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View Full Version : Disappointing photos. Please, what should I do differently?



toriaj
04-29-2007, 10:48 AM
Lately I've been disappointed with my shots. I go out on a beautiful day, see lots of subjects that I think will be interesting, come home, and the shots are just flat.

Here are a couple of examples. I listed the "exhaustive" EXIF in case I've messed up any of the camera settings:

Original from RAW
23900
Nikon D50
2007/04/28 17:23:53.5
Compressed RAW (12-bit)
Image Size: Large (3008 x 2000)
Lens: 70-300mm F/4-5.6 D
Focal Length: 170mm
Exposure Mode: Manual
Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
1/250 sec - F/11
Exposure Comp.: 0 EV
Sensitivity: ISO 200
Optimize Image: Custom
White Balance: Shade
AF Mode: AF-S
Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached
Auto Flash Comp: 0 EV
Color Mode: Mode II (Adobe RGB)
Tone Comp.: High Contrast
Hue Adjustment: 0°
Saturation: Enhanced
Sharpening: Medium high
Image Comment:
Long Exposure NR: Off

PPd version
23901

Original from RAW
23902
Nikon D50
2007/04/28 17:16:11.7
Compressed RAW (12-bit)
Image Size: Large (3008 x 2000)
Lens: 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 G
Focal Length: 55mm
Exposure Mode: Manual
Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
1/100 sec - F/16
Exposure Comp.: 0 EV
Sensitivity: ISO 200
Optimize Image: Custom
White Balance: Shade
AF Mode: AF-S
Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached
Auto Flash Comp: 0 EV
Color Mode: Mode II (Adobe RGB)
Tone Comp.: High Contrast
Hue Adjustment: 0°
Saturation: Enhanced
Sharpening: Medium high
Image Comment:
Long Exposure NR: Off

PPd version
23903
(Here I lost those mountains in the distance with my PP. I didn't take the time to carefully select them to protect them. Any other tips?)

Sorry for the reposts. I thought someone might be able to help more if I showed the originals.

Do you think part of it could be my processing program? My trial for Lightroom ran out. Is there a different program I should try? (btw, the shots don't look nearly as dark in PictureProject as they do in my other applications.) Is there a better way to increase the contrast and colors? There was beautiful blue sky that day, but it doesn't show up that close to the horizon.

One more thing -- see the blue line on the right edge of both originals, in the upper area next to the sky? What is that?

debu_17
04-29-2007, 11:08 AM
i am no expert , but some observations from the Exif data,

1. pics are taken @17:15 hrs+, means evening, the 2 nd pic shows evening glow in the horizon clouds, along with it the exif shows multi pt. metering , so something any way would get lost.
2. why not try out the method of hi-dynamic image using the RAW + jpg processing and then sandwiching them together?

my own feeling is the 2 pic. without the PP looks good.

coldrain
04-29-2007, 11:20 AM
The photos are over exposed. The light sky gets to be too light, the landcape loses all contrast.
Another odd thing is that you have shot with WhiteBalance on "shade", while it is a sunny day? Not a good idea either, but that is correctable easily in RAW/NEF.

I have of course no idea what the scene really should look like, but adjusting levels in PhotoShop, and de-haze the scenes with USM 20/60/0 does help a lot.

toriaj
04-29-2007, 11:21 AM
Thanks, debu_17. In my part of Wyoming right now, 5:15 p.m. is still about 2 1/2 hours before sunset, so there wasn't any sunset glow. But do you think I'd get better shots if I took them at, say, 2 or 3 p.m.?

And can you give me more information about the RAW + JPEG?

toriaj
04-29-2007, 11:32 AM
Thanks, Coldrain. Yes, I should have changed the white balance to "Daylight." I'm in the habit of leaving it on "shade" because I usually get better colors that way.

Usually I tend to under-expose photos. This time I was careful to follow what the meter said. Do you have suggestions for how I can properly expose? Here, I usually metered off the sky, as suggested in Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure."

USM 20/60/0 means un-sharp mask, meaning a sharpening tool, right? I have Paint Shop Pro, and its Unsharp Mask tool calls for "Radius," "Strength," and "Clipping." I usually use the settings, 2.00, 91, and 5, although I change the Strength depending on how much I want it sharpened. Should I try using 20 for the radius, 60 for the strength, and 0 for the clipping?

coldrain
04-29-2007, 11:39 AM
Yes, USM is unsharp mask. 20/60/0 has a dehazing effect.
For sharpening I usually use 80/0.5/0 after resizing, or upto 120/1/0 if I actually do have a soft photo.

I have no real tip for exposure here, just that you can not meter for both the sky and the landscape... either the sky gets lighter ot the landscape gets to be too light.

In RAW, you can "develop" a photo too dark, and a photo right for the landscape, and a photo too light.
Then you can combine them with a DRI or HDR tool, which will try to give a better dynamic range for both the sky and the landscape.

toriaj
04-29-2007, 12:03 PM
In your USM settings for de-haze, is 20 really for radius, 60 for strength, and 0 for clipping? From your respose, it sounds like maybe the 20 is the strength. Or maybe they name the settings with different words in Photoshop?

