Shucks... a little image help

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by TNcasual, Aug 14, 2015.

  1. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    I have been a jpeg shooter since getting my E-M10. I don't really have any issue with shooting in jpegs. I understand the limitations. My usage just hasn't necessitated the extra data in the RAW. ( I am not trying to start an argument.)

    That being said, I think RAW would really have helped this image. I really need a little bit more DR to pull it out. This is my first attempt at PP.
    20559669001_bf3db5ecda_c.

    I really like the subject, that I think I will try again.

    Here is the link to the original. Feel free to attempt to PP it. I would be interested in what others can do.
     
  2. JBoot

    JBoot Mu-43 Regular

    106
    Dec 4, 2012
    Scotch Plains, NJ
    Jerry
    I think you need to enable downloading.
     
  3. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    I enabled the download. Although right-clicking and saving the original image could have been done from a browser.
     
  4. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    What application did you use for PP?

    I tried it in Lightroom and I can get the face a little lighter and the building a little darker so the tonal balance looks a bit better to me, but that is "to me". It may not be better to you. I can see slight artefacts along the edge of his face which I think are sharpening but I don't know whether that is from sharpening in camera or later in whatever processing you may have done. I also can't get the sort of gradation of skin tone I'd like to be able to get.

    I'm going to ask some questions/make some suggestions for what they're worth. Take them or leave them as you like. I'm one of those who think that shooting RAW is definitely better but I also have no problem with people who don't want to do the level of processing that RAW can entail shooting JPEG. It's your choice and it's up to you what you do with your own photography.

    First, did you shoot in black and white? I suspect you did because you referred to the file in the link as the "original" and it is in black and white. If so, even though you're shooting JPEG I'd consider shooting in colour and doing B&W conversions later. You retain more information and any of the good processing apps give you a lot more control over how the different colours are rendered in a black and white conversion than actually shooting in B&W does. You're throwing away useful data doing the B&W conversion in camera.

    Second, are you using sharpening in your camera settings? You may be better off reducing your sharpening setting or setting it to zero and sharpening in whatever photo application you're using. Try it and see.

    Now for the big suggestion. The biggest problem I think you have with this image is the exposure. I think the subject is the man's face and it's considerably underexposed. The sunlit areas of the building look good and are well exposed, i's just that they aren't the subject in my view. The man is and he's in shadow and he's dark skinned so he's quite underexposed. You needed to give more exposure and I think you need to learn how to use your exposure meter. Meters are dumb devices, they can't think and they don't know what the subject is. They can only measure the light falling on the sensor and they can't tell whether the subject is darker or lighter than a mid tone, they're heavily influence by how bright the light areas are and how dark the dark areas are, and how much of each area is in the frame, and they don't know how you want the image to look. In this case if you had given more exposure in order to capture the face better there is a chance that you would have blown out the brighter parts of the building facade behind him but that probably wouldn't have mattered to the image because I think you wanted the face to be the focus and there isn't much detail in the brighter parts of the building anyway. If really wide range scenes like this you aren't going to be able to keep detail in both the highlights and shadows so you have to decide which area is the most important and either let some highlights blow out or lose detail in some of the darker shadow areas. You can capture a bit more detail at both ends if you shoot RAW but you will still run into the same problem in wide range scenes and you still have to learn how to choose what you want to retain in the image and how to best expose for that if you shoot RAW anyway.

    You can do a fair bit in processing but there are limits to what you can do, and getting the best exposure for the things that you are interested in within the image makes processing a hell of a lot easier, whether you shoot RAW or JPEG. The worse your exposure is for the areas you're really interested in, the harder it becomes to get good results.

    So really, the 2 big processing hints I'd make for shots like this if you shoot JPEG are to shoot in colour and convert to black and white in your processing rather than in camera, and to learn how to expose for the parts of the scene that are most important rather than simply relying on the meter to give you a workable result. Meters do a great job of measuring the light falling on the sensor but they ignore what the scene is and they don't know what you're interested in. They can give very good recommendations in a lot of cases but scenes like this with a dark subject and strong shadow and highlight areas are the sorts of scenes where the meter recommendation is most likely to be less than ideal and where you need to learn how to give exposure compensation. I'd make the same suggestions if you were shooting RAW but I think they're even more important if you do shoot JPEG because you've got less data to work with.
     
