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Thread: Backyard Birds: Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested

  1. #1

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    Backyard Birds: Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested

    C+C requested from bird/fine detail people out there...

    Upgraded to Lightroom 4 last weekend and finally getting a chance to play with it on some backyard birds. So here is the situation: both of these images are extremely sharp in LR Develop preview mode (on calibrated monitor), even at 1:1 and in the shadow areas. I published them to Flickr at 1000px on the longest side so Flickr doesn't touch them. BTW, I just noticed that Flickr seems to be suppressing my exif data on these. I'll have to look into that.

    What are your thoughts on sharpness/detail and overall exposure as you see them here?

    Starling, which seemed to expose pretty well, considering it is a tough one to expose for:

    Backyard Birds:  Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested
    20120412-IMG_8893 by flyfitz, on Flickr

    This finch has very good detail in LR (and ok here?), but looks like it needs bump in something--exposure?

    Backyard Birds:  Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested
    20120412-IMG_8908 by flyfitz, on Flickr

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    Boatman's Avatar
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    Re: Backyard Birds: Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested

    They look good! The little buggers never hold still long enough for me! As for the starling, perhaps you could bring out the detail a little better in the dark feathers with a bump up of the shadows or blacks slider. Turn on your shadow clipping box in the histogram panel so that you can see where the blacks clip.

    Still, well photographed.

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    Re: Backyard Birds: Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested

    Quote Originally Posted by Boatman View Post
    They look good! The little buggers never hold still long enough for me! As for the starling, perhaps you could bring out the detail a little better in the dark feathers with a bump up of the shadows or blacks slider. Turn on your shadow clipping box in the histogram panel so that you can see where the blacks clip.

    Still, well photographed.
    Thanks! Trying to tie the whole workflow together and having others comment really helps...

    Sean

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Backyard Birds: Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested

    Sean - I couldn't see the EXIF data attached to the images, but you seem to be working with a very narrow depth-of-field, or you have laid in some blur. If the former, you're going to have to be pin-point accurate with the focus (which I think you pulled off well with these two). Had you any scope for decreasing the aperture slightly, even if it meant upping the ISO rating a bit? That's going to give you a bit of leeway to ensure good focus, which is, of course, the basis for then getting good sharpness.
    Last edited by Donald; 13th April 2012 at 04:21 PM.

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    Re: Backyard Birds: Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Sean - I couldn't see the EXIF data attached to the images, but you seem to be working with a very narrow depth-of-field, or you have laid in some blur. If the former, you're going to have to be pin-point accurate with the focus (which I think you pulled off well with these two). Had you any scope for decreasing the aperture slightly, even if it meant upping the ISO rating a bit? That's going to give you a bit of leeway to ensure good focus, which is, of course, the basis for then getting good sharpness.
    Thanks, Donald. Flickr is stripping out Exif on the image itself, but here it is for the starling:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/flyfitz...n/photostream/

    Yeah, I'm shooting wide open at f/5.6. Good point about stopping down maybe 1 or 2 stops to give AF a bit more to work with. Might help with the hunting on the 100-400 wide open as well. I'll give it a try!

    I was also messing around with a touch of flash with the Better Beamer, but not on these images.

    Sean
    Last edited by Donald; 13th April 2012 at 04:21 PM. Reason: typo

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Backyard Birds: Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested

    Hi Sean,

    These are far better than my early attempts.

    There are two things I would change about these, unfortunately I think if LR4 is all you have, this could be more difficult than if you also have PSE (Elements) or CS5 (Photoshop proper).

    On the first, yes the detail is there if I click the image and view it in the Lytebox, which allows it to exapnd to its full 1000px. However, the detail for me is just a bit too 'clumpy' and I suspect this may be caused by the radius of sharpening applied being a tad too wide (I would use 0.3px) - I believe the minimum radius in LR3.6 is 0.5px - I don't know if LR4 is the same. Also, I may be getting muddled with whatever sharpening was applied on export from LR4 when you created the jpg.

    On the second, it is crying out to have that diagonal twig behind the bird cloned out - and yes, it could do with a bump up of exposure by at leats 0.5 stop, judged from looking at the histogram.

    Even with those two things, #2 would have benefitted had his/her head been more level, allowing a catchlight to be seen in the eye. People have been known to add artificial ones (just turn a few pixels white).

