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Author Topic: Looking for technical suggestions...  (Read 7694 times)
Lisa Nikodym
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« on: February 07, 2005, 11:00:25 AM »
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I am just wondering, have you changed something lately? These seem a bit different from your previous work. There is a certain richness that is missing. Did you forget to convert these to SRGB?

Hi, Bob -
I most definitely converted to sRGB (after capturing and processing in Adobe RGB).  I wonder what you are considering "previous"?  It was last May that I switched from film (mostly Supra & Royal Gold) to a digital camera, and have struggled (with only minimal success) to regain some of the bright, clear colors (especially greens, but all colors to some extent) that I used to get with film.  (The photos on my web site taken with the new camera are those from Switzerland, Norway and about half of the Yosemite ones).  Could it be that that's when you started seeing the difference?  I'm starting to formulate the theory that those films' colors are "larger than life", while digital (at least my camera; I can't speak for others) is closer to reality, but am not fully convinced of this theory yet.  Anyone out there care to agree or disagree?  Or suggest what to do to get more "film-like" colors out of digital?  If this is the case, I'm surprised that I haven't seen others commenting about it, but I don't have any better theory at the moment.

Thanks, Bob, for possibly confirming something I've been suspecting.  That's just the sort of comments I was hoping to get here.

Hi, Rick -
Thanks for your comments.  It's educational and amusing to see how different taste & perspectives can be - some of the things you don't like are the things I like a great deal!  (Like the "haze", actually shooting nearly into the sun, in #4.)  To answer your questions: #2 is of Mesa Arch, which most photographers photograph through at sunrise, but, nonconformist that I am, I had to go at sunset instead (and I can't bring myself to wake up that early).  The funky sky in #19 is something that came out unintentionally in my adjustments of the contrast, and I'm still scratching my head over how that happened (maybe doing Curves in RGB mode instead of in LAB mode?), but my spouse liked the funky sky so I left it in.  On #24, yes, that's the trail in; I agree, the perspective is weird and confusing (but that's one of the things I like about it).  As to how many frames I shot, it was about 500 over the course of a week (it was mostly a hiking & sightseeing trip, not a photography trip, as all mine are).

All -
If anyone cares to comment on the color issues that Bob raised and I discussed above, I'd be very interested in hearing it.

Thanks, guys -
Lisa
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2005, 02:48:30 PM »
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Can you open up the foreground on 3?
I like 11 but the sky colour is way too weird.
None of the others are dynamic enough compositionally for me, sorry!  Smiley  Smiley
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2005, 04:42:03 PM »
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Sorry about the numbering being confusing - it looks like Rickster started out by just counting them in the order one would read a page, i.e. left to right and then top to bottom; I followed his convention after that.  The numbers you get when you hover over them are an internal numbering system I was using while putting the page together, and I haven't referred to that system here.

Ray:  I know the one you mean by #4, though (according to the "hovering" numbering system - Rickster would call it #2).  I wasn't trying to emphasize the dark foreground at all, but I'll give your suggestions a try and see what I think.  I use the 50-radius Unsharp Mask technique on about 90% of my images already, but I tend to stop at about 10% enhancement because it looks too weird to me after that (at least compared with the original image - maybe that's the problem, I should try to forget what the original looked like and learn to accept bigger changes).  It sounds like others often use it at a higher %; perhaps I should try that more.  That could make a difference.  Thanks for the suggestion.

Lisa
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2005, 08:16:38 AM »
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If you're shooting RAW, I highly recommend you get a 24-patch Color Checker chart and calibrate ACR as described here. I think it will do a lot to improve the colors in your images. The colors in many of your images give me a sense of being almost, but not quite right. The suggestions already given for increasing contrast and saturation are good, but I believe that getting the RAW converter to output the right colors instead of the almost-right colors will improve things to a similar degree.
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elchatico
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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2005, 10:06:32 PM »
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I would just like to ask a question of you which has nothing to do with critique of your pix (sorry  ).  I too am considering changing over to digital or medium format.  My concern is for true blacks for B & W shots and the ability to get sharp enlargements over 13"x19".  Could I get your advice, since you seem to have made the change?  Thanx in advance   Smiley
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nnmmaa
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« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2005, 08:09:56 AM »
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Lisa,

You are being awfully hard on yourself. The suggestions you received to punch up the images will certainly help. But looking at your pics, it seems to me that in many the available light or atmospheric condition was not favorable to achieve optimal results.

