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Author Topic: Making the most out of bland scenery.  (Read 4084 times)
Jason P
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« on: May 08, 2012, 07:49:21 PM »
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Hi Guys

This is my very first post on the forum but I have spent a lot of time here and just love the amount of information available and the help you give one another. I am hoping someone can give me a hand or some inspiration with a specific type of image.

I run a (very) part time business doing low level aerial photography from various platforms, (primarliy radio controlled helicopters). I have done several really great jobs on oil and gas as well as mining sites which are amazing to be a part of. However, the problem is that, particularly when it comes to open cast mining photography, the background landscape as well as most of the image can be very mono tonal, (reds mostly when it comes to iron ore). My photos never seem to "pop" and appear very bland to me. The clients love them as they provide an aspect that they cannot normally obtain (as full size aircraft are not allowed anywhere close to the site) but I need a way to liven the photos up. My interest and background is in RC helicopters and as such my post processing skills in PS are nowhere near where they need to be, (I am working at it :-) ). I am using CS5 and have the Topaz labs plugins (v5).

I have attached a few examples of what I am talking about - as you can see they are fairly flat. Unfortunately due to the mobile nature of the platform I am quite limited in what I can do camera side, (has to be at high shutter speeds to reduce blurring). Also there is normally a fair amount of dust on site so I need a way of working with that if possible. The purpose of the first two are to promote the visible equipment and the third is to provide a current "as built" image for site induction and project planning purposes.

Any help or ideas as to what you guys would do to images like this in order to give them that "wow" factor would be so, so appreciated. I can send over full res images if anyone is willing to play around with them. Otherwise a few pointers as to what you would do would be amazing.

Thanks a heap guys.
All the best
Jason



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louoates
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2012, 08:21:38 PM »
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Hey, if your clients like them you're half-way home!

Here's what I'd do for your topic:

First, ignore composition while shooting. Way too difficult from that platform. Shoot lots more and compose later.

Next, Shoot earlier and later in the day. Middle of the day shooting is almost always too flat. The top image shows longer shadows and that by itself makes it more interesting than the others. Your colors will get much more saturated at those times naturally.

See if you can get the camera closer, with a wider lens. The closer you get to the equipment the more massive it will be compared to the surroundings. Use some tilting angles in your composition.

In post production boost contrast and make sure you use sharpening to the max. I'd also boost saturation and vibrancy. I'd try some prudent vignetting around the edges to force interest more to the equipment and the "action".

Add a black border and maybe a fake mat.. That will accentuate the apparent color saturations of the image.

If you're not real familiar with PS that may be the limit you can do yourself.

I'd be happy to play with a larger size image for you.

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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2012, 09:09:01 PM »
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Wow!  That's a great aerial stitch.

I agree with louoates.  Best time by far to shoot aerials is early in the day.  Not only is the light better, but the winds will be at their calmest.  

Looks good to me.  Absent interesting skies, there's not a lot you can do.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 10:16:34 AM by Peter McLennan » Logged
Jason P
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2012, 11:03:15 PM »
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Thanks a lot guys. That is some really good info for me to think about and to implement. I will do my best with all that data - I especially like the idea of vignetting to accentuate the equipment. The time of day is quite difficult as I usually have only 2 days on site to capture several locations all far from one another and I need to have time for battery recharge, etc so its more of a scrabble to get it all done rather than finding the best time for the shot... but I will do my best to get out as early and late as possible while still having enough residual light so as to not have to reduce my shutter speeds into "blur" territory.

Louoates - what is the easiest way for me to get a large image to you? Can it be done through the forum or should I use wetransfer. It would be great to see what you could come up with on this. The pano is over 300Mb and the smaller images are around 60Mb for the psd files.

Cheers again guys. Great response to my first post :-)

Jason
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howardm
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« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2012, 10:38:08 AM »
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I know I'll catch some grief for this but here goes..........

(I also have flown RC helicopters for 10 years Smiley)

these kind of monotone images almost cry out for a fast Lab color adjustment
to pull the colors apart (via a/b channel curves) and create more pop.  it's worth a google search and
maybe purchase of the 'Canyon Conundrum' book by Margulis

http://www.amazon.com/Photoshop-LAB-Color-Adventures-Colorspace/dp/0321356780/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336577776&sr=8-1
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Jason P
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« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2012, 07:15:17 AM »
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Thanks a heap for that Howardm... great stuff. That looks like an amazing book. I'll definitely buy it - also good to have a fellow flingwing pilot on here :-)

I am currently testing out Viveza 2 by Nik Software. What an amazing filter plugin. Just placing a few control points on the machinery already makes it stand right out - a million times better than what I originally produced (and printed.... and delivered to the client - grrrr).

Anyway, you guys have really inspired me and I am loving the journey.

I know my next round of photos is going to be much better already. Will keep you updated.

Thanks again guys.
Jason
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Bearmann
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2012, 04:55:02 PM »
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 Perhaps some tone mapping would help (like is done with HDR images).
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Barry[/font]
julianv
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« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2012, 11:30:22 PM »
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Take a look at Dan Margolis' book, "Photoshop LAB Color: The Canyon Conundrum and Other Adventures in the Most Powerful Colorspace".  Dan is an articulate advocate of post processing methods that exploit the features of the LAB colorspace.  Several of the examples in the book are about improving the color of bland landscapes.
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Keith Reeder
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« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2012, 11:37:00 AM »
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Did you not see Howard's post three above yours, Julian?
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Keith Reeder
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julianv
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« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2012, 02:19:35 PM »
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Oops.  I thought that I read the entire thread, but I must have missed Howard's comment.
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semillerimages
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« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2012, 03:04:51 PM »
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Jason,

From a documentation perspective, coming from a photographer that has worked for two weekly newspapers for the last 5 years, you've done a fine job and I don't really think you need to add anything more. I really dig these shots are they are.

*steve
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semillerimages.com
Mark Paulson
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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2012, 12:29:53 PM »
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Very nice pano. Could you tell us more about your setup and process for taking the pano with the aerial vehicle?
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