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Photoshop corrections

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If like me, you don't have alot of time to spend doing rendering, and modelling these days. Or maybe at the moment you are not working in computer graphics with access to all the hardware, software, expertise and tuition, that you know is necessary to stay up with things. You can still keep some of your skills in CG sharpened up by using a digital camera, or even an ordinary SLR, or compact and a flatbed or film scanner. Here are just some of the very many ways, that i like to become my own amateur digital darkroom guy, to make the photographs i collect from my travel look heaps better. To display the kind of impression of a place, an environment or a city i would like to keep in my photographic images. In short, try to become an active participant in the process of photographing buildings and spaces, rather than a passive button-clicker droid.


The people who use Vray, Brassil, Lightscape 3.2 etc, are at the knive edge in CG. They have the considerable privelege of becoming active participants in how we 'see, not just look/stare blankly' at the world around us. But for many of us in architecture nowadays the purchase of a copy of MAX is just too damned expensive, or you don't have the time to learn it - i did consider sketch books and pencils as an option, but then i said to myself wait, is there another middle-ground perhaps?


Even professionals doing CG Work everyday, i am sure could benefit alot from using photography more and 'playing around with it afterwards'. I love my new Canon 120mm compact slr - even though the barrel distortion is sad, and the widest angle is has is 35mm, i still get some good pictures while on holidays etc, and its small/light size is very handy indeed. I have noticed that digital cameras are better from one point of view. With traditional film photography, sometimes Fuji/Kodak standard consumer film can show really significant amounts of blue/green or yellow. It depends upon the type of light you have while photographing too. On the other hand, alot of bargain digital cameras out there are great, inexpensive to use and handy to have - but display a bad red cast which needs to be corrected using a batch script file or something in PHotoshop later on. You get what you pay for i suppose!


When using film photography, the film, the camera lense, the type of scanner, and how it is set up can all effect the type of image you get into Photoshop eventually. That is why, i have posted the pictures below, to give people some notion of how much improvement can be done, with some effort to even bad pictures using the tools in any image editing software. Another great way to improve a picture, apart from increasing the red channel of the RGB images in Photoshop (or any other picture editing software), is to use a distortion tool to correct verticals. You will hear certain posters at the critiques forum here, constantly refer to this.


Lack of saturation, darkness of the photograph, sharpness (use unsharp mask filter or similar even in specific key areas of the image), putting in nice blue skies instead of washed out looking one can all be of great benefit to your pictures. Call it cheating, call it technology improving images of reality, call it whatever, but i guarantee you in 6 months time, or 2 years time when you want to look at your hols pics, you will be delighted at having spent some time to correct your images.


Apologises if some of the corrected images have bad colour casts etc, (much more red than i would have hoped for) or you cannot really appreciate the sharpened effect use at this resolution, but i saved all the images using MicroSoft Picture Editor, before posting so as to make the files well under 175KBs and load quite easily in your browser. Some of the changes are so slight as to be almost imperceptable, but that is the nature of photography, and i think even the smallest adjustements or tweaks to an image - removing a miscellaneous telephone pole and wire etc, have such an amazing improving effect overall.















[ July 01, 2003, 10:22 AM: Message edited by: garethace ]

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Having fixed somewhat the awful blue overcast look of the original file, in the image seen below, that beatiful blue sky suddenly returns again! Of course, i should have been less lazy, and saved myself an extra editing step, by just masking out the sky area altogether from the original colour correction to the buildings and streetscape.





[ July 01, 2003, 09:54 AM: Message edited by: garethace ]

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Very little was done to these images, except the red areas were better brought out to the full saturation, the way it looks in reality but unfortunately the camera film/type of day really didn't have enough light to do it justice.











