Monthly Archives: November 2011

My HDRs look like PooDRs – Fixes for the most common problems

My HDRs look like PooDRs – How to fix the common problems

For people that are just starting out and even for some that have been doing HDR for a while, there are some common problems that people run into. But without having used the myriad of controls in their HDR software, most people don’t know which way to turn to remove some of these unsightly demons. So let’s run through a few of them and their cures. 

Note: None of the after images represent a finished image; they are merely to show reversal of a problem area 

Haloing

Haloing – Probably the most common problem with HDRs. Haloing is a bright areas surrounding an edge, You will most likely see them in areas of high contrast; The edge of a building against the sky or tree branches and power lines against that same bright condition.

Here is an image I made have haloing, along side it are the controls as they are in Photomatix.  

This is a case of too high on the Lighting adjustments (Surreal) and also too much Strength.

Making changes to just these controls gets rid of a lot of the haloing

We changed the Lighting effect to Natural and Strength to 50

 

The Grays

This occurs when large areas of White now become gray. This happens because the HDR program is trying to make everything a Midtone if you make a white (or a black) a midtone it turns gray.

 

 

Now I think you will start to notice a common thing with fixing problems. To fix this problem, We will once again take a look at the Lighting Adjustment  and Strength This time the lighting Adjustment was at Surreal + the setting that will attempt to make most parts of the image Mid-toned and the strength was at 100.

 

Again we moved the Lighting Adjustment to Natural and the Strength down to 70. But we made a couple more changes. This image had the Gamma set to .80, without getting into a technical discussion of what gamma is, basically consider it a midtone curve. If we move the slider to the left and down to about 1.20 we will bring more contrast into the Midtones. Then by adding some Black Level, we bring up the shadows in our image.

 Burnt edges

The opposite of Halos are Burnt edges, this is a darkening on areas of contrast.

 

 

But wait, The Lighting Adjustments are at Natural and 100%, shouldn’t that be good? No in this case it isn’t, it is trying to make the mid-tones shadows but simply lowering the Strength to 70% and our Gamma to .90 and we smooth out the tones across the image

 Returning to our initial image of the Lifeguard Garage, this is probably how I would end up processing the image

 

 Strength 70

Saturation 70

Luminosity 0

Detail Contrast 0

Lighting adjustment Natural

Smooth Highlights 0

White Point .250%

Black Point 2.22%

Gamma .90

Micro Smoothing 30

Saturation Highlight 3.8

Then just a levels adjustment layer and a little dodging and burning in Photoshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those are just a few of common problems people have or maybe they don’t even know they have and  a few ways to fix them and yes, there are more than one way to fix any  of them but these are some of the most effective measures because they go to the source of the problems.

 

As I think of other problems I will throw them in as a quick tip 

Hope that helps,

PT 

 

 

Product Review: Topaz Labs – Adjust 5

Topaz Labs – Adjust 5

 Recently Topaz Labs came out with their latest release for their Adjust series of software, Adjust 5. It wasn’t long ago that I review Adjust 4 so with that fresh in my mind it’s easy to see some of the new things that are a part of Topaz Adjust 5 and there are  quite a few things of note that make this a better program than it’s predecessor.

 It retains it’s Lightroomesque interface. Presets on the left, Adjustment panel on the right and preview panel in the center.

 

I’ll work my way around the interface to point out what is new.

Presets

Staring on the left with Presets, There are 107 new presets. All the Adjust 4 presets are still there but they have added 107 new presets and they have broken the presets up into categories instead of just one long list. The category lists are:

  • Classic Collection
  • Vibrant Collection
  • HDR Collection
  • Film Collection
  • Toned Collection
  • Stylized collection
    And a folder for you to store your presets. 

What I really like about the new presets is that they are things that I would use. Even though I still would suggest you add these effects on a separate layer for control of the amount of effect later, there are a lot of great effects that are good like they are. Finally someone said lets make some good looking presets that actually make sense instead of some things that look like a Peter Maxx poster on Crack (I thought I would throw in a reference for both old people and young. Kids, DON’T do drugs!) 

I especially liked the new HDR presets; they are so usable it’s crazy. I would rather have something like this as a starting point and then get crazier, then to start with crazy and have to tone it down. Cuz usually I just bypass crazy. And there still are some crazy presets no doubt but they have been balanced by some very useful ones. 

A new feature of  Topaz Adjust 5 is that now you can add multiple effects to your image. Say you want an HDR effect and then a toning effect. Just apply the HDR effect and then apply the toning effect. ( The apply button is new) Saves you the time of going back to Photoshop and then back in to Adjust. 

Adjustments

Moving over to the Adjust panel on the right; at the top is a new histogram. Moving down they have the same Global adjustments as before but with the addition of a Curves adjustment which is always handy. 

The other big change is the addition of Local Adjustments via a Brush tool. You can brush out the effects you have added which is a great feature if you don’t know how to or don’t have the ability to do a layer mask. You can also Dodge, Burn and Smooth the image using the Edge aware brush. 

Below that they have added Finishing Touches, where you can add vignettes and frames. Add some grain or change the tone of the image. 

The last addition is a Transparency Slider so you can vary the total amount of the effect on your image. Again, a great tool if you don’t like working in layer. 

