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03-07-2013, 07:54 AM   #1
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Awful yellow noses on young children under studio lights, help me avoid it please !

So I shoot a lot of children and recently just by chance they seem to be getting younger. And I'm having a major localised colour issue with toddlers that I simply can't control. As you can see in the attached shot the child has a distinct yellowing around the nose, this also occurs on ears and necks. It is happening on nearly every child I shoot between the ages of 1-3. 4 year olds and adults and there is no problem.

I can find minimal but identical problems discussed online and most feedback is concerned with how to fix in post. Some have suggested it's an initial over exposure and one or two refer to it being the reaction of young developing skin and tissue under powerful studio lights, you are essentially revealing the fatty bits under the skin. I've tried a number of white balance controls during the session including custom with a grey card but to no avail. In lightroom I can tweak WB then reduce orange and yellow saturation then boost the same colours in luminance. Combined this reduces the issue considerably but naturally has an impact on the rest of the frame. It just goes a bit wishy washy.

The turnaround for the client means local adjustments in Photoshop is out so other than my global fix in LR is there anything anyone can think of that can help me avoid this during the actual shoot ?

I thought it may have been a cast from the light bouncing off the floor but I have a shot of the same child being held aloft with lights at adult height, his mum and dad look spot on but this poor chap looks like he needs a doctor. I'm honestly baffled.

Basically I need to get the shot close to perfect first time but as you can see I'm way off that.

Basic exif.
k5 with fa77 (But it happens on the fa43 too)

iso 100, 1/125,f8. 600 watt Key light through medium soft box set a 5.3, fill light through large softbox set at 4, 2 lights at 3 firing on the background.

Help me please !


Any comment or advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.


Attached Images
 

Last edited by London Rob; 03-07-2013 at 07:55 AM. Reason: spelling
03-07-2013, 08:03 AM   #2
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I don't think a magical light setup is going to solve your problem since this is "normal" with small children (as far as I know).
PP in PS with small touch up to desaturate the problem areas is the best solution and the best way to control it.

Also, what you have mentioned with the orange and yellow values changes is another way, but like you have said, it will affect the overall picture ... :/

Not sure what are your camera's settings ... maybe reducing the contrast and saturation slightly might help a little?

Edit ...
Have you tried natural light vs studio light!?

Last edited by mrNewt; 03-07-2013 at 08:11 AM.
03-07-2013, 09:28 AM   #3
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I've run into this same problem before and, as mrNewt said, there is no magic way to avoid this with the lighting setup ... some subjects are just more prone to it than others.

The only "quick fix" that I've found that avoids me spending way too much time retouching this problem is Viveza 2 from Nik software. All I did was put a control point on the yellow nose, enlarge the control point area to cover the entire head and neck, then moved the hue slider to -25 (the exact amount is done to your taste, but I thought -25 looked nice on my monitor). Very quick, very painless ... and it's WAY less time than you would have to spend doing alternative retouching methods that I'm aware of.

Here is the result I got using the process I described above (took about 10 seconds since I'm familiar with to doing this type of correction):
03-07-2013, 10:00 AM   #4
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Hi JJJ, thank you very much for the feedback and corrected image, I'm impressed with your efforts. It's pretty close to what I can achieve in LR but of course you were able to fix just the face leaving saturation as it was in the rest of the frame. Hence overall your version looks a bit better than my fixed shot.I sadly don't have the time on this job to fix every shot individually. And therein lies the problem, I don't want to fix this, I want to avoid it.

I can be shooting 8 subjects in 8 hours and my paying client requires 100 jpegs delivered in 48 hours of each person. So lets say I get 3 toddlers in the session, that's 300 shots to locally fix !!!! Just can't be done ergo I have a massive need to get the shot spot on at the first click, though I think I'm going to struggle with that quest.

