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Which Adjustment or Live Filter Is Most Often Used Wrongly in Landscape Edits?

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I need to finish editing a photo fairly quickly and am posting screen-shots of three images that I hope demonstrate my problem. I don't seem able to utilize adjustment or live filter tools in a way that results in a natural (unedited-looking) image. Reds end up blown out and contrast ends up unnatural. This was an issue I encountered all the time back in Photo Plus days, but I believe that Affinity most likely has the capacity to address these old problems in a way I simply am unfamiliar with.

While it would seem that these two specific issues--blown-out reds and unnatural lighting--are easy to fix... they're not. I always begin editing a photo with Levels. Always. In the three photos attached below, there is the original, then the (too heavily) edited photo, and then, if it is necessary, the same heavily edited photo with arrows pointing out the blown-out reds. In this particular effort, I used the Live Lighting Filter, with three points of light. I do not understand why Live Lighting ambushes an entire project by turning an image dark--often very dark--for no reason. I do not understand the reason for two different Opacity sliders on the Live Lighting Filter menu. 

Chiaroscuro affects are very desirable, but even a tad too much of any adjustment, whether Live Lighting or something else, and you come up with an edit so noticeable you might be better off if you never attempted it. My camera is a Canon Rebel T5i, if that matters. I'm posting this late in the evening U.S. east coast time hoping that in twelve hours, someone may be kind enough to give me his/her/their tips for avoiding unnatural forest landscape edits. I posted a question similar to this over the weekend, but my question was answered with only a question. In regard to that post: I am unable to get my Flood Select/Magic Wand to distinguish between the overwhelming variety of similar green leaves in order that I might be able to edit them. My Flood Select/Magic Wand will not Subtract or Add. It will select, but that is all, so I spend great stretches of time adjusting the percentage number. 

There is a non-Affinity-related aspect of colorizing forest scenes still summer-like (or late summer-like) with autumnal hues and palettes natural to fall, not summer. The amount of leaves on still-full trees is not reflective of the "thinning" that occurs in the autumn when yellows and particularly reds are most likely to appear. I'm not trying for a Maxfield Parrish manqué masterpiece, but to colorize brown leaves on essentially bare branches does not make for an appealing final product. 

Thanks to anyone who reads this. I realize I bring up an awful lot of adjustment and live filter questions.

Autumn Woods Edit Original.png

Autumn Woods Edit #1.png

Autumn Woods Edit #2.png

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If something is blown out, it's because you have pushed the image beyond it's latitude of adjustment.

What image type and size are we dealing with here? RAW, TIFF, JPEG

The examples uploaded are too small to make any reasonable assessments. No offence but the unedited image looks flat and dull, probably taken on an overcast or sunless day? uploading the original would likely help us to make an accurate assessment, as for selecting a group of leaves, that's more of a patience job better suited to the pen tool, you can draw and fill in an area and then turn that fill into a selection, this makes for accurate selecting, albeit slow.


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I am not sure where you're aiming at but you could try by using one or more of the adjustment filters used in the attached Affinity Photo file (primarily selective color and adjustment of saturation), and area selection if you do not want the adjustments to red/yellow to have effect on leaves on the ground. 

autumnleaves.afphoto

autumnleaves.jpg.f2acc9b0a64414f4dcbed361d79f0b1d.jpg

 

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3 hours ago, Lagarto said:

I am not sure where you're aiming at but you could try by using one or more of the adjustment filters used in the attached Affinity Photo file (primarily selective color and adjustment of saturation), and area selection if you do not want the adjustments to red/yellow to have effect on leaves on the ground. 

autumnleaves.afphoto

Wow! I don’t understand your written reply but— Wow. That is exactly what I was trying for, with perhaps more reds and yellows. Thank you! I mean, true thanks.

Edit: Unfortunately, the file did not open correctly in Affinity for IPad. It was extremely pixilated.

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1 hour ago, American said:

Edit: Unfortunately, the file did not open correctly in Affinity for IPad. It was extremely pixilated.

The image that I used was taken from your original post so that's why it is pixelated. But if you can open the .aphoto file in iPad, you should see from the Layers panel all image adjustments that have been made to the image. They are "layer adjustments" so they have not been "finalized" so if you tap (double tap?) the icon of the adjustment you can see which kinds parameters have been used for each adjustment, and can easily make similar adjustments to the high-res image you have on your iPad. Note that e.g. for "Selective Color Adjustment" the parameters are not directly shown, as you'd first need to tap "Yellows" to see how the yellow tones have been boosted with magenta.  