The only thing I wasn’t crazy about is that some of the sliders seem backwards in their actions, such as the Transparency Slider. If you are used to working in Photoshop and transparency there, 100 is the full effect of that layer. In Topaz Adjust, 100 is no effect at all. A few other controls did the same thing like when you add a vignette, moving the slider to the right gives you less vignette, not more. I would have done it different. 

Examples

Here are a couple examples, the first with the HDR Heavy Pop Smooth and the second with the addition onto of the HDR, a Vintage preset

 

 

 

Verdict

It’s a better program for the changes. The new presets alone are worth it and the local adjustment brush is really helpful. I think they have come a long way with this product. It’s great to get many looks and it’s great to use for single image HDR’s . Like I said in the previos review HDR without the mess

 I’d like them to fix two things; the way the adjustments work (make the controls more like Photoshop works left to right) The other thing I would like to see changed is the Preview. Its fine in the single image mode where you can click on the image to see the before and after, but in the side by side view, it’s in a vertical view. I wish they would also add the option of a horizontal view. 

So all in all well worth the upgrade. Speaking of which, it is a free upgrade to current Adjust Users 

This is a Photoshop Plug-in. Lightroom, Aperture and iPhoto users can get a free download of Topaz Fusion Express to use Topaz Adjust within their programs 

There are also plenty of Webinars at the Topaz Labs site to help you get the full use out of any of their software products.

 

To try or buy Topaz Labs – Topaz Adjust 5 visit : Topaz Labs

Till November 30th they have Adjust 5 at a special price of just $49.99 with the coupon code of : ADJUSTME

 

Metering Exposures for HDR

Metering Exposures

I talk a lot about metering my exposure for an HDR but I haven’t talked much about how I actually do that, so I thought I would give a quick run through. 

Now of course a lot of times I just do a 3 exposure auto bracket and in that case I only have to make sure that my middle exposure is correct (by Metering and locking exposure on a Mid Tone as I explained here) But what if I need more exposures to cover a larger range? Here’s how I do it. 

First thing I do is set my camera for spot metering, if you don’t have spot metering use center weighted. If you use Evaluative (Canon) or Matrix (Nikon) that samples the whole scene which is great in the case of a single exposure but not what we really want here since we want to only know a specific area. 

I place my center focus point over the area I want to sample and I really just want to know two areas; the brightest part of the scene, and the darkest. Sampling any more than that is a waste of time since we know we will be covering them anyway in our various exposures. We just need to get from one end to the other.

So here is my scene

With my camera in manual exposure mode, I first metered the brightest part of the sky and got a centered meter reading of 1/60 shutter speed (aperture and ISO were constant at f/16 and ISO 100). Just be aware of something when water is involved. In cases with water, the sky may not always be the brightest part of the scene. If you have Specular highlights – reflection of the sun in the water- even though the sun is not actually in your scene. THOSE may be your brightest area of your shot. 

Next I metered the darkest area, a hole in the rocks to my left and got a reading of 6 seconds. So I have a full 10 stops of range to cover to get this shot right. 

So now my next choice was how to I get from one end to the other, in other words how many stop intervals. In this case I chose 1 stop intervals because I didn’t want to shoot the scene twice. But I did have another thing in mind because I knew I was shooting for this article. To answer the question: Are 1 stop or 2 stop intervals best? 

So I started shooting my sequence and I started at 6 Seconds. Now I could have done the math and  to get the next exposure just divide the time in half to get 1 whole stop, or in half and then in half again for two full stops. But I hate doing even simple math, so it much easier to do a simple counting the clicks. 

 My camera and most camera are set up from the factory to change exposure in 1/3 stop increments, you can change that to ½ stop increments in your camera’s menu. Mine is set for 1/3 stops. So if I want to change my exposure 1 full stop, I simply count 3 clicks of the dial, shoot, count 3 clicks and so on (If I am doing 2 full stops I count 6 clicks) and then I simply watch my shutter speed until I get to my end reading that I wanted of 1/60. 

But you do it the way that suits you best. 

So here is my 10 exposure shot processed in Photomatix Pro 4.1(No other processing was done)

 

 BUT, here is my 5 Exposure shot of the same scene

 

 I really don’t see much difference; in fact there was a little more confusion in the water area of the 10 exposure shot because of the moving water. 

I’m still not convinced that 1 stop increments are at all necessary (although I did use it for my Shooting Interiors post) because of course, each single image covers a range and in the end may make some other things worse (alignment etc.) But I of course leave that decision to you. 

If you would like to see what the 5 exposures look like along with each images Histogram, here they are.

 

This shot and histogram really shows you how wide the dynamics were for this scene and how they were really biased at each end

Hope that helps,

 

PT

Why a Tripod is not enough + Tune up that Tripod

Yesterday I went to do a shoot out in Wine Country for a new HDR tutorial. I was happy with what I shot. It was a nice sunset over the vineyards.

After I downloaded my images, it was huge disappointment. NONE of the final merges were sharp!

So I started to inspect the individual frames and found all of the frames that were .1 to 1 second were totally useless, all had terrible camera shake.

But wait a minute, I USED A TRIPOD!

