Skin tones in Lightroom

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by tkbslc, Apr 18, 2016.

  1. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I recently shelled out $150 for LR6 in attempt to streamline my workflow and organize my photos. I've been liking a lot about it. But the one thing that has me pulling my hair out is that it seems to create sickly skintones, especially indoors. My GX7 images look great SOOC, and even a little better with 1 minute in SilkyPix. But after 10+ minutes in LR per image I cannot get skintones that satisfy. They just look pink and pale. I try even tweaking individual colors and I can't get there. I like the punchy look from the camera and SilkyPix, but I can't get there in LR.

    Any ideas? I like LR better for non-human photos and the workflow within a single app is nice, but I spent an hour-plus on a folder of stupid snapshots tonight trying to get color fixed and I'm ready to just toss the app or shoot JPEG.

    This is just one example.


    Quick edit in SilkyPix, easy to get great color like the JPEGs.

    LR, tons of work for "meh":
  2. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    On my colour-calibrated Dell, I honestly don't see a huge difference between them.

    Both the OOC JPEG and the SilkyPix shot are a bit more yellowy/orange (with it being more pronounced in SilkyPix), and the LR shot is mostly slightly less saturated than both of the others. To me, the LR shot actually looks the most natural. A little bump to either Vibrance, Saturation or Contrast in LR could probably replicate the others quite handily.

    I don't shoot a lot of portraits, so I don't have an established workflow for dealing with them in LR and just work on a case-by-case basis, but inevitably I always prefer the RAW conversion to any OOC JPEGs I've used. Clearly our mileages vary, though!
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  3. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Yeah, today I am seeing that today when I revisit these shots. The SilkyPix is a bit more orange, but at least it has some life in it. The LR one is too flat and pink.

    I thought the same, but trust me, it doesn't. It makes the skin look sunburned and blotchy. THe closest I can get is by going into the red and orange channels and tweaking the hue and luminance, but that's a ton of work and it still looks "off".

    I bought LR based on it having the organization features I needed, but also because it absolutely was stellar for reworking photos from a trip from San Francisco. I think it is outstanding for outdoor and landscape type photos. It is just now that I am getting into some portraits (and even just snapshots like this) that I am growing frustrated by not being able to get the colors that I am used to. And the most annoying part is that I can't seem to get close even with a LOT of work.

    This was a more subtle example. I had others that I cannot share that were much worse.
  4. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    Real Name:
    my 2₧: I prefer the LR example above. The others appear a bit jaundiced, i.e. too yellow. If you like more "punch", (I don't) do what T Frog says. (24" calibrated HP IPS monitor here)
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
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  5. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Okay, another point here - looking at this at my Workstation laptop, the 1st two images look better, while the LR image definitely looks pink and flat, as you say. This is in fairly stark contrast to my desktop monitor at home.

    So I suspect that a big part of this is probably the output medium. What is your main monitor? If the primary destination for your images is the computer monitor that you happen to have, then making it look good on that is obviously your primary concern, regardless of whether that's "right" or "wrong" from an objective colour point of view. However, if your ultimate destination is ever print, it might behoove you to get a nice color calibrated monitor. I was tired of having images coming back from the printers that just didn't look anything like what I was seeing on my computer. So I got a calibrated Dell monitor for under $300 CDN and I've been much happier ever since. Prices have come way, way, way down on good quality IPS displays, and many decent ones will come calibrated from the factory.
  6. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I have a hardware calibrated 27" IPS monitor.

    Thanks, though!

    Maybe this is just a matter of expectation vs what is the "best" color. I have spent a year getting images that look like the first two, so maybe I need to retrain my brain? I don't know.

