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Unprocessed Shots

Discussion in 'Retouching and Post Processing' started by cmpalmer, Oct 20, 2005.

  1. cmpalmer


    Jan 27, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
    I've been shooting a bit with a D70 that I'm about to buy and, of course, there is a big learning curve. I've been getting some good shots after post-processing, but not a really good percentage, and I expect that. I've shot hundreds of rolls of 35mm on a Minolta SLR and a Nikon N60 SLR, so I'm not a complete novice to SLR use (although I am a bit rusty).

    What I would like to see from some of y'all is before and after shots. What the camera captured with no post expect for resizing for the forum and then the end result of that same shot after your best results of post processing.

    Here is an example:

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

    Obviously, I didn't do a great job of getting the exposure right.

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

    This was just quickly touched up with Picassa -- I normally use PSPro, but I didn't have it available and I sometimes use Picassa as a quick and dirty processor because it doesn't alter the original file.

    So, I don't really want a critique of my photos, per se (although you are welcome to do so), I just want to see what good, experienced photographers are getting out of camera.
  2. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    I think I would shudder to post some of my unprocesed shots :>))))

    You did a great job in PP. Love the bird house. Good colors.
  3. cmpalmer


    Jan 27, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
    Yeah, but that's the point :biggrin:

    I've seen the "look at this crappy picture I took and how well it looked after PP" shots and the "I've processed this shot, but then I went back and did it again and improved it", but I would like to see some "I really sweated over the settings and took 50 exposures and this is what it looked like right off my CF card (and then I made it even better)" shots.

    What I'm looking for is a kind of hierarchy of what has to be good in camera in order to get a great photo after PP.

    Focus - Can't do much about this once the picture is taken
    DOF - You can fudge the background in PP, but there is a limit (see Focus)
    Exposure - A little dark is OK (see above), but how dark or how light is recoverable?
    Contrast - You can do a lot with curves and histograms, but you can't create what isn't there in the raw pixels, particularly in low-light or haze shots
    White balance - Same here
  4. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  5. cmpalmer


    Jan 27, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
    No, I think you got my point.

    To answer your first question, I had been shooting in JPG, but I have just changed to RAW+JPG to play around with my options there.

    To answer your larger question (or to rephrase my questions in more general terms):

    As a (relative) novice, one can be overwhelmed by the quality of shots that you see posted here on the Cafe. Intellectually, you understand that all (or at least most) are post processed and, of course, you eventually want your pictures to be that good.

    So, you take out your new Digital SLR and take a bunch of shots, experimenting with different modes and options. Then, you bring up the pictures on your computer and you are a bit underwhelmed by the "raw" (not RAW) shots, but with a little PP they start to look pretty good.

    Yet you still have the idea that if you were really doing it right, they would look a whole lot better out of the camera (and therefore look great after a bit of post work).

    That's what I'm experiencing right now. I've taken a few hundred shots and have got a dozen or so that, in my opinion, are great after PP -- much better than my point and shoot CoolPix shots (again, after PP of them) and as good or better than some of my best 35mm prints (realizing that the lab does a lot of processing of them, as well).

    So, I know what I want it to look like after post processing, what I want to know is what to shoot for (pun intended) before post processing.
  6. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Don't you talk about my monkeys uncle like that ....rofl

    I do shoot raw exclusively. Doooo try to get right in camera. Ususally try to get two to 3 shots with different settings of a shot, to learn. ( I am a new dummy, you see) :>)) (but you knew that)

    I did that this weekend at a craftfair. Shooting manual. Adjusting my A and S.
    Sometimes 5 shots. I did pretty well. Got to many keepers, even if I do have to PP more images than I want to.

    I do 90% of the time now shoot manual. I find my images better. (It is Flew's fault)

    I could post a bunch of ooc (out of camera) from this weekend but I do not have the time. Alot are really good. I am proud of these ooc images for a change.

    Takes lots of practice.

    I have only used an slr anything for 18 months and I am 63 so you know how much experience and knowledge I have. NONE
    Do I sturggle, yes, do I get frustrated, yes, do I want to give it up at times, yes.

    D100 does not have the option for raw+jpg.

    Have I been temped to set the camera to auto and shoot jpg..yes.

    Well then I might as well go back to the CP500o. It does great auto and jpg. Color is good. PP very little. hummm

    Wanna buy a dslr camera and lenses..lololol

    I know this is off Gregs topic. But I am not sure what it would prove or teach to post images as shot.

    Just keep practicing. Like the bird house in different light and different settings til you get the feel of light and the camera. Takes a long time of learning.

    My Monkeys Uncle said so.

    Love ya Paul :>))))
  7. dheaton

    dheaton Guest

    I know exactly what you are saying and I look at it this way. I am retired now but when I had my portrait studio we photographed people all day long, and made many people very happy. However the images they saw were never just out of the camera. First we would process the film like we liked it to be, then we would go into the darkroom and process it there for the best result. Then (if we didn't do neg retouching) we would retouch the print and that is what the client saw. I know this is a little different but it made me think when I had the same questions about digital. I never (almost) show my original digital negative because first impressions count. At least to the client. Now that being said, when I llook at some of my Raw images I am not too impressed. Many times they are too dark (for good reason) sometimes flat, but I know why it looks that way and what I need to do to correct it. At least I have the ability to make those corrections. I hope you understand what I am saying.
    I will try and dig up some unprosessed images and show here.

  8. Hey Chris, good thread. I shoot RAW so some post processing is going to happen no matter what. I also don't use any in camera sharpening, leaving that function for post. However I try for the best photo I can get without processing. Here is why. I have found that the more you mess with an image the more the image quality diminishes, especially when the exposure is off. I only feel really successful when I nail the shot right from the get go. One thing that seems to be true about post processing, a great shot can be improved but a bad one only saved. So keep working for that great one right out of the camera.