So this afternoon I hauled out my rig to do some testing. The first thing I found was a problem with my tripod itself. The locking lever for my quick release plate was loose allowing the  camera to rock side to side considerably. A quick couple turns of a Allen wrench fixed that. I also lubed up the release catch that was sticking a bit. ( Never lube the Ball Head itself!)

After that I decide to do some testing.

Yesterday in my rush because the sun was setting quickly I left my Remote shutter release in the truck. I also always seem to rush things and am quite impatient so I am not always good at releasing the shutter smoothly and not rocking the boat, so to say. On top of that all I had a loose release plate magnifying everything. But I wanted to see, really does it make a difference to use a remote shutter release after all my camera is on a steady tripod. So here is my test.

The Test

I mounted my Canon 5D on my Manfrotto tripod, I put on my Canon 24-105L IS lens on the tripod with the IS turned off (which is recommended). Zoomed to 105mm I fitted the lens with a B + W 3 stop Neutral Density filter to slow my shutter speed for the test in the  sunlight. I took images of a Yard Stick to show detail. This is far more detail then you would have with a wide angle landscape image so this was a good test.

The first image I shot pressing the shutter button with my finger, slowly and precisely. (100% actual pixel crops, click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one was with me just pressing the shutter button haphazardly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This image was using my Canon Remote Shutter Release

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you can’t afford a remote shutter release right now, use the timer function of your camera to trip the shutter. On Canon Cameras, if you are set up to shoot bracketed photos and use the Timer Release it will fire all three images without you having to touch the camera. I’m not sure if Nikon does that. Maybe a Nikon shooter can chime in in comments and say.

I chose a shutter speed of 1/2 a second for this test. It seems that shutter speeds in and around that speed are the most suseptable to shake. Faster than that and the shutter speed itself stops the blur. And when you do very long exposure under low light the shaking part is only a small fraction of the total exposure and you may not see the bluring.

What about Mirror Lock up?

I knew you would ask, So I did a test for that too. In the image below, above the red line is normal, below the red line is mirror lock up. If I was shooting witn a long lens on a detail shot or doing macro work, the very slight difference we see would make me use it. For Landscapes with a wide angle lens shooting long distance..well I’ll leave that up to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So is any of this anything you or I didn’t know? Probably not, I just never really tried it to see. And I DO know what I will do next shoot.

  • Give your tripod the once over before heading out in the field. You may not have the tools you need when you get there
  • Always use a Remote shutter release
  • Use your Camera’s Timer if you don’t have a remote release
  • Use Mirror Lock-up when necessary

Hope that helps,

PT

My dirty little HDR secret

I hate to confess to you my dirty little HDR secret

I’m a cheater… and I’m lazy

I have my first love, Photomatix Pro 4.1 but I also see Nik HDR Efex Pro

Neither one of them knows the other exists, they’ve only passed each other in Lightroom

And on top of that, I’m lazy and impatient

Truth is, sometimes I like one and sometimes I like the other. But sometimes I think of one while I am using the other…and here’s how.

Photomatix Pro can both open and CREATE Radiance HDR files (this is the 32bit file that is the result of your merge) Nik HDR Efex Pro can only Open them it can’t create them.

Truth of the matter also is that Photomatix Pro is better at merging files especially for deghosting and complex images.

So normally what we would do is; Select the images we want to make an HDR with and just export and do the merge with the program we are going to use and that works fine.

 But like I said I am lazy and also impatient and the last thing I like doing is watching progress bars go across my screen and spinning doohickeys. I wanna work NOW. So why do that twice.

What I do is; I do my merge in Photomatix Pro and have it show the 32Bit file before it goes to tone mapping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the merge, at that point I save the file as a Radiance HDR file.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I go on to Tone map in Photomatix Pro. But when I want to see the results I would get in Nik HDR Efex Pro I only have to open the Radiance HDR file and go, no waiting for the merge.

And like I have said before. It’s not that one program is better than the other, they are just different. They just plain do things differently and you can’t make either one look like the other.

I just hope that neither one finds out or they will both leave my computer and I would be stuck with HDR in Photoshop, and she’s just plain homely

 

Hope that helps

PT

Product Review: onOne Software Perfect Photo Suite 6

Product Review: onOne Software Perfect PhotoSuite6

Today we are going to take a look at onOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite 6. I’ve been a fan of OnOne Software eve since I used Genuine Fractals which is now known as Perfect Resize.

Perfect Photo Suite 6 consists of seven programs in one;

  • Perfect Layers 2
  • Perfect Mask 5
  • Perfect Portraits 1
  • Perfect Effects 3
  • Focal Point 2
  • PhotoFrame 4
  • Perfect Resize 7

These plug-ins work with Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture BUT it is also a completely stand alone program if you desire

You may say; I don’t need all those programs. Well rest assured that all the programs are available separately. BUT buying these bundled in this suite basically gives you 7 programs for the price of 3, so it’s kind of a no brainier why I am reviewing this as the suite

Some of you may also ask; This is an HDR site, why do I care about any of these especially something like Portrait 1? Well, I’ll show you why you may want most of some of these programs but I also know that a lot of the readers here do HDR for fun but actually as a profession, shoot portraits and weddings. So take from this what you want and skip over what doesn’t interest you. But I think quite a bit will.

So why do I need ANY of this?

