Leopard and impala in a tree: One of the most awkward fakes I have seen.

natgeo-leopard1

For many of us National Geographic was always a canon of authentic and high-quality wildlife and nature photography. Therefore I simply cannot believe that this picture was a planned fake. However, many viewers seem to have perceived it as an original shot, in the wild, and I noticed intensive discussions on Facebook where people were arguing that it is a wild leopard with a prey, despite so many obvious discrepancies – in lighting, composition, focus… So this publication by the Dutch edition of NatGeo Junior effectively became a fake although it might not be the intention of the editors.

Here is it:

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Source: National Geographic Junior Netherlands - http://www.natgeojunior.nl/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Spread-Hotspot.jpg

An even more embarrassing fact is that neither of the animals in the picture are alive – contrary to the caption in the NatGeo publication which telling that only the “springbok” is dead. Both animals are in fact stuffed and shown in Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. On the photo in this trip advertising even the perspective is almost the same:

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Source: TripAdvisor - media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/05/de/90/71/smithsonian-national.jpg

(By the way, “springbok”: The prey showed in this taxidermy is an impala. Another shameful error of the famous nature exploration magazine.)

And here we find the original photo – on Shutterstock! An incredible awkwardness for National Geographic! Royalty-free stock photo ID: 764999929…

Screen Shot 2018-07-11 at 14.10.21.png

Source: Shutterstock - http://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/leopard-panthera-pardus-his-prey-antelope-764999929

The full title of this “masterpiece” is: “Leopard (Panthera pardus) with his prey antelope on a tree in Serengeti National Park on night sky background with the moon. Africa”. Now I am getting really sarcastic, so please forgive me… Despite the absolutely awful Photoshop skills, the author deserves my compliments – for having revealed the weakness of National Geographic editing workflow. Well done, Artem Avetisyan! Bravo!

Here are two more photos by the Master – just in case National Geographic would need a picture of giraffe (flying over European meadow with African landscape at the horizon) and of a “banteng” (in fact, an Ugandan Ancole bull – hovering over a way in European beech forest):

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(Are the other wildlife photographs that National Geographic publishes still true?)

 

WACOM Cintiq Companion Hybrid: A review

About ten years ago I stopped using computer mice. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I have never touched them since then; there is still always a mouse when I have to use someone else’s computer, but no mice are connected to any of my own computers. Instead I prefer to use trackballs and pens. The mouse was a great invention in the history of information technology that determined the development of human-machine interface over many decades when users were operating the computers through manipulation of visual metaphors – “windows”, “handles”, “buttons”, etc. Meanwhile the technology made huge steps forward. Operating computers with metaphors proved as efficient and is remaining, but the manipulation devices have evolved. Mice are still popular and adequate for the majority of use cases when typical operation system functions and applications, such as office software, have to be controlled. But now more sophisticated devices exist that better satisfy the needs of visual artists and photographers. Graphic tablets have belonged to them for over a decade. Pen displays are the next generation of such devices that is becoming increasingly popular. This review deals with one of them that I now constantly use in my digital graphics and image processing work.

Currently Wacom is worldwide “the pen tablet manufacturer”. In Japan this company delivers over 95% of pen tablets. Wacom’s market share worldwide is over 70%. After the patent for the electromagnetic resonance technology used in Wacom pens expired, some Chinese competitors emerged who are now offering much cheaper alternatives to Wacom tablets. Since I haven’t tried any of them, I don’t want to criticise anything here. One thing is sure, anyway: While such companies may be already offering quite useable tablets, they have no display products similar to Cintiq line of Wacom in functionality and quality. Of course, I would also expect from Wacom products better quality and compatibility with operating systems and software products of Adobe, Corel, Autodesk and others. Having used Intuos tablets for many years I still consider their relatively high cost justified. A price tag of 200-400€ may appear quite high but should be still affordable, considering the supreme quality of the professional product.

