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Old Aug 16, 2005, 9:29 PM   #1
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I have a nikon coolpix 970 which is about 5 years old. I've had the same memory cards and used them extensively over this time - most of the time I use the card with the largest memory. ourdoor and general people shots come out OK using the existing memory card. I also use it to take a lot of photos of jewelry, which have suddenly started turning out with very poor color.

For the jewelry pics I have a "light table" constructed with a true white background paper draped between side and back supports. The supports have semi-transparent plastic filter material on sides and top to avoid bright shiny spots on objects being photographed. I have an overhead Rifa lightbox (750W tungsten light) and 2 side floods (250W tungsten each). The camera is set to incandescent light, no other adjustments, and has been taking pics w/ good color. The photos I've taken in the last week have a tremendous amount of light blue instead of the white background (the "cyan" level on the supposedly white background is close to 50% when I check it in photoshop).

Today I replaced all the lightbulbs - this did not eliminate the blue in the pics. So I tried taking pics in natural light, no artificial light sources and no flash (auto setting on camera to adjust for light source). Same blue cast to pics.

I'm using the same photoshop program to process the pics; same monitor; same photo card reader. suggestions welcome. I'm not a camera hardware whiz - all ideas, even those that seem obvious to technically capable people, would be welcome.
thanks.
Mary Alexander
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Old Aug 17, 2005, 12:08 AM   #2
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It doesn't seem to me that a memory card failure would show up in such a selective way. Others are free to correct me.
Have you tried doing a custom white balance adjustment of the camera since the problem showed up? If this isn't a factor, and the color cast is consistent, you could set up an Action in Photoshop to correct this cast without having to go through the whole proceedure for each pic so affected.
Oh, just to find out for sure, you could buy (or have a friend loan you) a small memory card really cheap just for a test. If the image on that card is still "funny" then that's one variable you can write off.
Grant
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Old Aug 17, 2005, 8:25 AM   #3
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Grant,
thank you for your suggestions. I agree that selective color failure does not seem to be a symptom of a dying memory card. I have been trying to "greenlight" and think of all possible problems.
I'll try a different memory card to see if I get the same color problems.
I've tried the "custom white balance" feature of my camera in the past - this has resulted in horrible color distortions. I'll try it again with the current lighting setup to see if the camera will take better pics. I have a Kodak color card and can include this in test photos so I can use photoshop's "sample for white" feature in its Levels adjustment command.
my photo table is an amateur attempt to emulate the professional art photo standards - the item fills the photo; the background is either white fading to gray, or gray fading to white, with the area of color change drawing the viewer's eye to the most important part of the item being photographed. no props, pretty scarves, or other distractions - just the jewelry and the gray-to-white background. the gray area is where the blue appears in the photos.
I've built photoshop macros a couple of times and they work great. my problem is not knowing what I can do to eliminate the blue tinge. Photoshop is a very powerful program and I haven't come close to learning all its features yet. I've read on this webpage and heard from other professionals that the nikon coolpix cameras really come closer to producing Adobe RGB 1998 color settings, rather than the regular RGB that nikon claims, so I have photoshop's color preferences set to the adobe color workspace.
I always make all color changes on an adjustment layer.
- I've tried Levels w/ or w/o the "white" eyedropper sampler;
- brightness/contrast;
- selective color / white or neutral / remove yellow and cyan.
- I've read the directions for photoshop's "replace color" command a number of times and get lost on about the second sentence. Figuring this out might help in some situations.
- I could also try shooting my jewelry against a background that contrasts sharply with the colors in the jewelry, then cut out the background to leave only the jewelry itself ... but this is time-consuming because some of my pieces have many niches, open spaces, and/ or fine fringes, along with many colors - so finding an intense background that isn't represented somewhere in the jewelry is frequently a challenge. it would also leave the item hanging in mid-air without the white to gray fade that provides some depth perception in the pic.

I'll try your suggestions on different memory card, camera custom white balance, and the kodak color card today.

[my personal frustration - My husband and I have had three PCs die in the last year. I seem to be the owner of all the PC- and photo-related problems in our business, so I've spent countless hours trying to back up then recompile data files, install new backup drives and backup software, reconfigure our tiny office LAN, etc .... I really need to be making jewelry so I can bring in some money, instead of fiddling w/ PCs and other hardware. I CAN learn this aspect of managing our business. I'd just rather it all worked correctly without user intervention. I can wish for the moon or a winning lottery ticket at the same time, too, right?? grin - thanks for letting me whine.]

