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Thread: A long way in a year

  1. #1
    BrianA61's Avatar
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    A long way in a year

    I haven't visited or posted to this forum in almost a year. In my last post, I asked for feedback on a shot I took and why I didn't care to use PP to manipulate the photo. I said I was either naive or old school purist and wanted to have my shots come out without the need to PP. I have since realized that no matter how hard you try and strive to have the perfect settings on your camera, the best results are to use PP and adjust to get the best results. My goal is to only adjust enough to get how my eyes saw the scene. Here are a couple of pics after learning and using PP. Both of these are almost exactly how I remember seeing them. How did I do?

    3 exposure panorama using LR 5 and photoshop stitching.
    [IMG]A long way in a year[/IMG]

    First attempt at HDR. 3 exposures using LR 5 and combining w/ photoshop
    [IMG]A long way in a year[/IMG]

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    Re: A long way in a year

    Hi, Brian. I wasn't around a year ago but from my perspective your processing looks good. The HDR looks very natural. Stick around this time and enjoy the company.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: A long way in a year

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianA61 View Post
    I haven't visited or posted to this forum in almost a year.
    Okay, you're forgiven. But don't go missing again!

    My goal is to only adjust enough to get how my eyes saw the scene.
    That is EXACTLY what PP should be about. But how you interpret 'how my eyes saw the scene' is what's up for discussion. Substitute 'eyes' for 'mind' or 'brain' and you then get to the point of saying that what you are doing in PP is realising the vision that you had of the scene as you looked at it. And that's why and how, if you and I stood side-by-side and were looking at exactly the same thing at the same time, we might end up with two very different images.

    EDIT - Just as an addendum to the above, I've just been reading a recent essay by Alain Briot posted on the Nature Photographer's website. The essay is here. In it he states:

    "Cameras are designed for visual documentation. As such the camera alone cannot create art. To create art with a camera means using the camera as a means of personal expression, not just as a mean of documentation. The camera records visual information. The artist creates photographic art. If we just photograph all we have is an image created by a camera. To have an image created by us we need to alter the image created by the camera. How we alter that image is one of the fundamental aspects of personal style. In practice, this alteration is called a personal interpretation of the original subject.

    To do this the artist uses artistic license. Artistic license is the freedom to represent things as you see them, not as they appear to others. Artistic license makes use of both technical and artistic means
    ."

    Needless to say, this is an opinion with which I wholly agree.
    Last edited by Donald; 28th June 2013 at 07:12 AM.

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    Re: A long way in a year

    I am with Donald, it is not what you eye saw, but what you mind sees.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    BrianA61's Avatar
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    Re: A long way in a year

    Quote Originally Posted by Polar01 View Post
    I am with Donald, it is not what you eye saw, but what you mind sees.

    Cheers:

    Allan
    Thanks for the comments Allan and Donald. I see where you guys are coming from but judging by some of the photos I've seen, especially HDR, I have to wonder if the photographers' brain really saw their shot when they were taking it, the same way it came out of PP. The heavy handed technique used in the majority of HDR's I've seen just looks fake, especially in landscapes. Lots of people like it and that's perfectly OK. It's just not my cup of tea. I'm of the real world, natural looking variety and like things to look "as is" as possible. I guess what I'm saying is that photography (to me) is the art and skill of capturing moments of reality and should be displayed as lifelike (or as close to) as possible. My opinion. Worth what you paid for it. At any rate, I will not be a stranger on this site. I seem to go in spurts on all my hobbies. Lately, I've been focused on photography (pardon the pun ) but who knows how long that will last. I enjoy the interaction and honest comments here. Thanks again and I look forward to posting more work in my goal of continuous improvement.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: A long way in a year

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianA61 View Post
    I see where you guys are coming from but judging by some of the photos I've seen, especially HDR, I have to wonder if the photographers' brain really saw their shot when they were taking it,
    At the risk of offending some people - No!

    And that, to some degree, is fine. People get to work with the sliders and create something within the digital darkroom. But I like to have a sense of what the finished article is going to look like before I press the shutter.

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    Re: A long way in a year

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianA61 View Post
    ...I'm of the real world, natural looking variety and like things to look "as is" as possible. I guess what I'm saying is that photography (to me) is the art and skill of capturing moments of reality and should be displayed as lifelike (or as close to) as possible....
    First I agree with you completely on a lot of HDR work that's out there. I think the term for that style nowadays is "grunge". Early on it's the best that HDR software could do but now some people stick with it as a matter of style. I'm also in the same camp as you in that my intent is to recreate reality as I perceived it at the moment the shutter fired. Recognizing, of course, that it is my perception/memory as influenced by my own emotional state etc.

    It's in that context that to some degree you may be missing the point that the other gents have tried to make. We each have our own reality. No two people look at a scene and come away with exactly the same memory of colors, content, etc. If you want an image devoid of human interpretation then what comes straight out of the camera is the best bet.

    The challenge is that we don't see with our eyes, we see with out minds. Our eyes gather the light but our minds have to interpret that light into something that we can make sense of. We all have different experiences, different preferences, etc. that influence what we see. Understanding that concept is one of the biggest challenges as a photographer. That is what is behind the stereotypical vacation photo of the bear/elk/etc that is barely a spot in the photo. The person at that moment in time is totally focused on the animal and their mind doesn't even register the huge expanse of territory that is ultimately captured by the camera. Basically their brain at that moment in time is like a 1200mm lens. But when a third party views the resultant image, they are removed from the emotion and they see the expansive landscape with the dot of an animal in the middle.

