Photoshop/Lightroom: How do I get vibrant, rich, bright & clean colours?

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My Question is, how can you create such deep and clean colours in your photography such as the amazing David Pullum does in his photos. I have been trying for years to create similar results in Lightroom & Photoshop and trawled the internet for any such answers. I'm not going to post one of his photos as I respect his ownership, however do take a quick look at his FB page to see exactly what i am describing.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/David-...

The images are so vibrant, fresh and clean - there must be a way to create similar images?

I've been on one of David's learning courses but unfortunately it didn't cover the post production.

Any help would be appreciated

Thanks you
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Tony Roseman

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Posted 4 years ago

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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Looks like a ton of Vibrance in the Camera Raw dialog or Lightroom develop module.
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Getting the white balance spot on is essential for his photos too. The moment you start pushing the Vibrance that high, anything that's not perfect looks really bad. And that only comes with experience of editing hundreds of thousands of photos.
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Tony Roseman

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Many thanks for your speedy responses, I don't think it is one single element but more a mixture of many. I'm familiar with the basic tools and I've tinkered with most in lightroom,

I was wondering if there are more tools in the adjustment layers in Photoshop as an example that will help help build a deep clean and bright result?
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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The adjustments are similar. There isn't a single 'magic' adjustment for adjusting an image.
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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There's always more than two elements involved. But trust me when I say you can get that result using just Lightroom and experience, and you've been given a pointer in the right direction. You can certainly achieve similar results in Photoshop, but it's not necessary (and on this occasion I speak as the owner of a raw processing company, so I have plenty of experience on that subject!).
(Edited)
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Fermat

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As far as I can see, it is at least a mix of the following factors. First it seems he uses great lenses providing a good contrast and a deep 3-dimensional effect shooting pretty wide open. Next point is the lighting. Most pictures seem to be taken using flash - well balanced - substantially influencing color. Next I can see is that his photos are slightly underexposed with pretty high contrast so dark shadows turn into black and highlights are still detailed and coloured (if they would be brighter, they would lose most of that information). Darker colors look more saturated without being over-saturated and hurting your eyes. I also guess he uses a slight color filter warming up lights and shadows without changing WB.
These are all just assumptions and of course there are many other LR settings involved too. But I think his results are a mix of hardware, software and experience.
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Rob Cole

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Also: tone adjustment affects quality of color.

PS - if you like the deeper darker richer look without looking underexposed:

+whites -exposure -highlights +shadows -blacks

in other words, if you drop exposure in favor of whites, you'll have darker shadows and mids without sacrificing dynamic range, and highlights will have more room to spread out.

Some shadow light to keep it from looking flat or too dark at the bottom end, and some highlight droppage to keep +whites from over-shooting the highlights too much and colors will really come in!

PPS - Because PV2012 handles clipping so nicely, you can actually clip more blacks and whites than you might think, without sacrificing shadow or highlight detail - sounds like an oxymoron, but it's not!

Try it! - just take a few photos you've already adjusted and do this:
Drop exposure by .2
Lift whites by 20
Drop blacks by 10
Drop highlights by 20
Lift shadows by 20

Colors are richer (especially in highlights and mids), right?

Sorry if you already knew all this, but even if you did, maybe it will help somebody else.

Cheers,
Rob
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Tony Roseman

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Hi all,

Thank you, this is the kind of feedback I was looking for.

Victoria you are correct - experience does have its rewards

Fermat you are correct, he uses 35mm 1.4 prime and a 85mm prime both top quality lens. He always underexposes his images which captures stronger colours and contrast.

Yes he is highly skilled and captures a great shot in camera but he only uses a flash when he is allowed - normally at the reception.

Theres something about the colours tones though that I just can't replicate. ;(

There's another awesome photographer who also displays similar colour grading - Anil Tohani and his work can be seen here;
http://www.zurihsia.com/galleries/#/m...
His colours are similar in depth but lacking David's tones ( if that makes sense )

The exterior shots where no flash was used dispay similar beautiful colour depths, but not the same tones.

Rob thank you for your input , I will certainly have a play later and follow your advice ,

The beauty of photography and post production is you never stop learning and there's always something you didn't know - no matter how long you've been doing this.

The joy of this forum is the ability for people to share knowledge and help each other.

For that I am very greatful - thank you

I'll set a link to what I achieve soon and maybe share the same original file to see what you can do with the same file?

Many thanks all - very much appreciated
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Tony Roseman

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To add Rob- was you doing this in camera raw or photoshop itself in adjustment layers - levels etc?

Thanks
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Tony Roseman

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Hello again! 

