Beginner Question - Limitations of Post Processing

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by deacon, Jul 8, 2015.

  1. deacon

    deacon Mu-43 Regular

    43
    Jul 7, 2015
    Deacon
    Hey everybody! I'm brand new to Photography - I just got a GM1 as my first camera that wasn't a p&s or couldn't make phone calls. It seems like the perfect entry point as well as the perfect future second camera...

    As I get acquainted with it, it appears that the camera control options can be categorized as either: 1. exposure control (aperture, ss, iso) 2. auto focus control 3. image processing (color modes, filters, white balance) or 4. usability aids (drive mode, guide lines, level, etc.)

    So if strictly considering camera controls ('artfulness' notwithstanding), would one theoretically only really need to be concerned with getting focus and exposure to their liking, with everything else adjustable in post-processing? Whether it's easier to do in camera or in external software is another question, but am correct in my assumption of what's adjustable after the image is collected?

    Thanks in advance - This board seems much friendlier than some others i've found.

    -deacon
     
  2. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Especially if you shoot in RAW, yes.
     
  3. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    With RAW, most of the in-camera processing settings are redundant and generally ignored by the offline converter. Some processing things, like dark frame subtraction, cannot be exactly replicated in post though. Also, if you do video, the processing settings matter, just like with in camera JPEGs.
     
  4. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    "We will fix it in post" is wrong motto.
    If you shoot in raw format, then you can adjust a lot, but still - less adjustments will yield greater results.
    Focus, composition, horizon level - get them right to start with. Exposure can be adjusted in great margins, same as white balance. Noise is harder to beat, so chose ISO wisely.

    Think about post as applying makeup rather than going full cosmetic surgery.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
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  5. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    Hey

    agree with what everyone has said, and thought I may add a quick "alternative" to the usual "photoshop" learning curve.

    For some time I've shot in RAW (like since 2002) and have found that a really quick and easy way to get 80% of the way with an image is with photomatix. Don't go spakko on the adjustments, but for example here is a quick intro into what I do with it in an old blog post

    here: http://cjeastwd.blogspot.com/2011/01/photomatix-4-tonemapping-and-raw.html

    The other weekend I was out and we stumbled across a young Kookaburra who was just on his first flight. Being a bit stupid he let me get close to him while making worried sounds and I was able to take this shot with my FD 300 f4 lens mounted on my G1 Panasonic.

    5369100994_02a897cf9f.

    It was OK, but the exposure was a little dark for my liking. It was under shade and backlit but I didn't really compensate enough to get the best results. So I plonked the RAW into Photomatix and got a much better result ....

    5317791259_f5205bb423.

    Like the old ad used to say "try that with a cheaper foil". I genuinely don't think that this is even possible to do with Photoshop curves and layers with doge and burn and all manner of tricks.
     
  6. maritan

    maritan Mu-43 Veteran

    388
    Oct 30, 2014
    Are you saying that Photoshop could not achieve the same results as Photomatix? I doubt that. I think Photoshop can do anything in somebody's capable hands. The problem with PS is that there's a zillion ways to do one thing. The trouble is finding the one way you like for the one thing want to do.

    That said, to the OP, get as much right as possible in camera. PP is a way to enhance your photographs, not correct the gross errors we sometimes make out in the field.
     
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  7. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    I believe that's what "I genuinely don't think that this is even possible to do with Photoshop curves and layers with doge and burn and all manner of tricks." means. You are conveniently ignoring the "all manner of doge and burn tricks" in there too.

    Probably since 2011 photoshop has moved along (and yes it has actually and NOW includes many tone mapping features not present in 2011) I know it has better raw processing now than then. Certainly if you believe you can achieve the same results with no more than the 4 clicks and in less than 5 minutes I used to obtain it I'll open this up to a challenge.

    However: the main thrust of what I'm saying is that there is a huge learning curve to Photoshop and there are alternative tools that are easy to use , give good results , and are cheaper. The secondary point was to attempt to support that Post Processing yeilds good results.

    Have you used Photomatix and attempted to see for yourself? As it happens I've been using Photoshop since 2000 and still use it. I also use Photomatix and so I'm actually experienced in both. Are you?

    I normally don't like responding to people who aren't the OP, because I wrote what I wrote to the OP (answering his question as phrased, and not to address your views), but I thought it warranted context and an answer.

    PS: please note that end of the post by the OP

    so please, lets keep it that way :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
  8. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    PS
    sinceyou may not have bothered to read the blog post before shooing off your question here it is:


    Instead of laboring for hours I spent some 5 minutes with it on Photomatix. Compared to the previous version the new version is even easier to drive and supports my G1 files directly.

