Welcome to the Sagelight Editor Blog

This blog is for things currently happening in Sagelight.  Sagelight Version 4 is now free.

Useful links

Homepage: www.sagelighteditor.com

Blog (same as this one, but nicer): www.sagelighteditor.com/blog

My direct e-mail: rob@sagelighteditor.com

Direct link to version 4 (free) : www.sagelighteditor.com/install_sagelight.exe (28  megs, All Windows versions).

Sagelight Editor Facebook Page An informal place to post your pictures, thoughts, and ask questions.  It was just set up — please “like” it so it can get it’s own username.  note: I will be updating this page in a couple days (11/20/19 or thereabouts)

Youtube Page (with video tutorials — can be accessed on the discussion board, too): http://www.youtube.com/sagelighteditor

Highlights and Details Function (examples)

(fullscreen isn’t working on the blog.  Click on the full link https://youtu.be/zjoiSAnm9fA to see it in fullscren on Youtube)

Another one of Sagelight’s really nice HDR functions that may not be as visible as it should, since it’s not part of the Quick Edit Mode.

The Highlights and Details function brings out the shadow areas in your image without touching the highlights, using HDR technology. It can also bring out many details in your image.

This example shows two images, one that brings out the shadow areas easily, and the other that shows the “Details” part of the function, bringing out some great detail and creating effective lighting.

Sagelight 4 is now free. It’s continued development and updates are 100% based on donations through http://www.sagelighteditor.com/donate.html

CLAHE Highlight Recovery Function (Examples)

(fullscreen isn’t working on the blog.  Click on the full link  https://youtu.be/rd1tjBjlVG4 to see it in fullscren on Youtube)

The CLAHE Highlight Recovery function is a great HDR functin and one of the HDR functions added to Sagelight 4. It’s of many functions I want to highlight with Sagelight 4, now that I am back and can show some of its great functions that may not be as easily seen when its not in the Quick Edit Mode.

This video shows two examples of how the CLAHE Highlight Recovery can really bring out elements in your image!

Sagelight 4 is now free. It’s continued development and updates are 100% based on donations through http://www.sagelighteditor.com/donate.html

Sagelight 5 Preview – Equalizer Function

(fullscreen isn’t working on the blog.  Click on the full link https://youtu.be/CP0gOcBMF9E to see it in fullscren on Youtube)

This video shows the Equalizer Function that is a central part of the Quick Edit Mode in development for Sagelight 5. This function is an HDR function that I took from various parts of Sagelight 4. The Equalizer does some amazing things in various ways to images.

This is Part 1, showing on image, and I will upload parts 2-3 in a few days showing more images.

Sagelight 5 is not yet released, and its development progress and pace is based on donations made through http://www.sagelighteditor.com (and Paypal).

A Couple Quick GIF Examples

I’m trying a new thing with putting out quick examples, in this case in .GIF form on Gfycat.  Rather than the longer videos explaining how functions work at length, I am putting out much shorter examples that spotlight parts of Sagelight based on changing one image. This allows me to show some specific feature of Sagelight and to create shorter exampls that make it easier to see the unique features of many Sagelight functions.

I will be posting these on Youtube, and am creating even shorter and more directed versions through Gfycat.com, which I can post inline here and in other places.

Click on the image to see in 1920×1080 fullscreen.  Don’t forget to press the SD/HD button for high-definition!

Power Curves Example — Birds and a Nest against a Blue Sky

In this example, I am using the Power Curves, which is a very powerful function, and will no doubt be the subject of a few more examples.

In this case, I want to deepen the sky in a way that makes it darker, but not fake looking.  With images like this one, with a bright area with foreground objects, it can be hard to change the background area without generating halos.

The Power Curves allow for masking, so tha I can just select the sky area and change it.  Once the area is selected, most of the video is me using the RGB (i.e. light) curve to adjust the darkness of the background, and the saturation curve (i.e. how much color) to adjust the deepness of the color.

