Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
06-27-2010, 08:18 PM   #1
Forum Member




Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Idaho
Posts: 95
Preserving Color Cast With RAW

I shoot in RAW, and the only thing I don't like about it is when I'm taking photos of something like a sunset, where there is a desirable color cast I'd like to preserve. The color cast never makes it through. I've tried changing the color and temp with Lightroom, but have never been able to get back to what the original was (usually not even close). Any tips or tricks on getting back to the original color cast?

06-27-2010, 08:49 PM   #2
Veteran Member
Marc Sabatella's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Denver, CO
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 10,686
Shooting RAW has nothing to do with this; the same thing happens in JPEG. AWB just does it's job too well. The solution is not to use AWB, but to pick a neutral WB so the color cast of the scene isn't WB-ed away. I find the either the "flash" or "daylight" presets usually do very well. It's also pretty common for such pictures to be pretty overexposed in portions of the sky unless you specifically anticipated that. So the colors, while correct in hue, will often be washed out from excessive brightness. Might be necessary to pull the exposure back in PP, add highlight recovery, and/or add lcoal contrast enhancement, to really bring the sky colors out.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 06-28-2010 at 09:41 AM.
06-27-2010, 08:51 PM   #3
Otis Memorial Pentaxian
Loyal Site Supporter
stevebrot's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Vancouver (USA)
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 38,877
I don't mean any disrespect, but I don't follow what you mean by "getting it back to the way it was". Strictly speaking, the RAW file is all there is and all there ever was. The trick is that you can't view the RAW file directly. RAW converters such as Adobe Camera Raw in Lightroom use the data from the RAW file to create an image that may be displayed on your monitor. What that image looks like is a matter of "interpretation". Different RAW converters may generate different results.

Back to the "original" that you want to get back to. Do you mean the preview from the camera LCD? That image is a quickie JPEG converted in-camera using the camera's firmware. To get something similar, you can do the JPEG conversion in-camera or use the Pentax software that came with your camera. (They both use the same conversion code.) Be aware, however, that the camera LCD image generally has higher contrast and saturation than what you will see on a well-calibrated LCD monitor. Even so, you may find that the Pentax software gives RAW conversion that you like better. I have at least one image where the in-camera conversion could not duplicate my best efforts in Lightroom.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 06-27-2010 at 09:10 PM.
06-27-2010, 09:08 PM   #4
Otis Memorial Pentaxian
Loyal Site Supporter
stevebrot's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Vancouver (USA)
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 38,877
Marc...One of the advantages of shooting RAW is that WB is not set on the image as it is for JPEG. What is set is a WB "suggestion" (included as meta data) from the camera that may used by the RAW converter. Regardless of what WB is "suggested", the full range is still available in PP if the image is captured and imported as RAW.

As I noted in my other comment, different RAW converters will emphasis different things when interpreting the data in the RAW file for the initial "development". You still have the option of dialing in all sorts of modifications, but the range of edits is limited by the software. I have one image that I "developed" to JPEG in-camera (LINK) that I cannot duplicate using ACR in Lightroom, strange as that sounds. There truly is a qualitative difference in RAW converters.


Steve

06-28-2010, 07:35 AM   #5
Inactive Account




Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 203
Here's how I would do it. Get yourself a white balance card - I use the keychain sized WhiBal. I've got mine clipped on my camera strap in a position where I can hold it a foot in front of the lens without un-clipping it, if that makes any sense. It's small, unobtrusive, and always ready to use.

So here's the procedure - take your sunset photo, and then quickly turn your body 180 degrees (so the sunset is lighting up the card) and shoot a photo of the white balance card. The reason I say "quickly' is because color temp changes RAPIDLY during sunset. You can experiment with what direction to point the card if you like, and make sure you angle it a little so it doesn't glare.

When you get home, open the photo of the white balance card in your RAW software, sample the card with the white balance sample tool (it's an eyedropper shaped thing in Adobe Camera RAW), and then transfer the color temp and tint settings over to your sunset photo. It's all very quick and easy, and you'll end up with the exact color temp of the the scene.

