7 Replies Latest reply on Oct 5, 2014 5:47 PM by Jao vdL

    help: after edits, content of one part of image affecting tones in other area of photo

    cgtway Level 1

      Hi All,

       

      This is a complicated one, and it's really throwing me off. I really hope somebody can help.

       

      I am editing hundreds of images (a time-lapse movie of a river) and once in a while a boat comes through the scene. When it takes up a certain proportion of the scene (about 1/10), the lighter tones in the image (mostly the sky) alter and become brighter. When the boat leaves the scene, those tones return to what they should be. All edits are exactly the same from frame to frame, it's only when a boat comes into shot that there is an issue with unwanted alteration of tones. Edits include: all of the Basic sliders, the Tone curve, HSL for several hues, as well as added graduate filters and radial filters.


      I not totally sure, but I think that when a boat comes into scene, other parameters alter as well (e.g. I think maybe clarity, but I've been focussing on the more easily seen changes in tonality). No numbers change though.

       

      When there are zero edits, then a boat coming into shot has no effect on the brighter tones of the image (the sky). From what I can tell, if I edit anything that affects the tone of the sky (e.g. global brightness, or graduated filter, or global clarity), then a boat coming into shot causes the brighter tones of the sky to become brighter, even though no numerical parameters alter. I've duplicated the issue using the same set of frames with single global edits, and with just graduated filters. I had thought it was an issue with global edits, with perhaps a parameter being calculated on the fly for every single image, but I did a test with just a graduated filter as well. It was set to not come near where the boat is in the shot, its just covered the sky, and the problem still occurred.


      One very interesting observation: If I clone or heal out the boat using the Spot Removal tool in any of the problem frames, the lighter tones then go back to what they should be. When I delete the clone, the tones go out of whack again. If I alter the opacity of the clone hiding the boat, the tones go out of whack proportionately.

       

      I'm editing in Lightroom 5, on a Mac running OSX 10.9.5, and the photos in question are raw files shot on a Nikon D3S (locked in place, movement of the camera is not a factor). As it's a movie, any sudden change of tonality is really obvious: the movie seems to unacceptably flicker. It's essential that I have the control necessary to ensure a smooth progression from frame to frame, and I would have thought that keeping all editing parameters the same would be all I need.

       

      This really bites. I'm only getting into these time-lapse movies, I usually only shoot stills, and I've never noticed an issue like this when editing in LR or ACR in the past (note: the problem persisted when I tested via Bridge and ACR). fyi: I'm a very experienced editor, been using LR since version 1.x, and editing in photoshop since version 3 (not CS3, but version 3, quite a while ago!). Never been this frustrated.

       

      This is a very weird issue, and is causing me to spend hours of extra work to fix (mostly using the Adjustment Brush, and it's very difficult to exactly match what the tones should look like).

       

      Thanks in advance for any help, I really need it.

       

      Chas

       

      ps. I'm happy to put up a set of example raw files from this series on Dropbox, if anybody wants to try to duplicate the problem.

        • 1. Re: help: after edits, content of one part of image affecting tones in other area of photo
          Jao vdL Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          In timelapse videos such as this you should avoid using any of the HDR-like adjustments. Those are shadows, highlights, whites, blacks and Clarity. These effects will affect different parts of the image depending on the overall brightness of the image. Lightroom does a global analysis to create on-the-fly masks that affect where the sliders affect the image. Probably when a boat comes into the image, the overall brightness goes down and Lightroom puts the balance where highlights affects the image at a different point, making the effect of the slider stronger. You should maybe try to only use the tone curve on these images and use the graduated filter only with exposure adjustment (i.e. no clarity, shadows, or highlights slider adjustments).

          • 2. Re: Re: help: after edits, content of one part of image affecting tones in other area of photo
            cgtway Level 1

            Hi Jao, thanks very much for your informative reply.

             

            This is terrible news! Built-in non-linearity of editing parameters, while I'm sure appreciated (or not even noticed) by a large segment of the LR-using population, is almost a project-killer in this case. Luckily, I've come up with a workaround, which I detail below.

             

            As someone who came to LR after many years of Photoshop experience, I'm used to pixel-level control over my edits. My fault for assuming that LR worked the same way (albeit in a bit of a "fuzzy" manner), though I don't remember ever reading that it behaved this way. This does explain some issues I've had over the years, when shooting and editing for composites and not getting the matching edits that I expected.

             

            Forgive me for asking, especially as I see how long you've been contributing to these fora (and what your score is), but I need to know: is this a definitive answer? Well-meaning, but inaccurate, speculation in this case could lead to a lot of extra work hours for me down the road.

