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Author Topic: Challenging Image for Post Processing  (Read 2158 times)
fike
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« on: October 30, 2012, 06:00:05 PM »
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So I have been working on this image. I think from a compositional point of view, it is great. I really like it.  From a technical point of view, though, it has all sorts of problems with long exposure noise coming from pushing the original image way too far.  I can, of course, oversample the image and make the pixel dimensions much smaller...making a smaller print, and it will look fine.  What I want, though, is to maximize the pixel-level quality to get the most out of it that I can. 

Metadata: OM-D, 12mm f/2 lens, shot at ISO 400, 30 seconds, f/11.

I tried doing some manual dark frame subtraction using dark frames taken after I returned home, and it helped a little bit.  I tried using Olympus's RAW software which was awful. I can't use that software abomination.  This is processed with ACR and then opened in CS5 where I used neat image to reduce the noise a bit more.  All further manipulation (and there is plenty) was done in CS5.  After hearing in another thread about Capture 1 V7's single pixel noise reduction, I downloaded a demo and tried it out. I'm not sure I am getting much more out of it.

I think right now that the biggest problems are the noise in the sky, the hot pixels in the shadows, and the muddy edges on the silhouettes of the trees.  (that's a lot, and I am being really critical, I know)

This is an exercise in maximizing goodness. I know that this image will never print wonderfully at 13x19, but I want to get it as good as it can be before I cry uncle.
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stormyboy
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« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2012, 06:13:42 PM »
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If you post the raw versions, I (and others) could struggle along with you.

Tom
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fike
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« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2012, 06:16:44 PM »
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If you post the raw versions, I (and others) could struggle along with you.

Tom

Here ya go.
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/30517051/NightLagunaShawsCove-E-M5-30445.ORF
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2012, 06:32:09 PM »
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Have you tried inspecting the individual channels in Photoshop to see which is the noisiest and blurring that channel a bit? Also, this may be a case where converting the image to L*a*b* could be helpful, to see whether more of the noise is luminance (in the L* channel) or colour ( in the a* or b* channels). As most of the detail is in the L* channel, a lot of luminance noise would be problematic to deal with in terms of preserving detail, but colour noise, less critical. Then again, one doesn't need to preserve detail in the sky or in the very deepest shadow tones where not much detail would be revealed anyhow, and you would prefer whatever does get revealed not to be simply noise, so more aggressive noise reduction becomes desirable in those areas. With some masking in Photoshop you can select which areas to exclude from the most powerful noise reduction strategies. I'd also recommend you download and test a copy of Topaz DeNoise. I've found it handles the trade-off between noise reduction and detail retention remarkably well.
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stormyboy
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2012, 09:12:04 PM »
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Thanks for uploading the raw file.  I used Lightroom, Photoshop and Noise Ninja.  I tried to work on the elements you mentioned.  I don't know that I helped your vision, but I surely needed the practice.
Tom
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Gulag
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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2012, 09:24:04 PM »
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RAW converters can only do so much and much more heavy lifting has to be done in Photoshop IMHO. Of course, one way to do it is to use different gamma value to brighten up the shadows a bit. You can either create a fake RGB color profile with a different gamma value, or you can simply use Exposure command or adjustment layer. After you get a reasonably OK gamma correction, stamp and duplicate the image. Put the duplicate in CMYK since you're going to use Black channel for further rescue. Now bring the Black channel back to the RGB image as a layer and set it to Luminosity blend mode. You can add an inverted Black channel for the mask. Blur the masks with healthy dosage of GB for better feathering effects. Now, you can use your denoising skills and sharpening skills for the rest.

I just worked on your attached jpeg images to illustrate my point. If you need PSD, please let me know.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 09:59:02 PM by mshi2008 » Logged

"The difference which you can make between fine arts and commercial or little art is today corresponded by the difference between the art that obeys and the art that does not obey. Great art does not obey. All others are arts that are of low quality, even pitiful. " - Paul Virilio
leuallen
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« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2012, 09:52:33 PM »
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Nothing special. Processed in LR .2. In PS used Topaz Denoise 5 at strong. Still a little noise in the sky but if you remove too much it becomes plasticy. The amount of noise remaining should print fine. I think you can get a good 13x19 print from this.

