Digital Darkroom; Lens Correction and Camera Calibration to Make your image pop.

The Digital Darkroom is a series of posts aimed at beginners and those interested in Digital Photography and Editing. In previous weeks we have looked at basic adjustments, curves, editing colour with the HSL/Color panels, black and white toning, split toning, local adjustments, sharpening and noise reduction. This week we are looking at using Lens Correction and Camera Calibration to make your images pop. If you wish to check out previous posts in the series you can do here.

With all the adjustments we can make in Lightroom and Camera Raw  it is the small subtle adjustments that can make an image pop. Two such adjustments are Lens Correction and Camera Calibration.

Lens Correction

Lens Correction allows you to correct distortions caused by the lens, be it lines that are not straight due to the focal length or chromatic aberrations. Adobe has created profiles, I would say for nearly all camera lens combinations,making some of these fixes as simple as ticking a box.

Lens-correction-pannelBasic

Within basic are there are tick boxes for using the Adobe’s lens profiles; auto reduction of chromatic aberration as well as a constrain crop feature, which keeps all the changes within the crop you have chosen. There is also an auto perspective correction tool that is quite good. By clicking auto Lightroom will usually fix perspective issues nicely.

Profile

This is where you can set and choose the lens profile for your lens. Mostof the time the lens is preselected from the images metadata. In saying this my macro lens is not auto detected and I have to choose it from the list.

Make– refers to the manufacturer of the lens.
Model– the model of the lens is usually the focal length, smallest largest aperture (eg f/2.8) and then series number.
Profile– this refers to adobes profile of the lens in conjunction with camera make.
AmountThis is where you can fine tune the correction. Distortion allows you to fine tune to pinching and bulging the lens creates and vignette lets you increase or decrease lens vignette. Usually I keep these set at 100 because the profile is pretty spot on.

Color

Color looks are reducing and removing chromatic aberration. This is a halo of coloured light usually a purplish or green colour. Chromatic aberration is found in areas of high contrast between light and dark. It is caused by the light passing through the lens and missing the pixels it should hit. The automatic setting is ok but usually needs to be tweaked.

The easiest way to remove chromatic aberration is to select the eye dropper zoom in and select the aberration. In doing this the sliders move to reflect the removal. Sometimes tweaking the sliders more can help, but be aware that these adjustments may have effects on other areas of the picture.

Manual

Here you can make manually make lens correction adjustments.

Distortion– adjust the lens distortion, either pinching or bulging.
Vertical– correct vertical perspective distortions
Horizontal– correct horizontal perspective distortions
Rotate– rotate the image
Scale– the above adjustments can sometimes push elements out of the frame scale lets you make the image smaller or bigger, to bring in or push out elements.
Aspect– lets you change the ratio between the length and width of the pixels.

Constrain crop stops blank areas of canvas from entering the crop you have chosen.

With lens correction I generally don’t use the manual adjustments, unless I need to tweak what the auto adjustment has done and this happens only from time to time.

Camera Calibration

camera-calibration-pannelThis is an area that I think generally people over look, which is such a shame. Here there is so much that you can do that can have a huge impact your image. If you are shooting raw there are options that will even take advantage of your camera.

One of things you will notice when editing is that the picture you saw on the back of the camera is not the same as the preview in Lightroom. This is because Lightroom automatically applies its own profile to the image. If you head to camera Calibration and choose Camera Standard then the colours will change (the name for Camera Standard will be different from camera manufacturer to camera manufacturer, this is the name that Canon cameras have) and the picture look more like what you saw on your LCD screen while chimping.

You can choose the Camera profile for the type of image you are editing; For landscapes I will choose “Camera Landscape” profile with a boost in the greens and blues, yet this does have some strange colour effects with orange and reds. For portraits I use camera portrait which has less saturation in red tones creating sometimes a more natural skin tone.
Choosing a profile should be your first step before making other adjustments because it can do most of the colour editing you were wanting to do.

Be creative

Something I have been doing recently is using Camera Calibration creatively. Instead choosing a profile I have been making my own. Camera Calibration offers you four areas of adjustment; the shadows and three colour channels. The shadows lets you set the tint to either green or purple. The Red, Green and Blue channel lets you set the Hue and Saturation of these channels.

I start by taking an image and setting the saturation of each channel to -100. I then think of the colours in the image that I want and start increasing the saturation of the channels until I start getting the colours I like. I then adjust the hue to fine tune the colours and finally I add a tint. What can start off as quite a dull drab image can transform quickly into a nice vibrant image with a few added adjustments needed.

Using camera Calibration allows you in a way create your own film and you could create a preset to have a certain style applied to all your images.

When to use

Both of these adjustments need to take place before basic adjustments. The reason for this is You need to know the colours and the shape of objects in the frame before adjusting them. Although they seem like small steps they will have a big impact on your images.

Next week I am leaving Lightroom and Camera Raw, although I am no way finished with them as there are many more things to cover, and I will start looking at photoshop.
I would love to know what things you want to know about or how to do in photoshop. If there is anything please let me know in the comments below.

 

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11 thoughts on “Digital Darkroom; Lens Correction and Camera Calibration to Make your image pop.

  1. Wonderful info! Now, I just need to get a newer version of Lightroom to try it. But, I am using my work computer now so….that means getting my own computer to install it on too. Big cost for something I can do sort of well now for free.

  2. Awesome how to article, Ben. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us! I really like the Camera Calibration examples. For your Photoshop lessons I would love to see how to remove unwanted items from a photo (eg a trash can in the background). Thanks 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting Kirsten, I will definitely be doing a post on removing objects in the future. Camera Calibration is really fun and I am using it more and more with a series of images to have the same tone and keep them feeling as if they are a set.

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