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dalippe

How to post-process 2500 ISO B&W

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David, just as a matter of process, I would make all the global and local corrections first. If you have the colour DNG there are a lot of things you can do first to make a less noisy file (the noise will mostly be in the blue channel, and typically green is best for skin (red is usually too light). But in this case something between the green and the red is the way I'd first approach the file).

 

Next curves, then BW conversion (like Tina I use AlienSkin 2 stuff--it rocks). Then grain or noise as a last step.

 

This way you might not even need noise ninja, but I can't tell without seeing the RAW file.

 

An interesting way to get "flash" in post is to use "distort...diffuse glow" where you can adjust the amount of grain you want too. Very nice if 1) you make sure you're palette is on default black and white" and 2) you don't overdo it. I always apply it to a duplicate layer so I can dial it back (a lot).

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David, just as a matter of process, I would make all the global and local corrections first. If you have the colour DNG there are a lot of things you can do first to make a less noisy file (the noise will mostly be in the blue channel, and typically green is best for skin (red is usually too light). But in this case something between the green and the red is the way I'd first approach the file).

 

Next curves, then BW conversion (like Tina I use AlienSkin 2 stuff--it rocks). Then grain or noise as a last step.

 

This way you might not even need noise ninja, but I can't tell without seeing the RAW file.

 

An interesting way to get "flash" in post is to use "distort...diffuse glow" where you can adjust the amount of grain you want too. Very nice if 1) you make sure you're palette is on default black and white" and 2) you don't overdo it. I always apply it to a duplicate layer so I can dial it back (a lot).

 

Thanks Jamie. I'm glad you posted this before I got started in earnest, because my plan was to start with the noise and then move onto tonal corrections!

 

In order to use your observation that the noise will be in the blue channel, my first thought is to turn down the luminance of that channel in LR or C1. Is that what you have in mind? Or is there some better way to exploit that fact?

 

Thanks,

 

David

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Which is why I recommended doing tonal corrections first, global and local. Sorry, didn't mean to discredit your PS skills.

 

Nothing like ramping up the black to cover up noise. I usually let negative space become just that and not worry about details in the shadows because under these conditions they just become noise.

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FWIW ...

 

What I notice immediately isn't the noise - it's the lack of a full tonal range. There's no black point in your original image, and I think that exacerbates the appearance of noise because everything is a mid-tone. So, if it were mine, I'd set the black point and stretch the tones.

 

I'd personally keep away from NN. It tends to soften images too heavily for my taste, and I also rather like the high contrast grainy look. If you were thinking Delta 3200 when you shot it, then it's nice to keep it that way when you process it.

 

The only real change I'd want is to lighten the faces slightly - easily done just by duplicating the layer and setting the blend mode of the top layer to screen. You can then adjust opacity for the level of lightening you want. Add a mask and paint back the dark tones where you want them.

 

It will give you something that looks like this.

 

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Which is why I recommended doing tonal corrections first, global and local. Sorry, didn't mean to discredit your PS skills.

 

Nothing like ramping up the black to cover up noise. I usually let negative space become just that and not worry about details in the shadows because under these conditions they just become noise.

 

No problem...My PS skills aren't that great and I hope I didn't sound defensive. I just wanted to be clear about where I have some clue and where I feel at a loss. I didn't mean to imply that I don't welcome suggestions about what global and local tonal corrections you would make. So thanks again for the feedback!

 

David

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FWIW ...

 

What I notice immediately isn't the noise - it's the lack of a full tonal range. There's no black point in your original image, and I think that exacerbates the appearance of noise because everything is a mid-tone. So, if it were mine, I'd set the black point and stretch the tones.

 

I'd personally keep away from NN. It tends to soften images too heavily for my taste, and I also rather like the high contrast grainy look. If you were thinking Delta 3200 when you shot it, then it's nice to keep it that way when you process it.

