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Thread: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

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    American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    This is cropped but not resized, so it is what is seen at 100%.

    Is this that the focus needs to be perfect? Or is it that at 100%, you are going to get grain from the sensor?

    Aperture Priority

    F 5.6
    ISO 200
    1/2000
    EC +.33

    Sharpening - High pass r-2.

    Maybe if I had closed the aperture a little bit to get a tiny bit more DOF?

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    This seems to be more a noise problem than depth of field (the upper right and lower centre birds have equal feather detail), exposure or focus errors. You didn't specify the type of camera, but my guess is the sensor is not up to this task in in what I take to be low light.

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    I would have been tempted to use a narrower aperture, Tim, maybe F8 and if necessary increase the ISO to 400.

    But I suspect the main problem here was the angle of light which put the underside of the wings into shadow. These shots are so very difficult to get perfect; and you only get one chance.

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    Hi Trevor, thanks. I am beginning to wonder about the camera for shooting these kinds of shots, which I like to do. It is a Canon Rebel XS. Every shot like this I get is noisy, it seems. They often seem more like paintings than photos, which I just don't understand.

    American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    This one I took in the same fly by, and I did noise reduction on it, but when I do noise reduction, it just seems softer and more like a drawing. I added several layers of sharpening until I got to "definitely oversharp", then backed off, and the images still look painterly to me.

    The camera is in the $500 class, I am wondering if I upgrade, would I get cleaner, more photographic images?

    Geoff, thanks, I see there is scope in the shutter speed to increase the aperture, but I have been keeping the ISO low in a fight against sensor noise.

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    Quote Originally Posted by tameigh View Post
    Hi Trevor, thanks. I am beginning to wonder about the camera for shooting these kinds of shots, which I like to do. It is a Canon Rebel XS. Every shot like this I get is noisy, it seems. They often seem more like paintings than photos, which I just don't understand.

    American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    This one I took in the same fly by, and I did noise reduction on it, but when I do noise reduction, it just seems softer and more like a drawing. I added several layers of sharpening until I got to "definitely oversharp", then backed off, and the images still look painterly to me.

    The camera is in the $500 class, I am wondering if I upgrade, would I get cleaner, more photographic images?

    Geoff, thanks, I see there is scope in the shutter speed to increase the aperture, but I have been keeping the ISO low in a fight against sensor noise.
    Hi Tim,

    Talk me through your PP workflow please, I am unsure why you are having such problems.
    Please give relevant details or I'll have to ask follow up questions.
    Perhaps process another picture and write it down the steps as you do it, rather than try to remember (oh, and show us the result)

    The image here is just too small to form a valid and useful opinion with.

    Also, if you post a screen snip of a 100% crop from an unprocessed image, it will help see the 'size' of the noise problem.

    Regards,

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    Here is a snippet of a different shot, only brightened a little bit with exposure. The birds are larger in this one, as they got a little closer for a short time. So that improves it right away. Maybe I have to work harder at getting close, but this time of year the ice is too precarious for my taste.

    American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    The fact that I had to brighten the sky should tell me that I should have cranked the exposure compensation more that just +.33, I think.

    Here is the raw file. uploading.com makes you wait 30 secs for the download to start to try and get me to pay for the service..

    _MG_0080.CR2 - 8.8 MB

    For PP on the second one, I did a WB using a gray card shot in the same time and synchronized in ACR with the pic, brought it into CS5

    Did a noise reduction with the strength at six, and the sharpen and details at zero and the reduce color noise at 90%

    I did a levels to bring up the white, I didn't bring up the black very much at all.
    I then did ctrl+J to duplicate the layer and did a high pass filter at .6 R, converted layer mode to overlay

    I think did shft+ctrl+alt+e to make a new layer that combined the earlier two. I did a high pass on that one at 1.2 R, converted to overlay

    Repeated the process with a 2.1 R.

    Cropped without re-sampling to get the longest edge under 700, converted to jpg and uploaded.

    It may be that I am being overambitious with the distances on the first ducks with the equipment I have. I am thinking of upgrading, but would like to know if my problem is really one of capture technique and PP abilities.

    Thank you guys.

    BTW, those white flecks are actual snowflakes, not some artifact. The seem to add to the sense of noise in my mind, anyway.

