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Photo Ninja: How to Make a Custom Light Profile

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#1 Andrea B.

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 21:56

Publication Date [08 December 2013]
Last Update [21 January 2016]

Note: This article describes the proper procedure for creating a Photo Ninja Custom Light profile for any camera although we made specific mention of full spectrum converted cameras.

Introduction
We have all seen the difficulties of attaining good color rendition in the Visible range when using a full spectrum converted digital camera with a Baader UVIR-Cut Filter to block the UV and IR light. Various solutions have been proposed involving preset white balance and the use of additional filters such as the B+W BG38, BG39 or BG40. I have tried all these suggestions and still have been displeased with the Visible colors from my broadband converted cameras.

However, Visible color correction in such fotos has recently become much easier and better with the arrival of the new converter, Photo Ninja, which incorporates a color profiling tool making use of the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport. For the record, there are other converter/editors also offering camera colour profiling (with or without the CC Passport), and of course the CC Passport comes with its own profiling software.

Of the options available, I have found Photo Ninja's Custom Light profiling to be useful for my Visible work with the broadband camera because it corrects both color and white balance simultaneously when saved and used as a preset for single use or batch application. Such a Custom Light profile would typically be made for for each kind of lighting and lens/camera/filter combination used, but it is not time-consuming to do this. Photo Ninja also offers Session Light profiling and Camera Sensor profiling. Both these options work similarly to the Custom Light profiling which I will illustrate here.


Build a Custom Light Profile in Photo Ninja
For the profiling example here, I will build a profile for my D600-broadband for use in the Visible wavelengths in bright open sunlight with an external Baader UVIR-Cut filter mounted on the 105/4.5 UV-Nikkor.


1) Preset an In-camera White Balance and Photograph the ColorChecker Passport
Shooting in bright, open sunlight, first make an in-camera white balance preset from the neutral page of the CC Passport and then photograph the color patch page. Make sure the CC Passport is evenly lit. The Photo Ninja procedure asks for a slightly out-of-focus photograph so that the correction algorithm is not influenced by minor color differences within the patches or by stray dust motes which might have settled onto the patches.

Strictly speaking, the in-camera white balance preset is not needed, but why not get as close as possible to the correct white balance initially?

The CC Passport color patch photo.
Attached Image: 1_CCPassport.jpg


2) Photo Ninja: Adjustments > Color Correction
After opening the CC Passport photo in Photo Ninja, select the Color Correction adjustment to bring up a white balance dropper over the displayed photo.

Select Color Correction adjustment.
Attached Image: 2_Select ColorCorrAdjustment.jpg


3) Photo Ninja: Sample the CC Passport White Patch and Make Note of: White Balance > Temperature
Drag the white balance dropper over the white patch on the upper left of the CC Passport. In this example the D600's in-camera white balance was accurate, so there is no change to either the Temperature or Tint settings, although such changes are possible. The Mode setting always changes to Manual after the dropper drag. Make note of the Temperature setting for use in the next step. Click "Cancel" on the lower right to close the Color Correction adjustment and return to the main menu.

Before dropper sampling the white patch, the camera settings are shown.
Attached Image: 3_BeforeSampling.jpg


After dropper sampling, the Mode changes to Manual and Temperature/Tint settings may change.
Attached Image: 4_AfterSampling.jpg


4) Photo Ninja: Image > Profile Light Source
From the top menu bar select Image, then select Profile Light Source to bring up the Profile Light Source pop-up window.

The Image drop-down menu.
Attached Image: 5_ImageDropDownMenu.jpg


4.1 Light Source > New Custom Light > Custom Name > {profileName}
In the Profile Light Source pop-up window, first name the Custom Light profile: D600_VisSun, for this example.

4.2 White point > Measured > Temperature > {temperature}
Next enter the Temperature value noted in Step 3 above: 3500, for this example.

4.3 Chart > {ccType}
Select the ColorChecker version from {ColorChecker, ColorChecker Passport, Digital ColorChecker SG, Mini ColorChecker}: ColorChecker Passport, for this example.

The Profile Light Source pop-up window.
Attached Image: 6_profileLightSource.jpg


6) Photo Ninja: Adjust Profiling Grid
After finishing the selections on the Profile Light Source window, a grid appears over the CC Passport photo. Each corner of the grid can be grabbed and dragged with the cursor to center the grid patches over the matching color patches in the photo. Note that precise perspective is not necessary for the color patch photo because the grid can be adjusted to a skewed perspective.
If the color patches are upside down in the photo, then click Rotate 90 two times on the Profile Light Source pop-up window to flip the grid for patch matching.

