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NX2:Win - Easiest Way to Accomplish This?

Discussion in 'Nikon Capture and View NX' started by NewBert, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. I took the following photo at Saratoga Race Course yesterday:

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    The lens used was the 55-200VR at an aperture of 5.6. I would have liked to isolate the horse and jockey more, but don't really have the right lens to do it. So, my next best way is to do it in NX2 using Gaussian Blur for the background, right?

    What is the easiest way of separating (masking) the jockey and horse, so that I can blur only the background? Is it easier to somehow use Control Points (if so, please explain how), or do I need to trace the selection using my Wacom Tablet? I don't have that steady a hand, so would prefer to not rely on my tracing.

  2. Nice Capture! :biggrin:

    I notice a bit of noise, and I would consider painting in some Noise Reduction in the background. It will soften it a bit as well as eliminate noise.

    I may be in the minority, but I prefer the brush for selecting areas. It is easy to adjust the size of the brush, and if you paint over the wrong area, just select the minus brush and fix it. No steady hand needed.

    your idea of a gaussian blur is great, just be subtle. Too much looks fake. The other way to get more differentiation is to optimally sharpen the subject. Again, paint the pony and rider and try out some USM settings to get the optimal sharpness and minimal noise.

    Please post the final image.

  3. Well, I gave using the brush a try. Here it is:

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    Easier than I thought but still far from perfect. Gaussian Blur might be TOO subtle. (I tried following your advice...)

    Now that I have the "mask" created, how do I apply USM to just the mask? And what values would you suggest?

    Also, how would I apply NR to only the background.

    Sorry, but I'm still getting comfortable with both NX2 and the tablet.

  4. Definitely a step in the right direction.

    You need to apply USM and the NR in two separate steps.

    Try this:

    Noise Reduction
    1) Click on New Step at the bottom of the edit list.
    2) Select NR with a value of 12 (not a bad place to start)
    [NR has now been applied to the entire image]
    3) Select the brush (-) and brush over the area you want no NR (horse and rider) If it is hard to see it, you will see a submenu marked "selection" within the edit step. Just pull down the menu and select "show overlay" and you can see where you are painting.

    Here is a different way to do the same thing.
    1) Click New Step
    2) Click brush and paint out the horse and rider
    3) choose Noise Reduction in the edit step

    Rinse and repeat for USM
    1) Click new step
    2) paint out horse and rider
    3) choose Focus --> Unsharp mask try settings of 35, 5, 4. adjust the top number until you like it (enlarge to 100%)

    Does this make sense?
  5. Bert, in addition to all of the good stuff mentioned above, I've got a couple of ideas.

    I haven't had a chance to use the new Selection Control Points yet, but with a certain amount of effort you should be able to apply Gauusian Blur very effectively by masking the horse and rider. It may take a while to position the control points and their opposing control points, but once you get them properly positioned they will probably do a better job of separating the foreground from the background if you're having trouble using the brush.

    If you do indeed decide to use the brush, you should use it in conjunction with the Linear Gradient Tool. You would apply the blur using the gradient tool and you would erase it from the appropriate areas using the brush. That's because the gradient will allow you to provide greater and greater amounts of blur as the background recedes further and further away from the subject, very much like what happens with the blurred area produced by a lens. I posted a brief mini-tutorial about that, which you can review here.

    I'm pretty sure you can use the Selection Control Points in conjunction with the Linear Gradient Tool, but I haven't tried doing it yet. You can also use the Noise Reduction instead of or in addition to the Gaussian Blur using the gradient in conjunction with the control points.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  6. Thanks, Mike and Keith.

    I'll try playing around with both techniques later today.
  7. Keith,

    Yes this all makes sense.

    One question though -- Do I need to re-paint the horse and rider for each separate step (to separate them from the background), or is there a way to re-use my previously created "mask" for these steps? It seems a bit tedious to "recreate the wheel" in each step.


