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"Flat" Images
Posted By: deludel, 09-03-2008, 10:17 PM

Hi all, it's been a while since I posted, life has been crazy. Had surgery this summer (am doing GREAT!) and I didnt pick up my k10 for 3 months ... lately I've gotten back into the swing of things.

Anyway, I'd love your feedback on something .. it seems my images have an awful flat tone to them, then I can clear it up in Elements. (2 sets of before/after below) Any feedback on the "flat" issue?

EXIF Data......
Candle shot: ISO 640, 1/40sec, f/4.50, 35mm, no flash, Pattern
Painting: ISO 640, 1/15sec, f/4.50, 28mm, no flash, Pattern

Maybe it was the ISO .. I remember i raised it because it was inside a church. I was in Manual Mode, and pressed the green button to meter, then adjusted slightly to expose correctly (take "correctly" with a grain of salt!)

Feedback requested/welcomed!! Thanks!

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Last edited by deludel; 09-03-2008 at 10:40 PM.
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09-03-2008, 11:12 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome back - glad you're doing well from the surgery.

I suspect, in these examples anyway, it may just be a matter of exposure nuances. The first one the original looks ever so slightly underexposed, probably due to the candle flames.
The second one the original a tad over exposed, probably due to the dark, low contrast painting(?).

The camera's metering system basically is trying to find a middle ground (18% gray). So when the frame has really bright highlights it will tend to underexpose the darker subject, and conversely when there is a significant amount of darkness it will overexpose.
Center focused or Spot metering can help in these cases, as can exposure bracketing your shots.
09-04-2008, 01:03 AM   #3
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first of all, i apologize for the lack of punctuation or capitalization... i'm having keyboard difficulties - shift/ctrl/alt keys don't work.

the standard k10 in-camera processing will give somewhat flat results about 80percent of the time... depending on the lighting. i'm happy for it to be that way, as it gives me more control over the contrast. a simple s-curve will usually straighten that out.

if, as i suspect from your exif, you are shooting in-camera jpeg, you can try playing with the contrast settings. i warn you though that once the contrast is set in-camera, you can't dial the contrast back pp without some loss of data/quality. also increasing contrast in camera will decrease the dynamic range of the image - and many times you need the whole range - and then some111

finally, lightroom, photoshop and camera raw can apply a standard curve setting to all selected images - batch processing.
09-04-2008, 08:20 AM   #4
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What lens were you using? It looks like the contrast is a little low in the original shots. Easy enough to adjust in post processing, or just bump up the settings in the camera until you are happy with the results.

09-04-2008, 08:55 AM   #5
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Well the originals all have the pentax look to them. Very natural apperance, very conservative exposure. My guess is that they aren't THAT far off what things really looked like. Use the green button, you get the green button "pentax look". Shooting in raw, you can actually do a lot in post with the pentax look as it preserves a lot of image information. You want something other than the pentax look, you have to do it yourself.

One shortcoming of the green button mode/pentax look that I find is that when it is quite dim, it tries to make it look like the room/object is better lit than it is. The mechanism by which is chooses to do this varies with shooting mode.

The painting image seems flat because, well, it is a painting, not even in a frame, that is flat. The main issue is the glare. On top of green mode being less saturated and contrasty than you appear to like, the glare is going to make any camera expose wrong and wash out the colors of the painting. The camera needed to be higher and more square to the painting is most of the answer. Setting the camera to vibrant mode would likely help as well if the afters are really more like you want. Like frank said you can also bump contrast, but he is also correct that you will have less to work with later the more you push the in camera processing to do the job of punching it up.

As for the candles, a lower f-stop might give you a bit of depth of field to make the front candles be more of the center of attention. since you are throwing away dark areas in post, perhaps upping the shutter speed even with the f-stop you were using might have helped with that. As for the more saturated look, you can tweak that with the color temp settings in the camrea. Or carry a warm and cool card with you as well as an 18% gray card if you want to be able to tweek the look. Setting the color balance to flash or warm flourescent would warm the pic up a bit, don't know exactly how much though.

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