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!

 

Your Monitor – All You Ever Wanted Know

Your Monitor – All You Ever Wanted Know, and the stuff you didn’t – but need to!

I need a new monitor, but am undecided which to buy.  I know exactly which one I’d go for if money was no object – the NEC Spectraview Reference 302, but money is a very big object in that I ain’t got any spare!

But spend it I’ll have to – your monitor is the window on to your images and so is just about THE most important tool in your photographic workflow.  I do wish people would realize/remember that!

Right now my decision is between 24″ and 27″, Eizo or BenQ.  The monitor that needs replacement due to backlight degradation is my trusty HP LP2475W – a wide gamut monitor that punched way above its original price weight, and if I could find a new one I’d buy it right now – it was THAT good.

Now I know more than most about the ‘numbers bit’ of photography, and this current dilemma made me think about how much potential for money-wasting this situation could be for those that don’t ‘understand the tech’ quite as much as I do.

So I thought I’d try and lay things out for you in a simple and straight forward blog post – so here goes.

The Imaging Display Chain

Image Capture:

Let’s take my landscape camera – the Nikon D800E.  It is a 36 megapixel DSLR set to record UNCOMPRESSED 14 bit Raw files.

The RAW image produced by this camera has a pixel dimension of 7360 x 4912 and a pixel area of 36,152,320 pixels.

The horizontal resolution of this beastly sensor is approximately 5200 pixels per inch, each pixel being 4.88 µm (microns) in diameter – that’s know as pixel pitch.

During the exposure, the ANALOGUE part of the senor sees the scene in full spectrum colour and tone through its Bayer Array – it gathers an analogue image.

When the shutter closes, the DIGITAL side of the imaging sensor then basically converts the analogue image into a digital render with a reproduction accuracy of 14 bits per pixel.

And let’s not forget the other big thing – colour space.  All dslr cameras capture their images in their very own unique sensor colour space.  This bares little to no resemblance to either of the three commonly used digital colour management workflow colour spaces of sRGB, AdobeRGB1998 or ProPhotoRGB.

But for the purposes of digital RAW workflow, RAW editors such as Lightroom do an exceptional job of conserving the majority if not all the colours captured by the camera sensor, by converting the capture colour space to that of ProPhotoRGB – basically because it’s by far the largest industry standard space with the greatest spread of HSL values.

So this RAW file that sits on my CF card, then gets ingested by my Mac Pro for later display on my monitor is:

  • 1.41 inches on its long edge
  • has a resolution of around 5,200 pixels per inch
  • has a reproduction accuracy for Hue, Saturation & Luminance of 14 bits
  • has a colour space unique to the camera, which can best be reproduced by the ProPhotoRGB working colour space.

Image Display:

Now comes the tricky bit!

In order to display an image on a monitor, said monitor has to be connected to your computer via your graphics card or GPU output. This creates a larger number of pitfalls and bear traps for the unsuspecting and naive!

Physical attributes of a monitor you need to bare in mind:

  1. Panel Display Colour Bit Depth
  2. Panel Technology – IPS etc
  3. Monitor Panel Backlight – CCFL, WCCFL, LED etc
  4. Monitor Colour Look-Up Table – Monitor On-Board LUT (if applicable)
  5. Monitor connectivity
  6. Reliance on dedicated calibration device or not

The other consideration is your graphics card Colour Look-Up Table – GPU LUT

1.Monitor Panel Display Colour Bit Depth – All display monitors have a panel display colour bit depth – 8 bit or 10 bit.

I had a client turn up here last year with his standard processing setup – an oldish Acer laptop and an Eizo Colour Edge monitor – he was very proud of this setup, and equally gutted at his stupidity when it was pointed out to him.

The Eizo was connected to the laptop via a DVI to VGA lead, so he had paid a lot of good money for a 10 bit display monitor which he was feeding via a connection that was barely 8 bit.

Sat next to the DVI input on the Eizo was a Display Port input – which is native 10 bit. A Display Port lead doesn’t cost very much at all and is therefore the ONLY sensible way to connect to a 10 bit display – provided of course that your machine HAS a Display Port output – which his Acer laptop did not!

So if you are looking at buying a new monitor make sure you buy one with a display bit depth that your computer is capable of supporting.

There is visually little difference between 10 bit and 8 bit displays until you view an image at 100% magnification or above – then you will usually see something of an increase in colour variation and tonal shading, provided that the image you are viewing has a bit depth of 10+.  The difference is often quoted at its theoretical value of 64x –  (1,073,741,824 divided by 16,777,216).

So, yes, your RAW files will LOOK and APPEAR slightly better on a 10 bit monitor – but WAIT!

There’s more….how does the monitor display panel achieve its 10 bit display depth?  Is it REAL or is it pseudo? Enter FRC or Frame rate Control.

The FRC spoof 10 bit display – frame rate control quite literally ‘flickers’ individual pixels between two different HSL values at a rate fast enough to be undetectable by the human eye – the viewers brain gets fooled into seeing an HSL value that isn’t really there!

04 9 Your Monitor   All You Ever Wanted Know

Here’s why I hate FRC !

Personally I have zero time for FRC technology in panels – I’d much prefer a good solid 8 bit wide gamut panel without it than a pseudo 10 bit; which is pretty much the same 8 bit panel with FRC tech and a higher price tag…Caveat Emptor!

2. Panel Technology – for photography there is only really one tech to use, that of IPS or In Plane Switching.  The main reasons for this are viewing angle and full colour gamut.

The more common monitors, and cheaper ones most often use TN tech – Twisted Nematic, and from a view angle point of view these are bloody awful because the display colour and contrast vary hugely with even just an inch or two head movement.

Gamers don’t like IPS panels because the response time is slow in comparison to TN – so don’t buy a gaming monitor for your photo work!

There are also Vertical Alignment (VA) and Plane to line Switching (PLS) technologies out there, VA being perhaps marginally better than TN, and PLS being close to (and in certain cases better than) IPS.

But all major colour work monitor manufacturers use IPS derivative tech.

3. Monitor Panel Backlight – CCFL, WCCFL, LED

All types of TFT (thin film transistor) monitor require a back light in order to view what is on the display.

Personally I like – or liked before it started to get knackered – the wide cold cathode fluorescent (WCCFL) backlight on the HP LP2475W, but these seem to have fallen by the wayside somewhat in favour of LED backlights.

The WCCFL backlight enabled me to wring 99% of the Adobe1998 RGB colourspace out of a plain 8 bit panel on the old HP, and it was a very even light across the whole of the monitor surface.  The monitor itself is nearly 11 years old, but it wasn’t until just over 12 months ago that it started to fade at the corners.  Only since the start of this year (2017) has it really begun to show signs of more severe failure on the right hand 20% – hence I’ll be needing a new one soonish!

But modern LED backlights have a greater degree of uniformity – hence their general supersedence of WCCFL.

4. Colour Look-Up Tables or LUTs

Now this is a bit of an awkward one for some folk to get their heads around, but really it’s simple.

Most monitors that you can buy have an 8 bit LUT which is either fixed, or variable via a number of presets available within the monitor OSD menu.