  8. Not to take the wind out of Keith's sails, but you definitely should use a mask only once. I'll describe the method generically so you appreciate how it applies to any combination of adjustments that you want to apply to a masked area (or is it an unmasked area, I'm not sure).

    1) Create a New Step
    2) Select the type of adjustment (Gaussian blur, saturation/warmth, whatever)
    3) Apply the paint brush to the desired area
    4) Alter the adjustment's parameters to your liking
    5) Shift+Click on the dropdown menu for the type of adjustment; select the next type of adjustment
    6) Repeat steps 4 & 5 until you have applied all of the types of adjustments to that particular mask

    Notice that two things have happened. The second type of adjustment has appeared beneath the first type within the adjustment step that you first created, not as a New Step.

    Also notice the top line containing the triangle that allows you to collapse and expand the details of the adjustment. Immediately to the right of the name of the first type of adjustment you'll see an icon that looks (I think) like a pair of chain links. The link tells you that even though that particular Step indicates only the name of the first type of selection, there are additional types of adjustments linked to that same mask or adjustment step. This is important when you are reviewing your adjustments if the particular adjustment step is collapsed.

    Make sense?

  9. Yes - It makes sense, and sounds vaguely familiar. I recall reading this somewhere before but didn't know where.

    Since I saved the Gausssian Blurred version as a new version in the NEF, I should be able to pick up from there and re-use the masked and unmasked areas using your method.

    I'm going to try playing with this later today.

    Thanks, Mike!
  10. Bert, you might also might want to look it up in Jason's eBook. I'm reasonably certain that he describes the method, probably more clearly and concisely than I did and along with helpful pictures.
  11. Mike,

    Not taking wind out of my sails at all! I am grateful to know that it is possible to use the same mask for multiple adjustments. Thanks!!! You continue to be a font of NX wisdom. I look forward to giving that a try. It will speed up my post tremendously. I'll definitely take another look at Dr J's ebook again. So much there, it is easy to miss some good stuff.

    When you say "should use a mask only once" do you mean that it is more convenient to add additional steps using the same mask, or that it is some way problematic to mask the same or nearly the same area again in a subsequent step?

    I like the gradient idea as it will definitely make the blur look more realistic, especially when the area of focus is physically near areas you want blurred.

    I haven't played much with selection control points. I guess I am a creature of habit. I definitely should bone up on that and add it to my repertoire.
  12. The former reason.

    I haven't done much with them either, but only because since they became available my images have fortunately needed minimal post-processing. The few times that I have needed them, they were much more effective and far faster than having to use the alternatives before they became available.

    The best example I can think of is adjusting images that had various light sources. I had to adjust the skin tones in one part of the image affected by one light source without affecting the skin tones in a different part of the image affected by a different light source. Using a color control point would not have given me the flexibility provided by the Color Balance adjustment used in conjunction with the selection control point. Using the Color Balance adjustment in conjunction with the brush would have taken a lot longer and, as Bert noted, would not have resulted in such a clean separation of the masked and unmasked areas.

    Remember that you can stop the effect of a selection control point by inserting a second control point within the area of the first, allowing for some really complex and detailed masks. Very powerful stuff.
  13. Thanks for the clarification. Not to keep beating the brush drum, but you can also use it to restrict the area affected by a control point. I like how there are usually several different ways to address the same kind of task with NX2.
  14. Updated Photo

    Well, I tried some of the techniques that you guys suggested. I successfully linked the Gaussian Blur to the NR function and used the linear gradeient on the Gaussian Blur.

    I ended up starting from scratch on the image and used the minus brush on the horse and rider -- although the selection could have been quite a bit more precise if I wanted to devote more time to it.

    I briefly tried combining selection control points to select the horse and rider, but that didn't work out too well. I have to keep working on that.

    Based on the above disclaimer, how did I do?

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  15. I think it's quite nice, Bert, especially considering your disclaimer.
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