Too dark; two questions

Joined
Jun 23, 2005
Messages
68
Location
Netherlands
During the funeral of my grandmother last Friday I shot this picture in church:

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The distance to the couple wasn't that large (3 - 4 m; 9 - 12 ft) and I used my D70 and a Sigma EF-500 DG Super. Using Automatic color levels in GIMP 2 I managed to make this of the original JPG:

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Still, I am not fully satisfied. Neither with the first picture (why did it come out so dark?) nor the second (what else could I do to improve?). I know, part of the answer to the second question is to start shooting RAW. I guess I'll start that on my next (unpaid) assignment: shooting SAIL Amsterdam in August.

EXIF from the original picture:

Model - NIKON D70
Orientation - Left bottom
XResolution - 300
YResolution - 300
ResolutionUnit - Inch
Software - Ver.2.00
DateTime - 2005:07:15 19:31:55
YCbCrPositioning - Co-Sited
ExifOffset - 216
ExposureTime - 1/60 seconds
FNumber - 5.30
ExposureProgram - Normal program
ExifVersion - 0221
DateTimeOriginal - 2005:07:15 19:31:55
DateTimeDigitized - 2005:07:15 19:31:55
ComponentsConfiguration - YCbCr
CompressedBitsPerPixel - 4 (bits/pixel)
ExposureBiasValue - 0.00
MaxApertureValue - F 5.10
MeteringMode - Multi-segment
LightSource - Auto
Flash - Flash fired, auto mode, return light detected
FocalLength - 60.00 mm
UserComment - (c) Marc Commandeur
SubsecTime - 808452096
SubsecTimeOriginal - 808452096
SubsecTimeDigitized - 808452096
FlashPixVersion - 0100
ColorSpace - sRGB
ExifImageWidth - 3008
ExifImageHeight - 2000
InteroperabilityOffset - 24294
SensingMethod - One-chip color area sensor
FileSource - Other
SceneType - Other
CustomRendered - Normal process
ExposureMode - Auto
WhiteBalance - Auto
DigitalZoomRatio - 1 x
FocalLengthIn35mmFilm - 90 mm
SceneCaptureType - Standard
GainControl - None
Contrast - Soft
Saturation - Normal
Sharpness - Normal
SubjectDistanceRange - Unknown

Maker Note (Vendor): -
Data version - 0210 (808595760)
ISO Setting - 200
Image Quality - FINE
White Balance - AUTO
Image Sharpening - AUTO
Focus Mode - AF-S
Flash Setting - NORMAL
Flash Mode - Optional,TTL
White Balance Adjustment - 0
Exposure Adjustment - -939455488
Flash Compensation - 67072
ISO 2 - 200
Tone Compensation - AUTO
Lens type - AF-D G
Lens - 618
Flash Used - External
AF Focus Position - Top
Bracketing - 65536
Color Mode - MODE1a
Light Type - SPEEDLIGHT
Hue Adjustment - 0
Noise Reduction - OFF
Total pictures - 2572
Optimization - NORMAL
 
N

nfoto

Guest
Stack an additional layer atop the original and set blending mode to "screen". You can add a little (Gaussian) blur to it as well to reduce the graininess of the image. Adjust layer opacity to taste.

It's best to begin with the (dark) original instead of an adjusted image for this technique. You can add several layers to the stack and vary blending modes as well.
 
K

Ken-L

Guest
Nikon Capture has a "D-Lighting" feature that can work wonders.....

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Joined
May 24, 2005
Messages
300
Location
Salem, NH
First off Marc...my sincere condolences.

Ken-L...seems that NC's D-Lighting is very similar to PS CS2's Shadow/Highlight filter?

C
 
K

Ken-L

Guest
Cory Cooper said:
Ken-L...seems that NC's D-Lighting is very similar to PS CS2's Shadow/Highlight filter?
C
I don't know anything about the PS CS2 (I use the "original" Elements), perhaps someone else can comment on that.

I use D-Lighting quite often on "normal" shots to see what it does, but I had never tried it on these "extreme" dark shots and was astounded by another post showing how it could save those.
 
Joined
May 24, 2005
Messages
300
Location
Salem, NH
Here is the first photo posted after using PS CS2 Highlight/Shadow filter at default settings:

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It doesn't apply any sharpening, it just restores shadow and highlight detail.

Similar, no?

C
 
K

Ken-L

Guest
Cory Cooper said:
Here is the first photo posted after using PS CS2 Highlight/Shadow filter at default settings:
It doesn't apply any sharpening, it just restores shadow and highlight detail.
Similar, no?
C
Yes it is similar. I did several other adjustments, including white balance, conrast, color, and sharpening, but tried do the "minimum". I wanted the details of the fabric of her skirt (or slacks?) to show, so getting the right "balance" was tricky.