I got my first pen tablet long time ago – in the mid 1990s. It was made by Genius – a popular manufacturer of computer mice. The pen was attached to it via a cable and was almost useless, because natural feeling of working with a real pen wasn’t provided. Many years later, after I had used more advanced pens and tablets, I realised what was the reason: The Genius pen was neither pressure nor tilt sensitive. Pens and pen tablets have been so and available already for two decades. Modern graphic tablets of Wacom detect up to 2048 levels of pressure and 60 levels of tilt. My first professional grade tablet which was Wacom Intuos 2 back in 2003 was capable to recognise 1024 pressure levels. The next two tablets I owned – of the type Intuos 3 – had the same capabilities. It may appear a lot, and I was thinking so too, but after that the pressure sensitiveness has doubled, and with Cintiq I got a device that has it, I realised the huge improvement. Higher pressure and tilt sensitivity and other improved features were my reasons for an upgrade of the Intuos 3 that was using till recently. First I was thinking more about replacing it with a newer version of Intuos. The new Wacom Intuos tablets offer not only better pressure and tilt sensitivity but also are touch sensitive and can act as touch pads, thus allowing scrolling, zooming and panning of the image you are working on in a graphic editor. A Cintiq was also an option I was considering, but a better 24 inch HD version was just very expensive while I was regarding smaller versions with lower resolution as not adequate for my long-term needs. Then Cintiq Companion appeared and made me reconsider my plans. When I got a chance to try it out at this year’s Photokina in Cologne, I changed my mind in favour of Cintiq.

Cintiq Companian Hybrid (official image from Wacom Europe)

Cintiq Companion Hybrid – official product image by Wacom Europe.

Touch screen displays were another advancement of pen tablet technology. Cintiq is the premium product line of Wacom intended for digital art professionals that currently has no competitors worldwide. It is priced also accordingly, i.e. much higher than of other Wacom products and probably out of reach for many non-professional users. Modern Cintiq devices are high resolution displays with capability of touch screens that are also drawing surfaces for a pen. The 24 inch top model costs over 2000€ while the smallest, 13 inch model is priced at around 850€, i.e. is more affordable but, considering the small size, has still a very high cost per square inch compared with high-end monitors.

This year Wacom has released a new type of Cintiq devices, called “Companion”, with two models – “Companion” and “Companion Hybrid”. It was company’s response to the growing demand for portable pen displays. Since Cintiq Companion, to fulfill its tasks, has to combine an input device with a computer, Wacom has entered the computer market with this product. Certainly, this is a step that may be regarded with a grain of skepticism, but, for technical reasons, it was unavoidable. So far it also looks promising because Wacom managed to bring to quite unique products to this now highly competed market of portable computers and tablets. Of course, the Companion devices are probably the most high priced tablets – more expensive than even the newest Apple iPad models. Wacom explains this by higher production cost due to specialisation of Cintiq devices for graphic professionals. If so, i.e. if the Cintiq Companion would remain a specialised device and not intended for mass consumers, then the higher price level is, of course, justified.

So what Cintiq Companion actually does and what was my reason to choose it, more precisely the “Hybrid” version? As the name “Cintiq” suggests, it belongs to pen display product line of Wacom and follows the same concept as the desktop models. In fact, it looks and functions very similarly to the 13 inch Cintiq that has existed already for awhile. The main difference is the portability: While other Cintiq devices, just like any computer displays, have to be always connected to a computer, the Companion can be used as a standalone computer. Actually, the non-hybrid is not a display anymore, but only a portable computer with a touchscreen driven by Microsoft Windows operating system. Ironically it is much more expensive than the “Companion Hybrid” which combines both functions – of a display and of a mobile computer. Since I rarely need portability and since all my computers are Macs, the non-hybrid version wasn’t an option for me at all. When Cintiq Companion Hybrid is connected to a Mac, it acts as a screen for it, and you can use all Mac OS features and software normally. When it is disconnected, it functions just like any tablet computer with Android OS, but has an extended pen support, so you can draw on it. Of course, the graphic software for Android isn’t as powerful as for Windows or Mac OS. Therefore, it can’t be used for serious work, but more for sketching and notes on the way, or for presentations. The non-hybrid version of Cintiq Companion is, of course, a full-featured Windows system where you can have all your normal creative workflow. This may appear as advantage to someone at first, but a closer look reveals big deficits. Windows was always known for its high demand for processor speed and system memory. This applies to graphic software of Adobe even more. Since all this needs much more computing power than the hybrid counterpart, Cintiq Companion is much more expensive but at the same time not so flexible. Even for someone who doesn’t need to run Mac OS on it, the biggest problem remains: It is hardware that becomes outdated every couple of years due to rapid progress in personal computer systems and development of even more “resource-hungry” software. Every computer user knows that urge of modernisation. In desktop systems the problem can be solved to a certain extent through upgrade of components. In portable computers this is somewhat compensated by currently very low prices that allow you to replace the whole computer by a new one as soon as it becomes too slow. Both doesn’t work with Cintiq Companion where you pay 2000 euros for a portable computer that will be outdated in two or three years, and that you won’t be able to upgrade. So, even if you don’t need a Macintosh system, this is a strong reason to choose Cintiq Companion Hybrid.

