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Look it up


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Look it up

15 May 2021 8:52AM   Views : 343 Unique : 157

OK. It seems to be the week for displaying my ignorance… I really want to find some LUT software that gives me specific looks in pictures, and my internet research has led to a dead end or two, because it comes up with video colour grading, which I don’t understand.

So what do I know? That some films and TV programmes have highly characteristic colour rendering which gives a distinctive atmosphere to them: and I have two specifics in mind. The earlier one, 2013’s Filth (from an Irvine Welsh book about a stunningly corrupt policeman) uses, surprisingly, exaggerated colour along with soft focus and flare. I’ve tried winding up the saturation in images, but that isn’t all there is to it…

The opposite is true in American Gods, Amazon’s version of Neil Gaiman’s book – the palette is dark, browned and muted, but with very high contrast – and the problem for me is that I can’t analyse it further than that. But it makes Ian McShane’s craggy features positively mountainous: Lovejoy never looked so sinister. It’s a sort of colour noir… (And writing that makes me aware that both lighting and makeup are also involved – as I keep saying in the Critique Gallery, camerawork is behind all the other stuff, and needs to be right for the result you want to achieve!)

The name, Look Up Table, gives me a clue: for any given colour and tone, the software substitutes a different, but consistently different, tone and colour. And I know that you can set them up for yourself – but for a change I’m being impatient. Life’s too short to learn complicated techniques that have limited application, and I suspect there’s software out there that does the business – it’s just that I don’t know which it is, and vendors seem quite coy about showing examples of their full range of effects.

It occurs to me that things like Nik Efex have a very similar function, although I’ve never seen that described at LUT software – is that because it only works on still images, not video? Anyway, help! Ideally, you will know the answer, and post a couple of examples, along with the name of the supplier of the software you used. For copyright reasons, and because there don’t seem to be stills displaying the effects, no pictures from the productions. Both may be worth seeing, though…


dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1859 England
15 May 2021 8:53AM
Answers on a postcard are welcome: answers below are even more welcome!
AltImages 1 2
15 May 2021 10:17AM
Sorry, don't have any postcards! I tend to do something similar the hard way combining filters such as Bleach Bypass and the warming/cooling filter and others in Nik Color Efex. Frustratingly the Bleach Bypass in the original Nik Efex was great, as you could start the two contrast sliders at zero, but Color Efex 2 starts at 20 and makes life a lot harder.

But what you're asking is quite simple, with a lot of readily available free resources. Here's one of many short YouTube videos to get you started: and here's a couple of links to some free LUTs. The Phlearn link also has a good explanations and help too. It is always a good go-to site for such things Here's more:
mistere Plus
7 6 4 England
15 May 2021 10:41AM
Both Affinity and On1 photo have lots of LUT's available. They're easy to use presets that you can add to your image at any stage of the processing. Unlike the presents in NIK that have to be added at the beginning. Hundreds of different styles, effects and looks. If Affinity has them then Photoshop must have them as well. They are customisable and you can create, save and use your own. If, as you say, you're impatient and just want to get on with using them then a troll through you tube should provide the necessary info for PS users. There's plenty on there for both Affinity and On1 so PS must be well supplied as well. Lots of free to download LUT's are available as well, just google, free photoshop LUT's.
LUT's can be very useful, they're not as limited in application as you might think.
AltImages 1 2
15 May 2021 10:47AM

Quote:...... . If Affinity has them then Photoshop must have them as well.

For John's information, LUTs come in two file types and Photoshop, Lightroom, Affinity, and many other photo applications support both extensions. As they're not specific to any one particular program.
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1859 England
15 May 2021 11:31AM
Thanks, chaps. I am exploring in PS, and will have a look at what goes on in Affinity shortly...
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.8k 2420 United Kingdom
15 May 2021 12:05PM
There's an AP article here on the subject that you may find informative if you haven't seen it.