When it comes to calibrating a ‘standard gamut with fixed LUT’ monitor, the calibration software makes its alterations to the LUT of the GPU – not that of the monitor.

With monitors and GPUs that are barely 8 bit to begin with, the act of calibration can lead to problems.

A typical example would be an older laptop screen.  A laptop screen is driven by the on-board graphics component or chipset within the laptop motherboard.  Older MacBooks were the epitome of this setups failure for photographers.

The on-board graphics in older MacBooks were barely 8 bit from the Apple factory, and when you calibrated them they fell to something like 6 bit, and so a lot of images that contained varied tones of a similar Hue displayed colour banding:

1 Your Monitor   All You Ever Wanted Know

An example of image colour banding due to low GPU LUT bit depth.
The banding is NOT really there, it just illustrates the lack of available colours and tones for the monitor display.

This phenomenon used to be a pain in the bum when choosing images for a presentation, but was never anything to panic over because the banding is NOT in the image itself.

Now if I display this same RAW file in Lightroom on my newer calibrated 15″ Retina MacBook Pro I still see a tiny bit of banding, though it’s not nearly this bad.  However, if I connect an Eizo CS2420 using a DisplayPort to HDMI cable via the 10 bit HDMI port on the MBP then there is no banding at all.

And here’s where folk get confused – none of what we are talking about has a direct effect on your image – just on how it appears on the monitor.

When I record a particular shade of say green on my D800E the camera records that green in its own colour space with an accuracy of 14 bits per colour channel.  Lightroom will display it’s own interpretation of that colour green.  I will make adjustments to that green in HSL terms and then ask Lightroom to export the result as say a TIFF file with 16 bits of colour accuracy per channel – and all the time this is going on I’m viewing the process on a monitor which has a display colour bit depth of 8 bit or 10 bit and that is deriving its colour from a LUT which could be 8 bit, 14 bit or 16 bit depending on what make and model monitor I’m using!

Some people get into a state of major confusion when it comes to bits and bit depth, and to be honest there’s no need for it.  All we are talking about here is ‘fidelity of reproduction’ on the monitor of colours which are FIXED and UNALTERABLE in your RAW file, and of the visual impact of your processing adjustments.

The colours contained in our image are just numbers – nothing more than that.

Lightroom will display an image by sending colour numbers through the GPU LUT to the monitor.  I can guarantee you that even with the best monitor in the world in conjunction with the most accurate calibration hardware money can buy, SOME of those colour numbers will NOT display correctly!  They will be replaced in a ‘relative colourmetric manner’ by their nearest neighbor in the MONITOR LUT – the colours the monitor CAN display.

Expensive monitors with 14 bit or 16 bit LUTs mean less colours will be ‘replaced’ than when using a monitor that has an 8 bit LUT, and even more colours will be replaced if we scale back our ‘spend’ even further and purchase a standard gamut sRGB monitor.

Another advantage of the pricier 14/16 bit wide gamut dedicated photography monitors from the likes of Eizo, NEC and BenQ is the ability to do ‘hardware calibration’.

Whereas the ‘standard’ monitor calibration mentioned earlier makes it’s calibration changes primarily to the GPU LUT, and therefore somewhat ‘stiffles’ its output bit depth; with hardware calibration we can internally calibrate the monitor itself and leave the GPU running as intended.

That’s a slight over-simplification, but it makes the point!

5. Monitor Connectivity. By this I mean connection type:

74f97065a3 193829 belkin pcmonitor 606 original Your Monitor   All You Ever Wanted Know

VGA or D-Sub 15. Awful method of connection – went out with the Ark. If you are using this then “stop it”!

de98677f26 193829 dual linkdvi d original Your Monitor   All You Ever Wanted Know

DVI – nothing wrong with this connection format whatsoever, but bare in mind it’s an 8 bit connection.

12 189 047 08 Your Monitor   All You Ever Wanted Know

Dual Link DVI – still only 8 bit.

Display Port seitlich Your Monitor   All You Ever Wanted Know

Displayport – 10 bit monitor input connection.

578306 544748 800 Your Monitor   All You Ever Wanted Know

HDMI left, Displayport right – both 10 bit connections.

6. Reliance on dedicated calibration device or not – this is something that has me at the thin end of a sharp wedge if I consider the BenQ option.

I own a perfectly serviceable ColorMunki Photo, and as far as I can see, hardware calibration on the Eizo is feasible with this device. However, hardware calibration on BenQ system software does not appear to support the use of my ColorMunki Photo – so I need to purchase an i1 Display, which is not a corner I really want to be backed into!

Now remember how we defined my D800E Raw file earlier on:

  • has a pixel dimension of 7360 x 4912 and a pixel area (or resolution) of 36,152,320 pixels.
  • 1.41 inches on its long edge
  • has a resolution of around 5,200 pixels per inch
  • has a reproduction accuracy for Hue, Saturation & Luminance of 14 bits
  • has a colour space unique to the camera, which can best be reproduced by the ProPhotoRGB working colour space.

So let’s now take a look at the resolution spec for, say, the NEC Spectraview Reference 302 monitor.  It’s a 30″ panel with an optimum resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels – that’s 4Mp!

The ubiquitous Eizo ColorEdge CG2420 has a standard 24 inch resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels – that’s 2.3Mp!

The BenQ SW2700PT Pro 27in IPS has 2560 x 1440, or 3.68Mp resolution.

Yes, monitor resolution is WAY BELOW that of the image – and that’s a GOOD THING.

I HATE viewing unedited images/processing on my 13″ Retina MBP screen – not just because of any possible calibration issue, or indeed that of its diminutive size – but because of its whopping 2560 x 1600, 4Mp resolution crammed into such a small space.

The individual pixels are so damn tiny the lull you into a false sense of security about one thing above all else – critical image sharpness.

Images that ‘appear tack sharp’ on a high resolution monitor MIGHT prove a slight disappointment when viewed on another monitor with a more conventional resolution!

So there we have it, and I hope you’ve learned something you didn’t know about monitors.

And remember, understanding what you already have, and what you want to buy is a lot more advantageous to you than the advice of some bloke in a shop who’s on a sales commission!

If this post has been useful to you then please consider chucking me a small donation – or a big one if you are that way inclined!

Many thanks to the handful of readers who contributed over the last week or so – you’ve done your bit and I’m eternally grateful to you.

 

Monitor Brightness.

Monitor Brightness & Room Lighting Levels.

I had promised myself I was going to do a video review of my latest purchase – the Lee SW150Mk2 system and Big and Little Stopper filters I’ve just spent a Kings ransom on for my Nikon 14-24mm and D800E:

D4D3598 Edit Monitor Brightness.

PURE SEX – and I’ve bloody well paid for this! My new Lee SW150 MkII filter system for the Nikon 14-24. Just look at those flashy red anodised parts – bound to make me a better photographer!

But I think that’ll have to wait while I address a question that keeps cropping up lately.  What’s the question?

Well, that’s the tricky bit because it comes in many guises. But they all boil down to “what monitor brightness or luminance level should I calibrate to?”