The iPad version of Affinity Photo does not have identical user interface with Windows/macOS version but I suppose it has similar controls.

layer_adjustments.jpg.b9ba39d03b157d222236327d3d9b2e9d.jpg

selective_color.jpg.a9f371bf49a188d5a88d641f4b8f3f4a.jpg

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17 minutes ago, Lagarto said:

The iPad version of Affinity Photo does not have identical user interface with Windows/macOS version but I suppose it has similar controls.

Yes, it does. As you suspected, you need to double-tap on an adjustment in the Layers Studio to display the settings on the Context toolbar.

I’ve spotted a (trivial) bug in the ‘Selective Colour’ options: it says ‘Yellow’ instead of ‘Yellows’.

D3BB1CB3-FA34-4EE0-840A-64F6C42D9C86.jpeg


Alfred online2long.gif
Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher 1.7.3.481 • Windows 10 Home (4th gen Core i3 CPU)
Affinity Photo for iPad 1.7.3.155 • Designer for iPad 1.7.3.1 • iPadOS 13.2.2 (iPad Air 2)

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@Lagarto Again, thank you so very much. I uploaded a .JPEG rather than a .RAW file, as I thought the file-size would not be allowed. (I'm nevertheless stunned to see how badly a T5i JPEG should be pixelated.)

Yes, I found all the controls. I'm kind of stunned at the restraint with which you applied the various adjustments, and their impact nevertheless. I did not see any Selections. This frankly would be the greatest boon to me; as I have said, my (Windows) Affinity's Flood Select Tool does not Subtract or Add. I would truly appreciate knowing if you accomplished all this without Selections--it would be like dying and going to heaven, for the types of forest-intensive photography I use Affinity for, not exclusively, but very heavily in the autumn.

Second, do you discourage Levels? Or, for that matter, Live Lighting? I will not be able to pick every single leaf to make adjustments to, which is why I hoped ramping up Affinity "footlights" might somehow affect color... which they obviously did not.

Sincere, most sincere, thanks.

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9 minutes ago, American said:

I uploaded a .JPEG rather than a .RAW file, as I thought the file-size would not be allowed. (I'm nevertheless stunned to see how badly a T5i JPEG should be pixelated.)

It’s not because it’s a JPEG, it’s because of its small pixel dimensions.

Quote

I did not see any Selections. This frankly would be the greatest boon to me; as I have said, my (Windows) Affinity's Flood Select Tool does not Subtract or Add.

In the iPad version of Affinity Photo there’s a separate Selections persona:

B67C842B-B9F0-4A2E-B7BA-9FB140D86268.jpeg


Alfred online2long.gif
Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher 1.7.3.481 • Windows 10 Home (4th gen Core i3 CPU)
Affinity Photo for iPad 1.7.3.155 • Designer for iPad 1.7.3.1 • iPadOS 13.2.2 (iPad Air 2)

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@Alfred I'll check the Rebel's settings, but I always choose in "Raw + Large" (where Large means the largest possible pixel size for a T5i). 

Thank you for the head's up.

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@Lagarto I am in the process of duplicating your adjustments and besides being stunned that I have had to make no Selections at all--and I'm so over-the-moon grateful for this--I noticed that the values in your HSL adjustment were set to "0." Interestingly, I thought I could dispense with this Adjustment Layer. However, when I un-ticked your HSL layer box, the image lost color. I replicated this several times, both on your file and on mine emulating it, and the exact same thing happened.

So how can a "0" value in HSL still affect the edit? I do not understand. All I know is that when I un-ticked the HSL Adjustment Layer, the image lost a noticeable quantity of red tones.

Thank you.

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12 minutes ago, American said:

I would truly appreciate knowing if you accomplished all this without Selections-

Yes, no selections using the selection tool, but when using selective color, of course selective. You could basically use "Yellows", "Reds" and "Greens" alternately to see how you can change the tones in different parts of the image. "Reds" and "Yellows" do affect the leaves on the ground, as well, so if you want to have more red in the uppper part, there might be reason to area select (basically lasso) the part excluding the ground leaves.

15 minutes ago, American said:

Second, do you discourage Levels? Or, for that matter, Live Lighting?

