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A circle of light
Lens: 18.3mm Camera: Ricoh GR Photo Location: London ISO: 250 
Posted By: newmikey, 11-03-2018, 04:41 AM



I thought it'd be fun to revisit some older shots and see if I have learned anything over the past 3 years or if I can look at them with a fresh view to what could be done. Also, sometimes software progression has been to the point where I feel I can do so much more today than I could 3, 5 or 10 years ago merely because my toolkit has improved.

Here's a shot I took in London some 3 years ago. The weather was miserable and I was basically stuck in the hotel waiting for a business meeting across the street. In the hotel lobby I looked straight up and saw the rain on the glass roof panels and the circle of incandescent lamps which contrasted the doom and gloom outside with very yellowish light.

I leaned back, standing in the middle of the lobby, knowing people were watching ("look mummy, that strange man is doing weird things") trying to lift my Ricoh GR above my head and line up the ceiling on the LCD. It would have been so much easier with an articulated LCD!

The shot suffers from lens distortion, there is quite a bit of keystoning caused by me not holding the camera perfectly parallel to the floor and the exposure is correct for the lamps but the towering structures around that central lobby are badly underexposed.

When I got back from London I made many attempts at dealing with the image but I never ended up being satisfied. Either I didn't get the lines straightened out just the way I wanted or when I did, the resulting crop left a very unsatisfying decentering on the circle of light. Also, correcting exposure burnt out the lamps and trying to protect them with a mask left telltale signs like halos or dark edges.

So here's my retry in 2018 with DarkTable applying quite some heavy shadows/highlights protection. Also I activated the LensFun module to apply correction for the GR's 18.3mm f2.8 lens. Finally the geometric correction module set to automatic 2-way correction straightened the ceiling beams but the resulting crop was again too constrictive. I left the image uncropped and imported as a 16-bit TIFF into Gimp.

In Gimp, I initially set a 3:2 crop focused on keeping the circle of lights central. This of course left unsightly black triangles in the top-left and top-right corners which were then filled with a combination of content-aware filling and some careful use of the clonestamp. Finally I used GMIC to overlay a high-pass mask and another GMIC layer with the "freaky details" filter. I then upped the saturation of the base layer and saved the resulting image.

To me, the image has now gotten a bit of a science-fiction look to it, starkly graphic but the major lines of the composition stopped distracting the eye.

Below, you'll find the OOC image and the step after raw conversion and before import into Gimp

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11-03-2018, 10:04 AM   #2
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In the darkroom is definitely where all the magic happens. Congrats! A very stunning picture. And thanks for the detailed steps taken. It can prove helpful for so many stuck.

11-03-2018, 06:58 PM   #3
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That is a very unique photo and very well done with the processing. It is great to be always looking for an opportunity for a photo, and I imagine that is where the GR comes in very handy.
11-04-2018, 04:47 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by newmikey Quote


I thought it'd be fun to revisit some older shots and see if I have learned anything over the past 3 years or if I can look at them with a fresh view to what could be done. Also, sometimes software progression has been to the point where I feel I can do so much more today than I could 3, 5 or 10 years ago merely because my toolkit has improved.

Here's a shot I took in London some 3 years ago. The weather was miserable and I was basically stuck in the hotel waiting for a business meeting across the street. In the hotel lobby I looked straight up and saw the rain on the glass roof panels and the circle of incandescent lamps which contrasted the doom and gloom outside with very yellowish light.

I leaned back, standing in the middle of the lobby, knowing people were watching ("look mummy, that strange man is doing weird things") trying to lift my Ricoh GR above my head and line up the ceiling on the LCD. It would have been so much easier with an articulated LCD!

The shot suffers from lens distortion, there is quite a bit of keystoning caused by me not holding the camera perfectly parallel to the floor and the exposure is correct for the lamps but the towering structures around that central lobby are badly underexposed.

When I got back from London I made many attempts at dealing with the image but I never ended up being satisfied. Either I didn't get the lines straightened out just the way I wanted or when I did, the resulting crop left a very unsatisfying decentering on the circle of light. Also, correcting exposure burnt out the lamps and trying to protect them with a mask left telltale signs like halos or dark edges.

So here's my retry in 2018 with DarkTable applying quite some heavy shadows/highlights protection. Also I activated the LensFun module to apply correction for the GR's 18.3mm f2.8 lens. Finally the geometric correction module set to automatic 2-way correction straightened the ceiling beams but the resulting crop was again too constrictive. I left the image uncropped and imported as a 16-bit TIFF into Gimp.

In Gimp, I initially set a 3:2 crop focused on keeping the circle of lights central. This of course left unsightly black triangles in the top-left and top-right corners which were then filled with a combination of content-aware filling and some careful use of the clonestamp. Finally I used GMIC to overlay a high-pass mask and another GMIC layer with the "freaky details" filter. I then upped the saturation of the base layer and saved the resulting image.

To me, the image has now gotten a bit of a science-fiction look to it, starkly graphic but the major lines of the composition stopped distracting the eye.

Below, you'll find the OOC image and the step after raw conversion and before import into Gimp
When did you adjust the colors? Based on your description, I would have expected the photo to be yellowish from the incandescent lights.

11-04-2018, 05:21 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
When did you adjust the colors? Based on your description, I would have expected the photo to be yellowish from the incandescent lights.
The lights are yellow. But they're not shining on anything in the photo. Everything else is back lit and there's just so much blue light from the sky that the picture has to be blue.
I figure that what the OP saw that day was a really stunning, deep, mesmerizing blue color like I've seen a few times. I'm not sure if that only happens on some stormy, rainy and grey late afternoons.

11-05-2018, 02:22 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by torashi Quote
The lights are yellow. But they're not shining on anything in the photo. Everything else is back lit and there's just so much blue light from the sky that the picture has to be blue.
That is mostly correct and on top of that, there's an additional mechanism at work here: the multi-autoWB of the GR. It sees the dominant yellow of the lamps and tries to compensate them to a more neutral white by shifting WB into the blue. The result is that the background, which already has a blue-grey tint from the clouds (this IS London, after all) is driven to a more intense blue. The ceiling beams which are above the lights but do not get any direct light from the sky either, remain a reasonable neutral dark-grey/black. I emphasized the blue even a bit more in PP by kicking the saturation up a fair bit.
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