I didn't know about this, but looking at references it does seem to allow for various colour effects, whereas Bleach Bypass as quoted by Altimages (and as used extensively in the cinema, notably in Saving Private Ryan) really only covers one effect (basically increased contrast, reduced saturation). I love BB but agree that the current Nik filter doesn't allow for the subtlety that the old version gave.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.8k 2420 United Kingdom
15 May 2021 12:25PM
PS To be more accurate I should have said that the current Nik BB filter doesn't encourage subtlety in the way that the old one did. There are of course ways and means... Wink
mac Plus
19 12 Scotland
15 May 2021 12:46PM
I have a hard enough job trying to master Photoshop without getting involved with LUT. However, this website is pretty comprehensive and also gives you three free presets.
AltImages 1 2
15 May 2021 12:50PM

Quote:PS To be more accurate I should have said that the current Nik BB filter doesn't encourage subtlety in the way that the old one did. There are of course ways and means... Wink

I found the 'new improved' BB filter in Color Efex 2 very frustrating. Though the good thing about Color Efex is that you can combine as many of its filters in any order of use and then save it as a preset that then can be used time after time. I suppose that doing your own thing isn't that different to using LUTs that somebody else has created. Again LUTs can be saved as reusable actions in Photoshop or other software.
AltImages 1 2
15 May 2021 12:54PM

Quote:I have a hard enough job trying to master Photoshop without getting involved with LUT.

Well if all else fails you can always say that the use of LUTs is actually adding things to images that in past years would have been considered to be film and lens defects that Photoshop was invented to allow people to edit out of their images! Lol
dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 775 England
15 May 2021 4:50PM
I have a blog half written on the subject. I just need to do some more playing.

LUTs were created for the film industry. They are just a mapping tool, changing one tone for another.
You've essentially been using them for years John in the form of Nik.

Affinity has a File menu item Export LUT. So when you've made colour adjustments to your image, select that menu option and there you go. Under the Adjustmnets tab, towards the bottom there is the LUT from which you can call up your created or downloaded LUTs.
A simple example is Split Toning where I can save the split toning settings as a split tone effect per se (in Affinity) or I could save it as a LUT, the latter being useful across different software should I want to do that.

Quote:I have a hard enough job trying to master Photoshop without getting involved with LUT.

In principle it's simpler than things like Colour Balance or Toning to use.
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1859 England
15 May 2021 8:10PM
Thank you all - especially Moira for that AP link: I'd read an article in the paper magazine a while back, but this seems more helpful... And I'm looking forward to Keith's blog.

I shall continue to dabble. A bit!
17 May 2021 6:53AM
LUTs never heard of them, I have so much to learn ! For those like me just google the subject and there seems to be lots of YouTube footage for whatever photo software you use.
AltImages 1 2
17 May 2021 9:26AM

Quote: ... I have so much to learn ! ...

Is that really the case though? What worries me is that in so many areas on the Internet people are in lots of different clique bubbles. In the 1970s, instead of taking good photos people used to think that adding a starburst or other Cokin filter was all that was needed. Nowadays "good photography" seems to be all about who can show off the latest fad in adding effects in Photoshop (such as lens flare, and colour casts with or without subtle fogginess) that we'd do our very best to avoid in past times. It's the same with models. In the old days models were pretty, nowadays there's just too many who think it's all about how much botox and lip filler they can get into their faces to look like the Kardassians - of Star Trek rather than the Internet family! But if you keep outside of these bubbles, good quality photography will still be out there. Rant over 😊
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1859 England
17 May 2021 11:20AM
I think that LUTs are a sideshow, as are many things that give YouTube its bulk... And I don't want to suggest that anyone needs them, unless they want specific effects.

I agree with Paul, and his implicit concern that there are people who treat new ideas as more important than solid camerawork. When you can get it properly exposed and sharp where you want it, you can look at other stuff!

But for the jaded, sometimes a new idea can bring a spark back. And it irritates me when I am mystified by something that could be simple...
17 May 2021 11:58AM
Dudler, Totally agree with that, solid camera work gives the best starting point. With modern DSLRs I don't know how I ever managed to get satisfactory shots in film without previewing the image, I think Litchfield used to have a Polaroid back for his Hasselblad. I must say that digital has made me a tad lazy at times in setting up for a shot knowing I can post process which I've only touched the surface of.
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1859 England
17 May 2021 5:49PM
That's a good part of the problem, I reckon, Graham: people have started to think that the camerawork doesn't matter, and that the whole thing is about processing!

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