Colour spaces

Colour spaces in photography – An Introduction

In a simpler definition – A very defined space where exactly this many colours can be displayed/shown, by the device. In other words it is to determine one device’s ability to display the no. of the unique colours (sometimes a part of the device). Be it a computer screen, a mobile phone’s screen, or a tablet’s screen, most of the times it is hardware but in few cases, it is software (for instance – a browser).

sRGB – a colour space jointly created by HP and Microsoft. This profile is the most widely used one for browsers and most of the screens including tablet screens and mobile phone screens. As the below diagram depicts, the largest colour profile next to visually perceivable is ProPhoto RGB, the next smaller one is Adobe RGB and the smallest one is sRGB.

Since sRGB is the most used colour space in the browsers and alike in displays, you are expected to export your images in this colour space, so that the colour you have seen while editing are better displayed by the same file in the other mediums or displays.

Note: Not all the monitors available in the market possess the ability to display all the colours in sRGB. They usually measure it in percentage, for example – 75% of sRGB, 90% of sRGB. If you are a professional you might consider buying a monitor which covers a higher percentage of sRGB, mostly 90% + or even 90% + of Adobe RGB colour space. Dell ultra sharp series monitors have a positive feedback  in general.

A monk at Bylakuppe

Adobe RGB – as the name suggests created by Adobe systems and is smaller than ProPhoto RGB but larger than sRGB. Widely printers are using this profile, but it is advisable to check with the printing service provider before sending the files, in which colour space they need. Adobe RGB includes 50% of the colours specified by Lab Colour space.

Many printers and almost all commercial places most likely need the files in this colour space.

ProPhoto RGB – made by Apple, the largest colour profile available, but no devices support this profile yet. Hence if you export your file in this profile, the display medium will convert the file’s colour space into the device’s colour space in a best possible way! and it may show drastic colour differences. ProPhoto RGB includes 90% of all perceivable colours specified by Lab colour space. Currently there are no devices which support this profile. In future, there may.

Note: When you photograph, if you are shooting in RAW mode, you don’t have to worry about which color space to be selected in your camera, because RAW files are only interpreted by the softwares, basically the RAW files contains the data – it is not even a image format. But if you are shooting in jpeg, your color space selection does play an important role. Set Adobe RGB, if the purpose is to send photographs for print. If it is only for web services and display purposes, sRGB is sufficient.

Colorspaces explained

Colour spaces visually explained.  Image source – Wikipedia.

All the colour spaces are displayed over the visible colour space to have a better understanding.

If you are using Lightroom to edit your photographs, you do not have to worry about color space as Lightroom is working on the largest colour space ProPhoto RGB. The only place where you have to decide is when you are exporting your file from Lightroom.

Note: When exporting you can apply any of the above colour spaces to your photograph, the thing matters is the purpose of the photograph.

 

Hope I have made the basic understandings of the colour spaces currently being used. If you have got to say something about colours, comment it. Will be looking forward to it.

 

Cheers & Happy Photographing.

 

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Digital Exposure – Redefined

If you are a person like me who expose based on in-camera exposure meter reading and in-camera histogram than this article is for you. Time to rethink the way we were interpreting in-camera tools. Thanks to Bob DiNatale for his insightful article in The Luminous Landscape. The Exposure To The Right(ETTR) concept was first brought to us by Michael Reichmann in 2003. Even earlier, the correct exposure was meant to be a bell curve on the Histogram.!

The reason to expose towards right is, the in-camera light meter designed to expose for the mid tones, whereas maximum datas are lying on the rightmost area of the histogram. Have a look at the below diagrams for a better understanding. In general, we might think that camera records the light as it looks in the top portion of the image a. But in reality, the camera records as depicted in the bottom portion of the image a.

ETTRImage – a. The top portion of the image is equally divided stop levels as one may think and bottom portion is how the actual data lies on the histogram.(the image depicts the tonal distribution for a 12 bit RAW image)

Tonal distribution

Image – b. The gray colour highlighted cells are total tonal levels, the respective file can hold. Look at the percentage columns to see the amount of data been hold by the respective stops (the 1st stop is starts from the right most side on the histogram). With relevant to the post, this table is supposed to be the final output from the computer not from the camera. Everything else in the table means the last stops, possibly the 6th & 7th stops together.

Here is the link for the above google spreadsheet with commenting privilege, where one can check the calculations behind the tonal levels and if you wish to share some, do comment there. In few model of Nikon cameras, the user can select whether they want their data to be recorded in 12 bits or 14 bits. Many prosumer and even some professional cameras claim that they record data in 14 bits but they actually deliver 12 bit files only. I wonder if any full frame camera is recording data in 16 bits, but needless to say many medium format cameras do deliver 16 bit images.

