Strong reds - how to shoot?

Started Sep 9, 2007 | Discussions
jfriend00
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Strong reds - how to shoot?
Sep 9, 2007

I shot my first game of this soccer season today and discovered that the team I will be shooting all fall has bright red uniforms. They look cool, but are causing major problems in the photos as the way the uniforms are captured is way out of gamut for the commercial printer I use. I should mention that I'm shooting RAW on a D2Xs with the 200-400 f/4.

So, since I have a whole season of shooting with these uniforms and I'd like to not have to do extensive post processing on every shot to get screen to look the same as print, I'm wondering what I can change in my shooting to fix this. I know I can underexpose to make sure I don't blow the red channel, but that will still take significant post processing to make everything else in the photo look normally exposed while keeping the reds subdued. Is there a filter I could shoot with that would knock down the reds? Any other suggestions?

Here's what a D2X capture looks like without any post processing other than an exposure adjustment:

And, here's what Photoshop shows as the out of gamut colors for my commercial printer:

Here's what it looks like if I turn down the luminosity and saturation of the reds some in ACR, though most of the original out of gamut colors are still out of gamut. This shows a little more detail on screen in the reds, but doesn't succeed in getting things in gamut.

Any helpful suggestions or pointers would be appreciated.

digitall
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to jfriend00, Sep 9, 2007

I believe Julia Borg can advise you how to overcome this problem but, even if the reds are out of gamut does it follow that the printed results will be unacceptable?
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jfriend00
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to digitall, Sep 9, 2007

digitall wrote:

I believe Julia Borg can advise you how to overcome this problem but,
even if the reds are out of gamut does it follow that the printed
results will be unacceptable?

I wonder if some sort of filter that absorbs some of the red would work? It does sound like something that Julia would have some ideas about.

There are a couple problems with leaving the out of gamut reds the way they are.

1) I'm losing detail in the uniform and socks as all the extreme red gets squished into the printer colorspace.

2) When people order prints and the prints don't look like they did on screen, that can cause problems or disappointment.

3) If the uniforms and socks are going to get squished into a smaller colorspace, I'd rather control it myself than leave it to some other software.

4) The reds are putting my exposure into the high risk area because with just a little accidental overexposure I can completely clip the reds and lose a ton of detail.

5) Over the course of the season, I will probably end up keeping about 30 shots per player on the team and I'd like to simplify the post processing work on those 450+ shots.
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Kaj E
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to jfriend00, Sep 9, 2007

You may find this link useful: http://www.normankoren.com/zonesystem.html
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Denyerec
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to jfriend00, Sep 9, 2007

Stuff it into LAB colourspace, reduce the contrast of the A & B channels whilst boosting L a little bit. Copy to new layer once you've recovered the detail in the red bits, and use a layermask or blend options to fill the red shirt in with the detail.

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Denyerec
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to Denyerec, Sep 9, 2007

I can provide you with a PSD file if you wish, of the amended file with pretty much everything in Gamut. Whether or not you think it is suitable / close / useful is up to you, but it's as close as I got in 60 seconds

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Duncan C
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to jfriend00, Sep 9, 2007

John,

You're wrestling with two distinct problems. The first is over-exposing a channel and losing detail, forever.

Make sure you shoot in Adobe RGB, since it has a wider gamut and will record a larger range of colors. Also make sure you set your white balance correctly, even if shooting raw. Apparently Nikon's DSLRs use the white balance setting to adjust the gain on the analog amplifiers, so a correct WB setting lets the camera keep all 3 channels in the best range for analog to digital conversion.

You can also use the wonderful RGB histogram in newer Nikon bodies to check all 3 channels as you shoot. If you see reds piled up on the bright side of the histogram, dial in some negative exposure compensation until you bring it back into line. Use the blinking highlights option to see if it's really reds you are losing. (you can get the RGB histogram screen to blink any of the 3 channels, or the RGB composite histogram) White specular highlights are OK to blow out to pure white, and will cause spikes on the histogram in all 3 color channels.

With practice you should be able to get a feel for how much to dial back the exposure. I'd be surprised if you need to dial back more than 1/2 stop.

Next is the issue of printer gamut. I would suggest using a wet process film printer. Film has much better color gamut than ink-jet, and is also a closer match for the gamut of a digital camera. I've had good luck with Costco here in the US. They're print costs are quite cheap, and there are often custom color profiles for their printing equipment available for download. They also have a web interface where you can upload your pictures and order prints from your office.

If you need to show your pictures to clients on a computer screen, you can convert them to the printer's target color-space first. That's not a 100% solution, since most printers can print some colors that your monitor can't display, but it should be an improvement.