Cintiq Companion Hybrid when it is used as pen display with a desktop computer can be compared with non-mobile 13″ HD Cintiq. Indeed, it looks almost identical, and the 30% price difference is a good reason for thoughts in favour of non-mobile version. However, there is another advantage of Companion Hybrid that may justify the choice of it: Its screen is touch sensitive. Ability to move the image just with your free hand while you are drawing or retouching, to zoom in and out by a simple gesture is nice to have because it makes your work easier and quicker.

Cintiq Companion Hybrid on my desk in front of an Apple Cinema HD 23

Cintiq Companion Hybrid on my desk in front of an Apple Cinema HD 23″ display.

As you see in the picture above, the Cintiq Companion Hybrid occupies very little space and fits nicely in front of the main screen of my computer so that I can comfortably use both. Of course, not enough space for the keyboard remains, and I had to remove the full-sized keyboard that I was using previously and replace it with a much smaller bluetooth keyboard that has no numeric block.

The small footprint has also its drawbacks. The screen is only 29 x 17 cm in size but has a resolution of 5080 lpi and 10:9 ratio, i.e. 1920 x 1080 pixel. All controls in the software that you are using – scrollbars, buttons, icons, menus, etc. – look tiny on it and therefore often hard to use. A 24″ Cintiq would be better in that sense but unfortunately much more bulky. To operate the system and the programs I still use trackball that provides a normal mouse-like cursor that is more precise than a finger but at the same time not so fine and better visible as the pen.

For use on a desk, Cintiq Companion Hybrid is supplied with a separate foot, or holder. It attaches to the rear side of the tablet and holds it very firmly. The angle of tilt is adjustable in three positions. I have chosen the middle one, and find it very comfortable. When the tablet is standing like this, it feels rock solid.

Overall Cintiq Companion Hybrid has a very solid construction. Unlike in Intuos tablets I previously owned, its enclosure appears to be made mainly of metal. Compared to any of now popular tablets, it is large and heavy. A fan of iPad of Samsung Galaxy would certainly dislike that. But don’t forget: We have a specialised professional device here – not an all-purpose entertainment gadget. Of course, large size and heavy weight are reasons why I wouldn’t use it for mobile work without strong need.

Also unlike in majority of modern consumer devices, the screen of Companion Hybrid has matt finishing that has two roles: It provides friction needed for drawing with the pen and reduces reflection of the ambient light. Again, users of iPads and Android tablets may criticise the reduction of contrast and of colour brilliance caused by this. Indeed everything looks less crisp and the colours aren’t as intensive as on screens of commonly used mobile tablets. However, for graphic work non-reflecting screens are simply a must.

The screen of Cintiq Companion Hybrid is very good. It has contrast ratio 700:1, lightness of 210 cd/m2 and covers 75% of Adobe RGB gamut. It can be calibrated also not as easy and reliably as a normal desktop display. Also separate controls of brightness and contrast create a problem when lightness needs to be set to a certain value required for calibration. When I was calibrating my Cintiq Companion Hybrid with Spyder 4 PRO, I set brightness to 65 and contrast to 75 – the values that appeared to me reasonable. I calibrated it with 6500K temperature and 2.1 gamma, and it looks okay.

To be used as pen display Cintiq Companion Hybrid has to be connected with a cable to a Mac or PC. Unfortunately, the computer has to provide a HDMI port, that no Macintosh computer except the newest Mac Pro has. Obviously, to use Cintiq as second display you need either a dedicated HDMI port or second display port in your computer. Since my Mac Pro was built in 2009, it has no HDMI. Fortunately there is a quick and easy solution for this problem – a HDMI-to-DVI adapter that I got in a nearby electronics shop. Portable Macs, nowadays have only mini display ports – one, like in my Macbook Air, or two – like in Macbook Pro. To use Cintiq Companion Hybrid with them, you need also an adapter that is also very easy to purchase.

