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Thread: 3 Swans

  1. #1
    sleist's Avatar
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    3 Swans

    I've been reviewing all my shots from the last year and practicing my RAW post processing skills (I use the word "skills" loosely here). I find myself wandering down paths that often lead to dead ends, but I always learn something. Sometimes I just curse the fact that I'm so easily distracted.

    Anyway, the 3 shots below have many flaws. This was my first day with my 70-200 and the shots were in difficult light and they were poorly exposed. I have worked on them and feel that despite the remaining flaws they are at the very least interesting. Were these worth the effort or would you have tossed them?

    Swan #1 - I think this looks the best. Might remove the round water spots, haven't decided.

    3 Swans

    Swan #2 - I like this one the least. The noise hurts this one more that the others.

    3 Swans

    Swan #3 - I think this is the most interesting.

    3 Swans

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: 3 Swans

    Steve

    I agree with your assessment and decisions on these.

    On the first one I think I would clone the 4 water highlight areas (three starting from just in front of the swan's head and running diagonally upwards and then the one to the left of the bird's head. The backlight on its head and neck and on the wings is beautiful.

  3. #3
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: 3 Swans

    Hi Steve,

    I like these too (especially viewed big), but a thinning out of the detritus in the water would help.

    If you haven't already, I'd suggest getting something like Neat Image for noise, although these don't look as bad as I was expecting.

    As Donald says, the rim lighting on the swans is great.

    Cheers,

  4. #4
    sleist's Avatar
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    Re: 3 Swans

    Thanks for the comments!

    As I said (many times I think - sorry), I've been trying to get my raw workflow established and it has been a process that has been equal parts frustration and enlightenment. At this time I do the following: Nikon Transfer -> View NX2 for minor adjustments and coversion to JPEG -> Elements 9 with BW Styler/Focal Blade/Contrast Master/Neat Image pluggins -> (I'll save the crazier parts for another post).

    I don't think I was using Neat Image yet at the time I started working with these. I'll go back and do another pass now that I have a bit more confidence that a couple of these images might be worth the time. Sometimes you look at these things for so long you lose all perpective on whether the image is really all that good.

    Additionally, I have been finding some images more appealing/compelling when things aren't all that perfect. I wonder sometimes if the ease at which digital allows us to instantly check our work is causing an expectation of technical perfection at the expense of image character. Not saying these images are an example of this - just a general comment regarding the question of what get's fixed vs. what doesn't get fixed. Subjective but interesting.

  5. #5
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: 3 Swans

    Quote Originally Posted by sleist View Post
    Additionally, I have been finding some images more appealing/compelling when things aren't all that perfect. I wonder sometimes if the ease at which digital allows us to instantly check our work is causing an expectation of technical perfection at the expense of image character.
    Steve (Wirefox) has often commented on this topic - always with great clarity and a great deal of sense.

    I think what you are referring to is mood/image/atmosphere. A non-technically perfect image might be packed with mood/image/atmosphere, whilst a technically perfect image might be rather cold and lacking an emotional dimension. If you can get the two in the same image - you've cracked it!

    Non-perfection is also a (sometimes regretably) human trait.

  6. #6
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: 3 Swans

    Hi Steve,

    At this time I do the following: Nikon Transfer -> View NX2 for minor adjustments and coversion to JPEG -> Elements 9 with BW Styler/Focal Blade/Contrast Master/Neat Image pluggins
    I really would not recommend saving from NX2 as jpg then opening and doing more processing in Elements 9.

    Is there a reason for wanting to avoid opening the .nef files in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) and using that for those minor adjustments?

    Even if you stick with ViewNX, can you File > Convert to 16 bit Tif - yes they'll be much bigger files, but the quality of the results should be much better after you've done processing in Elements.

    Also, Neat Image needs to be applied before you do any kind of sharpening for best results.

    Cheers,

  7. #7
    sleist's Avatar
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    Re: 3 Swans

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Steve,



    I really would not recommend saving from NX2 as jpg then opening and doing more processing in Elements 9.

    Is there a reason for wanting to avoid opening the .nef files in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) and using that for those minor adjustments?

    Even if you stick with ViewNX, can you File > Convert to 16 bit Tif - yes they'll be much bigger files, but the quality of the results should be much better after you've done processing in Elements.

    Also, Neat Image needs to be applied before you do any kind of sharpening for best results.

    Cheers,
    Hi Dave,

    I had been converting to 16bit TIFF to work with in Elements as I know about needing to stay 16bit as long as possible, but Elements kept telling me that the edits I wanted to make could not be performed in 16 bit and would make me convert to 8 bits. It got a bit frustrating (pun intended). I would need to try again to tell you what I was trying to do that prompted this, but it happened repeatedly.

    Maybe it's just the TIFFs created by View NX2 that Elements can't deal with, but I doubt it. I will try again as it was my intent to work in 16 bit as long as possible before finally converting to 8 bit JPEG from Elements. I want to do the initial RAW conversion to TIFF in View NX2 or Capture NX2 as it is my opinion that the results are superior to ACR when working with NEF.

    Steve

  8. #8
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: 3 Swans

    Quote Originally Posted by sleist View Post
    Hi Dave,

    I had been converting to 16bit TIFF to work with in Elements as I know about needing to stay 16bit as long as possible, but Elements kept telling me that the edits I wanted to make could not be performed in 16 bit and would make me convert to 8 bits. It got a bit frustrating (pun intended). I would need to try again to tell you what I was trying to do that prompted this, but it happened repeatedly.

    Maybe it's just the TIFFs created by View NX2 that Elements can't deal with, but I doubt it. I will try again as it was my intent to work in 16 bit as long as possible before finally converting to 8 bit JPEG from Elements. I want to do the initial RAW conversion to TIFF in View NX2 or Capture NX2 as it is my opinion that the results are superior to ACR when working with NEF.

    Steve
    Hi Steve,

    You will be correct in a lot of cases - Elements needs 8 bit for any non-global adjustments or layers

    However, I would recommend you use 8 bit Tif rather than jpg, as jpg is a lossy format.

  9. #9
    sleist's Avatar
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    Re: 3 Swans

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Steve,

    You will be correct in a lot of cases - Elements needs 8 bit for any non-global adjustments or layers

    However, I would recommend you use 8 bit Tif rather than jpg, as jpg is a lossy format.
    Thanks Dave, that's good to know (sort of). I had intended to ask if 8 bit tiff was still better that 8 bit jpeg. Most things I've read stress the 16 vs 8 bit issue, but since most assumed the use of CS#, they probably assumed that the 16 bit files would be usable for more editing.

  10. #10
    sleist's Avatar
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    Re: 3 Swans

    Swan #1 Re-Edit: (NEF -> 8 bit TIF -> JPG)

    3 Swans

    Swan #3 Re-Edit:

    3 Swans
    Last edited by sleist; 6th December 2010 at 01:30 AM.

  11. #11
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: 3 Swans

    Oh yes! Oh yes!

    That lists #1, particularly, several rings up the ladder. Now that you've done that, I see a few little pin-dots of light around and about (thought they were dust spots on my screen) that could use the same treatment.

    #3 is nice. But #1 is gorgeous.

  12. #12
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    Re: 3 Swans

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Oh yes! Oh yes!

    That lists #1, particularly, several rings up the ladder. Now that you've done that, I see a few little pin-dots of light around and about (thought they were dust spots on my screen) that could use the same treatment.

    #3 is nice. But #1 is gorgeous.
    Thanks Donald! Thanks to Dave too, as this thread has helped me sort out a number of things.

    Steve

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