    Here is one that I took almost right from the camera. I boosted saturation just a touch and sharpened as well.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 21, 2005
  9. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  10. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  11. RNeal


    Oct 15, 2005
    Funny, I was just working on one (trying to salvage it) that may be a good example of how much you can get away with in post processing.

    This was taken late in the afternoon with overcast sky and the sun in my face and auto white balance. Don't know what happened, but it's severely "washed out" (over exposed?) and the color temperature is all wrong:


    In Photoshop CS2 ACR, best I can recall I adjusted the WB from about 4500 to more like 6500 (the cloudy setting), reduced the exposure by about -.20, increased the shadow intensity to about 50, bumped up the contrast a little, and increased saturation to about +30. Then I applied some noise reduction and cropped it:


    So, that seems like a pretty good recovery and an example of how being able to adjust white balance if nothing else can sometimes save a photo, but no photo should have to be so aggressively processed and post processing is no substitute for getting it right in the first place. I have no excuse. Heh.

    That said, I found with the D70 that shots frequently seem a little "flat" right out of the camera, needed a little "boost" here and there to make them "pop". Sometimes it was just increasing the shadow intensity a little, sometimes adjusting the exposure or contrast a little, sometimes bumping the saturation a little, and sometimes messing around with levels/curves to get it just right.

    All that said, if you shoot raw, it seems like if you get the exposure and focus right (and composition), just about anything else can be fixed in post processing. Ain't nothin' wrong with that!
  12. pcjr


    Sep 19, 2005
    I have had my D70 for 18 months and I still feel this way. I am looking into classes/workshops in my area to help address this issue for me.
  13. Rob


    Jul 28, 2005
    Truro, Cornwall, UK
    I set my camera on the tripod, take dozens of shots with constantly changing settings, then scan them through the PC, watching the Exif info at the side, so I can see what the camera was seeing, and why.
    It is deadly boring, but slowly, and I mean S...l.o.w.l.y I'm picking up clues. :Unsure:

    Good topic.
  14. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    OK Paul,
    As soon as I get to them :>)))

    Did a retouch job today for someone and it toooook forever. Could not get that image right for nothin. I think I finally got it. We will see if the person likes it or not. I just hate to cry Uncle :>))) and give up. Besides I learn.

    So mine got put off for the day. I do have a fun series if I can ever get it all together :>)))

    Funny as I walked the fair I thought of all the folks here and took shots for all catagories I could think of. That was fun.

    shhhhh girls for you guys to :>))) rofl.
  15. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Randy that image is gorgeous. See nothin wrong with PP. :>))

    Love it.
  16. cmpalmer


    Jan 27, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
    Paul, I will have to admit that I didn't really realize what your question had to do with my question until I did some RAW shooting over the weekend. I don't have the pics on hand to post (yet), but I was much happier with the out of camera results in RAW instead of JPG.

    I had assumed, wrongly it seems, that JPG mode was a "beginner/amateur" mode for people who were taking snapshots that they wanted to use without a lot of fiddly post-processing, but shooting in RAW+JPG made me think that Nikon doesn't do a great job of in-camera JPG conversion. In all but two or three shots, the RAW image was much better than the JPG version and was much closer to what I expected based on the settings I had made on the camera and required, in most cases, a minimal amount of PP to make me happy.
  17. Chris,

    Another way to get good pictures out of the camera is to use the correct w/b. It will make a difference and Manual as Gale said. I also use A priority sometimes. Also you can use bracketing to get good exposure by 3 stops. Great for nighttime shots too. There are all different kinds of ways to get good pictures OOC. What you could do is ask some of the members here that shoot OOC how they get good shots and they will help you.
  18. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    The D70 is set to take shots like your #1. This saves blown highlights, etc., and gives you a place to start from for post-processing.

    You can change the camera settings, and even load a custom curve, to get photos right out of the camera the way you want them.

    There are lots of variying opinions about this! I shoot RAW+JPG so I can have the best of both worlds.

    Here are my camera settings:

    In the Optimize Image, Custom Menu:

    Sharpness: +1
    Tone Comp: +1 Medium High (Overridden when using the custom curve)
    Color Mode: IIIa (sRGB)
    Saturation: Normal
    Hue: -3

    Then install sReala_Ver_2a curve (If you want to)
  19. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Generally speaking, I think this is true, just not with the D70. I hear the JPG's from the D50 are quite a bit better though. I think it has to do with the fact that the D70 wasn't really designed as an entry-level DSLR. I mean yeah it was priced that way on release, but if you look at the feature set and options compred to the original D-Rebel, and look at the decisions they made with image processing, the goal with the D70 seemed to be to give the shooter more control and flexibility as opposed to instant "point-n-shoot" results.

    I have to agree, I always though the D70 JPG's (and in-camera white balance) pretty much sucked. That's why I started shooting RAW early on and never looked back. With the right workflow, shooting RAW doesn't really mean any more work than shooting JPG assuming your JPG's would get at least minimal post-processing. The only downside is the extra card/disk space although in the case of the D70 that's not too bad (with 20MB NEF's from the D2x it becomes much more of an issue).

    That said I also think it's also a matter of getting used to the ins and outs of a particular camera and improving your craft. With time, you'll become more comfortable with the camera and have to worry less about technical details and be able to focus more on actually shooting. I know that these days my images seem to require less post-processing than they used to, and I'm still relatively new at this (2 yrs total, 1.5 yrs with DSLR).
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