Monitor brightness is as critical as monitor colour when it comes to calibration.  If you look at previous articles on this blog you’ll see that I always quote the same calibration values, those being:

White Point: D65 – that figure takes care of colour.

Gamma: 2.2 – that value covers monitor contrast.

Luminance: 120 cdm2 (candelas per square meter) – that takes care of brightness.

Simple in’it….?!

However, when you’ve been around all this photography nonsense as long as I have you can overlook the possibility that people might not see things as being quite so blindingly obvious as you do.

And one of those ‘omissions on my part’ has been to do with monitor brightness settings COMBINED with working lighting levels in ‘the digital darkroom’.  So I suppose I’d better correct that failing on my part now.

What does a Monitor Profile Do for your image processing?

A correctly calibrated monitor and its .icc profile do a really simple but very mission-critical job.

If we open a new document in Photoshop and fill it with flat 255 white we need to see that it’s white.  If we hold an ND filter in front of our eye then the image won’t look white, it’ll look grey.

If we hold a blue filter in front of our eye the image will not look white – it’ll look blue.

That white image doesn’t exist ‘inside the monitor’ – it’s on our computer!  It only gets displayed on the monitor because of the graphics output device in our machine.

So, if you like, we’re on the outside looking in; and we are looking through a window on to our white image.  The colour and brightness level in our white image are correct on the inside of the system – our computer – but the viewing window or monitor might be too bright or too dark, and/or might be exhibiting a colour tint or cast.

Unless our monitor is a totally ‘clean window’ in terms of colour neutrality, then our image colour will not be displayed correctly.

And if the monitor is not running at the correct brightness then the colours and tones in our images will appear to be either too dark or too bright.  Please note the word ‘appear’…

Let’s get a bit fancy and make a greyscale in Photoshop:

Untitled 1 Monitor Brightness.

The dots represent Lab 50 to Lab 95 – the most valuable tonal range between midtone and highlight detail.

Look at the distance between Lab 50 & Lab 95 on the three greyscales above – the biggest ‘span’ is the correctly calibrated monitor.  In both the ‘too bright & contrasty’ and the ‘too dark low contrast’ calibration, that valuable tonal range is compressed.

In reality the colours and tones in, say an unprocessed RAW file on one of our hard drives, are what they are.  But if our monitor isn’t calibrated correctly, what we ‘see’ on our monitor IS NOT REALITY.

Reality is what we need – the colours and tones in our images need to be faithfully reproduced on our monitor.

And so basically a monitor profile ensures that we see our images correctly in terms of colour and brightness; it ensures that we look at our images through a clean window that displays 100% of the luminance being sent to it – not 95% and not 120% – and that all our primary colours are being displayed with 100% fidelity.

In a nutshell, on an uncalibrated monitor, an image might look like crap, when in reality it isn’t.  The shit really starts to fly when you start making adjustments in an uncalibrated workspace – what you see becomes even further removed from reality.

“My prints come out too dark Andy – why?”

Because your monitor is too bright – CALIBRATE it!

“My pics look great on my screen, but everyone on Nature Photographers Network keeps telling me they’ve got too much contrast and they need a levels adjustment.  One guy even reprocessed one – everyone thought his version was better, but frankly it looked like crap to me – why is this happening Andy?

“Because your monitor brightness is too low but your gamma is too high – CALIBRATE it!  If you want your images to look like mine then you’ve got to do ALL the things I do, not just some of ’em – do you think I do all this shit for fun??????????……………grrrrrrr….

But there’s a potential problem;  just because your monitor is calibrated to perfection, that does NOT mean that everything will be golden from this point on

Monitor Viewing Conditions

So we’re outside taking a picture on a bright sunny day, but we can’t see the image on the back of the camera because there’s too much daylight, and we have to dive under a coat with our camera to see what’s going on.

But if we review that same image on the camera in the dark then it looks epic.

Now you have all experienced that…….

The monitor on the back of your camera has a set brightness level – if we view the screen in a high level of ambient light the image looks pale, washed out and in a general state of ultra low contrast.  Turn the ambient light down and the image on the camera screen becomes more vivid and the contrast increases.

But the image hasn’t changed, and neither has the camera monitor.

What HAS changed is your PERCEPTION of the colour and luminance values contained within the image itself.

Now come on kids – join the dots will you!

It does not matter how well your monitor is calibrated, if your monitor viewing conditions are not within specification.

Just like with your camera monitor, if there is too much ambient light in your working environment then your precisely calibrated monitor brightness and gamma will fail to give you a correct visualization or ‘perception’ of your image.

And the problems don’t end there either; coloured walls and ceilings reflect that colour onto the surface of your monitor, as does that stupid luminous green shirt you’re wearing – yes, I can see you!  And if you are processing on an iMac then THAT problem just got 10 times worse because of the glossy screen!

Nope – bead-blasting your 27 inches of Apple goodness is not the answer!

Right, now comes the serious stuff, so READ, INGEST and ACT.

ISO Standard 3664:2009 is the puppy we need to work to (sort of) – you can actually go and purchase this publication HERE should you feel inclined to dump 138 CHF on 34 pages of light bedtime reading.

There are actually two ISO standards that are relevant to us as image makers; ISO 12646:2015(draft) being the other.

12646 pertains to digital image processing where screens are to be compared to prints side by side (that does not necessarily refer to ‘desktop printer prints from your Epson 3000’).

3664:2009 applies to digital image processing where screen output is INDEPENDENT of print output.

We work to this standard (for the most part) because we want to process for the web as well as for print.

If we employ a print work flow involving modern soft-proofing and otherwise keep within the bounds of 3664 then we’re pretty much on the dance-floor.

ISO 3664 sets out one or two interesting and highly critical working parameters:

Ambient Light White Point: D50 – that means that the colour temperature of the light in your editing/working environment should be 5000Kelvin (not your monitor) – and in particular this means the light FALLING ON TO YOUR MONITOR from within your room. So room décor has to be colour neutral as well as the light source.

Ambient Light Value in your Editing Area: 32 to 64 Lux or lower.  Now this is what shocks so many of you guys – lower than 32 lux is basically processing in the dark!

Ambient Light Glare Permissible: 0 – this means NO REFLECTIONS on your monitor and NO light from windows or other light sources falling directly on the monitor.

Monitor White Point – D65 (under 3664) and D50 (under 12646) – we go with D65.

Monitor Luminance – 75 to 100 cdm2 (under 3664) and 80 to 120 cdm2 (under 12646 – here we begin to deviate from 3664.

We appear to be dealing with mixed reference units, but 1 Lux = 1 cdm2 or 1 candela per square metre.

The way Monitor Brightness or Luminance relates to ambient light levels is perhaps a little counter-intuitive for some folk.  Basically the LOWER your editing area Lux value the LOWER your Monitor Brightness or luminance needs to be.

Now comes the point in the story where common sense gets mixed with experience, and the outcome can be proved by looking at displayed images and prints; aesthetics as opposed numbers.

Like all serious photographers I process my own images on a wide-gamut monitor, and I print on a wide-gamut printer.

Wide gamut monitors display pretty much 90% to100% of the AdobeRGB1998 colour space.

