An Experiment

comments: 64

We are learning so many new things in my digital photography course! As I mentioned last week, it is a little bit overwhelming. It all makes sense in class, when my teacher is explaining it, but then when I get back to my computer at home, I blank out and can't remember what seemed so cool in class, and can't really make sense of my notes. Possibly because the annotated version of my notes look like this:


Or like this (even better):


Yes. Brilliant. But we have gotten so much good information to start practicing with, and I have remembered some of it, so I thought I'd do a little experiment.


This one's called "Untopped, and unPhotoshopped." It is what comes straight out of the camera, before doing any color correction.


This one's called "Once Topped, and Alicia-Photoshopped." On this image I performed my typical process of color correction in Photoshop, tweaking white balance, curves, and levels, and then sharpening.


This one's called "Double Topped, and Class-Inspired Photoshopped." I worked on this image in Adobe Camera RAW and then Photoshop, tweaking white balance, exposure, color, burning in the curves on certain parts, adding an unsharp mask, and I think that's it.

It's seriously fun. I am having some color issues with my new iMac — the color in Photoshop and Adobe Camera RAW does not look the same as it does in Bridge, or when viewing the same photos on-line (on the same computer). I have wracked my brain trying to fuss with this in Color Settings and been on the phone three times with the techs (who told me three different things, none of which worked) and still, something's off. I even used my Mad Skillz in Creative Profanity and still, nothing! Can you believe that??? First the global financial crisis and now computers are not responding to crazed and desperate swearing! What is the world coming to!!!


Your blog just makes me hungry now :)

I love the second photo, it's lovely.

I love your photography posts. We got a new camera and I've just started playing around with the non-automatic settings. Your pictures inspire me to keep at it!

Well I can definitely see the photoshop magic working here, and it looks great. And delicious! I've been using Photoshop since version 2.0 and it's still my favorite program.
Not sure why there's a difference between Raw and Bridge, but as far as viewing images online the compression that an image goes through to become a jpeg does change some of the color. I also notice that flickr changes the color when an image is uploaded. Good luck! I think you were already a really good photographer so it will be interesting to see where this takes you!

I'm all about unsharp mask. Really, I am.

Well, mercury is in retrograde. Which is my answer to any technological crisis--Wha? There's a problem with that? Looking forward to all the photo fun!

wow, this is amazing! all are lovely photos, but as a complete novice I can see a huge difference. Alicia, would this class be worth it if I only have a point and shoot? (Canon powershot A540) or do you think its more for people with SLR cameras? keep sharing your experiments, its so interesting!

Can you change the color profile from Adobe RGB to sRGB? sRGB is better for online viewing of pictures and Adobe RGB is better for prints. My camera takes pictures in Adobe RGB so I manually change the photos to SRGB when I open my photos in the RAW. It is in the bottom of the screen directly under the RAW picture. I have a PC so I am not sure if this is the same location for a Mac. This seems to keep what I see in Adobe to that online. But sometimes it just might be individual monitors

word! i had to have the fan in my imac replaced after two weeks! but, it is glorious now, so far. my version of photoshop is too old for the new mac, so i've taken the high and mighty ground of not wanting to use photoshop while i learn to use the new camera. uhm, that seems to be daft after seeing what you've done with that last photo. it is the best one. drat!

Who cares about the photography - I'd reach in and eat any of the 3!! Though of course the last one is best. Nice job.

That's incredible! I wish I knew how to do that! I also wish I could have a bite of that!!!!!

I have so much to learn. I have just started my blog and at the same time am just learning how to take and download pictures to my computer. Your blog is an inspiration to me and your images are just down right beautiful! ~amy

Very nice the way you brought the left side of the turnover out of the shadows in "double topped" photo #3. I used to do photo developing "back in the day" with enlargers and chemicals, and I am constantly amazed at the digital photography options. Almost miraculous! Keep up the good photo work.

Hey Alicia!

I'm a (sorta') pro-photog and have been doing quite a bit of reading lately regarding color variations between softwares, etc. One issue might be that each camera manufacturer imbeds their own "color profile" in their cameras, but don't neccesarily hand those profiles out to Adobe, etc. That's why you see alot of difference sometimes between your camera's LCD and your computer. I know that they have released the camera profiles that you can download into Lightroom to help, but I don't think they offer them for Photoshop.
Seriously, I feel like the more I learn the less I know about photography. I miss the old days of film & darkrooms!

Wonderful photos, as always. I love your photography posts!

And P.S. that looks delicious.

Every one of the photos look beautiful to me. Especially compared to the crap that I call my digital photos!

Ahaha, your "mad skillz in creative profanity" term cracks me up! I have a friend whom I'm fairly sure engages in similar behavior but I've never had a descripter for it until now!

Also, your photos are lovely! Good job!

As someone mentions above are you viewing in the correct RGB mode? In Photoshop go to 'View', then 'Proof Setup', then select 'Monitor RGB'. This is how the images will come out when you put them online.

Hope that helps! :)

I have just got my own 'big black' and am figuring things out too so hearing about your camera lessons is very helpful.

Shelley Noble says: October 07, 2008 at 11:11 AM

That's an incredibly great edit, Alicia! I loved your previous work enough but now this new level? Forget about it!

Mmmm this is making me oh so hungry ^_^

Like others, I have no idea what's going on between Bridge and ACR/PS but the difference when pictures are uploaded to Flickr or elsewhere online is a color profile issue. You can change the profile by going to the Edit menu. Edit> Assign Profile> sRGB.

One trick I like to use to address the issue (one of the only tricks I know) is this...

Open the image and go to Image> Mode> Lab Color. Then go to your layers palette. Create a new fill/adjustment layer (the small circle that's 1/2 black, 1/2 white)> Curves. Change from the 4x4 grid to the 10x10 grid if it's not already that way (small icon down in the lower right of the dialogue box). Go up to Channels and change from Lightness to A. Grab the upper right corner and drag one grid line over to the left. Grab the lower left corner and drag one grid line over to the right. You've just shortened the A channel curve. Change to the B channel and do the same thing. Click okay. You've just increased the saturation of your image. Now play with the opacity of the curves layer to fine tune the adjustment. Once it's where you like it, Flatten the image and change back to RGB by going to Image> Mode> RGB color. Give it a whirl.

At least you have pretty pastries to console you for your world woes! They look VERY yummy, (in all the pics!) and I have to be careful not to drool on my keyboard!

Just wanted to clarify, that the issue you're having going from computer to web is most likely a color profile thing. I used to have the same problem and when I was first learning to deal with it, I would often do all the image edits I wanted and then change the color profile at the end of my "workflow" (if you can call what I do in PS that). In doing so I'd go from a vibrant image to one that looked dull and blah, causing me to go back and fiddle around with saturation, contrast, etc. a second time. Which is all just to say, change the color profile FIRST and then make whatever other edits you want to. Now, I generally begin working with every image I intend to upload to the web in the way I described above and then move onto other things. I no longer notice an appreciable difference in the way my images looking going from PS to the web.

You go girl!
Keep on taking pictures!

"Mad Skillz in Creative Profanity"
Yum, me sees good food! (say that like cookie monster)
Cheryl in IN

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at