 

The only real change I'd want is to lighten the faces slightly - easily done just by duplicating the layer and setting the blend mode of the top layer to screen. You can then adjust opacity for the level of lightening you want. Add a mask and paint back the dark tones where you want them.

 

It will give you something that looks like this.

 

 

Thanks for the suggestion. I think your changes are almost entirely for the better, and they do indeed render the background noise less objectionable. The one place I don't like your version (and this has been true of many other versions others have posted) is the grain on the woman's left cheek and neck (her left, our right). On him I think it looks fine, but on her it looks very unattractive to me. So that is one place I might try a local smoothing, perhaps through NN, on your version. Or do you think there is a better way?

 

Thanks!

 

David

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... is the grain on the woman's left cheek and neck (her left, our right). On him I think it looks fine, but on her it looks very unattractive to me. So that is one place I might try a local smoothing, perhaps through NN, on your version. Or do you think there is a better way?...

 

Yes - I think you're right. She has rather a bad case of elephant skin :-)

 

I guess it all depends on what you're prepared to do. If you don't mind post-processing more heavily then your inclination is probably right. You could duplicate the image and run NN on the copy, and then apply another curve adjustment to lighten the skin under her chin. You'll need the curve I think, otherwise the smoothed version will be too muddy.

 

Then flatten the copy and drag it back onto the original (hold down shift key while you do this and it will position it correctly) and add a mask to paint out all of your new changes, and then brush them back in only where you need them.

 

Then adjust opacity to suit your taste.

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Thanks Jamie. I'm glad you posted this before I got started in earnest, because my plan was to start with the noise and then move onto tonal corrections!

 

In order to use your observation that the noise will be in the blue channel, my first thought is to turn down the luminance of that channel in LR or C1. Is that what you have in mind? Or is there some better way to exploit that fact?

 

Thanks,

 

David

 

David--there are a couple of things you can do to minimize the blue channel, which is probably the noisiest...

 

First, we should say though, that this is more like an ISO 12,000 file since it's underexposed by a number of stops

 

Anyway, if you know you're looking for a BW conversion, then you could first "fix" the colour file for BW...

 

In a RAW processor, you could do this in a number of ways:

  • making a ridiculously warm WB and cranking the tint slider to green. In C1 (and in LR too?) you can view corrections in BW to see what you're doing
  • Using tint or sliders to minimize blue (in addition to cranking up the white balance)
  • in C1 using a BW profile like C1's colour filter profiles or the JFI colour filter profiles

OR you can develop to your best in LR or C1 (I'd still keep the WB to the high and green side) and then go into PS and

  • channel blend on a layer
  • Select image...apply image...then get the green channel in normal mode and apply it to the whole file (or see what the red looks like)
  • use AlienSkin, which does do channel mapping in the BW conversion (very, very nice, actually).

So assuming you've done most global adjustments in RAW, and you're in monochrome now, I'd do contrast tweaks next, then noise reduction if necessary, and finally grain / nice noise to taste/ etc...

 

EDIT: added a play with that Distort... Diffuse Glow method... no noise ninja... there are a number of ways to skin this cat (but, as Imants said, I would have bounced a flash. Not obtrusive at all!)...

 

1) gaussian blur on a layer

2) set to luminosity. Apply to taste (neck // background, forehead); erase everywhere else

3) Curves and diffuse glow, grain set to 6. Dial back opacity

4) add new layer with medium gray fill; do a filter... artistic... film grain then blur the grain layer with something like a .3 radius..

5) warmed up a tad

6) output for web...

 

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You can set it to always open JPG's in ACR or right click, on PC, and select open with ACR.

Actually there are 2 setting for opening JPG's in ACR. One in Bridge/ACR options and the orther in PS CS3.

I like using the PS CS3 ACR because then you can go back to Bridge. If you set Bridge/ACR to open JPG's then you don't have the option of Alt+Tab,ing back to Bridge.

The fastest option in CS3 is "file"> "open as" > "camera RAW(*TIFF,*CRW.....)"