Being there at the just right moment is awfully hard to do if you are combining photography and day hiking. I am often very enthused about the scene in the late morning, but honestly, the light is rather harsh. My mental image has lots of saturation and contrast; usually my photos don't match what I think I saw.



Just my $0.02.
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2005, 06:32:18 PM »
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I've made a lot of changes in equipment and technique over the last year (mostly having to do with abandoning film for pure digital), and they've (hopefully!) all been improvements. I'm now looking for suggestions on any aspects of my technique, equipment and post-processing that others think could use further improvement. To help with this, I've set up a page with the "keeper" images from a recent week-long hiking trip in Utah, and would be interested in having people critique them - not particularly the artistry and composition (though you can if you feel like it), but particularly the technical aspects of them. (If you have any prior knowledge of my current equipment, I ask you to please temporarily forget it, and make suggestions based on the qualities & flaws of the images themselves rather than on preconceived notions based on my equipment.)

Here we go:
click here for Utah images

I'm looking for an *honest* assessment here, to help me figure out where I need to focus more attention to help me do better in the future. Thanks for any suggestions you can give me...

Lisa

P.S.  If the link doesn't work, that means the server is down (it does it annoying often), so try again in a few hours.
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boku
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2005, 11:18:13 AM »
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I have, at times, experienced the "drabs" in some of my work. I can't seem to correct it with saturation, contrast, levels, or curves. I have tried the Velvia-like action from FM, and it does it's own thing but really doesn't address the "drabs". What I have found to be most effective is the Colorwasher plug in from the Plug In Site: http://www.thepluginsite.com/products/photowiz/index.htm

I know that this is probably showing my ignorance, but used judisciously, at times this plug in is the answer for me. YMMV. It simply removes the "drabs" or veiling effect.
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Bob Kulon

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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2005, 03:11:03 PM »
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Maybe I should reiterate:  I'm less interested in comments on composition and the like, and more interested in comments on technique.  Comments along the lines of: "your sharpening technique needs work", or "you need a better lens", or "the colors are too drab", or "you should strive for more depth of field", etc. etc.  Other comments are welcome too, but there's so much variation in taste (as I'm seeing here) that it's hard to really learn much concrete from them.

BTW, pom, the colors in #11 are pretty much exactly what I saw there.  No significant saturation added, or anything else extreme in post-processing (maybe it came out very slightly purpler than reality, but only very slightly).  It was a pretty wild sunset!

Lisa
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2005, 04:34:38 PM »
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I think you will find that the drabs is not so much a lack of saturation but a lack of contrast in the image. One technique for tweaking the image to give better contrast is to duplicate the background layer, and then apply shadow/highlight settings to it. Then on top of this layer apply a curves layer to increase contrast. Put both layers in a folder and adjust the blending percentage mix with the background to adjust the effect.

NB When using shadow/highlight set the radius to about 300 (this minimises halo effects), and ensure that the sum of the tonal widths for shadow and highlights doesn't exceed 100%(preventing total loss of contrast in the overlapping region).

I also found another technique for adjusting relative luminosities based on colour channel is to add a channel mixer layer, set it to greyscale, adjust the channel mix to get an interesting B&W image. Then blend this layer with the underlying ones using a luminosity blend - this retains colours but adjusts the luminosity of elements to give the image greater punch - if the adjustments make the image look better in B&W from a tonality point of view then it will often, though not always, make it look better in the colour view.

The left is the original image, the right is the after image using the above two techniques.




