Muted pastel effect

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by jonathan_montague, May 7, 2010.

  1. Hello community :)
    I am trying to recreate an effect i have seen.. particularly here.. usually on flora pics..
    now i am quite experienced with photoshop and have a whole bunch of actions and i also use independant adjustment layers, Curves, Selective colour, levels, desat etc but im having trouble matching these effects. I have one attempt posted here along with other stuff...
    so can anyone out there shed a little more light about the possible detail of adjustment layers that have been used ? or is it just a case of experimenting.. maybe there is some blur put on adjustment layers ? ?
    thanks everyone
  2. Overexpose. Compress the shadow endpoint.
  3. Basically along the lines suggested by Les.
    To show what can be done even with your existing example, here I've opened it in Adobe Camera Raw and tweaked up exposure, shadow detail, warmed it up, and re-served it as quasi hi-tone.
  4. Pull down the top endpoint of the blue curve. This will make the hilights yellowish. Slightly push up the bottom endpoint of the red and green curves. This will make the shadows slightly yellowish. Adjust hue, sat and gamma to taste. Down-rez to 700 px wide and slightly sharpen to get a nice look for the web.
    Unfortunately, I am at work, don't have PS on this machine and don't have much time, so I made the above adjustments in XnView (free) with the "Smart Curve" plugin (also free). It took all of about a minute to do.
    The result is not exactly like the green example you cited, but it will give you an idea what can be easily done.
    Tom M.
  5. You'll note in Catherine MacBride's Flickr profile she indicates she's a former fine art painter. There's a lot of color design either learned or honed from practicing this craft. Those images have been color stylized from this perspective. It's not new, there's tons of images with the same look.
    Quite amazing according to her blog she's only an amateur photographer using a consumer level Canon EOS Rebel XSi, has even published a book of her photography and is degreed in Food Science and has diploma's in Reflexology. Talk about an over achiever. I'm exhausted just reading her bio.
    To help her along the way Catherine may have used image stylizing actions and/or ACR presets anyone can purchase online. It's hard to tell because she's left out the CS3 ACR edits that should've been embedded in the images EXIF data viewed from Flickr's More Properties on that first image. Guess she did everything in Photoshop.
    Along with what Les suggested you could play around with ACR's Color Temp sliders, Split Tone and HSL panel and feel your way around to copying what you see from her images. Each image is going to add its own recipe which is probably why you may be having trouble getting the same results. Your flower image doesn't have a lot of color variation to work with compared to the images in the links the links you provided.
    Here's one of those recipe sites you can get tips on how to get that look:
  6. I see this type of effect used a lot for engagement/weddings and I really like the look of it. This link shows a lot of what I am talking about. Would the photographer of had to touch every photo up to look like that, or do you think it was done in Lightroom where it is a preset filter? He/she is using a vignette in almost every picture as well and if using photoshop would have to be added to every pic. Any help would be appreciated because I am really wanting to try it on some of my photos. This one in particular. [​IMG]
  7. What level of help are you talking about other than finding presets online or playing around with the Lightroom, ACR or any other image editing software. Do you want us to process the image for you and then provide you with our settings?
    If so that wouldn't help because it requires some practice in knowing how to fix the color for other images when the preset "recipe" is botched by each images own color palette.
    I'll submit a preset I came up with applied and HAD TO TWEAK to your image of the bus and wedding couple below. The issue is whatever I come up with may not be to your liking (there are a lot of image artifacts in my attempt) and so the preset isn't useful and even if you did like it you couldn't apply it to other images because you won't KNOW what to tweak because you don't KNOW what each tool is doing to the image. You're better off figuring this out on your own by buying one of those presets you like and deconstructing what they did and try applying it to other images while developing your own understanding of the tools to guide your tweaks.
