can this underwater photo be saved?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by john_young|12, May 28, 2009.

  1. hi all,
    I took a bunch of photos while snorkeling with an olympus 1050sw. Needless to say, it was much harder than taking photos on land! A lot of my shots came out like the photo I attached. My question is can anyone help me save these shots?? The only editing program I have is Lightroom 2. Hoping someone here can retouch this photo to make it look decent and let me know how I can do it myself.
    I've tried upping the blacks and that helps, but I don't really know what else to do after that.
  2. I am more familiar with Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro so need to generalise a bit. But the same principle applies whatever photo editor you use. I have scuba dived a lot and when I did I owned a Nikonos underwater camera so am familiar with this issues of underwater photography.

    There are a few things to do with every photo - more so with those like this one that have specific problems due to the environment where they were shot. The adjustments are - adjust contrast/ brightness, adjust color and adjust sharpness and noise levels.
    As to color, I would be inclined to do that first as if you can get the photo looking half way decent by adjusting color this will assist when you come to make other adjustments. In this case there is a strong blue cast so you need to use the sliders in your color adjustments to reduce the blue / cyan levels in this photo. You could also tweak the reds up a bit as these tend to get filtered out in sea water. Be a bit cirumspect with yellows. The fish need some yellow as this is their base color but if you tweak this too much up it can make the water an unpleasant urine color (yuk)
    As to contrast and brightness, adjust the global / normal contrast in the photo till it looks stronger as contrast is very suppressed due to the diffused blue lighting and presence of water and particles in the water. Then use the clarity slider to adjust micro contrast till it looks better. That slider is great in any image editor as it helps apparent sharpness as well. If it is too dark after this then adjust brightness to get this looking good. Those three things should help tremendously. Finally use your sharpness and noise sliders.
    You will have a much better looking photo after this - how good depends on your judgment. Experiment but try smaller adjustments first. Remember the basic issues in this photo are the blue cast introduced by water which needs the blues reduced and reds increased plus the loss of contrast due to the diffused lighting and particulate matter in the water.
  3. Afterthought. You may find that after making the above adjustments the tiny particles in the water are more apparent. In Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro there are "noise" filters some of which are designed specifically to remove small imperfections like that. Not sure about LR although the digital camera noise filter may help (Camera noise is different to what I am talking about though. But if you can, I would consider it.
  4. John, I did a little o this, little o that, and got this.
    Auto levels, fade a bit, auto color, fade a bit, heal brush on top white areas, unsharp mask a bit, selective color add a little black to whites, run through neat image, auto contrast, dupe background and blend with softlight, fade a bit, mask top half with quick mask and gradient, auto levels, fade a bit, curves adjustment. I may have gone overboard though
  5. Geez, sorry John, I am an idiot and didn't even read that you're only using LR. I did this in PS. You couldn't really follow my lead in LR. I''ll try it there. OK, I'm back, I can't offer you much for LR, this is the kind of image I would take into PS. Sorry about that.
  6. In lightroom up the blacks and jack up the contrast, maybe increase clarity.
  7. that gives you this, I think it needs more than that
  8. rnd


    Photoshop would be much easier - curves layer, set black point on black stripe and white point on the whitest fin gets you most of the way there. Hard to do in lightroom but here is my attempt. First I warmed it up using white balance then boosted exposure until the histogram was shifted to the right edge. Then boosted black until histogram was a bit past the left edge. Boost contrast, clarity and vibrance then sharpen and noise reduction. Still not enough red, though...
  9. rnd


    Quickly in photoshop with a curve layer to set black and white points, slightly drop the reds and lighten. De-noise and USM.
  10. rnd