What we might refer to as Standard Gamut monitors display something a little larger than the sRGB colour space, which as we know is considerably smaller than AdobeRGB1998.

StandardGamutvsWideGamut Monitor Brightness.

Left is a standard gamut/sRGB monitor and right is a typical wide gamut/AdobeRGB1998 monitor – if you can call any NEC ‘typical’!

Find all the gory details about monitors on this great resource site – TFT Central.

At workshops I process on a 27 inch non-Retina iMac – this is to all intents and purposes a ‘standard gamut’ monitor.

I calibrate my monitors with a ColorMunki Photo – which is a spectrophotometer.  Spectro’s have a tendency to be slow, and slightly problematic in the very darkest tones and exhibit something of a low contrast reaction to ‘blacks’ below around Lab 6.3 (RGB 20,20,20).

If you own a ColorMunki Display or i1Dispaly you do NOT own a spectro, you own a colorimeter!  A very different beast in the way it works, but from a colour point of view they give the same results as a spectro of the same standard – plus, for the most part, they work faster.

However, from a monitor brightness standpoint, they differ from spectros in their slightly better response to those ultra-dark tones.

So from a spectrophotometer standpoint I prefer to calibrate to ISO 12646 standard of 120cdm2 and control my room lighting to around 35-40 Lux.

Just so that you understand just how ‘nit-picking’ these standards are, the difference between 80cdm2 and 120 cdm2 is just 1/2 or 1/3rd of a stop Ev in camera exposure terms, depending on which way you look at it!

However, to put this monitor brightness standard into context, my 27 inch iMac came from Apple running at 290 cdm2 – and cranked up fully it’ll thump out 340 cdm2.

Most stand-alone monitors you buy, especially those that fall under the ‘standard gamut’ banner, will all be running at massively high monitor brightness levels and will require some severe turning down in the calibration process.

You will find that most monitor tests and reviews are done with calibration to the same figures that I have quoted – D65, 120cdm2 and Gamma 2.2 – in fact this non-standard set up has become so damn common it is now ‘standard’ – despite what the ISO chaps may think.

Using these values, printing out of Lightroom for example, becomes a breeze when using printer profiles created to the ICC v2 standard as long as you ‘soft proof’ the image in a fit and proper manner – that means CAREFULLY, take your time.  The one slight shortcoming of the set up is that side by side print/monitor comparisons may look ever so slightly out of kilter because of the D65 monitor white point – 6,500K transmitted white point as opposed to a 5,000K reflective white point.  But a shielded print-viewer should bring all that back into balance if such a thing floats your boat.

But the BIG THING you need to take away from the rather long article is the LOW LUX VALUE of you editing/working area ambient illumination.

Both the ColorMunki Photo and i1Pro2 spectrophotometers will measure your ambient light, as will the ColorMunki Display and i1 Display colorimeters, to name but a few.

But if you measure your ambient light and find the device gives you a reading of more than 50-60 lux then DO NOT ask the device to profile for your ambient light; in fact I would not recommend doing this AT ALL, here’s why.

I have a main office light that is colour corrected to 5000K and it chucks out 127 Lux at the monitor.  If I select the ‘measure and calibrate to ambient’ option on the ColorMunki Photo it eventually tells me I need a monitor brightness or luminance of 80 cdm2 – the only problem is that it gives me the same figure if I drop the ambient lux value to 100.

Now that smells a tad fishy to me……..

So my advice to anyone is to remove the variables, calibrate to 120 cdm2 and work in a very subdued ambient condition of 35 to 40 Lux. I find it easier to control my low lux working ambient light levels than bugger about with over-complex calibration.

To put a final perspective on this figure there is an interesting page on the Apollo Energytech website which quotes lux levels that comply with the law for different work environments – don’t go to B&Q or Walmart to do a spot of processing, and we’re all going to end up doing hard time at Her Madges Pleasure –  law breakers that we are!

Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.

 

Photoshop Save for Web

Save for Web in Photoshop CC 2015 – where the Chuff has it gone?

“Who’s moved my freakin’ cheese?”

Adobe have moved it……..

For years Photoshop has always offered the same ‘Save for Web’ or ‘Save for Web & Devices’ option and dialogue box:

SFW1 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

The traditional route to the ‘Save for Web’ dialogue in all versions of Photoshop prior to CC 2015.

But Adobe have embarked on a cheese-moving exercise with CC 2015 and moved ‘save for web’ out of the traditional navigation pathway:

SFW2 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

Adobe have ‘moved your cheese’ to here, though the dialogue and options are the same.

If we take a closer look at that new pathway:

SFW3 Photoshop Save for Web

…we see that wonderful Adobe term ‘Legacy’ – which secretly means crap, shite, old fashioned, out dated, sub standard and scheduled for abandonment and/or termination.

‘THEY’ don’t want you to use it!

I have no idea why they have done this, though there are plenty of excuses being posted by Adobe on the net.  But what is interesting is this page HERE and more to the point this small ‘after thought’:

SFW4 Photoshop Save for Web

That sounds really clever – especially the bit about ‘may be’……. let’s chuck colour management out the freakin’ window and be done!

So if we don’t use the ‘legacy’ option of save for web, let’s see what happens.  Here’s our image, in the ProPhotoRGB colour space open in Photoshop CC 2015:

SFW5 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

So let’s try the Export>Quick Export as JPG option and bring the result back into Photoshop:

SFW6 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

Straight away we can see that the jpg is NOT tagged with a colour space, but it looks fine inside the Photoshop CC 2105 work space:

SFW7 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

“Perfect” – yay!…………NOT!

Let’s open in with an internet browser……

SFW8 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

Whoopsy – doopsy…!  Looks like a severe colour management problem is happening somewhere……..but Adobe did tell us:

SFW4 Photoshop Save for Web

Might the Export Preferences help us:

SFW9 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

In a word……..NO

Let’s try Export>Export As:

SFW10 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

Oh Hell No!

If we open the original image in Photoshop CC 2015 in the ProPhotoRGB colour space and then go Edit>Convert to Profile and select sRGB; then select Export>Quick Export as JPG, the resulting image will look fine in a browser.  But it will still be ‘untagged’ with any colour space – which is never a good idea.

And if you’ve captioned and key worded the image then all that hard work is lost too.

So if you must make your web jpeg images via Photoshop you will only achieve a quick and accurate work flow by using the Save for Web (Legacy) option.  That way you’ll have a correctly ‘tagged’ and converted image complete with all your IPTC key words, caption and title.

Of course you could adopt the same work flow as me, and always export as jpeg out of Lightroom; thus avoiding this mess entirely.

I seriously don’t know what the devil Adobe are thinking of here, and doubtless there is or will be a work around for the problem, but whatever it is it’ll be more work for the photographer.

Adobe – if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it !!

 

Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Donations would help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.

 

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Paper Review

(26/07/2015: Important update added at end of post re: Canon Pixma Pro 1 .icc profile from the Brilliant website).

Printing an image is the final part of the creative process, and I don’t think there are many of my peers who would disagree with me on that score.

