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Thread: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

  1. #1
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    I wish I would have slowed down and evaluated this scene more, because I don't like the cedar pieces that are behind the main sprig (at upper left of center, and middle of frame). Should have removed those at the scene. I already cloned out several other distractions and small things, but these big ones will be a chore, should I decide to clone them. Then again, at some point I need to realize this is nature and it's part of the subject matter. What are your thoughts? Thanks for any feedback

    Nature close-up shot. C&C please

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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    Matt it's a wonderful composition with very interesting details and very superb colors.

    I really don't see anything wrong with the cedar pieces, if that makes you feel better think you could have destroyed the ice crystals, thus the scene, if tried to interfere.

    What I would have tried in PP to see if it works is to enhance the LCE, saturate the reds a bit and add a hair of vignetting. Not sure those would improve the image though.

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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    I like the opposing lines of the composition. The subtle colors are nice and it's got great detail. I doubt I would have noticed the cedar pieces if you hadn't pointed them out. But then again, I tend toward showing nature as it is rather than cleaned up.

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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    I like it. Don't know what you've already done in PP but to me this shot is all about the frost, texture, and lines. All of those things are amplified by cranking up the contrast. I'd take it to the point of whites right on the edge of the histogram and shadows well past the edge. You could likely get some of the detail underneath to virtually disappear thereby focusing attention even more. Just a thought.

    On edit: Oh yeah, and sharpen aggressively.
    Last edited by NorthernFocus; 5th January 2013 at 03:24 PM.

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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    Hi Matt,

    I think it works OK, as others have said, but it would stand a bit more 'pop' with LCE and sharpening.

    I had a go, say if you'd like it removed;
    LCE 25% 250px 0 th with USM
    Small crop to remove a few distractions at the edge of frame
    Sharpen with USM 100% 0.3px 1 threshold
    One click of spot heal to remove a bright crystal in shadow area top right

    Nature close-up shot. C&C please


    If you'd like to see my earlier attempts (taken three years ago), have a look this one here and the others in that gallery.

    I'd probably push the sharpening a little more myself these days too.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    Yeah, like that

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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    When something attracts you, shoot it at whatever angle, position you were at when you first saw it. When you have the first few shots, go in closer and do the same. Then and only then, change angles, perspective, position, etc, explore foreground, background, cull distractions, composition, etc and take those shots.

    Though that is a lot of stuff for just one item, I can almost guarantee that when you get back home, the ones that caught your attention will still be the best.

    I made the mistake, 3 days running, of exploring the subject and cleaning up the scene --- 3 days worth of time, frozen fingers and bone-chilling winds resulted in ????? Every image was deleted!!!

    As for the posted pic - it is nice and sharp. The front element could do with a bit more pop, the rear elements could do with a bit more contrast to bring out the textures. Dave's edit basically. But overall it is still a pretty fine image.

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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    When something attracts you, shoot it at whatever angle, position you were at when you first saw it....when you get back home, the ones that caught your attention will still be the best.
    Very true. Your "eye" is usually right, when you start using your brain it's usually time to move on.

    I would crop a tad off the right side of this to centre the leaf/frond/whatever-you-call-it, I feel that a subject like this should either be central or well off centre, but this is neither.

    Apart from that small thing I really like the shot.

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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    This is a lovely shot Matt. I am really learning a lot from the commentary and examples of what editing/cropping can do as well so thanks for being open to C&C

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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    Sorry for the slow response. I had to take some time to let everything sink in so I could gather my thoughts and such. There was a lot to think about, experiment with, and ponder.

    I'd like to start off with an all around, sincere thank you to everyone who responded. I can't tell you how helpful your advice has been, particularly in this thread, and I feel like this might be a turning point for me (which came as a surprise to me, considering the simple photo and typical c&c request).

    I agree with 100% of what has been suggested, and I also appreciate the nice comments. By the way, I often take significantly helpful advice and posts and copy/paste them into my own personal documents for future reference, and there was a good amount of that material in this thread.

    Dave, thank you for demonstrating the suggested editing techniques on my photo. Superb work! It was thoroughly helpful to see that version, so I could compare it side-by-side with my original version. Your version certainly has more pop to it, and more depth and "clarity" if you will. While I love it and it's 10x better than my version, I will say that I find the contrast a tiny bit much for me, and when I re-edit mine, I will probably do something similar but pull back on the contrast and things just a hair. I guess it's just a personal preference but I find the deep shadows distracting, especially compared to the bright ice (but still I will go much stronger on the contrast and things than my flat version). Other than that, all of the tweaks you did are phenomenal. This is where things got complicated for me, as I'll explain next...

