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Beginning to crack the IQ code, I think.

Discussion in 'Sports Photography' started by Harry Lavo, Jun 7, 2007.

  1. I believe I have begun to crack the problems of overexposure and "flatness" that as a group you have pointed out in my recent posts here.

    Two culprits are at work, I believe.

    One is the automatic 2/3 EV boost in Adobe Elements. Even though I compensated with reduced brightness, this doesn't quite work quite the same. Instead I have now adjusted the EV to zero and boosted brightness as needed. I'm still trying to find what causes the automatic EV boost. It's not in the camera....I've checked that (unless the exposure system itself is bolloxed up).

    The second was how Contrast and Sharpening are done. I took them to much higher levels while still in the RAW file, and eliminated any use of "auto" in the .psd file, then saved. Simply put, all adjustments in RAW and none other than cropping saved in the .psd file.

    I've posted a representative old and new file below. Since the differences are easier to see in the original files, I've also posted a pbase link below so you can look at them side by side in full original size if you so choose.

    I think goes a long ways to ameliorating the problems pointed out, but I'd like to know what you think..does this do it? Thanks to all of you for your help and any additional comments you care to make.

    Improved file:

    Original file:

    Here is the link to pbase:

  2. Dave


    Feb 7, 2007
    Suwanee, GA
    I think you're making great strides Harry. Unfortunately I don't have Photoshop so I can't be of much help to you with that application. I use Capture NX myself. I looked at your improved picture in NX and noticed it was still a little overexposed, so I took it down a notch and then brightened the colors a bit and added a touch of sharpening. What do you think?

  3. GBRandy


    Feb 28, 2006
    Green Bay, WI
    FWIW, the original file looks over exposed
  4. Harry, I see you are improving! You got some good pointers lately and if you could adjust processing a bit, your shots would be very good! I was testing my skills in Photoshop this afternoon and got to a conclusion you might be taking it to far in some aspects. Similar effect of flatness happens to me when I take a correctly exposed image and drive sharpness and/or shadows&highlights over all limits. They usually need just a bit of correction, not much.

    And see, your latest images are about 100Kb and still looking good. You're definitely on the right way!
  5. Wish I could give you a screenshot...but I'm not getting anywhere. I can't tell you anything about the camera histogram because I don't use it...particularly with sports.

    I've just looked at the unaltered NEF file from the shot taken just a split second after the one in this example. The histogram shows all colors and the white area to be low in level and have no major peaks. If you consider the left side "0" and the right "100", then all colors and white rise gradually from "0" to "10", then stay relatively flat until "90", then decline to "0" at "100". There is a minor blue peak at "25", minor red, yellow, and white peaks at "50", and secondary sharp but minor peaks of same at "90". In Adobe raw, exposure is at +.65, shadows are at 4, brightness at 84, contrast at 29, and saturation at 0. The +.65 exposure value and very low "shadow" rating stay constant shot to shot; brightness and contrast vary. In the detail tab, sharpness stays at 35 on all shots, luminance at 0, and color noise reduction at 25...those also don't vary shot to shot.

    On the second version I showed you, I took the exposure down to 0, the midpoint, and boosted brightness slightly to the midpoint and contrast slightly to the midpoint. On the detail page I boosted sharpness all the way up to 80 (and you took it still higher).

    The biggest problem came from using "auto contrast" and "auto sharpening" in AE. I saved both versions in the organizer, and I can now see that that version over sharpened and over-higligted...the original NEF and the modified NEF I posted here are not too different...just a bit. But sharpness definitely has to be increased dramatically....and apparently the NEF editor does it a lot better than "autosharp".

    To loop back...there is nothing in the curves of the original file out of whack..the problem is largely created by the "auto" post-proessing. But a little of the "overexposed" look is caused by AE's constant setting of +.65...the picture looks better when this is reduced to 0 and brightness boosted a bit to compensate. Why AE insists on thes constant settings I don't know and have not been able to find a refence to....I guess a call next week or an email contact will be in order.
  6. I like it! How much do you charge an hour, Dave?:wink:

    I am not too surprised that the color saturation helps...that's a bit a matter of taste. But I am surprised that additional sharpening helps...I used 80% of the max that AE allows when done manually on my "revised" version.

    Out of the box, the D50 gives very saturated colors but it does so, IMO, by underexposing by at least 2/3rds EV...perhaps Adobe has built the correction into the raw file and that is why it always starts out by boosting NEF by 2/3 EV no matter what the camera setting.

    Thanks for the effort. I will take use your shot as a model next week when I have time to readjust the forty or so shots I kept of the lacrosse game.
  7. Yep, and you pointed the way. So thanks again.
  8. Oldtime


    Jul 5, 2006
    Durham, NC
    Harry the improved file looks much better
    The shot itself I,m not sure about
    Yes you got the ball in the picture, but no faces -- from the look of the shot the player with the ball was dodging from behind near sideline, be patient and wait for the defender to force a roll then you will get ball and faces
    I can see the goal -- perhaps move up the sideline even with face of goal so as to catch action coming from behind better- and more faces
    Keep at it Lacrosse is fun
  9. Dave


    Feb 7, 2007
    Suwanee, GA
    I'm probably pretty cheap...a good long 2.8 tele would work for me. :biggrin:

    I think post processing really takes time more than anything. You really have to dedicate yourself to it and trying to get the file the way it looks good to YOU. The way I process my files may not be the way others like them (as you mentioned with the color saturation). NX actually has a Color Booster which I just upped a little bit to bring out the colors a bit more without brightening the whites and blacks. I've used this little tool for a lot of pictures to really make the colors pop. As for the sharpening, I just used Unsharp Mask and upped it to about 12 on the slider to give it a bit more focus as the jersey and helmet looked a bit fuzzy on my monitor.

    Also, make sure you have a good bright monitor so you can see what is going on. You can calibrate your monitor to your prints by printing out a picture and then adjusting your monitor to what it looks like held up next to your screen. This will give you an idea if what you are actually seeing on your monitor (which could be rather dark and thus your pictures don't look over exposed that much) to what otherse see on theirs (my monitors are bright) as well as the print.

    Keep it up, you're doing a great job!
  10. Hi Mark -

    I agree with you completely. This is one of the few shots I included that didn't have a face shot....that is definitely an important ingredient. I simply liked the tension in this one despite the lack of face....but in most cases "faceless" shots went into the cut file.

    Glad you liked the processing changes. I'm continuing to experiment..will finally settle in on a technique with a little more work.

  11. MurphyD


    Jan 17, 2007
    South Texas
    Here is a tutorial that addresses the RAW converter in several versions of PS and Elements. Teaches what to watch for in the histogram as you adjust EV and brightness as well as how to read a histogram. Very helpful.
    You can change the default settings in Elements and I wish I could tell you how. I just click off all the Auto settings.

    "Developing Photos That Pop" in three parts
    Glenn Mitchell
  12. That is absolutely terrific, David. Thanks much!
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