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Learning just a little bit about post processing

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Jock Elliott, Nov 2, 2014.

  1. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Everybody knows that Real Men Don’t Read Manuals. It’s like asking for directions – according to current folklore, fully testosterone-laden dudes “figure it out for themselves.” To do otherwise is to violate The Code.

    Real Men, however, if they become sufficiently frustrated, might consult some reference materials. That’s what happened to me. I have been chasing what I thought were some spectacular sky shots, and sometimes the camera just didn’t come close to delivering what I was seeing with my eye.

    Recently, though, DXO announced DXO Optics Pro 10, and since I already owned Optics Pro 9, I was poking around the new features to see if I wanted to fork over some money for the latest toys. This exploration led me to a section on their website entitled “Tutorials,” and the next thing you know, I was violating The Code.

    Here are some of the results.

    In this shot, I felt the sky was pallid and the dark areas were murky.

    FX200_Frear_Sunset_002_Medium_.JPG

    With a little bit of slider magic, I was able to get to here, which is much more like the actual scene as reported by my eyes.

    FX200_Frear_Sunset_002_DxO_Medium_.

    A couple of weeks ago, I captured this sunset shot, but it never properly showed the real magic of what I saw, which was the sunset illuminating the edges of the clouds on the left.

    FZ200_frear_sunset_053_Medium_1.JPG

    With some help from DXO 9, I was able to get to here, which I think is better.

    FZ200_frear_sunset_053_DxO-1_Medium_.

    I’m beginning to think, as they said in Pirates of the Caribbean, The Code is really "more like guidelines."

    Cheers, Jock
     
    • Like Like x 2
  2. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    if no one saw you watching the tutorials....you never watched the tutorials :wink:
     
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  3. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Oh, riiiiiight. Thanks for reminding me.
     
  4. Gubrz

    Gubrz O.* Gonzo's & Bentley's Dad

    979
    Jun 5, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Eliot
    BEHOLD! *puff of purple smoke*.... the powaaaaaaah of the slidaaaaaaaahz!
    *sliders zooming left and right all over in the air*
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Oh yeah, post processing is a HUGE part of getting images across. I mean think about in terms of the kinds of sky shots you like to do. The sky and the clouds are HUGE and all of the peripheral darkness or whatever makes them seem that much more dramatic and there's so much that goes into making a gorgeous sunset seem so dramatic in real life. And then you take a photo that either pushes it away with a wide angle lens or draws it in with a telephoto (but only a really small PART of it) and shoves it all into a tiny little two dimensional frame. You have to try to compose what's going into that tiny frame with an eye toward the final image, but you're still doing fundamentally destructive work here. And then you pull the image up on the computer and all of that drama is GONE. So then you have to work with the information hiding in the file to make it more dramatic - to bring the impact back. The irony is you're making it far less accurate but you're doing a better job of conveying what you were experiencing visually and emotionally when you saw it. So what's more realistic - an "accurate" shot that doesn't convey the drama of what you saw and felt, or a dressed up shot that's less realistic but conveys the visual and emotional more clearly? I say Door Number 2 Monty!

    Here are two shots from the RX1 that I particularly like - I'm sure you've seen them both at one time or another. Both as they presented themselves to me on the computer screen when I initially saw them (before ANY processing other than opening the raw image) and how they looked after I played around with the processing for a few minutes. And in both cases, the processed image is less technically "accurate" or "realistic", but in both cases the processed image also does a much better job of communicating what I saw and felt when seeing the scene in person...

    15506078227_045e997943_h. Last Night Sunset-15 by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    14551712857_d9e59c95dd_h. Last Night Sunset-15-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    32405797.1e7b5ef6.1600.
    Coudy Positano-99 par Ray S., on ipernity

    9363824583_b4f09534a4_h. Coudy Positano-99-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    Some people find post processing somehow dishonest - I find it the only way to communicate the reality you experienced in person, so to me it's MORE honest... Of course, then the challenge is to refine your touch so you're not over-doing it because it's extremely easy to go way too far - I've done it a lot and still do sometimes. But ultimately that's a matter of taste, so you can only trust your own...

    This is all quite aside from how much of the manual you need to read to learn your software, but they key is you really need to learn your software! :biggrin:

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    IMHO, learning to process well does more for the final image than any piece of gear........ by a mile.