The Power Curves work in many spaces, such as RGB, LAB, LCH, HSL, etc.  In this case, I use a simple RGB set of curves, which also adds the ‘C’ curve, to adjust the saturation with its own curve.

Sagelight Version 5 – A Quick Example of the Contrast Function

Sagelight 5 is currently in development and features a completely revamped Quick Edit Mode.  I will be doing a series of videos to show it as I am building it.  This will help get feedback and pointers from users as I develop it.

In this case, I am showing off the Contrast Curves, which adds some new technology and control to Sagelight.   I will be posting a longer version on YouTube shortly, and will describe it more in that post.

This .GIF version shows how fast it can be done with more control, and then also uses the new Vignette slider in the Quick Edit Mode, as well as the Smart Light Function that has always been a great feature of Sagelight.

 

note: Please let me know what you think of the Gfycat feature.  I am looking at compiling a lot of examples and then having them as a separate feature inside of Sagelight for quick video tips.

 

SAGELIGHT IS BACK — AND ITS FREE

After a long hiatus, Sagelight editor is back.

Version 4 is now free, which is something I’ve wanted to try for a long time — give away Sagelight (or a version of it) and see of the pay-what-you-want/donation model can work enough to support Sagelight.  I’m looking at a donation model for version 4, and it would be great if it works.

I am currently writing Version 5 (which is about 70% completed), which has a lot of new changes, including a newly-revamped UI about which I am excited.

First, I want to get Sagelight back on track. I established the discussion board at www.sagelighteditor.com/discussion that explains a few things, including why the site went down. The short story is that it was due to a long-term terminal illness with my father and some predatory family members that weaved a considerable amount of destruction through the family and all of our personal lives. It is all over now, and this allows me to get back to Sagelight, for which I have developed a lot of new features and code.

On the discussion board, I also discuss version 5, and the new release of Version 4 as a free piece of software. This is the latest version with some bug fixes and some changes. See more on the discussion board.

If you are a previous owner of Sagelight, download this version as an update.  It’s exactly the same except for the bug fixes and a few changes.

I will be filling out this blog in the next few days (after Thursday). In the meantime, please feel free to download Sagelight Editor by going to www.sagelighteditor.com and clicking on “Download”. Please report any bugs!

Rob

Light Blender Blog: Vivid HDR Preset (that you can download)

dog-closeup-600

 

The Vivid HDR Preset is a preset you can load into Sagelight.  Just download it and then use it on any image in the Quick Edit Mode.  See below for details on how to load the presets and use them in Sagelight.

 

Natural HDR and the Light Blender

The Light Blender in Sagelight is a very powerful tool and is a great for natural HDR results.  Where other HDR functions (including those in Sagelight) can give an HDR look-and-feel, the results can sometimes  be harsh and look more artistic than realistic (depending on how you use it, anyway).

The Light Blender is rooted in a true HDR base algorithm, bringing out the range of your image in a way that looks more realistic.  The Light Blender’s main purpose is to bring out the shadows and bring down the highlights to give a good, broad range to your image, reducing severe highlights and shadows.

plane-new-600_edited-title(Before and After Image of Light Blender Natural Vivid Preset)

 

Natural HDR, in General

I have been working on many ‘natural’ (i.e. realistic-looking) HDR aspects of Sagelight lately, and the release of the Vivid HDR preset is one of many elements I am adding to Sagelight, and the first of a number of presets for the Light Blender to work with natural-looking HDR.

With the latest efforts in development and cameras these days, HDR – that is, natural HDR – is a very big component of digital photography.  New cameras have HDR modes, and even for those that don’t, using a single frame (instead of 3 or more)  — even a JPEG — as a source is now completely realistic.

The idea of HDR, natural or artistic, is no longer limited to those with the right expertise, equipment or specialized software.   This really has a lot to do with the growth of technology in image editors like Sagelight, but also in the sheer quality of the images being returned by today’s cameras.

 

leaves-vivid-600-title

(Another before-and-after example of the Vivid HDR Preset)

Full Range of Light and Colors

When used correctly, a natural HDR effect can bring out the image the way the eye sees it.   Our eyes continually adjust to the light, and we tend to see the shadows and highlights, where the camera sees more washed out highlights and darker shadows.