I don't think you necessarily suffer from an equipment, or technique point of view (other than what you call the 'drabs'). The only piece of kit that you may wish to consider is a tilt/shift lens, particularly when you are up close against some of the rock faces to adjust the perspective.

The real issues are more to do with the composition - lack of focal point in many images, intruding objects, and your choice of where to place shadows/highlights - but those can be saved for another day.

You may want to do a Didger and open up some of your images for an interactive workshop.
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2005, 10:58:58 PM »
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OK, loosely based on various comments (thanks, all) I found a few simple changes that really help get rid of the "drabs".  If I crank up the contrast and saturation in the RAW conversion way beyond what I usually do (contrast to +50 instead of +25, saturation to +30 instead of +10) and then crank up the local contrast enhancement with unsharp mask way beyond what I usually do (30% instead of 10%), the drabs pretty much go away (at least for the handful I tried it on).  I think that, psychologically, I had been too hesitant to make such Big Changes before, and needed that extra nudging to just take the leap and do it thoroughly.  (This switching from film to digital isn't as easy as it might have been.)  There are still a few suggestions that I want to try (like DiaAzul's), but it's bedtime now  :p , so they will have to wait for tomorrow...

Thanks,
Lisa

P.S.  I'll have to redo a bunch of them now.   More work...
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tensai
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« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2005, 09:04:34 PM »
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Quote from: nniko,Feb. 07 2005,13:27
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Of course you need to shoot the card in the same light as the pictures.

Thanks for the suggestion.  However, how well does this work for landscape shots, when the light often varies substantially over the frame?  (For example, when some of the frame is in sun but a some of it is shaded by trees, mountains, etc.)  That's the only thing that has kept me from trying the gray card technique.  Is my concern at all significant, or should I try it anyway?

Quote
What I have found to be most effective is the Colorwasher plug in from the Plug In Site

Thanks, Bob.  I'll give it a try and see how it works for me.

Lisa
hi Lisa and everybody else;
i found that the described technique of choosing whitepoint (or grey or blackpoint), works really well. i havent been able to try it in landscape shots though, and the discussion steered to another direction. Lisa had questions of using a grey card in landscape shots due to varied lights in the frame (see quote). anybody care to comment on that? Lisa, did you get a chance to try out grey cards while doing landscapes?

any comments appreciated,

tensai



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Quote from: nniko,Feb. 07 2005,13:27
Quote
Of course you need to shoot the card in the same light as the pictures.

Thanks for the suggestion.  However, how well does this work for landscape shots, when the light often varies substantially over the frame?  (For example, when some of the frame is in sun but a some of it is shaded by trees, mountains, etc.)  That's the only thing that has kept me from trying the gray card technique.  Is my concern at all significant, or should I try it anyway?

Quote
What I have found to be most effective is the Colorwasher plug in from the Plug In Site
Quote
I too have worries about the drabs.  One thing that has helped me for certain shots has been taking a shot of a white/grey/black card before the main shots.  One click on the white in curves or white balancer for RAW usually snaps everything into place in a way that endless manual fiddling didn't.  Of course you need to shoot the card in the same light as the pictures.  This has been very helpful for things like sports where it can be hard to find real whites and blacks in the shot.  Hope this helps.  (Liked nearly all the pictures BTW).
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rickster
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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2005, 08:06:14 PM »
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Hi lisa.

Looks like you had a great trip. Since the NFL has rebooted the halftime show in safe mode I'll give you my quick run down...

1. The haze kills it.
2. Is that a reflection in water or a hole in the rock?
3. I like it.
4. More haze.
5. Nothing special.
6. The clouds are distracting.
7. More saturation please.
8. Clouds again.
9. I like this one.
10. Nothing there.
11. Like the foreground, Hate the background.
12. Nothing there.
13. Nothing there.
14. I like this one, would be better without the clouds.
15. Too hazy.
16. I like this but it needs better light.
17. A picture can't do this place justice.
18. This is the color/saturation some of the other's need.
19. Funky sky. Is it suppose to look like that?
20. I like it.
21. That slice is going to fall off one day.
22. Love the sky, hate the three trees.
23. Love the sky, hate the trees.
24. Is this the trail in?