Now I know a lot about my readers and I know a lot of you LOVE Lightroom. I also know that a lot of you use Lightroom and then Photoshop Elements for some light finishing work. But what is the one thing that Lightroom can’t do and what can’t early versions of Elements do that really would be helpful?

Layers and Layer Masks

When I talked about “Blends” In this article and Kenn Stamp talked about Blending 3 HDR images together. Did you Lightroom users feel left out? Well you needn’t any longer. onOne Perfect Layers 2 allows you to take multiple images from Lightroom and mask those layers as you want. In fact by using Lightroom’s “Virtual Copy” feature you can take a single image, do two different adjustments on that single image and then take them both into Perfect Layers 2 as two layers and do with them as you please.

Perfect Layers 2

For this example I took Two separate images, I first optimized each image in Lightroom (One for the sky, one for the ground)and then brought them into Perfect Photo Suite 6 (By using the command File>Plug-In Extras>Photo Suite)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That command brings them into Perfect Photo Suite 6 and stacks them as layers; you can change the layer order by dragging one on top of the other. Then you can use different tools to mask the top layer to reveal the layer below. The main tools are a Brush and then the Masking Bug – OnOne’s Selective area tool.

So I brought these two images into Perfect Photo Suite 6 and quickly just using the brush tool I was able to mask off the sky of the top layer to reveal the better exposed sky of the second exposure I shot. So those of you that are interested in doing Blends as your means of HDR, this tool worked quickly and easily. I had my blend made in less that 30 seconds and could save that image back to Lightroom (Note that this program exports the files and re-imports them as PSD files)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Yeah Yeah That’s great you just had a simple horizon line to follow, it should have been easy. Try doing that with a complex mask trying to go in between things. That’s a pain with layer mask brushes and even selection tools in Photoshop do a crummy job. 

Oh I just love a dare and so does onOne. Enter onOne’s next program: Perfect Mask 5. By using the tools in Prefect Mask 5 I was able to select what I didn’t want and what I did want and with just a few quick strokes and refinements, I was able to mask this complex blend in minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I simply used the Keep and Drop Eye droppers and told the programs what colors I wanted to eliminate and which one’s I wanted to keep. You can see those colors in the palates on the right

Then I just did a quick couple strokes with  magic brush on part of the sky and that was gone,

Then using the refine brush all the space between the railings was gone.

 

Then using the chisel tool and the blur tool I was able to refine the edges perfectly – All in very little time. Here is what the actual mask looked like in Grayscale priview mode

And here is the final image, done in just a few minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that’s cool.

I’m going to rush through some of the other section of Perfect Photo Suite 6 because I don’t want this post to be a mile long.

 Portrait 1

The next section you can access all from the Photo Perfect Suite 6 module is Portrait one. Portrait one is for retouching of portraits more precisely faces and skin which can really be tough for portrait shooters. I haven’t used Portrait 1 yet, but I watched a demo of it at the David Zizer tour and it was really impressive. The great part was it didn’t make the skin look all plasticy as some programs similar to this do. And it would quickly and easily which is something that portrait shooters that have hundreds of files to work on really love.

Perfect Effects 3

Perfect Effects 3 is an effects browser that you can apply to your images. It has ton of presets in 14 different categories, From Black & White to Film Simulation effects, Vintage effects, Vignettes, tons of different things. They aren’t really adjustable but the presets were very nicely made that you probably won’t want to touch them.

My favorite was Daguerreotype, probably cuz I love that word.

 

 

Focal Point 2

Focal point 2 is a selective focus tool if you want to simulate a shallow DOF or want to do the Toy Camera (Tilt-Shift) effect that is popular right now.

PhotoFrame 4

I didn’t think I would like this at all but actually it was fun. PhotoFrame 4 allows you to put defeat frames or frame simulations around your image. They really aren’t so much frames as what would be called borders to graphics people. So don’t think this is going to be a bunch of didn’t frames like wood frames or metal frames like you would put your finished photo in.

This would be of better use as a Digital Mat. Like I said I didn’t think I would like this but I do make a lot of greeting cards and these borders would actually really come in handy for making those

 

 

 

 

Perfect Resize

And finally a product I have been a big fan of for years. When it was under the name Genuine Fractals (gee, wonder why they changed THAT name LOL) now it is Perfect Resize.

One of my favorite things to do with my images is have them printed and I Loves my images HUGE. I’ve printed up to 40” x 60” but a lot of print labs have a 100ppi minimum to make a print so that would mean a 4,000 x 6,000 pixel file at a minimum. And then on top of that, the common wisdom is to leave your file at the cameras resolution and any scaling should be done by the lab. Which I agree with to a point. That is what I would do for my prints up to 20 x 30.

But when I push beyond that point, I want control because I want to see what the image looks like scaled BEFORE I just paid for a $300 Print and quite honestly I don’t trust anyone. I could use Photoshop to resize and in Bi-Cubic it does a pretty good job and if I was just scaling up a bit I wouldn’t think twice about using it. But when I want to have something create and interpolate more than double the pixels. I want a program made for that job and Perfect Resize is that tool

Perfect Resize uses an “Adaptive Algorithm” so it does more than just sample the four closest pixels (as bi-cubic would do), it instead takes into account where that pixel is, such as if it is an edge and uses the correct algorithm to make that edge look it’s best.