    The LR shot looks better at work on my TN panel, and much worse on my IPS phone. Annoying how the same data can display so differently depending on not only the app, but the device. Makes you question what "correct" actually is.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
  7. kingduct

    kingduct Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2013
    On my hardware calibrated IPS monitor, I agree with the original complaints -- I like the SOOC jpeg the best and find the LR file to be pale and too pink. I currently have a Panasonic G5 and it's the first camera I've show RAW with. Early on, I paid to get the Huelight Lightroom color profile for my camera and set presets to use it by default. I think that's helped me some. I definitely wasn't happy with how LR handled the G5 RAWs at first, especially after transitioning from an Olympus E-PL1, which gave me beautiful colors. However, I switched to RAW, because the G5's jpegs weren't so great. Point being, if you want to do RAW, you might want to research Huelight some (I'm pretty sure that if you search this forum, you'll find reviews of it).

    That said, when I get my next camera (maybe a GX85 when it drops to $500 or less?), I plan to shoot jpeg+RAW. While I appreciate the added flexibility of RAW, I don't see much point in fussing around with it in the cases when the jpeg is beautiful.
  8. Dragos101

    Dragos101 Mu-43 Regular

    May 1, 2015
    Bucharest, Romania
    Real Name:
    I gave up on LR exactly because of this - all skin tones are shifted to a pink uniform color. The minute I tried Silkypix and saw the beautiful transitions between warm golden skin to pink cheeks and saturated red lips (also VERY obvious in your examples) I knew I had to get it in spite of the somewhat more limited tools and workflow. Capture one also does weird stuff to skin tones which I dislike even more that LR, now I don't have to deal with any of them anymore.
  9. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Well those last two replies at least confirm it is not just me. But that isn't comforting to have to give up on software I just spent quite a bit to purchase.
  10. kingduct

    kingduct Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2013
    My reply wasn't meant to suggest you should give up on the software. My first point was that if the defaults don't please you, you may have to create your own presets or find other approaches, like using Huelight. My second point was that it might also make sense to shoot jpeg+raw, depending on how strongly you prefer RAW.
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  11. dwkdnvr

    dwkdnvr Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 8, 2012
    After leaving it aside last year when I got my E-M5MkII since LR5 didn't support it, I finally upgraded to CC and so am getting re-acquainted with LR. What I'm struggling with is establishing a workflow that makes sense, and in particular trying to understand how to usefully shoot Raw + Jpg. With LR, there doesn't really seem to be an easy way to simply use the JPG for those shots that don't need/warrant development work in LR - you'd pretty much have to bypass LR and just grab it from the filesystem meaning using a different tool for resizing/publishing etc which seems backwards. I know the 'LR correct' answer is to use Huelight or another profile which is applied on Import to give you acceptable baseline default images, but it's still not clear to me whether this is what most people do.

    My instinct is to shoot Raw +Jpg since I frequently shoot when traveling and don't really want to go through the full LR cycle on a low-spec laptop just to review things (since my PCs don't appear to recognize E-M5 Mk II RAW files), and given the fairly frequent comments that the default LR results are poorer than OOC Jpgs, it leaves me a bit puzzled as to the best way forward.

    What are other folks doing?
  12. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I don't have it in front of me for the exact setting, but there is a way to have LR import the JPEGs and treat them as seperate files. By default it kind of ignores the JPEG if it detects that it is part of a RAW+JPEG set. Workflow could get kind of confusing, though, so I would probably say if you import both, you might want to separate them into different folders.

    I'm still trying to figure out the best way here, too. It would be nice if you could say just show me the SOOC JPEG and I will unstack the RAW file if I need it later.

    EDIT: Found this in the comment section while reading some LR article. I'm going to try it later to see how it works for Raw+Jpeg:

    Thanks for the article. It’s clear and really useful.
    Regarding your last paragraph, there’s a way to do it:
    1- First, import both kind of files (as you have described)
    2- Then, stack both files (so one of them is displayed). The good thing is that you can do this automatically: Photo > Stacking > Auto-stack by capture time > Set the time to zero
    3- Collapse all stacks to hide the JPG (or the Raws)
    Hope it helps.
    Seems like that could be exactly what I wanted. RAW+JPEG stacked and the RAW is hidden the stack until I need it.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
  13. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    There is a problem with the OP's posted images that may point to where at least part of the problem lies. All 3 images are "untagged" with respect to an ICM profile. This means the viewing app will use whatever it uses for a default whether or not the image was intended for that profile or not. This can cause some inconsistent rendering on differing machines using differing software.

