Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fixing It

{To see large in a separate window click on any image}

Yup, I messed up.  The white balance was set for indoor shots, not bright sunlight. But since I was shooting RAW+JPG the image could be salvaged using RAW Therapee.

That converter is a few more change sets from becoming a beta release. Beta release means the developers believe they've fixed all the bugs on their to-do list. And with change-set 990 they have come close. So, with the features and interface now frozen, I'll be blogging about all you and I can do with this brilliant new program.


The first pass with the WB eyedropper got me here. While it still has a blue color cast the big problem is the shadow of the tree on the ice--the feature that caught my eye--is now washed out. Since I wanted the shadow to be the subject of the photo I have to find a way to make it stand out more.

Upping the contrast darkened the shadow and lightened the ice but it also changed the appearance of the rest of the photo.  Not a good fix.

So I went to a feature which as far as I know is not found in other RAW converter--LAB curves. The LAB working space, like the RGB working space, has three channels. L (the b&w luminosity), A( the tonal range from intense red to its complementary color intense green) and B (the similar tonal range from intense blue to its complementary color intense yellow)

If that one paragraph explanation left you confused, never mind.  The important thing is that I could apply a tone curve to the L channel like I've shown. 

This is not possible in PS Element or any other moderately inexpensive converters. Spend a $1000 or so for Photoshop, and you could convert the RAW file in ACR, import it to Photoshop, change the mode from RGB to LAB, turn the L channel into an B&W image, apply a curve layer to that image, and finally figure out how to replace the original L channel with the new image so you can convert everything back to RGB and save your file as a JPG.

Or you can download free RAW Therapee and scroll down to the bottom of the exposure tab where everything you need is a few mouse clicks away. 

This is what I was after.  Generated by the new tone curve plus the brightness, contrast and saturation slider adjustments.  This should also give you an sense of why I'm so excited about RAW Therapee. Everything took half the time I just spent writing these last four sentences.

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