Another Kyoto Stroll: Seeing (or Not Seeing, as the Case May Be) Reds
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I took another walk in Fushimi yesterday (a south-east area of Kyoto), similar to that of my previous post (“A Few Over-Process Under-Thought Photos From Lunch”), but with nice weather. Red and orange seemed to be a theme.

For the most part, cherry trees here in Japan don't bear fruit in a meaningful way (normally just small bitter fruits that are usually unnoticeable to begin with), but at the start of yesterday's walk I came across a real fruit-bearing cherry tree in front of someone's house, with a note “Enjoy them once they become red”...

Enjoy! the red ones  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1600 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Enjoy!
the red ones

Sadly, they were not red, so I couldn't partake.

Decidedly Orange not yet red  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/2.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Decidedly Orange
not yet red
Burnt Orange  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/800 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Burnt Orange

Not far from the previous train-track pic, but a different train line.

desktop background image of a scruffy dandelion seed ball in Kyoto Japan  --  Scruffy  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/2500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Scruffy
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desktop background image of some delicate purple flowes in Kyoto, Japan  --  Not Scruffy  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Not Scruffy
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Cafe Lil Donkey  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/1250 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Cafe Lil Donkey

Lunch was at カフェちいろば (which, according to the “Lil Donkey” on their website, I take means “Cafe Little Donkey”). The food was very good... the cook has a real sense for quality.

Fringe of Red  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/2.5, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Fringe of Red

After lunch, I came across what appeared to be a maple-tree bush (short and bush-like, but the leaves seemed clearly to be momiji — Japanese maple) that was predominantly green, but with a few deeply-red elements splashed here and there...

Slight Non-Fringe of Non-Red  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/2.5, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Slight Non-Fringe of Non-Red
desktop background image of a momiji (Japanese Maple) seed pod and leaves, combining to form a sort of moster face, in Kyoto Japan  --  Momiji Alien  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Momiji Alien
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Further along, the red level was escalated substantially with another fruiting cherry tree laden with cherries in their prime...

desktop background image of red cherries on a tree, in Kyoto Japan  --  These are Red but, sadly, lacking an “Enjoy!” sign  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/2.5, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
These are Red
but, sadly, lacking an “Enjoy!” sign
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And finally, some roadside flowers that turned the red up to “11”...

desktop background image of pretty red-and-white flowers, in Kyoto Japan  --  What a Challenge the red is, literally, off the charts (where by “literally” I mean “figuratively”, unless, of course, you were to actually try to chart the reds)  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
What a Challenge
the red is, literally, off the charts
(where by “literally” I mean “figuratively”, unless, of course, you were to actually try to chart the reds)
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The challenge here is that the reds were so super deeply saturated in real life that display technology just can't handle them at the same time as handling the rest of the image properly. The camera (Nikon D700) itself did an admirable job of it, considering that the detail was there, but once the color data is squished down to the limits of my laptop monitor, the reds become an ugly, solid unrefined blotch. I complain about this technological limitation often, such as in “Why Does “Brightness” Wash Colors to White?” and “Brilliant Flower, Not-so-Brilliant Processing”.

So, in the picture above, I manually toned down the reds by painting negative exposure in Lightroom. This traded off the unnatural solid blotchiness for some unnatural darkness, a trade-off that seemed in this case to be the lesser of two evils. It's an HDR-like processing that didn't result in an obvious unnatural “HDR look”.

This next closeup shot may illustrate the problem better...

desktop background image of pretty red-and-white flowers, in Kyoto Japan  --  Completely Fake HDR  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Completely Fake HDR
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Here's the original shot out of camera, with defaults in Lightroom except the white balance, which has been set from a separate WhiBal shot...

Out Of Camera Washout  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Out Of Camera Washout

In Lightroom, I lowered the exposure and other develop settings enough so that the reds weren't clipped, so that they finally showed just a bit of the detail that was there a-plenty in real life, resulting in an image that was dark except for the red leaves...

Tamed Reds at the expense of everything else  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Tamed Reds
at the expense of everything else

This shows how much brighter the reds should be compared to the rest of the image, but if I set the exposure so that the rest is reasonable, the reds are pushed brighter than display technology currently allows. And so the conundrum.

Flattening the contrast so that both the reds and greens are “reasonable” on their own can make for an okay result (as I hope “Completely Fake HDR” above is), but the completely unrealistic lack of red vividness is a limitation that drives me nuts.


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