The Profiling Grid before adjustment.
Attached Image: 7_GridBeforeAdjust.jpg


The Profiling Grid after adjustment.
Attached Image: 8_GridAfterAdjust.jpg


7) Photo Ninja: Profile Light Source > Build Profile > Save/Exit
Click the Build profile button to build and save the new Custom Light profile for later use in the Color Correction adjustment or in presets. When the profiling is finished, click Save/Exit on the lower right to return to the main menu.
In the next section, Custom Light profile usage is explained.

Build Profile and Save/Exit.
Attached Image: 9_BuildProfileSave.jpg


Apply a Custom Light Profile in Photo Ninja
Here is an application of a Photo Ninja Custom Light Profile as selected from the Light Source drop-down menu on the Color Correction page.

1) Photo Ninja: Adjustments > Color Correction
After opening a photo in Photo Ninja, select the Color Correction adjustment.

Select Color Correction adjustment.
Attached Image: 10_SelectCOlCOrr.jpg


2.1) Photo Ninja: Color Correction > Light Source > {profileName}
On the Color Correction page, select the desired Custom Light profile from the Light Source drop-down menu. The profile is applied in the next step.

Select Custom Light Profile.
Attached Image: SelectCustomLightProfile.jpg


2.2) Photo Ninja: Color Correction > White balance > Mode > From Profile
On the Color Correction page, set the white balance Mode to From Profile in order to apply the Custom Light Profile. The colors in the photo are corrected and the Temperature/Tint settings may change to align with the the profiled white balance. The new Temperature may not exactly match the profiled Temperature but it will not be too far from it.

Set Mode to From Profile. Temperature/Tint settings change in this example.
Attached Image:  SelectFromProfile.jpg


2.3) Photo Ninja: Color Correction > Color Recovery > Strength > {50-70}
On the Color Correction page, the Strength setting affects any highlights repaired under Photo Ninja's automatic highlight recovery algorithm. A default setting of between 50-70 has worked very well so far, and I have rarely needed to go outside that range. If oddly coloured highlight recoveries are seen, then try adjusting this setting. Click the "?" to read more about this setting. Note that highlight recovery is easier in the latest digital cameras with broad exposure ranges and less successful in older digicams.


Further Color Adjustments after Custom Light Profile
Some users may want to refine the color relationships between the newly profiled colors.


1) Photo Ninja: Adjustments > Color Enhancement
After opening a photo in Photo Ninja and applying a Custom Light profile, select the Color Enhancement adjustment.

Select Color Enhancement adjustment.
Attached Image: SelectColorEnhance.jpg


2.1) Photo Ninja: Color Enhancement > Base Style > {Plain, Portrait, Scenic}
Three global adjustments are offered.
  • Plain: The Plain base style slightly desaturates profiled colors and is a good neutral style to choose if later adjustment of individual colors or color contrasts is planned either in Photo Ninja or in another editor. Plain best corresponds to "Neutral" colour settings in those cameras which have that.
  • Portrait: The Portrait style seems to correspond to a "Standard" colour setting, so do not be mislead by its name.
  • Scenic: The Scenic style corresponds perhaps to a "Landscape" colour setting.
2.2) Photo Ninja: Color Enhancement > Intensity > {50}
All Photo Ninja base styles are set to 50 as a default, so push that slider up to get the desired global saturation. A Standard base style, for example, may need the Intensity slider set to 65-75.


3) Photo Ninja: Color Enhancement > Color Patches
Individual colors can be dramatically or subtly altered using the Color Patches and their sliders. This is outside the scope of this article, but do experiment with this portion of the Color Enhancement page.

Color Enhancement page.
Here the base style has been set to Neutral and the Intensity slider left on 50. Then the blue patch has been selected and its Saturation slider increased to +20 to enhance a blue sky.
Attached Image: ColEnhancePage.jpg


Example of Custom Light Profile Application
The first Scilla photo was made in the sunlight using a preset white balance. The second Scilla photo is the result of applying the Custom Light Profile built above.

Equipment: D600-broadband + 105/4.5 UV-Nikkor + Baader UVIR-Cut Filter
Exposure: f/11 for 1/60" @ ISO-100

BEFORE: The Scillas should be blue, white and yellow-green with no pink tones.
Attached Image: 13_ScillaBefore.jpg


AFTER: This is what the scillas really look like !! I took the Macbook Air outdoors to verify this.
Attached Image: 14_ScillaAfter.jpg


Example of CC Passport Before and After
The original shot of the CC Passport was made in sunlight using a in-camera preset white balance. It can be easily see that white balance alone did not fully correct the colour in my converted D600 even though it gets fairly close.