    Since there is very little open water around here right now, these ducks won't be hard to find again, so I am going to try and shoot them again with the aperture at F8, ISO at 400 and EC+1, and EC+1.5 and EC+2. I won't worry about trying to get pretty shots.
    Last edited by tameigh; 13th March 2011 at 02:19 PM.

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    Quote Originally Posted by tameigh View Post
    Here is the raw file. uploading.com makes you wait 30 secs for the download to start to try and get me to pay for the service..
    Hi Tim,

    I couldn't download the cr2 file, said I'd reached the daily limit
    (and I haven't been there for weeks)

    So I couldn't see the whole file or EXIF.

    To workflow:

    I don't profess to being a CS5 wizard, only had it a short time myself, although I used Elements before.
    Your methods are completely different to mine - but that's not necessarily a bad thing because;
    a) who am I to say 'my way is best' (I'm not btw) and
    b) there are many different ways to 'skin a rabbit' (or so my granny told me) and the end results of those different ways may well be indistinguishable in the final picture.
    I won't comment where you do things as I do, or they are not relevant to the points I want to explore (but thanks for putting them in).

    All that understood (and if we're sitting comfortably), then let's begin ...

    Looking at your workflow steps I believe I do see a few things I do differently and I'll explain why;

    Quote Originally Posted by tameigh View Post
    Did a noise reduction with the strength at six, and the sharpen and details at zero and the reduce color noise at 90%
    I opened a random image in CS5 and found that with Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise, I got a dialog that's probably the one you used.
    the settings you use all make sense, except one "details" is actually "Preserve Details" and setting it to 0% makes an image really soft, but setting it to 100% keeps it sharp (but removes less noise) - is this why you have problems with noise reduction makiing picture soft and 'painterly'?

    I would still recommend Neat Image over this method though, because surely something with which you can sample a part of an image, measure the noise in that area, then subtract that noise signature from the rest of the image, has got to be better than something that applies a blanket filter to the whole image, even if it is adaptive enough to be gentler in areas of high detail.

    Quote Originally Posted by tameigh View Post
    and did a high pass filter at .6 R, converted layer mode to overlay
    Personally, I use UnSharp Mask because I feel I have far greater control over what it does, all you get with Filter > Other > High Pass is a Radius control, now I appreciate (but don't fully understand how) that you achieve extra control via the layer mode and opacity (not stated), but I still prefer USM because;
    there's a control for Radius
    there's a control for Amount (how much 'boost' applied)
    there's a control to make it not act on small level transitions (e.g. typically noise)
    Keeps it simple (I like simple)

    Quote Originally Posted by tameigh View Post
    ~ and did a high pass filter at .6 R, converted layer mode to overlay

    I think did shft+ctrl+alt+e to make a new layer that combined the earlier two. I did a high pass on that one at 1.2 R, converted to overlay

    Repeated the process with a 2.1 R.
    This is interesting, you do your multi-pass sharpening starting small and getting larger (radius), the opposite to me.

    My thinking is that a soft edge is a slope between two levels (say 155 and 30) over a certain number of pixels.
    Each pass of sharpening should steepen the slope, so to me, it makes sense to start wide, steepen a bit, repeat and repeat, steepening each time
    I may be wrong, but starting narrow feels to me like it could be less effective.

    Quote Originally Posted by tameigh View Post
    Cropped without re-sampling to get the longest edge under 700, converted to jpg and uploaded.
    Not sure why, for a normal image, you are cropping to get to 700px, surely makes sense to downsize (with resampling) then resharpen? Is the subject that far away?

    I just re-read this from first post:
    Quote Originally Posted by tameigh
    This is cropped but not resized, so it is what is seen at 100%.

    Is this that the focus needs to be perfect? Or is it that at 100%, you are going to get grain from the sensor?

    Aperture Priority; F 5.6, ISO 200, 1/2000, EC +.33
    For all images you are showing at 100%, you are not benefitting from the inherent noise reduction that downsizing gives you, so no wonder you think you have noise problems. Any image I cannot crop and still have at say 1500 pixels left, hence requiring a more than half size downsize on, is just too small to publish - I have made exceptions to this, but it shows

    Why not use a longer lens? (Or am I missing the point, was this just a demonstration?)