    First and foremost, the generated JPEGs need to be done in a manner that at least tags them for a particular profile and preferably embeds that profile. For web presentation it is generally best to use "sRGB" though for printing "Adobe RGB (1998)" or perhaps better yet "ProPhoto RGB". Exporting an image for "Adobe RGB (1998)" but stripping out the tag and profile will likely result in it been displayed using either the machine's root hardware display adjustments or processed through the viewing app's own default, most likely sRGB.

    BTW, on my PowerMac/Cinema Display system all 3 images look very very similar with only slight differences, primarily in the luminance and saturatioin of the reds. The Lr image also seems as if it might have had less sharpening applied, though with the significant downsampling that these images have been subjected to it is very difficult to tell, but there is a subtle contrast difference that might result from sharpening differences.
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  14. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I have a GM5 and E-M1, and share the OP's view somewhat - that RAWs from Panasonic come out a bit too magenta from the default Adobe Standard profile for my liking. At least Olympus bodies get the Camera * profiles, which I find much better compared to Adobe Standard.

    As a workaround I just adjusted the default import profile for my GM5 to better match my E-M1. If you were to do it properly Huelight might be the way to go.
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  15. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Real Name:
    I have also found past Panasonic sensors to sometimes run magenta in LR. Not always, but it was problematic enough that I really started appreciating my Olympus ORF files that much more when post processing. Have you adjusted the WB to see if that helps at all? Otherwise, you may need to make a standard adjustment that you can easily apply when it is visible.

    Good luck,

  16. dwkdnvr

    dwkdnvr Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 8, 2012
    Interesting. I will have to give that a try before settling on my workflow. Nice job digging that up.
  17. palombasso

    palombasso Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 31, 2014
    I have a gx7 and a gm1 and both have trouble in lightroom displaying shades of orange/yellow/pink.
    This happens in Adobe standard profile and also using Huelight profiles.

    Alt tabbing between pictures of sunsets or portrais comparing lightroom and the camera jpg or capture one display of the raw shows the difference, the subtle transitions between colors get lost in lightroom and can't be brought back using sliders.

    I still use mostly lightroom because couldn't adapt to another workflow (and didn't try so hard) but I'm glad someone else noticed the same problems.

    Was thinking of buying a color checker to create a profile but don't know if it would work.

    The best I could come up with is using the em1 natural profile decompiled in dcptool and adapted to gx7. Tried this because read somewhere that the em1 sensor is made by Panasonic. It sometimes makes things better, but not always.

    Will post some examples later.

    Sent from my SM-G900M using Tapatalk
  18. AlanU

    AlanU Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2012
    Have you tried the xrite colour passport for your workflow? They have a "grey checker section" where it varies the degree of kelvin as you do a white balance. You can let LR run through an xrite program to calibrate the the colours for you. The colours are not always perfect but I do prefer using the xrite preset in LR as you sample the light as you take a photo of the colour checkers on the passport.

    I'd play with vibrance and not touch saturation.

    I use LR6 for my workflow and I don't worry too much about skin tones. I'm always more concerned about skin texture.

    Silkypix and I do not get along. It's such a clunky program that is incredibly slow.
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  19. palombasso

    palombasso Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 31, 2014
    The only thing to watch out is that when you tag/star/flag a collapsed stack only the topmost picture gets set, so that slows down the workflow a little

    Sent from my SM-G900M using Tapatalk
  20. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Okay looking at these again with fresh eyes, I am seeing more potential. And comparing the other items in the image, the LR image seems to have the most accurate color. Especially the orange duster in the top right corner. That's definitely the pale orange in real life, not the dark orange like the other two.

    Anyway, I think I'm making progress. I found some calibration settings suggested by others on another forum to knock down the magenta "pink" cast. Added in some vibrancy and a contrast adjustment. I think I like this better than the SilkyPix one.

    Although I probably am going to keep using JPEG for more snapshot photos. Not worth the effort for regular family photos. So I need to work out a better RAW+JPEG workflow, too. Didn't get a chance to try what I mentioned above with the auto stacking.

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