Levels is more a general tool to adjust shadows, highlights and gamma of the image, so that is not so useful when you need to touch only certain colors. I do not know Photo as well to be able to comment the Live Lighting tool but I suppose these kinds of manipulations are more suitable in bringing up details or for creating special effect rather than tuning the general feel of the image. Often just touching slightly the color balance (especially as that can be done selectively for shadows, midtones and highlights), or adjust the saturation (again, touching only limited hues) is enough. Selective color is a very useful adjustment as you can apply it only to the selected parts of the image, and control the desired hues with all color components (e.g., sometimes it is useful to play with the complementary colors or adjusting neighbouring colors when needing to boost up a specific hue which cannot be accessed otherwise).

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4 minutes ago, American said:

So how can a "0" value in HSL still affect the edit? I do not understand. All I know is that when I un-ticked the HSL Adjustment Layer, the image lost a noticeable quantity of red tones.

You need to tap the red circle first as the saturation (and a slight hue shift) was added only for reds.

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8 hours ago, Lagarto said:

Yes, no selections using the selection tool, but when using selective color, of course selective. You could basically use "Yellows", "Reds" and "Greens" alternately to see how you can change the tones in different parts of the image. "Reds" and "Yellows" do affect the leaves on the ground, as well, so if you want to have more red in the uppper part, there might be reason to area select (basically lasso) the part excluding the ground leaves.

@Lagarto  Oh, man, this is like finding photo-editing Eldorado for me. I am so grateful. I guess the last question (and you don't have to answer it) would be, how do you know which random green leaf will turn red, or yellow, or (if this was some alternate planet), blue? If it's just a matter of experimentation, no need to respond at all. I used Selective Color extensively in this company's previous photo-editing programs, to great affect. I noticed too that you did not touch CYM or the blacks, whites, or neutrals, and would appreciate knowing if the (very restrained) adjustments of the RGB colors were what prevented the entire image from being "drenched" in red. 

You've given me enough of your time. If you can just answer this at your convenience-- Did I mention how grateful I am to you?

Edit: I noticed the HSL Red adjustments. That explains it. 

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6 minutes ago, American said:

which random green leaf will turn red, or yellow, or (if this was some alternate planet), blue?

I did not apply the adjustments with much consideration especially as this was a low-resolution version so if something turned blue, some adjustments may have been applied too heavily. But violets of course are not uncommon in this context, either. It helps to have the Info panel visible where you can see color values of different parts of the image. This (especiallly if you have both RGB and CMYK values visible) gives you a good grasp on how to affect each area of the image to bring down are up its hues. 

 

16 minutes ago, American said:

knowing if the (very restrained) adjustments of the RGB colors were what prevented the entire image from being "drenched" in red

I suppose it can be explained by the more broad manipulation of what constitutes "redness" than trying to access directly the red and magenta hues of the image, so in this case Yellows rather thand Reds were manipulated not only by adding both red and yellow components but also by reducing the complementary color cyan, and especially by adding black; in addition saturation of reds was increased, and then on the other hand some counter effect was applied with color balance to tone down redness of leaves on the ground.

But I have to say that I basically just played with the controls so what was done was not a result of much analysis. Adjustment layers are great because you do not need to finalize (merge) the manipulations but can evaluate their usefulness and contribution to the total effect, and make further adjustments if needed, or discard them as useless.

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8 hours ago, Lagarto said:

I suppose it can be explained by the more broad manipulation of what constitutes "redness" than trying to access directly the red and magenta hues of the image, so in this case Yellows rather thand Reds were manipulated not only by adding both red and yellow components but also by reducing the complementary color cyan, and especially by adding black; in addition saturation of reds was increased, and then on the other hand some counter effect was applied with color balance to tone down redness of leaves on the ground.

@Lagarto Yes, I noticed all of what you say here but after years of watching videos and reading books and having a father who was the head of two art departments, I still do not understand how Cyan exists at all in brown- and green-dominant late summer nature in the northeast U.S. I understand reducing Cyan increases Red, but that presupposes Cyan is somewhere in the Selection to begin with... which I simply do not get and am asking no one to explain. Perhaps Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow only started to exist with the advent of digital photography. xD

TL;DR: My SD card is missing the image's RAW file. For the first time ever, my Canon concealed a huge amount of photographs, embedding them in what I think is called a CTI file, truly concealing them, so that the only way I had of proving I had taken any photos at all was by searching the SD card by the date--and then they were all scattered around. I mean literally scattered. RAW files on Canons always (under normal circumstances) are attached to the JPEGs of the same image; this time they were not. I deleted all RAW files that had no JPEGs attached, as I always do not to waste card-space, assuming I had assessed the JPEGs and decided they weren't worth keeping. Anyway, I'm trying to recover the RAW file. 

I had to add this because I'm embarrassed at how bad the uploaded images were.

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