    Failing that, yes, wait until you can get closer.
    At 100% - I see no problems with your shutter speed or panning technique, but you'll notice that, due to relative motion between birds, although the top and bottom ones are ok, the middle one is smeared, this is an effect which would also have reduced in the downsize and further in the post downsize sharpening (USM; 80%, 0.3px, 2 threshold. (Filter > Sharpen > UnSharp Mask))

    I can see now this is a combination of capture (too far from subject and under-exposure) and PP technique problems, still the good news is, fixing it will be cheaper than a new camera (if not as much fun).

    Hope that helps,

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    Tim. Did you say which lens?

    That second image appears to be uniformally unsharp. So I wonder if this problem might possibly be a lens/focus issue. But really sharp flying birds are difficult even with an expensive lens.

    I certainly edit in a different way to you so it will be interesting to see how the original appears to me. But I can't get that site to give me a download; all I get is adverts.

    I am very wary about using it because I find the site confusing and have previously accidentally been 'signed up' to a load of spam mail from there; and had to spend a lot of time getting it stopped.
    Last edited by Geoff F; 13th March 2011 at 07:56 PM. Reason: extra paragraph

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    Thanks for the comments and sorry about the downloading site. I will have to find another method to post raw images. It may be that others viewing the thread downloaded my maximum daily limit.

    I reshot the image, as I said I would. I was more patient and waited for the birds to come right over head, which they did only once, before disappearing. I increased the exposure compensation to +.67, I was planning to try others, but there were fishermen on the ice that already had the birds jumpy.

    American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    I started with a crop over 1500, as you suggested, and I think it is better, but still not what I was hoping for. Neat Image sounds like a winner. I had just assumed that the noise reduction in CS5 was equivalent, but it sounds like NI is a better way to go.

    I did my same sharpening, but reversed the order, and I am not sure it was significant. I prefer the high pass method because I get good results with it consistently, without the halo effects of USM. Maybe some combination of both is called for, because subtle haloing does increase the perception of sharpness. I added the most subtle USM to the picture as a last step and used bicubic sharper to resample the image down.

    I think that the comments about the need to fill the frame settles the issue of a longer lens as the birds I find most interesting are the ones that are hardest to get close to. I used a Canon EFS 55-250 for these shots. I guess my final question now regarding equipment is can I get the sharpness I want with the current camera body, or do I need to upgrade that. I think that downloading Neat Image, and experimenting a bit more on closer subjects, even if they are *mallards* will get me closer to that answer. Right now I don't have a lot sunk into kit, and I am a little disappointed with how fragile the Canon is, so the next major purchase will have to settle the brand issue.

    Anyway, I really appreciate the time you guys have taken. Thanks again.

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    That is a lot better, Tim.

    Eventually, after a few attempts, I did persuade that site to release the Raw photo.

    Then, for a different approach, I have tried a rather basic edit.

    The whole scene

    American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    And a crop

    American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    On second thoughts, I think the whole scene should have been cropped slightly differently to allow more space on the left and less on the right.

    My basic edit was to set the Raw conversion to Sharpening 30 with Masking at 10; Noise Reduction 20; Exposure +0.6; Fill Light 10; Blacks 10; Clarity +15; Vibrance +15; Saturation +8; slight WB increase of 200 to 5700; Crop.

    In the main window, just a little Local Contrast addition of USM 20-30-0. Then after resizing for the internet USM 60-0.6-1.

    This should show the difference between a simple and a more involved edit.

    But to be brutally honest, in that light and with that lens, what do you expect. I think most people would struggle with a 400 mm prime lens under those conditions.

    By all means consider a better body (the Canon 7D would be ideal) but keep enough back for a really decent bird lens.

    If necessary consider something secondhand like a 40D; but I think improved glass will be the most important investment.
    Last edited by Geoff F; 13th March 2011 at 10:49 PM. Reason: photos added

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    Quote Originally Posted by tameigh View Post
    I reshot the image, as I said I would. I was more patient and waited for the birds to come right over head, which they did only once, before disappearing. I increased the exposure compensation to +.67.

    American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)
    Hi Tim,

    Quote Originally Posted by tameigh View Post
    I started with a crop over 1500, as you suggested, and I think it is better, but still not what I was hoping for.
    This is much better, agreed, nothing to write home about, but much better.

    I think I am missing something, I didn't "suggest a crop of 1500", I meant anything that needs to be cropped for compositional reasons that ends up being smaller than 1500 should be ditched. I don't understand why you would want to crop to a certain size, seemingly so early in the process.