    I'm afraid I can't help with the disappearing EXIF data as I'm not familiar with Flickr - it maybe you need to add it manually, or link to the Flickr EXIF page. You can do that by adding "meta" to the end of the URL you put below the pictures.
    For example; http://www.flickr.com/photos/flyfitz/7072411159/meta and http://www.flickr.com/photos/flyfitz/6926333568/meta

    Hope that helps,

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    Re: Backyard Birds: Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested

    Dave,

    Very helpful--this what I was looking for! I had radius at 1.0, so I guess that should be OK? Some of the blacks may have been clipped a bit on capture as well--not much I can do about that except ETTR next time it is questionable.

    On finch, yeah wasn't a good position for sure, but when I pulled it into LR and applied a preset I made with sharpening/clarity it jumped off the page, so I figured it was a good one for testing sharpness throughout the export to JPG process.

    Agree completely on the cloning stuff--I have had PS in the past, but not now. Honestly, I'm trying to force myself to do as much as possible (hopefully everything) in LR. While I enjoy the PP process, I work in front of a computer all day so any time I can reduce from after work computer time, the better! Sometimes you just can't avoid it, but my goal for the next year is "getting it right in the camera" as much as I can and work on avoiding problematic stuff in the way of my shots (not always possible!)

    Gotcha on the meta URL. Thanks!

    Sean

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    Re: Backyard Birds: Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested

    One more in the bird club. Big welcome to you.

    What needs to be said has been already so will just say nice shots.

  9. #9

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    Re: Backyard Birds: Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobobird View Post
    One more in the bird club. Big welcome to you.

    What needs to be said has been already so will just say nice shots.
    Thanks! Here's another backyard bird (I live on a creek) from this winter. I did nothing at all to the background on any of these (no blurring--bokeah straight from camera/lens):

    Backyard Birds:  Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested
    20120101-IMG_7811 by flyfitz, on Flickr

  10. #10
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Backyard Birds: Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested

    Hi Sean,

    Quote Originally Posted by FlyFitz View Post
    I had radius at 1.0, so I guess that should be OK?
    No, I'm afraid not - although it does depend upon what amount you use too.

    After a downsize to 1,000 px, from typically 3,000 after cropping, I would apply output sharpening of 70 - 100% amount, 0.3 px (no more) and a threshold as low as any remaining noise (after downsizing) will allow, typically between 0 and 2.

    While I agree we should get as much right in camera as possible, unfortunately; with birds, Murphy's Law states that a great many images will be spoiled by inconveniently placed twigs, etc. and cloning them out is the most productive way (short of a lot of luck and patience) you'll be able to present images without people constantly suggesting you clone them out - a necessary evil I'm afraid. Your Canada goose shot sorta proves the point, it'd be a lot better without those foreground grass stalks.

    Hope that helps,

  11. #11
    jeeperman's Avatar
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    Re: Backyard Birds: Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested

    Well there is nothing for me to add, reading down I was hoping everyone neglected to mention the cloning of the diagonal branch in the second but Dave got it....it was my last hope. lol Nice going and I look forward to seeing more.

  12. #12

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    Re: Backyard Birds: Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks again--this is again, exactly where I wanted feedback!

    So, I found out that in LR4 the minimum you can set the sharpening radius is .5 (.3 was not allowed), so I tried that and didn't see a huge difference in the Develop module preview, though I have to say that there was almost no blown shadows in this in LR, which I find amazing. What this says is that my output workflow needs some tweaking. I do "sharpen for screen" at the medium level in the Flickr service and keeping the export below 100opx on the longest side is supposed to keep Flickr from messing with the image, so I'm guess the issue is the creation of the JPG in the Flickr service within LR4.

    Here is a almost 1:1 of the starling head after I changed sharpening radius from 1.0 to .5:

    Backyard Birds:  Practicing Sharpness, C+C Requested
    20120412-IMG_8893-2 by flyfitz, on Flickr

    In LR, those shadows are NOT blocked up and have good detail before export.

    BTW, having only used PS over the years, will PSE allow me to effectively clone, use layers, and allow me to add a "framing" layer (white trim around my image)? Sure would be nice to be able to add the "framing" in the export process within LR directly, but I have search the web high and low and it seems like it is not possible.

    Thanks!

    Sean

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