I saw mention of the addition of a moiré removal option for the adjustment brush in the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Beta that is currently available on the Adobe Labs site. Moiré has long been an obsession of mine since I started shooting with a medium format digital back in 1999. I was hoping that the Adobe engineers had come up with a tool that matched this technique. This link documents a technique that as far as I can determine, was invented in late 2002 at an Advanced Applied Color Theory class taught by Dan Margulis. Seems hard to believe nearly a decade has drifted by since then.
Most of the moiré “removal” tutorials I’ve read focus on blurring away the color moiré. Easy enough done in Lab color mode. However this is where things usually end. Or, where there is a lot of painting or cloning as the next step. Either way, the detail in the fabric is usually destroyed or the luminance moiré is left behind.
So, how does the moiré removal brush in the Lightroom 4 beta stack up? I have a library of images with moiré that I keep on hand that I use in a couple of my courses at Langara College. Some are shot with DSLR cameras and others are from medium format digital backs. Generally, the blurring effects of the low pass filter present on nearly all DSLR cameras means moiré is seldom a problem. The downside is an image that has lost some of its fine detail.
The example image below was shot with a Pentax 645D with a 45-85mm lens. After shooting thousands of images with this combination, I can confidently say it can produce a spectacular level of detail. The first image shows the overall image (with excess background cropped away). The subsequent images are 100% crops of the same area of the image. Being as they are presented on this blog, they are JPEG format, however are saved at the highest quality setting.
My conclusion? A couple images showed very promising results with the moiré removal brush in Lightroom 4 (beta). However, it’s images like the next one that truly test the feature. I’ll still be using the 10 year old technique on the stubborn images. Maybe Lightroom 5 will nail it completely. In the meantime, cameras like the just announced Nikon D800E and medium format backs will deliver the fine detail some photographers demand, but with the chance that moiré will add to their post-production time.
Although it doesn’t have an explicit command for accomplishing focus blending, Photoshop CS4 is very much up to the task using its Auto Align and Auto Blend technologies.
Start by taking a series of photos that shift the focus from the front of your subject to the back. Try to minimize exposure and color/white balance variation. Manual focus, manual exposure and a fixed white balance are going to work best.
Once you have your series of images in a folder, follow these steps:
1 – Choose Files>Scripts>Load Files Into Stack (Click on the “Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images” checkbox.)
2 – Select all the layers in the Layers Panel/Palette (click on the bottom layer, then click on the top layer while holding down the Shift key)
3 – Choose Edit>Auto Blend Layers (Click on the “Stack Layers” option and check “Seamless Tones and Colors”)
Photoshop will create a complex layer mask for each layer, attempting to show only the well focused areas. If you need to adjust for a better result, paint on the layer mask using black to hide and white to show.
A 7MB QuickTime illustrates the steps for this technique.
With all the new features being added in Adobe Camera Raw, sometimes it’s easy to forget the basics and what our job as a photographer is. How can we guide the viewer’s attention and create an attractive image? While that can be subjective, here’s a review of of some of the basics in Camera Raw with quick introduction to the graduated filter that appeared in version 5 (Photoshop CS4 or Lightroom 2). There are three main points in this tutorial – setting a full tonal range (highlight and shadow), white balance and selective darkening to minimize distracting areas.
Click on the link below to launch a QuickTime video. It’s just under 16MB, so it will take a few moments to load.
I’ve tried to love Nikon Capture. I really, really have. However, when it comes to working with large quantities of images quickly, I always come back to Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom. There’s one client that I still use Capture for and that’s been primarily to ensure consistency with the color. So every once in awhile I come back to Capture for other work and make promises to myself that I will learn it better. Try to discover what I’m missing. (or maybe confirm the fact I’m happier not using something else)
Funny thing happened when testing a Nikon D3x. I’ve been really happy with the high ISO performance of the D3 and did not want to sacrifice that by moving to a D3x. So I shot some ISO 1600 and 6400 images on the D3x. Ran ’em through Capture because that was the only raw converter that recognized the files in late 2008. When I re-processed the files several months later in Adobe Camera Raw, I noticed the images had significantly more noise. Examples are below.
Cropped 100% view of Nikon Capture NX2 version
Cropped 100% view of Adobe Camera Raw version
I still prefer the workflow of ACR/Lightroom for the majority of my work, however those “special images” might be better served by considering one of the many other raw converters in the market.