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Thread started 06 May 2013 (Monday) 09:21
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10 channel workflow

 
SmokeySiFy
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May 06, 2013 09:21 |  #1

Has anyone else here played around with the 10 channel workflow as taught by Lee Varis? I attended a couple of Lee's sessions this weekend at the big photo show and thought he had some interesting ideas, most interestingly was the use of black and white conversion to control luminosity of color images and that leads into his 10 channel workflow.

It is explained in free tutorials on his site www.varis.com/video-tutorials/ (external link)

Basically, he does a minimal process in raw trying to keep some room on either side of the histogram and as much detail in each channel as possible, and then uses the 10 different color channels, RGB, LAB, and CMYK to increase contrast, saturation, and then to selectively desaturate with various layer blending and masking techniques. First is to create a black and white by layering the grey channels from a couple of the RGB layers to create a black and white that is high in contrast and pulls the best detail from each of the three channels. Then you use the a & b channels to increase saturation. And Finally the black from cmyk to mask a desaturation adjustment layer. I just oversimplified it a bit. Watch the videos and give it a shot. I am pretty happy with one of the results that I tried. I bet I could get a very similar result just in raw as well, but I do feel that I have a bit more control over what is going on with the contrast and saturation increase.

I gave it a try, along with using a high pass filter with overlay to sharpen. Here is before and after. Do you think this method is superior to raw? Is it complimentary? I tried to actually get a decent starting point for the raw and move the histogram somewhat into the middle. I figured if raw was pushed a little bit first, then this could just really polish the image.

I'm not 100% convinced of this methodology yet, but it looks to be promising. Check out my before and after. It took a few times through the movies to begin to get what I was supposed to be doing. Lots of ways to blend layers and use channels to manipulate images. I think this will just be another tool in my belt.

Anyone else have experiences with similar workflows?


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kirkt
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May 06, 2013 11:25 |  #2

If you adopt this workflow, you will probably want to take a look at this:

http://www.bigano.com …ntent&view=arti​cle&id=273 (external link)

Channels Power Tool extension for PS. It permits you to preview and apply all 10 channels simultaneously without having to convert from the working color mode to another and without having to invoke Apply Image from the menu... pretty cool. I have found it very powerful for visualizing and planning masking and adjustment strategies before getting in too deep in the process and having to reverse a bunch of less than stellar choices.

I think you will find it particularly useful for visualizing and accomplishing your goal, considering that 10 channels can be a burden to visualize, let alone use.

kirk


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SmokeySiFy
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May 06, 2013 14:19 |  #3

Thanks Kirk. I'll check that out. I did notice that varis ignored the CYM of cymk. Any ideas how to get value from those channels? I also feel like it is hericy to not push the raw file as far as possible in acr.


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kirkt
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May 06, 2013 14:44 |  #4

It is a really impressive and powerful tool. Watch the tutorial videos as well to get an impression of the operation, workflow and creative uses.

As far as the heretic in you, it all depends on what you want to do and how you want to do it. As you get used to working with channels from all working color modes, you will get in the habit of analyzing and studying your image before you start plowing away in ACR or your raw converter. Some folks like to produce a finished image all in the raw converter of choice and even soft proof and print from it. Others don't.

I personally like to extract from the raw conversion process the best possible set of RGB data to start with. This is rarely a "finished" image - instead it is a set of data that retains as much detail and color information as possible. Often, this kind of approach lends itself to batch conversion for images shot under similar lighting or settings, etc., because I am not concerned with local changes in detail frequency, etc. that may require individual attention to each conversion. All that gets handled later. Similarly, there is little or no sharpening or NR applied, as it may not really be needed in that stage of the image editing process.

I usually work in Photoshop to do most of my edits. If, again, I find that I am making edits in a similar manner after working through a couple of images in a batch, I will make an action to automate the process. This is to condition the image for finishing touches. I usually experiment on a couple of images to see what needs to be done, and then have at the whole lot. I also like to work quickly and develop multiple quick edits on the same image and then combine the best of each image into a final composite - sometimes the color from one, the contrast and tone from another, the local details from a third, etc. You can't do this in ACR/LR, even though you can generate multiple versions of a single raw file.

