Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

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I saw in another question - "Why is the Fluorescent filter for a flash green?" - that Matt Grum had amazingly color corrected two images and would love to know how. Of course, all are invited to answer. I believe from reading Matt's other answers that he opens the JPGs in Bridge and uses Camera Raw to achieve these results but I failed to match what he did.


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I just took a quick crack at it using his source image and I suspect the answer is that it was done in camera raw (from a raw file) so there was information to retrieve. It's relatively easy to pick out something that should be grey and hit it with the white balance dropper and then adjust the colour sliders to taste. – James Snell Dec 19 '12 at 19:12
Like how you got Matt Grum's name into the question – Rob Dec 19 '12 at 21:12
I'll try and dig out the RAW file tomorrow and upload it somewhere... – Matt Grum Dec 19 '12 at 23:01
Thanks Matt - much appreciated! – Rich Dec 26 '12 at 16:12

The trick here is that the scene was lit with a single incandescent (hot) lightsource. The sun is also an incandescent lightsource, just shifted a bit in the spectrum.

This means it's really easy to make the bonfire shot look like daylight, as all the frequencies are present, just shifted. All I did was load the RAW into Adobe's RAW converter and drop the colour temperature, one adjustment is all that's required.

Colour correction is difficult when you have multiple lightsources with different colour temperatures, or you have fluorescent lights which only output a narrow frequency range. Neither of these were true of the image I posted.

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Thanks for answering this for me. I usually do my color correcting in Photoshop but I'm done with that now. RAW converter for me even if I don't have the RAW file - still got better results with this. Thanks! – Rich Dec 26 '12 at 16:15

To achieve extreme color correction such as demonstrated in Matt Grum's linked answer, you need to use a RAW format. When saving an image to JPEG, your editing and correction latitude in post is extremely limited. The only way to maintain full latitude is with a RAW image format. The majority of interchangeable lens cameras these days, including DSLR and mirrorless, support a RAW format. With RAW, you are effectively working with a digital signal recorded strait off the sensor, along with a variety of camera and image metadata.

Once you have a RAW image, any raw editor, such as Lightroom, Aperture (mac only), DarkTable (linux, open source), or RawThearapy (multi-platform, open source) will allow you to perform significant color correction, exposure correction, non-destructive tone curve editing, etc. All of these tools have either a color balance or white balance tool, which can be directly edited, or often performed via a "click to balance" operation using a dropper tool and clicking on an area of the photo that should be "neutral" in color.

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You are both probably right - thanks for the great, quick answers. I didn't even think about the possibility of his using RAW. Thanks again and if Matt reads this, please confirm. I've been color correcting for a long time now and am stumped by what I saw if this was done without using a RAW file. Great site BTW - thanks to all the contributors. – Rich Dec 19 '12 at 20:13
It's still doable with JPEG, but the result is not as detailed. And as shown, with a filter, it doesn't matter if you shoot RAW or JPEG. – BBking Dec 19 '12 at 21:13

You can't achieve it from the posted image, because it has serious amounts of clipping. You'd have to get the raw data and develop it with another white balance. This is actually a good demonstration of why to always shoot raw or raw+jpeg, if you like the camera's development look and the jpeg embedded in the raw file is not full resolution (Canon, while NEFs have the full resolution inside).

What are the pros and cons when shooting in RAW vs JPEG?

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