Need Help, I like this image.. But.

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Hello everyone, I first time in this forum so be easy on me...lol.
I have this photo I took a few weeks ago while I was at a NASCAR race and I need some help/Guidance. Enclosed is a 1024 x 768 I ran through Nikon Capture 4.4.2 and this seems the best I can do, I am not happy with it, My question is this. What does this image need? Lacking? It was taken with a D200 and my 70-200vr. The exif is within the image. I had my camera sticking thru a hole in the fence for this shot and the cars were going around 170 mph. Let me know what you think I sould of done better in my settings or PP.
Thank You.
Bill Karadimos.

My try at correcting the image.
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Also Here is a link to the NEF
http://jeffgordon-24.com/lvtest.nef Right click save as nef.
 
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Bill :


Wow. Neat shot. I can see why you'd like to work with this a bit.

I downloaded the NEF (thanks for the link), and played with it a bit. Here are my initial impressions, thoughts, and a proposed change set.

The shot is overexposed. Not terribly so, but the high bright colours overwhelm the image initially. The Auto -1 WB may not have been an ideal choice, as I doubt Nikon programmed racing day-glo colours into their white balance algorithms. OTOH, none of this is an immense issue, because you shot NEF, and didn't blow all the channels. The DOF on this shot is pretty wild - the rearmost cars are devolving into a fascinating almost-bokeh-like background colour mix. Neat.

So.

Open this in NC 4.4 (I'm still using this in preference to NX), and drop the EV by -1, change the WB to Daylight, sharpen 50/15/5 (quick 'n' easy D200 settings - you might want less or more) and then run a curves adjustment to draw the shadows a bit for contrast. Save as a TIFF, and then open in PS-CS2.

In PS-CS2, run Image/Adjustments/Shadows&Highlights. Make no Shadow change (0 setting), but modify Highlights with a 20/50/30 to pull down the highlights just a bit. I find that PS-CS2 does a better job on highlight adjustment than NC, while NC does a better job on shadow adjustment. Run a small USM for crispness, then crop similarly to your crop. Resize for posting, and save as a JPEG. And, voila !

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Now, you may not want this to be quite as crisp - it's on the verge of oversharpening in all honesty if you look at the Cingular symbol on the orange car - nor lose as much of the reflection off of the lead car. All perfectly valid responses, and just dial back the settings that I've quoted above more to your taste. It's your shot, after all...

This was a tough shot to land, and I commend you for getting it. The intense colours, the speed of the cars, and tapping the shutter at just the right moment to get the spread around the curve were all challenges of the first order, which you quite successfully met. Kudos, sir.




John P.
 
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John, Thanks for showing me how to get more out of my images, This gives me a good starting point for sure. I did one like you said except the Photoshop part, I have Photoshop CS2 but don't know how to use it. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to help me out. I am a happy camper.
Bill K
Here is the 2 I did like you said except PS.
Thanks again..

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John, Thanks for showing me how to get more out of my images, This gives me a good starting point for sure. I did one like you said except the Photoshop part, I have Photoshop CS2 but don't know how to use it. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to help me out. I am a happy camper.
Bill :

Glad to help.

As for Photoshop, the Adjustments/Shadows&Highlights feature is actually pretty easy to use. Try opening up the second photo in PS-CS2, and then play with the sliders. You'll quickly see that the Shadows are more than adequately addressed with your exposure, so slide that bar to the left to "0%".

Now try sliding the Highlight bar to the right. With this shot, maybe 30%, 50% tonal width will draw down the really hot areas. Play a bit with the pixel radius adjustment. At 30 pixels, it's pretty good, but slide it to the left and watch the details emerge (but also dull the shot). Try maybe 10 pixels as a starting point.

Now, if you're feeling at all ambitious, you can play with the midtone contrast. Careful, here, as this can make the shot look just too "brittle" with excessive contrast, but something between 15 and 25% will really address some issues.

Lastly, a little sharpening can draw all of this work together, so try Filter/Sharpening/UnSharpMask 100/0.5/5, and you'll see a subtle improvement.

Let me know if you want me to post my take on this set of alterations.

The beauty of the S&H adjustment is that it's reversable, and you can tinker to get a better overall light balance in the photo. This can also be done in Curves or LAB settings, but the S&H adjustment is fairly simple, and shows immediate obvious results.

A lot of people, me included, can get intimidated by Photoshop. It's so powerful and has so many features large and small, that we can sometimes forget that it's only software, and meant to be played with to meet our needs, not us being played by the software !

As I mentioned in the earlier post, I personally find the D-Light function in Nikon Capture works better for shadow adjustments with less enhanced digital noise, but that PS-CS2 is superior for highlight adjustments.

And, glad to have the oppportunity to tinker with such delightful photos. I'll be looking forward to more of your work posted here in the Café !



John P.
 

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Hello Bill,

Thanks for posting, John P did things up mighty nice on this image, and I can't improve any on his thoughts,

What I did do for fun, however, is do all of my processing in NX and I didn't peek at his final result. Scary how close we ended up with two different programs. I don't have CS2, I am still using CS since I do most of my work now in NX, so I won't bother to give all the details of my adjustments, since you don't have NX, and looks like you did a great job in CS2 on your final image. Bravo, Great learner, and superb shots, love the sweep of the image, your crop you chose in the first image, and overall look of the processed shots.

anyway, for fun as I said, sure isn't much difference! Very slight diff in the red and orange car as the most diff. And I didn't use any color control points on this shot either. I did think about it on some of the blown color highlights, but decided not to. Scary how similar they are.

Mine:

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John P:

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Thanks Wade, My corrected version was all done with Nikon Capture 4.4.2, I never loaded it into PS, Also I do have NX if I can figure out the user interface. Thanks for all the help.
Bill K
 

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Thanks Wade, My corrected version was all done with Nikon Capture 4.4.2, I never loaded it into PS, Also I do have NX if I can figure out the user interface. Thanks for all the help.
Bill K
Well done in Capture then!

Wade
 
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anyway, for fun as I said, sure isn't much difference! Very slight diff in the red and orange car as the most diff. And I didn't use any color control points on this shot either. I did think about it on some of the blown color highlights, but decided not to. Scary how similar they are.
Wade :


What I found interesting is how the D200 reacts to those intense day-glo colours, and how the OOF areas from the 70-200mm flared on the day-glo colours. Although I can't prove it, I suspect that the Auto WB algorithms freaked out with the intensity of the colours. I'd be curious to see what would have happened with other WB settings, but I guess that will remain a mystery (for the moment).

And I'm unsurprised that we had similar results. We were both working with the same base photo - a quite nicely shot one, I must add - and using parallel tools. Great minds, and all that, eh ? :wink:



John P.
 

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Wade :


What I found interesting is how the D200 reacts to those intense day-glo colours, and how the OOF areas from the 70-200mm flared on the day-glo colours. Although I can't prove it, I suspect that the Auto WB algorithms freaked out with the intensity of the colours. I'd be curious to see what would have happened with other WB settings, but I guess that will remain a mystery (for the moment).

John P.
Yep, those were my thoughts too! and I think it also had to do with shooting in colorspace I or III. It made me wonder if I should shoot auto Wb all the time like I do, instead of getting closer and setting WB as I shoot?

Here is a pic of the blown highlights as shot with Auto WB -1 from his raw, changing to color space II helped out a lot. Maybe because I shoot in Auto WB and colorspace II all the time, I don't have this problem usually?

as shot colorspace I (III is the same as is Ia and IIIa)

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In color space II, much better with his Auto Wb -1

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