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Archive 2012 · Three More Buttes
  
 
Camperjim
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Three More Buttes


Since I have been travelling and doing photography close to full time for the past year and a half, I have amassed many thousands of images. Most clearly fall into the category of travel photos. Most have been shot mid day as I travel through an area. Once in a while I am lucky and get a few strong or even spectacular images, but the vast majority are pretty ordinary.

Ben's thread on the three Castle Valley buttes got me thinking again about my photography and what I can do with my images. Ben asked if his were keepers. That is not my concern. I definitely plan to keep the vast majority of my images. Ben's images were way better than the majority of mine and are definite keepers and maybe even a print or two. I am thinking of making slide shows maybe even with music to feature different areas of the country. I might be able to start and end with a strong image or two and then quickly flash through some ordinary images to give a sense of the grand areas I have been able to visit. I am also hoping to find some way to improve my post processing to make my images pop and become more interesting. That is just a hope with little chance of success.

Anyway here are three images of the Castle Valley area that Ben featured. I was lucky enough to get some decent clouds but even so the images, lighting and compositions are pretty ordinary. I have processed these to my modest skill level. Any suggestions and comments would be appreciated.





Castle Valley - Image 1

  Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XSi    EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens    57mm    f/11.0    1/500s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  







Castle Valley - Image 2

  Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XSi    EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens    50mm    f/11.0    1/500s    400 ISO    0.0 EV  







Castle Valley - Image 3

  Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XSi    EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens    70mm    f/11.0    1/500s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  




Oct 12, 2012 at 05:16 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Three More Buttes


I like your angle and composition in the first two best. And better than mine.

I think I prefer the first shot to the second even though the sky is more dramatic in the second. The light on the butte (Priest and Nuns I think) is best on the first and that carries it for me.

I had driven through CV once, but the ones I showed were my first photos and we did it after driving into town from Colorado so it was a race to find a spot before the light fell and of course the shadows start well before sundown.

Your slide show idea is great. I think that like me, the landscapes we see are just so durn gorgeous that we fall in love with them even when there is no drama. I never tire of seeing them even though we see dozens if not hundreds of the same scene.

I prefer a ho hum shot of great scenery to a very artistic perfectly executed still life. But thats just me.

At web size, I can't see that mine are any better executed than yours. My camera has more pixels so I might have an edge at print size but not much else.

Your images sometimes look over sharpened to me, but not these. The first one in particular has the clean look I strive for but do not always get.

I may even have a special place in my heart for full daylight shots because they tend to be cleaner (less manipulation required). That of course assumes they have good light angle and contrast. I always think of your Factory Butte shot in mid day.




Oct 12, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Three More Buttes


Ben, thanks for the positive comments.

Now that I am not posting on the Landscape forum I have tried to back off on the sharpening. Before I would get frequent comments about "soft" images unless I grossly oversharpened. Now I tend to sharpen as I would for a print and after downsizing I apply little or no additional sharpening.

Regarding overall image quality, you are clearly the master. You cameras, lenses and technique are better. I want good image quality but have made a decision on the cost/benefit ratio. I am sticking with the APS-C sensor and lenses. To me the costs in money, size of weight are not worth what I see as only a small improvement mostly at large print sizes. Also I rarely use a tripod. I just can't detect any worthwhile difference with reasonable shutter speed. Hiking with a tripod is tiring and sometimes downright dangerous.

You have mentioned my factory butte image numerous times. That image was made mid morning in glaring sunshine. Somehow the final image worked. Unfortunately, I don't know if I used Topaz or what I did with the processing that made it work. Just dumb luck because there is no way I can replicate that success. I do keep thinking that I should be able to improve my mid day images, but my attempts never seem to work and are way more likely to make the images worse.










Oct 12, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Three More Buttes


I forgot to mention that I am trying to cut back on the brightness during processing to compensate for the mid day glare. I don't know if that is working


Oct 12, 2012 at 06:35 PM
sadja
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Three More Buttes


Hi Jim,

1,2,3 in that order, with a rather large gap between 2-3 as far as IQ is concerned. On 2 it looks like you used a GND filter over the lens or the gradient filter in post. Drop the gradient filter and paint in the constrast with the brush tool.

I agree with you that for web sized images, the APS-C is plenty. I don't detect any IQ differences vs FF at web sizes. I also dont detect differences tripod vs no tripod, though I am quite sure you would see IQ difrerences there when viewing @ 100%. I don't remember if you're as prejudiced as Ben against B&W, but mid day light often in B&W elevates an ordinary image to a level above.

I used to shoot FF and APS-H. Now, when/if I shoot landscapes its M4/3s.



Oct 12, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Three More Buttes


sadja, thanks. I am not sure what you noted with the processing on #3. I guess it needs a bump in contrast and sharpening and maybe the unsharp mask haze buster. I suspect some of the difference is just the longer distance and intervening haze.

Regarding image quality: I don't own any FF equipment so my comparisons are based solely on the camera review sites and online comparisons. I did some experiments with tripod and handheld shooting. I could detect absolutely no differences at 100% and not even at the pixel level. I only tested at shutter speeds of 1/80 and above with a focal length of about 50mm. For web sized images not only is APS-C sufficient, but even a cheap cell phone has enough pixels. A 600 x 900 web image is equivalent to a bit more than a half megapixel! I always laugh when I see people asking for web sized examples so they can decide on a camera or lens.

I do agree that a good B&W can add drama to a scene. I generally try to avoid them since B&W processing seems to be even more difficult than processing in color.



Oct 12, 2012 at 07:13 PM
sadja
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Three More Buttes


I was commenting on 2. The towers look dark as though a GND filter had been used.


