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Too dark; two questions

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by MaCo, Jul 17, 2005.

  1. MaCo


    Jun 23, 2005
    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:


    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
  2. nfoto

    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.
  3. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

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

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  4. Cory Cooper

    Cory Cooper

    May 24, 2005
    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?

  5. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    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.
  6. Cory Cooper

    Cory Cooper

    May 24, 2005
    Salem, NH
    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?

  7. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    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.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  8. 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.

  9. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    I like your touch up with GIMP.. That is a good program

    Also send my sympathy to you and your family.
  10. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl

    That would work..they you can adjust the opacity to be a bit somber.
  11. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    I agree Rich
  12. Iliah


    Jan 29, 2005
    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.
  13. 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.
  14. Iliah


    Jan 29, 2005
    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.
  15. MaCo


    Jun 23, 2005
    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)
    I used iTTL. I'll try out your suggestion Iliah.
    Christian was very helpful in explaining why the shot came out that dark:
    And to answer my second question (how to "save" the picture) Christian and others said
    The way Rich put it is exactly what made me say that I am not satisfied but could not find the words for.
    Iliah also gave some advice for post processing:
    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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