Whenever I’m teaching printing, be it a 1to1 session or a workshop group, I invariably get asked what my recommendation for a good general purpose printing paper would be – one that would suit the widest spread of image styles and subjects.

Until quite recently that recommendation was always the same – Permajet Oyster.

It’s a wide gamut paper – it reproduces a lot of colour and hue variation – that has a high level of brightness and is really easy to soft-proof to in Lightroom. And even though it’s not absolutely colour neutral, it’s natural base tint isn’t too cool to destroy the atmosphere in a hazy orange sunset seascape.

But, after months of printing and testing I have now changed my mind – and for good reason.

BSLU Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate paper from Calumet is my new recommendation for general printing, and for anyone who wants printing with the minimum of fuss and without the hassle of trying to decide what paper to choose.

Let’s look at how the two papers stack up:

Paper Weight:

Permajet Oyster 271gsm

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate 300gsm

A heavier paper is a good thing in my book; heavier means thicker, and that means a bit more structural stability; a boon when it comes to matting and mounting, and general paper handling.

Paper Tint & Base Neutrality:

Permajet Oyster:     RGB 241,246,243

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate:     RGB 241,245,245

The above RGB values are measured using a ColorMunki Photo in spot colour picker mode, as are the L,a,b values below.

L,a,b Luminosity Value:

Permajet Oyster:     96.1

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate:     95.8

So both papers have the same red value in their ‘paper white’, but both have elevated green and blue values, and yes, green + blue = cyan!

But the green/blue ratios are different – they are skewed in the Permajet Oyster, but 1:1 in the Brilliant paper – so where does this leave us in terms of paper proofing?

The image below is a fully processed TIFF open in Lightroom and ready for soft-proofing:

BSLU2 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Now if we load the image into the Permajet Oyster colour space – that’s all soft proofing is by the way – we can see a number of changes, all to the detriment of the image:

BSLU3 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

The image has lost luminance, the image has become slightly cooler overall but, there is a big colour ‘skew’ in the brown, reds and oranges of both the eagle and the muted background colours.

Now look at what happens when we send the image into the Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate colour space:

BSLU4 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Yes the image has lost luminance, and there is an overall colour temperature change; but the important thing is that it’s nowhere near as skewed as it was in the Permajet Oyster soft-proofing environment.

The more uniform the the colour change the easier it is to remove!

BSLU5 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

The only adjustments I’ve needed to make to put me in the middle of the right ball park are a +6 Temp and +2 Clarity – and we are pretty much there, ready to press the big “print me now” button.

The image below just serves to show the difference between the proof adjusted and unadjusted image:

BSLU6 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

But here is the same image soft-proofed to pretty much the same level, but for Permajet Oyster paper – click the image to see it at full size, just look at the number of adjustments I’ve had to do to get basically the same effect:

BSLU7 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Couple of things – firstly, apologies for the somewhat violent image – the wife just pointed that out to me!  Secondly though, after testing various images of vastly differing colour distributions and gamuts, I consistently find I’m having to do less work in soft-proofing with the Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate paper than its rival.  Though I must stress that the adjustments don’t always follow the same direction for obvious reasons..

Media Settings:

These are important.  For most printers the Oyster paper has a media setting recommendation on Epson printers ( someone once told me there were other makes that used bubbles – ewee, yuck) of Premium Gloss Photo Paper or PGPP.  But I find that PSPP (Premium Semi Gloss Photo Paper) works best on my 4800,  and I know that it’s the recommended media setting for the Epson SCP600.

See update below for Canon Pixma Pro 1 media settings and new updated .icc profile

Conclusion:

Buy a 25 sheet box A3 HERE or 50 sheet box A4 size HERE

They say time is money, so anything that saves time is a no-brainer, especially if it costs no more than its somewhat more labour-intensive alternative.

Gamut1 900x840 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

The gamut or colour spaces of the two paper ‘canned profiles’ is shown above – red plot is the Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate and white is Oyster – both profiles being for the Epson 4800.  Yes, the Calumet paper gamut is slightly smaller, but in real terms and with real-world images and the relative colour-metric rendering intent I’ve not noticed any short-comings whatsoever.

I have little doubt that the gamut of the paper would be expanded further with the application of a custom profile, but that’s a whole other story.

Running at around £1 per sheet of A3 it’s no more expensive than any other top quality general printing paper, and it impresses the heck out of me with relatively neutral base tint.

So easy to print to – so buy some!

I’ll be demonstrating just how well this paper works at a series of Print Workshops for Calumet later in the year, where we’ll be using the Epson SC-P600 printer, which is the replacement for the venerable R3000.

UPDATE:

Canon Pixma Pro One .ICC Profile

If anyone has tried using the Lustre profile BriLustreCanPro1.icc that was available for download on the Brilliant website, then please STOP trying to use it – it’s an abomination and whoever produced it should be shot.

I discovered just how bad it was when I was doing a print 1to1 day and the client had a PixmaPro1 printer.  I spoke to Andy Johnson at Calumet and within a couple of days a new profile was sorted out and it works great.

Now that same new profile is available for download at the Brilliant website HERE – just click and download the zip file.  In the file you will find the new .icc profile which goes by the name of BriLustreCanonPro1_PPPL_1.icc

I got them to add the media settings acronym in the profile name – a la Permajet – so set the paper type to Photo Paper Pro Lustre when using this paper on the Pixma Pro 1.

Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Donations would help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.

 

Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking..

I’m a really BIG fan of Luminosity Masking, and the ease by which you can use them to create really powerful adjustments to your image inside Photoshop – adjustments that are IMPOSSIBLE to make in Lightroom.

For a while now I’ve been selling a luminosity mask action set for Photoshop, and up until a week ago I had plans to upgrade said action set to produce even more custom masks.

That is until a good friend of mine, Mr. Omar Jabr, asked me if I’d come across this new product, LUMENZIA, that made the production and deployment of luminosity masks and their derivatives EVEN EASIER.

intro 900x624 Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

An original RAW file open in Lightroom (right) together with the final image (left) – 99% of the “heavy lifting” being done in Photoshop using the Lumenzia Extension and it’s luminosity masking functions.

In all honesty I am so excited about this amazing software extension that I’ve abandoned all plans to further develop my own action set for Photoshop – to do so would be a truly pointless exercise.

There is so much more to Lumenzia than the production of the standard 4 or 5 Darks,Lights and Midtone luminosity masks that mine and other available action sets produce.

To get an idea of just how powerful Lumenzia is just click HERE to visit the applications home page – and just buy it while you are there; purchase is a “no brainer” and one of those digital imaging JDI’s (just do it)!

The inclusion of a luminosity masking function based on the Zone System gives you instant recourse to masks based on Ansel Adams 11 zone system of scene brightness – a classic approach to the quantification of subject brightness range created by arguably the greatest landscape photographer the world has ever known – IMHO of course.

AAZone Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

In order to instal Lumenzia you will need to install the correct Photoshop Extension Manager for which ever version of Photoshop you are running – CS6, CC, or CC2014 (it is not intended to be installed on CS5 or lower).