    When I've been editing my photos, obviously I start with the raw file, then adjust temp, exposure, contrast, color, etc etc down the line in LR. I always flip back and forth between the raw and edited version as I go. To me, my edits have always looked good, and I've sometimes pulled back a bit on things that looked objectionable or "over done." (such as contrast, colors, sharpness, etc). Then you made these edits. When I compare your version with mine, I see how flat, bland, and soft mine looks. This was troubling for me to digest because I've always had a fear of overdoing it in editing, and now I need to rethink and change my definition and judgement about what really is overdone. I jumped into LR and had a go at a variety of different images, doing relatively quick edits from where they were, just stepping things up quite a bit. So I cranked up the contrast, tweaked the curves, went heavy on the sharpness, and so on. In a high percentage of those cases, I compared the new version with the older edited version, and what I thought was good before looked rather bland and flat compared to the stepped up version. A number of complications arise now. One is that I need to somehow figure out how to tell when things are looking correct and realistic, and not go too far. As noted, since I thought things looked good to me before, the stronger edits feel a bit uncomfortable for me, despite the fact that in general they have more impact. I've always been fearful that I will slowly creep further and further into over the top edits until I can no longer tell when something looks proper because I would continue to feel "it's not enough." You may be thinking to yourself that I'm not making any sense, because just above this I was talking about what seemed too strong about Dave's edits. However, the photo that is the subject of this thread is a little different in the sense that Dave has done the edits, so I can see it at a point where i was not the one making the judgements during editing. There is no way I would have ever come anywhere near the strength of his edits, were I starting from the raw file. So the fears I have are more relevant to edits which I will be doing in the future on my own, where I will have to make the call, and it will be foreign to me.

    So, now I don't know what is good or not good, which is a little scary. Also, I feel rather overwhelmed by some of the more complicated editing techniques, such as the "science of sharpening" and the LCE type things. There are so many settings, I don't know where to begin.

    I should also note that when I post pics on here, I don't export and sharpen for the size here. I just export the LR full size version, then upload to smugmug, grab the link for XL size, and post. I guess it would be proper of me to save a version at the correct size and sharpen it specifically.

    I'm hoping you all can give some more advice or suggestions to guide me and/or allay my fears about overediting, and/or how to determine when it's getting surreal vs when it actually looks realistic, vs when it looks flat like my version. I may be overreacting to all of this but it was quite a shock to see the difference. Again, though, this is an extremely beneficial experience because I'm at an early enough stage in the learning process that I can adapt, and I think my editing skills are about to step up a notch (once I get past the mental blocks which I described).

    Thank you greatly to every person that responded, and especially to Dave for making the edits which visually slapped me in the face and made me reevaluate things.

  11. #11
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    Hi Matt,

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    Dave, thank you for demonstrating the suggested editing techniques on my photo. Superb work! It was thoroughly helpful to see that version, so I could compare it side-by-side with my original version. Your version certainly has more pop to it, and more depth and "clarity" if you will. While I love it and it's 10x better than my version, I will say that I find the contrast a tiny bit much for me, and when I re-edit mine, I will probably do something similar but pull back on the contrast and things just a hair. I guess it's just a personal preference but I find the deep shadows distracting, especially compared to the bright ice (but still I will go much stronger on the contrast and things than my flat version). Other than that, all of the tweaks you did are phenomenal.
    I think you're 9x exagerating my results - you took the photo and had already done some work on it - all I did was LCE, crop, sharpen and a 'one click' clone out of a bright bit. Just 4 things that didn't take long because I have had lots of practice. There's a moral there practice, practice, practice.


    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    ~ I feel rather overwhelmed by some of the more complicated editing techniques, such as the "science of sharpening" and the LCE type things. There are so many settings, I don't know where to begin.
    Nothing to get overwhelmed by, but I recall there were times when I felt like that a few years ago.

    However, if you don't have something like Elements, CS5/6 or GIMP as well as LR, you will be a little limited in what you can do and that won't help because you cannot replicate what I have done. More on this below.


    It certainly doesn't matter that you think I went too far - in fact I agree, after reviewing, I could see that and if the shot were mine, I'd have undone a couple of steps, re done them with less, but it wasn't, so frankly I didn't bother - I didn't need to because it wasn't the final edit (that's yours to do) and besides; it has shown you what 'too much' does look like.