There is also the element of the harshness of the light on the subject, depending on the angle of the sun or other light sources.  Natural HDR can take that mid-afternoon shot, with its bright, white-ish highlights and deep shadows, and turn it into a shot that has the color and range of a late afternoon or early morning shot!

The Light Blender Vivid HDR Preset

The two above examples are basic before-and-after examples of using the Vivid HDR Preset.

This preset works by bringing out the range of your image.  You may then change many different settings, including the curve/equalizers.

Getting Halo-Free Results

A big part of bringing out the dynamic range in an image (especially around areas of contrast and shadows) is halos – those darkened or light areas that tend to make a picture look unnatural.

The Vivid HDR preset works without creating halos, but subsequent definition and focus levels can create small halos, sometimes visible.  There is a way to work with halos, and I will outline these later in this article.  See the “Getting Halo-Free Results Continued” section below.

Downloading the Presets

To download the presets, download the following .SLP files.  You can place them anywhere on your system, and then load them through the Quick Edit Mode Preset Function.

Using the Light Blender HDR Preset

 

presetgraphic

To use the preset, simply press the Preset button in the Quick Edit Mode (Step 1).  Then press “Load Preset” (Step 2).

One you press “Load Preset” go to the directory where you put or downloaded the presets.  Then you will see a screen similar to this:

presetwindow

Simply click on the preset (i.e. “Vivid HDR 1”), and you will see your image change to reflect the range of your image.

There is also the “Vivid HDR 1 (lift shadows)” preset, but lets stick with “Vivid HDR 1” for now.

leaves-org-600

Using the Preset

Let’s take the above picture of the leaves as an example.  Follow the steps outlined above.

leaves-vivid-600

 

When you load the Vivid HDR curve, this is the result.  You don’t really need to do anything else.   You can then use the Vibrance and other controls.

Use the Apply Button and Smart Light

Sagelight is non-destructive to your image in this process. Sagelight is also based on re-using controls.  You can then press the Apply button to lock these changes, so you can do more with your image than you could with just one set of controls.

After this, you can use many other controls to really bring out the light in your image.  The best control to use after using the Vivid HDR Preset is the Smart Light (the Light Symbol in the bottom-left of the Quick Edit Mode).  Inside the Smart Light, try using the Midtone Contrast with the Highlight Slider.

lighthouse-org-600

Another Example

The first example with the leaves worked out great.  There really wasn’t much to do with it.  This isn’t true for all images.  For example, the image above (the Lighthouse) is dark. 

Load the Vivid HDR preset with this image, and here is the result:

lighthouse-vivid-hdr

You can see that the range has been brought out, both by deepening the highlights and bringing up the shadows.   But, it’s still a little dark.

I can get a great image by pressing the Apply Button and using the Smart Light Controls, as suggested above.

2674994140-vivid-hdr-SmartLight

The above is the Vivid HDR preset after I used the Apply Button and a single pass in the Smart Light. I can then fine-tune the image to get what I want, such as contrast, more color, and so-forth.

If you look very closely, you can see a feint trace of haloing in the trees, and possibly on the sides of the lighthouse.  These are barely noticeable, but sometimes can show up if you do further editing.

Most of the time, small halos aren’t a problem and you would only know they are there if you were comparing the image directly to the original.

However, there is a way to work with the Vivid HDR Result that – as other functions are used (such as the Definition controls) – generates no halos whatsoever! See the section below, entitled: Advanced Techniques: Working with the Vivid HDR Result Curve.

vividwindow

Working with the Result: Using the Light Blender Controls

You can affect the result greatly with just a few tools in the Light Blender and Power Box.

When you load the HDR Vivid Curve, the controls in the screen above show up.

You can dismiss the LightBlender Curves Window – just click it off (it really shouldn’t be showing up; it just does that when the preset has changed the curve, which the Vivid HDR preset does).

