My thoughts, discussions, HDR etc. PS use, wildlife, etc.

Commodorefirst

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Ok,

Been reading a lot of interesting thoughts and looking at lots of images of HDR techniques, tone mapping, PS work vs natural in camera, etc. etc. etc.

Thought I would just for fun, let you all know my thoughts on the issues at hand and when and where I use each technique, and how much. (not to say do it my way, but to explain my personal thoughts)

First in regards to HDR, I do use photomatix at times when all else fails, and I do try and keep it under control, that said, I do also sometimes like the artistic over the edge look that extreme examples lend, and in some instances do like the look, but I tend to remain in the keep it natural as much as possible camp. (note, nothing wrong with not doing that, just my views, and I do appreciate the look many times.)

An example of one of my HDR uses for an individual, a simple series of a country house pic at halloween.

First the files I used to compile the completed image. There wasn't anyway in heck, that I could really take this image with one shot, the dynamic range was extreme, but the lighting was so good at this time with the clouds.

To save scrolling space I will only post the extreme spread between shots I took:

PeckaHouse3.jpg
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PeckaHouse0.jpg
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and the completed shot:

PeckaHouse4.jpg
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here is another HDR image from many shots, taken from a different direction, on this one I will just post the finished copy.

PeckaHouse9.jpg
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On both of those images, I really tried to keep a neutral feel to the image and not make it seem like a HDR image, meaning I paid close attention to the settings and merging everything to get a normal looking balance.

On another set of shots I took, I went a bit farther, and I did not prefer this shot, but the owner of the house liked this shot also, so it was included.

PeckaHouse8.jpg
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Please note, these are working files to show the home owner, they have not been leveled, and straightened, I only used these files to show the selection of images I took. Trust me, I did level and align the vertical edges. :wink:

That said I truly believe that having the right light in the right situation is still preferable in a lot of instances. As you see above the light ws pretty nice that afternoon/evening, and when I turned around I was able to take an out of camera shot with only tweaking NX2 work on the image with a nice 2:1 ratio crop.

The light was really that nice on that old barn on this October day:

PeckaHouse10.jpg
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This was the shot that was liked best of any I took that afternoon.


When I present workshops on photography and image manipulations, I am always asked about this shot, and folks usually state, we can tell that this was Photoshopped, this isn't real, and I like to show them the original after they see the one I did tweak in PS CS2. I tell them the story of how I was just driving along the interstate and just watched the skies pop like crazy with this extreme clouds and colors as the sun was setting, I tell them I really did see it this way, because my camera was set to neutral and I truly believe there was more color than what was in my captured shot. I ask them Did I really go to far? Which do you prefer? And we talk about the image and PS manipulations.

original: (this was with my D200 and a 35 f2 out the truck door pointed up to the sky while pulled over on a shoulder)

Changing%20sky%20PR0.JPG
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and the PS tweaked image:

p705613713-4.jpg
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I understand I did push it a bit with this shot, but it is more of an artistic shot than a true landscape shot because of the nature of the clouds and the dynamic lighting. Most of what I did was a levels adjustment on the low and mid range sliders and only a little more saturation. Most of the pop came because of moving those sliders.

Most times, I do less, Once I wanted to recreate the big skies out west, sure I could have done some clone or fence removal but the subject was those clouds and skies first and Chimney rock second.

from my old CP5000 days, and even cropped from the 5MP camera it makes a nice 10x20 printed image that looks very nice.

Chimney%20Rock.jpg
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Chimney%20Rock%20Sky.JPG
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this is about the usual level of landscape type of maniuplations that I do, less tends to be best for my taste most of the time.