    The same phenomenon occurs with light, shadow, color, etc. As we go through life our brains store data that helps speeds up the process of vision. We perceive more dynamic range than a digital camera can capture not necressarily because the eye is a better instrument but because the brain is phenominal at post processing due to the huge experential data base that it has access to. Sometimes this works against us. The magician gets away with slight of hand and eye witnesses to events are poor information sources because our brains see what they expect to see in a given set of circumstances.

    If you are shooting purely for your own satisfaction in the recreation of that memory, go for it. Recognize, however, that if your intention is to create images that have broader appeal, they may not be one and the same.

    All that said, I think to did a good job on the lighthouse photo. The other one is technically solid as well.

  8. #8
    BrianA61's Avatar
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    Re: A long way in a year

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    But I like to have a sense of what the finished article is going to look like before I press the shutter.
    Donald, that was EXACTLY my thought process when I saw that lighthouse. I was around front, saw that the subject matter was excellent but the sun was at 11 o'clock directly in line with my lens. My next thought was wide bracketed exposure and I would try my hand at HDR. For whatever reason, this entire line of thinking was almost instantaneous. I guess that my "photographic instincts" have gotten sharper the last few years and I'm starting to "see" the results before I even press the shutter. Even when I'm out and about, I see compositions that spark the instantaneous thought of "that would make an awesome photo". I think sometimes my wife thinks I'm a little "out there" when I offhandedly blurt out something like that. She understands why I say that later when I actually show her what I saw through my lens. The validation comes when she immediately says " I want to you to print that and hang it on the wall".

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    Re: A long way in a year

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianA61 View Post
    ...when I'm out and about, I see compositions that spark the instantaneous thought of "that would make an awesome photo". I think sometimes my wife thinks I'm a little "out there" when I offhandedly blurt out something like that...
    Welcome. You've officially arrived

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    Re: A long way in a year

    HDR can really help when you are forced to work with bright light or poor light. I takes time to work a flow that will get you to that natural look. If I could suggest try this with the shots you used for this image. Take you 3 images into LR5 returning them to the original settings, link all 3 so what every you do to the base image is also done to the other 2. Adjust the sliders in RAW, if the high lights are strong adjust the exposure, whites, highlights a little to bring that down, just a little, you could add a little contrast, maybe a little clarity but baby steps. Now run is through you HDR program, if you make adjustment there make them small, now save as a Tiff. Once that is done reopen that tiff in LR5's RAW now you can work to polish it some more.
    Most people only load the images into their HDR program and maybe do some adjustment and accept that is good enough, that is for the lazy people, you on the other hand have a vision in your head so you go the extra distance. You can go even farther, now take that tiff, open as a smart object from LR5 into Photoshop CS, make a copy, rasterize that copied layer, select the lighthouse and building and trees, and copy to a new layer. You should now have 3 layers in Photoshop, on the smart object layer double click on it, to return to the raw converter, say add a graduated filter to knock down the sky some more or maybe also use the adjustment brush to bring down some of the high lights in the sky, once done "OK", now turn off the second layer and now you have a sky more to your vision with the lighthouse.
    I have used your image and have done as above, it is only as I envision it to my tastes, if it does not meet with your approval I will remove it.

    Cheers:

    Allan


    A long way in a year
    Last edited by Polar01; 28th June 2013 at 08:15 PM. Reason: Wrong image first time

  11. #11
    Daisy Mae's Avatar
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    Re: A long way in a year

    Take 10 photographers out and ask them to shoot the same scene in the same light with the same equipment, at the same distance and settings, You will still get 10 very different shots. Add even some basic PP options to that and you will get a zillion different shots because each of our views is unique.

    Personally I love that....the world is only so big but how we interpret it is infinite

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: A long way in a year

    Brian - First of all, our eyes and cameras never see the same way. The cameras are dependent on the sensor, image processing hardware and software and the decisions / trade offs that the lens designer made. Human vision is much more complex as we are dependent on our eyes (that are predominantly designed for low-light, black and white vision, with colour vision being a minor add-on (over 95% of our eye's sensors, are rods that are black and white sensors; the rest are cones that see colours, and even here we have the three types that are red, green and blue sensitive). Only the central part of the retina gets a sharp image, but of course, our image processor (the brain) stitches everything together for us, so that we are normally totally unaware of how our eyes really work. Add to that the property that we tend to remember things as having more vivid colours that the scene likely had, we really should end up concluding that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how a photograph is interpreted and displayed.

    Anyone who equates what comes out of a camera as "reality" does not understand how either a camera or human vision works.

    I am not a great fan of HDR grunge; just because it is often (usually) badly done. Using a grunge technique on a poor image does not magically transform it into a good one. Nor is tone mapping HDR; another misconception out there. I have seen some very well done grunge and some exquisite, non-realistic tone mapping. There is no rule out there saying that photographic images have to look realistic (there are a whole group of B&W photographers that would agree with that statement!).

  13. #13
    BrianA61's Avatar
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    Re: A long way in a year

    Thanks for the tips Allan. I'll try that with future photos. That's fine to keep your edits posted. It's good to see others' versions. My technique for this image was to take the 3 raw images as is, "import as HDR in photoshop CS", save as 32 bit in TIF then go back and adjust in LR. I got decent results using that procedure and then also used the adjustment brush and slightly increase exposure on the lighthouse tower only. It was still a little too dark but only that area. I then went and used the new straighten feature in LR5 to correct for the ultra wide lens distortion. I don't have much experience with photoshop since I find it extremely complicated for a newcomer. LR provides me with almost all of what I need to do with the exception of a couple of special circumstances, which is pano and HDR. It is really easy with the LR and CS linked together like that and relatively automated. Now, I'll have to go out and shoot some more and have some new material to work on. Like I need an excuse for doing THAT.

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