Like almost always with newly released hardware, there are issues with drivers and support by already existing software. Adobe CC programmes – Photoshop and Illustrator – work generally well with Cintiq Companion Hybrid. The only issue that I experience and that I haven’t yet found a solution for is recognition of one-finger touch that in Photoshop and Illustrator activates the tool that is currently selected. If, for instance, it is brush, a simple touch of the screen will leave a line or spot in the image you have currently opened thus spoiling your work. If eraser was active, something will be erased, and so on. Sometimes this drives me mad! I want to block one finger gestures, but can find a way for it neither in current Wacom driver nor in the programmes. Fortunately it is possible in Corel Painter, the programme that I use with Cintiq Companion Hybrid the most. Corel has made own support of Wacom pens in this programme. When it is active, one-finger touches on the drawing surface aren’t recognised. This is a very good news, but unfortunately there is also a bad one: The support of two-finger gestures needed for zooming and panning in Corel Painter appears to be still extremely buggy.

Cleaning the Background

Usually I don’t like wildlife images with a subject on an absolutely “creamy” background unless this effect was obtained in a natural way — with a lens and not through postprocessing. When the background isn’t detracting from the subject, I rather prefer that the objects in it, such as vegetation, soil, or rocks, are blurred but still a little recognisable than when it is looking just like a homogenous colour backdrop. In certain cases, however, I agree that the background has to be tweaked after the shot. More often it is necessary in the images of small subjects created with use of a macro lens. Since narrow aperture and consequently greater depth-of-field are typically required in macro photography, the not very distant objects in the background may appear in the image not blurred enough. Such photographs are then criticised as having a disturbing, “busy”, background — when the separation of the main subject isn’t sufficiently provided.

Macro photographers often use artificial backdrops — prints or colour paper — that they put behind the subject before making the shot. Obviously, this is possible only with static or slow-moving and not shy subjects, such as flowers or caterpillars. In most other situations the background can’t be controlled that well, and the photographer is confronted with a dilemma — to leave it as is, or to improve it in a graphic editing software. Sometimes the background looks so “dirty” that there is no other choice than to work on it in Photoshop. In my photography practice this need usually arises when I have photographed and underwater subject with a macro lens.

I use a small water tank that I built extra for this purpose from acrylic glass. Since I currently have only one such tank, it is quite wide, so that I can put also larger fishes and amphibians in it. For small animals, there is too much space, and this causes two problems. First, it is difficult to compose an image because the animal has too much freedom to move along the front glass and quickly leaves the view field of the lens. Second, the subject tends to swim away from the front glass thus leaving the area in focus. To solve these problems, I use dividers which are also made of acrylic glass. One of them limits the distance from the front glass and is made non-reflective — to absorb flash bursts.

When I photograph water animals in this tank, I fill it with clear water. Nonetheless, swimming dust and dirt particles can’t be avoided completely: Even when the water was absolutely clean they emerge as soon as the animal and the decoration objects are there. These particles appear in the photographs due to magnification by the macro lens. Air bulbs are a much worse problem: When the water was fresh and cold, they remain there for hours and appear in the photographs. When they are out of focus, it is even worse because they look like snow flakes. All this you can see in the picture below.

Of course, as in so many images captured with macro lenses, the background in this one looks very homogenous, and the foreground appears as if sticked on it. However, there is nothing wrong because the same effect can be observed in macro photographs that didn’t undergo the post-processing described in this article, i.e. that remained as shot.  Also, with this photograph of the newt, if we compare the original with the result, we would recognise that in the original the foreground was also looking “sticked”. The only difference was that the background was extremely messy. In the process described in this article I solved this issue, and, as you see below, the result was worth the efforts.

 

Read the complete article Cleaning the Background.

Menus appear blank in Photoshop in Mac OS 10.9. (Update)

This  is an update of my yesterday’s post Rendering faults of Photoshop CC widgets in Mac OS 10.9.

This problem occurs when you use Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop for awhile. Even long use of only one of them doesn’t result in rendering errors of menus. Only after both tools have been exchanged a couple of times, all drop down and pop-up menus start to look blank at some moment. (See example below)

Image

It appeared first that an update of Wacom driver to the newest version 6.3.7-3 had a positive effect. Anyway I had an impression that the errors came not so soon and even thought that the issue was healed.

Rendering faults of Photoshop CC widgets in Mac OS 10.9.

