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Looking for improvement This is the e-group critique board. If you post a picture here it will be assumed that you are looking for comprehensive technical feedback - both good and bad, but always respectful. Only post pictures here if you can deal with potentially negative constructive criticism. Anyone is qualified to comment and post feedback, and everyone is encouraged to do so. NB: "Looking for Improvement" is the place to post any pictures you would like advice on improving, no matter how bad you might think they are.

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  #1  
Old 26th October 2010
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Help! Dodgy Raw

Sometimes a bracketed sequence of shots just does not work in HDR for me. This is one such example, where the breeze was blowing the leaves too much for them to be alligned in Photomatix and the result looked terrible. I therefore took a single raw file which seemed to be the best balanced exposure and processed it once with no adjustment, once at -1 stop and once at +1.5 stop. I then tonemapped these three images to get a result I like, but on which I would value the opinion of others.

This is the original raw, processed with no adjustment except for resizing.




This was my first attempt at tonemapping it. To my eye the saturation and contrast look look a little too high.




So I had another go and turned down the sliders for strength and saturation to get this.




This scene was taken under cloudy bright conditions which would not normally cause a problem, but there was simply too much contrast between the shaded canopy of leaves and the buttercups in the background. I find that buttercup petals, being a combination of yellow and very reflective, often require quite a lot of minus exposure compensation.

The question is, have I succeeded in balancing the expousre throughout the scene by my psuedo HDR process or can anyone advise a better solution? All comments appreciated.
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Old 26th October 2010
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Re: Help! Dodgy Raw

Nothing wrong with a bit of pseudo HDR in my books (as long as you can't see any giveaway signs..). Apply too much and you get halos, or a strange blandness to the image. In this case it still looks "natural" to me

BTW - I have become a fan of Photoshop CS3's "Highlights and Shadows" adjustment, which seems to be a kind of tonemapping in disguise. I took your original and did a H+S on it and got quite close to your third image quite quickly. Its a useful tool...

Pete
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Old 26th October 2010
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Re: Help! Dodgy Raw

Quote:
Originally Posted by snaarman View Post
Nothing wrong with a bit of pseudo HDR in my books (as long as you can't see any giveaway signs..). Apply too much and you get halos, or a strange blandness to the image. In this case it still looks "natural" to me

BTW - I have become a fan of Photoshop CS3's "Highlights and Shadows" adjustment, which seems to be a kind of tonemapping in disguise. I took your original and did a H+S on it and got quite close to your third image quite quickly. Its a useful tool...

Pete
Thanks Pete,

I often use Highlight and Shadow adjustment in Elements, not sure if it's as good as the version in CS3 but I find it really useful. On this occasion I could not seem to pull enough out of the shadows or darken the buttercups quite enough, but you may have done better. Here's my effort using H&S.

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Old 27th October 2010
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Re: Help! Dodgy Raw

Here's my attempt. You'd need to compare this with your third shot side by side I guess..

The SC3 H+S ajdustment is much cleverer than (for instance) the Elements version, with more adjustments...



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Old 27th October 2010
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Re: Help! Dodgy Raw

Strangely enough John I prefer your last one (H&S) as it has more depth, and I think that that is the thing with HDR or H&S, it tends to flatten images out (reduces the perception of depth) especially none wide angle shots by evening tones out. Of course that's just my opinion and why I am not a big fan of HDR or overdoing H&S
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Old 27th October 2010
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Re: Help! Dodgy Raw

Whilst I enjoy, and sometimes use, HDR, this image, as Pete said, is one which seems to respond better to simply pulling out the details in the shadows.

I find Lightroom's "fill light" option to work quite well, although some noise may be introduced.
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Old 27th October 2010
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Re: Help! Dodgy Raw

Thanks for all your input, guys. I think Paul has hit the nail on the head, there is something that does not look quite right with my HDR versions. However, to my eye my H&S looks a little lame, particularly the swarth of buttercups which are not as vibrant as I remember, so I've had another stab at it. I didn't dare move the siders any further for fear of introducing the same problems as in the HDR, so I made a selection of the buttercups and gently adjusted levels (the histogram showed a restricted range to the left) and slightly increased saturation. The result (below) is more to my liking. Any further thoughts on this?

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Old 20th December 2010
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Re: Help! Dodgy Raw

One of the problems of adjusting a whole range of parameters in an image which includes green vegetation and yellow flowers is that, because of the yellow in the leaves, the two are inextricably linked. I am sure that for folks with more expertise than me they may find a way of overcoming this, but for the average photographer this can cause a degree of exasperation. Does anyone have any tips on this aspect?

David

Last edited by David Morison; 20th December 2010 at 02:54 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 26th December 2010
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Re: Help! Dodgy Raw

I have to admit that on my screen the third of your first set actually looks quite nice, it has a dreamy feel to it, and lots of detail. As it keeps getting worked on, there is a little too much contrast, there seems to be a loss of tonal depth.

Gosh, it was nice to see something green...
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Old 29th December 2010
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Re: Help! Dodgy Raw

To my eye (and monitor) your "first attempt at tonemapping" has produced the best tonal balance with just enough contrast, saturation and shadow detail.
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