[RA4] nailing the colour on a wedding dress

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by perkeleellinen, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    This is really just to ask if anyone has tips or advice.

    I shot my cousin's wedding during the summer and got a pro lab to make little 6x4 proof prints which I gave to the couple. They never asked for reprints so either they're happy with little pictures or they're enlarging via a flat-bed scanner. Whatever, I don't mind.

    I thought I'd have a go at hand printing a formal bride & groom shot to challenge my colour printing skills.

    I can get the skin tones looking nice and the surrounding grass looking accurate easily enough, but the dress has a very (very) slight blue cast in the shadows. If I filter for this the groom's face goes green or the grass looks parched.

    Is this a typical challenge for wedding photogs or is it my process?

    Fuji 400H (35mm)
    Kodak Ektacolor Edge paper
    Fotospeed 'mono' RA4 kit (at 16 degrees)

    I was thinking (A) the chemistry is too cold, or (B) the slight blue hue is natural and a consequence of the light falling on the dress (overcast day).


    Steve.
     
  2. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    Steve,

    1. 16ºC is probably too cold, although 20ºC should work according to Photo Engineer (using the Kodak Ektacolor kits). I thought you had a Nova heated tank?

    2. Why use the 'Edge' paper? Supra Endura is still available.

    Have you tried printing a negative in which the colour balance would be more or less noticeable?

    Try Ag Photographic for supplies: www.ag-photographic.co.uk

    Tom
     
  3. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Tom,

    1, I have an unheated Nova processor.
    2, I got a good deal on two rolls of Edge from Jessops and I'm using it to practice on.

    Other negs are fine at this temperature - but they don't have large white wedding dresses in them.
    I have some Endura and I suppose I could try printing on that to see if it's any different.
     
  4. hka

    hka Member

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    In my opinion is option B the one who causes this problem.
     
  5. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Some more information regarding 'B':

    It was July 4th in the afternoon around 2pm.
    This was the day the UK 'summer' finished - the sun of May and June gave way to showers that day which lasted into September.
    It had been drizzling earlier - the clouds were mostly white but had some grey in them.
     
  6. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    I also would think option B is the main culprit.

    When shooting colour negative and encountering those conditions, and if at all possible, I put a mild warming filter on at the least.

    My preference is an 81C which takes 2/3 of a stop, but adds about 400 Kelvin in warmth.

    You then balance for a correct, or as near as correct skin tone on the bride, then let all of the other colours fall where they do. Generally you will find that you may end up with a very, very slight warm cast overall.

    I've always found that if you are going to have a cast, then have a minimum warm cast in which most Caucasian people will have the slightest of sun-tan looks.

    By doing this you often can eliminate most of the blue shadow cast. At worst, you will have a very tiny blue cast.

    This comes with experience, you are on the learning curve right now, as we all are.

    Mick.
     
  7. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Thanks, Mick. Some good tips there.

    Another factor making this a challenge was that the bride was blonde with a normal suntan look for a white skinned person but the groom is 50% West Indian so has a darker complexion. I found his face went greenish quite easily.
     
  8. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I'll go with C. :smile:

    It is very possible it's the dress itself.

    Many fabrics and even laundry soaps are infused with brighteners. These brighteners make fabrics look "whiter" to our eyes instead of looking "yellow and old", it is my understanding that these brighteners lean toward the blue/UV end of the spectrum and that can skew the photographic color balance of the fabric in relation to the rest of the picture.
     
  9. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Aah, very interesting.
     
  10. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    For this problem you can dodge and burn slightly with a filter that will absorbe the unwanted colour In this case the blue/cyan dress. You do not have to do if for the whole exposure , but with practice a nice balance can be obtained.
    This is a very common problem when shooting weddings in open shade.
     
  11. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I should add the filter is in your hands or on a card and you are leaving the colour balance for the couples skin where it is on the enlarger head.
     
  12. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    I'd settle for B....the human eye is very adaptive when it comes to lighting, the same colors look natural to the eye in daylight or tungsten light, yet we know how different they will appear on film. It may well be that the shadows of the dress picked up a blue cast from the skylight, especially if it as slight as you say, and the faces and grass look OK.

    What people do notice on a photo, however, is whether the skin tones appear correct...or at least flattering. :wink:

    The point about optical brighteners in fabric is also very valid.
     
