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Tsunami3k
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Tsunami3k

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@Wildstar: I don't think there's anything about what keychain suggested that implies that he's recommending overexposure, trendy or otherwise.

@Asako: Your picture is very nice, nice enough in fact to warrant a bit more tweaking time than a lesser photo. Keychain's suggestion leads to a tool in Photoshop that fits the criteria you stated before perfectly: it provides the most impact with the least amount of time invested.

If you open the image in Photoshop, try out the Image:Adjustments:Levels tool. At the top of the tool you'll see a histogram showing where all of your images pixels rank fro dark(left) to light(right). You'll notice that on the rightmost end that it's pretty much flat. That's a general clue that part of your brightness range is going to waste. Even though they've been gradually improving for years, monitors still aren't great at reproducing the full range of colors and brightness so rescuing this can really give your colors some nice punch.

Moving the little white slider under the right edge of that histogram up to the point to where it's no longer flat will give your picture back that headroom that was being reserved for effectively nothing. Give it a shot and I think you'll like the improvement. Try moving middle [gray] slider around a bit too.

There are a pile of tweaks that each might incrementally improve your images but, all together, might take 20 minutes. This adjustment offers the most gain for the least amount of time, maybe 20 seconds.
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  #610354

Asako
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Hm, I hadn't played with the levels tool like that before. It's quite interesting. I usually manually tweak brightness/contrast/hue/saturation and such when I find it necessary. This does prove a bit easier, though, and saving time is always good as I'm too impatient to muck about with a lot of post-processing.

My main adversity to shooting raw is the idiotic import methods and having to save them as usable formats (since PS refuses to just always save as PNG) a jpeg I can just open, tweak and close, which saves it. Not to mention they're a lot larger so I fit less on my card, and Windows doesn't render thumbnails for raws so I have to manually check each one to find the shot I'm after.

It's just a lot more bulky and time consuming as a whole. I know it offers a lot more flexibility, but the majority of benefits I can gain are things I am likely to never use, as most tweaks I do work just fine in jpeg anyway. I need to learn how to use my camera better, not how to do more post-processing. :(
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keychain
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@Asako: In my eyes, there is clearly a difference in exposure between the pic of Youmu by herself and the pair of Youmu and Yuyuko. I personally prefer the exposure in the Youmu pic and I feel if you did a side by side comparison of the two pics it would be pretty clear where I'm coming from. I'll add that the soft lighting with the angle it's coming from is causing a lack of shadowing which make the figures appear flat. Lighting is one of the best ways to add a sense of depth to a 2D picture. I had the same problem with a pic of Yukimura I took (mfc link), I wish I would've adjusted my reflector to get more shadowing on her legs in particular.

As for exposure compensation, an important part of learning your camera is learning how it meters in different situations. This can only be learned through experience and if you shoot in manual mode you'll soon get an idea of how much above or below the metered exposure to go without needing to invoke exposure compensation. Some people prefer to just use the spot or center weighted metering and exposure lock to get the exposure they are after, which can work really well for shots like the always popular silhouetted sunrise/sunset pic.


@Wildstar: lol, that's the first time anybody has ever accused me of trying to be trendy. White everywhere doesn't necessarily mean overexposed though, for example high key lighting. Exposure is all relative though, if you like your pics dark and muddy from low contrast, more power to you ^^!

Nah seriously though, when I do critiques, I try to keep them isolated to technical aspects and leave the final artistic decisions up to the individual. I'll usually add some context to my comments if it goes beyond that.
  #610649

Wildstar
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Regarding those two pics, I really prefer the "underexposed" one. I think dark grey should be dark grey, not black, and light grey should be light grey, not white, even if it wastes dynamic range. Call it muddy if you will. Of course this is personal opinion.

What isn't personal opinion, like you stated, is that the problem is the lighting. You can compress the range to try to squeeze some three-dimensionality out of it, but it'll never look great.

I must say lighting really is the most difficult thing to get right. I'll add to your advice that lighting can (must? should?) be learned by experience, just "fool around" with whatever you have in the house usable as light sources, diffusers and reflectors (a red flower pot, for example, can be very useful!) and get a feeling of how it works.

Since I don't have anything that even remotely resembles a studio, I once had to put item #435 on my hallway, close all but two bedroom doors, carefully adjust the other two (and the window shutters), and add a desk lamp with vegetable paper in front just to get proper lighting :D
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  #610753

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@Wildstar: Very true, photography is very subjective so opinions vary greatly. Muddy was probably a harsh way of putting it, but it's kind of a carry over from playing electric guitar. I prefer when shadow and highlight detail is maintained but do like some separation in luminosity allowing details to come through with a bit more punch but not a knock out blow.