             

            Just in case anybody else has had this problem, and has found this post after a search, I'll detail a Lightroom and Photoshop-based workaround below (it's a multi-step pain in the rear, but it'll work, if applied carefully):

             

            1) In LR, select entire sequence and apply an over-the-top edit that'll reveal the issue at hand (non-linear edits applied "for you" by Lightroom).

                -I'm thinking that 50-100% global Clarity will work well, but I need to experiment to find what'll be best

                -this edit will be removed, it's only here to reveal any undesired non-linear edits created by LR

            2) Find any problem frames by quickly creating a little movie from the entire sequence (my Mac is a bit old, and so isn't fast enough to render previews quickly enough to simulate a movie in the Library by merely zipping through photos in a cover-flow manner. If yours is, you can skip this step, and know that I am envious).

                -to create your movie, I recommend creating jpegs at some reasonably small size, e.g. 640x480 (remember: the huge edit from step 1 is still applied). The application "Time-Lapse", from Microprojects, is a great tool for creating a movie from your jpegs.

                -you can then play the movie and quickly see where any problem frames are (they'll show up as quick "blinks" of obviously different frames during the movie).

            3) Note which are your problem frames, and find them in Lightroom.

            4) Select your problem frames in Lightroom, and create Virtual Copies of each.

            5) Label the Master Photos and the Virtual copies so you can find them later

                -I tend to use a red flag for files that need attention, but stars, other flags and keywords will work too (though keywords aren't as easy to sort for as are flags, stars and labels).

            6) Remove the over-the-top edit from step 1 from the entire sequence (including Virtual Copies)

            7) Edit the entire sequence (including Virtual Copies) as desired. All tools are fair game

            8) Sort for your problem frames and their Virtual Copies.

            9) For each Virtual Copy, use the Spot Removal tool to roughly clone/heal out the area of the image that is causing the problem (if you've read the entire thread, you'll know that my problem was caused by a boat that was in frame).

                -this should remove any unwanted non-linear edits done automatically by Lightroom (in my case, it's a sky that was "balanced" by Lightroom and became much lighter than previous frames)

            10) Choose a pair to work on, and open them in Photoshop as Layers (select both, right-click on them, choose "Edit in", and then choose "Open as Layers in Photoshop...")

                -they'll open nicely in Photoshop, aligned and ready to composite together.

            11) Using layer masks, hide the undesired non-linear edits (easy for me, I'll be using a simple black-to-white gradient to hide the problem areas in the sky)

            12) Save the file, and go back to Lightroom.

            13) In Lightroom, hide the original Master Photo and its Virtual Copy. All that will be left of that frame is your edited copy, and it should fit perfectly into the sequence.

            13) You can now render your full-sized movie


            See, only 13 steps to solve a problem that shouldn't exist. Easy!


            Cheers!


            Chas

            • 3. Re: Re: help: after edits, content of one part of image affecting tones in other area of photo
              Jao vdL Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              The new sliders are all based on HDR techniques which you can describe in Photoshop language as automatically masked adjustments based on the image content. I am not an insider by any means but know this from some of the Adobe engineers. I have used Lightroom since the very first betas and have seen the progression of the engine. You can also see this from how the sliders affect your images and that sliders usually globally affect images. There are not many linear adjustments in the old-fashioned sense left. It is really only exposure and the tone curve. This is not a problem for still images but is definitely a problem for time lapses indeed. I know this because I did run into the same problem and indeed it is hard to work around if you do need extensive edits such as clarity or shadows/highlights. That is in addition to the natural flickering you get anyway from the aperture not being perfectly reproducible every shot. What I do now is use a script I found online that analyses a folder of exported images from Lightroom and equalizes the toning over most of the image. It's called "timelapse-deflicker.pl" from here: timelapse/timelapse-deflicker.pl at master · rambo/timelapse · GitHub which works great but has a very steep learning curve. I then take that output and turn it into time lapses in Photoshop (simple example: Bisti Badlands - De-Na-Zin Wilderness - lagemaatphoto ). There is also a commercial product that does this available from here: LRTimelapse - advanced Time Lapse Photography made easy! It supposedly does the deflickering for you but I have no experience with it. Apparently it will allow you to set a key area or areas in the frame that it will keep at constant brightness.

              • 4. Re: help: after edits, content of one part of image affecting tones in other area of photo
                Bob Somrak Level 5

                You could try using PV 2010 which is less "ADAPTIVE" and may not mess up the tonal properties between photos as much.  Not a great solution but it might work.

                • 5. Re: Re: help: after edits, content of one part of image affecting tones in other area of photo
                  cgtway Level 1

                  Hi again Jao,

                   

                  Great info thanks (translating into "photoshop-speak" is very helpful :-)

                   

                  I lament the loss of linear/non-adaptive edits, but only when I'm editing time-lapses (when editing stills, I've been quite pleased with the results of the new engine, not knowing that adaptivity was the new order of the day).