On October 22 the new version of Apple’s operating system was released. As probably the majority of Mac users, I updated all my computers with this new OS release 10.9. (a.k.a. Mavericks) on the same day. Although this brought some new nice features and performance improvements, I now have to live with some bugs and incompatibilities in the software that I use and hope that they will be solved in future updates.
One of such particularly annoying bugs are vanishing menu contents in Photoshop CC. (Maybe it happens also in other versions of Adobe Photoshop but I currently have only CC.) Below you see two screenshots that show the problem: pop-up windows and panels in Photoshop aren’t rendered properly, i.e. appear white when opened.

Zoom menu and history panel in Photoshop CC under Mac OS 10.9.

Zoom menu and history panel in Photoshop CC under Mac OS 10.9.

Save menu and history panel in Photoshop CC under Mac OS 10.9.

Save menu and history panel in Photoshop CC under Mac OS 10.9.

This happens after some time when Photoshop was running. Then only restart of the programme helps to restore them, but not for long. Soon it happens again.

See updates about this issue in the next posts.

Maximum operating altitude of Macbook Air may be too low

Today I noticed this in technical specifications of Macbook Air:

Macbook Air Operating Requirements

Macbook Air Operating Requirements (from Apple UK)


Having used it already at altitudes around 4000 meters without any problems I am now wondering what could have happened. In discussions that I could find in the Internet some people are assuming that it has something to do with cooling. Indeed, when I was using my Macbook Air 11″ in Pamir this summer it was getting warm quicker than at home but I didn’t pay attention to it. Maybe it was a general low temperature at this altitude that prevented my computer from damage. If so, than Apple’s warning about operating altitude isn’t so dramatic at all because the temperatures at such altitudes are usually quite low, or a least cold wind is blowing all the time.

If as low as 3000 m has to be taken seriously, then how do people who live in cities situated above this altitude use computers, or they don’t at all? Or we shouldn’t pay attention to this figure and just use our computers in the mountains? Anyway this is what we have all our portable equipment for – to use it when we travel.

Black Image Export Bug in Capture One 7.1

Since the update of Capture One 7 to 7.1. a couple of months ago, another quite annoying bug emerged in this software: When a file with an image is exported as TIFF for additional processing and Photoshop opens it, what you see is only a completely black surface.

Since version 10.6. (Snow Leopard) Mac OS X includes Open Computing Language (OpenCL) – a programming framework that facilitates access of applications to graphic processing hardware. In the developers of Capture One made use of it. This had to be one of improvements of the version 7 compared to Capture One 6. The use of hardware acceleration via OpenCL is supposed to improve the processing speed of images on Macintosh platform. Unfortunately, this seemed not to work in my combination of Capture One 7.1 and Mac OS 10.8. Some other CO users also reported this problem.

I hadn’t updated my installation to 7.1.1 yet, so I don’t know if this bug was fixed. Since I don’t see it mentioned in bug fixes list, I assume that it wasn’t yet. In my current Capture One 7.1 installation I use the workaround showed in the following screenshot:

Turn off hardware acceleration for processing.

Turn off hardware acceleration for processing.

Open the Preferences of Capture One. On the first page General, select Never in the drop-down list for Processing in Hardware Acceleration (Use OpenCL for). This means that hardware acceleration wouldn’t be provided after that anymore. However, I don’t notice any improvement in the progress of file export when it is turned on.

Capture One vs. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: White Balance

This is an excerpt of a larger article. The complete text is available here: http://www.nature-images.eu/contents/articles/c1-vs-lightroom-wb/index.html

White Balance Set To Daylight

Since the colour temperature of daylight varies very much, it seems logical that Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (or more precisely Adobe Camera Raw that underlies it) and Capture One may have different default Kelvin settings in daylight mode than Canon. This happens indeed: While the “Daylight” preset in Lightroom has the colour temperature of 5500K, i.e. that of normal daylight, and tint set to +10, in Capture One, these are 5305K and +2.6.

The higher the Kelvin value, the “warmer” is the colour, i.e. the greater is the shift of it towards red, yellow, or magenta. Lower values result in dominance of “colder” tones — blue, green, or cyan. Since the temperature value in Capture One is lower, the image tones should be colder than in Lightroom, and they are indeed — as the images shown below demonstrate.

Compare the image in Capture One Pro 7 and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 after the white balance was set to “Daylight” (Click on pictures to enlarge):
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Capture One Pro 7 — 5305K / +2.6
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Lightroom 4 — 5500K / +10.

