Skin Tone and Black & White Points
Okay, well, now now we're going to enter our post production phase of this whole process we've captured our images and probably the most important thing that we can do with our skin is get the color right and, you know, skin tones, everyone obsesses over them and this is like one of the hardest things actually is tio t really understand how to get that right? So I'm going to start with a little a keynote here to give us sort of technical background on the process of color correction and then we're going to move into our actual images that we shot in light room and do some retouching as well, but we'll start with the color and okay, so the problem here with colors we're looking at something now on screen and what what really are we looking at, right if we just visually look at this, we see, you know, there's a big grey field and then there's a white squared inside of that is a black square, right? That's what we see, but is that really the case? Okay, so I want you to look at this squar...
e and I'm gonna change it a little bit, so look at it and see if you can see it change, okay, just see a change, another is kind of I'm going, I'm going to go back without the white okay so look very closely did you see that change you saw that change right? The subtle change this this kind of masks it a little bit that white um but now we're just going back we thought we were looking at gray white black but we don't actually know until we really investigate what the numbers tell us so when we're in photo shop we're looking we have the info panel open and we're going to be looking at numbers so we look at the numbers for this gray and I see one twenty three one twenty seven one twenty nine real neutral gray is equal they would all be equal but it's very hard to visually see that this grey has a blue cast it's easy to read the numbers and know that it's absolutely not neutral and it's easy to read the numbers of the white here to forty five to forty four to fifty not only is it not pure white but it again it has a blue cast and are are black well guess what? It's not actually zero zero zero black ah and it definitely has a blue cast so what we're looking at though is an example of human white point adaptation so the longer we stare at this on our monitor them or we identify the brightest thing as the white point and we see the gray as gray because it's close so we will consider this to be neutral, even though it really isn't because that's, the way our visual system actually works, we tend to neutralize the white point in any colored lights. So in in this room, for instance, with video lights we can we can still look at a white table over here and say, oh, that's why, even though it might be a slightly off white color, and if we take it into a tungsten room with incandescent lights, it would be yellow, but we'd still see it is white just the way the human system works. Now, if I put that the cooler a version of that set up in the middle here, you can see definitely that those two versions of these squares were not the same, even though visually, we really couldn't tell very hard to see unless you saw the jump cut directly from the cooler to the more neutral. And here you can really see that the white wasn't very white, it's sze a much duller than white and when we're color correct, and we have to be cognizant of these issues. And so you have to learn to trust the numbers and not necessarily your eyes. So one of the first things we do is we set the white the black points in the image, so thes air the numbers that I aim for uh and they tend to work for, uh, images they're going to be printed, even even inkjet prints, which are sort of high end prints. We don't want to aim for pure white if in a in a tone that should be a white, like a white object, right somebody's wearing a white wedding dress, we don't want that dress to be higher than two forty five to forty five to forty five, and that black tuxedo we don't want the black to be lower than a level of fifteen, fifteen and fifteen. And why? Because in print, when we go to print that most printers, when you reach a level of fifteen, they print at all the tones darker than that the same shade of black this typically is the darkest tone that a printer can actually hold any kind of difference in. So if you want the next lighter tone from brad black to be able to be reproduced, you shouldn't set your black point two zero you said it to fifteen so that the next lightest tone will be sixteen and we can actually see that that tone has being different from black and kind of consequently also conversely, on the white side to fifty five would be paper white, no sense of texture, detail or sense of substance, so you don't want to make a white dress which has a range of subtle tones in it you don't want to push it so close that it's just going to blow out to paper white we want to have some sense of detail there so we set the white point at two forty five now almost all images are going to have a black point or some dark shadow that we can consider black even if it's like the pupil of the eyes or something in there there's going to be black but not all images are going to have a white point if you have no white objects in the scene it's going to be hard to set a white point and you can't use a speculator highlight because you may have ah hot reflection on a yellow car fender or something and it's it's going to be so white that it's not going to tell you you know anything about the the surface that's on so we can't sort of ignore speculator highlights or reflections but white objects of white shirt like table a wall or something you don't want to put those higher than two forty five but if you don't have a white object in the scene you can't force a white point into the scene you're ruining so you have to use your judgment now the important thing about these points once we determine these points in our image if we can make them neutral a lot of times eighty percent of the time all the color problems go away and it just neutralize your color you're good to go so really that's the first thing we attempt to do is set a white point of black point neutralize and see what happens to the image so here's a new example, so we're going to attempt to identify the white point and the black point in this image and you know the black points pretty easy it's going to be somewhere in a shadow in between the two kids in the hair? Maybe we'll probably find that is the darkest point somewhere in there now everybody here though if you were to pick the white ist the white point the white ist thing in the image what would it be? And it just just yell out uh this is a speculum highlight we got it, we got a discount this so so don't you forget about this that's that's off the table? What else is the lightest what's the let's call it right everybody that looks at this image picks the collar as the widest thing and if you picked that you'd be wrong because this is actually not the lightest thing in the image this is and I if I move that square up there to see that white collars actually quiet a bit darker