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  5. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran

    646
    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    siftu
    I agree with the points DavidA made especially about exposure. Saying that there is a lot of information still in there. This was done with some basic adjustments in LR. It does suffer from some jpeg artifacts

    RDcR9yOh.

    Full size

    http://i.imgur.com/RDcR9yO.jpg
     
  6. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    Thanks! I really appreciate the feedback. This is all great stuff.

    I know that I am not a technical photographer. One of the reasons I bought the E-M10 was to become one. It is a work in progress. But it sure is a great deal of fun making images!

    As for the subject. This man was most likely homeless, but most definitely mentally ill. He was constantly moving, back and forth, up and down. That made it very difficult to get an image. Also, I was using my Super Takumar 50 1.4, so focussing was not mft AF fast. Lighting was also an issue. It being a bright sunny day, but he was in dappled shade (as evidenced by his shoulder.) Really it was a subject that really challenged my nascent skills.

    Here's where things probably contributed to my problems. Yes, I like to shoot monochrome on a full color sensor. I know that is a little silly. I have actually been meaning to start a thread along these lines - I like monochrome images, but shooting in color and converting later is difficult for me. The color image in the EVF just doesn't have the qualities that help me compose well. When I shoot color, things tend to be busy, poorly composed, or I simply do not like the results. When I shoot monochrome I feel like I get more keepers. One of my theories behind this is being Red-Green weak, I have a more difficult time discerning light/dark, texture or gradients with colors. This affects my composition. When shooting monochrome I eliminate all color variances and see only light and shadow. I find this easier to compose. (This may all be idiotic nonsense, I don't know) So I tend to shoot monochrome. Really the best solution would be to shoot Raw plus jpeg. That way I can compose in monochrome but retain the full raw for conversion later. (My harddrive will kill me.)

    As for this image. I did the PP in Apple Photos. The most recent version is an actually decent processor for minor things. I am going to revisit this image in Photoshop. I think the image is worth the effort.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
  7. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    682
    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    Scott
    I always shoot raw+jpeg. I usually ignore the JPEGs and process the Raws; in your case, you can almost always use the JPEGs and ignore the Raws. I have 70k+ images which take a bit more than a terabyte, which today costs well under $100. But then you have the raw image when you need it. Also, if you shoot R+J, you can visualize in monochrome but still have the full color raw image.
     
  8. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    As you said, if you shoot JPEG+RAW, you will still get the monochrome viewfinder/screen image that helps you but the RAW file will be the colour image. If you're shooting JPEG+RAW you've got the JPEG as a guide to what you saw but you'll have a lot more flexibility in your processing and monochrome conversion if you work with the RAW file.

    As for your hard drive, you can always throw the original JPEG away once you're happy with your processed RAW file, or you could just shoot RAW but if you leave your settings as they are apart from the file setting you'll still get the monochrome viewfinder. Then again, I could make the usual comment and say that storage is cheap but my approach is simply to cull my photo library severely at regular intervals, just deleting all of the "also rans" that really don't make the grade.
     
  9. listers_nz

    listers_nz Mu-43 Veteran

    256
    Nov 22, 2013
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Simon
    If you are worried about hard drive space and only want to keep JPEGs, then you could shoot RAW+JPEG. Then review the JPEG on your computer and if you are happy with it delete the RAW. Otherwise process the RAW into a JPEG you are happy with and delete the original RAW and JPEG. (Or if neither are any good, then delete both and pretend it never existed :biggrin:) Obviously that approach won't suit everyone, but it is your data.
     
  10. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    Seems like the consensus is Raw+jpeg. That probably would be for the best.

    Thanks.
     
  11. JBoot

    JBoot Mu-43 Regular

    106
    Dec 4, 2012
    Scotch Plains, NJ
    Jerry
    I have to agree with everyone on the Raw+jpeg for you. ... and btw, I like the pic! If you hadn't shared your story of this gentleman, I would have said he was content and still in a moment of thought.

    I had nearly an identical result as Siftu posted above with just a quick change on three sliders... +100 on shadows, +10 contrast and +30 on whites to draw additional separation just up to the point a notch below clipping.

