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03-19-2013, 10:32 AM   #31
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It seems to me that a part of the problem in this discussion lies in the definition of the word: "processing." One can think of "processing" as meaning only those necessary steps required to bring the image to life, to visability, i.e., development of film, creating a negative, making a print. In the case of film, good processing involves using good chemicals, proper temperature, etc. In digital photography, it involves the camera's internal processes necessary to create the image and make it visible on a viewing screen. I can hardly think that anyone disagrees with "processing" when the word is used in that manner.

There is another form of processing aimed at improving the image in some manner: changing the lightness or darkness of the image, cropping out some undesired elements, etc. I rather suspect that purists who say they do not believe in processing are referring to this sort of activity. If one is trying to replicate reality through ones photography, it seems that enhancement processing is not appropriate except insofar as may be necessary to bring the image closer to reality, closer to what existed when the image was seen through the camera viewer. If, on the other hand, ones purpose is not to replicate reality, but to make an artistic presentation, it would seem to me that any kind of post-processing whatsoever should be allowable. Perhaps the word "processing" should be reserved for those activities necessary to bring an original photograph to life, to visibility. Further changes to the image might be called something else entirely, perhaps "enhancement" rather than "processing."

I suspect an attorney in a courtroom could make great sport of a photographer whose original images were altered/improved/enhanced by any form of post-processing.


Last edited by ivanvernon; 03-19-2013 at 10:36 AM. Reason: Correct errors/add thoughts.
03-20-2013, 01:20 AM   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
Additionally, the old bifurcation and mix up of what we mean by 'good' and 'bad' keeps creeping in. Some talk about good in terms of interesting, well composed, effective, communicative. Others talk about good in terms of image quality. Clearly an interesting photograph may be poor in image quality, and a high IQ image can be unintersting. And to make things worse, the interesting high IQ image is not necessarily the best photograph either.

Some of the above discussion may boil down to: more expensive and capable equipment and/or film/sensor will be more adaptable to a greater number of situations with greater ease and reliability.
You saved me from trying to say this much worse than you have.

For me, I'm using "bad" to mean a non-compelling/interesting final image, preferrably without technical demerits (such as excessive noise, pixelation, etc.). I presume Normhead may be seeing the potential in his "good off the camera" images, as opposed to an actual good final image. This is very important, as seeing the potential, or lack thereof, helps us pick and choose which images to spend time post processing and which to not bother.

Normhead, can you post some images that you feel were good off the camera and let us know what you did in post/how they were captured (e.g. JPEG with such and such settings)?
03-20-2013, 01:22 AM   #33
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Normhead,

Can you post some images that you feel were good off the camera and let us know what you did in post/how they were captured (e.g. JPEG with such and such settings)?

(Just in case you missed my request above.)

Thanks.
03-20-2013, 06:47 AM   #34
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I'm not sure exactly what you're asking....and I don't shoot in jpeg, there have been a few images that needed no post processing but for the most part, post is part of the process.

Here's a thread I did a while ago, that will give you a small idea of what we go through. All my presets are 6 or 7 adjustments, and I select the preset that best suits the image, so normally I'd have 7 global adjustments done on an image like this at the press off a button. After that it will be another 5 or 20 spot adjustments done on various parts of the image.

To me , this is a great image because I can see the shadow detail, and detail in the sunset, so my exposure has captured detail in both the high and low sections of the spectrum, that I will be able to bring out in post. A bad image has blown highlights or shadows where there is no detail in the lightest or darkest areas of the picture. You want detail through out the image. And the composition is good enough to hold my attention.

It wouldn't make the PEG though..

click on the picture to see the thread.




Last edited by normhead; 03-20-2013 at 06:54 AM.
03-20-2013, 09:17 AM   #35
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That is an excellent example, Norm. Interestingly, I captured an image similar to this in January. But this is a bit of a special case, I think, with the great contrast to "push" the sensor, but also with such a balance in the contrast to give you an interesting enough image in capture.

Most often, in my experience, someone looking at a well exposed and composed image before PP wouldn't think anything of it. They'd most often think it was just too dark (many would probably say that about your capture above. I like dark.). I expose so that I never lose my highlights. That means pulling up the shadows is almost always vital (sometimes just to even see what was captured).

