Anatomy of a product shoot PART II - lots of images!
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Old 01-13-2007   #1
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Default Anatomy of a product shoot PART II - lots of images!

I left off with getting the image in the camera exactly the way I wanted to capture it. If you stumbled on to this thread, PART I can be found here. Now it is time to download the images from the card and see what we have in Photoshop CS2.

Generally speaking, I prefer Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), though not because I think it's better, but by sticking to Photoshop, I find the work flow is much more streamlined than using a "best in breed" approach, switching applications at certain portions of the image processing work flow.

I opened the image in ACR, and made my adjustments. I didn't really need to do too much to the image, since I worked so hard to set up the shot. In fact, with some custom parameters, I could have easily gotten away with shooting in JPEG mode. Before everyone starts howling about why raw is better, and I'm tossing out 12 bits of crucial color depth, know that this type of image is never going to be printed greater than maybe 3-4" or 600 px. on the web. To see the results of a JPEG work flow on similar shots, you can see the original bass bait thread here.

Below is a code snippet of the XMP sidecar that ACR uses to store the raw converter settings. This is another reason I like ACR, the settings are stored in an easy to understand, XML format that allows some opportunity for customization. That's for a different post though.

Code:
 <crs:RawFileName>20070112-bassLure-07.CR2</crs:RawFileName>
 <crs:WhiteBalance>Auto</crs:WhiteBalance>
 <crs:Temperature>6100</crs:Temperature>
 <crs:Tint>+5</crs:Tint>
 <crs:Exposure>0.00</crs:Exposure>
 <crs:Shadows>0</crs:Shadows>
 <crs:Brightness>70</crs:Brightness>
 <crs:Contrast>+30</crs:Contrast>
 <crs:Saturation>+5</crs:Saturation>
 <crs:Sharpness>0</crs:Sharpness>
 <crs:LuminanceSmoothing>10</crs:LuminanceSmoothing>
 <crs:ColorNoiseReduction>3</crs:ColorNoiseReduction>
 <crs:ChromaticAberrationR>+5</crs:ChromaticAberrationR>
 <crs:ChromaticAberrationB>0</crs:ChromaticAberrationB>
 <crs:VignetteAmount>0</crs:VignetteAmount>
 <crs:ShadowTint>0</crs:ShadowTint>
 <crs:RedHue>0</crs:RedHue>
 <crs:RedSaturation>+10</crs:RedSaturation>
 <crs:GreenHue>+1</crs:GreenHue>
 <crs:GreenSaturation>+10</crs:GreenSaturation>
 <crs:BlueHue>0</crs:BlueHue>
 <crs:BlueSaturation>0</crs:BlueSaturation>
 <crs:ToneCurveName>Custom</crs:ToneCurveName>
 <crs:ToneCurve>
  <rdf:Seq>
  <rdf:li>0, 0</rdf:li>
  <rdf:li>64, 50</rdf:li>
  <rdf:li>128, 128</rdf:li>
  <rdf:li>192, 202</rdf:li>
  <rdf:li>255, 255</rdf:li>
  </rdf:Seq>
 </crs:ToneCurve>
 <crs:CameraProfile>ACR 2.4</crs:CameraProfile>
 <crs:HasSettings>True</crs:HasSettings>
 <crs:HasCrop>False</crs:HasCrop>
 </rdf:Description>
You should be able to translate that code pretty easily.

From there, I save the image as a PSD file, using 16 bpc and Adobe RGB color. Now I have the image open in Photoshop proper, and the first thing I want to do is eliminate noise. I don't want to give the the image a plastic look, or lose any of the details, especially in the highlights. I'll control where the noise reduction plug-in - I use Noise Ninja - works with a layer mask. I like to use the TLR Pro Mask Toolkit to build the mask for me. I fired up the script, and chose surface for the mask type, narrow for the width, shadows for the tone range, all for the color range, and checked the box for enhanced mask. I only wanted to reduce the noise in the shadows, but I also wanted to be sure I protected any detailed edges that may occur in that tone range. The goal of this image is to show as much detail as possible, without giving it that crispy-crunchy, over sharpened look. I want realism. Once the script runs, it looks like nothing happened. But is you go to the Channels panel, you'll see there is a new Alpha Channel named "Shadows Enhanced Surface Mask." I clicked on the channel to inspect the mask, and make sure it was protecting the areas I was concerned about. Sometimes the mask needs to manually edited. Remember black conceals and white reveals, so the mask will protect all the black areas from the noise filter. Here is what the mask looks like:

Fig. 1


I went back to the Layers panel, used Ctrl-J to duplicate the layer. Then, I Ctrl-click the new alpha channel to make the selection, and click the Add Layer Mask icon. Now I have a duplicate of the background layer with a layer mask that protects the highlights and mid tones from the noise filter. Next, I click on the layer thumbnail to so the noise filter works on the layer, and not the mask, and go to Filter > PictureCode > Noise Ninja... to bring up the NN dialog.

