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Thread: cameras limitations or image editing

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    jacsul's Avatar
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    cameras limitations or image editing

    Hi everyone,
    I've seen images taken at night that were crystal clear and I wonder if this isn't a product of my cameras limitations or this image is in need of some type of editing.

    As always thanks in advance for your insight.

    Jack

    cameras limitations or image editing

    cameras limitations or image editing

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: cameras limitations or image editing

    Hi there Jack,

    Nice pictures, especially the first one.

    These scenes will be better handled by a proper DSLR and no mistake.
    Is the star filter optical (i.e. a filter screwed on the front of lens), an in camera effect or a PP effect?
    Especially if optical, sadly this will have worsened the picture quality you can achieve.

    Yes, there will need to be some PP work to get these looking better, and as I've only seriously tried it once and failed miserably, I am not going to advise you. But having said that; I'd guess you'll need to do some noise reduction (first) use something 'clever' like Neat Image, then crop and set the levels - especially the blacks on #2, possibly tweak the WB a little and then clone out any unhelpful flares that exist.

    There's one person that's always impressed me with his night shots from a non DSLR and that's Davey. Lets hope he picks up on this post.

    One other tip would be to manually shield the lens from any close to edge, but out of shot bright lights so they do not contribute to the vieling flare or add specular flares of their own. In particular I am thinking of the foreground street lamp on right of #2, it has put a blotch on the left of shot. Since the camera is on a tripod and you're free to move around, stand beside it shielding the lens with you body, but be careful not to get in shot.

    Cheers,

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    jacsul's Avatar
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    Re: cameras limitations or image editing

    Hey Dave,
    Thanks for the insght, the stary effect of the lights is what I'm most concerned with, I believe it's the lens shortcomings. Low ISO, High ISO - Closed aperture, wide aperture, same effect. At first I thought I may have a dirty film on the lens or some humidity so I re-took shots under similar conditions and got the same effect.

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    Re: cameras limitations or image editing

    Hi Jack,

    The "star effect" is normal - and should become more pronounced the more you stop down the lens (ie use higher F numbers).

    The first image looks OK to me - just needs some sharpening and minor levels tweaks.

    Here's a quick & dirty "Photoshop 30 Second Makeover" (TM!) ...

    - Raise black clipping point

    - Desaturate 10%

    - Sharpen (USM; 300%; 0.3 pixels, 0 threshold)

    - Crop

    cameras limitations or image editing

    On a side note, here's a recent shot of mine (top quality glass & camera ... same old star effects!)

    cameras limitations or image editing
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 5th July 2009 at 04:48 AM.

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    Re: cameras limitations or image editing

    hi jack. I think the first looks easy savable but if possible retaking would make life easier. The second could do with white balance tweak but lower zoom and noise means detail will be lost if crop it. Only thing I personally think look problematic is noise and flare. What dave recommended for avoiding flares should work fine in quite a few situations, I usually work out the worst offender light and block it if I can, usually with my body or my coat (my rain shoulder cape on my riding coat is detachable and usually used for this purpose ). You could probably even make a makeshift lens hood of sorts if really wanted one and couldn't get one for your camera (due to lens design on most compacts quite possible but if it's scaled down slr shape easy done).

    I personally like starbursts but tend not to stop down that much to get nice ones because on my cheap (but well loved ) point and shoot cam if I use too high an f number I simply cannot get the shadow detail (or even midtone) at low iso. I don't use high iso because it degrades the image so much on pics from such a small sensor that it's worth the trade. I did get some on this image at f4 I think (it's pano made form about 14 shots if remember correctly but scaled down)
    cameras limitations or image editing sorry it's odd size to get it to scale for forum correctly (shrunk down creates havok I notice as vert dimension is in range and horiz is way out)
    I liked the look of similar one I took of same skyline but at f8 but the shadows were too noisy although if you stack exposures (eg. hdr techniques or exposure blending of some kind) I have found you can get the (almost) best of both but at the cost of increased processing time/work and taking 1 or 2 more exposures per image but there is always a trade off I think.

    If it's any help (but I'm no expert) I usually use iso64, my lowest, or iso100 but hardly ever higher unless really really need it. I then go for the longest shutter speed I can (I'm limited to 15sec) on my widest aperature and use this (and camera histogram) to gauge result since metering is not great of a night (usually when I am out taking photos, I'm only let loose of a night......... and as mentioned previously I have a rare form of haemophillia coupled with SEVERE photosensitivity if you know what i mean ). Also in quite a few shots I notice my lcd is pitch black so i recompose by capture result often unless there is bright lights to use as reference. Again prob not best advice but it works for me and if you shoot as a hobby for yourself and you are happy then who's to complain.
    Last edited by Davey; 11th June 2009 at 01:52 AM.

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    Re: cameras limitations or image editing

    Colin nice handy work, I'll have to practice my editing.
    Thanks for sharing Davey that's a beautiful image. I don't know if I'll have the oppertunity to re-shoot from that vantage point again. It's nearly impossible to shoot a bridge without some movement, take notice there's no traffic.

    If the oppertunity presents itself again I'll shoot @ 64 or 100 and bracket my exposures as well as isolate light. Is there some type of filter to use to give the lights more clarity?

    Jack

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    Re: cameras limitations or image editing

    usually I find 2 things do the trick on making the lights stand out more. 1: strong (s shape) curve adjust to add hard contrast and if it needs it 2: Sharpening, global and or selective. Usually usm for me as it's quick and predictable and fast easy edits like duplicate layer then global usm with wide radius and adequate % (making everything a little too sharp) then apply layer mask and fill black and paint in the lights (in white) as opposed to painting out everything else. Prob better ways than this though, no doubt colin or dave or someone is of more help there.

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    Re: cameras limitations or image editing

    Colin and Davey...WOW nice night images and PPing...
    geeez..Super duper really...puts my night shots too shame..
    heh I am too embarressed to eben post them now..hehe

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    Re: cameras limitations or image editing

    Quote Originally Posted by jacsul View Post
    Colin nice handy work, I'll have to practice my editing.
    It's pretty easy when you get used to knowing what to look for. In your case I could see that the background was too gray (black clipping point fixed that), and the image appeared quite soft (perhaps movement related, even though was probably on a tripod), so sharpening fixed that.

    nearly impossible to shoot a bridge without some movement, take notice there's no traffic.
    If in doubt, take several shots with traffic in different parts and then just stack them as layers, and erase the cars with the eraser tool (leaving a spot where an underlying image has a portion of image with no car) - works for shorter shutterspeeds like yours (2 1/2 sec off memory).

    oppertunity presents itself again I'll shoot @ 64 or 100 and bracket my exposures as well as isolate light. Is there some type of filter to use to give the lights more clarity?
    As a rule - personally - I find that bracketing shots like this often doesn't get you anywhere. Brackting (and merging to HDR) is great if you want to retain shadow detail, but in cases like this, you don't. If your bracketing so that you can choose the best exposure to work from then that's fine (I do it all the time myself).

    Images like these are extreme contrast images - and often the camera metering will get it wrong. I usually work on getting the mid-tones looking OK on the review screen; the highlights are going to blow regardless, and the shadows are going to be lost in the noise floor as well (but that doesn't matter). So really all your trying to do is (a) get the focus right and get the mid-tones looking fairly close (midtones in this case being the structures in general - the stuff between the full glare of the lights and the darkness of the shadows).

    Also, this is one of those situations where the likes of a UV filter will give you flare and ghosting, thus is best removed.

    Here's another one just for fun

    cameras limitations or image editing
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 11th June 2009 at 05:21 AM.

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