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Author Topic: The Fall Season in Digital  (Read 5307 times)
Jonathan Wienke
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« on: September 18, 2003, 08:21:37 PM »
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I wouldn't recommend any on-the-lens filter except for a circular polarizer. Anything else you would do with a filter can be done better in Photoshop.

Digital is somewhat like slide film in that getting the exposure dead-on is highly desirable, but optimum exposure is determined a little differently than with film. What will yield the best results >90% of the time is the "expose to the right" strategy--getting the highlights close to, but not quite clipping. My personal strategy is to get the brightest highlights in the bottom half of the rightmost fifth of the histogram. An image exposed in this manner will still have detail in the highlights, but you will still be able to pull a lot of detail out if the shadows without too much noise showing.

I would also recommend shooting RAW; the color space of your camera is larger than sRGB or Adobe RGB, so you can capture the most saturated colors in RAW mode, as well as the most dynamic range. I would recommend Adobe Camera RAW as a RAW converter (it will be included in Photoshop 8 with 10D support when it comes out; there's your reason to get it right there!), and do all of your major color and brightness/contrast adjustments in 16-bit mode.

When shooting RAW, always have the camera set to auto white balance, this doesn't actually affect the RAW data, it just records what the camera thinks white balance should be. It's a handy starting point that you can override if you want to in the RAW converter; it's not always right, but it's usually pretty close.
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Joe Hardesty
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2003, 11:48:59 PM »
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One more thing - in fall pictures, like with a full red maple, does digital ever oversaturate or block up? With print film I was always disheartened to find something of one color, like a pumpkin blossom, just one big yellow mess, without any subtle shadings or detail. I haven't noticed it yet with digital, but are there any precautions to take about it in exposure or image processing?
I don't think you are going to find this to be much of a problem, but here is a link that I think will help you out quite a bit:

Using the Histogram

BTW, if you haven't explored the rest of the Luminous-Landscape site, you should take a look around. There is wealth of great information there.
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Thanks for the memories!
sc21
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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2003, 12:29:05 AM »
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Thanks, Edward - I forgot about some red flower macros I'd taken this summer.  As with yours, they're full-frame shades of red.  I just called them up, and they're very sharp, right down to their pores.  Just as with slide film.

Then I checked the histogram and found just what you did - the luminosity channel is nicely in the center, but the red channel takes up the right third and is clipped.  The blue and green channels take up the left half and are not clipped.

So this means one should underexpose (by the histogram's reading) when shooting just one color?  And if so, are there any recommended adjustments to make in processing?  (I'm still new to color and channels - studying up on Elements as I wait for Photoshop 8.)

Also, to Joe - thanks for reminding me of that tutorial.  I actually read it before I got my 10D (Michael's review of the 10D was one of my deciding factors on it), and that picture of the full moon over the ski slopes was the one that first really got across to me how a histogram sees things.  A good piece to read again.
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sc21
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2003, 11:38:51 PM »
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Dave - Thanks for the Lyons tip.  And yes, Elements does have Adjustment Layers.  In fact, my manual was cracked open to that very page as I read your message.  The headings include "Using adjustment and fill layers" and "Editing the layer mask of adjustment or fill layers."

I'm familiar with working with layers in terms of copying and erasing parts, and have some experience with opacity and blending, but I've saved this Adjustment Layer part till last 'cause it seems more complicated than using dodge and burn tools, which I thought I should learn first.  So yeah, any advice on it would be greatly appreciated.
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sc21
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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2003, 12:47:43 AM »
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Well, the fall season is coming up quick, with some maples already turning here in coastal Maine, and it will be my first digital (10D) fall photography.

My question is, are there any techniques/tips that are different for digital than with film? I've shot prints and slides for almost ten years, so I know the basics of how to get good saturation, like to go on overcast days and don't include any of the white sky, but I'm wondering if I should change anything with digital.

One thing I'll be sure to use is the shade or cloudy white balance, which are great - they replace my old 81A warming filter.

I used to read in "Outdoor Photographer" about professionals who'd use warm polarizers, or red-enhancing filters - is it better to use a filter like these, or just go with the white balance settings and a regular polarizer?