Do you find most of your images are like the one above? Or, would most people not in the know look at your RAW captures and think you missed it? I can say the latter would be true for the vast majority of my images, even very good ones.



I liked the silhouette reflection and strong lines. I brought up the shadows quite a bit in post, but then decided I didn't like it and threw them away again
03-20-2013, 09:28 AM   #36
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QuoteOriginally posted by brntoki Quote
That is an excellent example, Norm. Interestingly, I captured an image similar to this in January. But this is a bit of a special case, I think, with the great contrast to "push" the sensor, but also with such a balance in the contrast to give you an interesting enough image in capture.

Most often, in my experience, someone looking at a well exposed and composed image before PP wouldn't think anything of it. They'd most often think it was just too dark (many would probably say that about your capture above. I like dark.). I expose so that I never lose my highlights. That means pulling up the shadows is almost always vital (sometimes just to even see what was captured).

Do you find most of your images are like the one above? Or, would most people not in the know look at your RAW captures and think you missed it? I can say the latter would be true for the vast majority of my images, even very good ones.



I liked the silhouette reflection and strong lines. I brought up the shadows quite a bit in post, but then decided I didn't like it and threw them away again
Ya, that can happen. You can get so focussed on what you saw that you don't realize you missed it, then spend hours thinking you can still pull it back.

Because I grew up with film, I treat a RAW image like a negative, I "hold it up" and makes sure I have "density" in every part of the image. With film, no one knows you did that because at that point it's a negative and people don't look at your negatives for the most part. Then based on the density of the negative you decide what contrast paper you need to make the best use of it. Shooting RAW, I select the preset that will best process the image. So in this image, even though I used a few brushes to do the heavy work, if I wasn't doing it for a tutorial I would have started with "my boost shadows" preset. To me that's like selecting my paper grade in film. Then after that you need to do the dodging and burning etc. adjustments to parts of the image that still need adjustments. In film I know Richard Avedon's technician made as many as 60 spot adjustments on a single image. I'm sure I reach that number from time to time as well. But like understanding what you're looking at in a negative in film, you also have to train yourself to know what you're looking at in a RAW image.
03-20-2013, 01:28 PM   #37
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Sometimes, having no detail in the shadows can add some drama to what would otherwise by a boring photo - taken on a recent trip to Tasmania:


And talking about secret lakes, we discovered this one that looked like a heart:


A full view of Dove Lake, taken using the in camera landscape stitching mode (note: these days I generally don't process my images - I prefer to get them right in the camera - I don't even bother installing Photoshop on my computer these days):


This is the traditional "postcard" view of Dove Lake and the boathouse that tourists take:


03-20-2013, 02:14 PM   #38
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And to advance one side of the argument, here's some photos I took on my compact camera that I quite liked:



Last edited by Christine Tham; 03-20-2013 at 02:19 PM.
03-20-2013, 02:17 PM   #39
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On the other hand, this one requires specialised equipment.

This was taken hand held, manual focusing, on a 50mm lens at f1.1 with a special macro extension adapter. The effective depth of field in this photo is under 1mm:
03-20-2013, 02:54 PM   #40
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If I want to blacken a part of an image... I can raise the contrast and do that, but if I've not preserved detail with my exposure, I don't have that choice.

The following image ended up being a high contrast image by choice, it didn't start life that way.

03-20-2013, 03:00 PM   #41
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I think using a tripod makes an amateur photographer into an expert...or into a very good amateur. When I look back over pictures I took before I started using a tripod they look pretty bad. Fuzzy - soft. Good photography is challenging, which is why it's so much fun. Now, when I get a good one I beam. Then I scan and and post it here.
03-21-2013, 08:29 AM   #42
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This thread reminds me of something Bob Krist (NatGeo photographer) mentioned during one of his BH seminars (on the BH youtube channel).

National Geographic requires it's photographers to use a camera which can deliver RAW images of at least 6 megapixels. That's it.

It's one of those things that make you go: Hmmmm!?

Pat
03-21-2013, 12:20 PM   #43
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
If I want to blacken a part of an image... I can raise the contrast and do that
Note: if you just want to "blacken a part of an image", a better way is to increase the black level - this will just remove shadow detail without affecting the overall exposure.