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File DNG opened with C1 and converted in PS CS 2 B & W, duotone Pantone, adj.levels, iso 2500 Speed 1/20 Aperture f/2 Summicron 50 m8. No noise reduction.

Thanks for attention.

Lorenzo

 

 

 

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David--there are a couple of things you can do to minimize the blue channel, which is probably the noisiest...

 

First, we should say though, that this is more like an ISO 12,000 file since it's underexposed by a number of stops

 

Anyway, if you know you're looking for a BW conversion, then you could first "fix" the colour file for BW...

 

In a RAW processor, you could do this in a number of ways:

  • making a ridiculously warm WB and cranking the tint slider to green. In C1 (and in LR too?) you can view corrections in BW to see what you're doing
  • Using tint or sliders to minimize blue (in addition to cranking up the white balance)
  • in C1 using a BW profile like C1's colour filter profiles or the JFI colour filter profiles

OR you can develop to your best in LR or C1 (I'd still keep the WB to the high and green side) and then go into PS and

  • channel blend on a layer
  • Select image...apply image...then get the green channel in normal mode and apply it to the whole file (or see what the red looks like)
  • use AlienSkin, which does do channel mapping in the BW conversion (very, very nice, actually).

So assuming you've done most global adjustments in RAW, and you're in monochrome now, I'd do contrast tweaks next, then noise reduction if necessary, and finally grain / nice noise to taste/ etc...

 

EDIT: added a play with that Distort... Diffuse Glow method... no noise ninja... there are a number of ways to skin this cat (but, as Imants said, I would have bounced a flash. Not obtrusive at all!)...

 

1) gaussian blur on a layer

2) set to luminosity. Apply to taste (neck // background, forehead); erase everywhere else

3) Curves and diffuse glow, grain set to 6. Dial back opacity

4) add new layer with medium gray fill; do a filter... artistic... film grain then blur the grain layer with something like a .3 radius..

5) warmed up a tad

6) output for web...

 

 

Hi Jamie,

 

Thanks for the detailed instructions and your conversion. The willingness of LUF members to take real time in helping each other (as witnessed by this thread!) makes this a special forum.

 

I'm trying to work on this image over the weekend during the short intervals when my son naps and I want to make sure I understand your instructions. I'm probably the only one unsure of what you mean, but I'm a mathematician by training, so I read VERY literally

. Do I summarize correctly?

 

Either:

1a. Develop in raw with a mind toward minimizing noise down the road

or

1b. Develop in raw according to what looks best in color, but keeping the WB warm.

 

Then, regardless of whether 1a. or 1b. was used, either:

 

2a. Color blend on a layer

or

2b. Apply image

or

2c. Use Alien Skin

 

Then the rest.

 

Another question: When adding grain on a layer according to your instructions, what blend mode(s) do you usually use?

 

Finally, a comment about your posted version. I think that it is excellent but to my taste the woman's face, especially around the mouth, looks over-smoothed. I think that getting her face correct is the trickiest part. One either ends up over-smoothed or with what ndjambrose aptly called "elephant skin." Of course we're just pushing up against the limits of what is possible with this file...As you and others have pointed out, it was just pushing things too far to do this without flash.

 

Thanks again for your time!

 

David

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Here's my take...a little noise reduction in Noiseware and the Ilford Delta 3200 filmlook from Exposure 2.0.

 

Thanks Hans! I think it looks quite good. Did you NR before or after the Alien Skin conversion? And did you use grain or no grain in Alien Skin?

 

Thanks!

 

David

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File DNG opened with C1 and converted in PS CS 2 B & W, duotone Pantone, adj.levels, iso 2500 Speed 1/20 Aperture f/2 Summicron 50 m8. No noise reduction.

Thanks for attention.

Lorenzo

 

Nice shot Lorenzo. Clearly you had a less underexposed negative then I'm starting with! Amazingly free of noise given that it was shot at 2500. Almost hard to believe.