                   

                  Interestingly enough, I am already using LRTimelapse (what a clever program it is, can't recommend it highly enough, especially if you are doing day-to-night time lapses, as I am). It was while in the middle of the LRT workflow that I encountered the problem that this thread is all about.

                   

                  That's really stellar work you've done, I'm genuinely jealous! (I'm just an urban stock time-lapse photographer, at the moment, technically challenging, but pretty pedestrian). What was illuminating the rocks in the Bisti Badlands shot? I noticed that the light didn't move, that's pretty convenient :-)

                   

                  My very first time-lapse suffered from flicker, my fault for setting the aperture to f/16 (no need for it, just had it there from an earlier shoot). Gunther, the author of LRTimelapse, gives very good advice on shooting techniques to avoid flicker, and I took it a bit further with the lens I'm using. It's a Nikon 28-70 f/2.8, a little old, but it has one big advantage: it has an aperture ring. Setting the aperture to a somewhat wide value (I'm using f/5.6 for urban scenes) via the physical aperture ring (not the command dial on the camera), minimises the chance of flicker because of a combo of the wide aperture (small variations in the closing of the aperture aren't as significant to the overall exposure as would those variations be at a smaller aperture like f/16), and the physical pin in the aperture ring that stops the aperture at just the right spot. This is vs. the normal electronic control, where the aperture is stopped at, approximately, the right place by the camera just stopping the movement of the aperture blades. Hope that makes sense! If you're curious, I started a discussion on this very topic at DPReview. There are some excellent suggestions in this discussion, it's where I learned that using the aperture ring to set aperture was the way to go (at last, justification for keeping this old lens and not upgrading! :-)

                   

                  Cheers!

                   

                  Chas

                  • 6. Re: Re: help: after edits, content of one part of image affecting tones in other area of photo
                    cgtway Level 1

                    Hi Bob, thanks for the excellent suggestion (got it at just about the same time in this thread at DPReview, great minds :-)

                     

                    While I eagerly agreed with that suggestion, how to downgrade process versions was something I'd never done before, so I had to search around for the answer (how embarrassing!). For anyone searching on this topic, the drop down menu you need is in the Develop module, under Camera Calibration.

                     

                    Cheers!

                     

                    Chas

                    • 7. Re: Re: help: after edits, content of one part of image affecting tones in other area of photo
                      Jao vdL Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      Interestingly enough, I am already using LRTimelapse (what a clever program it is, can't recommend it highly enough, especially if you are doing day-to-night time lapses, as I am). It was while in the middle of the LRT workflow that I encountered the problem that this thread is all about.

                      Thanks for the recommendation. I will try it out I think. I don't do a lot of time lapses but it is fun when I do.

                       

                      That's really stellar work you've done, I'm genuinely jealous! (I'm just an urban stock time-lapse photographer, at the moment, technically challenging, but pretty pedestrian). What was illuminating the rocks in the Bisti Badlands shot? I noticed that the light didn't move, that's pretty convenient :-)

                       

                      Thanks. The rocks were illuminated by moon light coming from the left behind the camera. The light did move which you can see if you look closely as you'll see the shadows move. This shot took an enormous amount of editing in Photoshop to get the assembled star trails image as I had to clone many hot pixels and airplane contrails. Was hours of work. The time-lapse was actually quite simple to do. The camera move is not real and just a pan and zoom defined in Photoshop.

                       

                      My very first time-lapse suffered from flicker, my fault for setting the aperture to f/16 (no need for it, just had it there from an earlier shoot). Gunther, the author of LRTimelapse, gives very good advice on shooting techniques to avoid flicker, and I took it a bit further with the lens I'm using. It's a Nikon 28-70 f/2.8, a little old, but it has one big advantage: it has an aperture ring. Setting the aperture to a somewhat wide value (I'm using f/5.6 for urban scenes) via the physical aperture ring (not the command dial on the camera), minimises the chance of flicker because of a combo of the wide aperture (small variations in the closing of the aperture aren't as significant to the overall exposure as would those variations be at a smaller aperture like f/16), and the physical pin in the aperture ring that stops the aperture at just the right spot. This is vs. the normal electronic control, where the aperture is stopped at, approximately, the right place by the camera just stopping the movement of the aperture blades. Hope that makes sense! If you're curious, I started a discussion on this very topic at DPReview. There are some excellent suggestions in this discussion, it's where I learned that using the aperture ring to set aperture was the way to go (at last, justification for keeping this old lens and not upgrading! :-)

                       

                      Good advice. Indeed lenses with physical aperture control are the way to go to avoid flicker.