Mary Alexander


granthagen wrote:
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It doesn't seem to me that a memory card failure would show up in such a selective way. Others are free to correct me.
Have you tried doing a custom white balance adjustment of the camera since the problem showed up? If this isn't a factor, and the color cast is consistent, you could set up an Action in Photoshop to correct this cast without having to go through the whole proceedure for each pic so affected.
Oh, just to find out for sure, you could buy (or have a friend loan you) a small memory card really cheap just for a test. If the image on that card is still "funny" then that's one variable you can write off.
Grant
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Old Aug 18, 2005, 8:07 PM   #4
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Here's a pretty simple proceedure for removing that color cast that may work:
Call up the Replace Color box, sample that bluish color you want to remove and move the Lightness slider towards the right and see if that "whites out" the color. You may need a high Fuzziness setting to blend it in.
Weird about all the computer failures. You have good surge protectors on them? Or better yet, good UPS's?
Grant
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Old Aug 19, 2005, 10:44 AM   #5
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Grant,
the custom white setting on the camera helped to some extent ... I'm still getting some blue. I'll continue to fiddle with this option. Instead of trying to capture just the "white" area on the small Kodak color card, I'll use the archive white paper that is the background for all my photos. that may help more than using the Kodak card.

your explanation of how to use the Replace Color command is *much* appreciated. I'll try this over the weekend. (right now, my mother in law is en route from the airport to our home for the next week. I'll be spending a lot of time w/ her, so I'll have less time for fiddling with camera equipment photo processing.)

yes, we do have all kinds of surge protection on our PC and related equipment. First, the house is protected w/ a whole house surge protector.... would it withstand a direct lightning hit?? not sure. In addition, every PC in the house has a dedicated uninteruptible power supply/surge protector made by APC. each of these supports PC, monitor, and backup drives, along with our wireless phones. the cable modem for internet access service also has a consumer-level surge protector. Our power is fairly stable, but we do occasionally have momentary "brown-outs" because I can hear the UPS's kick in, so I'm glad we have these.

a friend who believes in astrology told us yesterday that "Mars is in Retrograde," which is reputed to cause all manner of irregularities in the performance of electrical thingies. Maybe that is my problem, smile.

thanks again for your support and suggestions.
Mary Alexander
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Old Sep 2, 2005, 5:23 AM   #6
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Wear out, thats a moot point. If you think Smartmedia yes, some readers do badly scratch the surface. So they must physically wear out. As the SD and XD also have bare contact surfaces maybe. I preferred the Compact flash with pins. Come too think of it, if they didn`t wear out, the manufacturers wouldn`t sell any more
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Old Sep 2, 2005, 10:25 AM   #7
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Granthagen and Geriatric,
thanks to both of your for your advice and insights.
Granthagen, additional thanks to you for explaining the "replace color" command in Photoshop - I still need to play with this, but I'm beginning to understand it.

I've finally figured out the root cause of my problem. This discovery is known as "DUH!!"

I had commented that my problem started suddenly a month or so ago. I didn't connect the start of the problem with the fact that my husband had replaced the light fixtures in the computer room. the new lighting is a mixture of compact fluorescent which claims to be "daylight" but which is NOT anywhere close to 5500K, and GE's Reveal Bulbs, somewhat closer to 5500K. in other words, I've now got mixed light shining on my monitor.

Although the monitor is an LCD, it's about 3 years old. So I dug out my Spyder monitor color calibration unit and re-calibrated the monitor at night with all the room lights off. I've also started processing all photos the room's overhead lighting turned off. amazing ... the color is true and the problem has gone away.

like I said, "DUH!!" thanks for your useful advice and insight. I'm still trying to find a reason to buy a new digital camera, but with your help, a bad memory card is no longer an excuse. I'll need to find a new one.

no more replies are needed unless you'd like to respond with a hearty laugh (I deserve it) or really good reasons to replace a Nikon 970 with newer technology, grin.
best regards,
Mary Alexander
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