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06-15-2015, 05:32 AM   #1
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Suggestions wanted for post production background blow out
Lens: Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 Camera: Pentax K-5 ii Photo Location: Labrador Seaside Park, Singapore ISO: 3200 Shutter Speed: 1/90s Aperture: F2.8 

This past March I was in Singapore shooting FOSSASIA 2015, an open source technology conference. One evening we had a BBQ out at Labrador Seaside Park, and I was asked by a group of teenagers to take a shot of them, which I did. The original and processed photos are below.

As I look back at that time, I realize now that my ISO is one stop too high and that I should've better adjusted for the background sunset lighting. Outside of that, I think the group shot came out well, and so do they. Still, there's room for improvement.

1. What suggestions do you have for me to improve the blown out background during post processing? My tweakings feel barely adequate.

I'm new to doing more than auto-levels and cropping but have recently dug deeper into the tools that Capture One provides. For this group photo, I did a mask layer and tried to lessen the background blow out. Mask and settings are below as well.

2. Theoretically, how might I have used a Cactus RF60 flash to improve the group's lighting? On and off camera flash is doable.

Also, this is up on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/comprock/18751035585/ as Pentax 1, Selfie Stick 0.

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Last edited by comprock; 06-15-2015 at 05:34 AM. Reason: grammar tweaks
06-15-2015, 07:51 AM   #2
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Since there really isn't any detail in the background, you can balance the brightness of the subjects and the background to what ever appeals to you. Sometimes when you mask the background, you will see a halo effect around the people. If you do, here is a neat trick to clone out the halo.

Sharpening Halos And How To Hide Them - Tutorials

Tim
06-15-2015, 09:15 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by comprock Quote
1. What suggestions do you have for me to improve the blown out background during post processing? My tweakings feel barely adequate. I'm new to doing more than auto-levels and cropping but have recently dug deeper into the tools that Capture One provides. For this group photo, I did a mask layer and tried to lessen the background blow out. Mask and settings are below as well.
I agree that the photo could benefit from adjustment, but I actually prefer the unadjusted sample over the adjustments you made. IMO, the adjustments made the photo too dark and added a blue cast to everything. The crop was a good idea.

I'm not a Capture One user, but try going back to the original exposure settings, forget the layer mask, and just turn down the highlight slider. That should darken the blown out background and some of the bright reflections off the side of people's faces.

QuoteQuote:
2. Theoretically, how might I have used a Cactus RF60 flash to improve the group's lighting? On and off camera flash is doable.
In general theoretical terms, flash brightens the people in the foreground, therefore allowing an overall decreased exposure to darken the background. Bouncing the flash to soften the light isn't an option with no nearby roof or walls. I'll shut up now and let the much more experienced flash portraiture experts give advice.
06-15-2015, 12:48 PM   #4
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The next time make sure your Ev is set to no more than 0 and meter ( use Multi-segmented Metering) a bit on the sky and you should be good to go for a simple snapshot like this.
The problem was not ISO but incorrect Ev value - Exposure Bias +1.00 - a full stop over exposed for this sort of shot.


Last edited by wildman; 06-23-2015 at 07:42 PM.
06-16-2015, 12:21 AM   #5
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for the PP part, I wouldn't do anything to the background. Anythign you will do, will just make it look worse. Just up the contrast and clarity a bit to bring the group more in balance with the background.

And next time, just a little fill in flash would be sufficient (and ofcourse, the ISO should be lower), and a bit of under-expose.
06-16-2015, 03:26 PM   #6
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Thank you, everyone, for the feedback.

You're right about my needing to step back a moment and look at what I did originally. I feel now that tunnel vision happened.

I've gone back to the original image, reset adjustments, checked the EXIF, realized the EV was +1, and then did more basic adjustments. The EV +1 would've been from the brightness I was shooting against earlier. Still, no excuse for missing it in this during or in post.

I've attached screenshots of the new settings, sans layer and feel the new export is better than my prior attempts. In seeing this new result, what further do you recommend?
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