Also, what about after shooting? What's the best workflow with fall scenics? Increase the red channel? (I've got Elements 2.0, and I'm still learning how to use it, but feel free to tell me the wonders of Photoshop so I can justify upgrading this winter.)  

Thanks for the insights,
Steve
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sc21
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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2003, 11:33:55 PM »
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Thanks, Jonathan.  I started off shooting RAW when I first got the 10D, but as you know, that Canon File Utility thingy is a frustrating bugger - it takes 26 sec just to load (maybe it's just my computer, but no other programs do this), 8 sec to see the picture, 8 sec to preview a change, and another 7 sec to implement it.  And on top of that, you can't even see the whole picture if it's vertical.  Argh.

Needless to say, I went to JPEGs, and have simply bracketed a bunch.

So yeah, I have looked at Adode Raw and Capture One LE, and they'll keep me busy this winter for sure.

One more thing - in fall pictures, like with a full red maple, does digital ever oversaturate or block up?  With print film I was always disheartened to find something of one color, like a pumpkin blossom, just one big yellow mess, without any subtle shadings or detail.  I haven't noticed it yet with digital, but are there any precautions to take about it in exposure or image processing?
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Edward
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2003, 08:45:56 AM »
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> One more thing - in fall pictures, like with a full red maple, does digital ever oversaturate or block up?

I do not know about fall color, but you can get the same effect as oversaturation if your image does not have a good mix of colors. I did a series of macro photographs of very red roses. The images were sections of an individual flower so that entire image was just shades of red, with fairly flat lighting. I was using a Canon 10D, which does not a have a three color histogram. The histogram on the camera was narrow, about the 1/3 of the total dynamic range. I carefully shifted it to the right, although still well with the brightness range.

When I pulled the RAW files into BreezeBrowser and Capture1, the three color histogram showed the red channel terribly clipped. The images that were not shifted to the right were still clipped a little in the red. The only full range ones were underexposed by the camera's histogram standards.

This makes sense if the camera is adding the channels for the histogram - it has to assume that the scene has average color distribution. This is probably an issue for all cameras that do not have a 3 color histogram. It could be fixed in camera software if the system were changed to show clipping in any channel, not just overall clipping. (Anyone talking to Canon?)
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d2frette
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« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2003, 10:54:32 AM »
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You definitely have to be careful using the histogram. It's a great guideline, but not accurrate. I find that when I expose to the right I get clipped colors. Edward is right, we definitely need a 3 color histogram. Bracketing is a must if you have an image with wide dynamic range and want the details. Color clipping happens all too easy, even when the histogram looks ok and none of the image is "flashing".

I know you don't have a D30 - but I believe this essay by Ian Lyons applies to any digital camera.

You'll also find creating new Levels Adjustment Layers very beneficial. I don't have Adobe Elements, so I don't know what it can do. With level adjustments, you'll be able to deepen the colors very nicely and easily. If you can make level adjustments (as a layer or not) in Elements, let us know. We can help guide you thru modifying a picture now before you get into the wonderful world of Photoshop.

And definitely "Wait for 8".

- Dave
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David M. Frette.
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http://www.frettefamily.com (currently unavailable)
d2frette
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« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2003, 09:28:21 AM »
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Well the Adjustment Layers are the same as using Image > Adjustments > Levels, but you can modify them later. It makes it easy to adjust Levels and Hue/Saturation without having to use the History as much.

Personally, I've had to use Levels alot to remove blue tints. In my experience, I've always modified the input levels and rarely, if ever, modified the output levels. So I grab the Blue channel, slide the white point to where I like it, then grab the gray point and slide it to where it looks best. I've found that sliding the gray point helps remove the blue tint the best, and can result in leaving a deeper color. Better than curves. Then, you'll probably want to experiment with the Hue/Saturation adjustment layers.

I'm pretty sure using such adjustment layers is the trick to how Michael leaves all his filters at home.

I, too, would be curious to know if anyone else has any suggestions on getting rich color into their images.
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David M. Frette.
Programming, Photography, Carpentry.
http://www.frettefamily.com (currently unavailable)
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