It’s just great software and  you can make huge prints out of a good file. For those of you that like to have your images made into Canvas Gallery Wraps, Perfect Resize now has a Gallery Wrap feature that will duplicate your edges for the wrap so that you are not wasting any pixels on the wrap part. Very cool.

 

So there you have it. Quite a bit of software put together in a nice suite but even if you just want one part you won’t be disappointed.

If you are worried about having to learn new software, worry not. Take advantage of onOne’s onOne University where they have Video Tutorials and Webinars to help you get up and running quickly. I was fumbling around with Perfect Mask 5  so I watched a couple short videos and I was maneuvering through it like a pro

Let me just make one point so that you aren’t disappointed. This is very powerful software, as such it is really system intensive ( Especially Perfect Resize) and will use a good amount of your system resources so make sure your system meets the the system requirements so that you don’t run into problems that are more of a fault of a deficient system than the software itself. Even though my system matched their specs, I found that updating the driver on my video card helped to make the software run smoother. Updating your driver for your video card isn’t a bad idea when running any Photo software especially Photoshop CS 4 or CS 5. It can REALLY make a difference.

 

 

Batch Processing in Photomatix Pro 4.1

Reader Steve in comments on the article Shooting Architectural Interiors reminded me that there are times we need to have speed and efficiency on our side. Or we just want to get through the boring part of processing images…that forever wait of watching progress bars on our screen.

So in those cases one of our options may be batch processing. I thought I would give a quick run through of batch processing images in Photomatix Pro 4.1

It’s a pretty simple process, IF you have your Ducks ( or exposures ) in a Row. This process will only work if all the images you have in your folder are in a series of shots, Say 3 Exposure auto Bracketed or 5 exposure.You have to make sure you don’t have any stray single images or messed up sequences. So once you have your folder in order you can proceed with the batching.

In the Photomatix Panel, Click on Batch Bracketed Photos and the new window will pop up.

The nice thing is we an make a choice here. Do we want to just merge the images and have our 32Bit image  done with which we can Tone Map them separately at a later time. Or do we want the full process done and when it is all done we have a fully Merged and Tone Mapped image waiting in our folder when we get back from the run to Starbucks?

 If you have a bunch of bracketed images that are of  the same subject and conditions, you may be able batch including using Tone Mapping settings that you can set before you begin the process. But if you have a batch of images that are all over the place you may want to just have the images merged to the 32 bit file and then tone map each image separately. Believe me if you have a lot of images to work on. Even Merging all the files ahead of time is nice. Not that is saves any time. But you can go off and do something else while they are merging instead of sitting there while you do them one  by one.

So we can see by the screen. That we have a bunch of choice and selections to make.

Click to enlarge in a new window

First off we choose If we want  to Merge the files and then if we want to apply any Tone Mapping to them. We can choose any of the Tone mapping styles and also set the setting within them.

Next up in order is the number of images in the sequence, If we simply have say all 3 image sequences, we can choose that. But suppose we did some 3 image sequences and then also some 5 image sequences? Clicking on the advanced button will bring up a new window that allows us to have the software detect the sequences and it does so on a on time between shots process, If it detects an amount of time  that is adjustable but say 4 seconds between, it assumes that you have started a new sequence. You can even choose to only merge 3 out of 5  exposure shot if you so choose in this panel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next down, You can choose the folder you want to process or the individual files you want to process, I like getting things arrange in the folder like I said earlier and just choosing that.

And then finally you can choose the destination  that you want the final images to end up in. What type of file you want the Tone Mapped and the 32 Bit image to be saved as and also if you choose tone mapping do you want the 32 Bit image to be removed once the tone mapping is done.

It’s a pretty smooth and painless process with plenty of options.

I may not always use it for what I shoot since even if I shoot 300 images in an evening  I may only choose to do 3 – 6 HDRs from the whole shoot. But other times or in cases like shooting Interiors for HDR you may want to use batching to speed along the process or at least allow you to get other things done while it’s all working.

Hope that helps,

PT

Single Image HDR Processing

I haven’t been a big fan of Single Image HDRs or more precisely Single Image Tone Mapped images, but I am softening my view and it can be great fun

I do still believe if we want to do a true High Dynamic Range image, it should be done right and the time taken to do just that but I have softened my stance on single image HDR.

We do have to be honest ab0ut what it is. We are NOT extending the dynamic range of an image but rather just Tone Mapping the dynamics that are there. In other words we are placing a tone in a different part of the spectrum then it may have been before. Usually this means bring some areas that were lost to shadow up into the midrange and lowering some highlights. Some programs also add some sharpening to bring out detail.

Continue reading »

Topaz Labs releases Topaz Adjust 5

 Our good friends at Topaz Labs today released Topaz Adjust 5 the follow up to their highly sucessful Adjust 4 that I wrote about recently.

Some of the new features that make this software even better than before are:

  • Simplified 1-click workflow with 107 new presets split into 7 convenient effect categories.
  • Intuitive 4-in-1 selective brush used to dodge, burn, smooth, and brush out
    adjustments. Plus advanced edge-aware technology!
  • Integration of the Apply button – so you can stack multiple effects and presets during the same workflow.
  • Finishing Touches tab with options for warmth, grain, transparency, and more…

Till November 30th , They are offering 30% off your purchase of Adjust 5, Just enter the code  “ADJUSTME” at check out.

