Purcell Mountains Aerials: Processing Finished and Posted

November 13, 2017  •  Leave a Comment


I finally finished processing my aerial photos of the Purcell Mountains taken this past summer.  I've posted some of my favorites here.  You can find the rest in the BC-Purcell Mountains gallery.



These aerials were challenging to process.  Many (not all) had an unattractive purplish color cast, probably as a result of two things:

  1. The circular polarizer not always being correctly rotated (hard to do on a bucking airplane with constantly changing direction, holding the camera steady with a 100 mph wind)
  2. Underexposure.  I've read that underexposure on some Nikon cameras can result in a purple color cast.  It reminded me of the occasional nasty purple cast of Velvia film, for those of you who saw that with Velvia 



So, I did some learning.

First, I trialed Capture One Pro as a raw converter and photo processing program.  I'll have to say I'm impressed.  I consider myself very knowledgeable in Lightroom, but I could not replicate in Lightroom the very high quality of Capture One Pro's color, the noise reduction, and the sharpening....and I tried and tried.  The noise reduction was even better than DxO Optics Pro, which was my standard up to this point.  My conclusion was, for the Nikon D800E, that Capture One Pro is a much better raw converter, hands-down...maybe even the best.   Kudos to Phase One.  It was a tough call on whether to purchase Capture One Pro.  A 1-year subscription to Capture One Pro is $180, paid in advance, while a 1-year subscription to Lightroom and Photoshop combined is $120.  I was not able to find a discount for the Capture One Pro subscription.  If you find one, tell me about it.  Capture One Pro is very good, but it is not a good value.  In the end, I felt the price was worth it, for now.   Barely.



Second, I dived deeper into Photoshop.  The basic approach was to:

  1. Use Select Color Range to select localized areas of purple (e.g. purple on near slopes, then a 2nd later selection for distant mountains,...)
  2. Manually add purple areas to or remove non-purple areas from the Selected Color Range
  3. Create a "New Layer via Copy" with the Selected Color Range
  4. Apply one or more of the following adjustments: Selective Color, Layers, or Hue/Saturation.  In Selective Color, I would choose Blues and Aquas and decrease the level of Magenta.  In Layers, I would increase the minimum levels for the Red and the Blue channels.  In Hue/Saturation, I would decrease the saturation of Blues and Cyans.  

Some photos had as many as 5 or 6 Photoshop layers, but 2 or 3 was more common.  The flattened Photoshop file was then finalized in Lightroom.  If I felt there was still too much purple, I would either move the purple hue slider toward blue, and/or decrease the purple saturation to the color matched, to the best of my somewhat fuzzy recollection, the actual colors that I saw that day.



In the end, I liked the final result.  I processed about 200 of the 800 photos taken on that flight.  I did not process the other 600 because many were of the same scene (there is a lot of overlap in what I did process), and the whole procedure took too much time.  



Again, you can find more in the BC-Purcell Mountains gallery.






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