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Thread: Feedback on my horses please

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Feedback on my horses please

    This particular horse is a real charmer, full of personality. When I took these photos I was trying to capture his personality in action. The sun was out but it was early and the light was not very bright. I shot from below the horse to try and capture a unique perspective. Because he was moving so much it was not practical to use a tripod.

    I used Aperture 9 (to get as much in focus as I could)
    Shutter Speed 100-160 (to let in as much light as I could)
    Center Weighted metering (light on the horse)
    IS0 320 to 400 to let in as much light as I could and keep as much clarity as possible
    Exposure Bias +.7

    In editing I opened in raw, and sharpened ~ 15, increased clarity and vibrancy just a smidge.

    Once in photoshop elements I tried to select around just the horse to sharpen just the horse but I could not manage to do it with any finesse (the horses mane is a challenge to select) so instead I used mask sharpening on the entire photo ...

    Amount 85%, Radius 1, Threshold 4

    I also cloned out rust spots on the white rail.

    Here are the photos which I do like a lot but? I think they need to be sharper, have better focus (too soft and on his nose instead of his eyes?) and maybe better clarity?

    Feedback on my horses please

    Feedback on my horses please

    This one is a little odd, but I think it is cute.. he kind of looks like a camel (I cropped the photo by rotating it because the angle I used made the entire photo crooked)

    Feedback on my horses please


    Feedback on my horses please

    How could I have done this better? Thank you.

    Nikon D80

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Feedback on my horses please

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I think they need to be sharper, have better focus (too soft and on his nose instead of his eyes?) and maybe better clarity?

    ...

    How could I have done this better? Thank you.
    Christina - One of the best ways of learning to understand and analyse your own work. Good on you for being willing and able to do that. It means you'll be much more aware of these issues the next time you try something like this.

    For me, you have identified the key issues yourself.

    In terms of sharpening:
    "Once in photoshop elements I tried to select around just the horse to sharpen just the horse but I could not manage to do it with any finesse (the horses mane is a challenge to select) so instead I used mask sharpening on the entire photo ... "

    I recognise what you are saying about trying to select in order to selectively sharpen. The other option is to not to try and select an area, but to use the opacity slider on the sharpening tool. For something like the mane, you can try turning the opacity way down and then gently brush over that area a few times to build up the sharpening effect. Remember that less is often more and in a picture such as those you have here the edges of the mane would not necessarily have to be absolutely pin-sharp, so long as the main part of the body and especially the eyes, are.

    In terms of your wish to have more clarity, I wonder if you mean that you want more 'pop' in the picture; i.e. somethign that maybe doesn't look so flat? If so, the answer two that one is Local Contrast Enhancement (LCE). Again, by selectively applying LCE in the same way as you selectively apply sharpening, you would get a lot more clarity/'pop' into the coat. You can read about LCE in this CiC tutorial

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    Re: Feedback on my horses please

    Christina you say you tried to capture the horses' personality in action. In #3 I think you did it perfectly. A soft personality with a smile on his face.
    The softness in the images is part of his personality. I would not worry about it.
    I love the perspective in #2.
    Focus on the eyes is better, if you focus on the nose it will turn out horribly. Ask me, I messed up shots of a bear by focusing on the nose while flies were bothering him - no good shots.

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    Re: Feedback on my horses please

    All very good considering your subject wasn't cooperating. The one thing I would suggest is observe how your camera is reacting while trying to focus at that close of a distance. Was it searching for a focal point? If it was try stepping back a bit. What lens were you using?

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    Re: Feedback on my horses please

    Good for you for looking for deficiencies in your photos.

    Let us know the focal length and the aperture that you were using. I ask because I'm concerned that the static objects aren't very sharp. If they're not sharp, the moving horse will never be sharp.

    I would use a shutter speed of at least 1/300 and ideally 1/500 to capture a horse sharply, especially one with so much personality (moving a lot). Using your shutter of 100 - 160 is asking for trouble. When making this style of photo, remember that it doesn't matter how beautiful the color is, how much personality of the horse is showing, etc., etc., unless you stop the motion.

    Once you get the basics down, you'll be making great photos of your horses!

  6. #6
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Feedback on my horses please

    Thank you Donald. Great too hear that I actually identified what needs work.

    Later this week, I will try and find that opacity slider. I think Geoff was trying to get me to learn how to use it in my project 52 last year, but I could not figure it out, so I will try again.

    Yes, I think I mean pop, but to me photos with good clarity also don't look like they are processed. And I will need to read the tutorial on LCE before trying.. Thank you.

