Two New Video Tutorials

I just posted two new video tutorials on You Tube.  As with all Sagelight tutorials, they’re in 1280×720 HD.

Using the Power Box: Vibrance and Definition

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZD6ucLW5_A

This tutorial shows some examples of using the Vibrance and Definition controls in the Power Box together.

The Vibrance allows you to add a lot of deep color quickly to your image, where the definition controls allow you to add definition and clarity to your image making it seem more like its popping out of the monitor.   As someone who uses Sagelight said, it makes it look like your picture is in 3-D on your monitor.

When the Vibrance and Definition controls are used together, it can make adding color to your image much more realistic.

note: This video starts in right into an example — I deleted the introduction because it was long and boring (you’re welcome!).  The missing parts get filled in the second example.

Brightening the Eyes in Portraits (and other portrait tips)

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU9gPunbZCg

I’ve run across a lot of portraits where the eyes were either in the shadows or could just use some general brightening to help focus on the subject.  For example, if you search for “Portrait” on Flickr, you’ll see that a large percentage of the pictures have been enhance to bring out the eyes.  In some cases, the eyes are just shadowy because of the way the shape of our face hides them.  In other cases, you will see what the eyes were brought out on purpose to bring us into the picture.

This tutorial shows how to do that with Sagelight very easily, and also shows some other techniques like using the Highlight brush in the Dodge and Burn, as well as smoothing out the skin.

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9 thoughts on “Two New Video Tutorials

  1. Thank you Rob! These are very helpful videos. It’s really good to see a picture being transformed as you demonstrate the various controls. I’m not sure if you have other videos planned, but if you could demonstrate the use of the 2 Definition Layers that would be helpful too.
    Thanks, Adrian

    • Hi, Adrian. Thanks for the comment. It’s fun doing them, though it does take a while to find the right examples!

      The video on the Vibrance/Definition layers shows using the definition layers, though it’s meant as a quick overview. Is it enough, or do you think I should do a separate video on it?

      Rob

  2. Hi Rob, Yes I did notice you using the layers, but I’m not sure of the significance of using them both. For example, should I use one particular layer for sharpening before the other, or does is not matter in what order they are used? I appreciate it must take you valuable time to do the videos, but they really do add value to SageLight, By that I mean that with a product like yours which can do so much in many different ways it’s easy to get in the habit of using the same controls all the time. Watching you demo other controls inspires me to keep experimenting. Sometimes having read the help, just watching it in action suddenly makes sense. As they say, a picture (or video) is worth a thousand words.

    Adrian

    • Thanks, Adrian. I appreciate that — especially since it took two days just to make two simple videos. It was mostly figuring out the examples, the order, what to say — and then (quite properly) I ended up throwing out half of each video anyway. I’m too long-winded, I’m afraid. ha.

      With the definition layers. I would use layer 2 with a larger radius than layer 1. As the defaults, layer 2 is set to what tends to be a good radius, as is layer 1 — it looks at the size of the file and sets a different radius for differently-sized images.

      I noticed a while back that I was doing two local contrast sections, one with a larger radius, and one with a smaller radius or an unsharp mask.

      Kind of like interference patterns, that tend to be invisible to each other, except for one area: The highlight edges. The larger radius is more course, but will increase the highlights around edges. The idea with this one is to use a smaller radius anyway, so halos shouldn’t be a problem.

      But, when you come along and use a smaller radius on it, it will exacerbate the effect, causing the edge to become blown out and white along the edge.

      So, using layer 1, which precedes layer 2, with a smaller radius or as a sharpen (i.e unsharp mask). help prevents this.

      Also, a trick: I mentioned this in the video, but it does turn out to be something I am using more and more. You can decrease the contrast with the Smart Contrast Slider in the power box as you use higher strength settings with the definition layers. The Smart Contrast layer is calculated before the Definition layers, so if you see edge problems, pulling back on the contrast will solve those; end then you can use other tools to bring contrast back in later more safely, like the Smart Light tools.