1. Buy Lumenzia

2. Follow the download link, and download the .Zip folder.

3. Extract the folder contents.

4. Locate the “com.lumenzia.zxp” file in the extracted contents, right click and choose Open with: Adobe Extension Manager v.xx

You should see:

a Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

Click Install, and you should see:

b Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

If you are running Mac OS 10.10x Yosemite you may have a slight problem with the CC2014 Extension Manager not being able to find the application pathway to Ps CC2014.  If you get a message from the Extension Manager waffling on about needing Photoshop v11 or higher don’t stress, the fix is a little brutal but really simple:

Go Applications>Utilities>Adobe Installers and UNINSTALL (that’s right!) BOTH Photoshop CC2014 and Extension Manager CC2014, then log back in to your CC account, go to the Apps tab and re-install Photoshop CC2014 AND Extension Manager CC2014 sequentially – that will cure the problem and only take about 5 or 6 minutes.

Open a RAW file in CameraRAW, or better still Lightroom. Get your camera calibration and contrast under control as I’ve banged on about so many times before, negate any chromatic aberration and do a bit of effective noise reduction if needed, then send the image to Photoshop:

3 900x563 Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

Go Window>Extensions>Lumenzia

Go Window>Extensions>Lumenzia and the Lumenzia interface will appear – I like to drag it into the right hand tools palette so it’s not encroaching on the work area.

The first thing that amazed me about Lumenzia is the fact that you can create luminosity masks without creating 12 or 15 separate Alpha channels with the image – this makes a HUGE difference to the file size of the image, not just from the disc space PoV but it can also have file handling speed benefits in terms of tile rendering speed and scratch disc usage – if you don’t understand that just think of it as a GOOD thing!

For example:

5 900x560 Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

The final adjusted image (prior to a couple of tweaks in Lightroom) on the left is 271Mb including all layers being intact; the image on the right, though not yet processed, has been prepared for processing by running a luminosity mask action set and developing a stack of Alpha channels; it is now over 458Mb:

6 900x562 Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

…just because of the Alpha channels. And we have also got 50 steps of History that have to be retained by Photoshop; as you’ve now realised, the joke is that it’s double the size of the Lumenzia processed image and we haven’t begun to start making any adjustments yet!

There is lot’s more to Lumenzia, such as surface sharpening and easy dodge and burn layer creation – it’s going to take me a week to digest it all.

Prior to working with Lumenzia my one question was “how good are the masks” – well they are pixel-perfect.

Creating pixel-perfect luminosity masks is the most tedious of jobs if you do it the maual way – so much so that most folk take one look at the process and go “No thanks…..”

Photographers like myself couldn’t really help alleviate the tedium until the advent of CS6 which gave us the ability to write an ACTION that involved the operation of a PREVIOUSLY recorded action – so the luminosity mask action set was born.

But the developer of Lumenzia has topped it all by the proverbial country mile and given us a totally unique way of making the tedious and complex very easy and simple.

Once you have made your purchase you’d do well to go and watch the developer videos that are available online; you will get links to the training and support pages in your purchase receipt.

And to top it all off we can even generate Alpha channels and selections if we want or need to, and we can mask on the basis of Vibrancy and Saturation; yet another processing wheeze known by few, and used by fewer still.

The developer has given me permission to demonstrate and teach the deployment of Lumenzia, and to promote it as an affiliate.  I’ve been offered affiliate-ships before but have rejected them in the past because basically what was being peddled was either crap or too expensive; or BOTH.

But whatever you think the opinion of yours truly is worth, I can honestly say that Lumenzia is most definitely NEITHER of the above – it’s that good I’ll never use anything else ever again, and at under 40 bucks you’re going to make one hell of a difference to your images with so little effort it’s unreal.

Click HERE to buy and download

LUMENZIA – BUY IT – go on, get on with it!

lum Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

Lumenzia GUI for Photoshop CC2014

 

Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.

 

Colormunki Photo Update

Colormunki Photo Update – for OSX Yosemite

Both my MacPro and non-retina iMac used to be on Mountain Lion, or OSX 10.8, and nope, I never updated to Mavericks as I’d heard so many horror stories, and I basically couldn’t be bothered – hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

But, I wanted to install CapOne Pro on the iMac for the live-view capabilities – studio product shot lighting training being the biggest draw on that score.

So I downloaded the 60 day free trial, and whadyaknow, I can’t install it on anything lower than OSX 10.9!

Bummer thinks I – and I upgrade the iMac to OSX 10.10 – YOSEMITE.

Now I was quite impressed with the upgrade and I had no problems in the aftermath of the Yosemite installation; so after a week or so muggins here decided to do the very same upgrade to his late 2009 Mac Pro.

OHHHHHHH DEARY ME – what a pigs ear of a move that turned out to be!

Needless to say, I ended up making a Yosemite boot installer and setting up on a fresh HDD.  After re-installing all the necessary software like Lightroom and Photoshop, iShowU HD Pro and all the other crap I use, the final task arrived of sorting colour management out and profiling the monitors.

So off we trundle to X-Rite and download the Colormunki Photo software – v1.2.1.  I then proceeded to profile the 2 monitors I have attached to the Mac Pro.

Once the colour measurement stage got underway I started to think that it was all looking a little different and perhaps a bit more comprehensive than it did before.  Anyway, once the magic had been done and the profile saved I realised that I had no way of checking the new profile against the old one – t’was on the old hard drive!

So I go to the iMac and bring up the Colormunki software version number – 1.1.1 – so I tell the software to check for updates – “non available” came the reply.

Screen Shot 2014 12 05 at 13.50.17 646x900 Colormunki Photo Update

Colormunki software downloads

Screen Shot 2014 12 05 at 13.51.09 809x900 Colormunki Photo Update

Colormunki v1.2.1 for Yosemite

So I download 1.2.1, remove the 1.1.1 software and restart the iMac as per X-Rites instructions, and then install said 1.2.1 software.

Once installation was finished I profiled the iMac and found something quite remarkable!

Check out the screen grab below:

Screen Shot 2014 12 05 at 14.07.23 900x472 Colormunki Photo Update

iMac screen profile comparisons. You need to click this to open full size in a new tab.

On the left is a profile comparison done in the ColourThink 2-D grapher, and on the right one done in the iMacs own ColourSynch Utility.

In the left image the RED gamut projection is the new Colormunki v1.2.1 profile. This also corresponds to the white mesh grid in the Colour Synch image.

Now the smaller WHITE gamut projection was produced with an i1Pro 2 using the maximum number of calibration colours; this corresponds to the coloured projection in the Coloursynch window image.

The GREEN gamut projection is the supplied iMac system monitor profile – which is slightly “pants” due to its obvious smaller size.

What’s astonished me is that the Colormunki Photo with the new software v1.2.1 has produced a larger gamut for the display than the i1 Pro 2 did under Mountain Lion OSX 10.8

I’ve only done a couple of test prints via softproofing in Lightroom, but so far the new monitor profile has led to a small improvement in screen-to-print matching of the some subtle yellow-green and green-blue mixes, aswell as those yellowish browns which I often found tricky to match when printing from the iMac.