Larry

PS It is a night shot and should look like night time. Very Dramatic.
PSS You are using my tools! I think they are great. Why f11? With this format and wide lens, f8 should have been plenty. I would have shot it both ways to be sure. f8 would have given you a stop more exposure which this shot could have used.

I did not notice the hot pixels but looking again I see them predominately in the cliffs. I would just use the spot healing brush at a small size and kill them all. It would take a little time but not as much as you would think. If I were working this for a really good print, I would do that and also clean up the artifacting around some of the trees with the stamp tool. Use the stamp tool with mode darken. At 13x19 I am not sure that this stuff would even show up in the print. I'll run a test print and check.

Print came out fine (Golf Fiber Silk). Could make out a couple of hot pixels only with aid of magnifying glass, at one foot distance not visible. Grain in sky is fine almost not visible. Note that I rendered darker and did not push as much in the shadows and midtones, thus less grain to deal with. This is the tonality I prefer. There is still plenty of shadow detail but a more dramatic feeling than the lighter versions. I would hang this on my wall with just some minor clean up for the final print.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 10:39:44 PM by leuallen » Logged
Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2012, 10:13:29 PM »
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Gave it a try in ACR 6.7.

I found the Grain tool in Effects panel got rid of the blotchy texture while Color slider in Detail Panel got rid of most of the hot pixels. Lot of trial and error due to the fact I've never worked on such a dark, noisy image before.

I have to say that is one incredible capture considering the level of under exposure and/or lack of light in the scene. Those back cliffs near the palms have so much useable detail that I was tempted to lighten it to reveal more rock texture but then it might not look like it was taken at night.

I'll have to post screen shots of the tool settings I used which comprised both curve tools and tonal slider adjusts. WB was As Shot.
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fike
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« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2012, 12:05:35 PM »
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Thanks for all the attempts everyone. 

What have I learned: So far nobody has shown anything dramatically better in the main areas I was worried about.  There are some good suggestions about noise reduction on individual color channels, possibly with masks.  I also hadn't considered converting to LAB color and doing noise reduction there. I will have to try that.

Is anyone good at Capture 1 Pro7 that can try that tool and see if it gets more out?

Why was it at f/11?  Give me a break.  It was dark. haha

Seriously, f/11 is generally highest aperture I use frequently on the OM-D (unless I am trying to emphasize rain or get better stars on point-light sources).  But you are right that I could have shot it at f/8 and ISO 200 and that might have gotten me slightly less noise.  I do have versions at ISO 200 and f/8, but the waves didn't cooperate and my flashlight work wasn't as good.  This kind of stuff is often kind of trial and error. 

...and yes, it definitely was dark, so my interpretation of the image should remain overall a low-key one.
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Redcrown
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« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2012, 12:36:24 PM »
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Played with the raw for a while, but I can't get anything that looks much better than your first sample. Yours looks good in that small version, but I can see the problems in full rez.

Some hints:

For the long exposure hot pixels, try the old Photoshop Dust and Scratches filter (under Noise) with a radius of 1 and threshold of 0. That worked very well for me removing the hot pixels in the cliff and trees. But it also degraded the foreground rocks a little, so mask off that area.

For the sky noise, I found that an agressive noise reduction in ACR did a pretty good job. I used Lum=43, Lum detail=65, Color=100. This, followed by some more masked noise reduction in Photoshop created a fairly smooth sky (I use Imagenomic Noiseware, but anything will do on sky). But be carefull not to take out too much noise. A little noise is good thing.

For the muddy edges on the trees, I've had luck with this technique:

First make a selection of the trees with a very hard edge. Try quick select, magic wand, selective color range with low fuzziness, or some other method. Modify this selection to contract it by around 1 to 5 pixels, just enough to cut into the trees and thus carve away the "muddy" portion. Then maybe feather this selection by something less than 1 pixel. Finally use that selecton as a mask (inverted) on a new blank layer, and then clone stamp the sky around the edges.