Do you think the exposure would have been better if I'd metered off the mountains in the distance?

I'm familiar with HDR ... looking up DRI :D

toriaj
04-29-2007, 01:21 PM
I downloaded the free version of SilkyPix, and I was very pleased with the result of some white balance adjustment and increased contrast. I also brought the exposure down 1/2 stop. Then I went back to PSP, raised the highlights, and tried your de-haze USM. Voila, I am very happy.

23910

rawpaw18
04-29-2007, 02:35 PM
That looks much better T

Lilchilichoco
04-29-2007, 02:35 PM
Hi toriaj.......I was wondering.....would using some kind of a filter or a polarizer help in getting close to the right contrast and cutting down the haze in this kind of a shot? We have haze very often here in Dubai.....in fact,I haven't quite seen a real crisp day....






Best Regards

toriaj
04-29-2007, 02:42 PM
Thanks, rawpaw.

Lilchilichoco, I think you're right. I've heard that circular polarizers work best at a 90 degree angle to the sun. This shot was almost directly south, so a polarizer probably would have worked well. I don't have one (yet) but I think my next purchase will be a 50mm 1.8 lens :D so the filters will have to wait.

Lilchilichoco
04-29-2007, 02:54 PM
I've been dreaming of a new lens....a polarizer....a tripod!!!:D I think I need a faster lens pretty bad too!!:D Tripod should be simultaneous....husband willing;):) !!

And those are good shots....I especially like the one with ferns in the foreground.:)


Take care
Best Regards

toriaj
04-29-2007, 03:03 PM
You like that one with the plants in the foreground? I had decided that one was no good after all :o

You don't have a tripod? You night-shot wizard??? GET ONE! lol I just have a cheap one, and although it's not great for lining shots up for HDR, it works just fine for long exposures.

Lilchilichoco
04-29-2007, 03:17 PM
Nightshot Wizard...eh?.....lol.....sometimes I think it's sheer chance I get those shots.......and I'll never get another!!!:)

I like the plants shot for the contrast of the plants with the distant mountains in the background......plus the light's kinda shiny on those plants..:).

I really need a tripod....should get it soon....:)...will have to sacrifice a few pizza nights:)...lol..

toriaj
04-29-2007, 03:27 PM
I re-processed that shot for you, lil'. Now I like it better, too :D
23916

Your night shots are definitely not by accident ... or else you wouldn't have so many!

Lilchilichoco
05-01-2007, 05:07 AM
hey toriaj..........love that shot........:).....isn't the light on the fern tops magical? Lovely capture! How wonderful to live in a place like this!!



Take care
Best Regards

debu_17
05-01-2007, 12:28 PM
by 17:15 hrs i actualy meant that u were early, as there
is haze to be seen in the out of cam pic.

by RAW+jpg, i suggested that u save both from the same shot, provided D 50 allows that.
using the JPG as the ref. ( the Cam's opinion abt what the pic should look like) one can create several jpgs from the 12 bit RAW using diff. illumination points.

all the jpgs , u can fuse together into one HDR afterwards,

one more obsv. is the out of CAM pic. a bit soft?, is it always like that in D 50?

toriaj
05-08-2007, 09:30 PM
Sorry so slow to reply, I've been away from computer for about a week :eek:

I used f/16 in the shot, I thought that would give me sharpness, but I've since heard that f/8 is better. That could be part of the softness. Also, having such a large depth of field contributed to it. I think I focused on the far mountains, which made the plants softer. And I believe jpgs are sharper than RAW, if I'm not mistaken, due to in-camera processing.

Thanks for the tips on the combined jpgs. The Nikon is able to do the jpg + RAW. I haven't done much with HDR yet, I don't want to spring $ for a program, and haven't found a decent free one yet :( As far as I know, the fredmiranda plugin only works for Photoshop. I have Paint Shop Pro. And all the other programs are a little pricey just yet. Maybe at the end of the summer :)

sla
05-10-2007, 03:46 AM
Hi
If you want free tools, there is ColorCastFX program, which would give results like first 2 attachements I added (these are examples, you may make some adjustments). The program effectively removes big colour casts.
Then I ran IfranView to increase saturation (bottom 2 images).
I resized images down.
By the way, you made very nice images!
Regards
S.

sla
05-10-2007, 04:08 AM
But if you have Paint Shop, I think you could try levels correction, so that you would have yet more control over results.
I use Micrografx Picture Publisher, but I think Paint Shop Pro has similar functions.
First I use levels correcion function. Then I correct gamma ("curves" or so). Finally I increase saturation.
I am not sure whether my examples look good. But I just wanted to make sky as blue as possible.
I attach some pictures to show my steps. The first in serie is original.
regards
s.

Rhys
05-10-2007, 07:17 AM
I would suggest a lens hood, a tripod and a multicoated filter. That should cut down on what i see as motion blur and light hazing.

toriaj
05-10-2007, 11:37 PM
Wow, thanks sla and Rhys! I always appreciate edits, and I really like the way you showed the process. And I've never heard of IfranView or ColorCastFX, so it's good to know they're out there!