@Asako: Hope you don't mind, but I tried boosting the exposure in camera raw by 2/3rds of a stop and did a quick curves adjustment to bring the shadows and highlights back to what I prefer (ext link). I placed a copy of the two histograms for reference, blue for top, gray for bottom, which shows the basic effect of the camera raw adjustment. Also did some color correction based on her promo shots, although the colors pop a little too much, orz. Be interested in hearing your thoughts.

With regards to color combinations, I think a deeper blue background would suit the pair better. I feel the more purplish background clashes a bit with Yuyuko's dress and hair.

An interesting angle to try with Yuyuko might be a profile from the lower left, camera slightly in front of her, looking up with her fan in the bottom left corner of the frame and the lens about level with her fan as well. Exact camera position can be adjusted to get a nice angle of her face.

Positioning with regards to the soft light source, I think rotating her to the right so the shadows can accentuate her facial features would have added a bit more depth to the photo and gotten a bit more out of the limited lighting you had to work with. Using dark things to limit reflections and placing objects between the main source of light and subject can help when a source is too soft. Like Wildstar said, gaining experience and being creative to make the most out of what you have available can be a rewarding aspect of photography, and with more experience comes quicker results.
  #611153

Asako
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Asako

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I achieved very similar results when I fiddled with the levels, though not quite as saturated as yours (which, I think is a bit too vibrant and too unnatural). I don't have a deeper blue card background unfortunately, only my cloth one which I packed away already. I'm going to keep an eye out for more colours but I got one of everything that was available when I picked them up the other day -- (ext link)

I also can't really control the lighting, at least with most of those shots it was just ambient (not direct, sun already passed over my window) daylight. I suppose I could use the white sheet of card as a reflector but ambient levels are low so I'm not sure it would help any. I do have a lamp, but it's a halogen which is quite a warm light and requires quite a lot of balance tweaking to correct. It also casts terrible shadows unless I use my light tent, which isn't really large enough for two figures so I can't easily do paired shots. A few of my more recent uploads were at night with just my overhead light, which also casts shadows I'm not pleased with. :(
  #611390

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Yeah, the saturation of the pink and blues in particular came out a bit strong and clashed with that background color, easy to dial back though. Levels are a good quick way to adjust things, but curves really offers more control and can be just as quick with experience.

Paint is one option to get colors you can't get stock. A bit more work, but I think it could lead to very interesting results.

Like Wildstar mentioned, creativity and a willingness to experiment can create opportunity where it seemed like there was none. Even highly diffused light can be tamed with a bit of ingenuity. Dark objects and blocking some of the light coming in through the windows can reduce reflected light and make it more direct. Thoughtful positioning of your subject is also vital to make the most of what's available. Personally I find that the experimentation enjoyable and rewarding, but others may see it as more of a hassle. I think a willingness to experiment and go beyond convention is important towards developing one's own style and skill as a photographer though.
  #612153

Asako
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Asako

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I've uploaded a slightly fixed version of that image, (mfc link) (not quite as saturated as the one you did). Though I only really uploaded it to make a new album as I can't find how to make albums without uploading, and I'm trying to classify all of my pictures. ;.;
  #616226

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keychain

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AsakoI've uploaded a slightly fixed version of that image, (mfc link) (not quite as saturated as the one you did). Though I only really uploaded it to make a new album as I can't find how to make albums without uploading, and I'm trying to classify all of my pictures. ;.;

If you hit edit on the photo's page you can create a new album to place it in.
  #616968

Asako
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Asako

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keychainAsakoI've uploaded a slightly fixed version of that image, (mfc link) (not quite as saturated as the one you did). Though I only really uploaded it to make a new album as I can't find how to make albums without uploading, and I'm trying to classify all of my pictures. ;.;

If you hit edit on the photo's page you can create a new album to place it in.


I failed to see that initially, but I've created all my albums (or at least for now).

I switched back to my other lens and did a few more shots, but one thing that has puzzled me for a while is some strange blue discolouration between dark and light areas. A friend did some magic to one of my photos in order to fix it, but didn't tell me what... just noticed it again on my last pic; (mfc link)

See the band on her leg, there's sort of a blueish tint around it. What sort of tool in photoshop would be best to clean that up?