The other controls, however, do some great things with the result:

LightBlenderMoreControls

 

Frame Transparency and Reduce Softening/Halos

These two controls work together for a great effect.  Move the Reduce/Softening Halos to increase the feathering – this can add definition and make your image look more natural.

Simultaneously, try sliding the Frame Transparency – this will brighten your image.

When used together, these can create a nice, bright, natural image, even when the initial result doesn’t look the best.

As you move the Frame Transparency Slider, you can also lose definition.  Use the Definition Slider to compensate (see more below)

Mix Original Color

When you use the controls, the image can start to look very colorful – sometimes in an unnatural manner, as the new bright shadows have more color than they need. Sometimes this works in the opposite direction, and not enough color is brought out from the image.

Use the Mix Original Color slider to compensate.  As you move the slider to the right, less color is added from the original image; as you move the slider to the left, more color is retained. 

You can also use the Saturation and Vibrance controls.

DefinitionControls

Using the Definition Slider (or avoiding it)

When you use the Vivid HDR preset, the Focus is set to 15 (make sure #2 is pressed; this is the focus, where #1 is the definition and is not set).  This is set because the Vivid HDR brings out the dynamic range, which reduces definition.

The Focus Control brings back the definition, but can be at the cost of some slight edging or halos (usually this isn’t the case, and you can set it to 0 and back to 15 to see the difference).

In some cases, you might want to avoid using the Definition and Focus controls until after you’ve edited the image for light and balance.

As you use the other controls (such as the Frame Transparency Slider), you can reduce or increase both the Focus (#2) and Definition (#1) controls to keep or reduce the overall local contrast and definition in your image.

You can use the Equalizer

See Advanced Techniques: Working with the Vivid HDR Result Curve. Below.

 

lighthouse-curve-600

 

Advanced Techniques: Working with the Vivid HDR Result Curve

(aka Getting Halo-Free Results Continued)

The above shows the screen after you load the Vivid HDR Preset.  You can usually ignore the curve and just close the window.

In the example with the Lighthouse above, I showed where I used the Smart Light function just after loading (and applying through the Apply Button) the Vivid HDR Preset.   However, this generate dsome very feint halos.

You can adjust the Equalizer or the curve itself (by just grabbing the curve and moving it, or using the mouse-wheel on the curve points for greater accuracy)

lighthouse-curve-only

The above is the result adjusting the LightBlender Curve (note that the Focus control in the Power Box was set to 0 to avoid halos).  This example is halo-free!

lighthouse-halo-free-zone

The image above shows that there are now halos in the result image (you would see them if they were there in this augmented image).

 

2674994140-vividhdr-curve-edit-smartlight-HDR-600

The above is the same image after using the Smart Light Contrast Control, a little HDR, Noise Reduction and the Undo Brush – all still halo-free!

Using “Vivid HDR 1 (lift shadows)” Preset

For some images, you may want to detail the shadows even more.  The “Lift Shadows” version of the preset works well for this.

leaves-vivid-600

For example, the above image is the result of using the “Vivid HDR 1” preset.

leaves-vivid-shadows-600

This example is the result of using the Lift Shadows version.  If you look closely, you can see more shadow detail in the second image.

On some images, this may make the image too bright in the low shadows – you can just load the “Vivid HDR” preset, or use the left-most equalizer handle to adjust the shadows (or grab the curve in the curve box).

eagle-new-600

(Original Image)

Restoring Highlights with the Vivid HDR Preset

The Vivid HDR preset can help restore highlights.

eagle-vivid-600

In the result image, you can see much more definition where the highlights were blown out before.  The eagle is brighter and more balanced overall.

You can use the controls to add back contrast, add or remove color, and otherwise create the image you want – now with much more definition in the highlights.

 

dog-org-600

(Original Image)

Vivid HDR is great for Artistic and Natural HDR

The Vivid HDR Preset does a great job of setting up an image for an HDR pass in the HDR Panel or other HDR functions in Sagelight. The result can be a more natural HDR – still artistic and impressive, but not quite as artificial-looking as some HDR.

dog-hdr-600

Wit this result, the dog definition as an HDR look, but it also look natural and smooth. A very light pass of NL Wavelet Noise Reduction was also used

dog-closeup-600

This is a closeup of the HDR image, showing the very high quality and definition of the result!