Sorry if I've told you things you already know. I figure too much info is better than not enough.

If you still can't get results you are happy with you might want to find a professional film lab in your area and ask for their help.

Duncan C

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jfriend00 wrote:

I shot my first game of this soccer season today and discovered that
the team I will be shooting all fall has bright red uniforms. They
look cool, but are causing major problems in the photos as the way
the uniforms are captured is way out of gamut for the commercial
printer I use. I should mention that I'm shooting RAW on a D2Xs with
the 200-400 f/4.

So, since I have a whole season of shooting with these uniforms and
I'd like to not have to do extensive post processing on every shot to
get screen to look the same as print, I'm wondering what I can change
in my shooting to fix this. I know I can underexpose to make sure I
don't blow the red channel, but that will still take significant post
processing to make everything else in the photo look normally exposed
while keeping the reds subdued. Is there a filter I could shoot with
that would knock down the reds? Any other suggestions?

Here's what a D2X capture looks like without any post processing
other than an exposure adjustment:

And, here's what Photoshop shows as the out of gamut colors for my
commercial printer:

Here's what it looks like if I turn down the luminosity and
saturation of the reds some in ACR, though most of the original out
of gamut colors are still out of gamut. This shows a little more
detail on screen in the reds, but doesn't succeed in getting things
in gamut.

Any helpful suggestions or pointers would be appreciated.

--
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http://www.pbase.com/duncanc
My macro gallery:
http://www.pbase.com/duncanc/macro_pictures&page=all

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Iliah Borg
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to jfriend00, Sep 9, 2007

Dear John,

There is not much you can do at shooting time. Since you shoot raw camera settings do not affect recorded image. They affect histogram of course, but that is a whole different story. Same, filters are yet another different story. At this point it is more about image processing. To answer you question first try setting ACR to sRGB. If that does not help I would be interested to see a NEF and colour profile of your printer.

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jfriend00
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to Denyerec, Sep 9, 2007

Denyerec wrote:

I can provide you with a PSD file if you wish, of the amended file
with pretty much everything in Gamut. Whether or not you think it is
suitable / close / useful is up to you, but it's as close as I got in
60 seconds

Sorry, but I'm not asking for how to post process the file to get it in gamut - I can do that on any individual image. I'm just not going to do that on 450+ images. I'm asking how to make an efficient workflow (ideally by doing something differently at shoot time) that let's me produce 450+ of these type of images.
--
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jfriend00
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to Duncan C, Sep 9, 2007

Duncan C wrote:

John,

You're wrestling with two distinct problems. The first is
over-exposing a channel and losing detail, forever.

Make sure you shoot in Adobe RGB, since it has a wider gamut and will
record a larger range of colors. Also make sure you set your white
balance correctly, even if shooting raw. Apparently Nikon's DSLRs use
the white balance setting to adjust the gain on the analog
amplifiers, so a correct WB setting lets the camera keep all 3
channels in the best range for analog to digital conversion.

You can also use the wonderful RGB histogram in newer Nikon bodies to
check all 3 channels as you shoot. If you see reds piled up on the
bright side of the histogram, dial in some negative exposure
compensation until you bring it back into line. Use the blinking
highlights option to see if it's really reds you are losing. (you can
get the RGB histogram screen to blink any of the 3 channels, or the
RGB composite histogram) White specular highlights are OK to blow out
to pure white, and will cause spikes on the histogram in all 3 color
channels.

With practice you should be able to get a feel for how much to dial
back the exposure. I'd be surprised if you need to dial back more
than 1/2 stop.

I've run into this issue with reds before on red roses and orange California poppies. I'm aware that I can use the red channel portion of my histogram to make sure I'm not blowing red highlights and dial back EV until it's safe. Unfortunately, that generally makes the rest of the image underexposed and, while I've preserved the red channel detail (which is a good thing), I'm still faced with post processing on every image in order to keep the red detail and show the rest of the image (particularly faces) at proper exposure. I'm a bit surprised how much I have to dial it back to preserve the red. It appears that either the meter is under-sensitive to red or the sensor is over-sensitive to red.

I am shooting RAW, so no need to set the camera to aRGB. I have learned about the white balance issue, mostly because if it's not close, your histograms will be way off. UniWB would be interesting here too to take all gain issues out of the camera, though I've only read about that and never tried it before.
--
John
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Iliah Borg
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to jfriend00, Sep 10, 2007

Sorry, but I'm not asking for how to post process the file to get it
in gamut

The problem is mostly in processing workflow. The NEF itself should be OK. If you insist on keeping your current workflow then the solution is to use cyan (cooling) filter on the lens.