Fig. 2


I have my Noise Ninja preferences set to automatically profile the image for noise rather than use the downloaded ISO based profiles. It takes a little longer to run, but I prefer to have it this way. It probably doesn't make that much of a difference, but if I can add small bits of quality at each step, then surely the final output will be better. That's the idea anyway. You'll notice that I reduced the settings to 6 from the default 10 in Fig.2. Using the preview window, I decided that even with using the mask, the effect was too strong - remember those details I was trying to protect? It's worth noting that Noise Ninja will not not show you the effects of the mask in the preview window, so you are "flying blind" but after some experience, you be able to determine what settings give you the desired effect. I usually use one step higher than I like it when using the noise filter with a mask. Remember, the mask is going to protect the details, so you can be more aggressive with settings.

Now I can move on to sharpening. I won't go into a prolonged dissertation as to why I use a three phased approach to sharpening, other than I have bought in to the "sharpen early and sharpen often" methodology recommended by the late Bruce Fraser. I again will Dr. Glenn "Mitch" Mitchell's scripts for sharpening. He has a great paper on sharpening in general, and his TLR Pro Sharpening Toolkit is one of the best tools I've found. I ran the Capture Sharpening script, and chose narrow for the width, USM for the method, 2-2-1 for light, dark, and surface, and checked the box for enhanced masks. Here is the result:

Fig. 3


All this script really does, if used conservatively, is just demoirize the image. This is often necessary with raw images where no sharpening is applied in the raw converter. You can often skip this step if you add 25-30 sharpening in ACR or +1 in camera sharpening if you are using JPEG mode.

When inspecting the image at this point, I discovered that the capture sharpening script did such a good job protecting the edges that I was probably too conservative with the surface sharpening. No problem, I will be running the Creative Sharpening script next, and I can add a bit of surface sharpening here. All I want to do is bring out the texture of the lures sides and enhance the other textures in the image. The lure is made of wood, plastic metal and paint, and it is my goal to show off these texture as well as I can. Certainly lighting played a big part in this earlier, but I want to continue to enhance these features.

Fig. 4


You'll notice that I also ran the script with Anti Haze USM setting. This applies localized micro contrast to the image globally. Look up "localized contrast control with USM" to see how it works. The surface sharpening isn't actually applied to the image by the script. You have to "paint" it in using the brush tool.

Fig. 5


I used a soft, medium opacity brush to paint in where I wanted the surface sharpening. You must remember to click on the mask thumbnail, or you'll make a mess out of the image. If you don't like what you did, switch from white (reveal) to black (conceal) to reverse the effect. This is truly non destructive editing. Not only can the background layer be protected by using additional layers, but the I am also controlling where, and how much of the effect or filter down to the pixel - with 100 levels of opacity to boot! Amazing! Fig. 6 shows just the mask I "hand painted."

Fig. 6


My next step is to resize the image, using Image > Resize... This easier said than done. Most users leave the default resampling method to the default bicubic method. There are actually several resampling methods, but the bicubic family is probably the best for digital pictures without resorting to the more complex and expensive fractals methods. I definitely do not feel this is a one size fits all situation, as many authors have suggested. I'm going to try two of the methods, and compare the differences. I won't be using bicubic smoother because my experience tells me this probably won't work well for htis image. It tends to obscure the details when down sizing. I don't want this effect at all.

So I resize the image to 750x500 px. using bicubic as the resampling method, and create a snapshot.

Fig. 7


Then I rollback in the history, and resize using bicubic sharper as the method, and create another snapshot. Now I can easily toggle back and forth to compare the two methods, and decide which is best. Fig. 7 shows a split screen for you to see what I was looking at. Bicubic is on the right, bicubic sharper on the left.

