBHSL Colour in Photoshop

HSB (HSV) and HSL colour models for additive RGB. (V stands for Value = B in HSB).

In the HSB model look where the “whiteness” information is; it’s radial, and bound up in the ‘S’ saturation co-ordinate.  But the “blackness” information is vertical, on the ‘B’ brightness co-ordinate.  This great when we want to pick/select/reference a colour.

But surely it would be more beneficial for the “whiteness” and “blackness” information to be attached to the axis or dimension, especially when we need to increase or decrease that “white” or “black” co-ordinate value in processing.

So within the two models the ‘H’ hue co-ordinates are pretty much the same, but the ‘S’ saturation co-ordinates are different.

So this leaves us with that most perennial of questions – what is the difference between Brightness and Lightness?

Firstly, there is a massive visual difference between the Brightness and Lightness  information contained within an image as you will see now:

BHSB Colour in Photoshop

The ‘Brightness’ channel of HSB.

LHSL Colour in Photoshop

The ‘L’ channel of HSL

Straight off the bat you can see that there is far more “whites detail” information contained in the ‘L’ lightness map of the image than in the brightness map.  Couple that with the fact that Lightness controls both black and white values for every pixel in your image – and you should now be able to comprehend the difference between Lightness and Brightness, and so be better at understanding colour inside Photoshop.

We’ll always use the highly bastardised terms like luminosity, luminance etc – but please be aware that you may be using them to describe something to which they DO NOT APPLY.

Luminosity is a measure of the magnitude of a light source – typically stars; but could loosely be applied to the lumens output power of any light source.  Luminance is a measure of the reflected light from a subject being illuminated by a light source; and varies with distance from said light source – a la the inverse square law etc.

Either way, neither of them have got anything to do with the pixel values of an image inside Photoshop!

But LIGHTNESS certainly does.

Lightroom 6.3 Update

Lightroom 6.3 – latest update from Adobe.

lr Lightroom 6.3 Update

Well, it’s here – at last.  Adobe have released a new 6.3 version of Lightroom 6/CC 2015 that seemingly addresses all the problems associated with the abomination that was v6.2.

Should you install it ?  Go on, live dangerously….!

Seriously though, I’ve installed it and it seems to be working fine.

Patch files are here MAC and Windows if you want to do the direct update instead of going through the Creative Cloud Updater – which has been running a little slow.

So what are the benefits of the update?

The bloody Import Dialogue is back as it should be for starters – Thank God!

Dehaze Filter – now available as a Localized Adjustment in the Radial & Graduated filters and in the Adjustment Brush.  This is actually very neat, and makes the Dehaze properties very useful in my opinion.

There is support for new cameras – see here for the list and new camera tether support – see here

Sadly though, Nikon and Leica still exhibit known tether support failure under El Capitan – so Mac users are stil best off sticking with OSX 10.10 Yosemite.

So here’s the list of known v6.2 issues fixed, according to Adobe:

  • Fixed several instability, functionality and performance issues introduced in Lightroom CC 2015.2.x/6.2.x.
  • Fixed a bug that caused edits made and saved in Photoshop or 3rd party plug-ins to not appear in the Develop module.
  • Fixed a bug related to user default for Chromatic Aberration Correction no longer honored after new Import option was removed.
  • Fixed several bugs related to Panorama Merge.
  • Fixed a bug so that Rotated photos will correctly show as rotated when in Full Screen view.
  • Fixed a bug that caused a performance slowdown when creating Standard sized previews on high resolution monitors.
  • Fixed a bug that caused image previews to be incorrectly displayed as completely black after import if “Auto Tone” is on in preferences.
  • Fixed a bug that caused crash when using the Radial or Graduated Filter.
  • Fixed a bug that caused Palette, a 3rd party hardware device, to stop working with Lightroom.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the Map module to appear pixelated and photos to be  dropped in the wrong place when using hi-dpi monitors on Windows.
  • Fixed a bug related to Full Screen that prevented you from exiting Full Screen view while using the Spot Healing Tool.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the Flickr Publish Service to improperly publish multi-word keywords.

So folks, there you have it. It’s a new update, so perhaps you might want to wait a few days, just to see if there are bugs arising in the new version.

I’m just glad the Import Dialogue no longer looks like it belongs on the CBeebies Channel !