Note: There may be some inaccuracies in both photos due to application of the sRGB setting for browser
viewing and due to resizing for posting here.

Equipment: D600-broadband + 60/4.5 UV-Planar + Baader UVIR-Cut Filter

BEFORE: The original photo with only in-camera white balance does not look too bad,
but the yellow & purple are obviously off. The other differences are more subtle.
Photo Ninja does a good job (at least in this example) of preserving the in-camera white balance preset.
Attached Image: 11_CCBefore.jpg


AFTER: The Custom Light profile was applied. Corrected colours look better.
Saturation can be further adjusted if desired.
Attached Image: 12_CCAfter.jpg


The differences are not so easy to see when the two versions are separated. In Photoshop Elements I made a difference layer to show where the differences occur. The difference layer was brightened slightly to make the difference locations more apparent because some of them are subtle.

DIFFERENCE LAYER: Between preceding Before & After version of the CC Passport.
This is just to show the location of colour differences between the two versions.
Attached Image: Diff.jpg


To make the colour changes even more apparent, I overlaid a grid cut from the After version onto the Before.
The grid was made in Photoshop Elements with a flower cookie cutter. Looking at the differences this way makes it quite apparent that white balance adjustment alone is not enough to correct colours in a converted camera.

AFTER: Flower grid.
Attached Image: flowerGrid.jpg

LAYERED GRID: The After flowers show the adjusted colour against the Before background.
Again, note that this shows that a white balance adjustment alone is not enough to correct colours in a converted camera.
There are only the minorest of differences in the top monotone row. This means that the in-camera white balance setting made it through the converter (Photo Ninja) without major changes. Do be aware that this may not always happen depending on what converter is used
Attached Image: AfterOverBefore.jpg


As a final observation I must note that the colours from the converted camera are being corrected to the CC Passport colours. It is possible that there is some variation between such corrected colours and the actual colours which would have been produced by the camera in its original, unconverted state.
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.

#2 DaveO

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 08:49

I know this is still "In Progress" but I have followed through your directions and I find that it really does make an important difference to the Visible light images that I have taken so far. The advantage of shooting RAW is that you can always go back and re-process the images when improvements like this come along.

Thank you
Dave

#3 Andrea B.

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 15:08

Good to hear that this is useful Dave.

I need to get the illustrations back into this write-up !
Andrea G. Blum
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#4 Andrea B.

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 23:44

I added the photos I have.
There are still some missing from the section about application of a profile (which I never made.)
Andrea G. Blum
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#5 Andrea B.

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 19:16

OK, all photos now added.
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.

#6 JCDowdy

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Posted 28 June 2014 - 00:09

She's a ninja,
she's a Photo ninja.
B)

#7 msubees

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 15:34

who? Andrea? she is an ultraviolet ninja, I thought B)

View PostJCDowdy, on 28 June 2014 - 00:09, said:

She's a ninja,
she's a Photo ninja.
;)


#8 Andrea B.

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 21:30

OK, pinned this.
Made a couple of minor corrections.

Please do let me know of anything which needs elucidation or correction. :D
Andrea G. Blum
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#9 msubees

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Posted 12 June 2015 - 19:34

Andrea, thanks. do you know if there is way to copy one profile-file (I assume it is saved somewhere). That way I do not need to it twice? I have PN in office and then on a laptop, both are PCs. If you use a Mac, the file path or even names might be totally different.

Zach

#10 Andrea B.

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Posted 12 June 2015 - 20:03

No, unfortunately I don't know how to keep two copies of PN in sync. That is a very good question!! I'll look into it. We may have to write to the guys at PN to find out about this.
Andrea G. Blum
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#11 Andrea B.

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Posted 12 June 2015 - 20:29

OK, I just wrote to Photo Ninja support to find out how presets and profiles can be loaded onto another machine in order to sync up PN copies.
Andrea G. Blum
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#12 colinbm

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Posted 13 June 2015 - 00:50

Thanks very much Andrea for doing all this wonderful work for us.
I will have to learn all this one day soon.....
Col

#13 Andrea B.

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Posted 14 June 2015 - 13:49

It's really pretty easy stuff once you've tried it.

I'm always happy to share anything I find out. No secrets with me!!!
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.