  13. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Thanks for the tip. I think I'd need to construct something like a dodge tool but with a warming filter, otherwise I was thinking of using the Kodak print viewing filter, but I'd need to mask the print.
     
  14. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I am not sure a kodak colour viewing filter would work. I used Cibachrome 5inch x 5inch colour printing filters as my dodging and burning tools..You could make a dodging tool on a thin wire by cutting out the basic shape of the dress.
    A little bit tricky as I said earlier but after a few prints its a piece of cake.
    BTW this trick can be used for colour enhancement on a print or desaturating local areas as well... Now I just use photoshop.

     
  15. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    The print is probably destined for my Grandmother's wall and I doubt she'll see the faint blue hue in the folds of the dress, but I'd like to nail it anyway. It's been a fun few evenings playing with this negative so far and it's been a good exercise - kept my mind on photography as I don't shoot much during the winter. I'm going to keep an eye out for a filter set I can adapt into dodge/burn tools. I doubt if I'll ever shoot another formal wedding like this, I've got one planned for next year but that'll be far more 'bohemian' in nature and should be easier to print (I hope!).
     
  16. Dave Dawson

    Dave Dawson Member

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    "got a pro lab to make little 6x4 proof prints"

    Can you remember if these had a slightly blue cast on the wedding dress as I doubt any wedding dress shaped mask was made for the printer!

    Cheers Dave (who has probably fallen off the learning curve !!!)
     
  17. spyder2000

    spyder2000 Member

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    If you would filter your flash and lens for UV, you will minimize this problem. The most electronic flash causes the brighteners previously mentioned to fluoresce causing the blue tint you describe. Just tape the plastic filter over the flash head.

    The warming filter solution does not resolve the fluorescence but will give a pleasing result.
     
  18. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Dave - unfortunately I can't remember although I think a cast would have stood out. The lab I took the negs to do this 'pro' service:

    What I do remember was thinking "Pro400H doesn't normally look like this". The prints were quite saturated (especially the grass - deep green) although skin was looking normal. My hand prints show a far mellower colour. The lab scans, adjusts, and prints digitally.

    Spyder2000 - Thanks for the tip. I used flash just to put pricks of light into the subject's eyes, I never thought that it could also make the dress glow with a blue cast.
     
  19. Alex Bishop-Thorpe

    Alex Bishop-Thorpe Member

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    You can ask for uncorrected prints, my local 1 hour lab will do that for me. When you intend to make a print by hand, an uncorrected print can give you a better idea what to aim for, as well as a better indication of the individual qualities of the film you've chosen. I find all film tends to look the same once you crank the saturation right up and run it all through the same digital filters before printing, which is a bit depressing...
     
  20. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    Unfortunately when you cut costs with color printing you get crap. This isn't a "i'll save money by reusing chemistry and using old paper" hobby unfortunately. It took me my first year of printing to discover this. I currently get good results with supra endura in Kodak Ektacolor RT replenisher solution at room temperature (68F? i never really check.) I'm not going to be changing it anytime soon. Back when I was using Fuji paper I got the nastiest crossover you could imagine. I thought it was my bad printing at first but I was wrong. The moral is "I got a good deal on two rolls of Edge from Jessops and I'm using it to practice on." combined with whatever chemistry will get you images with crossover and there's nothing you can do about that. I, however, have not used Edge so take my opinion with a grain of salt but if the negative is good, the problem lies in your paper/processing. Try Kodak Chems and/or switch to Supra Endura. I would avoid random chemicals like the plague. It's too high of a risk for valuable work.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2009
  21. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    Digital correction+digital digital printer calibration=no crossover.

    They can do whatever they want with the scans to produce saturated images (mainly sliding the large slider labeled "saturation" clear to the tip top.) I find optical prints to be just that: mellower. I get good colors when I use Ektar 100, and slightly more mellow colors using the Gold line of films. Getting good colors requires you find them in the right light and I'm not comparing anything to digital methods which may produce "better" colors.

    Lastly, shadows will always be "blue-er" than highlights if you're in the sun. The sky is very blue and the natural shade of shadows is blue.

    Hope one of the 12 suggestions helps :/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2009
  22. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Thanks for the comments. I've just acquired a thermostatically controlled Nova slot processor so I can be more consistent with temperature. I've got some boxes of Endura and I'm going to try them with Kodak chemistry. Happy to have this heated Nova, should help with my colour printing.