From: California, USA
Not worth talkin' about around here.
There has been some discussion in another thread about fixing washed out landscape photos. It's really not that difficult with pretty much any photo editing software, so I thought I'd give a few pointers for Dennis and anyone else who might be interested. I'm going to take the liberty of using Ron's original photo in the other thread.
This photo is overexposed or washed out, and there is a lack of contrast between the highlights and the shadows. Also, as Ron has noted, the image was taken through a green polarizing filter which has given the image a fairly strong green color cast.
Here is a histogram of the image which I have taken from the Levels tool dialog in PSE 10. Most image editing software will have a Levels tool. (In Photoshop/PSE the keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+L). This histogram shows a distribution of the tones of the image from black (on the left) to white (on the right), with shades of grey in between. A normal well-exposed photo will have values across the spectrum. As we can see from this histogram, there are no values on either end, meaning that there are no apparent whites (even from the stripe in the road) and no black shadows (from the hills or the posts in the road). This means the image has low contrast and is what we would generally called washed out.
There are many tools and techniques to fix this image which requires both a tonal and a color correction. Both problems can be fixed with Levels. Essentially, what we will be doing is editing the image so that the objects we know are white appear to be white, and the darkest apparent shadows are black. In the next image of the Levels dialog, you will see three eye-dropper icons. If you look closely, they are filled with black, grey and white. What I did here was click on the white eyedropper to choose and set "the white point" of the image and then click on the white stripe in the road. This tells the program that the pixel I have chosen in the image is supposed to be white. I did the same thing with the black eyedropper tool and selected a dark post on the road barrier for my black point.
After completing the task, see how the image and histogram have changed:
The histogram now covers more of the spectrum, the image has more contrast and is more vibrant, and the green color cast has been removed - all with a couple of clicks.
Now, in the other thread, Ron has told us that he used a LAB color technique to fix the photo. I don't know too much about LAB color space, but I don't see how it can be an easy fix, since (a) it requires a change in the color space that is being used to edit the image (a subject that fill volumes of color management books), and (b) it is a color space that is used more by professionals. Also, whatever technique was used did not correct the color cast in the image, and to my eye did not really do a great job with the image tones. Here is a split screen before and after image of Ron's image and the simple correction that I performed.
Now, there is much more that could be done to this image, and I'm sure Doc could really pump it up using color curves, but this provides a really quick fix and makes a fairly significant difference to a washed out picture.
Anything worth doing is
worth doing well