I noticed it taking photos of GSC's Rin a while back (on her forehead, same sort of blending from flesh to dark hair) and it's definitely not a paint issue on the figure, it's something with the photos. Any ideas?
  #617047

Vylen
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Vylen

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AsakoI switched back to my other lens and did a few more shots, but one thing that has puzzled me for a while is some strange blue discolouration between dark and light areas. A friend did some magic to one of my photos in order to fix it, but didn't tell me what... just noticed it again on my last pic; (mfc link)

See the band on her leg, there's sort of a blueish tint around it. What sort of tool in photoshop would be best to clean that up?


When there's high contrasting light/colours, you often can get purple fringing along these changes of colour. It's a distortion called chromatic aberration (CA for short). (ext link)

Consumer lenses and cheap lenses have varying degrees of CA, whilst the more expensive lenses do their best to reduce CA by having as many glass elements as possible in the lens with low dispersion glass. Which is one reason for expensive lenses being... expensive.

As for fixing it in Photoshop... I've never personally tried since I've never really needed to... but I'm thinking you can do something like making a copied layer of the image, then use a mask around the purple fringe area, adjust the colour then blend it back to the original image.

Otherwise, it's not really worth the effort :p
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  #617058

Asako
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Asako

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VylenWhen there's high contrasting light/colours, you often can get purple fringing along these changes of colour. It's a distortion called chromatic aberration (CA for short). (ext link)

According to reviews this lens is supposed to be very good on CA, so I shouldn't see any... so now I worry that my lens is bum. The thought does not please me. ;.;
  #617091

keychain
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keychain

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Lateral CA is easy to fix in most photo-centric image editing programs. Photoshop and Lightroom have automatic correction for a variety of lenses which corrects for CA as well as barrel/pincushion distortion, just look under lens correction in filters or the drop down in Lightroom in the develop module. If your lens isn't in the list of included profiles, chances are there's a user out there that has already created one available for download. There is also a manual adjustment if required, which I actually have to do in two passes when using my old 28-105mm at close focus lol (ext link). It's most obvious in the bottom right corner.

What you are mainly after are the red/cyan and blue/yellow adjustments. Just zoom in on part of the image that is the most offensive and adjust the sliders till you get the colors to line up.

edit>> @Asako: Most lenses have it, even expensive ones can have it to the point where it's noticeable. It's quick and easy to correct though so don't worry too much about it.
Updated 3 years ago #617101

Asako
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Asako

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I just tried your lightroom solution, but the saved image ended up being 32Mb... even downscaled. ;.; I exported to photoshop to do some tweaks there, then saved as a PNG, and whoosh, massive file. The raws aren't even half that size, so I wonder where I went wrong. I did flatten the image so it's not like there's multiple layers or anything...
  #617134

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I just tried exporting from LR to Photoshop, saved as a PSD and ended up with a 64mb file from a 12mb raw which is consistant with an uncompressed 16-bit color image of that size (~12mp). I actually ended up with a 50mb PNG lol. Even RAWs tend to be compressed to some degree, and the data structure probably lends itself to be more effeciently compressed. I have multilayer PSD files with just a few adjustment layers and masks that are more than 150mb so I wouldn't be too worried about file size unless you are short on storage.

Saved as a jpeg though, that same 12mp image is only 2.5mb, quality set to 85, so I don't think you're doing anything wrong.
  #617170

Asako
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Asako

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Yeah, but MFC has a 2Mb limit on images, so I can't replace the version I had here. :(
  #617179

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Should be fine if you downscale it a bit or use a slightly lower quality setting like 75-80. Anything less than around 2000px on the longest side is probably guaranteed to be less than 2mb when saved as a jpeg, while still being a pretty big image to look at on a computer screen.
  #617195

Asako
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Asako

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Actually, I give up. I can't get good results out of the CA tool anyway, the picture I thought I was finally happy with had all sorts of weird colour issues next to the one I previously uploaded. I'll just see about better lighting (maybe even use my hood) to try to avoid these sorts of issues. It only occurs occasionally so there must be other factors at work that are easier than post processing it.
  #617229

stargazer713
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stargazer713

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hey keychain, how am I doing this time with my *hopefully* improved black background? (mfc link)
  #836012

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stargazer713hey keychain, how am I doing this time with my *hopefully* improved black background? (mfc link)

Lookin' good to me! The lower half could be a little brighter but just as it is the lighting gives it a nice soft spotlit look to it that works well and gives a nice ambiance. I think you could get better color and detail if you could get your camera to shoot at a lower ISO. I think your camera has a long exposure mode, should be worth trying.
  #836973

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