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jfriend00
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to Iliah Borg, Sep 10, 2007

Iliah Borg wrote:

Sorry, but I'm not asking for how to post process the file to get it
in gamut

The problem is mostly in processing workflow. The NEF itself should
be OK. If you insist on keeping your current workflow then the
solution is to use cyan (cooling) filter on the lens.

Hmmm. OK, I guess I'll just have to find a set of ACR settings that I can mass apply that tame the reds, but don't mess up the rest of the image. I guess it'll be dropping the luminosity and saturation of the reds. Hopefully, this won't mess with skin tones much.

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Iliah Borg
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to jfriend00, Sep 10, 2007

I guess it'll be dropping the luminosity and saturation
of the reds.

Why not to try setting ACR to sRGB - first of all?

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jfriend00
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to Iliah Borg, Sep 10, 2007

Iliah Borg wrote:

Why not to try setting ACR to sRGB - first of all?

It already is set to generate sRGB. It's the sRGB JPEGs that are out of gamut.
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Iliah Borg
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to jfriend00, Sep 10, 2007

jfriend00 wrote:

Iliah Borg wrote:

Why not to try setting ACR to sRGB - first of all?

It already is set to generate sRGB. It's the sRGB JPEGs that are out
of gamut.

Please e-mail me then the printer profile. It is very rare that printer gamuts are narrower then sRGB gamut in reds.

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jfriend00
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to Iliah Borg, Sep 10, 2007

Iliah Borg wrote:

Please e-mail me then the printer profile. It is very rare that
printer gamuts are narrower then sRGB gamut in reds.

The printer profile is here: http://www.smugmug.com/prints/ezprints-1.icc .

Thanks for taking a look.
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digitall
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to jfriend00, Sep 10, 2007

Have you tried Nikon Capture? Too slow? I don't think ACR is so good on 'interpreteing'I Nikon WB settings. I use the D2X and I must say that I haven't experienced the red channel blowing out this much even with red flowers although, admittedly, I cut exposure considerably to preserve the reds and often resort to Shadow/Highlight tool in PS to retrieve shadow detail.
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Iliah Borg
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to jfriend00, Sep 10, 2007

The printer profile is here:
http://www.smugmug.com/prints/ezprints-1.icc .

This profile is extremely deficient in saturated colours, including reds. Its gamut is much smaller then sRGB. Profile was created in 2003 with an old EyeOne, using a rather small target of 919 patches and a pre-historic version of ProfileMaker. UV filter was not used while obtaining the measurements, but the paper contained optical brightener. I would suggest to change the printer.

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Kaj E
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to jfriend00, Sep 10, 2007

jfriend00 wrote:

Duncan C wrote:

John,

You're wrestling with two distinct problems. The first is
over-exposing a channel and losing detail, forever.

Make sure you shoot in Adobe RGB, since it has a wider gamut and will
record a larger range of colors. Also make sure you set your white
balance correctly, even if shooting raw. Apparently Nikon's DSLRs use
the white balance setting to adjust the gain on the analog
amplifiers, so a correct WB setting lets the camera keep all 3
channels in the best range for analog to digital conversion.

You can also use the wonderful RGB histogram in newer Nikon bodies to
check all 3 channels as you shoot. If you see reds piled up on the
bright side of the histogram, dial in some negative exposure
compensation until you bring it back into line. Use the blinking
highlights option to see if it's really reds you are losing. (you can
get the RGB histogram screen to blink any of the 3 channels, or the
RGB composite histogram) White specular highlights are OK to blow out
to pure white, and will cause spikes on the histogram in all 3 color
channels.

With practice you should be able to get a feel for how much to dial
back the exposure. I'd be surprised if you need to dial back more
than 1/2 stop.

I've run into this issue with reds before on red roses and orange
California poppies. I'm aware that I can use the red channel portion
of my histogram to make sure I'm not blowing red highlights and dial
back EV until it's safe. Unfortunately, that generally makes the
rest of the image underexposed and, while I've preserved the red
channel detail (which is a good thing), I'm still faced with post
processing on every image in order to keep the red detail and show
the rest of the image (particularly faces) at proper exposure. I'm a
bit surprised how much I have to dial it back to preserve the red.
It appears that either the meter is under-sensitive to red or the
sensor is over-sensitive to red.

Did you look at the color sensitivities in the Norman Koren link I provided earlier?

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Kaj
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Kaj E
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Re: Strong reds - how to shoot?
In reply to Iliah Borg, Sep 10, 2007

Iliah Borg wrote:

Dear John,

There is not much you can do at shooting time.

Other than exposure.

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Kaj
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