Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A painful lesson.

For months now I've had the occasional image, such as the one below, rejected at iStock with the message:

The execution of isolation contains stray areas that are either too feathered or rough.

(Quick aside: This is pretty high on the unhelpfulness scale- Which areas? Were they too feathered, or were they too rough? But I digress...)

Generally, these were shots of my girls on a lighted white background, with most of the isolation happening in-camera. Usually, though, I'd have to use the adjustment brush in Lightroom to clean up a few spots that didn't go completely white. I'd always figured the problems were with the hair not perfectly separating from the background, something I still struggle with. But today I saw some advice from from sjlocke on the iStock forums. He said (referring to a way of checking your isolation in Photoshop):

Just add a layers adjustment level and pull the black slider to the right.

I gave it a shot on the above rejected image. After cleaning up in Lightroom, here is what the image looks like. Note, I use the 'j' feature in the Develop module to show me what is completely white, and by this measure the image looks good. Subject is on a totally white background.

Now let's look at it via sjlocke's suggestion:

See the glaringly horrific problem? Here it is. closer up:

Lightroom has been lying to me! I feel so deceived... I have had dozens of rejections due to this!

From now on every image will take a trip to Photoshop for cleanup before uploading.

But more importantly, I've grumbled at least a dozen times at the reviewers who handed me these rejections. Boy do I feel dumb, having finally found the problem. But also, imagine if one of them had taken two seconds, months ago, to clue me in on where the problem was. All this time I've been thinking it was the hair! *headsmack*


  1. Some programs show the clippings at 95% percent, not 100%. The adjustment levels slider will give you the full 100%. Some programs like CatureOne allow you to select at what percentage the clippings will be marked. Maybe you can adjust the Lightoom levels from 95 to 100% as well, I am not sure.

  2. Thanks. I'd just been assuming that Lightroom flagged as red only that which was 100%. Actually not so much an explicit assumption so much as just blind, unthinking, untested belief.

    I'll look at the settings and see if it's adjustable in lightroom. For now though, Photoshop is a sure fix.