In the same image, the colour in Lightroom looks warmer than in Capture One. This is what actually has to be expected.

It becomes strange when the Kelvin and tint values in Capture One were set to the same as in Lightroom. Of course, the same colour temperature values should result in the same white balance, but in Capture One Pro and Lightroom they don’t. If you look at comparison below, you would notice that the left image — the one that was produced in Capture One Pro 7 — has pretty strong magenta colour cast.

Compare the same image when the colour temperature and tint in Capture One Pro 7 are set to the same value as in “Daylight” preset of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (Click on pictures to enlarge):
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Capture One Pro 7 — 5500K / +10
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Lightroom 4 — 5500K / +10.

One could think now that the white balance adjustment in Capture One is faulty, but this issue is not that simple. After I pushed the tilt slider to around +3, i.e. reduced magenta by 7 stops, the colour cast disappeared, and both images were looking similar. Hence, “daylight” has the same meaning in both programmes but the tilt slider has a different scale: For roughly the same colour appearance, the tilt value in Lightroom has to be triple as high as in Capture One. In Lightroom the tilt slider goes to 150 in both directions while in Capture One it is limited to -/+ 50 but allows decimal values. Therefore +3.3 in Capture One is close to +10 in Lightroom.

Having the colour temperature of 5200K the images that a Canon camera creates should have a bit colder colour than the standard daylight and even than the daylight preset in Capture One. Tint is another adjustable parameter that influences the look of an image. However, it is absent in cameras though available in raw converters and image editing software where it allows fine tuning of white balance through adjustment of the tones in a range between green and magenta.

Compare the image in Capture One Pro 7 and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 after the colour temperature was set to the same value of 5200K as in daylight WB preset of a Canon camera (Click on pictures to enlarge):
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Capture One Pro 7 — 5200K / 0
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Lightroom 4 — 5200K / 0

The colour temperature scale is universal and absolute, hence the same colour temperature always has the same Kelvin value. Obviously, zero is zero — in other words, zero is nothing. Therefore, if tint was set to “0”, it should result in a balance between magenta and green, i.e. no bias towards either should be noticeable. As you see in the above example, it isn’t the case: The image in Lightroom has a stronger presence of magenta while the one in Capture One looks a little greenish.

Since the experiment with the daylight setting that I described above has proved the correctness of Kelvin scale in both programmes, I assume that here again it is the tilt setting that causes the problem: Either in Lightroom or in Capture One, or in both, zero tilt in fact isn’t zero. To me the image in Capture One looks not only more natural but also close to what I was photographing: The shield on it was hanging in bushes — not in the sun; therefore the light was for sure not as warm as in the image rendered by Lightroom.

White Balance “As Shot”

The difference in white balance treatment in both programmes is even more evident when an image has just been converted from a raw file and no adjustments were made. Both, Capture One and Photoshop Lightroom always set own white balance values upon import of an image and ignore the camera white balance. The picture below shows the same image shot with 5200K and 0 tilt as it appears in Capture One and Lightroom upon import.

Both, Capture One and Lightroom ignore camera white balance and set their own temperature and tint for imported images. (Click on pictures to enlarge):
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Capture One Pro 7 — 5305K / +2.6
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Lightroom 4 — 4850K / +1

For some reason that probably only developers of Lightroom know it sets the colour temperature to 4850K and tint to +1 in images that originally have 5200K and 0 tint and calls this white balance “As Shot”. Surprisingly, the white in the image appears more neutral here compared to its look in the above example — when I set the colour temperature to 5200K. The overall contrast, saturation and colour balance in an image imported to Lightroom are also more neutral than in Capture One.

Although the white balance looks okay, the image in Capture One appears to have a little more contrast, and its colour is more vivid. In Capture One, the import WB parameters for images shot with daylight preset are closer to the original and identical to the daylight preset in this programme: 5305K and +2.6.

Unlike Lightroom where the import white balance is “As Shot”, in Capture One Pro 7 it is called “Custom”. However, if you select there “Shot” from the drop-down list, the values will remain the same — as you see in the following sample pictures:

In Adobe Photoshop Lightroom the white balance set at import is called “As Shot”. In Capture One it is initially labeled as “Custom”, however, the values remain the same when you select “Shot” from the list (Click on pictures to enlarge):
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Capture One Pro 7 — 5305K / +2.6
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Lightroom 4 — 4850K / +1

Corrected White Balance

The discrepancy in Kelvin and tilt values between two programmes becomes even greater after the white balance was corrected. If in-software automatic WB correction was applied in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, the colour temperature of the image is displayed as 4500K with +2 tint. In Capture One these values are much higher: 5031K and +4.6 tint. However, both programmes decreased the colour temperature of my test image by the same value of about 300K — from 5305K to 5031K and from 4850K to 4500K. (See pictures below.)

