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Thread: Project 52 - Post Processing

  1. #1
    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    Project 52 - Post Processing

    When I started the post-processing project 52 thread I inadvertently included "Week 1" in the title, which seems a bit 'off' once you get on down the road with it. Since the thread title is now etched in cyber-stone I've decided to continue the project with a new thread entitled simply "Post Processing". Here is the link to the thread for Week 1 through Week 3: Project 52 - Post Processing - Week 1.

    For 'ease of handling' though, here is a repeat of how the thread works:

    Each week I will post three versions of the same image.

    1. A saved version of the unprocessed raw file, along with a link to the actual raw image.
    2. The file after ACR processing only.
    3. A 'final' version after processing in CS5 or CS6.

    A normal critique is desired but if possible, compare the three images and offer C&C on the degree and nature of the processing done in ACR and PS; and whether or not it could/should be different. Re-dos are encouraged and even desired; seeing an image being taken in another direction is of immense value, as it broadens the sphere of thinking and sparks the imagination even if it's something you yourself wouldn't do with a particular image. Please advise which version you worked on.

    For re-dos using the link to the actual raw image, Lightroom users will use that as opposed to ACR. The link works for ACR 6.6/LR 3.6 and later, according to the host, Mediafire.

    Questions about what was done in either ACR or PS are also encouraged - I will try to make sure I keep notes on the ACR work. Also don't be shy about being forthrightful; a "what were you thinking?" epiphany is just as valuable if it comes from without as opposed to within. If I'm over-cooking or under-cooking, I'd like to know as soon as possible, and I think most would feel the same way.

    And now, Week 4: Lots of challenges here due to the mid-day brightness and the uneven sky, perhaps brought on by the circular polarizer. Thanks for any thoughts and suggestions.

    View of unprocessed raw image. Link to the actual raw image: http://www.mediafire.com/?n1b145qr5bkf4ca

    Project 52 - Post Processing



    After ACR processing:

    Project 52 - Post Processing



    After final processing in CS6:

    Project 52 - Post Processing

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Project 52 - Post Processing

    I think this is a good learning tool for anyone who wonders what post-processing is about and/or who (at the risk of stirring up that old chestnut) thinks that pp is 'cheating'.

    Clearly the scene did not look like how the camera captured it, though it made a very good job of getting all the highlights and shadows.

    The ACR processing has brought back the light to what, I'm sure it actually was, but, as we can see, it looks a bit dull and flat and, of course, hasn't corrected the perspective distortion. The final version has restored the vibrancy, the 'pop' that I'm sure existed in the scene as viewed with the naked eye.

    So, post processing has brought helped make an image that represents the scene as viewed at the time.

    good one.

  3. #3
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    Re: Project 52 - Post Processing

    Nicely done Lon. I like the colours you now have in the last photo, but especially the straightening that was applied.
    The colours do pop and looking at the second and third shot I find it difficult to judge which I like best. That is one thing I noticed with these consecutive stages, you really notice the differences now, while in most other cases on this forum we will just see the finished product and won't really notice that the colours have started to 'pop' that much.

    Must be a holiday shot, they probably don't have telephone boxes like that in Silverdale, WA.

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    Re: Project 52 - Post Processing

    Nicely edited. All potential problems have been addressed.

  5. #5
    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    Re: Project 52 - Post Processing

    Quote Originally Posted by Letrow View Post
    Must be a holiday shot, they probably don't have telephone boxes like that in Silverdale, WA.
    Thanks Peter and Donald. The raw capture was somewhat underexposed, so that accentuated the apparent differences between it and the other versions; and probably prevented the image from reaching its full potential. Sadly, Silverdale will never see those cutesy telephone boxes; it's morphed into a town of strip malls surrounding a real one. This is downtown Poulsbo, a quirky village full of bakeries, bistros and boutiques. The villagers there avoid Silverdale at all costs.

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    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    Re: Project 52 - Post Processing

    I've been 'off my feed' with the project for a couple of weeks, having left for one week in Hawaii on the 5th, returning on the 12th and re-organizing and recovering from a bad cold since then. It was my first visit to Hawaii for vacation/exploring and now I know lots of ways NOT to do Hawaii, which is for another place and time.

    So here is Week 5 - a most challenging image. It is the Kilauea Caldera, taken from the overlook at the Jaggar Museum. It was the final stop on the Lavawalk Tour, offered by Roberts Hawaii ... not a good tour for serious image-taking because you're on and off a bus all day, burning energy and getting 10-20 minutes each stop to find something to shoot. The only live lava I saw was at this stop, arriving just at sunset and trying to burrow through hundreds of others at the overlook to poke the camera somewhere for an unobstructed click of the shutter. If I had had a tripod I wouldn't have risked trying to get it set it up amongst all the madness.

    Here are the basics: Canon 5d Mk2 w/EF 24-105mm at 24 mm, iso 400, f4.0, 1/30. I would have at least liked to brace the camera somehow to chance a slower shutter speed but there was just no room and no way at the time due to the constant jostling from the crowd. As you can see from the unprocessed raw capture, it was already dark enough so that the light from the ongoing eruption was just about all that was visible, requiring lots of PP to bring up any other image elements in order to 'set a scene.' This produced a massive amount of noise, which was mitigated some in ACR, and then when I got into PS with it I wanted more noise reduction so rather than retreating back into ACR I applied more with Topaz DeNoise. There is still a ton of noise but reducing any further wouldn't have left much to look at. In ACR, there were the normal tweaks in the basic panel, plus some use of the adjustment brush. The only other thing done in PS was straightening and cropping, along with unsharp mask and curves, with selective masking done with the denoise and sharpening.

    I know this image isn't going to wow anyone but I do wonder if PP might have been handled differently to produce a better image. Thanks for any thoughts and ideas.