    The first step was to just pick "reduce noise" and not pick "reduce chromatic aberrations". I think noise reduction is helpful and since its a legacy lens the software will have totally zero idea as to which lens it needs to correct for ... not that the FD needs much CA work.

    I also make sure to pick a white balance which most closely represents the shooting situation ... after all its RAW so you can do that again no matter how you shot it.

    Next it opens as a proper image in 16 bits in Photomatix and I can make some quick choices to alter it

    fig2-photomatix4.

    I have found that I like either the enhancer smooth or enhancer default (not being into the garish) and then just wind a little onto the strength and saturation to suite my tastes (nothing severe). Click process and voilla ... get a 16 bit TIFF or JPG if you prefer. Don't get too anal about the colour as Photomatix is not able (as far as I know) to work with managed colour and calibrated displays, so just get the look more or less right and process.
     
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  9. maritan

    maritan Mu-43 Veteran

    388
    Oct 30, 2014
    anchorman.

    I have no idea why my post came off as so inflammatory to you. You said that you doubt PS could do what Photomatix could do even with curves and layers and dodge and burn tricks.

    I said I doubted your assertion. In an entirely cordial way.

    Ultimately, I think any discussion of another member's response that relates to the OP's query is warranted and even welcomed. We might all learn something from it.

    I'll leave it at that. Over and out.
     
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  10. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    Hi

    well I'm confused why a logical explanation has come across as inflammatory, that was not my intention.

    I'm a little lost ... people say too little, get misconstued and fights ensue. So I try to make my points clear and answer your questions and I'm accused of being inflammatory and escalating



    I thought your question was reasonable and I attempted to explain why I made those remarks (and defend what may seem wrong).

    Discussion seems to be dead, so perhaps I'll just not discuss anything on this discussion forum.

    It was (which is why I bothered to answer) but it seems you don't want to discuss it ... just diss my discussion as being aggressive. I even offered to make my RAW open to you so you could have a go ... there was a possiblity I could have learned your tricks (as I'd made mine plain).

    How should I have answered your question?
     
  11. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    Because PS and LR can do tons of things that Photomatix cant for post and many people here actually know and use PS and LR. So, claiming that PM is better for post than PS is not very clever and won't win you any friends.
     
  12. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    ok, so its a religious issue then? Anyway I didn't argue that PM was better universally, only that for someone who didn't want to make the investment in time, that you can some good things quickly with PM and showed what could be done...

    I don't really want to "win friends" (I have them in real life anyway) but the fellow who was asking stated beginner question so I assumed he didn't have a lot of knowledge of PS or LR and I reckon they are daunting (even though I use PS).

    :)

    PS: as it was a cut and paste from a 2011 post I probably should have removed the bit that offended the PS and LR faithful. None the less, without using tonemapping techniques (which I feel are clunky in PS) I feel that what I said is still about right "you can't do as much without resorting to layers and dodge and burn".

    I would be happy to put that RAW file up and someone here can go to the trouble of putting together a "how to" (as I went to the trouble of doing) on that file to help the OP on their weapon of choice.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
  13. maritan

    maritan Mu-43 Veteran

    388
    Oct 30, 2014
    @pellicle@pellicle - Your tone came off a little retaliatory/ confrontational. Maybe I misread it, and it is always tough to convey tone over text. Never mind. Water under the bridge.

    That said, you're right. I have not used Photomatix. 4 clicks on Photoshop? Most likely not - at least not for the process that I use. 5 minutes? Possibly. However, saying that it requires hours per picture is not true. Even professionals whose video tutorials I watch really don't take that much time for their photographs - unless making very fine changes (but then you need PS or some other similar software and it is very time consuming anyway). Your post about Photomatix is very enlightening. I generally prefer something with more specific control - so I hammer the picture into shape using LR and then use a "scalpel" (PS) to get the picture just so.

    That said, in the end, if you are happy with your results with the software you use, that's all that matters, right? Does Photomatix rock your world? Great. Your before and after example shows an obvious improvement in the picture quality and after all that is what PP is about.

    PS is difficult to get into due to the sheer volume of tools and methods available. You have to spend hours learning those tools, but once you understand how to use them, they don't nearly take that much time. LR gives you a set of tools that are less intimidating and do provide some powerful post processing possibilities.

    Anyway, my original assertion remains - I'll state it differently here - relying on PP to fix something later is the lazy way out. Try to get it as close to perfect as possible in camera and just tweak it in PP.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
  14. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    It's as much religious as saying that Earth is flat as was created 10ooo years ago :)
    We all appreciate good advice, but why would someone acompany it with putting something else down?
    Btw, LR is much easier to learn than PS.