  8. Tim Lookingbill, I just had to sign up to to say thank you so much for calling me an over achiever and fine art painter! unfortunately neither is true :)
    As for this particular image it was taken on a canon EOS Rebel XSi/450D using off camera flash (using a Flash synchro cable held pretty close to the flower). The original raw file is almost identical to the one I posted to flickr. f4.5, ISO 400, lens sigma 105mm, spot metering, automatic exposure...
    It was adjusted in photoshop cs3 but just the basics, levels, contrasts, and applied a very slight warming filter. I haven't left out any of the details on the exif data if there not there I don't know why and have no idea how to put them in....
    Glad you like the photo enough to try and replicate it, I'm chuffed in a very non-over achiever way :) and if there is anything else you want to know just ask me on flickr, I may or may not know the answer but am happy to tell you what I know.
  9. hi everyone. thank you so much for all your responses. I was expecting that the desired result can only be achieved if you have the colour information present in the particular picture in question and of course this would mean it really is a 'case by case' basis for each picture and will need experimentation with different adjustment layers. I think Les was right..
    "Overexpose. Compress the shadow endpoint." and then some tweaking with selective colour i imagine. i think i need a better subject to start with.
    That TRA site looks like a mine of info so i will get into that. and thank you catherine for your kind comment i will be going through your photostream with great interest.
    thanks all, when i get a pleasing result ill be sure to share again.
    thanks again :)
  10. Catherine, off your Flickr page:
    I enjoy painting (but don't paint as often as I should).​
    I'm assuming you didn't mean house painting with roller and pan. Regardless if it's fine art or fingerpainting, anyone messing around mixing colors with a appreciation toward art is going to develop a second sense about color design and imbue that into their post processing. I do the same thing and I do have a painting background and pretty good understanding and intuition toward color design. I just choose not to imbue my photos with a painterly or recognized image style at least I try not to do that with my edits.
    I can tell you with my own Pentax K100D (a similar consumer level DSLR) I've never gotten Raw images to look as they do on your Flickr site or blog/gallery with just basic levels, contrasts, and a slight warming filter editing in Adobe Camera Raw. Of course I don't use a synchro flash either as you did on that flower which might've had something to do with the cyanish green background with yellowish highlights if white balance was set wrong incamera deliberately when firing the flash and/or ACR color temp was adjusted to enhance this effect or not.
    It looks too stylized to have come straight out of the camera looking as it does without edits influenced by a sense of color design. Lots of folks do basic edits to similar flower shots. There's tons of them online and the majority of amateur photographers don't just accidently come up with images that look like that straight out of the camera. This is a recognized style.
    I've seen a ton of sample flower images similarly composed and exposed off and a host of other camera review sites taken with the same model of camera as yours and not one of them, either by accident or with purpose driven edits, ever looked like your flower image straight out of the camera with just basic edits.
    Can you post a screen shot of the preview of the original flower image viewed with ACR defaults without all of your edits?
  11. To drive my point even further on this subject of expecting to stylize an image by just using a preset, I have to say that if anyone is going to be a photographer doing their own post processing, the very act of changing an image from the default rendering the camera delivers either in front or behind the camera requires a sense of what looks good.
    The definition of "What looks good" is derived from the traditional sense of color design in knowing what one hue next to another hue will make the image pop or look good to THE CREATOR coming up with that particular color combination. It's never obviously evident (maybe only hinted at) in the scene or unedited photo when captured, so the photographer must KNOW and feel it's in the unedited image by fishing around for it while editing OR by having a preconceived image in their head allowing them to know what filter or shooting technique to use that will bring it out during the shoot in front of the camera.
    Even if a photographer creates the look by accidents in front of the camera like intentionally using a slow shutter speed to get headlights to form a streak in a night shot, it's still a form of creativity. That photographer KNOWS what the image will look like.
    This is another way an image creator imbues their own personality and sense of color design. You either have a sense of this or you don't. And if not then why do people constantly ask online for presets to get this look?
