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Author Topic: Printing "sand" from Mesquite Dunes (Death Valley)  (Read 7969 times)
bellimages
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« on: November 09, 2009, 11:22:58 AM »
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I spent four days photographing in Death Valley. Each morning, I hiked to Mesquite Dunes. The quality of light on the sand blew me away -- it glows like I would have never guessed. Many of my shots show the incredible "wave" patterns created from wind ... although it wasn't windy when I shot the images. When I print the files, I am not getting the detail in the sand that I would expect ... and that I typically achieve. It comes across looking coarser than what it really was (especially in foreground areas where detail shows the most). It's as if I was using cheap equipment to shoot. Maybe I' needed medium format gear for this; although i have typically come home with razor sharp images.

I use a Canon 5D, with a Canon 24-70 "L" lens .... shot on a Gitzo tripod and a Really Right Stuff ball head (so I would think that things were stable when shooting). Exposure was typically around 1/125 at f 22. I am an advanced user of Photoshop, so my tonal levels are right where they should be. And I print onto Epson Ultrasmooth Fine Art Paper.

Has anyone else ran into situations like this?
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Jan Bell, Owner/Photographer, Bell Images
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"Making the simple complicated is commonplace, Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."  –  Charles Mingus
francois
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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2009, 08:44:09 AM »
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How do you sharpen your images? Sand is not easy to print, especially when the subject combines far and near objects. How do the photos look on your display?
« Last Edit: November 10, 2009, 11:08:29 AM by francois » Logged

Francois
bellimages
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2009, 02:20:16 PM »
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Quote from: francois
How do you sharpen your images? Sand is not easy to print, especially when the subject combines far and near objects. How do the photos look on your display?

The images have the same problem in my display (a calibrated NEC 3090 LCD). I do not sharpen photos with sand, due to specular highlights.
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Jan Bell, Owner/Photographer, Bell Images
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"Making the simple complicated is commonplace, Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."  –  Charles Mingus
MichaelEzra
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« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2009, 04:11:19 PM »
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At F22 you are exceeding the diffraction limit of the lens & sensor pixel. With Canon 5D I would not go beyond F11 - F13.
F22 is a likely cause for the loss of sharpness.

For an extended depth of field you could use F11 and make a few shots, each focused at further distance, for further stitching and very high resolution and sharpness.
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Josh-H
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« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2009, 05:06:56 PM »
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Quote from: MichaelEzra
At F22 you are exceeding the diffraction limit of the lens & sensor pixel. With Canon 5D I would not go beyond F11 - F13.
F22 is a likely cause for the loss of sharpness.

For an extended depth of field you could use F11 and make a few shots, each focused at further distance, for further stitching and very high resolution and sharpness.

And depending on the lens you used F11 may actually be plenty of DOF.
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francois
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« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2009, 02:37:57 AM »
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Quote from: bellimages
The images have the same problem in my display (a calibrated NEC 3090 LCD). I do not sharpen photos with sand, due to specular highlights.
I agree with Michael and Josh, with an aperture of f/22, you're loosing too much details. Shooting at f/11 should provide enough DOF and if you need more then try to do focus stacking.
If you need more to be convinced, setup your camera on a sturdy tripod and shoot the same scene from wide open to f/22 or more.

Here's a comparison between f/4 and f/22 on a small APS size sensor camera (100 mm, ISO 200, 100% crop, same ACR settings). Focusing was identical for both shots. It's not a scientific test, just a quick and dirty test.

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Francois
bellimages
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« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2009, 02:04:36 PM »
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Quote from: francois
I agree with Michael and Josh, with an aperture of f/22, you're loosing too much details. Shooting at f/11 should provide enough DOF and if you need more then try to do focus stacking.
If you need more to be convinced, setup your camera on a sturdy tripod and shoot the same scene from wide open to f/22 or more.

Here's a comparison between f/4 and f/22 on a small APS size sensor camera (100 mm, ISO 200, 100% crop, same ACR settings). Focusing was identical for both shots. It's not a scientific test, just a quick and dirty test.
Wow, do I feel stupid. What is more tragic is that some of my images can't be reshot, since I hired a guide to take me way off any paved road (at a great cost). Time won't allow me to go back. Your example (the image shot at f22) illustrates what I experienced. I never knew that shooting with such a small aperature caused distortion .... or loss of detail. Can anyone explain this in more detail?

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Jan Bell, Owner/Photographer, Bell Images
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"Making the simple complicated is commonplace, Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."  –  Charles Mingus
Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2009, 02:23:56 PM »
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Quote from: bellimages
Wow, do I feel stupid. What is more tragic is that some of my images can't be reshot, since I hired a guide to take me way off any paved road (at a great cost). Time won't allow me to go back. Your example (the image shot at f22) illustrates what I experienced. I never knew that shooting with such a small aperature caused distortion .... or loss of detail. Can anyone explain this in more detail?
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials...photography.htm
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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2009, 02:26:35 PM »
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Quote from: bellimages
The images have the same problem in my display (a calibrated NEC 3090 LCD). I do not sharpen photos with sand, due to specular highlights.
Failing to apply any capture sharpening isn't helping either ... diffraction at small apertures without any sharpening is a double-whammy.

