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11-25-2009, 10:31 PM   #1
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Untouched photos from Pentax-brand lenses

When reviewing lenses for purchase, I look at a lot of photos shot with Pentax gear. And I always wonder, how many contrast and color adjustments were made to the image after it was shot. I feel like my images aren't as contrasty out of the gate and I'm consistently adjusting contrast and bumping up the blacks in many of my shots. I *just* bumped up the in-camera contrast and am going to give that a try. Color rendition, overall is otherwise great.

So my question - what percentage of your photos do you adjust contrast in post - every one you save as a keeper? (Note that - I'm totally cool with the post work. That's not the point of this discussion.)

Maybe you could post a photo or two of an ontouched shot from your Pentax brand camera and lens. Don't post your best shots, just a basic shot that is a good example of the typical result. I'll post some of my own later ... have to get to bed for a first light shoot. =)

I am also shooting with quality gear (not kit lenses, which aren't bad anyway) - 21mm Limited, 40mm Limited, DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135 ... so I'm expecting that the problem is either my expectation has been set wrong, or I'm missing something.


Last edited by erikmichael; 11-25-2009 at 10:36 PM. Reason: Another thought...
11-25-2009, 10:38 PM   #2
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i pretty much do post work for all my photos that are "keepers"

Things this time of year, at least where i live, seem to lack contrast anyway.

Here is a recent untouched photo (taken today)



This was taken with a K200D and DA 35 Limited
11-25-2009, 10:54 PM   #3
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That's nice and contrasty. Thank you for posting.

It might be that I'm not paying enough attention to lighting. Following are two images - untouched - the first is from my 40mm Limited, the second is from my DA* 50-135 - it seems to be lacking in the lows (blacks).
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Name:  091014 Salt Lake Street 002.jpg
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11-25-2009, 10:55 PM   #4
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All the photos I keep, I process in one way or another. So although I keep some RAW images, I don't keep untouched JPEGs - they'll be edited for immediate use later.

I don't have an example to post up at this point, but most will agree that shots straight out of the camera are not going to be as impressive as those enhanced even if in a very simple way.

On your examples, you'll find by far and away the most important aspects of creating a good shot is getting all the aspects right in the camera first. PP only augments the 'pop' of an already very good photo...

11-25-2009, 10:58 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
All the photos I keep, I process in one way or another. So although I keep some RAW images, I don't keep untouched JPEGs - they'll be edited for immediate use later.

Don't have an example to post up at this point, but most will agree that shots straight out of the camera are not going to be as impressive as those enhanced even if in a very simple way.
This is consistent with what I'm experiencing.. just wanted to verify that I'm not crazy. =)

Also - I shoot RAW always as I love to bump fill light, pull back data in via recovery, etc.
11-25-2009, 11:04 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
All the photos I keep, I process in one way or another. So although I keep some RAW images, I don't keep untouched JPEGs - they'll be edited for immediate use later.

I don't have an example to post up at this point, but most will agree that shots straight out of the camera are not going to be as impressive as those enhanced even if in a very simple way.

On your examples, you'll find by far and away the most important aspects of creating a good shot is getting all the aspects right in the camera first. PP only augments the 'pop' of an already very good photo...
most of the shots won't be that impressive, though there are few exceptions. Jay for example, if I'm not mistaken has produced some astonishing jpeg outputs right off the bat. I had produced some as well. however, RAW processing doesn't hurt especially in salvaging shots with potential. I find it useful for removing or decreasing destructive noises which are apparent in lowlight shots. not to mention highlight clipping, shadow details and other enhancements.
11-25-2009, 11:08 PM   #7
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Following are two photos that illustrate a typical before and after editing. I really like seeing stuff like this. If a thread doesn't already exist, we should create one for before and after editing.... it helps to see what's possible and how other photographers think and see when composing their shot. I often hear people say that they know what they want to do with it in post at the moment they are taking the shot.

Before editing - a basic shot (poor exposure):

Name:  091014 Salt Lake Street 010.jpg
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After editing - tons more contrast and some color adjustment:

Name:  091014 Salt Lake Street 010-2.jpg
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11-25-2009, 11:13 PM   #8
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PP is quite a personal process and produces infinite potential for images.
Whilst straight out of camera RAW shots are untouched, straight out of camera JPEGs have had some manipulations in contrast, sharpness and saturation added to the original captures - so in essence these are post-processed in camera.

11-25-2009, 11:23 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
PP is quite a personal process and produces infinite potential for images.
Whilst straight out of camera RAW shots are untouched, straight out of camera JPEGs have had some manipulations in contrast, sharpness and saturation added to the original captures - so in essence these are post-processed in camera.
Ahhh... excellent explaination... thank you!
11-25-2009, 11:28 PM   #10
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It depends on the photo, though in general, I have found that the default RAW import for the K10D to Lightroom often lacks the snap that I like. Soooo...typically, I will:
  • Adjust the "Exposure" setting to put the histogram where I want it
  • Add appropriate "Recovery" if needed
  • Add appropriate "Fill Light" if needed to express shadow detail
  • Bump the "Blacks" (Black clipping) if the histogram looks deficient
  • Add a little "Clarity" (generally only a value of 10-15 to increase local contrast a tad)
  • Bump the "Highlight" portion of the curve a little
  • Depress the "Shadows" portion of the curve a little to insure that any true blacks are expressed.
The last two adjustments are pretty critical and work better than a global contrast boost and/or an increase in "Blacks" (Black clipping) by itself. The idea is to place the true highlights at maximum brightness without blocking and to anchor the tail firmly with true blacks. I know this sounds a little severe, but rare is the general subject that does not benefit from this sort of approach.

Consider this image:



The original looked pretty good to start with, but was a little dull. Here are the edits:
  • Exposure: -0.5 (to correct a mild overexposure)
  • Highlight Recovery: 27 (to bring out the detail of the fine hairs on the leaf petiole and leaf margins along with the frost rimming the lower leaf margins)
  • Black Clipping: 8 (+3 from default to restore the true blacks that should have been there to start with)
  • Clarity: +15 (to give definition to the leaf veins and bark)
  • Shadow Tones: -20 (added richness to the twig bark)
  • Green Luminance: -38 (minimize the cool tones)
  • Aqua Luminance: -14 (ditto)
I didn't bump the highlights for this one because they were already well-represented. Dampening the cool tones brought the warm tones forward without resorting to increasing saturation.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it is worth it for the images that you actually might want someone else to see

Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 11-25-2009 at 11:39 PM.
11-25-2009, 11:32 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by flockofbirds Quote
Things this time of year, at least where i live, seem to lack contrast anyway.
Major understatement!

Steve

(Live just a few miles north...)
11-25-2009, 11:34 PM   #12
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Steve - Very similar to adjustments to what I've been making for most photos too - I shouldn't have said I only use that contrast slider... I do use curves as well and notice a better result when I do..

Thanks for the thoughts and detail!
11-25-2009, 11:46 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by erikmichael Quote
...Thanks for the thoughts and detail!
My pleasure...

It was nice to have an opportunity to share what I have learned in this area.

Steve
11-25-2009, 11:47 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Major understatement!

Steve

(Live just a few miles north...)
Yeah I'm in the Columbia Gorge about 40 miles east of Portland (Hood River)

Gray sky, gray trees, dull grass, gray water... pretty bland right now lol


edit:

Also I think the lighting in the picture I posted played a big part in the contrast as it was around 11am, with the sun directly behind me making for pretty strong shadows.
11-25-2009, 11:48 PM   #15
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