While ACR/LR local adjustment brushes permit you to paint in some basic local edits, channels are the really powerful way to dial in an adjustment - usually you are targeting certain ranges of tone and color in an image and that's usually something a channel can isolate cleanly and elegantly. ACR/LR does not give you explicit access to this kind of data, so you are usually "auto masking" or brushing in your local edits. Time consuming and usually not very accurate - for me at least.

So, my workflow depends heavily on Photoshop, and that's where I do my thing. It does not mean that tackling A-to-Z in your raw converter of choice isn't the "correct" way to do things, it simply is not my cup of tea.

You can push a 16bit TIFF raw conversion pretty dang far outside of the raw converter.

As far as using C, M and Y channels - again it all depends on what you are looking to do. Remember that the "density" of those channels represents ink coverage, not luminosity (as in RGB). So, a cyan sky will be heavily black in the sky, which may be what you need to reject the sky in your image mask. Since the CMYK channel is ink density (that is, lots of it is represented as really dark) and RGB channel is luminosity (lots of it is really light) the opposing colors from each mode should produce similar, but not identical channels. For example, cyan's opposite is red, so the cyan channel and the red channel should look similar; however, one may be more suitable than the other in terms of masking or an Apply Image move - this variation is something to consider when maybe the RGB channel isn't quite getting you what you need. Take a look at the opposing CMY channel - and, you can always invert. Mostly, the K channel gets the skeleton of the image pushed into it and is good for reinforcing detail, so it is often the channel that gets used the most from CMYK.

Cool thing about Channel Power Tools is you don't need to know all that to use the CMYK channels - just generate a preview of all of the channels and you can pick which one works best for the particular situation. However, it is a great exercise to study the image and visualize what each channel will look like and then generate a preview to see if what you envisioned is "correct" - it is a fun way to learn and study how to decompose an image in preparation for identifying its strengths and weaknesses and targeting those aspects you can exploit to make the image better.

kirk


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kirkt
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May 06, 2013 14:56 |  #5

Take this image, for example. Attached is a random shot I took - the thing to notice is that the car and the sky are blue - maybe you want to make a move that enhances the car (color, local contrast, whatever) and does not touch the sky. Or vice versa.

Take a look at the RGB channels - the car and sky are very similar in color and therefore tone in each RGB channel. Now look at the RGB channel opponents in CMY - there is a lot more variation there that can likely be exploited to separate the sky from the car in a masking operation (especially in Magenta). There is also a lot less dark tone in the CMY channels - that deep shadow info gets pushed into the K channel - this is controllable as well, so you can modulate how much shadow black stays in the CMY and how much gets pushed into K.

The channel composite was generated automatically in Channel Power Tools.

kirk

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SmokeySiFy
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May 06, 2013 20:47 |  #6

Thanks again KIRK! I am begining to just wrap my head around what this 10 channel workflow can mean to processing images. I think now I really need to learn what all the crazy blend modes are actually doing, although something tells me there is still a lot of playing around to get the result you are looking for.

Part of me feels like how I did when I just discovered what RAW can do for images. Although, now I have a bunch of images I feel need to be reprocessed. I guess it will be a never ending process of learning the nuances of processing to get a polished result.


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kirkt
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May 06, 2013 22:55 |  #7

I'm not really familiar with the official "10 channels workflow" but you've got 10 channels, might as well use what you have!

have fun.

kirk


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René ­ Damkot
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May 07, 2013 05:28 |  #8

That panel looks well thought out :)

Keep in mind that this is one of the few instances that your PS color settings matter, since (obviously) the RGB or CMYK working space defaults are used to create masks.

If using a CMYK image for instance, the RGB masks can be quite different depending on your default RGB working space.


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kirkt
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May 07, 2013 08:01 |  #9

Good point René. The extension is doing a lot of stuff behind the scenes, so it is important to be aware of how your set up may affect the results.

There is a known bug in the panel's link to online documentation that has resulted from Adobe's Cloud development. The developers are awaiting a fix from Adobe, but, in the meantime, there are online video tutorials and a well-written PDF in English and Italian that describe how the tool works.

