Curves

The Curves tool allows for extraordinarily precise and subtle edits to very specific tonal ranges within an image. You can adjust shadow values without affecting midtones in the slightest and tweak highlights without disrupting overall image contrast. You can still make edits as broad and dramatic as those with the Levels tool when the occasion warrants. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to make an edit via Levels that you could not duplicate using Curves. So why do so many users reach...

Toolbox

Photoshop contains over 60 separate items in its Tools palette alone (see Figure 5.5). Once you select one, an options bar appears, providing a host of parameters that you can alter to control its behavior. But for our purposes, most of the tools and options can remain shrouded in mystery. Oddly enough, some of those least useful for high-quality image editing have the most photographic-sounding names. Dodge, Burn, Sharpen, and Blur are relatively crude tools for which Photoshop has more...

Image Adjustments

The image edits will take place exclusively in Photoshop. I will use the Curves tool in combination with adjustment layers, layer masks, and the Brush tool in order to apply localized contrast adjustments. In Figure 7.27, I have outlined important subject areas in red. In winter snow scenes with an overcast sky, there is often a hazy, low-contrast feel to distant objects. I want to add much more contrast to foreground objects like the reflections in the water (1) than to the distant tree line...

Canon

Canon offers two separate printer drivers with its imagePROGRAF line of printers. The standard driver accepts both RGB and grayscale image files. Of particular interest to black-and-white photographers is that when you choose to print with the Monochrome Photo setting, shown in Figure 6.43, no color inks are used to generate the image. Only the gray and photo gray plus the appropriate black (matte or glossy) are fired from the print head. Canon is also the first to provide an OEM printer driver...

Palette Essentials

As Photoshop has added features over the years, managing the growing number of palettes has become a challenge for users, to say the least. In fact, the driving force behind a dual monitor setup for most photographers is the sheer number of palettes. Large savings in productivity are possible by simply moving the palettes to a separate display. If a two-monitor setup is not an option, you'll certainly want to limit precious screen estate to only the most used palettes. In this section, I'll...

Edit Now or Later

An ongoing dilemma among photographers has been whether to perform image adjustments before or after the film is scanned. There are several competing impulses here. On one hand, Photoshop is the de facto standard for image editing. It's a tool with which most photographers have at least some experience, and it can be used on all manner of raster images, regardless of the scanner that captured them. The contrary argument is that by optimizing a scan for pleasing output at the time of capture,...

Blown Highlights Lost in Space

Those of you not weaned on reruns of this late '60s TV series will have to excuse this reference to the space robot with flailing arms shouting Warning Warning But the image often comes to mind when the highlight clipping alerts start flashing on the screen of my digital camera. When shooting raw, it's important to note that you enjoy a wider dynamic range than is possible with a camera-processed JPEG. But the in-camera histogram reflects the color space and JPEG compression set in the camera,...

Grain Reduction

In the battle to reduce objectionable film grain, there is no shortage of software tools available either as stand-alone products or Photoshop-compatible plug-ins. One of the benefits of PMT drum scan technology is the ability to compensate for grain at the hardware level. Drum scanners typically have a range of aperture settings to control the spot size of the image-forming light source. Measured in microns one millionth of a meter a small aperture tightly focuses light onto a very small area...

Silver Fa st Ai

Figure 4.61 Selecting one of the HDR modes left not only cancels any existing adjustments, it grays out their menus to ensure that no additional processing is performed on the scan. Here are the image adjustment tools in normal mode top right and again in HDR mode bottom . location on every scan. Since different brightness settings were used for each scan, SilverFast can blend composite pixel data to form a wider dynamic range. It is much like merging two exposures, one light, one dark, and...

Apple and the Gamma 18 Mystery

Why did Apple choose a gamma of 1.8 for its graphics rendering Common wisdom has it that this gamma was a closer match to the output of its LaserWriter printers. Remember those This fudge was an early attempt to match the monitor to the print, without benefit of soft proofing and other color management tools. Photoshop also includes dot gain settings of 10, 20, 25, 30, and 35 percent as working space options. Once again, this was an attempt to simulate the behavior of an output device in this...

Raw Conundrum

For all of the benefits of raw files mentioned earlier, I am compelled to note one potentially significant limitation. Every camera manufacturer understandably wants to apply proprietary enhancements to their raw captures so that their images outperform the competition. Unfortunately, this has led to a proliferation of undocumented raw file formats. If you own digital cameras from more than one company, you've got multiple file formats that can only be fully decoded via raw converter software...

Linear Capture

Regardless of the color filter array technology, all sensors capture data in a linear fashion. That is, a sensor will always record a 2x increase in luminance as twice as bright. What's the big deal, you say Well, human vision perceives light in a subjective and decidedly nonlinear manner, as Figures 4.20 and 4.21 demonstrate. We never register a doubling of luminance as being twice as bright. We will not even perceive identical luminance increases in the same way if one occurs to pixels in...