Automatically set white balance by software algorithm: The result looks in Capture One and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom similar but the values defer very much (Click on pictures to enlarge).
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Capture One Pro 7 — 5031K / +4.6
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Lightroom 4 — 4500K / +2

Visually, the result of correction in both programmes is satisfying though I like the image in Capture One more. The colour tones of the image created in Capture One are closer to the original while he image in Lightroom looks colder.

The most reliable and the easiest way to correct white balance is by using a neutral grey reference object. In landscape photography it can be a stone, but better results are achieved with a standard grey object — a grey card or cube. For testing the white balance the reference should, of course, have standard grey colour. In my tests I used a small grey card DGK-M Mini made by Digital Image Flow. In the test image used in this article you see it hanging on a twig near the warning shield.

Below you see the test image after correction via a grey card in Capture One Pro 7 and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. The colour temperature and tint set according to grey card are higher in both programmes than the values set by built-in automatic adjustment.

Compare colour temperature and tint after white balance was automatically corrected with values taken from a grey card (Click on pictures to enlarge):
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Capture One Pro 7 — 5330K / +2.1
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Lightroom 4 — 4900K / -2

For my eyes, the result in Capture One looks better again: The white of the shield is clearer. In Lightroom it has a slight greenish colour cast that is barely noticeable but the diagramme in the top left corner helps to determine it.

Conclusion

The fact that the colour of an image in Capture One shifts only slightly when WB presets are changed or when white balance is automatically adjusted from grey card lets me assume that this programme does it correctly. Also the appearance of the image in Capture One was quite close to that one that I was seeing through the viewfinder of my camera. In comparison to this, obviously, something is wrong with colour processing in ACR or in Lightroom. It may be a matter of taste, if the picture has more contrast and is more vivid, as it is in Capture One, or with less contrast and desaturated, as in Lightroom, but the colour temperature and tint values in these two programmes do not match at all, and the white balance in Lightroom doesn’t even come close to the setting of the camera. The reason is for me a mystery. To me it looks like a flaw that undermines the reliability of Lightroom as of an image processing tool. This is very disappointing since this software is so great in many other aspects. I have a strong hope that Adobe would improve it some day. Till then I, personally, would prefer to use Capture One for colour adjustments in raw files.

Datacolor treats its customers like Apple dropping support for older products

Apple is known to drop support for previous products at any moment they like. But this company is not alone. Datacolor just stopped providing software updates for Spyder2 colorimeters after they released the next generation of their products.

For Spyder2 devices:
As we promised earlier you can now download the software from Spyder3Express to use your Spyder2 sensor with your Lion OS X. Please click the below link to download the appropriate software. Spyder3Express supports a single monitor calibration with target of Gamma 2.2 and 6.500 K white point.
Please understand that your Spyder2 sensor is not compatible with Spyder3Pro and Spyder3Elite software because if it’s missing ambient light sensor. Please also note that Spyder2 sensors are physically not able to read LED backlight color because of its different spectrum of light. If you need to calibrate a monitor display with LED backlight technology please upgrade to the current 3rd generation of Spyder products.

Source: OSX Lion Support for Spyder products

But why? I still have a 6 years old Cinema HD 23″ monitor – the same that I successfully calibrated many times with Spyder2Pro wich I also purchased simultaneously with the monitor. Nothing changed since then, only the operating system is now different. Why not to make Spyder2 drivers for Mac OS 10.6-10.8 like many other companies did for their products? I don’t see any technical reasons here but purely commercial interest – to push sales of new devices. (BTW, my Spyder2Pro does have an ambient light sensor.)

Inconsistency in Colour Display of Digital Screens: Can There Be a Solution?

