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Dramatic Tone filter vs. Lightroom

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by rkell, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. rkell

    rkell Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 7, 2012
    I had a recent order for a large print (24x32") as part of a multi-print installation in a client's home. They wanted an image that they had seen that I had posted on Facebook that was a conversion to B&W of the in-camera (E-M5) color Dramatic Tone filter JPEG. While the image looked perfectly adequate at web-resolution, it clearly wasn't going to cut it for a print, much less a large-scale print.

    So, I went into the RAW file to see what I could do in Lightroom to re-create the overall look and feel of the filter while minimizing the excessive grain/noise and a few other weird things the filter did (a few dark patches on ground and clouds). Comparison results below, with the OOC file posted at the end.

    It took more work than I thought, but I am pleased with the results. I am confident the final large print will look great, even given that it is up-rezzed to 300 pixels per inch from 138 pixels per inch (original file cropped slightly) at that print size.

    One extra observation: I likely wouldn't have seen that composition and the correspondence between the clouds shapes and the hill shape if I had not had the Dramatic Tone filter turned on in the E-M5 at the time. Just one of the many advantages of Live View through the EVF!

    B&W JPEG conversion of the in-camera Dramatic Tone filter:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Re-worked RAW file in Lightroom:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    original out-of-the camera RAW file:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    • Like Like x 2
  2. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I'd like to see the color version of the Lightroom processing. I think it might be quite nice too.

    I shoot in RAW and process in Lightroom. I seem to take a lot of cloud shots and I find it hard to resist processing cloud shots to give a much more dramatic portrayal of the scene than what I actually saw. I took this shot yesterday and processed it for drama in the clouds:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Lightroom really lets you get some very nice dramatic tone results and I didn't think it took me much work to get this result. I dropped the exposure and highlights a little, did a points curve adjustment to accentuate the clouds, raised the shadows to fix the darkening of the midtones from the curves adjustment, and did a small negative blacks adjustment just to beef up the very bottom of the range. A touch of clarity and that was it apart from sharpening.

    I swapped from Aperture to Lightroom around 3-4 months ago and it took me a while to start to get used to the different settings and approach but I'm glad I swapped. I can produce results I like more in Lightroom, and get there more easily as well, plus there are some things like chromatic aberration and defringing that I never came to grips with in Aperture which are simply very easy in Lightroom.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Interesting. Sometimes the filters reveal possibilities that we wouldn't normally see. I like the result. :thumbup:
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Nonnit

    Nonnit Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 19, 2012
    It looks like you got rid of lot of the noise in the sky in the LR, the contrast in the ground is a lot lower in the LR. (not saying it is a a bad thing just different)

    I am glad that you cropped out the small tree on the far left in the original!! It shows that you have eye for balance!

    As for sharpness/detail for this kind of print size (24x32") I have no clue, I don´t print that large.

    After taking a second look before posting this...........I kind of like the contrasty foreground in the dramatic tone filter a bit more (lower half of picture)
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    I think the brutal first picture (B&W of Dramatic Tone OOC Jpeg) is far better than the tame Lightroom version : for what the client wants.
    Of course if it just wouldn't print so huge without tweaking then you did the right thing ... maybe.
    • Like Like x 2
  6. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Great shot,
    If you look at the trees especially the left one you see that LR is much cleaner.
    To get the grainy JPG affect you can add grain to the photo and make it old fashion. I do not know what are your LR changes you might beef up the white a little and lower the blacks until they almost touch the edge of the histogram. This technique gives a great contrast.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Nonnit

    Nonnit Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 19, 2012
    There is a lot of noise in the sky of the first pic, but LR can do graduated filter (upper half), however printing this big is not what I am used to, the final print is what counts in this case.

    It is difficult to say this or that about RAW file without having access to it yourself.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    Looks good..i think you captured the effect well.

    On the subject of making clouds pop, is there any rules of thumb for post-processing? I often use various presetds or playing around with contrast, but I was wondering if theres a more methodical theory to getting that effect from fairly flat looking clouds.

    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43 App
    • Like Like x 1
  9. rkell

    rkell Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 7, 2012
    I should have said that in my LR processing I was not trying to get quite as much contrast as in the Dramatic Tone version (it looked a little overcooked to me).

    Another point: in general for side-by-side photos, I think it's really difficult to not immediately prefer the more constrasty, more dramatic version of most images. I do find with reflection after looking at an image for awhile that I will scale things back a bit. But everyone's balance point is different.
  10. rkell

    rkell Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 7, 2012

    Here's a summary of what I did for that image:

    • Exposure and Blacks to suit image
    • Highlights: -100
    • Shadows: +85
    • Clarity: +75
    • Tone Curve: Medium Contrast
    • boosted Yellow, Orange, Green, and Blue substantially in B&W Mix conversion

    Gradient filter on sky:
    • Exposure: -1.00
    • Clarity: +50
    • Contrast: +50

    Mask on hillside:
    • Contrast: +50
    • Clarity: +50
  11. rcky

    rcky Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 6, 2011
    Washington state
    Have you tried using Olympus Viewer 2 on the RAW?
    I'm wondering if you can further fine tune the results of its dramatic tone filter vs the in-camera filter.
  12. rkell

    rkell Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 7, 2012
    Good question! My gut feeling was that the Dramatic Filter introduced too much noise/grain into the skies (plus some anomalous dark patchy blobs) that would be too tough to get rid of.

    Lightroom 4.x allows one to deal with noise both globally and using masks for selected areas, so I went that direction. Plus: there was sort of the challenge of trying to re-create what the filter was doing.
  13. rkell

    rkell Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 7, 2012
    Update: the MetalPrints arrived today from Bay Photo.

    The 24x32" photo was up-rezzed in Lightroom to 300 pixels per inch from the 138 pixels per inch native 16MB file from the E-M5 (minus slight cropping). Even at a viewing distance of 12 inches, things look very sharp and detailed. At a reasonable viewing distance of 3 to 5 feet it's great.

    Also noted: the processing does not look overly contrasty in the print - the tonal transitions are very smooth and the scene has a natural feel.

    While the MetalPrints are very pricey, they are a nice way to present work and don't require any framing or glazing. I ordered the "White Satin" finish ("smooth, very even and soft appearance. Great for portraits, weddings and if surface reflection is a concern.") rather than the glossy.
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