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Thread: How to extract 1/2 decent images from cycling snapshots

  1. #1
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    How to extract 1/2 decent images from cycling snapshots

    Here is a psuedo tutorial on how I extracted some half decent images from what were little more than snaps.

    This thread is aimed at demonstrating to the less experienced/first time SLR owner and Compact Point and Shooter's what can be done with 6MP, 10x zoom lens camera and free or cheap PP (post processing) software. Any pro's, etc. are welcome to make suggestions primarily for the benefit of the intended thread audience (but of course, I may well learn too).


    I deliberately used a slow shutter speed on these to convey a feeling of speed together with panning the camera to keep the main subject fairly sharp. My aim in PP was to make 'good' photographs rather than an exact documentary pictures. What I provide below is what could, or (in my view) should, be done to make a snap into something better. It does not say how it should be done, since that greatly depends on your photo editing software. If this raises questions of 'how', just ask, if I or anyone else can help, we will.

    The pictures are of UK 'road racing' cycle sport by subject. I chose this sport because it is easy to practice on, it works like this.

    Between 20 and 50 riders cycle race around several laps of a public road 'circuit' amassing a total distance of around 55miles/90km (womens) or longer for the mens. This takes 2 to 3 hours, so if you stay in one place, you get several passes to photograph them. On small circuits this can be upto 10 times, so almost continuous photo opportunities, for larger circuits only 3 or 4 laps are necessary - so guess which I prefer. I found if I walked (or drove) around the circuit against the direction of riding I got shots against different backgrounds. A recce of the course the day before, or early on the day, allows one to identify the best places for backgrounds, sun angle, etc. and find suitable off circuit parking spots.

    If anyone fancies giving it a try themselves, please do get in touch for some guidance on race 'ettiquette', camera technique and preparation.

    That's enough waffle, bring on the images; for each I show a 'before and after' with comments above the 'after' shot so you can compare.

    DSCF6112 as snapped;
    How to extract 1/2 decent images from cycling snapshots

    DSCF6112 after PP: which was mainly a serious, but careful crop to exclude extraneous stuff, selective 'dodging' tp lighten their faces and the cloning out the hand of a following rider which was rather distractingly 'touching' the backside of one of my subjects.
    How to extract 1/2 decent images from cycling snapshots

    DSCF5741 as snapped;
    How to extract 1/2 decent images from cycling snapshots

    DSCF5741 after PP: careful crop, straighten and clone out (badly) the sign where it overlapped the white wall and roof on RH side;
    How to extract 1/2 decent images from cycling snapshots

    DSCF5785 as shot;
    How to extract 1/2 decent images from cycling snapshots

    DSCF5785 after PP: Careful crop, straighten, clone out roadside sign, dull down car in background, lighten faces slightly;
    How to extract 1/2 decent images from cycling snapshots

    DSCF6145 as shot;
    How to extract 1/2 decent images from cycling snapshots

    DSCF6145 after PP: the usual crop and level, but note in particular how the nasty, distracting orange blob on the first post of the wooden fence has been desaturated/cloned out - it makes all the difference. I also removed an unflattering drip from the end of the rider's nose (it rained and rained!);
    How to extract 1/2 decent images from cycling snapshots

    DSCF6028 as shot;
    How to extract 1/2 decent images from cycling snapshots

    DSCF6028 after PP: crop, straighten and clone out that dsitracting red and white sign visible through the grass in left background;
    How to extract 1/2 decent images from cycling snapshots

    I hope the above helps the less experienced members and possibly gives them something to try, both for subject matter and PP. In most cases my crops also demonstrate how a better composition (e.g. rule of thirds) can be applied long after the shutter has been pressed.


    Do also let me know what you think of the concept of this thread; worthwhile, picture size (too big?), picture quantity (too many examples?). I know they're not brilliant, even after my editing, but since they were taken and processed after a only few months experience myself, they show what should be possible - if I can do it, I am sure you can too - go on, have a go!

    Even if you forget the dodging, burning and cloning, at least think about doing a crop and straighten - this can be done with almost anything - Picasa's good for beginners (it's not too complex) and is free.

    Regards,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 14th February 2009 at 07:45 AM. Reason: re-write first 2 paras to be more inclusive

  2. #2
    Davey's Avatar
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    Re: How to extract 1/2 decent images from snaps

    I personally found it useful, thank you. My pp is alright (ish) (I use pshop for none photography work) I need to improve many things but mainly my composition at time of pic and cropping choice in pp leaves a lot to be desired so this helps.

    I like the bigger images personally. Even though have to click to get better view and images don't fit on screen so need to move around to view the whole (on 1680x1050 on home comp) I find the extra detail helps more than it hinders.

    As for variation I wouldn't mind seeing even more. I find if thought has gone into 1 example it's better to showcase another kind of example than reinforce the existing one. Obviously sometimes more than 1 example is helpful but I think (and could be wrong) if one image shows perfectly what you're trying to communicate then there is little need for further examples of the same thing.

  3. #3
    atvinnys's Avatar
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    Re: How to extract 1/2 decent images from cycling snapshots

    rusty,

    I think those are actually good examples. Typically for that kind of sports, I find that a closer crop really helps a lot given that most times, the expression of the athlete is what's most interesting.(5741 is the typical example for it), plus the added light on the face really helps here.

    and like you said, getting rid of extra distrubing elements in the background really helps bring the subject to the front.

    good stuff.
    vincent

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