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VTEC_EATER
06-27-2007, 09:52 AM
I'm trying out my hand at Architectural photography.

My office needs shots of our clients houses for their website, and since I have a fairly good arsenal of lenses, and really want to get out of the office, I offered my services. I guess you could say this is a paying gig, since I am getting paid my usual salary for taking these photographs, but its not really a commissioned job, ya know.

Anywho, let me know what you think of the shots, what I should work on, what settings may be better for my camera, etc. I want to have some really nice shots for my company, and so far I'm still in a little unsure of my photographs. Please let me know what you think.


Nikon D50 w/ Sigma 18-50 F/2.8 Macro @ 38mm, F/4, 1/125 sec, ISO 200, w/ SB-80x flash
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1236/639511410_c777cf3e64_o.jpg

Nikon D50 w/ Nikkor 12-24 F/4 @ 12mm, F/8, 1/13 sec., ISO 200, w/ SB-80x flash
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1065/639511396_e8fa6a5743_o.jpg

Nikon D50 w/ Nikkor 12-24 F/4 @ 12mm, F/5.6, 1/8 sec, ISO 200, w/ SB-80x flash
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1403/639511366_43edbe0783_o.jpg

Nikon D50 w/ Nikkor 12-24 F/4 @ 12mm, F/5.6, 1/5 sec., ISO 200, w/ SB-80x flash
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1050/639511326_a0d13f8af1_o.jpg

Nikon D50 w/ Nikkor 12-24 F/4 @ 12mm, F/9, 1/2 sec., ISO 200, w/ SB-80x flash
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1136/639511288_b73d285ec6_o.jpg

Nikon D50 w/ Sigma 18-50 F/2.8 Macro @ 18mm, F/4, 1/2 sec., ISO 200, no flash
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1308/639511280_f2efc79c25_o.jpg

Thanks for the look, let me know what I can work on.

erichlund
06-27-2007, 12:47 PM
Some rules I would follow in doing this sort of work:
1. Use a tripod and ensure the Camera/lens are dead level for each shot. You don't want you to be the cause of any distortion. Assuming your camera has it, turn on the grid view. Deal level can have two meanings. If these are pure architectural shots, then dead level means relative to gravity. If they are to make the room look good for prospective clients, then dead level relative to the room, and there's more of a judgement call to make.
2. I suspect you want sharp over the widest possible range. Set your camera on f/11 and leave it there. (Anything higher, and you start to get into diffraction errors).
3. Select your key verticals, and make sure they are dead vertical in the photo. This would be a vertical near the center of your frame. The wider angle the lens, the more distortion you will have to correct in the verticals at the sides, but there's nothing you can do about that. You have to use the lens that gets the shot for interiors (for exterior shots, you have more latitude to move you, so you can use a longer lens that gives less distortion).
4. If you have capture NX, it has a tool for straightening edges and correcting wide angle distortions. Other editors probably do, as well. Use those tools to remove severe distortions, but don't overdo it to the point where you introduce other problems.

BTW: After reading these rules, I think you'll see some areas you could have improved upon from an architectural standpoint. In particular, you should examine the verticals in your shots.

VTEC_EATER
06-27-2007, 01:42 PM
Some rules I would follow in doing this sort of work:
1. Use a tripod and ensure the Camera/lens are dead level for each shot. You don't want you to be the cause of any distortion. Assuming your camera has it, turn on the grid view. Deal level can have two meanings. If these are pure architectural shots, then dead level means relative to gravity. If they are to make the room look good for prospective clients, then dead level relative to the room, and there's more of a judgement call to make.

I used a tripod for most shots, others where I was stuck in the corner of the room, I had to have hand held. Unfortunately, the D50 does not have grid lines in its viewfinder, so everything had to be eyeballed. Unless there is a hidden custom setting for the viewfinder grid, like on the D70s, Im going to have to stick with eyeballing, and correcting in post processing.


2. I suspect you want sharp over the widest possible range. Set your camera on f/11 and leave it there. (Anything higher, and you start to get into diffraction errors).

Yeah, I am going for a large depth of field, and greatest amount of sharpness, so I tried shooting in the F/8 range for everything. But where exposure was becoming a problem, I dropped to F/5.6 as opposed to upping ISO to 400. I have been having huge noise issues with these interior shots, even at ISO 400. From the reviews I have been reading on my lenses, everyone says they are sharpest near F/8, hence my setting. But even then, I'm fairly unimpressed with the sharpness in my photos. Nothing to me seems sharp. I shoot in raw, and adjust things accordingly. I use a tripod, I use flash, etc, to ensure there is no visible camera shake, and yet the photos all seem soft, even at F/8. I cant tell if its me not focusing correctly on something with the camera/lens combination, or what, but its really annoying to spend a couple hours at someones house taking photos only to have mediocre shots due to poor focus. Then post processing this all out... It never ends.