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Joined
Feb 7, 2005
Messages
1,027
Location
Annandale, VA
I would suggest not brightening it up too much. The modified inages are too saturated, and red, to my taste (or perhaps my screen!) and for the context of the image.

I would want to retain the intensely emotional mood of the image; increasing the saturation works against it. It also gives the impression of insinuating the photographer into the shot..that's not exactly what I wanted to say; but it is hard to put into words. This is a very personally reflective moment; the caress by the woman is a reinforcement to help ease the pain of loss. If you brought up the intensity of the image just a bit and left the background as it is (not using the DEE feature) you would nail the feeling of what is going on in the image.

Just my $02.

My sincere condolences. Last May I lost two people, an aged uncle and a colleague at work within 4 days. It never is easy coping with death.

Rich
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
978
Location
Viera Fl
I like your touch up with GIMP.. That is a good program

Also send my sympathy to you and your family.
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Messages
2,761
Location
nowhere
Dear Mark,

Please allow my condolences.

Was the flash in "balanced" mode? As it seems to be main source of light, I would put it into "normal" TTL; spot-maeter from the white and set camera to +2eV compensation.
 
Joined
Feb 23, 2005
Messages
957
Location
Montreal, QC, Canada
MaCo said:
During the funeral of my grandmother last Friday I shot this picture in church:
...

The distance to the couple wasn't that large (3 - 4 m; 9 - 12 ft) and I used my D70 and a Sigma EF-500 DG Super. Using Automatic color levels in GIMP 2 I managed to make this of the original JPG:

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Still, I am not fully satisfied. Neither with the first picture (why did it come out so dark?) nor the second (what else could I do to improve?). I know, part of the answer to the second question is to start shooting RAW. I guess I'll start that on my next (unpaid) assignment: shooting SAIL Amsterdam in August.

...
You have my deepest sympathy Marc.
As for why it came out so dark, I could attempt this explanation : the white garnments returned quite a large amount of light from the flash and this shortened the automatic exposure. Post-processing could involve selective control of the main characters, opening the whites by 1,5 EV, while keeping the surroundings muted, would probably be the best I could suggest.
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Messages
2,761
Location
nowhere
This can be done to the image in post processing through PS - here is the result of assigning sRGB gamma=1 space, curves, and conversion to regular sRGB. Curves were manipulated through shifting right upper points in the channels to the left to near clipping (242), and adjusting white balance using 2 points in in blue channel.

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After that IMHO there should be contrast adjustment, and a mask to pull background a little bit down.
 
Joined
Jun 23, 2005
Messages
68
Location
Netherlands
Thank you all for your kind sympathies and the comments on the post processing. I would like to summarize your comments:
The first question (keeping the picture from turning up to dark)
Iliah said:
As [the flash] seems to be main source of light, I would put it into "normal" TTL; spot-maeter from the white and set camera to +2eV compensation.
I used iTTL. I'll try out your suggestion Iliah.
Christian was very helpful in explaining why the shot came out that dark:
Elf_8 said:
The white garnments returned quite a large amount of light from the flash and this shortened the automatic exposure.
And to answer my second question (how to "save" the picture) Christian and others said
Elf_8 said:
Post-processing could involve selective control of the main characters, opening the whites by 1,5 EV, while keeping the surroundings muted, would probably be the best I could suggest.
nfoto said:
Stack an additional layer atop the original and set blending mode to "screen". You can add a little (Gaussian) blur to it as well to reduce the graininess of the image. Adjust layer opacity to taste.
Ken-L said:
Nikon Capture has a "D-Lighting" feature that can work wonders.....I did several other adjustments, including white balance, conrast, color, and sharpening, but tried do the "minimum". I wanted the details of the fabric of her skirt (or slacks?) to show, so getting the right "balance" was tricky.
Cory Cooper said:
...seems that NC's D-Lighting is very similar to PS CS2's Shadow/Highlight filter
The way Rich put it is exactly what made me say that I am not satisfied but could not find the words for.
Rich Gibson said:
I would want to retain the intensely emotional mood of the image [snip] It also gives the impression of insinuating the photographer into the shot. [snip] This is a very personally reflective moment; the caress by the woman is a reinforcement to help ease the pain of loss. If you brought up the intensity of the image just a bit and left the background as it is you would nail the feeling of what is going on in the image.
Iliah also gave some advice for post processing:
Iliah said:
This can be done to the image in post processing through PS - here is the result of assigning sRGB gamma=1 space, curves, and conversion to regular sRGB. Curves were manipulated through shifting right upper points in the channels to the left to near clipping (242), and adjusting white balance using 2 points in in blue channel. After that IMHO there should be contrast adjustment, and a mask to pull background a little bit down.
I agree with him on his last opinion.

Again, thank you all for your comments. I'll try them where I can (I do not own a copy of PS). I'll show you the result later. Probably much later because I'll be on holidays for two weeks after Thursday.
 

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