    Just as an example, take Ray's photos above. I imagine that if he had taken those same shots years ago when he had his wee LX3 and processed them the way he does, they would have been better images than what he got SOOC with the amazing RX1. Not on a technical pixel-level basis (which matters not at all), but would have more accurately depicted what he saw in his mind's eye when he released the shutter.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Yeah, the original files are just raw material before the cooking begins. But the better the raw material, the better end product after cooking. I'm sure my processed shots with the LX5 (never had a 3) would look a lot better than my untouched shots with the RX1, but wouldn't come close to the processed shots with the RX1, and not just at the pixel level either. There's just so much more to work with in those RX1 files that I seem to be able to get away with anything I decide to try. Every other camera short of full frame, even really good APS sensors, has limits I've been able to find and feel like I was constrained by. But the 24mp sensor in the RX1 (and D610/750) and, to a somewhat but not radically lesser extent, the 16mp sensor in the Df allow me to do almost anything I can imagine and make it work. I'll never forget the first few times I opened raw files from the RX1, which was my first experience with full frame. Within a couple of minutes of starting to play with those files, I was out of my mind with excitement. Just going nuts, honestly. I couldn't believe it. Now I have access to it all the time, but I never take it for granted, not even for a second... The image I put into the camera can be just about as good regardless of whether I'm using the Df or RX1 or G7X, but the images I can pull out of the camera on the back end are radically different with the full frame gear than with anything else...

    -Ray
     
  8. Gubrz

    Gubrz O.* Gonzo's & Bentley's Dad

    979
    Jun 5, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Eliot
    oops! sorry for duplicate(luke took care of it for me already)
    im in hotel and it kept asking me if i wanted to leave the page when id hit submit, and it was acting weird and confused my brain!
    so i just closed the window and didnt even THINK it had posted it at ALL! let alone multiple times... hopefully it didnt post all 72 times i tried, lol!
     
  9. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Ray,

    You have articulated my angst perfectly. It's communicating the emotional response to what we're seeing and shooting that is the real issue.

    "The sky and the clouds are HUGE and all of the peripheral darkness or whatever makes them seem that much more dramatic and there's so much that goes into making a gorgeous sunset seem so dramatic in real life. And then you take a photo that either pushes it away with a wide angle lens or draws it in with a telephoto (but only a really small PART of it) and shoves it all into a tiny little two dimensional frame. You have to try to compose what's going into that tiny frame with an eye toward the final image, but you're still doing fundamentally destructive work here. And then you pull the image up on the computer and all of that drama is GONE. So then you have to work with the information hiding in the file to make it more dramatic - to bring the impact back. The irony is you're making it far less accurate but you're doing a better job of conveying what you were experiencing visually and emotionally when you saw it. So what's more realistic - an "accurate" shot that doesn't convey the drama of what you saw and felt, or a dressed up shot that's less realistic but conveys the visual and emotional more clearly? I say Door Number 2 Monty!"

    Not only is your post-processing excellent, but so is your writing.

    Thanks!

    Cheers, Jock
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    So, Luke, if I read you correctly, it's better to have a black belt in post processing than to have a black belt in camera purchasing (if you have to make a choice). Of course, if you can manage both . . .

    I am taking your comments -- and Ray's -- truly to heart.

    Thanks!

    Cheers, Jock
     
  11. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Absolutely. Unfortunately that means it is a skill and requires practice rather than just opening the wallet. I really wish it were as simple as just getting a grand total and writing the check (I'd be a much better photographer then).

    And it doesn't even mean one needs to process with a heavy hand, but one needs to be able to manipulate the slidaaaaaaaaahz (to put it in Eliot's vernacular) to get the final image to look like the one you had in your head when you captured the data with your data collection machine.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  12. EasyEd

    EasyEd SC Regular

    143
    Dec 22, 2010
    Hey All,

    All by Ansel Adams... from brainyquote...

    A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed

    You don't take a photograph, you make it.

    The negative is comparable to the composer's score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.

    Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.

    Yes post processing always has been and will be key to photography...

    Nice changes to the images above...

    -Ed-
     
    • Like Like x 3
  13. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I think all of those quotes by Ansel still hold up really well today, except for this one. Now the raw file (or jpeg if that's all you've got) is comparable to the score and the processed version is the performance. But unlike with darkroom prints, once you're finish processing a digital image, each print is basically identical if you use the same settings and printer. So you don't get the subtly different performances...

    -Ray
     
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