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08-06-2019, 08:49 PM   #1
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Waiting for the light or post-processing?

For landscape images, there is often the problem of dynamic range and that we can't control the lighting. I'm trying to improve my post processing skills, late to the party, from global image adjustments, to local editing with things such as layers / masking. In find it cumbersome and time consuming to correct images exposed with improper light, and the results aren't quite as good as I'd hope. Global adjustment have limits because different parts of an image can have similar light level, with only one of the area requiring retouching. Local adjustment is time consuming. So I'm just wondering where is the trade-off between spending more time outdoors to find the right conditions for the best exposures, or being less selective for the shooting conditions and spending more time on the post processing. Perhaps a silly question, but what would be your approach for landscape exposures vs post processing time? Thank you in advance.

---------- Post added 07-08-19 at 05:57 ----------

P.S I'm using the Pentax K1, and realized that the dynamic range is so good (when using optimized camera settings) that I could be shooting in the worst lighting conditions and still be able to recover about anything , except recovering images in post can be very time consuming.

08-06-2019, 09:51 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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Have you tried luminosity masks in PS as a way of speeding up blending?
What I like to do is create 2-3 different tiff's from the same raw, one for the highlights you want to keep, the second for the foreground and the last for the dark shadows you want to recover.

Here is a pretty good video just cut it to 5:10 and don't use raya pro and just make your own masks using PS.


Most of the time it only take a few seconds to make a luminosity mask and adjust it using levels and PS does most of your blending. most of this can be done in 2-5 min.
08-06-2019, 10:50 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Are you speedrunning or something? I mean, what prevents you from taking a photo in mediocre light so that you have at least something and then waiting for good light, if plausible? Enjoy the time you're spending outdoors breathing fresh air instead of sitting in your cubicle straining your eyes over a screen all day long.
08-06-2019, 10:56 PM - 5 Likes   #4
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To assist in the waiting for light, I have found the Photographer's Ephemeris helpful. In its free to all Web app form, it may be used to determine the position of sun and moon for any time and any place and to help plan things like where to put your tripod for an eclipse, when the golden hour starts, and when the moon rises and where on the horizon it happens.

The Ephemeris home page with links to the different aspects of the product:

The Photographer's Ephemeris

...and for those wanting to get started using just a Web browser, there is the Web app. Yes, it is worth learning! Yes, it may well change your life.

Web ? The Photographer's Ephemeris

...and the demo on Vimeo:


Steve

08-07-2019, 12:46 AM   #5
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Going to give blending a try myself
08-07-2019, 01:46 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Global adjustment have limits because different parts of an image can have similar light level, with only one of the area requiring retouching.
Variate Luminosity Mask techniques might help.
I enjoy do cityscape photo at night (K3). Light contrast can be insane in many locations, therefore, Luminosity Mask is a must-do in my post process. We can even do it right in the CameraRaw and it is a lot fewer clicks than doing it in Photoshop. A lot of tutorial on Youtube.

Or another thing which might help is bracketing it when shoot and use the Merge to HDR in CameraRaw (assume that you are on Adobe CC2019). It is only 2-3 clicks. Then do the Luminosity Mask after that (only if it is still needed). But even on K3, I don’t feel a need to bracket my urban night photo. K3 ISO100 can do the job. You are on K1, it should offer you a lot better dynamic range.

QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Local adjustment is time-consuming.
Agree and the more you do the faster you will be. As for night urban shooing as I enjoy doing, it is unavoidable because besides shooing during the blue hour which is short, I hardly find the perfect lighting.
08-07-2019, 02:17 AM - 8 Likes   #7
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Call me an old fogey (many do), but I think you should do your research beforehand, time your visit to the location when you've got the best chance of good light, and shoot it so that only a minimum of post-processing is needed. Or if you are going to jazz things up on the computer, at least try to avoid the PP howlers that are becoming more and common in photos posted online. Things like pools of strangely brighter and warmer light conveniently spotlighting a bush here or a tree there, even though the overall scene is darker and cooler. Which is the giveaway sign of luminosity masks being used to create something that wasn't there in reality and never would have been. Or sunrise/sunset reds in a scene where the angle of the shadows makes it clear that it was actually shot in the daytime then faked in PP.

Of course, the downside of waiting for the light and ending up with a beautifully lit photograph without PP is that someone will inevitably say: "Great processing!" And then you'll wonder why you bother.
08-07-2019, 03:07 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
For landscape images, there is often the problem of dynamic range and that we can't control the lighting. I'm trying to improve my post processing skills, late to the party, from global image adjustments, to local editing with things such as layers / masking. In find it cumbersome and time consuming to correct images exposed with improper light, and the results aren't quite as good as I'd hope. Global adjustment have limits because different parts of an image can have similar light level, with only one of the area requiring retouching. Local adjustment is time consuming. So I'm just wondering where is the trade-off between spending more time outdoors to find the right conditions for the best exposures, or being less selective for the shooting conditions and spending more time on the post processing. Perhaps a silly question, but what would be your approach for landscape exposures vs post processing time? Thank you in advance.

---------- Post added 07-08-19 at 05:57 ----------

P.S I'm using the Pentax K1, and realized that the dynamic range is so good (when using optimized camera settings) that I could be shooting in the worst lighting conditions and still be able to recover about anything , except recovering images in post can be very time consuming.
Q: waiting for the light or PP.
A: Both!
real life, I climb up there or walk or... and very rarely have time to wait for ’it’ because I want to get back before dark or just have limited time. Then I end up shooting something and PP and be happy with it. Best thing is to have a tent or something similar near by or with you so you can wait/sleep untill the ’golden hour’.

