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10-07-2012, 04:59 PM   #16
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One colour or another (black or white), you can correct for relatively easy. Use the histogram on the playback of each image you take, and assuming a black animal, keep adjusting + exposure compensation until you move the big bump at the very left end of the histogram up away from the left axis, while keeping an eye on the right side to monitor if you are starting to burn out highlights. That way you get immediate confirmation of what is going on, and don't end up disappointed back at the computer. Maybe also choose your lighting so that high contrast environments like bright sunshine is avoided. And have pity on those of us with black and white pets !



Taken on an overcast day in order to effectively manage the dynamic range. Took a lot of poor shots to work this out!

10-07-2012, 05:45 PM   #17
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It is the same with birds

Spot metering with about -1 to -2 stops on the darkest point and be prepared to darken it down a little in post

10-07-2012, 06:40 PM   #18
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So basically, everyone is telling me I need a dead animal, or to buy flashes. -2 to 3 EV will result in crazy slow shutters that will introduce blur, whether from hand shake or the animal moving (usually the latter). And I don't really want to invest in flashes simply to get some better snaps of two of my animals.

I have managed to get some acceptable shots of the dog outside in direct sunlight (as mentioned, usually when there's a lot of background to offset) but my cats are indoors only, and trying to get photos of the black one in the window always results in the window being completely blown out, and away from a window it is too dark and I get blur. I have experimented with all three metering modes, though spot always results in speeds that are too slow to hand hold, and setting up on tripod always makes the animal move, even without lowering the Ev. Plus I find lowering Ev below -1 on my K-r introduces a massive amount of noise, even at ISO 100-200, so I don't really find that a workable option.

I suppose I simply need to experiment more, probably with some sort of diffuser on my flash. I really dislike using flash though as it flattens the image and makes it look pretty cruddy. But that's a whole other issue in lighting.
10-07-2012, 06:59 PM   #19
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There is no flash on my shot. Push the ISO a little. But note under exposing by 1-2 is faster not slower shutter speeds. Work on it outside. Should be no issue

10-07-2012, 08:17 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kona Quote
So basically, everyone is telling me I need a dead animal, or to buy flashes. -2 to 3 EV will result in crazy slow shutters that will introduce blur, whether from hand shake or the animal moving (usually the latter).
I think, Kona, that you will find your shutter speed increases when you reduce the exposure by 2 stops. If your starting shutter speed is 1/250", a -2 stop EV compensation will raise the shutter speed to 1/1000"
10-07-2012, 08:28 PM   #21
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Yes, yes, sorry. I brainfarted on underexposing. I just did some tests (and got a shot for Single in October while I was at it;

10-07-2012, 08:58 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Thank you Dave for giving the long explanation. I suspect that you have the main text saved somewhere to paste into comments as needed. (Dave has given this explanation many times before.) Good work.


Steve
Thanks! Actually typed this out one finger at a time, that's how dedicated I am.

QuoteOriginally posted by Kona Quote
So basically, everyone is telling me I need a dead animal, or to buy flashes. -2 to 3 EV will result in crazy slow shutters that will introduce blur, whether from hand shake or the animal moving (usually the latter). And I don't really want to invest in flashes simply to get some better snaps of two of my animals.

I have managed to get some acceptable shots of the dog outside in direct sunlight (as mentioned, usually when there's a lot of background to offset) but my cats are indoors only, and trying to get photos of the black one in the window always results in the window being completely blown out, and away from a window it is too dark and I get blur. I have experimented with all three metering modes, though spot always results in speeds that are too slow to hand hold, and setting up on tripod always makes the animal move, even without lowering the Ev. Plus I find lowering Ev below -1 on my K-r introduces a massive amount of noise, even at ISO 100-200, so I don't really find that a workable option.

I suppose I simply need to experiment more, probably with some sort of diffuser on my flash. I really dislike using flash though as it flattens the image and makes it look pretty cruddy. But that's a whole other issue in lighting.
Your cat has white feet, so you'll have some extra work like southlander's post mentioned. Otherwise the white parts in sunlight get too bright. You might just get some white posterboard to use as a reflector, instead of wrestling with flash controls. The idea is to make the black parts brighter to be closer to the white parts, reducing the dynamic range. Then adjust exposure so the white feet aren't blown out (blinking on the LCD) and the black fur will hopefully look dark enough or be darkenable in postprocessing.
10-07-2012, 09:00 PM   #23
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And don't be afraid of higher ISO on the K-r. I use a K-x (the K-r's immediate predeccessor) with RAW files and with some careful noise reduction in Lightroom (or equivalent) find ISO 800 or 1600 very useable which would yield you a significant lift in shutter speed. Just get the initial exposure right as brightening a dull image is the equivalent of pushing up the ISO another EV or two, hence more noise That is, PP'ing an underexposed image taken at ISO 1600 is really like working with an image shot at ISO3200 or 6400. RAW does help with shots like your puss as there is a bit more dynamic range to work with and better ability to recover highlights and lowlights vs JPEG. The cat shot would also benefit from some sort of reflector putting a bit of light back on the shadowed section of his/her head and flanks.