now this is a clue certainly because we know she's wearing a white t shirt but if fat white t shirts actually recording darker than this cabinet behind, we know that that cabinet molding has to be white. So that's it that's our first clue. We've got to make that our white point, and we'll talk about this in photo shop of the images that we shot are not goingto have real obvious white points in them, but you cannot. You can identify the lightest and darkest things just with a technical move. So, uh, we could find out in photo shop with the lightest thing is pretty easily by looking at the numbers right on there's, another little trick that we can use. So you've got to be aware that your eyes will fool you there's a perfect example of it. You know, we're looking at this thing, and that collar looks like it's the lightest thing because it's surrounded by darker colors and objects, so it looks brighter. By contrast, the human visual system is all about local contrast. We we are I keys in on contrast. So we see that we we read that that white is being brighter than it actually is. So you have to be aware that your eyes are going to play tricks on. You have to be measuring things with numbers, so the info panel is going to be your friend. And I can always tell like the rial experts from the you know the wannabes because real experts have the info panel open all the time and most people I walk look over their shoulder when they're working in photo shop and you can't find the info panel anywhere if I asked them show me the info panel they don't they've never even seen it okay so we're going to spend a lot of time looking at the info panel yeah I have a question maybe being premature but when you're talking about the info panel and the eyedropper tool and setting eyedropper points for the white you've mentioned the numbers being at two forty five across the board for white and fifteen across the board for black are you saying that those air clipping for prints and that you're not picking up any detail because I've been thinking that it's safe to push it all the way to zero and you're still actually getting some detail no tested out okay um you know if you're if you're correcting for a specific print condition you can always do a test and see you know what where you where you get black so I have this in this in the skin book I believe there's a little test strip thing and you make you make sort of a step wedge of black progressions you know I do it by like level five levels at a time just to see and you and you print that you'll see that usually depending on the paper I mean, sometimes you can use a like a glossy paper and you can see separation that like ten levels but most paper prints at a level of fifteen it starts to print the same shade of black for every tone that's darker than that. So you know, the dynamic range of a print is not what the monitor is because it's not backlit and isn't that the biggest problem people have when they make prince they're always too dark and that's one reason they're always too hard because everybody's black points or at zero instead of you know, elevated to fifteen which is a that's a that's a fairly large amount, you know? But you are just by printing something you're going to be sacrificing dynamic range so you really wantto control where you are placing your tones in the print. Okay? So when we when we do that when I set the white the black points, you know, I can go from from this to this. So I've got to run to the whole thing here is this just a review? You know? And when you set these that that moulding in the background there, if you set that to two forty five and you sent your black point to fifteen uh, you can get it's like taking the smog off and we can get a more color correct image yeah, black point the black point is a is a shadow on the down in here somewhere um and it's it's hard to see on this this monitor but probably the people at home looking at this can actually see on their monitors and you could see into those shadows a little bit more okay, now uh if if I was to ask you what was the most important color in that photograph that we were just looking at it right you have to say anybody most important color in that that scene yes, right? I ask this once to a group and somebody said the red sweater on lee if you're the sweater manufacturer, is that going to be the most important color if it's a picture of people it's the skin is the most important and ironically it's the hardest color to get and to really get nice in digital capture and there's there's some technical reasons for that but most the time it's it's really? Because we don't really like accurate color we say we want accurate color and everybody is making a big deal about this camera captures the color better than that camera and the fact of the matter is we don't like accurate color we'd rather have good cold and good colors different than accurate color good color is based on one hundred years of reproduction history and printing in magazines and cultural bias you know, in in western culture we've been looking at magazines for many, many years and we've been looking at movies for many years all the media has shaped our preferences for skin tone because if you look around in this room if I look at all the different students here every single one of you has a radically different skin color and none of you has the ideal skin color that we prefer in our prince so when you're making prints for the bride and the groom you better not be giving them accurate skin color because they will hate the pictures everyone wants, you know kind of the disney version you know then and the ideal skin color there's a formula for so I'm going to give you the formula this is this uber secret it's actually not secret all pre press guys know this inside and out but basically we're going to look at a c m y cain numbers and we want the magenta and yellow numbers to be close to each other certainly closer to the each other than they either one of those would be two sayin and yellow is always a little higher um and there's with a few exceptions and I'll talk about that the science value should be one third to one quarter of the value the average value of the magenta yellow so really what it means is that gender yellow are much closer to each other than either one of them is to sayin sayin is it will go up as the skin gets darker so it's it's something you have to be aware of and I'm talking about really evaluating the color and seemed like a even when the file is rgb and this is the way that works in the info panel uh we're reading the second color rita which by default is this seem like a uh if you would when you get home and you open up your photo shop if this second calorie it out does not seem like it because it might have been changed, you can change it back just by clicking on that little eyedropper icon and you'll get the drop down menu you can make you conflict a number of work spaces, but I would select seem like a for evaluating skin tone, ok? And we can see over here uh, you know you've got there's two columns of numbers, the first column is the