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Author Topic: Mountains and Lake  (Read 4968 times)
Yog-Sothoth
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« on: August 08, 2006, 04:28:30 PM »
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I took this photo on a bus somewhere between Colorado Springs and Telluride. I tweaked it in Photoshop Raw, used Auto Color, sharpened it, and used the clone stamp to remove a portion of the bus seat in front of me that appeared in the bottom left of the photo. I think it turned out pretty well, considering it was shot through the window of a moving bus. I circular polarizer would have been nice, but I don't have a 58mm one (yet). This was a good photo to play with in Adobe Camera Raw.

[attachment=880:attachment]
« Last Edit: August 08, 2006, 04:33:19 PM by Yog-Sothoth » Logged
Gregory
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2006, 09:06:40 AM »
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nice photo although it reminds me of a problem I frequently run into: bright clouds and dark landscape; ie, go for detail in the clouds or detail in the landscape?

I'd like to know what other professional photographers do when confronted with a similar situation. I know that some take two or three shots using bracketing and then use Photoshop etc to composite them. does anyone do this?

incidentally, would 16-bit sensors solve this problem in any way, giving us more than 6 stops of detail?

regards,
Gregory
« Last Edit: August 09, 2006, 09:07:00 AM by Gregory » Logged

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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2006, 11:36:10 AM »
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This image is a classic candidate for exposure bracketing and dynamic range blending. A 16-bit sensor could help increase DR, as long as the noise levels of the sensor, readout circuitry, and A/D converter were sufficiently low to allow the additional bits to contain meaningful image data instead of noise.

I'd definitely DR bracket, and combine the images in Photoshop.
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boku
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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2006, 11:38:08 AM »
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I'd definitely DR bracket, and combine the images in Photoshop.
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Jonathan - this was shot on a moving bus.
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Bob Kulon

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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2006, 12:05:43 PM »
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I realize that, but the OP asked what others would to to capture the scene better. If you have no choice but to shoot from the moving bus, your only real option is to expose for the clouds, pushing them as far to the right of the histogram as possible without clipping, and then carefully apply noise reduction and dig as much detail as possible out of the mountains and lake. In addition to exposing to the right, use the lowest ISO setting possible to maximize the S/N ratio of the RAW data and capture the greatest amount of shadow detail possible. 16-bit processing is also highly recommended.
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pobrien3
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« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2006, 12:11:19 PM »
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...I know that some take two or three shots using bracketing and then use Photoshop etc to composite them. does anyone do this?...[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72874\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
If I'm set up on a tripod and there's time and opportunity, then I DR bracket and blend in Photoshop.  Otherwise, JW said it all...
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Nill Toulme
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« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2006, 02:38:20 PM »
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What about the technique of doing two different RAW conversions of the same frame, one for the highlights and one for the shadows, and blending those two?  I'm sure that's not as good as two different optimal exposures, but isn't it the next best thing?  It's something I keep meaning to try but haven't gotten around to (not being much of a landscape guy yet).

Nill
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boku
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« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2006, 02:44:42 PM »
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What about the technique of doing two different RAW conversions of the same frame, one for the highlights and one for the shadows, and blending those two?  I'm sure that's not as good as two different optimal exposures, but isn't it the next best thing?  It's something I keep meaning to try but haven't gotten around to (not being much of a landscape guy yet).

Nill
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It works - it's not great. I am not too sure it can beat shooting to the right and opening up the shadows.

It certainly is not as good as mutiple exposures blended.
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Bob Kulon

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Ray
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« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2006, 06:20:26 PM »
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What about the technique of doing two different RAW conversions of the same frame, one for the highlights and one for the shadows, and blending those two?  I'm sure that's not as good as two different optimal exposures, but isn't it the next best thing?  [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=72899\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

There are many ways of achieving a similar result, in PS, and the dual conversion method is one such technique to get more tonality in the shadows whilst preserving highlights, but it's doubtful it has any umltimate advantage over a 16 bit 'flat' conversion in ACR followed by selections, adjustment layers and use of curves. By a flat conversion, I mean 'shadows' and 'contrast' sliders at zero and appropriate amount of EC to recover as much lost highlight detail as possible.

I used to be under the impression that a +EC conversion in ACR would provide better shadow detail and tonality, but this doesn't appear to be the case. 16 bit per channel fo the conversion seems to provide more than a sufficient number of levels for the shadows whatever the EC setting.