So, my advice is this, if you own a Colormunki Photo and have upgraded your iMac to Yosemite CHECK your X-Rite software version number. Checking for updates doesn’t always work, and the new 1.2.1 Mac version is well worth the trouble to install.

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If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

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Camera Calibration

Custom Camera Calibration

The other day I had an email fall into my inbox from leading UK online retailer…whose name escapes me but is very short… that made my blood pressure spike.  It was basically offering me 20% off the cost of something that will revolutionise my photography – ColorChecker Passport Camera Calibration Profiling software.

I got annoyed for two reasons:

  1. Who the “f***” do they think they’re talking to sending ME this – I’ve forgotten more about this colour management malarkey than they’ll ever know….do some customer research you idle bastards and save yourselves a mauling!
  2. Much more importantly – tens of thousands of you guys ‘n gals will get the same email and some will believe the crap and buy it – and you will get yourselves into the biggest world of hurt imaginable!

Don’t misunderstand me, a ColorChecker Passport makes for a very sound purchase indeed and I would not like life very much if I didn’t own one.  What made me seethe is the way it’s being marketed, and to whom.

Profile all your cameras for accurate colour reproduction…..blah,blah,blah……..

If you do NOT fully understand the implications of custom camera calibration you’ll be in so much trouble when it comes to processing you’ll feel like giving up the art of photography.

The problems lie in a few areas:

First, a camera profile is a SENSOR/ASIC OUTPUT profile – think about that a minute.

Two things influence sensor/asic output – ISO and lens colour shift – yep. that’s right, no lens is colour-neutral, and all lenses produce colour shifts either by tint or spectral absorption. And higher ISO settings usually produce a cooler, bluer image.

Let’s take a look at ISO and its influence on custom camera calibration profiling – I’m using a far better bit of software for doing the job – “IN MY OPINION” – the Adobe DNG Profile Editor – free to all MAC download and Windows download – but you do need the ColorChecker Passport itself!

I prefer the Adobe product because I find the ColorChecker software produced camera calibration profiles there were, well, pretty vile in terms of increased contrast especially; not my cup of tea at all.

ISO1 900x665 Camera Calibration

5 images shot at 1 stop increments of ISO on the same camera/lens combination.

Now this is NOT a demo of software – a video tutorial of camera profiling will be on my next photography training video coming sometime soon-ish, doubtless with a somewhat verbose narrative explaining why you should or should not do it!

Above, we have 5 images shot on a D4 with a 24-70 f2.8 at 70mm under a consistent overcast daylight at 1stop increments of ISO between 200 and 3200.

Below, we can see the resultant profile and distribution of known colour reference points on the colour wheel.

24 70 200 900x667 Camera Calibration

Here’s the 200 ISO custom camera calibration profile – the portion of interest to us is the colour wheel on the left and the points of known colour distribution (the black squares and circled dot).

Next, we see the result of the image shot at 3200 ISO:

24 70 3200 900x667 Camera Calibration

Here’s the result of the custom camera profile based on the shot taken at 3200 ISO.

Now let’s super-impose one over t’other – if ISO doesn’t matter to a camera calibration profile then we should see NO DIFFERENCE………….

24 70 200vs3200 Camera Calibration

The 3200 ISO profile colour distribution overlaid onto the 200 ISO profile colour distribution – it’s different and they do not match up.

……..well would you bloody believe it!  Embark on custom camera calibration  profiling your camera and then apply that profile to an image shot with the same lens under the same lighting conditions but at a different ISO, and your colours will not be right.

So now my assertions about ISO have been vindicated, let’s take a look at skinning the cat another way, by keeping ISO the same but switching lenses.

Below is the result of a 500mm f4 at 1000 ISO:

500mm1000iso 900x578 Camera Calibration

Profile result of a 500mm f4 at 1000 ISO

And below we have the 24-70mm f2.8 @ 70mm and 1000 ISO:

24 70 1000ISO 900x578 Camera Calibration

Profile result of a 24-70mm f2.8 @ 70mm at 1000 ISO

Let’s overlay those two and see if there’s any difference:

500v24 70 1000ISO Camera Calibration

Profile results of a 500mm f4 at 1000 ISO and the 24-70 f2.8 at 1000 ISO – as massively different as day and night.

Whoops….it’s all turned to crap!

Just take a moment to look at the info here.  There is movement in the orange/red/red magentas, but even bigger movements in the yellows/greens and the blues and blue/magentas.

Because these comparisons are done simply in Photoshop layers with the top layer at 50% opacity you can even see there’s an overall difference in the Hue and Saturation slider values for the two profiles – the 500mm profile is 2 and -10 respectively and the 24-70mm is actually 1 and -9.

The basic upshot of this information is that the two lenses apply a different colour cast to your image AND that cast is not always uniformly applied to all areas of the colour spectrum.

And if you really want to “screw the pooch” then here’s the above comparison side by side with with  the 500f4 1000iso against the 24-70mm f2.8 200iso view:

500mm1000isoV24 70mm200iso Camera Calibration

500mm f4/24-70mm f2.8 1000 ISO comparison versus 500mm f4 1000 ISO and 24-70mm f2.8 200 ISO.

A totally different spectral distribution of colour reference points again.

And I’m not even going to bother showing you that the same camera/lens/ISO combo will give different results under different lighting conditions – you should by now be able to envisage that little nugget yourselves.

So, Custom Camera Calibration – if you do it right then you’ll be profiling every body/lens combo you have, at every conceivable ISO value and lighting condition – it’s one of those things that if you don’t do it all then you’d be best off not doing at all in most cases.

I can think of a few instances where I would do it as a matter of course, such as scientific work, photo-microscopy, and artwork photography/copystand work etc, but these would be well outside the remit the more normal photographic practices.

As I said earlier, the Passport device itself is worth far more than it’s weight in gold – set up and light your shot and include the Passport device in a prominent place. Take a second shot without it and use shot 1 to custom white balance shot 2 – a dead easy process that makes the device invaluable for portrait and studio work etc.

But I hope by now you can begin to see the futility of trying to use a custom camera calibration profile on a “one size fits all” basis – it just won’t work correctly; and yet for the most part this is how it’s marketed – especially by third party retailers.

Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.

 

Black Ink Type

Black ink type and black ink switching when moving from matte to luster and gloss papers – here’s my thoughts on this, initially triggered by Franks’ reply to my previous article HERE.

And I quote:

Another great and instructive article Andy. I have the r3000 but get slightly annoyed with the black ink changes from one to the other. Some further guidance on the use of these re paper ‘types’ would be appreciated by moi ~ please ♡

Look, he’s even put a heart in there – bless you Frank, that’s more than I’ve got out of ‘her indoors’ for years!

Now the basic school of thought over this switching of black ink type is this:

  • PK, or Photo Black ink type supposedly produces a smooth, highly glossy black.
  • MK or Matte Black ink type produces a dull, flat black.
  • Using a matte finish paper requires the MATTE black ink type.
  • Using Luster or Gloss paper requires the Photo black ink type.