Do NOT use an 18% Grey card. Those are designed for exposure, and are not color free. You'll get a slight color-cast using one, although I guess for a sunset a slight color-cast wouldn't matter to much.
06-28-2010, 09:42 AM   #6
Veteran Member
Marc Sabatella's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Denver, CO
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 10,686
QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Marc...One of the advantages of shooting RAW is that WB is not set on the image as it is for JPEG.
Oh yes, I realize now that my comment could have been misinterpreted. I didn't mean there was no advantage to RAW here - I simply meant the "problem" exists whether shooting RAW or JPEG. But it is indeed much easier to *fix* if you shot RAW!
06-28-2010, 04:25 PM   #7
Forum Member




Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Idaho
Posts: 95
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
It's also pretty common for such pictures to be pretty overexposed in portions of the sky unless you specifically anticipated that. So the colors, while correct in hue, will often be washed out from excessive brightness. Might be necessary to pull the exposure back in PP, add highlight recovery, and/or add lcoal contrast enhancement, to really bring the sky colors out.
This very well could be the issue. I've tried changing exposure, contrast, saturation, etc. in LR, but the result is never close to what the actual scene was. I'll try some different exposures next time I get a sunset.

Last edited by zombieCat; 06-28-2010 at 04:32 PM.
06-28-2010, 04:26 PM   #8
Forum Member




Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Idaho
Posts: 95
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I don't mean any disrespect, but I don't follow what you mean by "getting it back to the way it was". Strictly speaking, the RAW file is all there is and all there ever was. The trick is that you can't view the RAW file directly. RAW converters such as Adobe Camera Raw in Lightroom use the data from the RAW file to create an image that may be displayed on your monitor. What that image looks like is a matter of "interpretation". Different RAW converters may generate different results.

Back to the "original" that you want to get back to. Do you mean the preview from the camera LCD? That image is a quickie JPEG converted in-camera using the camera's firmware. To get something similar, you can do the JPEG conversion in-camera or use the Pentax software that came with your camera. (They both use the same conversion code.) Be aware, however, that the camera LCD image generally has higher contrast and saturation than what you will see on a well-calibrated LCD monitor. Even so, you may find that the Pentax software gives RAW conversion that you like better. I have at least one image where the in-camera conversion could not duplicate my best efforts in Lightroom.


Steve
I worded my initial post very poorly. By "back to what the original was", I mean what I actually saw with my eyes (and, consequently, what generally gets captured if shooting JPEG using the correct WB setting). I'm using Lightroom, and when I import, it shows what I imagine to be a processed JPEG thumbnail in the catalog (along the bottom of the screen). When I click on a thumbnail to load the image, it changes to the RAW view (best way I know to explain it), which is much different than what I am expecting (and much different than the original thumbnail before I clicked on it). Viewing the RAW file in Lightoom looks nothing like the scene looked in real life. This is irrespective of the WB setting I use on the camera, which makes sense, given that the camera's WB settings aren't saved in the RAW data. This doesn't make sense to me, because I expect RAW to capture the scene as-is, and it seems that some processing is happening to make it otherwise. I guess the different "best guess" WB that the various RAW converters use is the issue. It would be nice if it didn't make any guesses--just give me exactly what I captured. Therein lies my question--what's the best way to subvert the "best guess" and get to what the scene actually was? Trial and error seems to be the only method, and my results have been pretty dismal.


Last edited by zombieCat; 06-28-2010 at 04:33 PM.
06-28-2010, 04:26 PM   #9
Forum Member




Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Idaho
Posts: 95
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by slinco Quote
So here's the procedure - take your sunset photo, and then quickly turn your body 180 degrees (so the sunset is lighting up the card) and shoot a photo of the white balance card. The reason I say "quickly' is because color temp changes RAPIDLY during sunset. You can experiment with what direction to point the card if you like, and make sure you angle it a little so it doesn't glare.

When you get home, open the photo of the white balance card in your RAW software, sample the card with the white balance sample tool (it's an eyedropper shaped thing in Adobe Camera RAW), and then transfer the color temp and tint settings over to your sunset photo. It's all very quick and easy, and you'll end up with the exact color temp of the the scene.
Wouldn't this remove all color cast rather than preserving it? For instance, if someone is in the scene, and they're wearing a white shirt the same color as your WB card, their shirt would be some flavor of orange/yellow/whatever. That's the way it should be--their shirt shouldn't show up as white, because there is in fact a color cast. If I use the WB picker to tell LR that the shirt is white, the desirable color cast will be removed. Same scenario for using the WB card itself. Maybe I'm missing something.