Can't you just sharpen and avoid sharpening the extreme highlights?
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francois
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« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2009, 08:49:06 AM »
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Quote from: Jeremy Payne
…Can't you just sharpen and avoid sharpening the extreme highlights?
That's exactly what I would do... and it is pretty easy to do in Photoshop.
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Francois
bellimages
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« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2009, 09:27:46 AM »
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Quote from: francois
That's exactly what I would do... and it is pretty easy to do in Photoshop.
So help me out here. I'd consider myself an advanced Photoshop user (take lots of NAPP classes, etc.). But that sharpening filter doesn't have many options ..... nothing that allows you to control which tones you want it to apply to. So how do you do that? I mean, I could do it with masks, etc. But is there a straight-forward way?
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Jan Bell, Owner/Photographer, Bell Images
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"Making the simple complicated is commonplace, Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."  –  Charles Mingus
bigalbest
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« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2009, 10:02:32 AM »
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[attachment=17901:n_6.jpg]

I have been shooting in the Imperial Sand Dunes for years, and it's not as easy as it looks. This image was shot with a Hasselblad H1 using Fuji Provia. Dynamic range can be problematic in the dunes and medium format seems to handle the differences in light best. I recently picked up my first medium format digital camera and will be making a trip to the dunes in southern California very soon to see how well it does.

Alex
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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2009, 10:06:29 AM »
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Quote from: bellimages
So help me out here. I'd consider myself an advanced Photoshop user (take lots of NAPP classes, etc.). But that sharpening filter doesn't have many options ..... nothing that allows you to control which tones you want it to apply to. So how do you do that? I mean, I could do it with masks, etc. But is there a straight-forward way?
Yes ... you can make a sharpening layer on top and then use "blend-if" options in the blending options to leave out the extreme highlights from the sharpened layer and reveal the unsharpened highlights below.

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francois
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« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2009, 10:55:21 AM »
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Quote from: bellimages
So help me out here. I'd consider myself an advanced Photoshop user (take lots of NAPP classes, etc.). But that sharpening filter doesn't have many options ..... nothing that allows you to control which tones you want it to apply to. So how do you do that? I mean, I could do it with masks, etc. But is there a straight-forward way?

To add some info to Jeremy's post above:

In Photoshop:

1. Duplicate your background layer.
2. Do your sharpening on the duplicated layer. Set the sharpening for the important areas. Ignore the areas with shadows and highlights, etc…
3. Double-click on your duplicated layer in the layer palette. This brings up a dialog with many options (first screenshot).
4. Now, play with the two thumbs (see second screenshot) to blend both layers together.

In the example (second screenshot), the duplicated (top) layer will replace the bottom (background) layer from 30 to 86 (it'll be gradual between these two values) and from 87 to 177 (100% replacement), then gradually from 177 to 226. From 227 to 255,  the top (duplicated) layer with have no effect.

Use the Option key (or Alt key on a PC) to drag the thumbs and get the gradual effect.

You could also use a layer mask either as a replacement for the above technique or in conjunction with it.

Well, it's harder to describe it with words than to do it…
« Last Edit: November 13, 2009, 10:57:51 AM by francois » Logged

Francois
MichaelEzra
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« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2009, 03:33:44 PM »
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This image was stitched from multiple horisontal exposures for effect of the extended depth of field.
Grains of sand can be counted on the bottom:)
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francois
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« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2009, 02:15:48 AM »
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Quote from: MichaelEzra
This image was stitched from multiple horisontal exposures for effect of the extended depth of field.
Grains of sand can be counted on the bottom:)
Absolutely beautiful photo!

Did you stitch manually or use software like Helicon Focus to achieve DOF?
« Last Edit: November 17, 2009, 02:16:50 AM by francois » Logged

Francois
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« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2009, 06:42:16 AM »
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Quote from: francois
Absolutely beautiful photo!

Did you stitch manually or use software like Helicon Focus to achieve DOF?

Thanks! I Used Autopano (autopano.net). Helicon Focus would not be suitable as individual images were overlapping about 20%.
This particular photo required quite a bit of manual correction to the stitching as I could not drag the tripod along wit the spherical bracket on to the dunes. Mistakingly, I carried 25 lb backpack with photo gear and every 10 ascending steps required a short break to catch a breath with scarce oxygen.
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francois
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« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2009, 09:00:39 AM »
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Quote from: MichaelEzra
Thanks! I Used Autopano (autopano.net). Helicon Focus would not be suitable as individual images were overlapping about 20%.
This particular photo required quite a bit of manual correction to the stitching as I could not drag the tripod along wit the spherical bracket on to the dunes. Mistakingly, I carried 25 lb backpack with photo gear and every 10 ascending steps required a short break to catch a breath with scarce oxygen.
Michael,
Thanks for the technical info. I wrongly thought (didn't read carefully enough) that you shot the same image but with different focus distances, that's why I mentionned Helicon Focus.

A 25 lbs backpack is sure to ruin the fun of hiking in the dunes… However your photo proves that it was worth it.
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Francois
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« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2009, 08:02:42 PM »
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Quote from: bellimages
So help me out here. I'd consider myself an advanced Photoshop user (take lots of NAPP classes, etc.). But that sharpening filter doesn't have many options ..... nothing that allows you to control which tones you want it to apply to. So how do you do that? I mean, I could do it with masks, etc. But is there a straight-forward way?


Try the high pass filter, which has produced *great* results for me and is controllable in the extreme. The use isn't quite obvious but here is a guide:

On the Layer palette select your Background Layer and right click. Select Duplicate Layer.

With this new layer highlighted select Filter / Other / High Pass. Set the Radius to 10 and click OK.
Zoom into your image to Actual Pixels level so you can better see what you're going to do next.
Go back to the Layer Palette and select Hard Light from the left drop down.
Now go to the Opacity Slider and select a level of sharpening that seems best to you. Usually something between 20% and 70% will be best.


You can also play with the radius for a wide degree of granularity.

I found the guide above here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorial...harpening.shtml
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Justan
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« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2009, 08:05:42 PM »
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Quote from: MichaelEzra
This image was stitched from multiple horisontal exposures for effect of the extended depth of field.
Grains of sand can be counted on the bottom:)


Beautiful work and a great explanation of technique!
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