    One additional suggestion is that you might like to venture into trying a couple of the B&W converters out there. I think you can get free trials of most and you might like the options to leverage them for shots like the above, where Jpeg didn't work for you straight away and looking to squeeze that something extra out of RAW. They will allow you to really derive some excellent results and all have numerous presets which quicken the process as well as tons of training/demo videos out there. Some of the most popular are:

    Nik Silver Efex Pro
    OnOne Perfect B&W
    Topaz B&W Effects

    As far as approach to this shot DavidA said exactly what I was thinking in regards to exposure. One of the masters at shooting scenes like this, while not a street shooter, is wedding photographer Cliff Mautner. You can find him all over YouTube and he has many videos on exposing for such scenes without flash. He's a Nikon Ambassador and probably in the top 10 of wedding photographers in the world. Super contrastly is his trademark style of wedding shots and he always jokes that his histogram always looks opposite of what is considered "proper" because he brings in so many shadows opposed to strong highlights.

    An alternate method to shoot a scene like this would be to leverage flash ... though you'll lose all ability to be stealthy. Use manual, expose for the background and then dial in the flash to fill your subject as desired. Shutter speed controls background exposure, flash provides exposure/additional exposure for the subject. There are also numerous videos on the web showing exactly how to do it with some of the best being done by Joe Brady (though he's selling Pocket Wizards in the videos... as well as Sekonic meters). You don't need either to leverage basic fill flash outdoors, which would allow you to better balance the image... but again you lose the ability to be stealthy.
     
  12. Hendrik

    Hendrik Mu-43 Regular

    104
    Feb 27, 2015
    Wayland
    This is an effective capture and well worth taking into PS. This is the result of two Levels layers, one for general lightening and the other (with mask) for lifting the face, a Curves layer for contrast (using the same mask - brings out detail in the face) and a crop. In the crop I chose to emphasize the movement from darkness into light. Curves would give more control. (TNcasual, if you want the .psd, please ask.)

    Tennessee.

    Another major argument for shooting .orf is the greater bit depth which would help with slow gradients such as you might encounter in faces. This is a great face. That it is dark skin is a complication as much from sociological issues as technical - there is substantial feeling abroad that dark skin should not be overly lightened (i.e., to mid tones) with the corresponding distortion of reality. Had you exposed the face as or near a mid tone, the bright surroundings would have blown out as well as the patch of sun on his shoulder, but dealing with the face might have been easier, with fewer bits of luminance noise. Even so, I suspect that most of what is already there would be read as skin texture rather than sensor artifact, especially in a print.
     
  13. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    Thanks. I would like to see the .psd.

    Like I said, I have only tried a quick and dirty edit. I will try again in PS.

    And I agree that the image is worth spending the time on. That is the biggest reason I asked for the help.
     
  14. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    For comparisons here's my take, all done in Lightroom. I did my basic adjustments for themas's face which caused the building on the right to blow out badly so I used a graduated filter to tone that area down and produce a more balanced background. I have no idea how dark the subject's skin tone actually was so all I could do was to keep it dark while lightening it enough to bring out the detail. It is a wonderful face.

    20389916939_8c7a360460_o.
     
  15. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    I like a little more detail in the face, but the was just shadow/highlight adjustments in PS. Just to note, it's great image and well worth the PP effort.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    564
    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Denny
    I agree with this 100%. I also shoot in JPG a lot but do process those images through Lightroom. Though yo do not have the latitude you have with shooting in RAW, using Lightroom you can still do a lot of manipulation with JPG. I use Lightroom 5 on my current machine but still use Lightroom 2 on my older machine. If you are interested in B&W then consider adding Silver Efex to Lightroom to get some great B&W effects.
     
  17. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    564
    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Denny
    Help this image in what way? What don't you like? What is it you want to improve? Just changing the cropping might achieve what you are attempting to achieve. Check out this video to see how someone improves such shots. Notice how he tones down the brights to bring more focus on the subject. In your image the subject is dark and the bright walls are a distraction that draws a viewers focus away from you subject. If it was me I would crop at least one and maybe half of the second of those white columns out of the image completely and crop that square behind the subject out then push the contrast up.
     
  18. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    I finally found the time to work on this. I took it into PS. The Shadow/Highlight did bring out much more detail than I was expecting. I adjusted some brightness, levels and contrast and added a little dodging on the face. I am not certain this is the best I can do, but it is definitely much better than my first attempt.

    Thanks for the help, everyone!

    20659936122_5bc790a22d_b.
     
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