David

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Hello David...

This is one of my trial....

 

I did a lot of things, so I recorded an Action in CS3 to send it to you together with the file.

If i remember exactly:

1) I removed any sharpening in ACR

2) desaturated the blue channel

3) corrected WB

4) set a curve of contrast

5) opened the file in CS3

6) corrected the blue channel again

7) converted to grayscale

8) manually regulated levels

9) applied a contrast curve again

10) saved the picture as JPG (after resize)

 

11) please let me know what you think about...

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{snipped} I'm probably the only one unsure of what you mean, but I'm a mathematician by training, so I read VERY literally . Do I summarize correctly?

 

Either:

1a. Develop in raw with a mind toward minimizing noise down the road

or

1b. Develop in raw according to what looks best in color, but keeping the WB warm.

 

David--if you know you're going to BW, forget about what looks good in colour entirely. Make it warm and green to minimise blue channel, then desaturate right in the RAW converter.

 

This way you may not need to do much in PS.

 

If you don't like what you get from the desaturation in RAW, then go to Photoshop...

 

Then, regardless of whether 1a. or 1b. was used, either:

 

2a. Color blend on a layer

or

2b. Apply image

or

2c. Use Alien Skin

 

Then the rest.

 

Yes--all these work if you have colour files--even hideously coloured files

You don't want much of the blue channel anyway!

 

Another question: When adding grain on a layer according to your instructions, what blend mode(s) do you usually use?

 

Oops! Sorry for the elliptical instructions!

 

Yes--that "grain layer" should be filled with a neutral colour (gray) and set to OVERLAY mode, otherwise it won't work. You do this by selecting "new layer" and then setting OVERLAY mode, then clicking the box that says "fill with overlay-neutral color"... then you apply the artisitic...film grain filter (Level 3 intensity 10) then blur that layer with gaussian blur with a radius around .3

 

A very nice grain layer results, though AlienSkin is still better (because the grain is different in shadows and highlights).

 

Finally, a comment about your posted version. I think that it is excellent but to my taste the woman's face, especially around the mouth, looks over-smoothed. I think that getting her face correct is the trickiest part. One either ends up over-smoothed or with what ndjambrose aptly called "elephant skin." Of course we're just pushing up against the limits of what is possible with this file...As you and others have pointed out, it was just pushing things too far to do this without flash.

{snipped}

 

David, yes... I did over-smooth it... was a really quick play. But I was still pleased in how much detail in her face resolved; I think by adjusting the original colour before the BW transform you could do a lot better...

 

Do you have a RAW file somewhere? I was only using the JPEG you posted.

 

Anyway, I hope this works for you!

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Hi Dan,

Converted in LR with all sharpening and NR turned off (or at least as off as LR will allow it to be).

 

The light was rather uneven (i.e, much darker in some parts of the room than others) and the aperture priority couldn't be trusted because many scenes contained bright lights in them that would have fooled the meter. So I just set everything manually to 3200, f/1, 1/30 sec and shot the night away. My plan was indeed to darken shots (like this one) that were brighter than the actual scene. This is just a default conversion to show the noise. But I figured, perhaps incorrectly, that the final image would be better if I got the original as bright as possible and then darkened rather than taking "underexposed" shots to begin with (expose to the right...). But perhaps this isn't true if getting them brighter means shooting ISO 3200? Any experience comparing these methods?

 

Thanks,

 

David

 

David, your plan is a good one. Always best to have more light and then take it down a notch afterward. The other way round is murder at 1250 or higher.

 

Dan

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David, your plan is a good one. Always best to have more light and then take it down a notch afterward. The other way round is murder at 1250 or higher.

 

Dan

 

Yes, although this particular shot was still underexposed from the point of view of having a file that is easy to work with! But I simply couldn't have gotten any more light without almost guaranteeing blurry images (I was shooting non-stationary subjects with 50mm and a 1.3x crop factor at 1/30s!).

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