I once had a number of sunset beach scenes with palm trees than had wind blur. This technique, while very time consuming, created sharper and more distinct edges.
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Patricia Sheley
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« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2012, 03:34:44 PM »
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Hi Marc. Nice location, and understand where you were headed with the light painting. First thing I did in LR 4  was level the sea, kept being distracted by land vs water. Then was thrilled to discover that working through Schewe/Digital Negative twice cross referencing with M Evening's LR 4 that what Jeff had said was true...it's meant to be fun. Quickly working through your image I found that Jeff had expanded possibility in ways I had not realized. using the histogram panel first globally brought it to a working space that could be worked through. The cool thing about Jeff using so many underexposed images in the advanced processing chapter was that you got a real feel for ettl images being finessed to the right and because of the resulting noise increase the ways of addressing that in LR4 or ACR. the big takeaway for me was the incredible reward of following the global with the adjustment brush using auto mask to refine locally. zoomed to 400% adding or subtracting in specific areas is a breeze. Going positive or negative allows the local optimizing that you would want here. This is also one where adding some grain back in from the Effects panel was helpful. If you play with the size of the grain (smaller than the original) you will be amazed to see how this can mitigate the flatness of those ares where the higher noise reduction was necessary. It's always a compromise between the noise reduction and loss of detail, but working locally altering only the noise settings with either the adjustment brush or graduated filter has been a real eye opener for me. Even the ways Jeff moved the exposure right has gotten me thinking differently. Of course the optimum exposure out of camera is the way to go but as Jeff says...Hey...you perfect?

All the above worth poking around in, and if you haven't gotten Jeff's book in your hands, just the fact that it meant something to you to work this image would make his book worth it.

Also, one other little tidbit...when I'm doing those long exposures I try to work low ISO as possible but sure you had your reasons...also the hot pixels have a way of creeping in with the heat generated in camera. Sometimes a break with camera off helps (or shoot where it is really cold ;-)  )  If you already were aware of the back and forth adjustments via brush , sorry for the intrusion...just a reaffirmation then... Envy the location. Pat

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kirkt
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2012, 07:01:19 PM »
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Here is a conversion in DXO 8.  I usually do not try to extract a "final" image from a raw conversion, but I tried with this image.  The noise in the image is composed of three elements - the color noise (and splotchiness), the luma noise and the dead and hot pixels.  I tried to leave as much luma noise as I could while suppressing color speckles and dead/hot pixels.  I'm not sure what the overall look is that you are going for in terms of color, but the general gist of the shot seems to be a light painting exercise so I tried to keep tonal increases in the center of the light-painted area.  I've included 100% crops of some of the areas that you identified as problems in your original post, and I've also posted a screen shot of my settings in DXO.  I also corrected the tilted horizon so the image has a slight crop to it.

I noticed that conversion to sRGB plugged shadow tones, so for a piece for print, I would stick with AdobeRGB.  Here is a link to the large size version of the image:

link

Please let me know if you would like me to remove the image from my SmugMug - I just did not want to post a large JPEG here as an attachment.

kirk
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 07:23:26 PM by kirkt » Logged
kirkt
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« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2012, 07:51:34 PM »
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A little bit of a different look, this time with C1 v7.

Link to full res.

kirk
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 07:54:46 PM by kirkt » Logged
kirkt
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« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2012, 08:14:03 PM »
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And, here is ACR 7.

Link to full res.

kirk
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 08:18:15 PM by kirkt » Logged
kirkt
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« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2012, 08:36:18 PM »
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Here is a second DXO version, with a, overall increase in tonal values, similar to the ACR conversion.

Link to full res.

kirk
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fike
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« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2012, 08:41:27 PM »
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Hi Kirk, these are all helpful. Thank you. 

I don't mind these being posted temporarily for our discussion, but after the discussion tails off I would prefer if you took down the full resolution copies from your smugmug account.  We can leave the web-sized postings that are here.  Nobody is going to be able to do much with them. 

BUT, don't take them down yet because I need to study what you have done.  You have some stuff that looks really good....more luminance noise (almost like grain) than I have been trying to get, but the chroma noise is much better under control. 

thanks,
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kirkt
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« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2012, 09:01:41 PM »
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I could always up the luma NR - let me know if you would like to see the results.

If you want to, save the Original res JPEGs from my SmugMug to your computer so you have them locally, and then I will take down the images.  Or I can email them, etc.

In any event, let me know when you would like them to come down and I will delete them immediately.

kirk
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