unaltered color and the second column is what's happens after we've applied whatever adjustment we're working on, so when you put an adjustment later on and you're working the curves uh, you khun see the numbers change over here and they compare them to the way they were before you apply the curve um and so we're working here looking at these numbers and these would represent a pretty good uh skin tone uh formula eleven percent sayin thirty percent magenta forty percent yellow so both magenta yellow are much closer to each other than either one of them is to this eleven percent and the eleven percent is somewhere between a third and a and a quarter um in fact in this the situation it's exactly one third away from a gentle one quarter away from uh yellow uh now this is sort of like the pirates of the caribbean okay they're not exactly rules they're just guidelines so I'm not saying that this exact formula is going to be your perfect skin colored formula you have toe lane it's a guideline and knowing what we're aiming for gets us much faster at pushing the color in the right direction so now when we're working and I'm going to go into photoshopped don't worry it's all going to be keynote from here on in um when we're when we get into photo shop you're going to be an rgb so you're going to be manipulating these rgb numbers to get these things to change and the hint here um to know what rgb number you wanted manipulate to effect say the scion you look across the info panel you see that red is opposite sayin so if I want the science number to go down I'm gonna add red okay so I want the red value in rgb to go up and then all notice that this number will go down uh and magenta, if I want more magenta, I'm going to want to reduce the amount of green so these are your opponent colors red is the opponent of sand green is the opponent of magenta blue is the opponent of yellow so far a lot more yellow I needed less blue we need less yellow I need more blue so you're really always doing the opposite in rgb of the direction that you want that the scene why numbers to change? Okay. And typically in skin tone there's really no black toby worried about typically until you get really, really dark skin, then you may see some black in there it's it's really the ratio sayin magenta yellow that we're concerned with and I will talk about the the variations um, I'll mention on lee that these thiss formula exactly is expressed here is pretty good for, um for caucasian skin, er and irregardless of what their actual skin color is we you know, sometimes people have really, really pale, almost blue, a lot of kind of blue element in the skin we don't like it to actually print that way, so we we want a kind of warm glow in the skin and all times and we don't like to see magenta equal yellow even if that is normal for the skin for the real skin color like a uh sort of a peaches and cream kind of skin color like our model today had that sort of red hair and the kind of freckle kind of skin that's normally going to be pretty going to have a high magenta value but we don't like to see magenta yellow equal because it looks like sunburn skin and that's a big problem with babies to babies will will tend to have that weird pink like two pink look so you gotta be on the lookout for that as the skin gets darker though when we get into, uh like really dark african american skin the ratio has to change to favor the magenta and when it gets really dark you can have equal magenta tio because what we're concerned with as the scion value comes up is the king the skin gets darker and darker nets I envy that comes up the problem we encounters at the scion in and yellow mixed together and make green and we have we don't want the skin to look green no matter what. So that's that's a big problem yeah, but because you're saying there's like a bluish tint to some skin if you see model that comes in and you may say, oh that might be the case with you do you use like a gold reflector ever or is that and you can you can that's that is a popular thing to give that sort of warmth to the skin um I usually don't worry about that because I corrected and you run into problems when you have like a shadow that's a different color than a highlight you have a killer crossover so usually try to avoid that and lighting because then it makes global color correction easier when you're not trying to correct in two different directions, you know, so it's that the use of gold reflectors was actually very popular when shooting film because we didn't have the option of color cracked as much as we do now so I would say it's it's less necessary now so I wouldn't in general I don't I don't use that um okay, good question way asked us and questions that should come up about this is questions from nick ray, tricia and mary from costa rica asking about sixteen r eight bit files when editing retouching do you typically work with the eight bit and does it matter if I you know, I have yet to find an instance where it really being in sixteen bits really made a difference? Uh and since you know, I'm pretty convinced that really in normal photographic imagery sixteen bits versus eight that's makes no difference whatsoever so I'd rather just keep it in eight minutes it matters in your ear initial capture the the raw data is captured at high bit death and I think that is important, but as long as you have a roth I will work from you can always go back to it and do something with it, but we're really printing from eight bid files and retouching and all that color correcting innate fits I've never seen it matter enough to to really warrant mieze go taking the effort to work on the bigger files like that because oftentimes on I end up with lots and lots of layers and you know when the file starts off, being twice is big for the given size and us start adding layers, it really gets out of hand very quickly, so I, you know, I've never seen sixteen bits represent any improvement whatsoever in fact, it could be problems because usually you're in sixteen bits to avoid banding in print or you've been told that, you know, sixteen bits sort of guarantees that you're not gonna band anywhere. Um and usually all it means is you can't see what you're doing on screen because the screen is eight bits of video card is eight bits unless you spend a lot of money and you get a real high end since we're going to cost about ten thousand dollars to getting video system that supports high bit death and best that'll be is something like fourteen bits. You know, um, so typically you just you can't even see it on screen to know that sixteen bits is doing anything for you. And then you think you're fine and we go to print it bands, anyway, uh, if you're gonna have banding, it will happen. Whether you're in sixteen minutes rapists, I would rather be ableto preview and see it in eight bits and then fix it, then find out after I've spent the money of getting the print made that I'm getting banding anyway. So it's, a little of off topic for what we're going to be doing for the next three days. Um, but, uh, yeah, and maybe for another workshop, we'll see.