Archive for the ‘Editing’ Tag

Revisit Your Work

2010 Edit

What a difference three years can make!

I mentioned in a previous post to never go back and delete your older work – always save it as a reference of how far your photography skills have come.  I still hold firmly to that statement, even though your previous work may be obviously sub-par to your current capabilities – keep it as a timeline of your progression in the hobby.  There is another reason, however, why you might want to go back and revisit some of your previous work  . . . your editing skills have probably improved significantly.

Go back and take a look at some of your older images – ones that you still feel have pretty solid photographic elements – take an original copy of that photo and reprocess it as you would do it today.  You may be very surprised at how far you’ve come.

The opening image in this set is from an air show three years ago.  The image capture is pretty solid, with good exposure – and it demonstrates my processing skills circa 2009.  The picture below is the same image, processed with my 2012 skill sets – the difference in skill growth is obvious to me in several areas:

  • Composition: a much better crop demonstrates a better grasp and positioning of the main subject
  • Contrast: more detail (that was in the original image) is now popping out
  • Selective editing: sharpening, shadow work and color corrections are now applied to only the areas that need them

2012 Edit

So don’t go back into your past albums and delete any of your images – but do go back and revisit some of them.  You’ll be amazed at your progress – and may just find some hidden gems waiting for your contemporary skills to be applied.

Stay in focus,

Mark

Don’t Sharpen That Image!

MCT 11 04 2011 27 HDR

Sharpening is a normal part of the editing process, but keep your eye out for the right image to “mix it up” a bit.

We all know the best process to follow – always sharpen last . . . right?  That’s the way I do it (usually selective sharpening in Nik Define) – that is, until I stopped “always sharpening”.  Depending on the subject, maybe sharpening would ruin a budding image.  Consider the mood and feeling of each shot to determine how best to complete it – let it “talk to you”.

  • In the opening image, I purposely softened the shot, along with “richening” up and warming the tones in Nik Color Efex Pro 4.
  • The second image is a sharpened version with a little more contrast in the tones.  It’s not a bad image (at least I don’t think so) – it’s just different.  Given the warm glow of the cloudy sunrise – I just liked the moody (unsharpened version) better.

Just something to think about!

MCT 11 04 2011 27 HDR  1

Stay in Focus!

Mark

White on Darks

Excerpt from “The Shooter’s Blueprint” Series

MCT Vanity

It’s tempting to try and balance the overall exposure on this type of shot – but if you’re exposing for the subject, it’s pretty hard to accomplish!

Shooter’s Blueprint

White Primary Subject on a Darker Background

The settings can always vary, but the chart below calls out the general scenario.

White dark scenario

Unlike with a white on white subject, you will not be able to place the majority of the image into the right half of the histogram – you’ll be using most of the range.  Since you are exposing for a white subject, you will very well end op blocking out some of the dark elements in the scene – that is the compromise we’ll need to make.

Blueprinter’s disclaimer – there is always more than one way to accomplish something, this just happens to be the way that works for me.  All adjustment references are related to Apple Aperture software – other packages have similar adjustments.

Camera Setup:

  • Exposure Program:Shutter Priority
    • This is my preference with a subject that could start moving a little more a quickly, but Aperture Priority or Manual will certainly work.
  • Shutter Speed: 1/750th
    • Depends on lens and subject activity.  For the sample image, I would not go below 1/750th of a second.
  • ISO: The lower the better to keep the noise out of your darks
  • Exposure Compensation:0 ev
    • Take prep or sample shots to determine how far you can push it, but ideally,  you don’t want to clip any of the whites (you’ll see in the original image below that I went just slightly over the line)
  • Focus:AI Servo (Canon speak for continuous focus) with one focus point – varied selection depending on location of the swan and keeping the focal point on the eye
    • This was my choice as I was very close and the subject was swimming around.

These settings resulted in the raw image below:

Original RAW Shot

Original

Original Histogram

Original Histo

Post Processing:

  • White balance: Adjusted for swan
  • Recovery Slider: Adjusted to recover the few areas that were over exposed
  • Black point:Left at base adjustment
    • No need for an adjustment here due to dark background
  • Definition Slider: Moderate adjustments (up to half way)
    • Be careful not to blow any highlights out in the process
  • Shadows Adjustment: Moderate to high adjustments here returning depth and detail
  • Levels Adjustment:Basic adjustments as needed for accurate balance.
    • Be careful of a blueish color cast bleeding over into the white’s of the subject
  • Sharpening: To personal taste and output goals

The adjustments above yielded the results below.

Final Image

MCT Finished Swan

Final Histogram

Final Swan Histo

Your camera’s dynamic range can’t match our eyes – so with a contrasting subject like this we have to compromise.  Ask yourself what is the most important element (obviously it’s the swan here) but I had to sacrifice a little detail in the darker face to ensure I was able to keep detail in the feathers.  The brighter the light, the more difficult this will be.

One Final Tip . . .

As mentioned in similar posts – don’t attempt this type of shot with JPEG, this is a RAW only technique.  JPEG will limit you and yield less than favorable results.

Have fun and stay in focus!

Mark

White on White

Excerpt from “The Shooter’s Blueprint” Series

MCT Vanity Owl

I’ve received a lot of questions lately due to a guest post I did on Photographer Rick Sammon’s Blog regarding capturing a white subject on a white background.  Especially with winter around the corner for some of us, I hope the tips below help.

Shooter’s Blueprint

White Subject on White Background

The settings will vary depending on what the exact scenario is, so let’s use the parameters below.

