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Archive 2013 · Some post processing guidelines
  
 
ben egbert
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Some post processing guidelines


It seems to me that some things we do in post processing have visual limits that we could define and follow.

How much DR to add is one item. I took a Photomatix class 4 years back and was told we needed about +/-3 stops for our brackets to match the additional DR of the human eye. I never liked HDR software and just use manual blend. I can usually be happy adding Ĺ on brightness and maybe -1 stop on skyís for a well exposed image. Deep shadows may need more.

Sharpening: I formerly used visible halos as a guide but eventually the improved sharpening actions were halo free but crunchy looking. This is a hard one to call. One key is to never use sharpening to fix out of focus, just discard the image.

Clarity. It is easy to add clarity and maybe too much is bad, I like it and probably go too far. Anyone have visual clues to determine when you have gone too far? One tip I have is to look at small detail and if it is diminished, I have gone too far.

Saturation. I tend to over saturate and recently did a poll at landscape where I got a feel for where I need to be for that particular forum. What do you do to determine when you have gone too far?

Color cast. I do poorly on color accuracy tests, so I need some mechanical method to find and fix color cast. Any advice here?

Add other items if you have any. The idea here is not about technique, but about improving visual judgement.



Sep 02, 2013 at 07:52 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Some post processing guidelines


Here's something of mine related to "mechanical method" to find/fix color cast you might take a look at.

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1237983/0?keyword=double,check#11780377

For me, all others (sharpening/sat/clarity) come after this. I find that having a color cast leads people to push these areas too hard in an attempt to overcompensate for what the cast steals. Thus, color cast is first correction for me.



Sep 02, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Paul Mo
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Some post processing guidelines


Rather than HDR or blending - which I am averse to. I let images fall as they may. I'm also keenly aware of the quality of light - which, as you know, is the holy grail. Get a good subject in great light and you're halfway there.

If you make a great image in camera then post is simply a matter of tastefully and carefully optimising an image. Less is more.

Sharpening I often leave at LR's default. I will, at times, sharpen eyes though.

Clarity I do use sometimes - usually at +5 at the most.

I rarely use saturation but do touch vibrance.

As for color casts - you work on a calibrated monitor in your basement, don't you? Without a manual aid such a color checker passport it's all eyeballing.

As far as visual judgment goes I, at times, have large photo books on hand. I never use them when post processing but they serve as reminder of 'natural' color and letting some parts of an image (usually shadows) fall where they may. Often the books I borrow from the library are documentary works shot on transparency - often Fuji Provia.

p.s. I sometimes go into HSL and massage Hue or Luminance in an area - this is in LR.



Sep 03, 2013 at 12:50 AM
ben egbert
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Some post processing guidelines


Paul Mo wrote:
Rather than HDR or blending - which I am averse to. I let images fall as they may. I'm also keenly aware of the quality of light - which, as you know, is the holy grail. Get a good subject in great light and you're halfway there.

If you make a great image in camera then post is simply a matter of tastefully and carefully optimising an image. Less is more.

Sharpening I often leave at LR's default. I will, at times, sharpen eyes though.

Clarity I do use sometimes - usually at +5 at the most.

I rarely use saturation
...Show more

Sounds like minimalism. I have a tendency to over process and have trouble getting back to where I need to be. I suppose I don't have enough of those great light shots.

I don't consider what the camera does as natural however. What my eye sees is natural, at least to me, and in most cases it sees more than the camera.

I use a color checker to make a camera cal, have a calibrated monitor. But I don't have a calibrated eye.



Sep 03, 2013 at 02:02 AM
butchM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Some post processing guidelines


I think it may be difficult to get a consensus on a firm set of "rules" that covers the majority of tasks ... often, the rules are set by the genre one is shooting ... what works well and is the status quo for one area of expertise could be too much for others, and not enough for folks working in yet another area. What seems to work for me, is I let the image, and it's inherit data dictate to me the parameters of what I can and should do to give it the most impact for the viewer ... if that means bending or even breaking a few "rules" without sacrificing image quality ... so be it.

I tend to be a minimalist, though, I feel if I have to move too many sliders after the capture, I may not have done the best job I could before I depressed the shutter release. However, If punching up a bit of contrast, clarity, saturation and vibrancy will contribute to the cause ... I'm all for experimenting just to see what it could add to the mix.

On the issue of color cast ...even using WB targets and custom camera profiles ... you can often run into problems of getting the color exactly accurate ... when working in a studio environ with total control over the lighting, this can often be achieved fairly easily ... working in conditions where you don't have complete control (like when I am shooting action night sports under stadium lighting) ... it's almost impossible to get 100% accurate color on each and every image ... so then what I strive for is pleasing color ... if it's a notch or two off of what pixel peepers would claim as absolute accurate ... but looks natural and pleasing for the conditions, I consider that a win.



Sep 03, 2013 at 03:26 AM
Bernie
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Some post processing guidelines


Good luck!

Just as an eye can adjust to the scene's DR within a 3 degree diameter area, it is constantly adjusting WB as well, let alone focusing within that area.