The PK black ink type really only produces a HIGH GLOSS finish when chucked onto HIGH GLOSS media.  Its’ got a rather less glossy and more ‘egg shell’ finish when used on a more luster finish paper. There does come a “tipping point” though where it will look a little shinier than the finish of the paper – and it’s this tipping point where theory, clever-dicks and user-guides tell you there’s a need to switch to the matte black ink type.

The Matte black ink type does exactly what point two says it does.

The third point – replace the word “requires” with the phrase “can cope with” and we’d be about right.

The forth point is absolutely true; get this wrong by printing with the MK black ink type on high gloss paper and you’ll just waste consumables and potentially end up with the type of clean up operation normally the preserve of Exon & BP. Dot gain on steroids!

There’s also an argument that the MK black ink type produces a deeper black on matte finish paper than the PK black ink type – this is also true:

4800 PermMus MKvsPK 900x692 Black Ink Type

Permajet canned profiles for Museum paper on the Epson 4800 printer using PK and MK black ink types.

As we can clearly see, the Matte black ink type does indeed accommodate a deeper black point than its counterpart Photo black ink type.

Adopting the Common Sense Approach

There are a few things we need to think about here, and the first one is my constant mantra that the choice of paper is governed by the “overall look, feel and atmosphere of the finished image” when it’s sitting there on your monitor.

Paper choice IS the final part of the creative process; for all the reasons I’ve mentioned in past blog posts.

You will also know by now that in my world there is little room for high gloss paper – it’s a total pain the bum because of its highly reflective surface; but that same surface can allow you to print the very finest of details.

But here’s common sense point number 1 – the majority of people reading this blog, attending my workshops and coming to me for 1to1 tuition CAN NOT produce images with detail fine enough to warrant this single benefit of high gloss paper.

That’s not because they’re daft or rubbish at processing either – it’s simply due to the fact that they shoot 35mm format dSLR, not £30K medium format.  The sensors we commonly use can’t record enough ultra fine detail.  There’s a really good comparison between the Nikon D800 and an IQ160 here, it’s well worth having a look – then you’ll see what I’m on about.

The point I’m trying to make is this; print on gloss from 35mm if you like; but you are saddling yourself with its problems but not truthfully getting any of the benefit – but you can kid yourself if you like!

I Lust After Luster Papers But How Lusty Is That Luster?

As I mentioned in the previous post, Calumet Brilliant Museum Satin Matte Natural is NOT a matte finish paper.

True matte papers never really hold much appeal for me if I’m honest, because they are very dull, flat and relatively lifeless.  Yes, a 12×12 inch monochromatic image might look stunning, especially hanging in an area where reflections might prove difficult for any other print surface.

But that same image printed 8 foot square might well “kill’ any room you hang it in, just because it’s so dull and so damned BIG.

True matte papers do have their uses that’s for sure, but in the main you need to discriminate between matte and what I call matte “effect”.

Permajet Fine Art Museum 310, Matte Plus and Portrait 300 are papers that spring to mind as falling into this matte effect category – and wouldn’t you know it, there are canned profiles for these papers for both PK and MK black ink type ink sets, as you can see from the image earlier in the post.

So, with regard to black ink type switching you have to ask yourself:

  • Am I using a paper the ACTUALLY NEEDS the MK black ink type?  Chances are you’re probably not!
  • If I am, do I really want to – how big a print am I doing?

In my own print portfolio I only have two images that benefit from being printed on a “dead” media surface, and they are both printed to Permajet Museum using the PK black ink type.

I had another one that looked “nearly there” but the heavy texture of the paper detracted from the image, so it was re-proofed and printed to Matt Plus, again using PK ink. It looked just the same from a colour/luminance stand point, but worse from a ‘style’ point because of the zero texture.

Along comes Calumet Museum Satin Matte Natural!

The subtle texture gets me where I wanted to be on that score, and that ever-so-soft luster just makes the colours come to life that tiny bit more, giving me a print variation that I love and hadn’t even envisaged at the time I did the original print.

Ink Type Switching

I have to say at the outset that I do NOT own an R3000 printer – I use wide format Epson printers and so have no commercial need for the 3000 DT format.  But I always advise people looking for a printer to buy one – it’s a stunning machine that punches well above it’s weight based on price point.

My Epson wide format does not hold both black ink types.  Switching entails a rather tedious and highly wasteful process; which I have neither desire or need to embark upon.

But if you have any brand of printer that carries both types on board then I’d highly recommend you to set the black ink type to PK, and turn any auto-switching OFF – that is, set switching to manual.

Right, now the super-pessimist in me shines through!

I’m not a fan of Epson papers on the whole, and there’s a lot more choice and far better quality available from third party suppliers ranging from Photospeed to Hahnemuhle, Canson, Red River and all points in between.

Now third party suppliers in the main will tell you to use one black ink type or the other – or either, and give you the correct media settings (Brilliant – are you reading this??).

But, if you have auto switching enabled, and use Epson paper, the print head sees the paper surface and automatically switches the ink to the ‘supposed’ correct type.  This switching process requires the printer to purge the black ink line and refill it with the ‘correct’ black ink type before printing commences.

Now these figures are the stats quoted from Epson:

Black ink conversion times:

  • Matte to Photo Black approx. 3 min. 30 sec
  • Photo to Matte Black approx. 2 min. sec

Ink used during conversion:

  • Matte to Photo Black approx. 3 ml
  • Photo to Matte Black approx. 1 ml

Now why the times and volumes aren’t the same in both directions is a bit of a mystery to me and doesn’t make sense.  But what is killer is that the carts are only 26 (25.9)ml and around £24 each, so 6 changes of black ink type is going to burn through as good as £25 of ink – and that’s without doing any bloody printing!!!

When ever I demo this printer at a workshop I never use Epson paper, auto switching is OFF and I never get a head sensor warning to tell me to switch ink even if I load Permajet Museum – the head sensor doesn’t warn me about the fact that I’m using PK ink.

Yes the printer could be up the spout, but using a canned PK profile the resulting print would tend to indicate otherwise.

Or something slightly more dark and sinister might be happening – or rather NOT, because I’m not using OEM paper………...What was that I heard you say?  Good gracious me…you might think that but I couldn’t possibly comment!

One thing to bare in mind is this.  For the most part, the majority of print media will work exceptionally well with the PK black ink type – BUT NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND – you’ve been warned.  If you want to know how the captain of the Exon Valdez felt and be up to your ass in black stuff then go ahead and give it a try, but don’t send the cleaning bills to me!

I did it once years ago with an HP printer – I can still see matte black ink tide marks on the skirting board in my office……it wasn’t pretty! And it screwed the printer up totally.

Using PK on matte media will only effect the D-max and lower the overall contrast a wee bit; unless it’s a very low key image with vast areas of blackish tones in it then for the most part you’d perhaps struggle to notice it.  Sometimes you might even find that the drop in contrast even works to your advantage.

But don’t forget, you might not be using a matte media at all, even though it visually looks like it and says the word matte in the paper name.  If the paper manufacturer supplies a PK and an MK profile for the same paper then save yourself time and money and use the PK profile to soft-proof to AND to control the printer colour management.

Did that answer your question Frank – FRANK – can you hear me Frank??!!

 

Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.