    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    So, now I don't know what is good or not good, which is a little scary.
    and

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    When I've been editing my photos, obviously I start with the raw file, then adjust temp, exposure, contrast, color, etc etc down the line in LR. I always flip back and forth between the raw and edited version as I go. To me, my edits have always looked good, and I've sometimes pulled back a bit on things that looked objectionable or "over done." (such as contrast, colors, sharpness, etc).
    I think the 'mistake' you are making is perhaps putting too much emphasis on "going too far" you are reinforcing that by frequently comparing back to the RAW. Try not to think of the RAW as the starting point for the final image; it is the "digital negative" - although there isn't the orange mask and inversion of "negatives" we see in film use, you wouldn't compare prints back to negatives, would you?

    So instead of comparing so often back to the RAW, just try to make you processed version look nice.
    Go by your instinct, it doesn't matter if you get it wrong, post the results and ask for critique in one or two specific areas only, say you don't want to be overwhelmed by too much feedback in your comments on the shot. (I often give too much information )

    By tackling one or two things at a time, you'll soon build the confidence necessary to move on to other things.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    When I compare your version with mine, I see how flat, bland, and soft mine looks. This was troubling for me to digest because I've always had a fear of overdoing it in editing, and now I need to rethink and change my definition and judgement about what really is overdone. I jumped into LR and had a go at a variety of different images, doing relatively quick edits from where they were, just stepping things up quite a bit. So I cranked up the contrast, tweaked the curves, went heavy on the sharpness, and so on. In a high percentage of those cases, I compared the new version with the older edited version, and what I thought was good before looked rather bland and flat compared to the stepped up version. A number of complications arise now. One is that I need to somehow figure out how to tell when things are looking correct and realistic, and not go too far. As noted, since I thought things looked good to me before, the stronger edits feel a bit uncomfortable for me, despite the fact that in general they have more impact. I've always been fearful that I will slowly creep further and further into over the top edits until I can no longer tell when something looks proper because I would continue to feel "it's not enough." You may be thinking to yourself that I'm not making any sense, because just above this I was talking about what seemed too strong about Dave's edits. However, the photo that is the subject of this thread is a little different in the sense that Dave has done the edits, so I can see it at a point where i was not the one making the judgements during editing. There is no way I would have ever come anywhere near the strength of his edits, were I starting from the raw file. So the fears I have are more relevant to edits which I will be doing in the future on my own, where I will have to make the call, and it will be foreign to me.
    When I process, I tackle one thing at a time, make it right and move on to the next, I keep my comparisons limited to the end of the previous section, not where I started from when I opened the image. In general terms - there's no point, when assessing LCE, to revert back to a shot which might be a stop under or over exposed, that's going to mask what you're doing now by something you fixed earlier.

    This is perhaps one area where LR isn't so helpful compared to say CS or Elements.
    In LightRoom (assuming it is like ACR); if you turn off preview, all you get is the unedited RAW
    In Elements, (once you're past the ACR stage) each adjustment dialog has its own preview, so you're just previewing the current change, not the entire work done to date, which makes it far easier to see what's happening.
    Also; you have a history list, so you can go back as many or few processing steps as you need to - and switch between them, when comparing.

    So actually, LightRoom (if it is all you have) is perhaps part of the problem!

    That said, I've never used LR, so if I'm wrong here - please, someone/anyone, do correct me.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    I should also note that when I post pics on here, I don't export and sharpen for the size here. I just export the LR full size version, then upload to smugmug, grab the link for XL size, and post. I guess it would be proper of me to save a version at the correct size and sharpen it specifically.
    I believe it is very important to tailor the uploaded file to the audience, although this really only relates to the sharpening, because the correct sharpening radius for one output size is definitely not the correct radius for another output size.
    You also need to consider how people are going to view it; there's no point* web publishing any photo more than 1000 px tall (whether it be landscape or portrait orientation), because many common screens are only 1050 or 1080 px 'tall'. So always downsize it and sharpen it for the size it'll be viewed at.

    * there are exceptions; e.g. comparison camera/lens tests, or when it is intended to be downloaded for subsequent editing by others.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    I'm hoping you all can give some more advice or suggestions to guide me and/or allay my fears about overediting, and/or how to determine when it's getting surreal vs when it actually looks realistic, vs when it looks flat like my version. I may be overreacting to all of this but it was quite a shock to see the difference. Again, though, this is an extremely beneficial experience because I'm at an early enough stage in the learning process that I can adapt, and I think my editing skills are about to step up a notch (once I get past the mental blocks which I described).
    I agree and hope the above helps.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    Thank you ~ especially to Dave for making the edits which visually slapped me in the face and made me reevaluate things.
    I often have that effect on people
    Not everyone is as understanding as you are

    Cheers,

  12. #12
    Tony M's Avatar
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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    In LightRoom (assuming it is like ACR); if you turn off preview, all you get is the unedited RAW
    In Elements, (once you're past the ACR stage) each adjustment dialog has its own preview, so you're just previewing the current change, not the entire work done to date, which makes it far easier to see what's happening.
    Also; you have a history list, so you can go back as many or few processing steps as you need to - and switch between them, when comparing.
    I learned rather late that in LR you can compare to the previous state of the image in the "Compare" view by first right-clicking on the appropriate step in the History panel and selecting "Copy History Step Settings to Before". That lets you compare with any previous state in the history.

