Am I overcooking my photos?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Steven, Nov 3, 2012.

  1. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    I only use Lightroom and I think I have the tendency to bump up sharpening/clarity/contrast and saturation a bit much.
    Do these look overprocessed?



    Thank you.
  2. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    Some people do zero sharpening and like their pictures totally flat. It's really up to your taste. Personally I prefer sharp and color photos. :wink:
  3. littleMT

    littleMT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 8, 2012
    Real Name:
    Lucille Sanchez
    Everybody will have their own preference here, but I also like sharp and colorful images, so I prefer what you did here and think they look fine.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Do they look like you intend them to look? That's the biggest question. :)

    They do look overcooked to me. I like my photos natural, and only do slight correction when something doesn't capture right. I wouldn't process my photos like that, personally. The shadow areas in particular become too strong and distracting. For instance, you see no details in the trees, but they look like dark blobs instead. The fact that you're doing landscapes gives you a lot of leeway though to play with that look as you please. It's tough to say that anything is wrong or unnatural, because landscape photos are meant to be played with.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. yekimrd

    yekimrd Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 14, 2012
    Cincinnati, OH
    Real Name:
    I prefer sharp, contrasty images, too. Nope, these look perfectly natural to me. :smile:

    Remember that sometimes smog or haze in the atmosphere can affect the IQ and make the saturation and contrast in your image look murkier -- this is why I believe in postediting to make photos look more life-like. IMHO, it's the unnatural looking photos that are overcooked; and yet, in the proper context, overcooking can still boost the quality of an image (as long as you don't apply it to every single photo like some people do) :p
  6. addieleman

    addieleman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 5, 2010
    The Netherlands
    Real Name:
    For the first one I'd even try to get some more punch, I'd like the building in the front to lighten up more, maybe with local adjustments. The second one is a wee bit too contrasty for my taste, but I like it anyway.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. yekimrd

    yekimrd Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 14, 2012
    Cincinnati, OH
    Real Name:
    Hmm.. looking at this more closely, I agree with Ned that too much contrast led to less detail in your trees. But my argument is that this is still not overcooked. If this were my image, I would push up the shadow slider in LR4 a bit to recover some of the shadow detail.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Real Name:
    They look good to me. If you're happy with them, then enjoy. :cool:
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Or there's other things that could be done too... for instance, in the second photo I would crop out the trees and beach and leave the more evenly-lit bright scene between them. The framing is just distracting and busy as it is.

    PS, I totally agree with you that there are many elements which can affect optics and make your photo look duller or murkier than "real-life", and that clearing these things up actually makes the photo more realistic. Tonal mapping and clipping the dynamic range is something I always do if the photo suffers from errors resulting from the environment, which I was not able to correct through setup of the shot (ie, not having proper lighting, having to shoot at a bad time of day, needing to shoot at an angle which can't cut out glare from the main light source like the sun, smoke or fog from an unwanted source, or even just using a lens which is too old and lacks modern high-transmission coatings). I consider those types of fixes to be "correction" rather than "processing". That's just in my terminology, lol. :D
    • Like Like x 2
  10. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    I think some of them are a bit oversharpened. Not horribly so, but I can see the beginnings of some halos at the edges against the sky.

    You didn't say what version of LR you're using, but with LR 4 you can get away with a lot of the clarity slider before artifacts show up. As others have said, it's a matter of taste, bur personally I'd probably back off the sharpening a bit.

    They also seem a bit dark to me. Have you profiled your monitor? I feel like these have been adjusted on a monitor that's set quite a bit brighter than a properly profiled monitor would be.
  11. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    Thanks for the feedback. It is LR4 yes. Do you think I should use more masking in the sharpening module? Would that help?

    I usually choose the "medium" contrast point curve in LR. Maybe I should just do with the linear more often to avoid darkening shadows too much?

    I do calibrate the monitor but it's not an IPS monitor so I am not sure how much good that does.
  12. jpcairns

    jpcairns Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 21, 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    Real Name:
    Like others have said, it comes down to preference. For certain photos where colour is the primary factor, I think bumping it up is ok. In others, I like toning down saturation quite a bit when lighting or the mood is more important... like this one I took
    JOSHUA CAIRNS: Paris, France
  13. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
  14. zpuskas

    zpuskas Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 25, 2011
    Santa Barbara, CA
    They look fine to me, nice work!
  15. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    I don't think they're bad at all. I suggest a warming polarizer, or just an 81a for what I thing you were aiming for with the building colors. Then again I tend to push things too far so take my suggestions with a grain of salt.
  16. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    Not to me. If you had just posted them without the question I wouldn't have considered them to be overcooked for a moment.
  17. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    Real Name:
    I would call them rich, but not overcooked.
  18. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    The colors look good to me. I might lighten the images a little though as overall they seem a bit dark.
  19. rhoydotp

    rhoydotp Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 5, 2012
    Toronto, Ont
    Real Name:
    looks pretty good to me, so I would say no ... maybe a little bit more S-curve on the levels :)
  20. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 26, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Real Name:
    I think you havent seen an overcooked image. ohh well like most have said, its a personal thing but for me people that is just getting into HDR tend to overovercook photos like this (which i just randomly googled).

    In digital age theres been this "thing" about PP, some say its good, other say its bad, and i guess thats probably because digital cameras can "cook" images if you shoot jpegs in body, and thats more than enough for a lot of photographers and theres the other half (where i think i belong) that shoot everything (even kids birthdays) in raw and then "cook" em in PP.

    Me coming from film theres no such thing as OOC or SOOC everything needed to be processed somehow, and no one asked a amateur or pro photographer if they overcooked their photos, but yes there were tons of "styles" to how process images, see Cartier Bresson for street photogs, theres even companies based only to develop "film emulation" filters for digital photographers with one click....

    alright this can go on and on... but bottomline is

    for me, this images are not overcooked at all. and i like them... but if you are asking is probably because theres something that you are doing you dont feel comfortable with. just keep playing with your PP software till you find a certain "style" where you feel comfortable with your color and B/W images.
    • Like Like x 1