Previous owners of Adjust  get a free upgrade and you can also save on Bundle upgrades.

I will be doing a full review on Topaz Adjust 5 as soon as I put it through it’s paces

Reader HDR Image Critique

Reader HDR Image Critique 

This week we had an image submitted for critique by our friend Miguel Palaviccini Miguel is a great guy and a great photographer too, you should check out his wildlife shots! https://www.miguelpalaviccini.com

Miguel shot a sunrise over a lake and had some difficulties processing the shot. 

Here are the final images Miguel got. 

The first one was processed using Nik HDR Efex Pro.

 

Miguel while liking the process noticed some problems at the trees edges  

Miguel next took the image into Photomatix Pro 4.1 (don’t forget there is 15% off with coupon code: theHDRimage)

 

He got better results with the merge but didn’t like the process, lots of haloing, graying around the reflected sun, general funkiness 

It took me a while to really analyze the two images and then also to analyze the 9 Images Miguel shot to make this image. 

When I finally figured it out it came down to a few things 

  • Alignment errors
  • More is Less sometimes
  • Trying to make an image something it is not. 

So let’s deconstruct the image and then try to see where things went wrong 

Here are the 9 images Miguel used for his merge

 

Alignment 

An image like this with thousands of small branches or lines is extremely tough on any Merge program. In the first place even on a very good tripod we may have some movement. Sometimes using mirror lockup will help. Sometimes it won’t because the shutter movement itself is enough to cause movement to the next frame. 

But even if there wasn’t any movement, sometimes the software itself thinks it has to do something and does. Sometimes an option is to turn off the alignment completely. I know you can do this in Photomatix, I don’t think you can in Nik. 

But something else was thrown in the mix to make the alignment even more difficult. Look at the bottom 3 frames, because of overexposure those frames have lost all detail so if the software was looking for an edge to align, and there is no detail there to get a correct alignment from. 

More is Less

I think you are going to see a common thread here and where this is all going. The goal in an HDR’s sets of exposure is to have a frame shot so that every tonal area of the image has the “Correct “exposure. We want our highlights exposed correctly with no blow out, we want our Midtones to be correct so they don’t fall into highlight or shadow and we don’t want our shadows blocked up and lack detail NOR so they are either pushed up into the Midtones and create noise and nothing more. 

Looking again at the set of images, we see that the first two criteria were met but where it fails was the last part, the shadows. Too many bracketed images were shot and instead of providing MORE information, they actually just muddled the information in the final image.

 Looking close at the last 4 frames, the shadows instead of correctly exposed are now overexposed and have brought up only noise and we see a total loss of detail in any of the shadow area. We may want to take these shots to have, but that doesn’t always mean we need to use them in our final image. Miguel could have captured the full range of the image in 5 frames.

Making an image what it is not 

Sometimes we have to step back and look at our scene that is there and what is it we are actually shooting and try to make it…just that and not something it is not. 

So what is this image? This is an image of sunrise coming up over a lake and shot through the trees that are Backlit.  And that is the essence that was lost. We are trying, through HDR, to put light were there actually is none. A Back lit subject IS supposed to be dark on the side facing the camera. And not every time that we have the sun in front of us or in the frame do we have a backlit situation. It’s not the orientation to the sun but rather the placement of the sun which determines what is backlit. In this case since the sun was directly behind the trees, it is backlit. So we tried to make the side facing us something it wasn’t nor should be. 

Putting it all together 

So knowing what we know what “I” would have done. (And this is my artistic interpretation and may not at all be what Miguel wants) I would have done the following: 

First off, I would only use the first 5 exposures for my merge. Not only are they all we need exposure wise they will also help with the alignment itself of the image. 

Even with the easier alignment I did notice some smearing in the right hand side of the tree and also in the Reflected sun too. So in Photomatix selective de-ghosting, I selected those areas as Ghosted and used the Middle (0) exposure to de-ghost with. 

This gave me a better merged image to begin tone mapping with. And for this image I used a process just about totally opposite of what I used for my shooting into the sun image, which is kind of the reason I hate posting recipes. Every image is different, every condition different, every problem area different so no one recipe ever fits all or even comes close 

For this image I used 

Strength 50
Saturation 70
Luminosity 0
Detail Enhancer 0
Lighting Effect Natural + (which is just about opposite of what I did for my Sun image)
White Point .867%
Black Point 0
Gamma 1.20
Shadow clipping 43 

This gave me pretty much what I though the image should be. 

I then brought the image into Photoshop and added a Levels adjustment layer to brighten the overall scene a bit but kept it off the sun in both areas. I burned in the shadow areas of the trees just to define the detail just a bit more. And that got me most of the image I wanted. 

But I wanted to push it just a little bit more because I wasn’t happy with the two areas of the sun, the one coming through the tree and the reflected one in the water. So I opened the 3rd image (0) and dragged that on top of the image and masked out everything but the sun from that image and used that exposure only for the final image areas of the sun. 