  11. I have Lightroom 1.4, but you can try:
    White Balance : Custom
    Incremental Temperature : +19
    Incremental Tint : +45
    Exposure : +0.20
    Shadows : 51
    Brightness : 0
    Contrast : +100
    Saturation : +12
    Sharpness : 30
    Luminance Smoothing : 15
    Color Noise Reduction : 20
    Parametric Shadows : 0
    Parametric Darks : -82
    Parametric Lights : +58
    Parametric Highlights : 0
    Parametric Shadow Split : 25
    Parametric Midtone Split : 50
    Parametric Highlight Split : 75
    Sharpen Radius : +1.0
    Sharpen Detail : 50
    Sharpen Edge Masking : 17
    Tone Curve Name : Linear
  12. Here's a crack at it using only Lightroom 2. Tool screenshot to follow...
  13. Screenshot... note that most of the work was done with the curves tool.
  14. thanks for the detailed responses and examples everyone!
    i'm going to try working on the photo again tonight using all your suggestions. hopefully i can get something that looks like the examples on this thread. i guess there are some things that i just won't be able to improve (like overall sharpness), but it looks like i can get at least a presentable image for showing the family.
  15. A lot of my shots came out like the photo I attached​
    I'm unfamiliar with your camera, but are you zooming out? If so, don't do that.

    For underwater you want to go wide, and get close. As you zoom you have more water to shoot through which gives the above effect.
    I personally don't shoot underwater, but I have a freind who does quite a bit. He doens't go longer than about a 20 f/2.8 lens (on a film camera). This came up in a conversation one night when I asked him why he doesn't use zooms. Makes sense to me anyways.
  16. Here is my version - cropped.
  17. Let's try again.
  18. Sure can! Sharpness is entirely different.
  19. Oops! I also meant to Reduce Noise agressivley and then some USM; here it is:
  20. My shot.
  21. This photo is a classic case of flash reflections caused by particles in the water. Anytime you have the flash in the same direction as the focal viewpoint of the lens you'll get this in underwater photography.
    I suggest another technique such as off camera strobe next time. Ultimately a bad photo is still a bad photo.
  22. Here's my shot at it with Nikon NX2. Other than the autolevels etc.., I brushed in a light blurr on the fishes body leaving the face alone. Then I brushed in noise reduction on the blue background leaving the coral and fish alone.
  23. I'll try loading it again-- addendum : so why is my photos going as attachment if I get them under 700 pixels wide?
  24. Don't forgot two important points here:

    1. You "only have Lightroom 2". If you want to edit an image, that is not what Lightroom is for. Get Photoshop and learn to use it!

    2. Re: Photoshop, anytime you ask a question like this, you're getting to get some good and some bad advice here, as well as a lot of specific stuff that reflects others' preferences, not yours. There is no substitute for learning the fundamentals of Photoshop from thorough books, courses, and videos. Asking around as an alternative will get you in trouble.

    Sorry to sound curmudgeonly, but I think the points are important. Lightroom is great for nouveau professionals who want to automate as much as possible, and, if necessary, spend precious little time editing anything, and collect their paychecks. It was never meant to be a true photo editing program. PS is both the lingua franca and the definitive photo editing program.

    Everything you do to avoid the expense and learning curve of PS is going to hold you back.
  25. If expense is an issue, many of the things Photoshop is used for are possible with GIMP, which is free.
    Once upon a time I wouldn't have gone near it, but nowadays it seems very reasonable.
  26. With the judicious application of a few photoshop settings, such as level, contrast, saturation, and sharpening, you can reveal the subtlety of the underlying image... :) - Dan
  27. I am not sure that I really saved it though... - Dan
  28. but then, from out of nowhere...
  29. Just levels and brightness/contrast adjustment plus a sharpening
  30. I see many excellent presentations above! Here is mine! Just levels and som hue saturation changes! regards/ Janis lukas
  31. [​IMG] Here it comes! regards/ Janis lukas
  32. Opened in Lightroom, made adjustments, and finished out in CS3. Converted to sRGB for webposting.
  33. Hey everyone, thanks again for all the help and advice. i am well aware that this photo was not good to start with (some good tips in here about how to make it better next time). i really didn't expect much since i'm just using a waterproof point-and-shoot (plus the water was not calm and the light was not great). just wanted some 'fun' shots that i could not achieve without risking my DSLR.
    Also, i know that using lightroom alone isn't ideal for editing. just wanted to see what was possible. i can't afford photoshop CS, but i was able to get a copy of paint shop pro 7. i'll play around with this at some point.
    Here is what i came up with combining the tips on this thread using lightroom 2. i think it came out pretty decent considering what i started with. though, no matter what i did, i could not reveal the shark that was hiding in the background!

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