03-07-2013, 10:26 AM   #5
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my kids had that when they ate alot of squash or carrot babyfood, i recall. these kids need to eat more burritos. very frustrating to fix but your image is otherwise beautiful!! good luck
03-07-2013, 10:27 AM   #6
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In my experience, babies often have different colored noses than the rest of their face. Possibly there is less fat there or a higher concentration of capillaries closer to the surface of the skin vs. an adult's face. So one strategy might be to leave it alone, and go for a faithful reproduction. However, if you think that the parents might appreciate a more idealized approach (i.e. fix the blemishes), there are a couple things you might try.

  • Under the adjustment brush panel in Lightroom, create a brush, set all the "Effect' sliders to 0 and then for color, choose a pale blue. For your example I found 209 on the hue wheel worked well and about 35% saturation, but it might vary from one face to another. Then just brush it over the offending areas with a high feather rate. I used auto mask and it took all of 3 seconds. It's so pale that you don't have to be super precise, the high feather rate will hide any transitions. You could also do it in Photoshop by using a photo filter layer of the same color, then just mask off all but the areas you want to correct. The advantage is that you would have a little better control over the brush shapes and strokes.
  • Set your white balance using a quality white balance tool. Softboxes can sometimes give a cast to the light, and depending on the power level of your strobes the color temperature can vary. Usually it's closest to the "flash" preset in your camera at full power, and then goes either warmer or cooler depending on the type of light you have as the power is reduced. Never use AWB. I like the Xrite color checker passport to set my WB.
  • Speaking of which, each sensor and lens combination can render colors a bit differently. If you really want hyper accurate color, you need to create an ICC profile for each sensor/lens combo. I go one step further and do it for each lighting condition. I take a shot of my color checker passport next to my subject under the light I will be using and then in Lightroom I create a profile and load it in under the "Calibration" panel. You'd be amazed at how much it "trues up" the colors. If you don't own a CCPP, I find that the "embedded" profile is the closest, and at least for skintones should suffice, blues on the other hand...
  • Finally, you need to be careful about your method of exporting photos from Lightroom. Unfortunately, (and for the life of me I can't figure why), Lightroom only allows for 'Perceptual' rendering intent when using the export command. That goes for exporting to Photoshop, or exporting directly to TIFF or JPEG. The only time it gives you the option to use 'Relative Colorimetric' intent is when you go to print, OR "print to file", which in LR3 anyway is only JPEG, and you have to specify the print size, which I don't always want to do at this point. For a full discussion of Perceptual vs. Relative Colorimetric rendering intent, have a look at this excellent article Color Management: Color Space Conversion The short of it is that Relative preserves the relationship between colors but introduces the possibility of banding, Perceptual maintains smooth gradation of out of gamut colors, but compresses the entire color space whether it needs it or not. This causes color shifts. There isn't necessarily one method that's always better than the other, it depends on the content of the image, but when an image doesn't contain many bold vibrant colors, Relative Colorimetric is usually the best choice (i.e. the one that LR won't let you use). The best way around it I've found is to set your working color space in both Lightroom and Photoshop to 16-bit ProPhoto RGB. Then once in Photoshop, you can convert with either method, and see the effect it will have on your photo. I bring this up because I find LR's perceptual conversion (especially to sRGB) tends to make skintones too vivid. And what does a vivid skintone look like? Well it looks kind of orange like your baby's nose.
I agree with mrNewt, this isn't a lighting problem, but it might be worth trying a 1/4 CTB gel on your lights just to reduce the amount of orange light in relation to the amount of blue reflecting off your subject. Then WB of course because the resulting image will be too cool. Let us know if the problem persists and we'll try to find equally plausible ways to mislead you.
03-07-2013, 10:32 AM   #7
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"I can be shooting 8 subjects in 8 hours and my paying client requires 100 jpegs delivered in 48 hours of each person."

That's a situation I've never encountered. I cannot imagine doing that so I totally understand why my suggestion won't work for you ... but I'm curious how you found yourself in such a situation.

The way I work, if I've got 8 portrait sessions scheduled in one day (actually, it's usually no more than 6) I'm not taking 100 images of each subject. That's 800+ images taken in one day if you have 8 sessions!