    View of unprocessed raw image. Here is the link to the actual raw file: http://www.mediafire.com/?hx7glzv8g33yr63
    Project 52 - Post Processing



    This is the image at the end of raw processing:
    Project 52 - Post Processing



    This is the image after final processing in CS6:
    Project 52 - Post Processing
    Last edited by Lon Howard; 17th February 2013 at 10:32 PM.

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    Re: Project 52 - Post Processing

    Hi Lon,

    I took at shot at it with LR4.3. Don't know if this is a better image but a bit different. I think darkening the sky adds to the mood. Most of work was in LR using the sharpening and noise reduction controls. Then a pass through Neat Image to get rid of some more noise. (I only have an evaluation copy of Neat Image so it may not be the best result.)

    I'm surprised you didn't use a higher ISO, say 1600. The question is which would introduce more noise - higher iso or PP. Looking forward to hearing more about Hawaii.

    George

    Project 52 - Post Processing

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    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    Re: Project 52 - Post Processing

    Thanks for your edit, George,

    I agree about the darker sky, it does add drama. Trying a higher iso would've also been wise but our time there was limited (concern about the bus getting back to Hilo for the return flight to Honolulu) and it was so hectic right then that I just forgot about my normal progressions. In the PP stage I was reluctant to add any more exposure in the darker areas leading to the caldera because, well it was sunset and I wanted to reflect that, and also because I thought it would reduce the depth in the image as a whole. That's why I added the most exposure to the immediate foreground and to the crater.

    I do wish there was a way to eliminate the vertical banding in those darker areas without making it so dark that it becomes distracting. Thanks again.

  9. #9
    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    Re: Project 52 - Post Processing

    Here is Week 6, another image from my recent trip to Hawaii. It is the entrance to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, a veteran's cemetery located in the Punchbowl crater in Honolulu. Unfortunately it drizzled off and on when I visited, definitely ON at the time of this shot so from a purely esthetic view it ruined the image; but this is a post-processing thread so possibly a good subject here (yep, left my umbrella at home on the mainland ... ). Luckily, as is usually the case, the only areas where the rain spots were bothersome were in the sky. The spot healing brush worked to some extent but many of the spots were just too large and too close together, so being too aggressive with the brush just replaced the spots with blotches. There were some areas where content-aware fill worked better than the spot healing brush but again, you could only go so far. I also tried cloning but that just produced too much unevenness in the sky, as one might guess. In the end I felt I had to accept a certain degree of imperfection.

    Any ideas or suggestions as to how best to handle a case like this are very much appreciated, and as always, any redos or C & C about any aspects are welcome and desired.

    Here is a view of the original raw capture. The actual raw image is downloadable from this link: http://www.mediafire.com/?i12lr4to4orfv38:
    Project 52 - Post Processing



    This is how the image looked after raw processing:
    Project 52 - Post Processing



    And here is the final image after processing in CS6:
    Project 52 - Post Processing
    Last edited by Lon Howard; 23rd February 2013 at 06:57 PM.

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    Re: Project 52 - Post Processing

    If the flag had been on the other side of the pole, Lon, I would have suggested a slight crop from the left side. But as it is, I suspect this would be too much.

    With regard to difficult clone areas like skies, what I sometimes do is to make the first adjustment using the Clone Tool with a slightly reduced opacity then blend in any areas which don't look correct using a Healing Brush.

    This often works better than just using either tool on its own.

    The Clone Tool can leave noticeable edges while the Healing Brush alone often doesn't give sufficient opacity coverage of the problem area.

    A method which can work well when I am 'rebuilding' hot spots on an insect's body.

  11. #11
    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    Re: Project 52 - Post Processing

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post

    A method which can work well when I am 'rebuilding' hot spots on an insect's body.
    And also thanks for rebuilding my PS tool kit, Geoff!

  12. #12
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    Re: Project 52 - Post Processing

    All the spots are darker than the surrounding sky and if I was doing it I would have the cloning set to lighten, the opacity at about 80% or even 100% at first and use a large soft brush. Just be careful near the trees but the clouds being a lighter shade should not be at risk if you are cloning from a suitable area. Alternatively you could replace the entire sky with a similar one.
    Last edited by pnodrog; 23rd February 2013 at 10:09 PM.

  13. #13
    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    Re: Project 52 - Post Processing

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    Alternatively you could replace the entire sky with a similar one.
    Thanks Paul! I may end up doing just that with this image but your suggestion for cloning at a reduced opacity might end up being more constructive overall in the long run. Still, no reason to rule out a sky replacement thread someday.

  14. #14
    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    Re: Project 52 - Post Processing

    Week 7 - Topaz Adjust 5: A little changeup this week. Here are four images from a recent one week stay in Hawaii, taken on a 'Lava Walk Tour'. It's a one day fly over and back bus tour through the Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island (not the best way to view it ... ). I was having a lot of trouble achieving adequate contrast so I thought I'd try Topaz Adjust. It did a decent job with contrast but along with that it applies some fairly heavy-handed tonal variations, many of which are not pleasing (at least to me). Masking them out in PS doesn't work because you also mask out the improvements in contrast. That leads you into going into some extended play time working the many sliders in Topaz. Those sliders don't seem to be as intuitive as the ones in PS or ACR. Bottom line, I ended up adding a string of adjustment layers - one on top of another, each trying to correct a tonal correction that somehow fell a little short or over-corrected. Here are some of the results; I really don't know what to make of these images, but as you can probably tell, I'm not too thrilled.

    Has anyone else had this experience?

    Image #1:
    Project 52 - Post Processing



    Image #2:
    Project 52 - Post Processing



    Image #3:
    Project 52 - Post Processing



    Image #4:
    Project 52 - Post Processing

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