And this was my final image. The real beauty of the image is not the trees or the water, but just the little pockets of light low in between the trees that we see from the morning sun and the edges of the trees that are highlighted by the glow of the morning sun. There wasn’t and we didn’t need to see any detail on the back of those trees because that would not be “As the eye saw”

 

 

 

Please note, I’m not saying my version is right only that it would be how I would do it using my “vision” 

Hope that helps, 

PT

 

All Images Copyright Miguel Palaviccini, do not copy or use without permission, All rights reserved

Reader Feature HDR Image of the Week – Kenn Stamp

This weeks Reader Feature HDR Image of the Week  comes from Kenn Stamp.

Kenn saw the Shooting Architectural Interiors post and knew some of the information would come in handy for an upcoming shoot he had.

Here is a result of the shoot and I would say it came out perfect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the Shoot info that Kenn provided

Specs: (from what I remember)

 
Flowchart of editing:
Photomatix Pro (32 bit, then optimized for interior, then another optimized for exterior, then a 3rd optimized for contrast (B&W))
        |
Photoshop (CS2) combined all layers and masked out areas.
        |
Nik Color Efex plugin for whitening the whites
        |
More masking in CS2
        |
Nik DFine to remove stubborn noise
        |
Lightroom 3 for lens distortion correction and overall fine tuning/re-sizing/exporting
        |
Bed to pass out from exhaustion
 
Haha, I know what you mean Kenn, sometimes we spend way too much time in front of the computer and this was not the only shot you had to edit.
 
Like I said I think this is an excellent example. Full detail, Full range of shadow to highlight. Good exposure even into the niche’. I like that you didn’t turn on any light in the adjoining room as that would have been a distraction. And look at that view out the window. Can you image what that would have looked like without HDR?  If you look close Kenn also did an interesting thing. He did a combination of HDR and Blending. Making 3 HDR images optimised ofr different areas and then brought them into Photoshop – Stacked and then masked the areas he want for the best image.
 
Thanks for the image Kenn!
 

Remember if you would like your image Featured or Critiqued on  The HDR Image follow the instructions here 

Image is Copyright Kenn Stamp do not copy, reproduce  or use without permission

Follow up on shooting the sun

OK after a crummy week in So Cal, The sun came out. So I thought I would show you what the SUN actually looks like. And yes you can capture the sun without ND filters. But that exposure may not be what you want. The sun becomes very small and the frame with just the cirlce of the sun and complete black will be tough getting aligned and confuses the siftware. So while you CAN capture a “perfect” exposure of the sun…do you want to? Up to you.

 

Shooting the Sun – Blobs and Stars

Shooting the Sun 

Caution: Never look directly into the sun, Never meter on the sun, Never point your camera directly at the sun, Never! 

HDR has opened up a lot of shooting possibilities; one of those is shooting in the direction of the sun and not having to settle for a silhouette. But what about shooting the sun itself? Well that is a little harder. 

The first problem is; the dynamic range of the sun to a shadow is beyond even what the human eye can do in one glance.  We would (BUT WE SHOULD’T) look at the sun and then our eyes would need to adjust for dark subject area.  The human eye is capable in one glance of seeing a Dynamic range of about 10,000:1 the sun would be about 100 times that. (For reference, a good LCD monitor DR is about 1,000:1, a print much less than that) The sun is too bright for even the human eye to see. 

And what would the sun look like, to our eyes, even if we did look at it. Would it be a perfect round white ball? Not really, since our eyes really can’t see something that bright a mid day sun would appear as a large diffuse white object in the sky with no clear delineation. 

As the sun is close to the horizon upon rising or setting, because of the atmosphere, diffusion and particles (water and dust) in the air, the brightness of the sun becomes much less, while the dynamic range may still be high the sun itself is closer to being viewable and we are able to capture more definition to the edges of that “Circle”. 

So are we able to “Shoot” the sun? Yes it would be possible to shoot it but we need to use some special means  such as using Neutral Density filters because even at our camera’s maximum  (f/22 ISO 100 1/8000) that may not  get us the “Ball” of the sun. But again is that what we truly want since that would not be “As the eye sees” In fact it may be actually odd 

 Sunsets themselves are not hard to do and can be an easy capture. Midday shots will be the tough ones.

What kind of sun do YOU want? 

We can capture the sun Midday one of two ways, as a large blob or with a star effect. And even though “blob” may not sound that good, it may be in images with a ceratin look, be the right choice. But it is a choice you need to make before shooting because your camera settings will depend on that choice. 

Now you may say; Well a Star effect really isn’t how we see the sun. True but it is how we visualize a bright object if even in our mind. After all, when we drew the sun as a kid we always drew those Points around it, we never just drew a circle. This is because it is an effect we can get when viewing any point source light that may not be as bright as the sun. sSuch as stars (which of course are just as bright as the sun just farther away, or even things like white Christmas light, street lights, headlights etc, when we view them at night 

To get a Star effect we can do it one of two ways; the easy way of buying a Star filter. They are available with 4, 6 and 8 points in many filter sizes. The nice part about these is you can use them with any aperture but the aperture may dictate how long the star points are. Or, we could do it the hard way, which of course, I always choose. We can do it with aperture. 