Keep in mind this is a single-frame HDR image, not multiple exposures.

Conclusion

The Light Blender is, indeed, a very powerful tool.  The Vivid HDR Preset just released is a small part of the Light Blender, but shows how much it can do to help your image.

This is the first of a few Light Blender presets to create natural HDR in your image, as well as help create heavier artistic HDR effects that are more artistic but also with a natural look and feel.

The Vivid HDR Preset helps bring out the HDR elements of your image – both shadows and highlights – so you can create a more vibrant picture more easily.

Once the Vivid HDR preset is used, many tasks become much simple – just use the Vibrance and other controls,  press the Apply Button and use the Smart Light Control to create a great image.

You can go further and use this as a base for more HDR effects, or mixing your image with the Undo Brush for more localized editing.

You can create different and more compelling results by modifying the Vivid HDR curve and using the Frame Transparency and Halo Reduction Sliders.

This preset will appear in the Light Blender as an inline preset when the UI is updated. 

For now, try it out and see what you can do!

Up Next: Light Blender Natural HDR:

portrait-org-500portrait-vivid-feather-500-2

(click on images for larger sizes)

In the next release, a new preset which has a great natural feel to it.  The next Light Blender preset release will help you to automatically get very natural HDR effects out of most images – just by loading the preset. 

Rob’s Cell-Phone Blog: The New Era of Cell-Phone Cameras (and Lens Blur, Part II)

20140529_105130_edited-700

Flower Taken with my Galaxy S5 16MP On-Board Camera (with virtually no touch-ups, save one – Lens Blur / Bokeh)

 

Cell Phone Cameras are Now Able to Take Great Pictures

I just upgraded to my new Samsung Galaxy S5.  I didn’t really need it, but I upgraded anyway for one specific reason: the camera.

The camera in the Galaxy S5 is 16-megapixel and offers great color, as well as a number of modes, specifically an HDR mode (that is, true HDR, not the artificial kind) which allows the camera to take pictures that don’t kill highlights and shadows.

the iPhone has a similar capacity, and both cameras do a great job with panoramas, stitching them basically perfectly (or close enough in some cases) – in fact, a few of the images I posted on the www.cinepanplayer.com site are from iPhone cameras.

Introducing Rob’s Cell-Phone Blog

This is the first entry in ‘Rob’s Cell-Phone Blog’.  The magic of new technology is that it makes such great tools available to all of us.  Now anyone with a cell-phone released in the last couple years can get great pictures – and easily, considering our phones are with us all the time (I think this is one of the main things).

While I am working on the next version of Sagelight, I am going to start posting entries with pictures taken with my cell-phone, as well as those taken with my bigger camera for comparison.

My main purpose here is two-fold:

1. To show that you don’t need to be an expert or committed to expensive equipment to get good pictures.  Of course, the nicer the camera, the better the picture, and – more importantly – the more great pictures you can get.

2. To show that with cameras now returning ready-to-publish pictures, using an image editor such as Sagelight (or Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.) is even more compelling and creative.

As such (with #2), there is something counter-intuitive going on.  At first, it seems that, if a camera can return a great picture, you don’t need an image editor like Sagelight.

Well, you don’t.  And that’s the beauty of it and the part that seems counter-intuitive at first.

The main thing is that you really don’t need an image editor with most newer cameras now, at least in JPEG mode.  And that’s a great thing, because now you don’t have to spend time fixing the image for color and other problems.

That’s liberating, because now you can work on your artistic view of the image instead of what may be going wrong with your image. Now I want an image editor to do the things I couldn’t do with lesser images – those lower-quality, problematic images with contrast and other problems.

My aim is to show that the better the picture from the camera, it really means the more you can do with an image editor like Sagelight.