    I will try editing and post in a few days. Thank you.



    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Christina - One of the best ways of learning to understand and analyse your own work. Good on you for being willing and able to do that. It means you'll be much more aware of these issues the next time you try something like this.

    For me, you have identified the key issues yourself.

    In terms of sharpening:
    "Once in photoshop elements I tried to select around just the horse to sharpen just the horse but I could not manage to do it with any finesse (the horses mane is a challenge to select) so instead I used mask sharpening on the entire photo ... "

    I recognise what you are saying about trying to select in order to selectively sharpen. The other option is to not to try and select an area, but to use the opacity slider on the sharpening tool. For something like the mane, you can try turning the opacity way down and then gently brush over that area a few times to build up the sharpening effect. Remember that less is often more and in a picture such as those you have here the edges of the mane would not necessarily have to be absolutely pin-sharp, so long as the main part of the body and especially the eyes, are.

    In terms of your wish to have more clarity, I wonder if you mean that you want more 'pop' in the picture; i.e. somethign that maybe doesn't look so flat? If so, the answer two that one is Local Contrast Enhancement (LCE). Again, by selectively applying LCE in the same way as you selectively apply sharpening, you would get a lot more clarity/'pop' into the coat. You can read about LCE in this CiC tutorial

  7. #7
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Feedback on my horses please

    Thank you Donald, John, Andre and Mike.. your feedback is very helpful.

    Aperture F9

    Lens Nikor 28-200 mm 3.5-5.6

    Focal length 36 mm but my camera specs also say 54 mm when compare to 35 mm film?

    I think I was pretty close (a couple of feet away) but I can't remember if my camera was trying to grab the focus, but for future attempts, I will slow down and try and be aware of this, and stepping back. Thank you.

    Often when I use a faster shutter speed the photo is too, dark and then I have to up the iso, and the noise is quite apparent at 800, and even lower sometimes, but I will keep working on this and the exposure to decrease the noise. There is also purple fringing in the horses mane.

    Nice to know that the odd photo is liked. Thank you.

    All my camera settings, ie; sharpness, contrast, saturation etc are set to normal. Is this correct?

    I also see something called Gain Control - Low Gain Up - What does this mean?

    No more focusing on noses , and this year I will concentrate on achieving clear focus and sharpness.

    Thank you everyone. Very helpful.

  8. #8

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    Re: Feedback on my horses please

    You ask such great questions, Christina. Your tenacity about that reminds me of Terri.

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Focal length 36 mm but my camera specs also say 54 mm when compare to 35 mm film?
    Your camera has a sensor that is smaller than the standard full-frame sensor, which is called full-frame in the industry because it is the same size as 35mm film. The combination of your sensor with your 36mm focal length has the same effect as using a 54mm focal length on a full-frame digital camera or a 35mm film camera. For more about that, look up "crop factor."

    Often when I use a faster shutter speed the photo is too, dark and then I have to up the iso, and the noise is quite apparent at 800, and even lower sometimes, but I will keep working on this and the exposure to decrease the noise.
    I recommend shooting in Aperture Priority and using Auto ISO if your camera allows you to configure the Auto ISO to a minimum shutter speed of 1/400 or 1/500 and a maximum ISO of whatever you're most comfortable with. Otherwise, try shooting in Shutter Priority using that shutter speed.

    Keep in mind that the areas of the photo that are not in focus are more prone to displaying noise. So, getting the important part of the image tack sharp will minimize the noise. When the noise exists only in the out-of-focus areas, you can get rid of the noise during post-processing quite easily because you often don't have any concerns about reducing detail in those areas.

    I'll take an image with noise that is sharp any day over an image that has no noise and isn't sharp. That's true for most people, so make noise a secondary consideration to sharpness.

    There is also purple fringing in the horses mane.
    Though I didn't notice it, that's usually caused by your lens in that some lenses are more prone to fringing than others. Regardless, fringing happens more so in areas that are out of focus. So, again, getting the important part of the photo sharp will help with that issue.

    All my camera settings, ie; sharpness, contrast, saturation etc are set to normal. Is this correct?
    There is no "correct" combination of settings if you are shooting RAW files, which I recommend. That's because you can alter those settings easily during post-processing. Having said that, consider increasing your in-camera sharpness dramatically so you can examine the sharpness in your camera's LCD. If they aren't sharp, retake the photos. If you're shooting RAW files, "undo" the sharpening as your first post-processing step.

    EDIT: If you're shooting JPEGs, definitely do not increase the in-camera sharpening. That's because, unlike when shooting RAW files, it can't be undone during post-processing.

