Custom L Channel
Constructing your own L channel can help separate elements. In this video I give the sky and foreground different treatments and get great results.
My RAW file is available for download so you can follow along if you'd like 🙂
Complete Show Text
This is Harry with your Weekly Edit.
This morning I got up and made it down to the ocean.
I caught a shot as the sun was rising.
I did not have time to set up my tripod, so I didn't do an HDR shot.
An HDR shot would have worked fine even though the water moved because the rocks, which are the darker part, don't move, and the sun wouldn't have moved much in the time of an HDR shot.
If I used the water for my mid-tone and the lighter frame for the rocks and the darker frame for the sun, it would have worked out fine.
I didn't have my tripod; didn't do HDR.
I did use a Graduated Density Filter on the front of my lens, which gave me an extra two stops It's a linear one, and it's got a soft transition.
That gave me an extra two stops of dynamic range.
Combined with my camera, I think it was enough to capture everything.
The rocks look pretty dark right now, but I think we can bring out some detail on those.
My goal is going to be to make this area look like it's got nice warm sunshine on it that's making it have more detail.
I want to see these splashes down here.
I want to bring out the details in the rocks so they don't look black.
I want to balance the brightness of the top and the bottom half of the image.
Let's get started.
What have we got first? First, let's give ourselves some balance to our tones so we can see what we're doing.
Everything is so dark now, it's hard to see what's going on.
Since my Black isn't off my Histogram, I can't really use the Tone Mapping, but I can use the Global Tone Mapping.
Let's do that.
Before we get started with that, let's look at the Shadows and Highlights Module and see what effect it has.
It brought out some of the rocks; that's kind of nice, but we're already getting halos around things.
Let's bring up the Shadows a little bit more.
Oh, now the halos are horrible around these edges.
If I adjust my Radius, I can try and get the halos down a little bit.
It's brightening up too much of the area, not just the rocks.
So we'll increase our Compression.
Yeah, this is a real problem.
See, this halo here and here, right along these edges.
If I bring my Shadows down, the halos go away to a large extent.
My Radius is already really big.
Let's bring our Highlight Control down a little bit.
It was knocking down the Highlights a little bit too much.
Let's take a Snapshot of that.
We'll save it, and let's use the Global Tone Map.
We'll see what we can get out of that.
Well, it's too much up here in the brighter parts, but it's doing a nice job down here.
There are no halos at all.
Let's apply it with a Parametric Mask so that it's predominantly working on these darker parts We'll have to give the Mask a Blur, because it's causing us to lose sharpness.
I gave us an 11-pixel Blur, and that helped with the sharpness up here, but now we're introducing some halo around these edges.
Let's bring our Mask Blur down.
Oh, I think that's still good.
And, what do we look like here? That looks fine too.
I think we need a little more of our detail.
You know, I can't see really well.
I'm going to use the Tone Curve to just give me a quickie increase here, so I can see what's going on with my Global Tone Map.
Alright, here's where it's applying the effect.
I think that's a better idea -- what I'm looking for.
There we go.
Let's see how we're doing for halos.
We've got a little bit, but it's not too bad.
I brought our Mask Blur up to 5.6, and I think that got rid of the halos.
Wow, look at all that detail in the rocks.
We're losing some contrast up here.
I don't really need the Global Tone Mapping up there.
I'm going to use Drawn Mask combined with the Parametric Mask.
I used the Opacity Slider to moderate how much of the effect.
That looks pretty good to me.
It looks like our Black Point is off, farther up the image.
There's not much contrast in here, but we look pretty good down here.
I'll have to adjust that later.
First thing, we've got this bow in the ocean, so let's apply some Lens Correction.
I've already set up settings for my 24mm lens.
It looks like we need to Derotate our horizon.
Right-click and drag.
That's a little bit too much, isn't it? Okay, 0.5; that looks better to me.
Let's look at our noise.
Well, we definitely have some noise, even though I shot this at ISO 100.
Denoise Profile: let's just give that a shot with the Nonlocal Means.
Bring down the Strength until we start seeing noise again, and then bring it up.
That looks good: 0.4 Hey, good enough for me.
Let's look at our Chromatic Aberration Correction and see if that can give us an improvement in the image.
I like to look for areas of high contrast.