Edit : just saw the prior post which went up as I was composing. Two minds independently thinking of reflectors!


Last edited by southlander; 10-07-2012 at 09:08 PM.
10-07-2012, 09:16 PM   #24
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Getting a reflector (I have some sheets of foamboard I use for "studio" style shooting) in position for an animal shoot generally isn't an option, as it will disturb them, and, generally, make them move somewhere else. If I could position the animals as I like, it wouldn't be a problem, the issue is I have to just capture them where they are, which isn't great for setting up lighting.

Also I find anything over about 800 ISO on the K-r pretty much unuseable. 1600 in very good light, maybe. 3200+ is trashed with noise. I do shoot in raw, but don't have lightroom, I just use photoshop (adobe camera raw) and never seen any noise tools in it, aside from Photoshops general noise filters, which... do a terrible job of removing ISO noise and generally just soften images without removing random colour specks.

Anyway, spot metering and underexposing with two stops down has yielded some workable images, I should probably have taken my CPL off though. With some practice I'll be able to get some decent shots, I think.
10-08-2012, 04:40 AM   #25
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Kona, there should be noise reduction in ACR. The Develop engine in Lightroom is basically ACR with a different user control panel. In Lightroom, it's in the section called Detail and is below the Sharpening sliders. I think it is labelled the same in ACR. Sharpening and noise interact with each other - excessive sharpening accentuates noise in the image. The following is a good quick summary of how to sharpen and apply noise reduction and how they interact:

Using my K-x images, which should be much the same as you get with your K-r, a typical set of Sharpening and NR settings I use at 800, 1600 and 3200 ISO are:

Sharpening ISO800 ISO1600 ISO3200
Amount 60 55 50 <<I'm a little more aggressive than some with Amount, but offset this with fairly strong Masking>>
Radius <<subject dependent - 0.7-0.8 for landscape fine detail, 1.0-1.1 for general images, 1.2-1.4 for architecture, statutes, man made items, etc >>
Detail 50 40 30 <<candidate for fine tuning image by image>>
Masking <<subject dependent - whatever is needed to stop sharpening being applied to plain surfaces, eg car panels, window glass, plain sky, painted walls, maybe 20-60+%.
Hold down ALT while using to see what is being masked off from the Sharpening tool. Black is being masked. In fact holding down ALT while moving any of the
Sharpening sliders allows the effect to be evaluated - very useful.>>

NR ISO800 ISO1600 ISO3200
Luminance 35 50 65
Detail 50 40 30
Contrast 50 50 50 <<I find this adds good micro-contrast>>
Colour 50 70 80+ <<cutting colour noise doesn't degrade image detail much so can be a bit aggressive here>>
Detail 50 50 50 <<LR default value, don't play with this much at all>>

Hope you can interpret the above, I don't know how to format tables in this forum's software - repetitive spaces are stripped out.

These are LR3.6 settings, I haven't upgraded yet to LR4 so don't as yet know if I need to revise my approach.

These are varied as needed for individual images but are my starting reference points. I set each up as Presets, eg I have an ISO800NR preset which I click on and all the above settings for ISO800 are immediately applied. I can then fiddle with this if needed. Makes it very quick to get close to right straight away. After setting sharpening first and then the NR, I sometimes find the image is too smeared and detail lost, then have to go back to Sharpening and maybe reduce sharpening a little further or apply more masking, and then reduce NR until a bit more detail re-emerges. Once you get the hang of it, getting high ISO images about right can be done quite quickly. My one golden rule is: AVOID UNDEREXPOSING IMAGES TAKEN AT HIGH ISO. Every stop of positive exposure adjustment is equivalent to a stop increase in ISO. Eg, an underexposed image taken in ISO3200 is really the same as an image taken correctly at ISO6400. This is why I emphasis using the histogram in the camera when playing back a shot just taken to ensure the image isn't biased towards dark tones. Immediately retake if it is.

By way of example, this was taken on the K-x at ISO3200 during last month's Single in... challenge:



Amount 53 Radius 1.4 Detail 41 Masking 47 Luminance 58, Detail 34, Contrast 52 Colour 100 Detail 50
And this was with Exposure having to be increased +0.84EV in PP as I was drinking at the time and not paying too much attention to what I was doing so was broadly equivalent to a well exposed shot at ISO5900 or thereabouts.
10-08-2012, 04:43 AM   #26
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I'm finding flash to be very helpful.

On Camera Flash with one of these "Flash Bouncers"




Two shoot through umbrellas with a black background



Tim
10-08-2012, 04:44 AM   #27
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I've just re-read your prior post. A CPL filter takes away two stops of light!!!! Animal fur IMO don't create the sort of glare that CPL's address, so you have two stops of higher shutter speed/lower ISO that you are leaving on the table un-utilised.
10-08-2012, 04:45 AM   #28
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I've found that flash can be helpful.

Hot shoe mounted flash with one of these "Flash Bouncers"




Two shoot through umbrellas with a black background


Tim
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