    I also see something called Gain Control - Low Gain Up - What does this mean?
    Sorry, but I have no idea.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 13th February 2013 at 02:37 PM.

  9. #9
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Feedback on my horses please

    Thank you so much Mike.. (I don't know who Terri is but presume it is a good thing) I will try all of your suggestions

    Here is what I found on gain up control.. I've a busy day ahead of me, so I will read it later... it is as clear as mud

    http://photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00Nc3i

  10. #10
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Feedback on my horses please

    Following are my attempts at editing my horse shots... I used the local contrast enhancement as found on the Cambridge tutorials and I do believe it added some clarity to the photos and I think it also makes the focus appear stronger.

    Feedback on my horses please

    (I can see that the part near beside the wood looks edited, but I just could not figure out how to refine the edge so it would disappear.. ie; feather, smooth contract edge)

    Donald, in this shot I ended up making a selection around the top of the horses head (including the eyes) to selectively sharpen as suggested but I could not figure out how to do it your way... (See below)

    I am using Photoshop Elements 9 and I tried to find an adjustment layer for sharpen only with an opacity slider, or even an opacity slider when I select the sharpen tool but I don't seem to have that option? Am I missing something?

    I recognise what you are saying about trying to select in order to selectively sharpen. The other option is to not to try and select an area, but to use the opacity slider on the sharpening tool. For something like the mane, you can try turning the opacity way down and then gently brush over that area a few times to build up the sharpening effect. Remember that less is often more and in a picture such as those you have here the edges of the mane would not necessarily have to be absolutely pin-sharp, so long as the main part of the body and especially the eyes, are.


    Feedback on my horses please

    Thank you everyone for your feedback. I think I like using the local contrast enhancement, ie; I think it made a difference to my photos?

  11. #11

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    Re: Feedback on my horses please

    These are really significant improvements. Having said that, getting the images better in the camera using a faster shutter speed will allow your new-found post-processing skills to be even more successful.

    As for the opacity, you can adjust the opacity of each layer. I don't remember if you can adjust the opacity of a particular brush. If you're using only one brush in a particular layer, being able to adjust the layer's opacity is tantamount to adjusting the opacity of the brush.

  12. #12
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Feedback on my horses please

    Thank you Mike... I will be working on improving my in-camera shots for sure! (my primary goal )

    For the life of me, I can't figure out the opacity... I see that when I add a new layer I have the option of setting the opacity of the layer but I'm not sure how one is supposed to know the opacity level of the edit before on tries it.

    Also when I create a new layer I seem to have only select edits to choose from such as darken, lighten, saturation, hue etc but no option to adjust the layer using colour curves, sharpening, levels, contrast or any of the normal things I might normally try... ie; these options are not available to select on the menu when I add a layer...

    Thank you

  13. #13

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    Re: Feedback on my horses please

    I have Elements 6, so I'm confident that all of the capabilities in that are also available in your version 9. Considering the trouble you're experiencing, you might want to consider looking for some tutorials to help you out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I see that when I add a new layer I have the option of setting the opacity of the layer but I'm not sure how one is supposed to know the opacity level of the edit before one tries it.
    I don't understand your concern. The easiest thing is to use the default setting of 100% opacity, then apply the change, then reduce the opacity to taste.

    Back to adjusting the opacity of a brush: The type of brush is displayed at the top of the window (in version 6). Many other configurations that affect the brush are displayed to the right, including the opacity of that brush.

    Also when I create a new layer I seem to have only select edits to choose from such as darken, lighten, saturation, hue etc but no option to adjust the layer using colour curves, sharpening, levels, contrast or any of the normal things I might normally try... ie; these options are not available to select on the menu when I add a layer...
    I don't understand how that can be. Most importantly, you are always using a Layer even if you don't add a layer. All of the menu items, including the basics such as the Levels tool, are available whether you are using the initial layer or a layer that you have added. Moreover, you can add an Adjustment Layer which gives you the opportunity, as an example, to choose a Levels layer as opposed to one of the many other kinds of adjustment layers.

    I rarely use Elements and almost never for the stuff we're discussing, so unfortunately I won't be much help.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 14th February 2013 at 11:27 PM.

  14. #14
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Feedback on my horses please

    Thank you Mike. You're right, even though I have learned a lot about editing, for some reason I am struggling with the concept of layers and I seem to have a mental block/confusion on the concept I will find some tutorials specific to layers... likely just what I need.

    Thank you so much for all your help and advice. Truly appreciated.

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