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12-07-2007, 06:49 AM   #1
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Why couldn't I...

I recently placed the following pic in the weekly contest...

I worked all night on trying to lighten it.. I tried auto fix.. I tried bright/contrast... The only thing that worked was lightening the shadows but even that I was limited on... I new this was a good shot (atleast for me) and really wanted it to look like...

Which Distorted Vision did for me... (thank you very much for fixing my pic)!!!!!!

Distorted what did you use to fix it?

I use for most of my post processing... I am still waiting for Photo Shop. Is this just a program difference??? Was it an option that I didn't try???

Any guidance is greatly appreciated!! Thanks again Distorted for the assistance.


12-07-2007, 09:49 AM   #2
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You really need an application that can adjust the exposure...your image is underexposed and im guessing DV pushed it up by about 2 stops, maybe more. There are plenty of cheaper alternatives to photoshop BTW, some are even free(with the added bonus of being easier to use)!. Any of the current crop of RAW developers will allow you to fix this problem with ease regardless if its RAW or Jpeg, personally i use lightroom and rarely need to go to Photoshop for anything other than custom sharpening or some filter work nowadays. You can download all of them and try them out for 30 days to find which one suits you best.
12-07-2007, 10:12 AM   #3
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Kim, I'll admit I played around with your photo a little last night myself. There really is a lot that can be done with it. But so much of it is subjective as to what you had in mind when you took the photo. I'm by no means a post processing wizard. But I have a few suggestions.

If you are not already shooting in RAW, I would start. Or at least try it. There is a great deal more flexibility in "fixing" a photo when it is in the RAW format. For example, the above photo was under exposed. You can easily push up the exposure in a RAW converter.

Check your histogram after taking a shot to check the exposure. It should tell you right away if you have exposure issues. Then you can make adjustments if you need to.

For your photo I adjusted the "levels", and then"curves". A few other small adjustments to contrast, then a USM. It turned out a lot like Distorted Visions version.

I don't know about you, but I have found the whole post processing thing to be a bit overwhelming. With film, I just took the pictures and dropped it off at the developers and I was done! After six months or so with my digital camera, I am getting more comfortable with PP. Keep working at it.
12-07-2007, 10:26 AM   #4
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Kim, Using the same program I did a few adjustments. First adjusted curves+ for luminosity. Then levels for green and blue to brighten a bit more. Then a bit of brightness and contrast boost. Last a little highlight recovery to try and tone down the hot spots on the petals. I'm sure I could do more if I had the RAW file but there is a lot of room to adjust this photo. Forget Auto adjust. It's awful in PN as it is in most programs I have used. At the end I added a little saturation. I suspect the other version that DV did also had sharpening as I can see artifacts of that in his version (but it could be Jpeg compression as well) With this resolution I didn't sharpen the shot because it would help to blow out the highlights.

Last edited by Peter Zack; 12-27-2007 at 07:01 PM.
12-07-2007, 11:29 AM   #5
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Kim : Photoshop/Photoimpact12

Have a look into Photoimpact 12 from Ulead Systems. It is not free but is cheaper than PS
and I find fairly easy to use.
At least for a fairly unskilled computer user like me.
12-07-2007, 12:07 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mtnbearhug Quote
I use for most of my post processing... I am still waiting for Photo Shop. Is this just a program difference??? Was it an option that I didn't try???
Any guidance is greatly appreciated!! Thanks again Distorted for the assistance.
Kim, as Peter used the same program you use now to get very similar results as Distorted, I think you can feel comfortable staying with, if you like it and find it easy, intuitive and powerful. If not and want to try something else, in addition to those noted by others I would recommend Lightroom if you aren't already set in doing things certain ways and have a newer powerful computer. Here's a recent discussion on it:
I posted a link in that thread to another long discussion about it in a thread I started earlier. the newest version of PaintSho Pro is another good way to go (I only have version 7 ... it's up to version 10 or 11 now I think. I need to upgrade) There's a big cost different between Photo Shop and all the others mentioned (and usability/learning curve difference too).
12-07-2007, 02:02 PM   #7
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The Gimp would have done that for free! Not only that, you would not have had all those sharpening artifacts in the bokeh..

Download the gimp for free at

Once it's installed click on Help, then 'get plugins' - Browse for version 2.4 plugins - download 'smart sharpening' - it looks for edges so, it won't screw up your skies or bokeh - works wonders..

Or, with the gimp you can 'select' the area you wan tto sharpen and simply choose 'unsharp mask or sharpen' and the gimp will only sharpen the area you selected.

Lastly, to get the brightness out of your flowers - Again, select the flower region - choose 'colors' / hue/saturation / select the red or magenta tab. Slide the saturation tab to the right a bit and then slide the light tab to the right about (basically, adjust until you like what you see) It will only adjust the colors for the selected region - very handy.

It's very easy..
12-07-2007, 03:06 PM   #8
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For the kind of work done to this photo you could use Lightroom instead of Photoshop and save half the price. Lr has all the exposure, curves, and color adjustments you need and even has sharpening with masking so you don't sharpen smooth areas. It works with raw or jpeg and acts as a database as well. Free trial download and Adobe's website.

12-07-2007, 11:26 PM   #9
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Here's my quick 3 minute attempt with Paint.NET, from the jpeg in your first post. Only three things were done to it:
- levels
- curves
- hue/saturation
and I don't think it looks half bad!

I also use paint.NET for all my image processing, and it's actually pretty powerful once you know how to use it. I find that for the majority of my photos, levels, curves, hue/saturation and brightness/contrast are pretty much all that's needed, and I suggest you play around with those four adjustments to get used to what they do. The help file that comes with paint.NET is a good start.