Increasing contrast will also clip highlights, and also widen the exposure curve.

For example, in the picture you posted, part of the dog's fur is over-saturated, creating an unnatural glowing look. Maybe this is the effect you wanted, but it does look a bit strange.
03-22-2013, 01:51 AM   #44
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QuoteOriginally posted by Christine Tham Quote
Note: if you just want to "blacken a part of an image", a better way is to increase the black level - this will just remove shadow detail without affecting the overall exposure.

Increasing contrast will also clip highlights, and also widen the exposure curve.

For example, in the picture you posted, part of the dog's fur is over-saturated, creating an unnatural glowing look. Maybe this is the effect you wanted, but it does look a bit strange.
I'd say you have to be careful with whatever method you use. Sometimes just increasing the black level can also lead to strange artifacting. Although, strictly speaking, if I wanted to darken an area of an image I wouldn't increase contrast. I'd probably use curves and adjust it so the falloff of the adjustment is natural, and then perhaps further refine with masking.

Anyway, you had said above that you prefer to get things right in camera. This is a bit of a strange statement I hear often. I think I know what people mean, but it seems to imply that there are serious photographers who don't care about getting it right in camera, so it sounds incoherent; get it right in camera as opposed to "getting it wrong in camera? As a goal"?. Getting it right in camera means a good composition, and capturing all of the details in both the highlights and shadows, exposing to the right as comfortably as you can. If the scene is naturally contrasty enough, it may be more or less fine as a final image, but almost as a rule it is going to have to be post processed. Whether the camera JPEG engine does it or not is irrelevant.

But to get back to how this all got started, I made the observation that the images on the site that Norm had mentioned looked heavily processed; not necessarily poorly (though I would consider several of them too much for my taste), just that they were really finely polished in a way that made me appreciate their Photoshop skills as much as their image capture skills (or to wonder what camera they used to capture the image). Is anyone willing to take the stance that those images are not fairly heavily tweaked and polished in Photoshop? I didn't say the original image was bad and only made good with PP, but only that they received a lot of TLC before making it to the published stage. (Yes, I had said "bad" before, but only in the sense that most images come off the sensor in a RAW state that is very flat and non-compelling.)

For instance, your image of the boathouse at Dove Lake, while nice, could really benefit from further editing (as well as a couple other of your images). Of course, if the image is how you want it then it is already "perfect", so I mean this only in reference to how images that are successful seem most often to be tweaked, polished, and presented. I'm keenly aware that how I finish my own images is not how others would finish the same image, so of course this isn't a purely objective critique. I am, however, trying to step outside of how I would handle an image myself, and think of how the images above relate to a "standard" of the more popular images, for instance of those on PhotoExtract Photography Magazine .
03-22-2013, 02:23 AM   #45
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QuoteOriginally posted by brntoki Quote
For instance, your image of the boathouse at Dove Lake, while nice, could really benefit from further editing (as well as a couple other of your images).
Of course, all the images I posted could "improve", by your standards. It's all quite subjective.

For example, I could have improved contrast, improved white balance, did a bit of cropping.

But I am getting very tired of looking at over-processed images these days. Whilst they all have "punch", if every picture has "punch" that too becomes boring.

I am not against processing - I've certainly spent enough time processing. I'm just saying that lately I am going for the opposite - learning to like what is coming out of the camera. Stopping myself from fixing things.

After a while, I am discovering my eyes adjust to looking at things more naturalistically. I don't need an image taken in the evening to pop like it is taken in the daytime. At the same time, I don't need to tone down the contrast of a mid day sun. Or improve the contrast on a hazy day.

What I liked about the boathouse photo is how natural it looks - when I compare it to what I took 6 years ago (which I spent days optimising and processing) I find there is a structural integrity and authenticity that is lacking in the processed photo from a previous life (even though superficially the processed photo looks more dynamic). When I look at it, I remember how it felt like on the day, what I was thinking when I took the photo, and a whole flood of memories come back.

Just offering a different perspective on things. I know I'll rather take pictures than sitting down in front of a computer any day, so that's what I am going to choose to focus my time. Someone else I know take one photo and then spend the next three weeks refining it. As long as we're both happy, that's fine.
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