    If you want to prove your point then we have almost 200 post challenges threads on this forum (latest here) - recreate winners with PM and the world is all yours! ;)
     
  15. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    Yikes, it's like an episode of Eureka where something turns everyone aggressive!

    To the OP, I think you're missing the fundamental, "photographic" bit: tuning the exposure to get it just right isn't a preliminary action in creating a great photo, it IS the action in creating a great photo. In instances where you can completely nail exposure, there is often little left to do in post. So my advice would be, study up on and master the techniques of exposure and practice, practice to learn what the sensor of your camera can do. Shoot raw, but shoot raw+jpeg because if you don't have time or inclination to post process a file, it'll sit in the digital equivalent of a storage locker until it (metaphorically) rots.

    Approach post processing in a basic way. Say, for instance, this long exposure you do exposed to protect the highlights in a scene, but your shadows are too dark. Focus on the best, maximum image quality way to get those shadows where you want them without too much noise. What you want to be proficient at is compensating for the real limits of your sensor, not "designing" a photo after the fact with a file you bring in. Most of what you need for that are basic (not to say easy) processes like that. As you grow proficient you will start to get more creative and more possibilities will open up to you, because post processing is an artistic rather than merely a skilled discipline.
     
  16. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    The image processing controls you mention tell the camera how to convert the RAW data from the sensor into an image. You can do some further processing of that image later on the computer if you want to but you are restricted in what you can do because you no longer have the original sensor data. If you shoot RAW, which means having the camera save the RAW data from the sensor as a file rather than converting that data to an image format in the camera, then you're responsible for doing everything that the camera would do later in processing yourself, plus any other processing you would like to do as well. If you want the best results you need to shoot in RAW and learn how to process. It's not hard to develop quite reasonable skills but it does take a bit of time and practice to do so.

    Boiling your concerns down to simply "focus and exposure" is essentially correct but that's a little more complex than you may think. When it comes to focus, only the part of the subject you actually focus on is ever in focus but because of depth of field a certain area in front of and behind the focus point will also appear to be in focus. You can change the depth of that area which appears in focus by your choice of aperture and aperture is one of your 3 exposure controls so, strange as it seems, exposure choices have an effect upon focus issues. Exposure also isn't quite as simple as it seems because light meters can tell you how to expose the photo if you want to get a specific result but you may not want that specific result, you may want the image to be darker or lighter than the result that the meter is calibrated to produce so the "right exposure" or "correct exposure" for the result you want to achieve may not be what the light meter recommends. For example, if you have a person standing with the sun behind them, you may want to produce an image in which the person is a black silhouette against a light background or you may want to produce an image in which you can see the details of the person's face and head with a halo of sunlight behind them. Those 2 very different results require very different exposures and both will be different to what the usual meter recommendation is.

    So yes, in one respect you only need to be concerned with focus and exposure but at the same time you do have to be concerned about what kind of image you want to create. It's just that the decisions you make about those two concerns are not just "technical" concerns, they're also artistic concerns, and the technical and artistic elements can't be separated. You said "'artfulness' notwithstanding" but artfulness is never absent from those decisions.
     
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  17. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    sorry, I wasn't aware that I was putting anything down ... I certainly didn't intend that. As I said I use PS myself (and for work).

    actually I have no interest in proving any points. I just wanted to offer the OP some thoughts which I felt may help. I had no doubt that there would be other suggestions of PS, so I thought offering something else was food for thought. I have learned that's not the way it seems to go.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
  18. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    Hi there

    clearly I'm going to have to work on this ... this sort of misunderstanding has happend just recently. I am not sure what to do, perhaps just stop answering. Generally I find that short 'diss' answers inflammatory. However you're not the first to say that my adding more details seems agressive rather than explanatory.

    hmmmm

    As to my tools, sometimes I use PS, other times I get a film look right away with PM. I guess I've been using PM for much longer than PS even had sufficient tools to address the issues, so perhaps its just legacy thinking.

    Certainly the cost of PS and LR is now less onerous with their monthly gig ...

    totally agree, and I had no intention of suggesting otherwise.
     
  19. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    Hi

    I had thought that, but I'm beginning to wonder now...
     
  20. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    Australia
    It takes more than one person to make this forum. Rather than just blaming the other person for making it less friendly, it's worthwhile reflecting on what you yourself have said, and why the argument may have turned south. Things gets lost in translation on a web forum and it's easy for things to be misconstrued or taken wrongly. As a bystander in this argument, I can see why this has happened. I leave it for you guys to figure out yourselves (unless you really want me to go into specifics... I'd be happy to stop biting my tongue).