    LR also allows you to turn on/off the effect of, say, the brush adjustment by clicking on a small icon in the toolbar. I can give more details if needed.

    Tony

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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    Dave,
    I think the 'mistake' you are making is perhaps putting too much emphasis on "going too far" you are reinforcing that by frequently comparing back to the RAW ... When I process, I tackle one thing at a time, make it right and move on to the next, I keep my comparisons limited to the end of the previous section, not where I started from when I opened the image. In general terms - there's no point, when assessing LCE, to revert back to a shot which might be a stop under or over exposed, that's going to mask what you're doing now by something you fixed earlier.
    I totally agree, and I'm glad you pointed this out. I will avoid looking back at the RAW file once I have begun editing. What I was doing really doesn't make any sense, now that I have thought about it


    ...practice, practice, practice ... it doesn't matter if you get it wrong, post the results and ask for critique in one or two specific areas only
    Again, a great point. I'll definitely continue posting for C&C and I'll try to focus on improving in specific areas to avoid getting overwhelmed.

    Tony,
    I learned rather late that in LR you can compare to the previous state of the image in the "Compare" view by first right-clicking on the appropriate step in the History panel and selecting "Copy History Step Settings to Before". That lets you compare with any previous state in the history.
    Thank you! I just tried that and I can tell it's going to be a huge advantage.

    Ok all, here is my next version of the photo (2 versions, actually). In this case I'm hoping to get feedback on the things we've been talking about already regarding this photo- The LCE / contrast / sharpness / color saturation etc. Do you think this is overdone, or just right, or underdone? Please offer honest input as usual, thank you!

    Here's what I did differently this time:

    Crop similar to Dave's version
    Cloned out crystal like Dave did
    Increased saturation on the colors a bit
    Slightly reduced exposure on the cedar piece touching the top of the frame in the background
    Resized specifically for web sharing (1000px wide)
    Did LCE and sharpening tweaks on the sized version
    Added a little vignette

    In the second photo below, I increased the exposure a hair, and stepped the sharpening up even more

    1
    Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    2
    Nature close-up shot. C&C please

  14. #14
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    Any feedback on the new versions I posted? Or did I drag this thread on too long

    I can create a new thread with the new version if that would be better (if anyone is reading this )

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    Any feedback on the new versions I posted? Or did I drag this thread on too long

    I can create a new thread with the new version if that would be better (if anyone is reading this )
    Hi Matt,

    I'm just off to work now, will look at later>

    Better here I think, unless you want to create a new thread, but please put a link back to this one if you do.

    Cheers, Dave

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    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Matt,

    I'm just off to work now, will look at later>

    Cheers, Dave
    Thanks Dave. FYI I posted the new version in a new thread here New version of nature close up, C&C please

  17. #17
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Nature close-up shot. C&C please

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    Here's what I did differently this time:

    Crop similar to Dave's version
    Cloned out crystal like Dave did
    Increased saturation on the colors a bit
    Slightly reduced exposure on the cedar piece touching the top of the frame in the background
    Resized specifically for web sharing (1000px wide)
    Did LCE and sharpening tweaks on the sized version
    Added a little vignette

    In the second photo below, I increased the exposure a hair, and stepped the sharpening up even more.
    Hi Matt,

    Just for the record, I always do the LCE prior to downsizing, I figure given the radius I often use 100 - 250px, it won't make any noticeable difference. The amount and threshold not being related to image size, they're irrelevant.

    So I do all my usual processing, save a full size version psd or jpg on my HDD, then downsize and sharpen, save again (with a different file name) forupload on my PBase site and posting here. If I want to print (very rare) I undo the downsize & sharpen, then sharpen a full size version more aggressively and save, then print that.


    I see you got the hang of "subtle" - while I can detect differences in exposure and sharpening here between 1 and 2, they are so small (on my laptop monitor), that I wouldn't think of either "that's worth the bother of redoing with less/more".

    As such, I'm not gonna say which I prefer, in case it's the 'other' one I've already said "you've nailed it" in the other thread

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 8th January 2013 at 02:14 PM.

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