Coming back to the objective of the article, Bob meant to say the metering should be done for the brightest area in the scene plus one stop, since the camera meter’s perfect exposure is one stop underexposed than the raw processing softwares.

“An important thing to understand about highlight warnings is that they occur in two places: 1) on the back of your camera – the “Blinkies” and 2) in your software – highlight “Clipping”.

These 2 warnings ARE NOT the same. Although the camera’s High-Alert “blinkies” provide some information, you can only use them as an indication of optimum exposure. The “Blinkies” on the back of your camera occur about 1 stop before the highlight warning in your software – highlight “Clipping”!”

“If the brightest part of your scene has a 90% brightness in your software… Your scene is underexposed by two stops!  Yes, 90% software brightness equals 2-stops under the “Optimum” exposure. If your brightest software value is around 97%, then you have still underexposed your scene by one stop and therefore lost 50% of the available scene data!”

My latest understandings about the digital exposure are below

  1. If you underexpose knowingly or unknowingly even by one stop, you simply lose a staggering amount of 50% of the scene data. You may able to work on it later but you will be bringing in noise and loss of detail as if you have increased ISO while shooting. If you underexpose one stop according to the camera meter than you lose more than 2 stops which is 75% of the scene data.!
  2. Your camera’s light meter is one stop less than your raw processing software. Which means what is perfect exposure for the camera is -1 EV for the raw process software.
  3. If some portion of your photograph is not blinked on the camera’s LCD, you have already lost one stop at least, that is 50% of the data.!
  4. The optimum exposure is not the one which camera delivers, it is your final output from the computer.
  5. As earlier you can use any metering while shooting, but you have to understand how the respective metering gives the output and apply necessary compensations while shooting to get the most data out of the scene.
  6. The blinkie portions shown by the camera has details needs to be recovered by the raw converting softwares.

If you feel there are too much of maths involved here, yes there are, but I thought of learning it. I did had problem with maths when I was studying. It was a nightmare for me when it comes to Maths, I scored as college first in the subject called technical drawing but when it comes to Maths, I was the person who got marks in single digit out of 100!(Laughs…) But here in histogram and exposure, I could easily learn the maths behind it. So you too can learn it easily.

After reading all the refereed articles and if you find something unnatural or doubtful do let me know in comments. Will be happy to dig in further. 🙂

Cheers and Happy Photographing.

Ansel Adams

The most favourite quotes of mine about Photography.

“…how you build a picture, what a picture consists of,

how shapes are related to each other, how spaces are

filled, how the whole thing must have a kind of unity.” – Paul strand.

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs”. – Ansel Adams

“The pictures are there, and you just take them.” – Robert capa

Universal language

“It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary.” – David Bailey

“Always seeing something, never seeing nothing, being photographer.” – Walter de mulder

“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” – George Eastman.

 

“Every viewer is going to get a different thing. That’s the thing about painting, photography, cinema.” – David Lynch.

 

“Once photography enters your bloodstream, it is like a disease.” – Anonymous

When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things.” – Wynn Bullock

photoquote

“I went into photography because it seemed like the perfect vehicle for commenting on the madness of today’s existence.” – Robert Mapplethorpe

 

“Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.” – Peter Adams

 

“My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” – Steve McCurry

“When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.” – Annie Leibovitz

 

“I never have taken a picture I’ve intended. They’re always better or worse.” – Diane Arbus

 

“The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.” – Elliott Erwitt

 

“Essentially what photography is is life lit up.”- Sam Abell

Quotes about Photography

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” – Alfred Stieglitz

 

“Photography is the story I fail to put into words.”- Destin Sparks

 

“To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.” – Edward Weston

 

“The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.” – Susan Sontag

 

“In the context of photography , there was a luck.But the luck will come, when the photographer is ready.” – Adithya Zen

 

“Would you hang it on your wall? Then it’s a good photograph.” ― Leslie Dean Brown

 

What’s your favourite quote? Post it as comments.

Flight, Greens,

Histogram is Nothing

There are many articles out in the web which explains Histogram in detail and technically as well. But this article is intended to demonstrate histogram in a simple way without going into in-depth technical details.

I have chosen a simple Black & White image to demonstrate it, because that is what the Histogram is fundamentally. Yes – “the graphical representation of luminescence level of each pixel in an any given image”.

Mountain and a waterfalls engulfed by mist.

Mountain and a waterfalls engulfed by mist.

Have a detailed look at the image, the top right portion of the image is covered by fog and it is bright. The bottom left of the image is covered by rocks and it is dark. Draw an imaginary diagonal line across the image from top left to bottom right. Now look again, it would be easy now to understand. The fog portion comes under whites and the rock portion comes under Blacks. Look at the respective Histogram below.

Histogram

Histogram of the above photograph.