After having PS crash while trying to invoke the online documentation from within the panel, I emailed the developers and received a response from them within 30 minutes (they are in Italy) - these folks are doing nice work.

kirk


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PixelMagic
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May 07, 2013 14:56 |  #10

Kirk, CPT looks like a very useful tool but I'm trying to figure out what advantages it holds over Tony Kuyper's Luminosity Masking panel except that the Luminosity Masks don't appear to use Lab or CMYK modes: http://goodlight.us/wr​iting/videos/videos-1.html (external link)


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kirkt
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May 07, 2013 15:46 |  #11

PM - I'll take a look and see if I can provide any info. Thanks!

kirk


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kirkt
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May 08, 2013 15:12 |  #12

Hi PM - I looked at the luminosity mask sample videos and the TK actions panel one in particular. A couple of things spring to mind in regard to your question. Obviously, luminosity masking targets various ranges of image luminosity, with the goal of developing a gray scale image representing the density of the wide or restricted range of target luminosity so that the gray scale image can ultimately be applied as a mask to pass or reject adjustment layer modifications. Makes sense.

However, the luminosity mask approach does not directly permit one to target other image characteristics that may be more useful in terms of targeted adjustment - color, for example. Additionally, the luminosity masks are a function of the RGB color in the current working space, whereas the CPT channels are across RGB, LAB and CMYK. One could always combine the techniques so that the channels-based approach establishes a base luminosity and then one may divide and refine that base luminosity using the TK panel approach.

You could apply a curves adjustment with a TK panel luminosity mask to just the red curve or whatever, but you may not be getting the control you want. Further, if I want to work in Lab, I can still generate all channel masks and apply them while working in Lab, whereas this would not be possible using the luminosity mask approach, as far as I understand it.

So, I see luminosity masking as a one-dimnesional masking approach, it targets luminosity ranges for RGB editing. Using channels in whatever color mode you choose permits multidimensional selection of targets, editable in RGB, Lab or CMYK without having to leave the color mode to produce a channel from the other color mode. CPT also has a live preview of the effect of the mask as you click through each candidate, so you can see the effect of the channel-based mask on the fly.

DIfferent approaches, each with their workflows, etc.

kirk


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May 08, 2013 15:19 |  #13

Wow, I remember my head spinning the first time someone tried to show me dropping in and out of Lab Color in PS7. This takes it to a new height.

I might have to give this a try some time.


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PixelMagic
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May 08, 2013 18:30 |  #14

Kirk, thanks for the feedback; it was about what I suspected about the two products. I already own the TK Action set but CPT is attractively priced so its tempting. The TK Actions are quite powerful in their own way once you figure out how to customize the luminosity selections by using intersections to combine/refine the initial channel masks.


kirkt wrote in post #15911738 (external link)
Hi PM - I looked at the luminosity mask sample videos and the TK actions panel one in particular. A couple of things spring to mind in regard to your question. Obviously, luminosity masking targets various ranges of image luminosity, with the goal of developing a gray scale image representing the density of the wide or restricted range of target luminosity so that the gray scale image can ultimately be applied as a mask to pass or reject adjustment layer modifications. Makes sense.

However, the luminosity mask approach does not directly permit one to target other image characteristics that may be more useful in terms of targeted adjustment - color, for example. Additionally, the luminosity masks are a function of the RGB color in the current working space, whereas the CPT channels are across RGB, LAB and CMYK. One could always combine the techniques so that the channels-based approach establishes a base luminosity and then one may divide and refine that base luminosity using the TK panel approach.

You could apply a curves adjustment with a TK panel luminosity mask to just the red curve or whatever, but you may not be getting the control you want. Further, if I want to work in Lab, I can still generate all channel masks and apply them while working in Lab, whereas this would not be possible using the luminosity mask approach, as far as I understand it.

So, I see luminosity masking as a one-dimnesional masking approach, it targets luminosity ranges for RGB editing. Using channels in whatever color mode you choose permits multidimensional selection of targets, editable in RGB, Lab or CMYK without having to leave the color mode to produce a channel from the other color mode. CPT also has a live preview of the effect of the mask as you click through each candidate, so you can see the effect of the channel-based mask on the fly.

DIfferent approaches, each with their workflows, etc.

kirk


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May 09, 2013 10:58 |  #15

This thread is a perfect example of why I love these forums. From this dialog I have learned something new that is a paradigm shift to the way I do my processing workflow now. I have a lot of experimenting and reading to do now....Thank you all!


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