---------- Post added 08-07-19 at 13:10 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
Call me an old fogey (many do), but I think you should do your research beforehand, time your visit to the location when you've got the best chance of good light, and shoot it so that only a minimum of post-processing is needed. Or if you are going to jazz things up on the computer, at least try to avoid the PP howlers that are becoming more and common in photos posted online. Things like pools of strangely brighter and warmer light conveniently spotlighting a bush here or a tree there, even though the overall scene is darker and cooler. Which is the giveaway sign of luminosity masks being used to create something that wasn't there in reality and never would have been. Or sunrise/sunset reds in a scene where the angle of the shadows makes it clear that it was actually shot in the daytime then faked in PP.

Of course, the downside of waiting for the light and ending up with a beautifully lit photograph without PP is that someone will inevitably say: "Great processing!" And then you'll wonder why you bother.
Why to bother with learning PP when you can just buy presets and boom! there it is, lovely what ever with weird color, but it looks great in instagram.


08-07-2019, 03:19 AM - 2 Likes   #9
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The golden hour.

If your not a morning person then wait for sunset. You may not always get the light you hoped for but there are many days in the year to give it another go. Patients, there is no rush.
08-07-2019, 03:51 AM - 2 Likes   #10
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I'm in the wait for the light camp.


The only time I'm not is if something dynamic out of the blue is happening in front of me and I just have to snap away to get the action recorded.
08-07-2019, 06:00 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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I do both - try waiting for the light, and process when the light didn't cooperate. I also adjust my setup around the light - for example if I planned to photograph a building with good light hitting it, but ugly clouds yield poor light maybe I'll try a wider angle long exposure to make the poorly lit building smaller and clouds prettier, or zoom in closer for building details to hide the sky.

Easily accessible spots near home let me wait for the light; get outside for landscapes when skies are good. That's less practical during road trips or flights far from home. I can't spend a week near a site researching and waiting for the right cloud conditions.
08-07-2019, 07:40 AM - 4 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by repaap Quote
Q: waiting for the light or PP.
A: Both!
QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
I do both
GIGO: Garbage In; Garbage Out. Without good light, post processing will only get you so far. However, with good light, you can enhance it with good post processing.

Both waiting for the light, and post processing take patience, experience, effort, and luck, but most good photographers aren't just lucky, they put themselves into situations where there is a greater chance for serendipity.

Also using lens filters isn't just for film (i.e. graduated ND) and can help and reduce post processing.

....and then there is the philosophical perspective. Capturing magic in the beautiful light vs. making something more than it was with digital processing. Ultimately, it's called photography and the word for light is in the name of the game.
08-07-2019, 09:11 AM - 2 Likes   #13
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I just wait for the light and try to spend as little time as possible with post-processing (something around 3-5 minutes per shot). It can get a bit frustrating though, sometimes I visit a location again and again and come back with zero shots. If the light is not decent, most of the times I don't take the shot at all. But I'm still having fun so I guess I can't complain. It can also be very rewarding, on the way back in a train or a car, knowing that you've got good light and some nice shots and waiting to get home and develop them, smiling to yourself. Yes, I know it's a bit silly

Last edited by Hattifnatt; 08-07-2019 at 04:24 PM.
08-07-2019, 10:17 AM - 1 Like   #14
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There have been many times where I have said, “This is a pretty scene, but it won’t make a pretty picture,” because of distractions, bad light, etc. Sometimes with popular locations you know a picture was heavily modified because you know the lighting is impossible!

I agree that sometimes the HDR setting In camera can give you a good picture. (A perfect situation is trying to take a picture from inside a room through a window outside and you are trying to expose the inside and the outside.) It is quick when it works.

The problem with in camera HDR is that the camera is guessing how to change exposure. I like taking a good RAW file, making two versions with different exposure and blending. It takes some time but usually gives good results. (But yes, it may take hours for one picture.). The K-1 raw files contain lots of detail in the shadows.

Learning tricks to highlight large areas accurately during post processing speeds things up. I am still learning those tricks, but selecting areas for blending takes practice. Using gross adjustments in saturation or brightness sometimes makes it easier to highlight and blend.

Keep at it! It does get easier.
08-07-2019, 10:37 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
GIGO: Garbage In; Garbage Out. Without good light, post processing will only get you so far. However, with good light, you can enhance it with good post processing.

Both waiting for the light, and post processing take patience, experience, effort, and luck, but most good photographers aren't just lucky, they put themselves into situations where there is a greater chance for serendipity.

Also using lens filters isn't just for film (i.e. graduated ND) and can help and reduce post processing.

....and then there is the philosophical perspective. Capturing magic in the beautiful light vs. making something more than it was with digital processing. Ultimately, it's called photography and the word for light is in the name of the game.
That is about it. Luck has bigger role in shooting than PP. One thing is to have luck, and one thing is to have experience or good luck to get best out of that moment, when it does come, if it does.

Post processing is big thing, it was that when we had film, and it still is. Ofcourse making most out of your changes out there(planning/timing/gearing up...and tien shooting) will make it more easy at the Office
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