If you look at the photograph – almost the dark & light pixels are equal(quantity wise). Isn’t it.? Now look at the Histogram, isn’t the same data displayed here in the histogram clearly? The light pixels are on the right side of the histogram and the dark pixels are on the left side. That’s it. In between, the connecting pixels are mid tones, which you can again see it on the image as well. Across the diagonal line, the tones on both sides of the line will fall on mid tones except the top left of the image, where it will fall under blacks.

HistogramOne more thing we have to understand is, any white area on the image will fall on the right side of the histogram, whereas blacks will always fall on the left side. For example, turn the image 180° horizontally. Now the fog will appear on your left side and rock on the right side but the histogram would remain the same.

The same photograph but flipped.

The same photograph but flipped.

Hope this article clear your initial blocks towards understanding the histogram. For a detailed understanding of Histogram and why should one push the histogram towards right, I would recommend reading this article in dPS. In another article will discuss about types of Histogram.

Cheers and Happy photographing. 🙂

Steve – A living legend.

People who know about Steve McCurry, please do not read further as you might have read this earlier. What you are going to read further is an attempt of myself to understand few of his works, as I highly admire his work. Though there are/were many legends in this world, I admire him because of the following reasons. The first being that he has visited India 82 times so far in his life which eventually made him know about India better than any average Indian.  The second being the no. of photographs he included human elements in his photographs, the percentage is more or almost all of them. After all we are humans, we better perceive things if it is related to any human form.

Most of his photographs are highly evocative, in general his processing is a bit of boosting saturation, tonal curve adjustment to give the slight faded look and careful usage of vignette and most importantly his photographs are around half stop underexposed which are his trademarks. Another important thing is he doesn’t convert his photographs in to Monochromes often, very few images have had this transition. Many of his popular photographs have been discussed in many places and umpteen times, I have selected few of his less discussed photographs, at least relatively. His other interesting work is here in his blog.

Look at the harmony and the perfect balance in this photograph, two humans & two ships, two poles near by the persons & two poles where the net tied, everything is two except the umbrella and the net. Importantly the horizon is not at the dead center and his view point is bit off center, may be in order to not interfering the ships by the poles.. Could have been a late evening and drizzling too, careful selection of high f no, he must have boosted ISO for obvious reasons and the grains too are obvious to support in this photograph. Even if these two persons were motionless this photograph could have been a very good one, but he let some action happening between the persons, so that the viewer expands his thoughts. And most importantly Steve chose not to convert it in to a Monochrome which we often choose to do and give a lot of explanation to that. If you look at it in a layer based visualisation, firstly two persons – the distance between them is little. Second the poles, in relation with the persons it is wider. Next in relation with the poles the ships are slightly wider. Who knows? Steve might have different idea altogether and that is what is all about photography or for that matter any form of art. Isn’t it.?
The Tailor
You might have seen this photograph earlier, but let me tell you why this photograph is important. After this photograph published in National Geographic magazine, the sewing machine company found this old man in India all the way from USA and gave him a new sewing machine.! Have a look at this man, he is under crisis, his home must have been devastated by the floods. But he holds a smile with his toothless mouth (may be Steve cracked a joke!). No wonder Steve categorised this photograph under Universal language.
The boy and the foot ball
Sheer power of simple composition – If the kid stands upright, this photograph would be a normal one. The staircase balustrade line, the staircase slab line and the human body inclined with somewhat parallel to the above two lines makes this photograph an interesting one. The ball above his head is adding value and makes sense to his inclination.
Soldiers
Correlation – The soldiers on the wall painting, people inside the bus. Soldiers have gun in their hand, all those people’s hands are either supporting or holding, in other words all the hands are visible to the viewer. And the two ladies on the wall and the two persons outside the bus. The red colour patch on the wall and the red colour band on the bus.
Few of his other works, which I find difficult to write an insight kind of.
Prayer
Hunger

 

All of the above photographs has been taken from his website. If you have an opinion/insight about his above works do share in the comments section. I have made an earlier attempt here. An interesting article here about how digital photographers have fetishized sharpness and detail.
Cheers.

© Copyright

Plagiarism has been common throughout the world since time immemorial, and more so in today’s digital era and even more so in the field of photography. There have been instances of image theft and usage of images without credit to the photographer. The magnanimity of this issue is the reason for my writing about this in detail. Though I’m no expert in the field of copyright etc, have spent some quality time researching about this before writing this.

Best coffee

Watermarking is the first step towards owning a piece of art you have created. In visual terms, how effectively you place the watermark is what matters most of the times. Having said that putting a standard watermark is not advisable, since one colour, size & position may not fit all of your images. Customizing the watermarks to match a particular image is the solution to this and this can be done using Lightroom quite easily. I’ll talk about the “how’s” in a later topic.