Fig. 8


I don't like the white halos around the hooks, and the texture of the painted lure looks a little too sharpened for my taste using the bicubic sharper method. But the overall edges look pretty good, and at actual size, putting aside my nitpicks above, I prefer the overall look of the bicubic sharper method. There aren't very many pixels left after the resize, so masking and sharpening aren't really good choices. I've discovered that using the High Pass Filter is an excellent way to sharpen up images as the last step before saving in you destination output. Luckily, The TLR Pro Sharpening scripts have already worked out the settings for me, based on viewing device, format, and image size. Does it get any easier?

Fig. 9


Now all that is left is to flatten that puppy, and save it for the web. Well, not exactly - remember what I said about infusing quality to every step of the work flow? That applies here too. First thing, I need to convert the image to the destination color space. Since this is for the web, I want to use sRGB. I want to do this now, before I switch to 8 bits per channel. This important to preserve as much of the tonality as possible achieved by using a wide gamut working color space like Adobe RGB. Going to Edit > Convert to Profile... brings up the following dialog box:

Fig. 10


Then I can go to Image > Mode > 8 bits/channel and then File > Save As... and choose JPEG, quality - 12. And there you have it: a finished image, ready to upload to your image hosting site to share with the world.

You want to see the picture don't you? If you've made it this far through both tutorials, you deserve it


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Old 01-13-2007   #2
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Default Re: Anatomy of a product shoot PART II - lots of images!

You get two brownie points for this post. Great bit of an insight here. Thanks.
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Old 01-13-2007   #3
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Default Re: Anatomy of a product shoot PART II - lots of images!

Sharpening has been a quality issue for me. I am going to try your way. Your results are fantastic!
Thanks jfrancho!
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Old 01-13-2007   #4
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Default Re: Anatomy of a product shoot PART II - lots of images!

You guys are welcome. It's a post I've wanted to do for a long time, but just needed sit and spend a few hours preparing.
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Old 02-11-2007   #5
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Default Re: Anatomy of a product shoot PART II - lots of images!

Jfrancho,

Absolutely awesome thread/ tutorial!!!!* 1 of the best I've seen in a long time!!* Most of the tutorials I've read or watched assume you know to much and/or never explain in detail as to why your doing something.* Yours has both I learned a ton in this workflow procedure.* The lighting setup is terrific, because I don't really have any experience or equipment at the moment and working with what you have is key and fun. The noise ninja I recently acquired from another members recommendation (KellyL)* and its awesome.* I did however change the settings in the noise ninja based on you advice

The 16 bit workflow also makes a lot of sense, and to be honest I never really noticed the quality difference in my own very limited experience with it.* What i did notice was the lack of filters available and the huge file size.* Yours clearly shows the advantage's. Also the sharpening methods blow away what I was doing for sure.* I'm going to install that script you recommended and play with a bit to get comfy with it.* I want it to be a standard in my work flow.*

The PP on images is really a lot of fun for me and I have no problem taking the extra time required to get the best results possible.* I really need to use the snapshot more as well to compare sharpening, blurr ect...* I usually use layers to do this instead which is just silly!!

I really think this thread should be a sticky or put in the tutorial section somewhere so its easy to reference for everybody. * just a thought

Many thanks for taking all that time to put this together!! I'm sure I'll have some questions for you at some point

Jay
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Old 02-11-2007   #6
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Default Re: Anatomy of a product shoot PART II - lots of images!

By the way, a Karma for you!!!!
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Old 02-12-2007   #7
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Default Re: Anatomy of a product shoot PART II - lots of images!

Jay, check out this sticky thread: http://www.photocamel.com/forum/imag...ial-sites.html. I'll be adding a couple of other tricks to this this week that involve adding another layer of control to you're editing. I think if you can digest this, then you should be ready to take it up a notch. Stay Tuned!
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Old 03-04-2007   #8
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Default Re: Anatomy of a product shoot PART II - lots of images!

I tried editing the post for he new forum links, but the post is too long. Here are the links to the two threads referenced above:

http://www.photocamel.com/forum/macro-close-up-photography/16389-tackle-close-ups.html
http://www.photocamel.com/forum/lighting-technique/18815-anatomy-product-shoot-part-i-lots-images.html
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Old 03-23-2007   #9
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Default Re: Anatomy of a product shoot PART II - lots of images!

I fixed the links inline.
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Old 01-21-2008   #10
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Default Re: Anatomy of a product shoot PART II - lots of images!

Jfrancho, you put a lot of time and effort into this tutorial. The product shot is something I also do so its neat to see someone else's process for that and its not to far from how I would do something, lots of trial and error and adjustments with the lighting.

Thanks for the look inside your thought process, much appreciated.


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