Rhys, I didn't think I needed a tripod at 1/250 second at 170 mm or 1/100 at 55 mm ... but I think you're right. It couldn't help but make it sharper. I might have used the lens hood on the first one ... I don't have a lens hood for the kit lens yet, but sometimes I just "hang" the Sigma lens hood on there to block the sun :rolleyes:

I've never heard of a multicoated filter. Are good quality UV filters usually multicoated?

P.S. No one has said anything about the blue line on the right of the images. Any ideas?

sla
05-10-2007, 11:51 PM
Only wanted to add that ColorCast is a small free tool (some may say "a toy"), with only 2 sliders, can be found on Mediachance company page. There are also some more little tools there.
Irfanview is an image viewer with a number of correcting options and plugins, also free.
regards

erichlund
06-11-2007, 12:31 PM
Wow, thanks sla and Rhys! I always appreciate edits, and I really like the way you showed the process. And I've never heard of IfranView or ColorCastFX, so it's good to know they're out there!

Rhys, I didn't think I needed a tripod at 1/250 second at 170 mm or 1/100 at 55 mm ... but I think you're right. It couldn't help but make it sharper.

The rule of 1/focal length is based on a 35mm camera rule. So, to use it accurately, you should convert your lens setting to equivalent 35mm angle of view. So that 170mm becomes 255mm equivalent angle of view. 1/250 is then right on the edge, based on the rule.

Now, there are lots of things that also affect the use of this rule. How steady are your hands (be honest, the only one you are lying to is yourself!)? How many cups of coffee did you need to get going today? Are you tired? Do you have something to brace against? Are you excited about this shot? The rule takes into account the focal length, but it doesn't account for a particularly heavy version of the lens. Is it windy out? I'm sure you can think of others.

Majik_Imaje
06-18-2007, 06:21 PM
You.. are experiencing exactly what I went through for years.. .. using film

I just could not understand what was wrong with ALL of my images.

I processed my own color at home for many "decades"

but something was always "missing" ..

I didn't know what to do.. Until I read once sentence about Ansel Adams, in a book.. that one sentence changed how I printed and my work then became completly different..

...this is / was the sentence.. .. .. '" it would often take Ansel Adams as many as 30 sheets of paper to create one print!

In other words.. selective burning and dodging were the only tools that THE MASTER had to work with.

Putting "cheap" glass in front of an expensive lens is a no no !


the only piece of glass you need in front of your lens is a polarizing filter.

DO NOT PURCHASE.. .. a fast lens..! NO.. WRONG concept.

TRIPOD @ maximum depth of field

F 8 is better than f 16 ? that is the most ridiculous statement I have ever read..

Ansel Adams & Edward Weston.. two of Photographys most well renoun photographers were members of a very special camera club.

F-64 That was the ONLY aperture they would use !

now digital with instant results and a whole lot of mumbo jumbo is replacing what used to be the normal rules for exposing film..

Color Theory is a must to master and learn if your ever going to be able to understand how the six colors work with each other.!

great images.. keep up the good work..

I cannot hand hold a camera steady @ 125 of a second only becuase I am using a mamiya Rb 67 w/ 360 Mm lens. a MONSTER..
http://majikimaje.com/readf.jpg
but i love taking photos quick of people.. ! I don't have time to fool around with light meters.. I threw mine away in 1973 and haven't used one since.

Once you learn how to READlight and expose for what you "see" instead of letting that camera make all the decisions for you, is when you will begin to learn the Art of seeing!

PHotography is all about light.. and what you can do with your imagination and that light!

I hope some of this information has helped !

Xion
06-18-2007, 06:48 PM
I dunno if I'm radical or something, but this is my take on your photograph:

http://img75.imageshack.us/img75/4214/landscapeql5.png

Again, it's just the JPG file, but with some curves and such, I think it looks pretty cool, haha.

Probably not what it really looked like though. Oh well. If you DO like the way it is, it's just an S-Curve around the linear curve line ( [/] <- that one ) and the auto white balance, cuz I'm lazy, haha.

toriaj
06-18-2007, 06:56 PM
Thanks for the comments, erich, Xion, Majik and sla! Since I created this thread 2 1/2 months ago, I've had much better success by changing my colorspace to Ia (sRGB) and processing with (free) Silkypix. I often use Coldy's tip of de-haze, as long as my pics don't have too much contrast.

AlexMonro
06-19-2007, 07:01 AM
F 8 is better than f 16 ? that is the most ridiculous statement I have ever read..

Ansel Adams & Edward Weston.. two of Photographys most well renoun photographers were members of a very special camera club.

F-64 That was the ONLY aperture they would use !


Majik, don't forget about diffraction, which can be an issue on 35mm and smaller formats. Ansel Adams & Edward Weston were using 10x8", which is a whole different game.

For a comprehensive article, including the physics behind it, see here (http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/diffraction-photography.htm).