Most writers have concentrated on the DR thing which some feel they need to justify HDR (and/or blending). My contention is that the eye in its ever seeking to WB the scene, is in fact, making a more colorful scene less so. Should this be justification to oversaturate? You be the judge. We all see our world differently.

So sorry, I really can't give you pointers. Not only is each of us unique, but each image has a story to tell, and that story needs to be tweaked accordingly.



Sep 03, 2013 at 02:11 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Some post processing guidelines


butchM wrote:
I think it may be difficult to get a consensus on a firm set of "rules" that covers the majority of tasks ... often, the rules are set by the genre one is shooting ... what works well and is the status quo for one area of expertise could be too much for others, and not enough for folks working in yet another area. What seems to work for me, is I let the image, and it's inherit data dictate to me the parameters of what I can and should do to give it the most impact for the viewer
...Show more

Good point on genre. I am a landscape guy and color is probably not as critical as for example portraits.

The object of this post was to gather some useful rules of thumb for various aspects. To be useful for all not necessarily just for me. The ultimate goal is visual judgement. The techniques are legion, but in the end, we need to know when to stop and when we have more to do.

What I see on the presentation forums is lots of comments like it has halos, or its soft or over sharpened or it has a magenta cast or its too saturated. In other forums I see lots of "how to" posts. What we don't have is visual judgement training. How to learn methods to determine these things prior to presentation.







Sep 03, 2013 at 02:15 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Some post processing guidelines


Bernie wrote:
Good luck!

Just as an eye can adjust to the scene's DR within a 3 degree diameter area, it is constantly adjusting WB as well, let alone focusing within that area.

Most writers have concentrated on the DR thing which some feel they need to justify HDR (and/or blending). My contention is that the eye in its ever seeking to WB the scene, is in fact, making a more colorful scene less so. Should this be justification to oversaturate? You be the judge. We all see our world differently.

So sorry, I really can't give you pointers. Not only is each of us
...Show more

I suppose I could grow a thicker skin But when I have made my own best guess about when I am done with an image and I get the standard litany of comments (often contradictory between posters) I want a way to avoid it.

I suppose lots of critique is offered simply because the poster can and thinks its expected.





Sep 03, 2013 at 02:21 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Some post processing guidelines


ben egbert wrote:
How much DR to add is one item. I took a Photomatix class 4 years back and was told we needed about +/-3 stops for our brackets to match the additional DR of the human eye. I never liked HDR software and just use manual blend.

Manual blend is certainly an option.

While I like the "HDR look" for some photos, I prefer a realistic look for landscapes. In the four years since you took the Photomatix class, they have improved their software and there have been other products to come on the market that do a much better job of natural looking HDR.

I have three options at my disposal: PS 6, NIK HDR Pro and Oloneo Photo Engine. I recently used all three on a landscape. The PS6 version was flat and didn't include enough information from the + and - exposures. NIK HDR Pro was dramatic, but looked like and HDR. Oloneo Photo Engine gave me the most natural look while still including plenty of information from the + and - exposures. I like its interface and it allowed me to tweak the look to get just what I wanted.

You may want to explore these newer HDR options.



Sep 03, 2013 at 02:36 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Some post processing guidelines


dmacmillan wrote:
Manual blend is certainly an option.

While I like the "HDR look" for some photos, I prefer a realistic look for landscapes. In the four years since you took the Photomatix class, they have improved their software and there have been other products to come on the market that do a much better job of natural looking HDR.

I have three options at my disposal: PS 6, NIK HDR Pro and Oloneo Photo Engine. I recently used all three on a landscape. The PS6 version was flat and didn't include enough information from the + and - exposures. NIK HDR Pro
...Show more


Adding DR has become easy, too easy. I can often get what I want in ACR alone with one image, and my prefered method is to process the same image twice and then blend (avoids subject movement).

The real question is how much to recover not how to do it.

Think of it this way. People still expect a photo to look like a photo with all the limits of the technology. If you fix it, it no longer looks like a photo. So part of this is to gage the audience expectations.

The audience of interest is mostly other photographers who know those limits and tend to be either purists or not. I for one would like some middle ground. Straight out of camera is worthless to me, I would quit if that were it. But I also want to avoid the more garish lengths that we can easily achieve these days.

I do use Topaz judiciously.










Sep 03, 2013 at 02:47 PM
 

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Paul Mo
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Some post processing guidelines


ben egbert wrote:
But I also want to avoid the more garish lengths that we can easily achieve these days.



Which is admirable. Over-processed images suck as much as staged documentary and stiff stock images.



Sep 03, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Bernie
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Some post processing guidelines


ben egbert wrote:
I suppose I could grow a thicker skin But when I have made my own best guess about when I am done with an image and I get the standard litany of comments (often contradictory between posters) I want a way to avoid it.

I suppose lots of critique is offered simply because the poster can and thinks its expected.


http://luminous-landscape.com/columns/briots-view/vision_part_5_vision_and_creativity.shtml



Sep 03, 2013 at 03:44 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Some post processing guidelines


Bernie wrote:
http://luminous-landscape.com/columns/briots-view/vision_part_5_vision_and_creativity.shtml


Lots of good info there, I did falter in the first part which was about interacting with people, being an extreme introvert and modern day urban hermit (and liking it) does alter how I could approach those steps.