Last edited by pop4; 12-07-2007 at 11:32 PM.
12-08-2007, 02:46 AM   #10
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Downloaded your original photo - opened Picasa and applied the 'One click fix' (I'm feeling lucky).

Total editing time about 10 secs.

I could have made some additional adjustments but wanted to see what just one would do.

By the way, I also use Lightroom and Photoshop CS3 but you can do a lot of simple fixes in Picasa.

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12-08-2007, 04:28 AM   #11
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Kim, the number one thing you can do to make things easier for yourself if you envision doing much post-processing is to shoot your images in RAW format. That gives you the most advantageous starting point, letting you make a very surprising range of adjustments on things like exposure. You can miss it a couple of stops in either direction (over or under) and still pull a good image out of it by waiting to do the JPG conversion on your computer rather than letting the camera do it at the time you take the photo. It is also much easier to get a better start on getting the colors the way you want them because you can easily adjust the white balance from the RAW file. I've had quite a few images that I was able to salvage from the RAW file which would have been completely useless and destined for the recycle bin had I taken them in JPG. At the very least, anything important (family, events, etc) should always be shot in RAW if at all possible.

What I do is shoot in RAW, make my adjustments for exposure and white balance (if necessary), then save as a TIFF file. TIFF files are large, but they are "lossless", meaning that image quality isn't compromised by the sort of data compression (and deletion of certain data) that goes hand-in-hand with JPG format. If necessary, I do noise reduction on the TIFF file, save it, and then do my post-processing on that TIFF file and save the final version as a JPG.

The space-eating TIFF file can then safely be deleted, since you can always regenerate it from the RAW image if you ever need to.

All of this can be 100% done with freeware, and the learning curve really isn't all that hard. It just takes a little hands-on playing with it to get used to it.

Here is a list of the freeware I use to do all this (click on them to go to the download pages):

GIMP 2.4
Noiseware (Community Edition)

IrfanView is a good general purpose image browser, and can display your RAW files, making it easy to browse through and selectively delete crappy shots and decide which shots you want to single out for further processing. It also has batch file processing capability for both file renaming and file type conversion. If while browsing, you think the default rendition of the RAW files looks fine, then just batch convert them to JPG and you're done.

For the ones you want to give special attention to, open them with Ufraw, make your adjustments, and save as either TIFF or JPG. That's all you do with this software.

If the image is noisy, then open it up in NoiseWare, hit "Go" (the default settings usually work just fine for most images), and then "Save As". Nothing could be easier, and it can really work wonders on noisy images. The Community Edition is freeware. It can open JPG or TIFF files, but it cannot save in TIFF format, so you'll be limited to saving as JPG. That usually is not a problem. Also, the free edition doesn't do batch processing, but don't let that bother you.

The GIMP is a freeware post-processing program which is comparable to programs like PaintShop Pro and Photoshop. Of course, it is not as good as those. If it were, then everybody would use it and the folks who charge money for the other stuff would go out of business. So from a purely economical standpoint, it demonstrably is not as good. But that doesn't mean that it isn't good. It will handle practically everything you wish to do with an image, and still have tons of crap left over that neither you nor I will ever figure out, much less actually use.

The standard adjustments I make to every image with it are:

1. Contrast adjustment layer
2. Curves
3. Unsharp mask

None of those are difficult to do with the software, and they can make a very large difference in the appearance.

Last edited by Mike Cash; 12-08-2007 at 05:54 PM. Reason: typo
12-08-2007, 05:19 AM   #12
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excellent Mike. Using I generally follow the same workflow. One question about your tutorial. Which version of RAW are you shooting in?
12-08-2007, 07:14 AM   #13
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hi've already gotten a lot of info here, so i won't boggle your head with more......but i will offer that in pp software, one wants to choose wisely, and as in all things you get what you pay for.......i took liberties with your image sorta as follows. I use cs3, always shoot raw, and do prelims in acr, then upload to lightroom where i apply final changes. i did not do that to your photo but worked in cs3.......making a minor exposure adjustment to the + side, and applying a 20% offset to restore snap.....i then made a small adjustment in levels to the mid-tones, applied some adjustments in hue/sat, and selective color. i noted a lot of noise slightly above 100% so i ran noise ninja, and then cloned out shake fringe around the front petals. Noise ninja wouldn't remove all the noise without blurring the flower which would have been's such a lovely i made a selection around the flower smoothed it one px, feathered it 1 px, inverted it and did a box blur adjustment to smooth out the noise left by noise ninja, as a final adjutment i tweaked the sat a bit trying to be careful not to blow out the magenta hues in the middle of the flower.......God luck to you, this is a really nice photo and a littl more pp could have benefitted it much more. As you stated you were waiting for Photoshop, may i suggest you look up the guys at National Association of Photoshop professional, ( ) will find a lot of help there with most anything ps related.......caio

Last edited by gpaual; 01-26-2008 at 04:15 AM.
12-08-2007, 05:49 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
excellent Mike. Using I generally follow the same workflow. One question about your tutorial. Which version of RAW are you shooting in?
I have the K100D, so I don't think I have a choice. The files have ".pef" extensions.
12-09-2007, 04:44 AM   #15
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kim, i used GIMP. its freeware and is as good as any other photo editing software availiable... particulary being open-source

^^^^ everything mike_cash wrote is very good advice ^^^^

with youre picture i adjusted the colour curves, the contrast, the saturation and sharpened it a little. these are all very basic editing tools and can be acheived with very little knowledge of photo editing.... my suggestion is to download GIMP and have a go,,, just trial and error. im in the middle of saving screen shots for you, step by step, so it is not so overwhelming... hope this helps...

ps- no worries about the picture.. im glad you liked it


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