Look, we're getting color shifts, though, from the Chromatic Aberration controls.
We definitely want to turn that off.
I want to balance the colors in this image a little bit.
I'll take my Tone Curve.
I'm going to steepen my A and B Channels and apply them differentially to the image based on the amount of color that's already in the image.
The places with less saturation get a little more, and places with more saturation aren't affected.
I'll do that with a Parametric Mask on the C Channel.
Bring that one all the way down, and bring this one down until we're just affecting the areas I want.
Then we can attenuate the effect with the Opacity.
But I think we're fine like that.
Now what do we need to do? Well, it's pretty dark down here.
Let's improve that.
Well, that helps.
We certainly don't need so much of it up above.
It looks like my Black Point's a little bit low right here, and I want to bring it up.
Our image is looking a lot more balanced now.
We've got a little bit of darkness in the corners here.
That's from my lens.
I have a Vignet setting that I can use for that.
I give myself just a little bit of Brightness and keep my Saturation up, and that corrects it a lot.
This is before, and after.
You can see that lightens up my corners a little bit.
Each lens would need different settings, and then you can save whatever works for you under a new Preset.
Alright, what else? Let's look at our blown out areas here.
Well, we've got a little bit of blown out here, and a little bit of blown out here, but it looks pretty natural to me, so I'm just going to leave those.
I don't see any fringing, so I'm not going to worry about the Defringing Module.
I want this to be a lot brighter down here, because I want it to look like the sun is shining on this area.
Let's do some quick fixing there.
Oh, that's more like what I was looking for.
It's a little dark up here; I think I'll start my Fountain Fill a little bit higher up.
Okay, that lightened up these sections a little bit.
What next? We still have some really dark areas in here, and this looks a little bright, and this looks a little bit dark up here.
I'm going to use my old friend the Lowpass Filter to apply some large-scale tonal changes.
I'll set my Saturation down to zero, increase the Radius of my Gaussian Blur, use an Overlay Mode, take my Contrast and turn it negative.
What that's doing is it's making the brighter areas darker and making the darker areas brighter, in a really gentle way.
That looks pretty close to what I was looking for there.
See, now we're getting more balanced tone between the sunrise and the rocks.
I don't see any halos.
Here was our Highlight and Shadow, and you can see right around the edges there are halos.
There are some, actually, right along here.
We've managed to take it further and we've got a more natural look, so that's great.
We're going to work on the L Channel, looking at the top of the image separate from the bottom.
The first thing I'll do is take a Snapshot so we can compare.
Let's bring the Blue up to the point where it's about the same lightness.
I'm looking at this area here, and trying to get it so that it's about the same lightness.
Then, we'll go back and forth and look at the top of the image.
I don't see that Blue Channel helping us much at all.
Okay: not the Blue Channel.
Let's look at the Green Channel.
Bring it up to about the same brightness.
Oh, that's interesting; it makes these yellows too bright, but these clouds are interesting.
It adds a little detail.
And it makes this a little bit darker.
Let's look at the Red Channel.
Oh, wow: that makes the sky-blue dramatic, because it made it darker.
But, we lose all our color up here.
Well, it looks to me like the top does nothing with the Blue Channel.
If we use 2 parts Green to 1 part Red, that might be a good starting point.
Let's try that.
I like what that does everywhere except in these bright areas.
Let's apply it with a Parametric Mask.
Give it a little Blur.
Here's a before and after.
It looks a little bit bright, so I'm going to bring it down a little bit.
A little bit less Red, a little bit less Green.
Now what do we look like? Great.
Look at all the detail it brought out in this cloud.
And these cirrus clouds, they look better too.
I'm going to apply that with a Gradient Fill because we're going to treat the bottom of the image separately.
So, we need another instance.
Once again, we go to our L Channel, and we've got our Snapshot.
Now we're looking at the bottom.
This is the primary area of interest for me, so I want to see what it does down here.
Let's bring our Blue up until it's about the same brightness.
That does not help us at all, does it? Okay, not so much with the Blue.
Let's bring up the Green.
That doesn't help much with the water either, does it? It kind of makes the little droplets here stand out better.
What does it do to the rocks? It lightens them up a little bit.
We lose contrast over here though.
Let's look at the Red Channel.
Wow, that is something.