Just wondering how many frames you shot to get these.

Cheers.
Rick
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r42ogn
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« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2005, 11:28:21 AM »
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I too have worries about the drabs.  One thing that has helped me for certain shots has been taking a shot of a white/grey/black card before the main shots.  One click on the white in curves or white balancer for RAW usually snaps everything into place in a way that endless manual fiddling didn't.  Of course you need to shoot the card in the same light as the pictures.  This has been very helpful for things like sports where it can be hard to find real whites and blacks in the shot.  Hope this helps.  (Liked nearly all the pictures BTW).
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Ray
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« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2005, 04:01:22 PM »
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There seems to be some confusion over numbering in this set of 24 images and there are really too many to comment on properly, but taking just one which I like, the second one along, which you've described as Utah #4 - patches of snow in the dark foreground - I'd do the following to improve it.

(1) Unsharp Mask - amount 30%, radius 50 pixels. This brightens the colors and helps overcome the slightly drab, lacklustre appearance.

(2) Shadow/highlight control - shadows 15%, tonal width 80%. The foreground represents about half the image and is simply too dark, obscuring too much of interest.
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boku
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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2005, 05:48:11 PM »
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You may want to do a Didger and open up some of your images for an interactive workshop.
Man, just when I thought it was getting safe to post again.
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Bob Kulon

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« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2005, 04:45:12 PM »
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but i do find having accurate colours to start with makes working with images much easier, ie. profiling your camera.
Exactly. If the colors are "wrong" to start with, creatively tweaking them is more difficult than if they are true-to-life to begin with and you just want to bump up the saturation or warm the color balance or whatever.
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2005, 05:00:37 PM »
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If you're shooting RAW, I highly recommend you get a 24-patch Color Checker chart and calibrate ACR as described here. I think it will do a lot to improve the colors in your images.

I already have a 24-patch color checker, but haven't calibrated ACR with it yet.  Now that it looks like the colors are a little off, that's a good suggestion.  I'll do it.  Thanks.

Lisa
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2005, 11:16:45 AM »
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I too am considering changing over to digital or medium format.  My concern is for true blacks for B & W shots and the ability to get sharp enlargements over 13"x19".  Could I get your advice, since you seem to have made the change?

Blacks (in B&W) in digital are not a problem in any way.  (At least that I've found; have you heard of it being a problem for anyone else?)

How large of enlargements you can get and still be sharp is a function of the number of pixels the digital sensor has and how good your lenses and technique are.  You can get more pixels with scanned film, but you don't have film grain with digital, so there's no well-defined equivalence between them.  I found that I was happy with 13"x19" prints (but no bigger) with 100 to 400 speed negative film, with the film grain being the limiting factor.  I'm also finding that I'm happy with 13"x19" prints (but no bigger) with my 6 mp digital camera, with the number of pixels being the limiting factor.  If you want bigger than 13"x19" and still be sharp, I believe you'll need one of the high-end digital cameras with more pixels (1DsII, D2x, MF digital backs...).

Lisa
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2005, 10:00:25 AM »
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I haven't gotten an answer to the "variable lighting" question, so I haven't tried the gray card. I've found that the solution to about 80% of the "drabs" was to calibrate ACR to my camera. I guess there were some color problems that couldn't be taken care of with just the two color balance sliders, and calibration really did the trick. Another 10% was pushing myself to increase saturation & local contrast enhancement beyond what I used to. The last 10% was because my monitor calibrator seemed to want to make my monitor somewhat brighter than other things (a borrowed calibrator from another maker, various printers, etc.), so I was making the images darker than they should have been.

My most recent image, after these mods to my post-processing technique (not the most exciting image, but better color than I used to get with this camera):

click here

Lisa
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