    I also don't understand why, with 250mm on a 1.6 crop body, things are still apparently so far away (do these birds fly that high?). I really do have to see the whole RAW image to see where you're starting from.

    Quote Originally Posted by tameigh View Post
    I did my same sharpening, but reversed the order, and I am not sure it was significant. I prefer the high pass method because I get good results with it consistently, without the halo effects of USM.
    USM won't give halo effects if done with a delicate touch.

    Quote Originally Posted by tameigh View Post
    I added the most subtle USM to the picture as a last step and used bicubic sharper to resample the image down.
    This is still the wrong order (for me!), downsize first (bicubic is better than bicubic sharper - which in my experience will put a 1px halo on stuff) then sharpen with USM at the values I gave; 80%, 0.3px and 2 threshold.

    Quote Originally Posted by tameigh View Post
    I think that the comments about the need to fill the frame settles the issue of a longer lens as the birds I find most interesting are the ones that are hardest to get close to. I used a Canon EFS 55-250 for these shots. I guess my final question now regarding equipment is can I get the sharpness I want with the current camera body, or do I need to upgrade that. I think that downloading Neat Image, and experimenting a bit more on closer subjects, even if they are *mallards* will get me closer to that answer. Right now I don't have a lot sunk into kit, and I am a little disappointed with how fragile the Canon is, so the next major purchase will have to settle the brand issue.
    I really think you should get the best from what you have and I don't think we're there yet. Buying a new camera, or longer lens, is not going to fix these issues given a tight budget. e.g. a 70 - 300mm compared to the 55 - 250mm is not going to make that much difference.

    A 1Ds3 and a 600mm might, but you'd have to sell body parts to afford it.

    HTH,

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    That is a lot better, Tim.

    Eventually, after a few attempts, I did persuade that site to release the Raw photo.

    Then, for a different approach, I have tried a rather basic edit.

    The whole scene

    American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    And a crop
    I don't see the crop Geoff,

    But at least now I can see 'the big picture', yes Tim, they are just too far away
    Depth of field and focus errors are going to be a big problem and you just cannot expect to get a good result from anything at 100% - my failure rate is 19 out of 20 for this range of shooting.

    I shot some pigeons the other day, a lot of those came out such that only a 1:1 is possible for a 'whole bird shot'. I'll dig one out.

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    In reality, Dave, 'the whole picture' is still quite a substantial crop. The tighter crop should now be visible.

    I went off to the gallery to fetch the second image. I find that if I don't post the partially complete answer, then add the second photo as an Edit, I lose the entire post. Almost certainly me doing something wrong but this is the only way I can get things to work.

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    Yiipes. That is what I was after but it is lot to take in at one go. Even in the full crop the picture looks so much better. So I can see now that I need to work on my PP. I guess I need to retrace your steps..

    Anyway, I downloaded the demo version of Neat Image, and it is a very nice improvement.

    American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    And yes, the birds fly that far away, it is hard to get within 150 yards of them. But until I can get consistently good results on PP, I am going to put off any purchases of kit.

    Thanks again.

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    Re: American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    Quote Originally Posted by tameigh View Post
    Yiipes. That is what I was after but it is lot to take in at one go. Even in the full crop the picture looks so much better. So I can see now that I need to work on my PP. I guess I need to retrace your steps..

    Anyway, I downloaded the demo version of Neat Image, and it is a very nice improvement.

    American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)

    And yes, the birds fly that far away, it is hard to get within 150 yards of them. But until I can get consistently good results on PP, I am going to put off any purchases of kit.

    Thanks again.
    That latest is better again

    You may find this useful; Neat Image, a simple workflow

    You do need to be closer (somehow), or just not do that kind of shot - until you can afford a 600mm
    I went to a bird reserve recently and to be honest, with a 300mm lens, the best photo opportunities were the bird table in the restaurant - shooting from the hides across the marshes with anything less than 600mm (which I don't have) was pointless for a single bird.

    American Goldeneye (Sharpness C&C)
    Nikon D5000 + Nikon 70-300mm VR: 1/1000s, f/8, iso400 (33433)
    click image to see at 1,114px 522px

    Posting the above has reminded me that the other things stacked against your first attempt was the lack of sunlight and blizzard.

    Shall I leave my fuzzy pigeons in peace then?

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 13th March 2011 at 11:45 PM.

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