      You can also use the White Point Slider in the Auco Balance (in the PQE mode) to do the same thing — the Auto Balance is preformed as a base layer that precedes everything, and since I added it into the PQE with the overflow analysis and all that, it’s been a great preamble tool for the PQE mode. I am going to do a video on it in a few days.

      Oh, and to answer the question about the significance of using both layers: As I mentioned above, it just works out in some images to do that. Not all images, but quite a lot — the Topaz Plugin, for example, I believe uses three layers to do a similar operation. It’s not so much mathematical or formulaic, as much as it turns out that a lot of files are helped by: 1. a large radius with a small strength, and a smaller radius with a strength that suits the picture, but in reverse order (i.e. small radius first).

      Well, I hope that helps!

      Rob

  3. Rob, Thanks for the explanation; it makes a bit more sense to me now. I’ll try “playing” with it more now I know what’s going on behind the scenes. And that’s the beauty of Sagelight, as you play with the controls you immediately see the effect on screen.

    Adrian

  4. Rob, Is this blog the best place for my questions, or should I use the Discussion Board?

    You mention above about using layer 1 to effectively apply sharpening. Would you also apply sharpening using the Unsharp Mask tool? Traditional editors generally recommend applying sharpening to the whole image as the very last step. I’m just wondering if this is really necessary in Sagelight when using the Power Box controls?

    Adrian

    • Hi, Adrian. You know, I don’t really know where the best place is… I think the discussion board is probably the best place, because them more people would get involved. But, it’s a little more cumbersome to use because you have to start a topic, as opposed to simply adding a comment in response to a post. So, either is ok — sometimes I might move out the thread to the discussion board for more of an archival thing. I’m also trying out Facebook, and was thinking about posting a pointer to this comments section… I am also working on making a more dedicated blog so that I can make it a more magazine-style with a more open discussion thread for each article.

    • About the Unsharp Mask.

      I’ve been experimenting with that lately to find the best strategy for sharpening. I keep forgetting (and I should really talk this up more) that the Unsharp Mask has an edge sharpen on it, so you can use the “Threshold Slider” to avoid edges. In an upcoming release, I am going to rename that “Edge Avoidance”. I very low setting is usually the best, anywhere from 3-15.

      For the definition sliders… The Sharpen slider works pretty well, I think, but it isn’t as effective overall as an Unsharp Mask. For smaller pictures, I would just use the Definition Slider with the Sharpen checked.

      For larger pictures, I have found it very useful to use the Unsharp Mask to get an overall base sharpen, and then use the Definition Layers (in the sharpen mode) for subsequent adjustments, since it’s very subtle.

      When the “Sharpen” selection is off and it is back to a Local contrast setting, then this differs from an Unsharp Mask and is quite a different thing, so they basically live separately — so you don’t have to mix-and-match with the Unsharp Mask and the non-sharpen selections of the definition sliders — except for one important thing: if you use an unsharp mask, this will cause the same settings (for, say, medium-level radius settings in the definition layers) to become more edge, because they will play off the unsharp mask (and vice-versa, so the order isn’t important here) a little bit.

      So, the basic recommendation, or at least experience on my part is:

      1. An unsharp mask is very useful and, except for smaller pictures, I think it is a worth trying on any given picture, especially when used with the threshold slider, at low settings, to avoid sharpening smooth areas (the threshold is not the same threshold used in Photoshop, so it’s not black-and-white/on-off; it’s on a gamma curve). With the sharpen mode of the definition layers, you can ease up on the unsharp mask (do less then you would normally).
      2. Then you can use the sharpen setting with the definition layers to do a finer level of sharpening. This seems to be a good combination, at least in what I’ve been experimenting.
      3. Then you can use the second layer (not as a general rule, but only when it works for a picture, which varies from picture to picture individually) indepdently as a tool for local contrast.

      I hope that makes sense… Let me know if I can fill that out more.

      Rob

      • Thanks for the clear explanation on sharpening. It’s these sort of tips from you that really help me learn how the various controls work together; especially when I understand what’s happening a bit “behind the scenes”.

        Adrian

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