Last edited by zombieCat; 06-28-2010 at 05:16 PM.
06-29-2010, 01:09 AM   #10
Veteran Member




Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Budapest
Posts: 821
QuoteOriginally posted by zombieCat Quote
I guess the different "best guess" WB that the various RAW converters use is the issue. It would be nice if it didn't make any guesses--just give me exactly what I captured. Therein lies my question--what's the best way to subvert the "best guess" and get to what the scene actually was?
That's what the "As shot" or "Camera" (not sure what it's called in LR exactly) WB setting is for.
06-29-2010, 06:36 AM   #11
Inactive Account




Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 203
QuoteOriginally posted by zombieCat Quote
Wouldn't this remove all color cast rather than preserving it? For instance, if someone is in the scene, and they're wearing a white shirt the same color as your WB card, their shirt would be some flavor of orange/yellow/whatever. That's the way it should be--their shirt shouldn't show up as white, because there is in fact a color cast. If I use the WB picker to tell LR that the shirt is white, the desirable color cast will be removed. Same scenario for using the WB card itself. Maybe I'm missing something.
Hmmm, yup, I guess I'd be removing what you're trying to preserve. I'm not really into the whole sunset/"golden hour" thing so I guess I should have stayed out of this one. But let's see, my method WOULD tell you (via the White Balance Sampler tool in your RAW possessor) what the exact color temp of the scene was, but it'll take someone smarter than me to tell you what you can do with that information to get what you are after.
What Marc said about exposure is very important too - blown color channels really screw up color badly, so exposure is critical.

Anyway, sorry for the confusion. Did I mention I shoot Black and White 90% of the time?
06-29-2010, 10:30 AM   #12
Otis Memorial Pentaxian
Loyal Site Supporter
stevebrot's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Vancouver (USA)
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 38,877
QuoteOriginally posted by zombieCat Quote
I worded my initial post very poorly. By "back to what the original was", I mean what I actually saw with my eyes (and, consequently, what generally gets captured if shooting JPEG using the correct WB setting). I'm using Lightroom, and when I import, it shows what I imagine to be a processed JPEG thumbnail in the catalog (along the bottom of the screen). When I click on a thumbnail to load the image, it changes to the RAW view (best way I know to explain it), which is much different than what I am expecting (and much different than the original thumbnail before I clicked on it). Viewing the RAW file in Lightoom looks nothing like the scene looked in real life. This is irrespective of the WB setting I use on the camera, which makes sense, given that the camera's WB settings aren't saved in the RAW data. This doesn't make sense to me, because I expect RAW to capture the scene as-is, and it seems that some processing is happening to make it otherwise. I guess the different "best guess" WB that the various RAW converters use is the issue. It would be nice if it didn't make any guesses--just give me exactly what I captured. Therein lies my question--what's the best way to subvert the "best guess" and get to what the scene actually was? Trial and error seems to be the only method, and my results have been pretty dismal.
Thanks for the clarification. As for the RAW converter giving you exactly what you captured...That is an interesting thought, since the neither the camera nor the software "knows" what you you had in mind. What is more, the camera only "sees" a fraction of what your mind's eye perceived. I am not trying to be sarcastic, but that truly is the way it is. I am a fan of bullet points and the best way I can illustrate what I mean is to give you a list...
  • Your camera has a limited dynamic range (bright vs. dark) and limited color gamut
  • Your exposure setting will place the image as a subset of what is actually there (e.g. light sky vs. dark sky)
  • The WB setting in PP will bias the color, but you are still limited to what was actually captured (e.g. no blue captured means no blue to work with)
  • Image processors as well as sensors vary between camera brands in much the same way as color films do
  • Even in RAW, you are limited to what the image processor generates
  • PP allows you to fine tune your best efforts though even the best software is limited by what it is fed (i.e. garbage in, garbage out)
  • Your job as a photographer is to know your camera and its characteristics and use your skills to create the image you see in your mind's eye
I cannot emphasis strongly enough the point regarding image processors. My Canon P&S (G2) does an incredible job with sunsets compared to my K10D. The photos have that "Canon Look". Pentax images tend to be a little more neutral, though the potential for punch is still there if the image was well-exposed. The key is to avoid over-exposure. You may want to consider neutral gradient filters for sunsets or landscapes where the sky is a prominent part of the composition. Don't trust the camera LCD image, it always looks better than the final image. Do trust the histogram. Be aware too, that thumbnails always look better than larger versions.

As for the in-camera JPEG always looking better...that may be the best solution for you. What I have done in some cases is to shoot RAW+JPEG or shoot RAW and do the in-camera conversion later. In at least one case, I have gotten superb results from the in-camera conversion that I could not duplicate in Lightroom. Go figure...


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 06-29-2010 at 10:36 AM.
06-29-2010, 05:41 PM   #13
Forum Member




Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Idaho
Posts: 95
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by slinco Quote
Hmmm, yup, I guess I'd be removing what you're trying to preserve. I'm not really into the whole sunset/"golden hour" thing so I guess I should have stayed out of this one. But let's see, my method WOULD tell you (via the White Balance Sampler tool in your RAW possessor) what the exact color temp of the scene was, but it'll take someone smarter than me to tell you what you can do with that information to get what you are after.
What Marc said about exposure is very important too - blown color channels really screw up color badly, so exposure is critical.