Watermarking & copyrighting ensures certain minimum safeguards of the rights of authors over their creations, thereby protecting and rewarding creativity. A detailed article from dPs on how to handle image theft can be read here.

The definition of Copyright is a right given by the law to creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of films and sound recordings. In fact, it is a bundle of rights including, inter alia, rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation and translation of the work. There could be slight variations in the composition of the rights depending on the work.

Shringeri, Divinity

a. The primary thing in watermarking your image with copyright symbol is that you do not have to register for putting the copyright symbol.  If the work is created by you, you have the full rights (automatically) to put your watermark with the Copyright symbol on your work. The work here refers to any form of art viz., a piece of music you have created, a small video you have took, a painting that you made or a photograph.

b. Copyright protects the rights of the author i.e., creator.

c. Copyright can be assigned to anyone by the author.

d. Registering your copyrights has some advantage. Check with your country’s copyright law to get some clarity. In general, however, certificate of registration of copyright and the entries made therein serve as prima facie evidence in a court of law with reference to dispute relating to ownership of copyright.

e. If you want to register your work, each and every work needs to be registered separately.

f. Copyright generally has time limits.

g. There is no such thing as “International copyright” that can protect the author’s work throughout the world. However most countries do offer protection to foreign works under certain conditions, and these conditions have been greatly simplified by international copyright treaties and conventions.

The above points are generalized, check with your country’s copyright law for specific details. The bottom-line is to watermark all your images. A good story for you to read here.

If you have a story to share about copyright issues or you have a good idea about copyrights do share in the comments section.

Cheers and happy photographing.

Inevitable personalities

Sally Mann

Why I like her, because of one photograph she made, the most erotic I have ever seen. None of the nude photographs can come close to this photograph in sense of erotic feeling it creates in a male human’s mind.

Sally mann

The wet cloth, the stickiness of the cloth with the body, a hand with three fingers in the frame which holds the body on the right top of the photograph (obviously male hand), the cleavage, the shrinkage in the cloth due to wetness, the tight crop of the photograph – if you look again there are no space left around the body in the frame, everything made this particular photograph as an outstanding one. Though she made many nude kid photographs and she is controversial too in that regard, this one stands out in her portfolio and one of my favorite.

Steve Mc Curry

One of the well-known personality in photography and without talking about him, compositional topics would never get complete (leave Henri-Cartier at this moment). The below image is one of my most favorite in his gallery.

Steve Mc curry

Two bullock carts parked adjacent to a wall and an another bullock cart about to be parked, the bull shall be untied from the cart in few moments and the bull appears like it is watching the elder woman who is appears to be having a hump as his. The elder woman is walking away from the frame with the help of her walking stick, her left leg stepping forward and her whole weight have been supported by her right leg. All the three legs are visible to the viewer, if you watch again these three legs matches with the three legs of the bull (deliberately avoided the other leg of the bull inside the frame, either while capturing or post capture) is simply sheer brilliance.

Talking about the other features of the photograph would be colour and the overall mood. The green colour door has been complimented by the red colour interior finish inside the right side cart, may be perfect coincidence but it adds value to the photograph. The mood here is slightly esoteric, because of the noise – due to low light ISO boost or deliberate post capture addition, either way it adds value to the photograph. If you look again the photograph,it is underexposed by almost a stop, which again perfect combo with the mood here.

And some interesting things about the master, Steve knows India better than an average Indian knows India, yes he travelled to India 82 times till date and an another interesting thing is he did not locked himself in Black & White images which people tend to give lot of explanations. He took very few photographs in B&W.

 

Michael Freeman.

Couple of months back, I accidentally found his work in internet and are highly impressive. He wrote several books including The Photographer’s eye, The photographer’s mind and I happen to go through those books in a book fair here in Chennai, I have never come across such kind of books, which talks about composition, how a small point/line/spot/anything in any photograph is perceived by human brain with diagrammatic explanations.

Micahel Freeman

The above photograph have been etched in my mind from his work. The first bull from the viewer is looking down and the next one watching straight, but both their horns have placed in such a way that it forms a continuous vertical wavy pattern. If you look at the first bull’s neck where it ends and reaches the hump, from there on the herdsman’s hand takes the curve up and completes itself by keeping his hand on his head. This is the interesting part; the herdsman’s hand and the second bull’s horn bend are somehow parallel to each other and create a balance in the photograph. And the photograph being in Black & White makes all sense together, the first bull’s neck in black colour and herdsman’s shirt being in white colour creates this as a compelling photograph.

After watching different photographs from several masters and reading different books about photography, my conclusion towards a good photograph would be “There cannot be a set of exhaustive compositional rules to make a good photograph, since a unique and good photograph will come with its own rules which may or may not exist before”.

Kindly note all the above three photographs have taken from their websites.