So I have a challenge for anyone who wants to join in :)


I first met the amazing David Pullum at a wedding and in summary was blown away by his photography and I still am, I have lots of respect for the guy and I love seeing his work. 

At the wedding I had a Nikon D90 with a 18mm-105mm 3.5 and he had a 5D mk2 with a 35mm 1.4 ....... big difference I thought ....... to the point after months of attempting to get the same look, I sold all my nikon gear and ended up going over to canon thinking it was the equipment.... it so is not!
( I now have a 5dmk 2 and a 35mm 1.4!..and some!) 


This was the Wedding we both attended, ( me as a guest with a camera and David the Wedding Photographer ) Tracey and Lee 

You'll see a picture of a gorgeous young girl clasping a bag... this was shot with no flash and all of the colour correction was done in LR & PS.

On the link below is a raw file I took in the very same room - same lighting conditions etc.. along with the XMP file so you can see how I tried my best to get the closest look to Davids.


There is also a before photo ( Straight out of the camera );




and after jpeg file.... LR edits 



the only changes done were in LR and camera Raw ( no PS)
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/35668621/showcase.zip 


and after some PS..





It's not bad I know but its not what I'm looking for..I'm looking for  Tracey and Lee 

So the challenge is

a) Can you create a similar look to David's gallery in LR/Camera Raw alone?
b) Can you create the same look as David's using the above and PS? 

I'd love to see what you can come up with 


Many thanks and have fun :0)

Tony :)
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Rob Cole

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Tony,

Here is my whack at it using Lightroom only, and very limited locals:

http://www.robcole.com/Rob/Personal/P...

Dunno how close that is to what you wanted, but it certainly has pumped colors without seeming oversaturated, and maintains the contrasty look that I think you want..

Let me know how close or far I got - OK?

I added a few notes for the "info" box, but a couple thoughts since:
* Definitely a little supplemental fill light would have helped - hard to make as nice color when insufficient light in the shot.
* It's considerably cooler (temperature-wise) than your whack. But this shot is in shadow, which tends to be cooler naturally, and trying to warm it up too much gave it a fakey look to me - I added a little warmth to the bride via local adjustment which seems enough to me, but of course such is a matter of personal taste..
* I can see your reflection in the knife - taking the pic ;-).
* The above-mentioned "formula" (trading exposure for +whites) did NOT work for this pic - it needed all the exposure it could get and pulling up the whites wasn't buying anything. The above-mentioned formula works when photo color is washed out due to over-brightness - this photo was under-bright.

Cheers,
Rob
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Tony Roseman

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Morning Rob (07:34 uk time) 



Thanks for participating and I like what you have done with the shot, it is a good base point to start with however it doesn't come close to the  final look of the shots here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.262211493801218.64681.146515092037526&type=1 

There is obviously some photoshop action that occurs after the basic adjustments that give it that look. 

The desired end result is a lot more glossy, richer - and the pictures do not look like they have come from a digital camera if that makes sense? .(flat)...... 

I've been pursuing this for about 3 years now.... I'll know when i see it f'sure. If you go through all of Davids pictures  you'll see they all have the same look and feel regardless of day of night - indoors or out .... 

It's definately a photoshop thang! 

thanks again 


Tony  
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Rob Cole

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Well, in my defense, you didn't give me much to work with, light-n-color-wise, in the raw posted here ;-}. Regardless, definitely not all things are possible in Lightroom, since it has limited ability to selectively control color (and tone), which is what I think David is doing - enhancing in some regions without affecting all regions. I'd be curious to see what David would do with the shot you posted here, or conversely, if you could get a raw shot of his which he's processed, so there is something concrete to compare to. I also notice he crushes most of the detail out of the darks to black, or near black, which places most of the attention on the lit areas, and his pic's are all about the light, colored light. Or at least that is the impression I was left with, I only looked at a few dozen. Hope you figure it out, or come up with your own signature look... - cheers again, Rob.
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Tony Roseman

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Hi Rob,

Thanks for participating and I value your feedback - yes the original shot wasn't the best at all but it's one of the better looking subjects to use as an example

Of course I will have my own signature look, it's not my aim to copy - I'm just one of those people who wants to know how! It's been bugging me for 3 years now!