3. Select your key verticals, and make sure they are dead vertical in the photo. This would be a vertical near the center of your frame. The wider angle the lens, the more distortion you will have to correct in the verticals at the sides, but there's nothing you can do about that. You have to use the lens that gets the shot for interiors (for exterior shots, you have more latitude to move you, so you can use a longer lens that gives less distortion).

The 12-24 isn't that bad to correct in photoshop, but if I'm having issues with correct alignment, then that only amplifies the problem. What do you feel would be the best way to set up my camera (camera position in the room) to still shoot some perspective, but limit the amount of distortions/twisting effect of the lens?

As you can see, most of my shots are taken from the corner of the room to show the most that I can, but this adds perspective in two horizontal directions and depending on my point of view (vertically) I may have a third perspective to deal with, not to mention the lens distortion.


4. If you have capture NX, it has a tool for straightening edges and correcting wide angle distortions. Other editors probably do, as well. Use those tools to remove severe distortions, but don't overdo it to the point where you introduce other problems.

I mat have Capture NX, but Im not sure. I know I have some Nikon program on this computer, but I have been mostly dealing with Photoshop to convert my images from RAW, and then adjusting them after that. I cant tell if I'm happy with the process or not. I feel that every time I convert from one thing to the next (RAW ---> Jpeg ---> lens correction ---> contrast/shadow/highlight ---> noise reduction ---> unsharpen mask ---> resize ---> final product), I lose image quality. Perhaps it all stems from poor focus placement at teh first stage, shooting the photo. I dont know. But I do know that professionals out there are creating tack sharp images and I for some reason am not.

I don't mean to get down on myself (I am still pretty new at this), but I feel that I am using everything within my abilities, and budget of course, to create the best images I can possibly have, but Im still unimpressed with their quality.


BTW: After reading these rules, I think you'll see some areas you could have improved upon from an architectural standpoint. In particular, you should examine the verticals in your shots.

I appreciate your help. The above photos are only from 2 jobs, I still have 10 more places to go and I hope I can continually improve on them as time goes on.

tcadwall
06-27-2007, 02:09 PM
VTECH,

Let me recommend (I know you guys probably think this recommendation from me is getting old) trying out Bibble. So many of the things you are doing, can be done in the RAW workflow. It should help a ton. In Bibble I can straighten something if it is even slightly off. I had to do that with a Light house shot I took recently. But it will allow for your lens correction.. I don't think there is a perspective correction in it yet, but still the more you can eliminate in Raw the better.

I know, you might not want to shoot raw, but it might be worth a shot... pun sucks.

I can't see your images, since I am at work, and some peoples' linked images just wont make it through the firewall.

Gotta run... Check it back tonight.

VTEC_EATER
06-27-2007, 02:38 PM
I remember that word Bibble from somewhere, and I think I remember looking it up at some point.

I have no problems shooting in RAW for these photos. In fact, all of the above photos started off as RAW images. It makes it much easier to get white balance, and exposure in the ballpark after the fact. But other than that, Adobe's Raw processor doesn't allow that many functions. I think Im running version 3.5 or something. Im still using Photoshop CS2, so the new RAW converter 4.0 doesn't work with it.

I will look into Bibble and see what it has to offer.

erichlund
06-27-2007, 05:13 PM
Most people know if they have Capture NX. Until just recently, the only way to have it was to buy it. Right now, in G.B., they are including it with the purchase of a D200. If you don't have it, it's about $100 U.S.

I would guess that all of the tools in Capture NX have some equivalent in Photoshop. I just don't know what they are. I try to do as much as I can in RAW, because RAW is reversible. Once you convert to jpeg, you are on the long, slippery slope. Still, it's a really long slope, and you only slip a very little bit at a time. People generally make this out to be more than it is.

If you are having sharpness issues below F11 on a tripod, it's likely you are just not sharpening correctly. You can set sharpening levels in the camera, or you can do it in post processing. My preference is to shoot in Adobe RGB mode II and turn sharpening off. I then do all my sharpening in post processing. But, you can also try turning the sharpening up in the camera. It just means that the camera will sharpen to a specific level, rather than as you see fit for the particular image.