Even if I was taking that many shots in the studio I would HEAVILY trim down the selections to only a few proofs for each client to choose from and I only edit the proofs that make it into that final selection that I show each client.

In my case, if I'm photographing 3 kids in a session and run into the yellow skin problem I'm only fixing a dozen photos at most (about 2-5 minutes of editing work for that clients' entire batch of proofs assuming the client didn't request blemish removal or some other retouching in advance).

If I was dealing with that many images every day it would be very hard to deliver perfect results (particularly when life throws me something unexpected like a kid with particularly yellow skin) and turn a profit based on the amount of work/time involved just taking that many photos.

03-07-2013, 11:25 AM   #8
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JJJ, oh it's not the perfect brief but it is a brief I've accepted. Client (there is only one, it's an agency) requires 100 untouched jpegs within 48 hours of the studio shoots. I shoot in raw then convert via lightroom in case of any major issues. My hour with each atendee generates about 160 shots then I edit this down to the 100, the client requires no re-touch on my part and I then deliver the 100 x however many subjects I shot. It is as mentioned before entirely normal to get on average 3 subjects with yellowing issues, just to be clear here they do not have them in real life - only once captured by the camera, hence 300 images needing fixing being quite common.

Yes it's a mammoth task and yes it means detailed and individual re-touching is totally out of the question. It's not how I would normally work but as a photographers we can only change clients expectations so much, I'm more than happy to accept a challenge, work in a different way and fulfill what on the face of it (pardon the pun) is a pretty simple if labour intensive brief. I know that the speed of turnaround has an effect on the end product and the client understands this, my job is to give the best images possible within the constraints of the prescribed request.

And Maxfield thank you so much for your detailed run through, it'll be a great help and point of reference for a number of future shoots no doubt and you clearly know your stuff. Just for this one scenario though what I'm searching for is a technique that nullifies the yellowing effect or reduces it IN the studio, not in post. But I think I'm looking for a unicorn on the moon here aren't I......
03-07-2013, 11:55 AM   #9
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London Rob, you've got a GREAT attitude and I so desperately wish I could help you find that unicorn. The only thing that immediately comes to mind is applying makeup on the kids when you see the yellow skin tones on the K-5's screen during the shoot ... but applying makeup to kids is full of its own additional problems and probably isn't a realistic solution either.
03-07-2013, 12:24 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Rob, I suspect that the bulk of the problem lies in your export settings, or rather LRs lack of flexibility. Try this experiment. Take a straight-from the camera RAW and bring it into Lightroom. You can apply a lens profile and a color profile if you wish, but that's it, don't touch it in any other way. Now export it as per your normal method and name it "perceptual_test.jpg" or some such. Now, with the same untouched file, go to the "Print" module in LR, and down at the bottom under the "Print Job" panel, tell it to print to JPEG file. Make sure draft mode is unchecked and set your color management settings to Profile: sRGB and Rendering Intent: Relative. Then click print to file and name it "relative_test.jpg". Now compare the two files you generated. I think you may see a dramatic difference. If you're still seeing orange noses, try the same thing in the Print module but set the color space to something larger, AdobeRGB or ProPhoto. Your client would probably bitch, but we're just trying to identify the problem for now.

Now the method I've described isn't ideal because it forces you to specify resolution and print size at this point. (And that's what I find infuriating about Lightroom. It gives you all the controls that a photographer would find most useful and in an intuitive fashion like working in the darkroom, it gives you speed and the ability to batch process, but then in the end, you can't have the image the way you see it on your screen. Seriously Adobe, what were you thinking?) Anyway, the only way I've found around it is to
  1. Set your working color space in LR to 16-bit ProPhoto.
  2. Export your files to 16-bit TIFFs with a ProPhoto RGB profile embedded.
  3. Set your working space in PS to the same, ProPhoto RGB 16-bit.
  4. Create a batch processing action in PS that imports, resizes, and converts your files to a more universal color space and bit depth like 8-bit sRGB using relative colorimetric intent, and finally saves them as JPEGs. Don't forget to imbed sRGB in the resulting files, even though the conversion should take care of that.
Failing all that, one word: "make-up"

