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Old 10-20-2006, 01:46 AM   #1
iamback's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Amsterdam, NL
Posts: 4,894
Default Through the window

The first exercise...

So, I have all these pictures from North Korea taken through the bus window, bluish tinted glass. Why? Well, with one single exception we could never do a "photostop" (I asked, wanting to photograph the landscape, but we couldn't or were not allowed). Some of the bus windows had little sliding window at the top (but not all, and we didn't claim places), but you couldn't hang out of that little window all the time either. And apart from landscapes, there were townscapes, or people - I just wanted to capture "normal scenes", not great photography, simply "what it was like".

So I have all these bluish pictures (quite a few of them blurred as well, but sometimes that doesn't even matter!). I just kept taking them because in my mind I was convinced it would be possible to edit them back to more normal-looking pictures, somehow filtering out the blue.

I just picked one typical example (not too blurry - many are worse - but typically bluish); looking closely, the window also has the effect of reducing contrast a great deal - so just filtering out the blue would probably not be enough. I have not installed any external filters yet, just tried to use some of the tools in Paint Shop Pro - and I'm quite pleased with the result of my first exercise (I saved presets for the settings I used).

What I did was:
  • Duplicate the "background" layer (that's because not all of the steps can be done in an adjustment layer - this leaves the original untouched); so continue working with the duplicate
  • Adjust the color temperature (in PSP called "Grey world color balance"): set to 6000; this effectively already filters out most of the blue - but leaves a dull-looking image
  • Adjust black and white points; I picked the lightest blue in the sky and set it to a lighter blue - not white -; and the darkest shadow I could find and set it to darker (subtracting 10 from each color in hex)
  • Adjust gamma to 0.85 (all channels linked) to crank up the contrast; some of the shadows still look too bluish, but other colors now look ok
  • Final step (and the only one I can use an adjustment layer for): a "curves" layer; in the blue channel only make the curve "steeper" with two points (input -> output): 216 -> 229 and 52 -> 21
It can probably be fine-tuned or made more efficient; I also used just a single picture, I have yet to test whether my approach has an equally good result for all similar ones. (Angle of light on the glass may make a difference?) At least I proved to myself it's quite possible - and if I can standardize it, I could make a script for it, too.

Before-and-after samples attached; no sharpening or other editing applied, just the steps described above (plus reducing to a width of 800 and saving as a new JPG of course).

Comments and ideas for other approaches are welcome of course!
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Marjolein Katsma
Look through my eyes on Cultural Surfaces (soon!), My ArtFlakes shop and Flickr.
Occasionally I am also connecting online dots... and sometimes you can follow me on Marjolein's Travel Blog
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