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Thread: Charismatic Scotsmen

  1. #1

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    Charismatic Scotsmen

    These two men regularly participate in the Scottish Christmas Walk held each year in the Old Town area of Alexandria, Virginia. I captured these five years ago and just got around to converting them to black-and-white today.

    C&C is encouraged, though I don't have anything to ask.


    Charismatic Scotsmen


    Charismatic Scotsmen

  2. #2

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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    Lovely shots Mike - I think that you really captured their respective characters in these shots. The first fellow looks quite fun loving and a bit mischievous while the second appears much more intent, studious and quite charming.

    Not sure if this is possible, but could you sharpen around the eyes of the first fellow just a tad (area in the shadow of his hat)?

    I think that I like these best of all the B&W images you have posted so far.

  3. #3

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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    Thanks, Shane!

    Quote Originally Posted by ShaneS View Post
    Not sure if this is possible, but could you sharpen around the eyes of the first fellow just a tad (area in the shadow of his hat)?
    I tried it. Anything that resulted in a noticeably increased sharpness also produced artifacts. Bummer! Perhaps the shutter at 1/500 wasn't fast enough to stop a particular motion in his eyebrows? Thanks for the suggestion; keep them coming!

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    I saw the thread title and thought, "Who's been taking my picture?", but then opened it and saw it wasn't me!

    Good ones, Mike. Just right for B & W.

    Whilst the second is in what is 'standard' Highland dress (with Bearskin hat) for a pipe band, I'm intrigued by the clothes worn by the man in the first image, particularly if he is a student of history and the costume is accurate. It certainly looks as if there has been a lot of work put in to ensure that it is 'complete' set of clothes and not an amalgam of styles from different eras.

    I don't know my historical dress styles at all, but my first impression when seeing it was of Robert the Bruce (late 12th/early 13th century), but maybe that's far too old and it is more 16th/17th century.

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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    Thanks, Donald! Sorry to disappoint you that it wasn't you. I didn't realize the bagpiper's hat was supposed to be emulate bearskin, so thanks for that information.

    You're probably familiar with many jokes about the sound of bagpipes. It was at my first Scottish Christmas Walk that I heard my first mass band of bagpipes. It was so large that the pipers couldn't hear each other well and one group ended a piece of music one measure later than another group. In fact, when everyone ended the next piece together, one piper made a joke about it. Regardless, it was hearing the sound produced by a mass band that I realized that this was the first time that I liked it. I still don't like the sound of an individual instrument.

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    Digital's Avatar
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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    Very nice photos. I like the second photo better; however they are both nice. Bruce

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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    Hi Mike,

    I really like your piper. The other fellow reminds me of Henry VIII rather than a Scot, though I know nothing about it.

    I was wondering where your focus point was and what was the f stop, as his clothes and beard are sharp, but his eyes are a little soft compared to the rest of the image. Was it a depth of field issue or did you catch a blink? That doesn't really bother me, but I am interested, as I like the image and there is a lot of character there .

    I think it was Henri Cartier-Bresson who said that sharpness is a bourgeois concept. I don't really know what the exact words were but that is the concept.

    Graham

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    I tried it. Anything that resulted in a noticeably increased sharpness also produced artifacts. Bummer!
    ~ keep them coming!
    Hi Mike,

    Looking at the eye as large as I can, I see the problem conventional sharpening will have - you could try this technique;
    Using the full size image (i.e. not the one downsized to post here)
    Make a new layer (we are going to use this solely to deal with the eyes, so ignore what happens to the rest of the picture)
    Apply Local Contrast Enhancement settings of USM to it; a wider radius, lower amount and with 0 threshold (start with 30%, 100px and 0 th)
    Apply another USM pass with say; 30%, 4px, 1 th
    Apply another USM pass with say; 40%, 2px, 1 th
    Apply another USM pass with say; 50%, 1px, 1 th
    By whatever means suits you (masking or erasing), expose just the eyes from this new layer through to the original layer
    If it looks better, (viewed full image, not 100%), flatten image, if it doesn't, undo a few select steps and try again with different values in any or all of the USM applications
    Downsize for web
    Final sharpen

    I think by now they should look better and be artefact free, especially if you tempered the masking/erasing so as not to 'over do it'.

    Hope that helps,

  9. #9

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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    Dave,

    Thanks for the detailed explanation. I'm used to using LCE but not by applying several passes of it as you explained. If I have trouble getting it to work with one pass, I'll try your method, which makes sense.

    If I understand Shane's post properly, he was referring not to the eyeballs but to the area "around the eyes...[in] the shadow area under the hat." That's the area that I attempted to sharpen that produced artifacts, not the eyeballs. I could try applying LCE to that area, but now that I reconsider it, the softness in that area doesn't bother me and perhaps helps enhance the image.

    Graham,

    I don't know where I focused. (My software displays that but it does so inaccurately when I use my typical method of focusing, holding the focus and then recomposing.) This photo was taken more than five years ago and I have a terrible memory about those details. The shutter speed is 1/500, so I don't think the issue pertaining to the eyes has to do with that, but I suppose it could.

    Now that you have brought my attention to the eyes, I do realize that they are a bit soft. The man's left eye is softer than his right eye, so I can't assuredly explain that. I think the most reliable explanation is that I was new at shooting with auto focusing and did a bad job of it; in the original, none of it is tack sharp. Even so, the revised image shown below is improved by applying LCE to the eyes, whereas the first image had none. In fact, I seem to remember thinking that when the eyes are such a small part of the image, it's not necessary to apply LCE to them. Lesson learned, so thank you!


    Charismatic Scotsmen
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 2nd February 2013 at 01:17 PM.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    That's much better Mike,

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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    Nice improvement Mike. BTW, I am of the fairer(?) sex, was just given a male name. I guess I should post an avatar that makes that fact obvious

    On a separate note I appreciate the LCE workflow Dave, thank you.

  12. #12
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    Hi Shane,

    Quote Originally Posted by ShaneS View Post
    On a separate note I appreciate the LCE workflow Dave, thank you.
    They were fairly specific values suggested above for Mike's picture and the multiple passes were to sharpen.

    More generally, I'd suggest you try a single USM application of;
    Amount; usually somewhere in the range 10 - 25% (beware blowing the highlights or crushing shadow detail with higher amounts*)
    Radius; I usually use the max. 250px (to avoid halos, but it depends on image content)
    Threshold; for LCE always 0 (because the radius is way more than the noise radius**)

    I usually apply it to the whole image, but sometimes it does require masking to apply to parts only; e.g. a landscape on a hazy day where the foreground would go too dark, too quickly if applied to that.

    * I am guided by the histogram when setting the Amount
    ** unlike traditional sharpening, when the radius is much closer to the noise 'granules' and you risk making noise significantly worse unless you raise the threshold a bit

    Cheers,

  13. #13

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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    Quote Originally Posted by ShaneS View Post
    BTW, I am of the fairer(?) sex
    You should eliminate the question mark. Thanks for letting me know!

  14. #14
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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    Mike, I am REALLY enjoying your B&W conversions, including these. Well done and keep them coming.

    Cheers

  15. #15

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    Re: Charismatic Scotsmen

    Thanks, Jon. I will always be making black-and-white photos, as well as other monochromes. I'm hooked!

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