In fact, for those curious, this is why I have been steadily putting serious and powerful tools in Sagelight over the last 2-3 years (i.e. HDR, Bokeh, Power Details, etc.), because technology is allowing us to be more creative with our image than ever before.

 

Getting Great Shots Easily

As I mentioned, I am not saying – in any way – that the camera technology appearing in newer cellphones are nearly as good as a camera you would by as a standalone camera.   My Fujifilm SL-1000 is much better than the camera in the Galaxy S5, and I am always going to get better pictures with the SL-1000 than I will with the Galaxy S5 (and, by my rating, the Fujifilm Sl-1000 is only a mediocre camera, mostly because of the horrible JPEG codec, forcing me to take RAW all the time, and effectively making many modes (that won’t write out to RAW) pretty-much worthless).

But, I take my cell phone everywhere I go – with my bigger, standalone camera, I need to think about it; I need to be in photographer mode and out to specifically get pictures.

Now that my cell phone takes some great pictures, I can actually think about them artistically and see them as quality images, where I just couldn’t before except for the picture that somehow randomly came out great with my previous cell-phone.

 

20140529_105130-700

The Original Image

Great Color and Image Quality

The nice thing about the Galaxy S5 camera (and no-doubt the pictures from the iPhone and other cell-phone cameras) is the perfect color.

The image above is the original picture with no changes. 

To me, that’s great – now I can spend more time creating my artistic view of the image rather than fixing it’s problems.

20140529_105130_edited-700

The New Image (again – this is the same image as the top image)

More Lens Blur / Bokeh – Lens Blur Part II

This can be considered a continuation of the Lens Blur post from a couple days ago:

The only change I made to this picture was to add some lens blur, using the techniques I described in the last blog article.  I wanted to bring out the flower into the foreground, especially since some concrete is showing in the upper-right (which I could have removed with the clone brush)

In this case, I created a more accurate mask with the Sagelight Masking and Fill Mask tools, which took about 5 minutes.

mask-flower-accurate

You can see where I made a more accurate mask.  I wanted to blur the background, but also wanted to keep it looking realistic.

mask-flower-accurate-closeup

Here is a closeup of the selection mask for reference – you can see the Sagelight Masking and the Fill Mask tool did a great job!

The result brings the flower more into the foreground, and now that concrete patch is a little less present as part of the picture.  If I wanted to continue editing this image, here is what I would do (if anyone wants me to do it, I can post it):

  1. Remove the Concrete Patch.  I would just use the clone brush to bring in some of the green areas (from the left) to obscure the concrete.  It’s easy to do and would look realistic.
  2. Remove the Blown-Out Highlight.  The upper-left part of the flower has some blown-out highlights.  I would just use the clone brush (with a low pressure) to blend in some texture from another part of the flower.  Actually, I did this and it looked great.  I must have reverted to a previous version before I did the Lens Blur / Bokeh.

Conclusion

I really like what I am seeing with technology in cameras these days.  Cell-Phone cameras can now take some great pictures, and since we always have our cell-phones with us, we have even more opportunity to take great pictures spontaneously.

Since I don’t always have my bigger and much better Fujifilm camera with me, the quality of my Galaxy S5 cell-phone camera allows me to think creatively on-the-fly when I am just walking by this flower or that rainbow, or wherever.

My larger camera still takes much superior pictures and gives me more chances at a nice picture, but I don’t carry it with me always, and its great to have a camera on me all the time where I can get something great here and there.

With the HDR and panorama modes, it makes life even better:

bjpenn-700

BJ Penn Gym, Hilo, Hawaii

The above image was taken with the photosphere program, which is a 360×360 image.  It’s not perfect and has a lot of errors, but it’s great to have.  This picture will never be professional-quality, but I also took in about 2 minutes and performed no post-processing on it.

 

Now that I can get great images from my cell-phone camera (as well as just about any camera nowadays), I don’t need to worry so much about fixing it and can concentrate on my vision for the image.

This makes image-editing much more fun and creative, when I can deal with a great image from the start – even with my cell-phone.