Oct 12, 2012 at 07:40 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Three More Buttes


At shutter speeds above 1/100 there is little need for a tripod in terms of sharpness. But I like it for several other reasons. It allows me to level the camera. It allows me to compose more precisely (more time to view the little things at the edges and corners that you can't see without blowing up in live view. It also allows more precise focusing. Also it allows brackets that have good registration for stacking.

On the down side, it inhibits creativity because once you have the gear set up it is harder to move stuff around.

I just got a 24-70 zoom my first viable landscape zoom lens and have been using it hand held more often. It has AF I can trust (mf is very difficult to do without a tripod). But I really hate leaning trees.



Oct 12, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Three More Buttes


The darker spires in #2 were actually intentional and were burned in to make them stand out against the light sky. I guess that did not work as well as I intended. Also note that the light is darker for #2 and I shot at ISO400 instead of ISO200 for the other two images and the spires were naturally darker.

I no longer have a GND filter. I carried it in a plastic sleeve in the outer pocket of my camera case. I guess I hiked a bit too much with it and it shattered. I am not going to replace it. I had too many issues with flare, dirt, and reflections. I rarely use the software grad filter. Instead to darken the sky, I often select the sky, copy and paste, then set the mode to multiply and then adjust the opacity. I applied that technique to image #1. For #2, I used Topaz with a "dramatic" preset and then cut the opacity and did some dodge and burn. As I said I processed to the limit of my ability in order to cut back on the harsh mid day glare.



Oct 12, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Three More Buttes


ben egbert wrote:
At shutter speeds above 1/100 there is little need for a tripod in terms of sharpness. But I like it for several other reasons. It allows me to level the camera. It allows me to compose more precisely (more time to view the little things at the edges and corners that you can't see without blowing up in live view. It also allows more precise focusing. Also it allows brackets that have good registration for stacking.

On the down side, it inhibits creativity because once you have the gear set up it is harder to move stuff around.

I just got
...Show more

Your explanation is part of why I know your technique is much more precise.

I gave up on worrying about level of the camera. True level often fails to work well in our slanted world. I end up releveling on the strongest horizon line and I try to do that when capturing the image. For composing I move, shift, zoom and often stand on ground that will not easily support a tripod. I also tend to shoot from different heights off the ground where setting up the tripod can be slow or difficult. Of course there is a serious downside to being able to shoot quickly and easily. I often "work" a scene by taking a large number of images. Sorting thru and editing a large number of images can be a real chore and I usually just pick one for processing without a lot of review. Also I rarely use manual focusing. Typically I compose the shot, then decide on the center of focus. I then use AF focusing on the center of focus, set the focus and then recompose and shoot. All of that is really easy with handheld and almost impossible with a tripod.



Oct 12, 2012 at 08:39 PM
 

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AuntiPode
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Three More Buttes


Any number of post processing options. Here's my first take on adding pop to the first image:

















Oct 12, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Three More Buttes


Antipode, thanks. I know you always see how to make big improvements in the processing. The red and brightness you added to the castle does help make the image pop. By comparison, my version appears dark and muddy.


Oct 12, 2012 at 09:36 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Three More Buttes


Karen is about 10 years ahead of me in post processing. I am usually hesitant to use a process I already know if it requires me to judge the results after applied. I suspect I could learn the mechanics, but the judgement not so sure:-(


Oct 12, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Three More Buttes


Antipode, thanks again. I tried to follow your lead and apply the improvements to image 2. My execution is poor but I know you have me headed in the right direction. Maybe I will eventually be able to see what is needed for better processing.





Castle Valley - Image #2, Version #2




Oct 12, 2012 at 10:01 PM
oldrattler
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Three More Buttes


AuntiPode wrote:
Any number of post processing options. Here's my first take on adding pop to the first image:


Karen; exceptional rework... Jim



Oct 12, 2012 at 10:58 PM
oldrattler
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Three More Buttes


Camperjim wrote:
Antipode, thanks again. I tried to follow your lead and apply the improvements to image 2. My execution is poor but I know you have me headed in the right direction. Maybe I will eventually be able to see what is needed for better processing.


Jim; Seems to me you have the photo-techno-ology down and all you need do is cut loose... Process it, erase it, and do it over until you are happy... The only one that need like your image is you, yourself... I took your first image and in LR4 set to contrast +35; Highlights +7; Shadows +4; White -17; Black +35; Clarity +25; Vibrance +25; Sharpened for web... Not too much difference... Jim








Oct 12, 2012 at 11:39 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Three More Buttes


For these I always try to imagine, what would it look like on a page of "Arizona Highways".


Oct 13, 2012 at 12:29 AM
sbeme
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Three More Buttes


A quick play in BW to see what an option might be.
Scott







Oct 13, 2012 at 12:37 AM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Three More Buttes


BTW, thanks, and I'm glad you like the reworks. I offer them in the hope it encourages folks to better master post processing as a way to make their images all they can be.


Oct 13, 2012 at 01:33 AM
ben egbert
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Three More Buttes


Thanks Karen, this is one reason I keep posting stuff here, its mostly about visual judgement. We each have our own preferences of course, but that is informed by the reaction of others.

I thought Jims version was fine and had it been me would have left it. But after seeing yours, I like it better. This is an example of what I mean by visual judgement. But I have grown weary of forums.

On another forum (not FM) over the last 7-8 years I gradually got into the habit of over sharpening to please the taste that was conventional wisdom. It took a long time to reset my judgement. Now I have been very careful about over processing while at the same time I have not completely weaned myself from over saturating.



Oct 13, 2012 at 01:56 AM
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