That's where all our contrast is; it's in that Red Channel.
Well, that is quite spectacular.
Maybe even a little too much.
So, what I'll do is I'll use mostly the Red and a little bit of the Green and Blue.
I'll try that and see what it looks like.
So, let's see: mostly Red, and a little bit of Green, and almost no Blue.
Ah, I like it.
That's a little less crunchy.
You can see the rocks better.
I'm going to go with that.
Once again, I'm going to use a Mask to apply it, and reverse the direction.
Now it's down here.
Alright, that's our new L Channel.
Here's our original; here's our new version.
It looks more lively: more detail, more tones too.
I'm going to apply some tonal corrections or enhancements with the Lowpass Filter.
I like to take my Contrast down a little bit, and bring my Brightness up just a tiny bit, take my Saturation down to zero, and then look for the Radius that gives me the features I want.
Remember I said I wanted to bring out the larger-scale waves down here, and less with the drops.
Let's see if we can find a Radius level that gives us that.
Boy, it's hard to pick out.
Maybe I need to use my Tone Curve and create a little more distance between this color and this color.
I'll do that.
Here's our darker gray and here's our lighter gray.
They are close together, aren't they? That gives us a little more differential.
I don't really want to mess with stuff up here, so I'm going to apply it mostly in here with this Tone Curve and a Drawn Mask.
I want to center the effect there, make this a little bigger.
Same with my Lowpass: I want to center it here, so I will apply it with the same Drawn Mask.
I'm going to use the Soft Light Blend Mode.
Let's get rid of the Mask and see what things look like.
Bring our Opacity down to attenuate the effect.
That's with none of it, and as we go up in Opacity, it attenuates how much of the effect is used.
This is looking pretty dynamic in here now.
It's looking a little bit lit-up too; I like that.
I want to get more detail in these bright areas up here so I'm going to use the Highpass Filter and crank it all the way up.
I'll try and get some kind of variations.
Oh, we lost it.
That's about as much variation as I can get in these bright areas.
I'll take my Parametric Mask and my L Channel, apply this with Soft Light again as my Blend Mode, and then I'll attenuate it with the Opacity.
See, this is without it, and this is with it.
You can see that we get more definition in these brighter areas.
But, is it screwing anything up? Well, we certainly sharpened up all of this.
We got more separation.
But I think we're okay.
Look at this.
The bottom end of our scale is a little steep.
Later on, we're going to have to address that to try and bring out the bottom towards the Black without bringing the whole thing over.
We don't want everything to just look black.
What does this image need? I'd love for the colors to have a little more impact; I'd like for the brighter parts down here to have more of a golden glow -- mostly yellow and a little bit of magenta; I want to see sharper rocks.
So, let's do all that.
First: a little more color saturation.
Take a Parametric Mask, apply it so it mostly applies to the lighter parts of the image, take our Opacity all the way down and our Blend Mode to Subtract, and then we'll slowly bring our Opacity up.
I'm looking at these brighter parts of the image to see what their color saturation starts to look like.
That's looking good.
it's getting a little greenish over here; I don't want to get green.
So, I'm going to bring that back a little bit.
Before, and after.
It's making it a little bit dark down here.
My Parametric Mask: I've got the bottom of it all the way at Black, so I'm going to bring it up some, so it doesn't darken up these rocks so much.
Okay, before and after.
It's giving us more color in the brighter areas, but it's leaving the rocks alone.
I wanted to add a little golden color to the brighter parts down here so it looks like the sun.
I will do that with the Tone Curve.
I'll use the Parametric Mask and a Drawn Mask to isolate the area I want.
So, how about right there.
And a Parametric Mask.
I'll turn on the Mask Indicator.
Drawn and Parametric: there we go.
Use the L Channel.
We'll bring up this bottom part until we start isolating things we don't want.
Oh, we lost everything, didn't we? There we go.
There: brighter parts.
Turn off the Mask Indicator; go to my B Channel; bring up the level of my B Channel a little bit.
Hmmm; it's not really giving me the effect I want.
I'm going to get rid of this Midpoint.
Now I've got to be super careful about how much I move this.
Okay, we've got a lot of yellow going on, so I'm going to add just a little bit of magenta, so that it's got more golden, and less of just yellow.
Well, not much magenta.