The next shot, folks always bet that I manipulated this shot a lot in PS, but nope, hardly at all. All I did was set the in camera white balance to a cooler setting before I shot, and of course underexposed a great deal on purpose, and the colors came out this way, just like if you used a different film.

knarly%20hole12x12JPG.JPG
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I also am on the lookout for found scapes as I call them, scapes contained within the scene, weather it is a corner of a full frame shot like this:

p920981953-4.jpg
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and once in a while, in a general snapshot, I find them too:

DSCN2084.JPG
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and the little nugget I found in the middle of the scene when I was shooting for the sun behind the clouds.

p858203974-3.jpg
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In regards to wildlife shots, I am much more of a purist. I don't remove branches and heavily manipulate the critter in the shot. I tend to be a more natural wildlife shooter. If a branch gets in the way, it is in the way, and I try to move myself instead of heavy editing in post process. I have seen over and over again, wing tips added (incorrectly) duplicate birds added, branches obviously cloned out by many of the local wildlife photographers around the St. Louis area (not Tim O, or Jason, they tend to think like me) and it really bugs me how they created the environment for the wildlife shot. It wasn't that way. I know, I know, it really isn't that different than post work on a landscape, but I view wildlife shots as a more realistic, this is how it was type of photography. Once again, that is just my personal thoughts and views, and others aren't wrong, unless you are stating this is how it was, and you removed 5000 branches. :wink: that is lying in my opinion.

However, I do like converting images and making artistic B&W conversions of birds in flight, there I tend to let things fly, but you can obviously tell that these are more Art than wildlife, with the wildlife as the source for the art.
http://wadedowdy.zenfolio.com/p837147275

With event photography, I am also in the neutral camp and try to keep editing down to a minimum. On dance studio recital pics I shoot to capture the moment and light as it was shot, as a record of what the audience sees, but while capturing the spirit of the event.

Anyway, I just wanted to post some thoughts, what I tend to do, how I generally tend to view things, and let me just state, that there is not a right or wrong method or way of manipulation any image (unless for photojournalist use) that I will quibble about. The photographer has every right to do what they please to their images. I just was presenting what I tend to do and why.

So if you see one of my Event pics, it is pretty much as is with normal tweaking for presentation, Scapes from me, I did a touch more work, including decisions on mood and scenic colors and enhancement to set a mood, Wildlife, that is pretty much how it was, sharpened and cropped and slight levels work at most.

and if you want out there, visit my scapes and abstracts, there I let it all hang out.

I like to create moods with my photos, and images, thanks for listening to my ramblings, and I will be gone tomorrow, so I might not reply much until I return from out of town.

Cheers, thanks to all the members for posting their thoughts and examples in the retouching area, I do really enjoy the musings and images of our cafe members.

Wade
 
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Thanks for a really nice review of this topic. I haven't yet ventured into HDR, but would like to for those situations where the dynamic range to just too great to capture, and each end of the spectrum has something to offer.
For entering into this area of manipulation, do you have a position on using something like Photomatix vs Photoshop? (Especially if one is not proficient in Photoshop)?
 

Commodorefirst

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Thanks for a really nice review of this topic. I haven't yet ventured into HDR, but would like to for those situations where the dynamic range to just too great to capture, and each end of the spectrum has something to offer.
For entering into this area of manipulation, do you have a position on using something like Photomatix vs Photoshop? (Especially if one is not proficient in Photoshop)?

Photomatix is the choice right now for most folks, however, I do not have CS4, and I am not aware of how good it does. You can do fine work with CS3, but I find photomatix the easiest.
 
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I like to play around with everything every now and then. HDR can be fun to mess around with, and I also like a lot of the HDR work I have seen on various forums. The great thing about photography is there is something for everyone. As long as you are having fun with it and you are happy with the results, who cares what anyone else think. Do what makes you happy and keep shooting.

While I do enjoy doing HDR, in wildlife, or any photo for that matter. I have never removed branches, or added things to the photo that I took from another photo. Enhance colors, contrast, sharpness, etc all you want, but outside of cropping, I do not agree with actually adding/removing objects in the photo.
 

Commodorefirst

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Administrator
Joined
May 1, 2005
Messages
23,560
Location
Missouri
I like to play around with everything every now and then. HDR can be fun to mess around with, and I also like a lot of the HDR work I have seen on various forums. The great thing about photography is there is something for everyone. As long as you are having fun with it and you are happy with the results, who cares what anyone else think. Do what makes you happy and keep shooting.

While I do enjoy doing HDR, in wildlife, or any photo for that matter. I have never removed branches, or added things to the photo that I took from another photo. Enhance colors, contrast, sharpness, etc all you want, but outside of cropping, I do not agree with actually adding/removing objects in the photo.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
 
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