I spent most of my life as a designer inventing things, so I know the value of learning from mistakes. The entire article rings true, and I appreciate the part about criticism.

To me the best thing is for people to simply say I like it or I don't like it. I don't need to have it analyzed.

But there are technical things which can be fine tuned and are fairly (if not absolutely) universal, This is what I seek here.



Sep 03, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Mr Mouse
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Some post processing guidelines


An image does not even need to be good to be successful a poor image can tell a story was well as a good one.

I put together a little collage after 911 from image posted on the net. None were extraordinary yet I was please with the result. And the center image rear end views of strangers most likely breaks all the composition rules written not sharp or well focused still I gave it center stage.







Sep 03, 2013 at 08:15 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Some post processing guidelines


An example with Kentís guidelines

The sky is a -2/3 exposure, the rest is from a +1/3 exposure. Both converted with no changes in ACR and blended with a gradient mask and brush.

I chose three neutral areas, one the darkest I could find, one the lightest and one around 125. Each was a pretty close group. Then in curves, I sat each point to black, white and gray respectively. Using 5,5,5 for black and 250 for white and of course 125 for grey. This added contrast and corrected the color slightly.

I then ran Topaz Pop with the layer sat to luminance. This is adds DR without any change in color. Still no saturation added.

I next ran Topaz color pop, which adds saturation. Then I used color balance to bring each point back to balance within about 1 point spread between RGB.

I merged the Topaz and Color balance layers and faded to about 30% or so. I then ran a linear curve for a bit more contrast. I did my adjustments for highlights, mid tones and shadows.

I like the overall tone to my eyes they seem fine but the sky seems just a bit warm. It might have been a good idea to work the color balance of the -2/3 image before blending it.

I sharpened with a light haze buster and a light USM.








Sep 04, 2013 at 02:37 AM
Sunny Sra
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Some post processing guidelines


Ben,
WHat i found helpful for ME...after editing an image, i'll leave it on the monitor but hide it behind other screens...and go about my way browsing web etc. Then come back to the image the next day..and sometimes i'm in shock "WTF is that!!" scrap the whole thing and restart with fresh eyes.

It's so easy to go overboard at times with saturation/colors, sharpness etc while you're editing it and you get so focused on certain parts of the image, you do see the overall photo...something i heard today from a movie i was watching..."the closer you are...the less you see"

so Zoom out...leave it alone for a day..come back and see if you still like it..then thats the way you want it. it's your vision.

Just read your last comment...try processing some stuff without Topaz...give it your imagination, your touch...not what Topaz thinks. See if you feel any different about the image.



Sep 04, 2013 at 04:17 AM
ben egbert
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Some post processing guidelines


Sunny Sra wrote:
Ben,
WHat i found helpful for ME...after editing an image, i'll leave it on the monitor but hide it behind other screens...and go about my way browsing web etc. Then come back to the image the next day..and sometimes i'm in shock "WTF is that!!" scrap the whole thing and restart with fresh eyes.

It's so easy to go overboard at times with saturation/colors, sharpness etc while you're editing it and you get so focused on certain parts of the image, you do see the overall photo...something i heard today from a movie i was watching..."the closer you are...the less you
...Show more

I always do one version without Topaz, and I also change my screen saver around a lot to look at various versions. I have not found a way to beat Topaz for adding some shadow lift or adding light saturation. My workflow now is zero saturation bump until I add a bit at the end. So far I have never preferred one without some Topaz.

But the workflow described above is new for me and requires much less. I will explore it some more and see if I can tease out a bit more without Topaz.









Sep 04, 2013 at 02:02 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Some post processing guidelines


Ben, while you may be seeing things different than I on your end, and of course your prints are what rally counts ... but I've never really cared much for the "Topaz look" of many images. Different strokes for different folks of course ... but a lighter touch of Topaz might help with some of that "crunchy" you mentioned.


Sep 04, 2013 at 03:01 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Some post processing guidelines


RustyBug wrote:
Ben, while you may be seeing things different than I on your end, and of course your prints are what rally counts ... but I've never really cared much for the "Topaz look" of many images. Different strokes for different folks of course ... but a lighter touch of Topaz might help with some of that "crunchy" you mentioned.


For Rusty and Sunny:

Here is the image before Topaz. If this is a faithful image, I sell my gear.

I have played with it and using shadow highlight and adding saturation I can get close to the Topaz version, but why would I if we want a flat image?








Sep 04, 2013 at 03:38 PM
bjornssh
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Some post processing guidelines


The best resource for color correction is anything written by Dan Margulis. His most recent book is "Modern Photoshop Color Workflow - The Quartertone Quandary, the PPW, and Other Ideas for Speedy Image Enhancement " - this site has videos of corrections performed on images in the book:
http://www.moderncolorworkflow.com/private-resources?access=bjornssh%40fuse.net
also
http://www.moderncolorworkflow.com/

Steve



Sep 04, 2013 at 04:24 PM
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