Friday 27 September 2013

Colour Grading and Sharpening

I loved working in a darkrooom, and is the thing I miss most about photography...nothing nowadays comes close, except maybe post production where you can tweak to your hearts content (or fix badly taken photos, as is too often the case!).

Recently, I've been tackling two basic post production topics: Colour Grading videos and Sharpening video and photos.

Colour Grading
Wow, what an interesting field.  The following quick video shows how much work it takes to make something simple look great, let alone the work that would be required for something like the hobbit!:

The "Camera original" shot (bit flat looking, but that is on purpose to enable better colour grading and maximise information capture i.e. dynamic range) was pretty darn good, until compared to the final.  What a difference!

I've been practising colour grading a little, but only in Photoshop and Lightroom as I don't have something like Premier.  Recently I've started looking at DaVinci Resolve.  Amazing for a free product, but is hellishly complex...can't wait to get my hands really dirty on it.

Different schools of thought, no definitive answer on whether its better to allow the camera to sharpen or sharpen in post.

Camera sharpening - the general theory is that sharpening in-camera is done before compression so that the sharpening is only done on the actual details rather than compression artefacts.

Post Sharpening - argument for this is that the sharpening algorithms used in camera is geared towards speed and not quality and you have more flexibility in post.  I don't know whether the first part about speed is true, but I certainly prefer the flexibility of post sharpening.

My own testing and prefered workflow has meant that I prefer to shoot with sharpening in-camera switched off and do any sharpening in post.  I like having full control over sharpening.  Same reason I shoot in Raw, I like having as much control over temp., black levels, white levels, etc etc.  I'm not a sports photographer, or shooting for clients who want to see results quickly, I just shoot because I like to.  I can afford to spend time in post and enjoy post production.

It's true that in most cases I use presets in post, which brings the sharpening to around what the camera would have done anyway, but it gives me scope to tweak the photos I really care about.  If it was set in camera I wouldn't get that option.

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