The other thing is that at F4-5.6, you may not have much depth of field, so you will find a lot of stuff that is not quite in focus. Sharpening can't do diddly with stuff that is OOF.

If you don't have a monopod for your corner shots, consider that a tripod with only one leg extended is a ( fill in the blank here ). (Answer - "Bulky, PITA monopod, but it's better than nothing. :)")

At your camera retailer, you can get a bubble level for your hot shoe. Should only be a couple of bucks. Doesn't help if you are shooting with flash, but natural light shots can benefit.

One final thing to generally keep in mind - as digital photographers, we tend to be pixel peepers. Your customer generally can't see most of the flaws that are obvious to you. So, if you print your shots and show them to your requester, saying "I can do better, but how are these as a first cut?" It's a real ego boost when they say "Wow, these are great!!! Just what we need."

wh0128
06-27-2007, 08:17 PM
I know nothing about architectural photography so I'm not going to comment on the pics. To me most of the pictures look good besides some of the verticals in which erichlund already told you to double check.

For Photoshop, if something isn't level, there is a ruler that will make the picture level, and it is also in Capture NX if you have that, which you would know if you did.

"RAW ---> Jpeg ---> lens correction ---> contrast/shadow/highlight ---> noise reduction ---> unsharpen mask ---> resize ---> final product"

^^On this...don't convert Raw to Jpeg until after you've done all of that other stuff. Like erich said, jpeg's are irreversible. And with Photoshop, I hope that each of those corrections are made on seperate Layers on top of the original background layer so you don't ruin your original shot.

For Capture NX, I believe that it does the same thing like Layers in Photoshop. Once you make an adjustment an image, it automatically makes a duplicate of the original, again...so you can go back and see what you changed instead of hitting the Ctrl+Z or Shft+Ctrl+Z for Under and Step Backward.

Once you've processed an image to the extent that you think its good enough, then save it as a Jpeg, and maybe if you can on your hard drive keep the original Raw file with all of the corrections that can be discarded or added on to if needed.

erichlund
06-28-2007, 12:36 AM
For Capture NX, I believe that it does the same thing like Layers in Photoshop. Once you make an adjustment an image, it automatically makes a duplicate of the original, again...so you can go back and see what you changed instead of hitting the Ctrl+Z or Shft+Ctrl+Z for Under and Step Backward.

Actually, I think Capture NX stores most, if not all changes, as metadata, so they are not applied to the actual original raw data except in the displayed image. You can go back and remove intermediate steps with NX, including sharpening. It's pretty amazing and crazy flexible.

tcadwall
06-28-2007, 06:16 AM
Actually, I think Capture NX stores most, if not all changes, as metadata, so they are not applied to the actual original raw data except in the displayed image.
Yes, I think all raw editors do that. Bibble keeps the info in XML - like files with the same name but a '.bib' extension, and you can actually edit those manually if you like. Raw editors don't save copies, they just re-apply the settings to the original image whenever you select it / view it / convert it / etc.

Bibble also will do noise reduction on raw images, it is best to do this before you apply other settings like sharpening, saturations, etc.

If I get a chance, I'll look into whether there is a 3rd party 'perspective repair' tool in order to fix the perspective. Of course you can do that search as well.

erichlund
06-28-2007, 08:51 AM
Yes, but Capture NX has taken it a step further. All the changes are kept as a history. So, I can come back days later, and remove specific changes without backing them all out. If I make three different sharpening changes, then decide I don't like just one of them, say the second, I can back that out.

In the old versions of Capture, once you saved an NEF, the changes became part of the meta data, but alot of them were changes that couldn't be backed out of the meta data. So you still had to keep the original as the negative. Changes that were to actual camera settings could be backed out to the original, but things like USM could not. With NX, I can selectively back out even USM changes.

wh0128
06-28-2007, 09:02 PM
Photoshop and NX can do noise reduction as well.

And erichlund, I think that is what I was trying to say about the metadata but worded it in a different way. Basically you can go back whenever you want and change whatever you want which is exactly what every digital photographer needs in case of a dramatic mistake or error.

VTEC_EATER
06-29-2007, 07:01 AM
Point of the story is, Photoshop's "Camera RAW" sucks. Its way too basic, and does not allow the options Capture NX or Bibble offer.

I'm going to try out Bibble and see how it works. I have Capture NX's trial version on my computer (thats why I wasn't sure if I had it or not), but it has expired. I dont think I even used it. Oh well.