    Everyone who views an image at face value without manipulating it KNOWS IF IT LOOKS GOOD TO THEM. It's when they decide to change the look of the image according to their own tastes regardless how big or small the edits is when they imbue that sense of color design and their own personal taste to the image. Art directors do this all the time when they cull through a bunch of stock photography to use in their layouts. Changes they tell the retoucher are derived from the art director's sense of what looks good, NOT THE PHOTOGRAPHER's.
    To sum up a photographer who does their own post processing is acting as art director whether they like it or not regardless if they're good at it or not.
    Johathan and others posting on the same subject are acting as art directors. We can't tell how good they are at it by handing them a preset.
  12. Here's a quick attempt at creating a more muted affect. This was shot this morning. It's by no means a perfect shot as I was using a 90 mm macro lens..handheld - no tripod, manual focus. However, I think it fits well with this discussion. Basically, the image was slightly over exposed and then edited in photoshop CS4: contrast adjustment, selective color saturation (flower), color layer for toning the background a bit ..
  13. Catherine, your original image proves the exact point I was making about using presets. Jonathan would've had to have shot a flower with the same colors and then use his instincts about color AND understanding of image editing tools to arrive at a desired result either copying what he sees or making up his own color treatment.
    In fact no one with any similarly shot image would've known to turn the neutral background a cyan-ish green with buttermilk highlights like Catherine's treatment just by fiddling around with Photoshop's tools. These color sensibilities would've never come to mind unless they saw it in another image and copied it. Regardless of this they would still have to know which editing tool and/or method to use to arrive at the copied result. And they'ld have to know which tool to adjust when it didn't work on the next image.
    I've downloaded several free presets and Photoshop actions online that attempt to give similar results and tried them out and ended up trashing them because they required way too much correcting on my own images in comparison to the great looking demo image they were originally applied. The whole story of the methods involved to get this look in the demo image is never fully revealed by the originator either because they don't or can't fully retrace their steps or they just happen to have an image where that preset worked and they themselves don't understand or realize this is the reason for the great look.
    Catherine, ACR defaults is what the Raw image looks like when first opened in Adobe Camera Raw without any edits. Your posted unedited jpeg was what I was looking for and really helps explain the issue about using presets or copying some particular look.
  14. Agree with Les....
  15. Yes, just do what Les said on every image.
    You're sure to get consistent professional results on every image without a lot of tweaking on a 500+ shot outdoor/indoor wedding event with mixed lighting and all sorts of variables on optics.
    Yes, it's that simple.
    What do I know?! I'm not a professional photographer.
  16. Another overexposed type of image .. this is fun .. (Catherine you already know I love yours the best ! ..)
  17. Here's one of my overexposed flower images shot in Raw using my Pentax K100D's AWB and previewed in ACR. The bottom is using Les's simple compression of the shadows by setting ACR's Black slider to 50.
    Now what do I do? It doesn't seem to look as good or match Catherine's or Sarah's treatment of their own flower shots.
    This is a rhetorical statement to demonstrate a point I'm making about this subject, so it's not necessary to give me instructions on what you'ld do.
    People who show these kinds of manipulated images on the web are NOT TELLING THE WHOLE STORY!
  18. Clearly my image is manipulated .. but it is done so photographically as well as through post processing. I hope I wasn't giving the impression this was simply as such out of the camera - Not. I did overexpose the background which was shot on a light neutral gray stone at a garden center I visited last weekend. The flower was hanging over the edge. If I had had green foliage to work with as in your image, this would have been more difficult and very time consuming.
    Post processing .. lifted the background color more to almost white .. played around with the contrast and color of the flower selectively, and then applied a texture which added some depth. I hope that clarifies ..
  19. Sarah, it really isn't necessary to clarify your processing technique.
    I'm just saying offering a one size fits all approach and expecting to get the same results on every image is not being realistic.
    An understanding of what each image editing tool does to an image and a good sense of which tool to use in arriving at the desired result is the only solution and that requires quite a bit of practicing on a wide range of different images. This will at least prepare the photographer to know what to do when applying a preset, action or tutorial when the results don't come out as expected.

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