Learning to Fish, Part 1

Ok so here at SmugMug we’re totally dedicated to customer satisfaction, yours and your customers. We take the SmugMug Guarantee very seriously, and you should promote it to your customers. Our help desk can answer your customer issues really fast, making you look great. We get to the majority of emails within 15–30 minutes, and rarely longer. So, what’s this about “fish?”

Let’s look at this example, which came to me via a customer complaint email. The email read something like this: “I loved the photos I bought, but one of them was all funkadelic, the colors were just ca-razy! Can you do something about that?”

Here’s what the customer got. Oh and many thanks to Jason Kruse for letting me use his images as an example so we can all learn!

So, it’s a church — indoor, no flash, and “ca-razy” mixed lighting from various sources, including stained glass windows. The first step, is to try to get the overall white balance as close as possible in the RAW conversion. I’m showing examples here from Adobe Camera Raw, other RAW converters have very siimilar steps.

Open the image in the RAW conveter:

I’m only going to focus on the white balace. This is done by finding a neutral area (grey) and clicking on it with the white balance dropper. Zoom in to max zoom:

Choose the white balance dropper tool:

And then search for a neutral grey area (look for even values in the RGB readouts)

OK now we’re ready — but wait — this image suffers from that mixed lighting we talked about (look at the hair, especially on the Dad, and the two younger boys)!

Don’t worry. There are a zillion ways to deal with this, but I’m going to lay on you a dead-simple way. I use a Photoshop action called The Color Fringe Correction Action — it’s great for all sorts of color fixes. In 10 seconds, you can correct these nasties, and give your clients a much improved result. Sure, if you’re a Photoshop Mastah, you can do this in a dozen different ways by hand. But I like this action for it’s ease of use, and manual-mode features, too.

Notice the really really bad colors in the hair of a few of the subjects:

Now this photo is an extreme example. It required a few extra minutes of post processing, but the result, in the end, will be a happier customer. Oh BTW don’t worry about the extreme noise in this shot — the 5x7 and 8x10 of this photo look great in print — probably can’t go bigger, but that’s ok.

Stay tuned for part two, BTW, you’ll need your coat and gloves!

The end result: happy pro, happy customer. Our policy? We’ll color correct for you — and for your customer — in the interest of speed and service for you and your customer. And we don’t charge for it, happily providing reprints. BUT we’ll only do it once. “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.”

Comments? I’d love to hear them.

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