Demosaicing Algorithms

Back in Collecting Photons, I discussed the fact that most digital cameras only capture one-third of a scene's actual color information. To produce a full color image, the missing pixel data must be interpolated from existing color values. This process is referred to as demosaicing. All software vendors have their proprietary algorithms for computing missing color data, and there is no shortage of debate among photographers as to the best raw conversion engine. But, in general, the math...

Resampling Pixels

After an image is digitally captured, there is no shortage of options for changing the number of pixels contained within the file. Downsampling refers to the act of throwing out pixels in order to reach a smaller print size or resolution, as seen in Figure 4.8. This is a relatively harmless procedure. The only drawback is that drastic reductions produce a less sharp result. Selecting Photoshop's Bicubic Sharper algorithm when downsampling is an effective way to compensate for this loss....

Tools Palette

The Marquee tool M is most often used for selecting broad swaths of an image when hard edges and abrupt tonal transitions are not a concern. You simply click and drag until the area you want to select is within the marquee's boundaries. You have the option to choose a rectangular or elliptical shape. You can also select a single row or column of pixels. See Figure 5-6 for Marquee tool options. Figure 5.6 In addition to Normal, the Marquee tool can be set to a Fixed Ratio or Fixed Size. Setting...

Color Controlled Black and White

PrintFIX PRO 2.0, the hardware software profiling bundle from ColorVision, has added some features that bring monochrome output squarely into a color-managed workflow. As in its previous version, PrintFIX PRO 2.0 can be used to generate color profiles by measuring patches from a supplied color target. What sets this package apart, however, is the ability to print an Extended Grays target, like the one shown in Figure 3.45. Measuring this target with the bundled spectrophotometer characterizes...

Mastering Digital Black and White

A Photographer's Guide to High Quality Black-and-White Imaging and Printing Professional Technical Reference 2007 Thomson Course Technology, a division of Thomson Learning Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system without written permission from Thomson Course Technology PTR, except for the inclusion of brief quotations...

Color to Monochrome Conversion

At first glance, having to convert every raw file to monochrome can seem like an unfair burden placed on black-and-white photographers. Wouldn't it be great to just have a grayscale digital camera instead Until that camera becomes commercially available, we can take solace in the fact that powerful conversion tools exist that allow for a level of control over hues and saturation that were simply not possible with panchromatic film even with a bag full of filters. The fact that ACR is bundled...

Highlight Recovery

I mentioned in the sidebar Blown Highlights Lost in Space that in-camera histograms are less than reliable indicators of highlight clipping when you're shooting raw. But what happens when you really have clipped the highlights ACR includes a Recovery slider that can reclaim some clipped highlight data, as shown in Figures 4.36 and 4.37. I'll emphasize the word some because impressive though it is, the Recovery feature is not magic. In highlights where only one channel is clipped, Figure 4.33 If...

Grayscale ICC

QTR attracts much attention as an inexpensive alternative for generating high quality black-and-white output. Its most significant contribution from a color-management perspective, however, is the bundled QTR-Create-ICC tool. This single piece of software allows anyone with a spectrophotometer to create an ICC-compatible grayscale profile, regardless of the monochrome ink set they have installed. You simply print a provided grayscale target and measure the density of its patches. The result is...

Piezography and the Quad Black Revolution

Jon Cone's Piezography system was the first commercially available method of producing fine art black-and-white prints in the digital darkroom. A large part of its appeal lay in the fact that it was developed for use on desktop Epson printers, providing a low-cost entry to fine art printing. Until the debut of Piezography in 2000, getting even a satisfactory monochrome print from an inkjet was an exercise in frustration. The Epson printer drivers provided a limited tonal range. Shadows blocked...

Wet Mounting

Wet Mounting Station Pictures

Unless you own a drum scanner, you may not be familiar with the technique of wet mounting film. One of the great benefits of a drum scan is that the film is mounted directly to an acrylic drum and wrapped tightly, ensuring a consistent plane of focus over the entire area of the film, as shown in Figures 2.24 and 2.25- But in high-resolution scans, placing film in direct contact with an acrylic Figure 2.24 Wet mounting on a drum requires a specialized mounting station on which to lay out and...

Test Charts and Images

The stated goal of a color-managed workflow is predictable, consistent results. An important element in maintaining such a system is determining not only when there is a problem, but also identifying the culprit. When a print no longer matches what you see on the monitor, is the problem with the on-screen display or the print output An easy way to visually track the behavior of a device is with a test image. It does not have to be as precise or elaborate as the test files shown in Figures 2.47...

Building the Digital Darkroom

One of the more daunting tasks confronting any digital photographer is choosing among the large number of hardware and software options. In this chapter, I'll take an in-depth look at the tools you need to outfit your digital darkroom. A credit card and a quick trip to any big box retailer will allow you to generate a print from a digital file. But producing the highest caliber of digital output requires identifying tools that will complement, if not enhance, your creative vision. The digital...