Maybe I should just pay him for a full days one to one tuition and be done with it - but for the same price I dould by a very nice lens ;0)

Really appreciate your input - many thanks indeed
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Fermat

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Hi Tony,

I also threw your picture into LR and here is my result:


I think this is a acceptable result, but of course not the same as David's work and I'm still not completely happy. But I don't want to add any effects from outside LR. And let me also add, that I wouldn't edit my photos that way - the overall contrast is quite to much for my taste ;-)

Unfortunately the photo itself is limiting your aspired look too. You had choosen an aperture of f9. I think this is much to closed, so you have nearly no 3-dimensional deep in the picture (I'd have tried something between f2.8 to f4, so with your lense f3.5 would probably give the best look here - and don't care about losing some sharpness as the overall picture is the most important thing). The background is to noticeable and to detailled. Furthermore there is to much open space on the right side and the bridal pair is in the center of the picture. It is difficult to dive in a picture when there is so much deviating stuff around. But of course the best photo position is always reserved for the pro wedding photographer ;-) and you compensated well with cropping and rotating.

Your picture is to saturated, bright and warm, I think. But Rob already explainded. His settings and instructions are quite good. I suggest to add a vignette to better move your eyes to the chief motive.
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Son Nguyen

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Sorry in advance, but I believe in the saying "Garbage In, Garbage Out." Post processing is a mean to improve a photo. To get the look you're after, you have to get it right in the camera first or at least close. In your example, the image is way underexpose. By savaging it, you introduced noise and artifact which is the reason why it doesn't look as you say "vibrant, rich, bright & clean". I was in your shoes years ago so I know. Once you have a good photo to start with (technically good), post processing is really easy.
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Tony Roseman

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Hey Son!

Thanks for your feedback and no need to apologise - all feedback is constructive in my eyes and the more the merrier who chip in the better

Firstly do you have a relative by the name of Son Nguyen by any chance? Amazing photographer and coach!

Yes you are totally right however this thread is all about what photoshop can do, rather than what I have done - poor example I know but I'm not looking for photography tips.

I'm sure whatever process has been applied to the goal I'm seeking would still give a similar look on a shabby looking picture as well.

If I posted a well composed/exposed picture would it make much difference to what I am asking?

Question - do you use PS for post production? Would love to see some examples of you have any?

Many thanks again

Have a great weekend

Tony
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Tony Roseman

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Hi Fermat

Great job indeed!

Thanks for your critique as well - I just used this picture as an example as it was underexposed on the subjects.

This was taken over 3 years ago I think with my D90 - great dynamic range compared to Canon by the way.

So do you ever take your pictures into photoshop or just stay in LR?

It's without a doubt a PS thing to get those super rich but solid colours .... My quest continues ;0)
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Rob Cole

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re: the quest..

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and imagine 2 different scenarios David would have chosen for this photo:

1. Try to brighten up the subject matter: e.g. Cake + People and a few bright things like glass of wine and glass table.., and darken everything else, then enhance the light.

2. Fully darken even the subject matter in favor of the light areas.

I would guess #1, since the shot just doesn't have that much light which can become the primary subject, and #2 would entail darkening the bride who is looking straight at camera/audience (David has silouette-type pics, but they're side view and/or..).

If I had to put David's style into a nutshell, it would be:
* He chooses what to enhance, and drives the rest into darkness. That's what gives his shots a sense of "simplicity" and "cleanliness" and not "typical camera photo".

His shots are very contrasty (and usually colorful, although his style can be seen in black & whites too), but it's more than just cranking down blacks and/or cranking up contrast and vibrance.. I would guess he uses more targeted adjustments / masking.

Obviously he has an eye for shooting too, but we're talking mostly about post-processing here, and the technique seems to be:

#1. Decide what to emphasize.
#2. Mask and downplay some elements whilst enhancing others.

Regarding shooting: there must be enough light, even if supplementation required, but preferrable: enhanceable natural light.

Not sure what else to say: if there was a real David-enhanced photo we could try and match (i.e. a "before" and after photo), it would be a lot easier to say what he did or may have done to get the results..

PS - I'm not an expert in Photoshop (even though I do use it from time to time) - but there are a variety of built-in tools as well as plugins for helping you do what you want to do. I confess, I usually use NX2 if I want to do selective adjustments, just because of the ease of u-points for auto-masking. Nik's Photoshop plugins support similar features..

Good luck in your quest.

Cheers,
Rob
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Tony Roseman

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Hi Rob
Apologies for the radio silence - the day job is soo demanding!!

Can I just say I really do appreciate your feedback because it's unbiased and constructive - and you're very knowledgeable - also passionate

Yes I do know plugins are used on David's pictures however any plugin in Photoshop is a shortcut to the long haul!

Yes we are talking about the post production and my example I posted wasn't the best to compete with Davids

Would like to see some of your work by the way if you have some to show ?

I have some here www.tonyroseman.com

Have a great weekend my friend - I might follow your advice and implement it on a pic :0)