Two images below: There is a very slight adjustment to that awful compact SLR lense barrel distortion if you look carefully at the upper left hand corner. I have improved the verticality and the brick building appears less as if having got a smack to the jaw from Mike Tyson! :winkgrin:







[ July 01, 2003, 09:50 AM: Message edited by: garethace ]

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No, very far from it. I tried to do automatic adjustment, but often it would only get me a fraction of the distance i wanted to go in adjusting my images. For instance, you see the red apartments up there? Well, in that case i had to manually carefully select the red areas myself and give the saturation a good kick in the you know where. I remember when seeing those red apartments in reality, some funny trick of brain/perception made them appear quite saturated rather than the washed out brown you see in the original photo. Simply raising the saturation levels for the entire image, simply would have been ridiculous, giving you a bright blue road and flourescent green trees. I was very intrigued by those red apartment designs from an architectural point of view, and wished to have a good photographic (digital or otherwise) record of them to show to myself or others. The original photo simply wasn't acceptable as showing to anyone what the design was about, what the colour was like etc. Too often i visit web sites and come across fantastic galleries of travel pics, but none of them have spent the time adjusting the image properly. Apologises for the lack of adequate resolution in the images posted - it really looks better at 1800x1200 pixel resolution on my home monitor and the original fixed scans.



Photography had a very bad name amongst professional architects a long time ago, because of reasons like this - a pencil, paper and watercolour wash was the preferred way to record a place, setting or design. Nowadays with digital photography and image editing software, it is up to architects to re-visit photography again and see if it could replace the watercolour brush, sketchbook and pencil for certain situations. I like using PHotoshop because i can edit my images in the comfort of my own home, months after i have been to a city, building or place. I always keep the originals though in case someone doesn't like my edits! :ngelaugh: Photography really doesn't force anyone to think though. I mean most of use think of photographs as perfect reproductions of what we see. When in reality, this is not the case. This is why i posted these images here. To simply encourage anyone to really LOOK at their favourite travel pics, and to develop a critical eye, to test the pics and say for sure whether they could be improved in any way. Photography totally enlike sketching and watercolour painting from reality, has taught us all to become a passive participant in the activity of visting places, buildings and spaces. When we learned to clik, clik it often ended just there and we forgot how to see, we just 'looked' in some kind of passive, brainless way.


[ July 01, 2003, 10:13 AM: Message edited by: garethace ]

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Originally posted by garethace:

...Nowadays with digital photography and image editing software, it is up to architects to re-visit photography again and see if it could replace the watercolour brush, sketchbook and pencil for certain situations...

IMHO, I don't see photography as being able to replace the on location sketch. Sure digital photography is a convenient way of recording visual information, but sketching something is more about coming to understand what you see much more intimately, than anything else.


I feel no amount of photoshop manipulation is going to bring you to the same level of intimate understanding of the subject as drawing it as you see it infront of you.

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Good reply, i am very, very sorry myself i didn't do at least one year of art college, or design college of some sort. In order to do what you say, learn how to using drawing to enjoy a really intimate relationship with my subject matter. I really do understand what you mean by your post. I really do worship sites such as www.coroflot.com where alot of young people have posted up there designs, sketches, ideas etc. The portfolios which show the origina ideas in sketch format are possibly the best. When i was in my late teens i had the opportunity to partake in a design course for a year like that, but never did. I stuck more firmly to the traditional architectural design training, and quite frankly there are gaps in it, due to the amount of material students have to negotiate over the 5 years.


However, i still maintain that the practice of digital photography and photo manipulation is a useful one for people using Vray, MAX, Lightscape and so forth. If nothing better it should give them a good understanding of histograms, RGB channels, sharpeness algorithms, composition, camera set-ups etc. An understanding of lighting, reflections, textures, materials and atmosphere. I have just chosen some of 'my best pics'. I have maybe forty or more pics from the same batches of negs which i wouldn't even bother displaying at cg architect forums - but those couple above were interesting compositions, views of development in context. So my photomontage approach with actual cg renders doesn't become too straightforward, predictable and boring. My approach to lighting with rendering a model, doesn't become too restricted 'to what i have always done using a particular renderer'. I feel that we (some of us) as cg artists can get lazy, feel the rendering software doesn't create real light very well. I guess that is the challenge, how to trick people into believing your render was real daylight, and a real building. To learn about natural lighting of a real building, photography can be a good way to do so.