This is an excerpt of an article that I wrote some time ago. See the complete text and illustrations on my website: Nature Images by Arthur Tiutenko – Articles: Colour Madness

No. The problem that we discussed here is caused by the variety of technical devices being used by people. There is nothing bad in this variety itself, and we should regard it as a completely normal effect of technical progress and competition between hardware and software developers and manufacturers. However, if we can’t completely solve the problem of inconsistent colour display, it doesn’t mean that we should just give up. The following measures may help us to live with it and to reduce its impact:

1. Work with calibrated screens.

Begin with yourself: ensure that the colours that you see and produce in image editing process are correct. The best way to it is to calibrate your computer screen. I work with my images on two computers. Each of them has two displays, i.e. I see my images on 4 screens. Though all of them are of very high quality, I calibrated them immediately after purchase and re-calibrate now and then. I need it because I want my images to look the same on all four screens and want to be certain that their colours are objectively correct, i.e. as much as possible correspond to real-world colours.

Some people believe that it is enough just to work with a good screen. This is only partially true. Of course, a good display is what we always should start with. In my opinion, for work with photos a good monitor is even more important than a powerful computer or software. If you are a photographer, it is wise not to save money with it. You may not buy Adobe Photoshop and use GIMP instead, your computer may be old and slow because you have no budget for an upgrade. In that case you will just need more time to work with your images if the processor is slow or the software is not very sophisticated — but the results will still be good. Things may be completely different when your monitor is a crap. When you work on an image you make it look good on your screen. Making an image match a bad display does not guarantee that it will appear good when the monitor is of top-quality. When first-class monitors cost 2.000 – 4.000 €, you wouldn’t do anything wrong if you pay at least 500 – 700 € for a monitor — which will be if not excellent then at least just good. Further discussion of the requirements that a monitor of a photographer has to meet would exceed the scope of this article, so I would not elaborate on them here. The quality and technical features of a monitor correspond roughly to its price, i.e. you can normally expect from a monitor that costs at least 500 € it will be good enough for image processing.

The next step will be to install a colour profile for the monitor. The best way is to create a customized one as we discussed above.

2. Persevere the colour managed workflow.

Here I am assuming that the operating system of your computer is either Mac OS or Windows. Other OS, such as Linux, may lack colour management features or support them only partially. If you use Photoshop, configure it properly in the Color Settings dialog. If it is a different image editing software, find out how to setup colour management in it.

3. Always publish tagged images.

I’ve seen advices that photos that are to be published in the Internet shouldn’t be provided with colour profiles at all. People who give them are usually arguing that the standardization of browsers goes towards rendering of untagged images with sRGB colour space. Thus there is no need to attach a profile to the image file: it will only increase its size, but the browser will default to sRGB without it and render correct colour. This argumentation is wrong or at least outdated.

The development of browsers and operating systems is going just in opposite direction — towards colour management. It was added to the recent versions of Windows, and to Mozilla Firefox. New browsers — Apple Safari and Google Chrome — are also colour managed, both in Mac OS and Windows. Internet Explorer that lacks colour management is the only browser that works like those writers are suggesting: it displays all images by default with sRGB colour space. But this browser exists only in Windows. Opera that ignores ICC profiles too, defaults to sRGB only in Windows. In Mac OS it uses the current monitor profile, and would render the colours of the same image differently.

4. Find a compromise.

Check the images on as many screens as possible and, if the colours somewhere appear bad, adjust them till they will be looking more or less acceptable on all screens you are checking with. Use only good screens: adjusting the images for bad displays is a really bad idea which was already discussed above.

5. Be aware of your target group of viewers.

It is neither possible nor necessary that your photographs attract all people on the Earth. Like with printed images that you sell, give or just show concrete persons, only certain audience will interested in your images when they will be published in the Internet or distributed on an optical disc. Well, the Internet audience may be very unpredictable and heterogenous. But occasional visitors of your website are normally not those people whom you as a photographer want to impress with your work. More likely you would want to show your images to other photographers, publishers, or other potential buyers. You can expect that they will be using good screens — often better than yours. In that case I would prepare my images only for this audience. I would then either ignore the technical issues that other viewers may have with my images or restrict their access, i.e. redirect their browsers to a page explaining that the online gallery can be accessed only with specific browsers, screen resolution, etc.

6. Don’t take it too serious.

Usually the variations in colour rendering between different browsers, operating systems and displays are quite minor, so that most people even won’t notice any. This is always only you who exactly knows how the colour should be, hence a colour shift that is obvious to you may not be so to other person. In that case, unless the colours are absolutely horrible, just stay cool and do as if everything is all right.