I reworked the image in this thread by making selections with the lasso tool, with a 40 pixel feather, and using 'levels' with each selection.

[attachment=882:attachment]
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oldcsar
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« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2006, 09:13:50 PM »
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I think you're right Yog... this is a pretty good shot considering it came through a bus window. If you intended to have that much of the sky in your composition, then the dynamic range solutions that Jonathan and others provide are sound. If you weren't shooting from a bus, bracketing RAWs for dynamic range would probably be your best bet.

If you were still shooting from a bus, I think the only solution would be to shoot to the right for your most valued portion of the scene. The best part of this scene is in the middle and lower middle, where the bulk of the landform occurs and the sky isn't too blown. In a situation where you don't have a chance to sit your tripod down and take the time to bracket, I believe that the solution is to limit your composition such that you expose for your most valued element, and leave most peripheral details (which might be prone to blowing) out of your composition. Zoom in, such that you leave out that top portion of the sky; if you were using a prime lens, then the next best thing is to crop it out. You could actually create a pretty strong shot by cropping out most of the sky and a  small portion of the bottom... there is a distracting foliage reflection in the bottom right corner. It doesn't add anything to the shot, so it's in your best interest to either decide to include a little more of the foreground to include that tree (it might possibly give the shot some scale and distance), or completely get rid of it.

I think the key is to learn to pre-interpret scenes with respect to the capabilities of your camera, and then compose such that you emphasize the strengths and minimize difficulties and elements which you might not need. It's far better to do that, than trying to solve shortcomings in post-processing.
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Ray
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« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2006, 10:21:43 PM »
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Once again, this was a shot from a (moving?) bus. Advice on what to do in other circumstances is not directly relevant. Use of a polarizer, as Yog thinks might have been of benefit, would not have helped in my view, if the bus was moving. Polarizers reduce shutter sapeed. If you are taking a shot from a moving bus, you want all the shutter speed you can get.

The solution lies in post processing. My example gives an indication of the possibilities. The dark clouds upper left are probably out of balance in my quick and rough attempt. However, if you are familiar with the processes, you can adjust to taste.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2006, 10:50:01 AM »
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What about the technique of doing two different RAW conversions of the same frame, one for the highlights and one for the shadows, and blending those two?  I'm sure that's not as good as two different optimal exposures, but isn't it the next best thing?

It can be (but isn't necessarily, depending on your skill in Photoshop) easier to get a natural-looking blend between the dark and light areas by adjusting tonality in the RAW converter rather than doing levels or curves in Photoshop, but the RAW data only has whatever DR it has, and tweaking the exposure slider doesn't change that. ACR can recover blown highlights to some extent, but there's always limits to how far you can go with fancy mathematical guesswork instead of real data.

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I used to be under the impression that a +EC conversion in ACR would provide better shadow detail and tonality, but this doesn't appear to be the case. 16 bit per channel fo the conversion seems to provide more than a sufficient number of levels for the shadows whatever the EC setting.

Your best results from ACR are when you expose so that you need about a -0.3 exposure adjustment. That will, in most cases, give you the best balance between low noise levels and highlight detail retention.
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Ray
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« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2006, 08:14:05 PM »
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Your best results from ACR are when you expose so that you need about a -0.3 exposure adjustment. That will, in most cases, give you the best balance between low noise levels and highlight detail retention.
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That's probably true, but in really high dynamic range scenes there's often a difficult decision to make regarding the extent one needs to help the shadows by overexposing the highlights. In such cases, bracketing will give one a choice of images to work on, but not necessarily of much use for blending purposes if a tripod could not be used.

I think my mistake in the past was not setting contrast to zero. ACR has a default contrast setting of +25. At that default setting, one can get the impression that a dual conversion can provide tangible improvement in the shadows, but my own tests have shown, with contrast at zero (or -50) and EC even at minus 4, its minimum setting, tonality and detail in the shadows is just as good, after an appropriate curves adjustment, as in any dual conversion.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2006, 05:33:00 AM »
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I don't do dual conversion much because I can duplicate a layer, tweak, and blend  and get natural-looking results without having to mess around with multiple RAW conversions. Dual conversion is a workable way to do single-exposure blending, but not necessarily the best or only way.

The -0.3EV recommendation is for all subjects with less dynamic range than the camera's limits. But when the subject DR exceeds the camera's capabilities, what to keep and what to sacrifice (highlights vs shadows) must be decided on a case-by-case basis, and there really insn't any hard-and-fast rule that can be followed.
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