When i am playing around with my travel pics in an image editing software, what i am really doing i suppose is to tweak the lighting controls abit here and there. As if i was operating the rendering dialogue box for a Vray software or something. I don't actually have time/money/jobs to do Vray, but that shouldn't prevent me from sharpening certain skills necessary when it comes to final rendered output. Young people, who just own a cheap digital camera, an inexpensive editing software like Paint shop pro, and any home use pc, can get into this easily. Without having to worry about bills for expensive cg software, and learn plenty without having a copy of MAX, or knowing how to use it.


My question is simply this: How many of us, who do own expensive hardware and software, do spend enough time and effort learning about natural light, buildings and atmosphere from the best teacher of all - the reality all around us. So in a way, my thread called 'Photoshop corrections' is not really about Photoshop at all, but rather about a deeper question to do with Computer graphics in general.


[ July 01, 2003, 01:01 PM: Message edited by: garethace ]

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This photograph was interesting for one reason, i wanted to bring out more the natural warm brick colour of the low rise apartments below beside a canal here in Dublin. WHile the high rise apartments at the rear, need to remain a sort of cool, sharp, higher contrast very dark blue and clean white tone. This demands masking out parts of the image and using the red, blue and green channels to carefully work out the correct balance, to achieve the effect you see in the second picture. I think you will agree the effort was worthwhile, since i now have a much better image to store for eternity!






The image below is rather typical of your compact SLR lense used at its maximum 100 or 120mm lense extension. Because at this extension the distortion of verticals, and lack of focus can become rather pronounced indeed. I think you will agree, that the little time spent on correcting the image was again worth my time and attention. The red brick wall of these apartments reads more like an actual real 'plane of brick masonry' now, than something about to topple over!






[ July 04, 2003, 07:21 AM: Message edited by: garethace ]

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In this photograph pair below, i should have masked out the sky from my selection, and possibly given the road surface a 50% mask too. Because the sky in the the first image is beautiful, where the building in the second image is much improved upon.


Just a quick word of warning btw on monitors and photoshop, in this monitor - a 15 inch Dell flatscreen i use to do most internet browsing, makes all these pictures appear to have a purple tint. Since, there is no colour adjustment whatsoever, on this monitor, only contrast and brightness control i could not use Photoshop properly on it.


(Jeff has a good thread somewhere about how to calibrate a monitor properly too)











[ July 04, 2003, 07:32 AM: Message edited by: garethace ]

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  • 4 months later...

Hi all,


I haven't read all posts, but I notice an extremely important thing that you (garethace) might not be aware about: When correcting perspective, you forget to give extra height to your image... Not doing so will result in scale errors, most noticable in the cars. Check almost all of your images, the relative size of the cars changes a lot... just like they shrink using any non-uniform scale transformation...





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Well, I can assure you looking at it from an architectural design point of view, I always found it staggering looking at my own photography (mostly using a compact 35mm btw) how much 'more' was in the image, if you employed a digital darkroom to re-take the images slightly. It is the difference between having an image like a thousand other bad holiday shots, and having an image that you can still look at in ten years time as part of your visual architectural design digital library. I am concerned with the profusion of digital cameras on the market and cheaper and faster, better digital storage, that people will just throw quality right out of the window in preference to 'filling' drives full of untouched, un-improved very average looking photography.


I don't tend to look at my photography as photography, but rather as images in my digital design library. A good image will still be a good image in ten years, just like a good song etc,etch. Yes it cheating, it may appear rough. But I will certainly watch what you have said is happening to my images. Thanks for the comment Nis.



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