The other side of this coin is managing client expectations. I would talk to this agency and find out what becomes of the 100 photos you send them. Presumably if they want unretouched photos, they plan to edit them themselves, otherwise why not ask for retouched photos? But who needs 100 shots of the same baby? Probably what they do is look through them all, pick maybe 4 candidates for retouching, fix those and then choose one winner. That means that the other 99 of the photos go into the recycle bin. It's a huge waste of everyone's time to retouch photos that are never going to see the light of day, so either a) deliver 100 photos of babies with "rudolph" syndrome and let them worry about it, or b)deliver digital contact sheets, let them choose their candidates, and then retouch the ones they like or c) explain that it takes time to retouch 100 photos, and if that's what they want then you'll need to bill them accordingly. Chances are they'll pick A or B.
03-08-2013, 12:40 AM   #11
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Just as an experiment, would you be able to add a slight +orange gel over the flash but have -orange on the JPG output?
03-08-2013, 04:40 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nass Quote
Just as an experiment, would you be able to add a slight +orange gel over the flash but have -orange on the JPG output?
That would work if the entire scene was too orange but the issue here is that the developing skin of some little kids appears more orange (not the rest of the scene) so gelling the flash and adjusting the white balance will help the color of the kid's skin but negatively impact the rest of the scene (including the parents who have normal looking skin).
03-08-2013, 06:25 AM   #13
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My goto would be what maxfield spoke of earlier - an adjustment brush with low flow, high feather, and a pale blue color. I've used similar techniques for all sorts of skin tone issues with great success. In LR 4, you may even be able to get decent results with a localized white balance adjustment.

Last edited by jeffshaddix; 03-08-2013 at 06:43 AM.
03-08-2013, 08:51 AM   #14
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Okay, again all sterling advice from everyone but I'm going to reiterate the following: I'm not really looking for a fix in post, I can do that. The fix has to be extremely quick so local brush adjustments et al just won't cut it. I globally tweak WB, saturation on orange and yellow channels followed by luminance for the same colours and that gets me somewhere close to what I'm after on the face but can drain the rest of the frame. BUT timings wise just about allows me to do this batch badjustment

What I need is to avoid the phenomenon IN THE STUDIO. And it is a phenomenon, the kids do not look like this in real life, it is not a quirk of lightroom's colour space, the yellow patches appear the second the shot is captured on my Pentax lcd screen.
My bet is that where the skin is thin the lights are 'burning through' and picking up developing cartilage (it's nose and ears) and for reasons beyond me this manifests as yellow.

And I think it's a combination of sensor, lenses,lights and a narrow age range otherwise this would be a common issue in the industry. There is chatter about this for other brands of camera system but like no more than 3-4 threads. I just seem to have hit on the magic formula to create this weird effect.

So, all the advice on post fixes is honestly great but I need to not create the problem in the fist instance.

And just so we're clear, my 7 models from two days ago produced 700 shots I had to deliver today. That's what I'm getting paid to do and the client has a business process they adhere to and I'm fully prepared to do my bit.
I can re-negotiate with them anytime but I'd bet I'm the first guy they've used who's gonna ask for extra time or a change in arrangements cause 'these kids have gone yellow'.

My approach to virtually all photography is get the shot close to perfect when you press the shutter. And beautiful kids, in a pro studio on white colorama with a shooter who knows what he needs to know the goods should be giving me that.
03-08-2013, 08:58 AM   #15
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Woah ! Or I could just not bother with fixing it ! Just found this on a general search of children's studio photography and (not being critical naturally) this photographer has just rolled with it. Is it me or does the problem gradually fade as you go from the youngest to the eldest ? Scroll through to image 2 for the best example.
Ironmonger Family Photoshoot | Pure Studio Photos
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