More about colours in bird photos

These are all of the same bird, young Blyth Reed Warbler, ring number HL572768, taken 27 July 2013 at Laajalahti, Espoo, Finland.

 Photo 1. Taken with Canon PowerShot G10, using raw file format. Converted to jpg using Adobe Lightroom 4, sRGB colour profile. Made slightly lighter in Lightroom (+ the normal things which Lightroom workflow does, like sharpening). The photo is taken in shadow, early in the morning.

Photo 2. The same photo, but the the grey background has been toughed with the Lightroom tool White Balance Selector. Theoretically, this should be good. The background looks as it should be. But young fresh BRW has an slight olive tinge to the upperparts, which is not well visible here.

Photo 3. Taken in direct sunlight, which is very yellow this time of day.

Photo 4. The same as photo 3, but the Lightroom tool has been used. We have gotten rid of yellow tones, and the grey background looks OK, but the whole upperparts of the bird looks quite toneless and greyish.

Photo 5. The photo 1 edited in Photoshop Elements ver 7 with Remove Color Cast tool (using grey background). This looks quite similar to the version toughed with the Lightroom tool. This seems to be slightly more yellowish.

Photo 6. The same as photo 5, but colour profile has been removed. This may look different depending of the colour management capabilities of your browser. If the browser guesses everything with no ICC profile to be in sRGB, then there should be no difference to photo 5. In Firefox 22, with good calibrated monitor, this looks more reddish-toned than photo 5.

Photo 7. This photo is from iPhone 4. Cropped, resized and slightly sharpened in Photoshop Elements. sRGB profile

Photo 8. The same as photo 7, but Remove Color Cast tool has been used. This should be as good as its gets from iPhone. Now the olive tone is visible quite well - in fact even slightly too prominent. I also like more the G10 version of the rufous tones on the bases of primaries and secondaries. Compared to other "end products", photos 2 and 5, this is very different - less red and more yellowish. The "truth" is somewhere between this and 2 and 5. It really seems difficult to get good photo, I have to try more. The tools really make the grey grey, the RGB values become almost equal. But the values vary surprisingly lot depending on where in the grey you touch - the original tone of grey is somewhat different in different areas of the photo. And although the grey becomes grey, and other colours are altered to the same direction (surely there are several alternative algorithms to do that, I have not yet studied that), the overall effect of the transform varies depending on the original source colours.