Let's see: before and after.
See all the color that got added here? It looks a little magenta-y to me so I'm going to add a little more yellow.
Before, and after.
That makes it look like this light is coming and reaching here.
Now, we still have this steep section here that I wanted to fix, but we've got all these Highpass Filters and Lowpass Filters and Channel Mixers and everything, so I'm going to start from scratch and then do that.
Let's pin a point we don't want to move, like this.
Put a point there.
Then let's bring our Contrast down and try and get our graph to be a little less steep.
Well that looks better.
It looks better everywhere, too; I don't need to change it up here.
Anything else I want to do? A little more shading or anything? No, I'm actually pretty happy with this.
I'm going to export it and fly with it.
Alright, here I am in the GIMP and I've exported this image.
I'm going to do some final tonal and RGB and other color corrections, and then I'll scale the image and do a final Sharpen at the scaled size, then export it for use in Social Media.
Let's get our Blackpoint so that it's actually there.
Then we can bring this up.
A little bit of Gamma.
I don't want to lose our impact, but we don't want to lose our detail either.
That looks pretty good to me.
Let's look at our Red Channel.
I want more color separation.
I want the red parts to stay red, but the places that aren't red, I don't want to be that red, so we'll bring basically our Blackpoint for our Red over, and we'll bring our Red Gamma up a little bit.
Oh, good; we've got a little hue in here and over here; nice.
We're back to almost our original curve.
That gave us a little separation.
We'll do the same thing with the Green.
Bring it over and then bring it up.
Yeah; that's too Green.
There we go; that looks nice.
Okay, and the Blue: same thing.
More color contrast.
We want this area in here to be back where we were.
That's a little blue -- ish.
Okay, that's good.
Before and after.
That's what I was looking for.
I want a little more saturation in the Yellow here.
I can do that with the Saturation.
Pick the Yellow.
Take my Overlap.
That's the distance between the Red and the Green that the Yellow extends -- and make that a little bit big.
Then take my Saturation and turn it up.
Now, when I turn my Saturation up, I have to turn my Brightness down a little bit.
There we go: nice balance.
Then I can change my Overlap.
That will determine how much of it ends up in the Red and the Green.
See, here it just influences the Yellow.
If I go all the way over to the side you see effects over here.
I think that's what I'm looking for right there.
I'm going to Scale it.
The Cubic Interpolation seems to work great.
Now I'm going to zoom in a little bit and apply my Unsharp Mask.
It starts off way too much at four; that's just crazy.
So, we'll take it all the way down to zero and slowly bring it up until we get the right amount of sharpening without a lot of trash showing up.
See all the extra trash that shows up? We don't want that.
Right about there.
That's 1.4 Let's see if it also looks good at other parts of the image too.
Is it too much down here? Let's Preview.
Before and After.
I don't think it's too much.
Before, and after.
Maybe just a tiny bit too much.
Okay, we'll bring it down a little bit here.
And now Export.
I'm going to use JPG, so "image.jpg" and when I export it, I'm going to look at the image while I create the JPG.
I'm going to turn Smoothing off.
I'll take my Quality slider and move it up and down.
See the little things show up in high-contrast areas? We don't want those, so I'm going to keep increasing my Quality until they go away.
Way up there.
And increase the Smoothing a little bit.
Maybe that will help too.
It looks like I can't get rid of them completely.
Well, we're already up to 300K, so I think I'll just stop there.
There we go.
Alright, thanks for your time.
If you go to my website WeeklyEdit.com...
Here, I'll show you www.weeklyedit.com You can do some cool stuff there.
I've got all my videos there, and I've gone through all my videos and broken them into different snippets that use different topics and different modules.
So, every time I use, for instance, Color Reconstruction, in my videos, it's been flagged.
If you click on Color Reconstruction, it creates a playlist of all the places.
You can just go to that section and see them.
It will start right there, at that point, and then stop at the end of the part that has to do with Blown Highlights.
There's other stuff there too.
My workflow is there.
There's a new section I'm going to do called "Edit my RAW" You can send me your RAW file, and then next week, I'm going to edit one of your RAW files at the end of my video.
If I select your RAW file, you get one of my signed, matted prints mailed to you and I'll say thank you to you in the video.
Everybody have a good week.
I'll see you next week.