NewImage

The trick to this shot is to expose as far to the right as you possibly can, without blowing any highlights out.  With a white subject, you want your data to be almost entirely in the right third of the histogram.  Anything less than that and your whites will start to look muddy, and correcting them will result in less than stellar results.

Blueprinter’s disclaimer – there is always more than one way to accomplish something, this just happens to be the way that works for me.  All adjustment references are related to Apple Aperture software – other packages have similar adjustments.

Camera Setup:

  • Exposure Program: Shutter Priority
    • Aperture is not an issue with this shot – there is only one subject and it is fairly far away.  (Depth of Field on this shot was around 1.5 feet)
  • Shutter Speed: For a moving subject, 1/1,000th is minimum – I chose 1/2,500th for these owl shots
  • ISO: 400
  • Exposure Compensation: 1.67ev
    • It’s takes time to get a feel for this, just remember what you’re trying to accomplish (exposing for the whites, as far to the right as you safely can and no blown highlights) takes practice.  It was a bright day and a lot of white in front of me – I started at 2.0ev and came down slightly after consulting my histogram. (oh yea, take test shots before the feathers start flying!)
  • Focus: AI Servo (Canon speak for continuous)
    • I used a cluster of focus points in the right of my frame as this owl was making his runs into the wind (right to left).  Using the right points allows me to leave room in front of the owl.
    • When focusing on a white subject, find some contrast to lock onto (that’s how most focus systems work)  The Owl’s upper chest with the dark bands was perfect and roughly on the same plane as his head and eyes.

Original RAW Shot

MCT Raw owl

Original Histogram

Raw histo

Post Processing:

  • White balance: Tweaked slghtly
  • Black point: Adjustment cranked up about halfway
    • Just shy of blocking the dark claws
  • Definition Slider:Moderate adjustments (up to half way)
    • Be careful not to blow any highlights out in the process
  • Shadows Adjustment: Moderate to high adjustments here returning depth and detail
  • Levels Adjustment:Basic adjustments as needed for accurate balance.
    • Be careful of a blueish color cast bleeding over into the subject
  • Sharpening: To personal taste and output goals

The adjustments above yielded the results below.

Final Image

MCT Final owl

Final Histogram

Final Histo 1

Your digital sensor captures more detail in the right third of the histogram, so the goal here is to get as much of this “white” data in that area – without blowing any highlights – I know, it’s a thin line to walk, but you can get ever closer to it with practice.  Post processing (Black Point, Definition and Shadows adjustments) then allows use of this maximum data to adjust as needed and end up with a great shot!

One Final Tip . . .

This technique is accomplished shooting raw – so don’t go by the image on your camera’s back screen as reference in the field (it will look washed out).  Rather make sure you didn’t blow any highlights (no “blinkies” in your histogram) and create your final image in post.

Have fun and stay in focus!

Mark

Overexposed?? – No Problem (Part 3)

We left off with last time in this series having completed exposure and recovery adjustments.  The next step is to selectively adjust only the highlights.  The easiest (90% of the time) way to do this is the Highlights and Shadows Adjustment sliders (as Aperture calls them).

In this case, we obviously want to reduce the highlights, so that’s the one we’ll work with.  Pull the slider to the right and watch the preview.  It’s takes a little bit of a feel to know how much is too much, but the general rule of thumb is to watch the mid-tones.

Move the slider while watching your preview, as soon as you see the mid-tones of the image being impacted by the Highlights slider – stop.  Now back off the adjustment just a bit.

Highlight Adjustment

The results can be significant, as the histogram below demonstrates.  Notice the better balanced readings, with nothing on the right edge.

Ending Histogram

Compare that to the original histogram before we started with any adjustments.  Major improvement here overall – including a successful recovery of the blown out areas (Only RAW would allow you to accomplish this!

Beginning Histogram

And here is the final exposure result.  The only other adjustment made here was a slight tweak to the Black Point slider.  A usable and pleasing image has emerged from a shot that was destined for the trash can!

5  Black Point Adjustment

Stay tuned . . . more tips to come in the week and months ahead, including one technique where we will actually straddle that right exposure limit – on purpose!

(Part 2)

(Part 1)

Overexposed?? – No Problem! (Part 2)

The first step in this quick process starts with the Recovery Slider (Note, this is what Aperture calls it – other programs have similar functions with different names).  The key feature of this slider is that it’s a “selective adjustment”.

~A selective adjustment only impacts certain areas of the image, based on different criteria.  The Recovery slider selectively reduces exposure and allows recovery of only the most “blown out” areas of the image~

The impact of this slider is significant as it pulls back the most overexposed elements of the image, beginning the process of recovering detail.  We then adjust our second slider, exposure.  Notice that we tweak this just about a third of a stop negative, to assist in our recovery.  Go easy on this slider, and only use it after you’ve gotten everything you can out of the Recovery Slider.  Exposure is a global adjustment, and will impact all areas of the image.

At this point in the image, you can start to see the blown out areas begin to tone down – but it looks like we still have a long way to go (as you can see in the image blow, sampled after these two adjustments were made).

Now, don’t get discouraged yet!  Even though the image still shows a long way to go, look at how much improvement we’ve really made – as indicated by the histogram.

So demonstrated progress has been made – and sets the foundation for everything else to come.  With the highlights themselves now properly recovered, we’re ready to move on to the most visible corrective adjustment.  In Part 3 of this series we will focus on selectively recovering detail in the highlights – this is where the image really starts to “pop”.

Part One

Part Three

 

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