Anyway, sorry for the confusion. Did I mention I shoot Black and White 90% of the time?
No worries, I appreciate the effort to help.
06-29-2010, 05:45 PM   #14
Forum Member




Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Idaho
Posts: 95
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by simico Quote
That's what the "As shot" or "Camera" (not sure what it's called in LR exactly) WB setting is for.
I use "As Shot" by default. But, as Steve notes below...


QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Thanks for the clarification. As for the RAW converter giving you exactly what you captured...That is an interesting thought, since the neither the camera nor the software "knows" what you you had in mind. What is more, the camera only "sees" a fraction of what your mind's eye perceived. I am not trying to be sarcastic, but that truly is the way it is. I am a fan of bullet points and the best way I can illustrate what I mean is to give you a list...
  • Your camera has a limited dynamic range (bright vs. dark) and limited color gamut
  • Your exposure setting will place the image as a subset of what is actually there (e.g. light sky vs. dark sky)
  • The WB setting in PP will bias the color, but you are still limited to what was actually captured (e.g. no blue captured means no blue to work with)
  • Image processors as well as sensors vary between camera brands in much the same way as color films do
  • Even in RAW, you are limited to what the image processor generates
  • PP allows you to fine tune your best efforts though even the best software is limited by what it is fed (i.e. garbage in, garbage out)
  • Your job as a photographer is to know your camera and its characteristics and use your skills to create the image you see in your mind's eye
I cannot emphasis strongly enough the point regarding image processors. My Canon P&S (G2) does an incredible job with sunsets compared to my K10D. The photos have that "Canon Look". Pentax images tend to be a little more neutral, though the potential for punch is still there if the image was well-exposed. The key is to avoid over-exposure. You may want to consider neutral gradient filters for sunsets or landscapes where the sky is a prominent part of the composition. Don't trust the camera LCD image, it always looks better than the final image. Do trust the histogram. Be aware too, that thumbnails always look better than larger versions.

As for the in-camera JPEG always looking better...that may be the best solution for you. What I have done in some cases is to shoot RAW+JPEG or shoot RAW and do the in-camera conversion later. In at least one case, I have gotten superb results from the in-camera conversion that I could not duplicate in Lightroom. Go figure...


Steve
Makes sense Steve. "Neutral"--that's a very good description of the results I'm getting. I made a couple shots last night in RAW+JPEG to give a good idea of what I'm talking about, but I haven't had the chance to look at them yet. I may have to go this route, and I'll try the in-camera conversion as well. It's a bit disheartening to be unable to use RAW for these types of shots, but that may be my only viable option. Thanks for the input.
06-29-2010, 07:06 PM   #15
Otis Memorial Pentaxian
Loyal Site Supporter
stevebrot's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Vancouver (USA)
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 38,877
QuoteOriginally posted by zombieCat Quote
I use "As Shot" by default. But, as Steve notes below...


Makes sense Steve. "Neutral"--that's a very good description of the results I'm getting. I made a couple shots last night in RAW+JPEG to give a good idea of what I'm talking about, but I haven't had the chance to look at them yet. I may have to go this route, and I'll try the in-camera conversion as well. It's a bit disheartening to be unable to use RAW for these types of shots, but that may be my only viable option. Thanks for the input.
Try the two-pronged approach and work on your skills in Lightroom. I have been amazed at what can be accomplished by the HSL sliders and some adjustments to the curve.

First pass...not too bad...




A second try from the same base image...




I won't say the second is better, but it sure looks different. If I were to do it today, I might take an even different approach with less saturation and more luminance in the greens, yellow, orange, and red. There is a ton that can be done, so don't give up too soon on Lightroom.

Please do share an example of the JPEG vs. RAW. That will give the forum members a chance to see exactly what your issues are.


Steve
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
color, photography, photoshop
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Preserving EXIF Bramela Pentax DSLR Discussion 6 01-31-2009 09:45 PM
RAW vs Manual White Balance for Color Cast Correction JCharles Pentax DSLR Discussion 18 11-09-2008 07:35 AM
Color Cast IR Help PLEASE!!! pntxjack Digital Processing, Software, and Printing 0 08-27-2008 05:36 PM
K10D red color-cast problem Spooked Pentax DSLR Discussion 19 05-07-2008 02:46 PM
Green cast in RAW? (Samsung GX10) eljustino Photographic Technique 12 06-21-2007 07:10 PM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:27 PM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top