To get a star pattern on ANY point source light we need to use a very small or tight aperture. Now I wanted to show you some examples of that shooting the sun at different apertures. But of course today in “Sunny”Southern California, it is completely cloud covered. So I will instead use a point source light, a Halogen Lamp, since this effect will happen with any point source light. So for today we will call our hHalogen light Happy Mr. Sunshine. 

To givet a star pattern to a point source light we want to use the smallest aperture available on our lens which in most cases is f/22 (some telephotos go to f/32- f/35) 

Let’s look at the different effects that aperture have on this. Same light same Exposure, just changing Aperture 

Now let’s look at what the effect of exposure is on the star, as we go from underexposure to over exposure, the size of the star increases. We also see as we underexpose the overall scene enough we loose the star effect completely, another reason we may not want to get a “Perfect “exposure on the sun itself 

 

OK so now let’s go real world and a real example.

Shooting for a Star Effect

The effectiveness will depend entirely on atmospheric conditions the day you shoot. If it is a clear blue sky you will have much better definition, add and haze or light cloud cover and you may not get this effect at all.

I’m going to make it easy for you because I really don’t want you looking into the sun trying to figure this out. 

For you initial exposure in your series of exposures for HDR, You first exposure should be f/22 1/400 ISO 100 (If your low ISO on your camera is ISO 200, use 1/800) you could use 1/800 for a tighter pattern if you would like. But a good rule of thumb is to have your sun exposure 3 – 4 stops lower than the Ambient light. This 3- 4 stops lower will work in the middle of the day as well as for sunsets when the sun becomes less bright because so does the ambient light. 

For those of you that want to know, the Ambient light during the day  would work out to f/16, 1/100, ISO 100 so the above f/22, 1/400 ISO 100 works out to 3 stops less exposure. 

For my example shoot I shot this series

 6 Images, 1 stop apart. I knew the sun exposure and just needed to get a reading of the shadow area which I spot read and got f/22 1/13 ISO 100. So I just had to work between those two in 1 stop increments. You need to shoot enough to cover the dynamics of the scene and 1 stop apart which is important in this case. We are going to have  a tough enough time processing this image in the first place we don’t want to have to worry about posterization  or banding around the sun due to too large of steps in between exposures on those areas. 

One word of note; Shooting under these condition are ripe for lens flare. So we can choose to try to minimize it or celebrate it. If you want to minimize it try changing your angle to the sun and also remove any filters form your lens as low quality ones can compound the problem. In this case lens hoods won’t do anything to help lens flare since what we normally would be shading (the sun) is included in the frame) 

 

Here are the exposures 

Now comes the tough part; Processing in Photomatix Pro 4.1. The biggest problem any HDR Processing programs have is areas of extreme contrast (This is why we get halos around edges of building to sky) and areas of white (It’s why we get gray clouds that should be white). So here we are throwing both problems at it at once. 

So we have to do some things that normally we may not normally do or want to do. Those of you that like Grunge or Painterly effects I will tell you right off that you will have a hard time with your normal work flow. Because as much as the normal settings for  Lighting Effects and strength are what give you the effect you like, they will do what they normally do and attempt to make everything a midtone and it will cause a lot of graying on your sun and the sky that surrounds it. 

Why this is a difficult process is because of two things, we want to try to keep a tight center for the sun and distinct star points. If we get that look right the overall image is dark. As we try to lighten the image we loose the tight center to the sun and its distinct points.   

In this case we use some extreme things that we normally would do; well I guess I should say, I never do. In this case I used the Surreal Lighting effect button, something that I normally never use. And I brought the strength back to 50. This kept our sun’s circle tight but didn’t cause the rest of the image to get super dark which even if we took out into Photoshop would be tough to correct for. 

There was a little haloing around the Hopper and a little graying of the area around the sun but noting I couldn’t fix in Post. 

Here are the compete settings for this image’ 

Strength 50
Saturation 70
Luminosity 0
Detail Contrast 0
Lighting Effect Surreal
Smooth Highlight 0
White point .250%
Black Point 0
Gamma 1.20 

You may want to try a little Highlights Smoothing in these cases moving the slider towards the middle to get the look you may want.

And that’s it for Photomatix Pro.

I then took the image into Photoshop and touched it up with a levels layer and some dodging and burning. I burned the edge of the Hopper with a Midtone Burn tool set to 10% to take care of some of the haloing and then dodge the highlights and burned the shadows a bit on the hopper body itself.

Then I sharpened the image just a bit using Nik Sharpner Pro 3.0 and I was done…well except for one more timy trick. 

 There still was a little graying in the rays of the sun, that I just wasn’t happy with. So I added another blank layer on the image and I grabbed a soft paint brush  set to 20% Opacity , 20% fill and then I sampled the blue sky next to the sun and just painted over the gray area till it became a little more blue. Not super necessary but it just bothered me a bit. 

 

 

 

This is the final image 

 

 As you notice the image contains a lot of sun flare and I even cloned out one in the grass area but I am fine with them in this instance. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few other examples of shooting the sun

In this one, I used f/8 and went for the blob look. I wanted the sun to look more oppresive in a harsh environment of the Salton Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two don’t show the difficulty of shooting mid-day but rather using the Star Effect on sunset suns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll leave you with one little bit of trivia. The number of points on your star effect tell you if you have a even or odd nuber of aperture blades in your lens and how many blades.

If you have an even number of blades say 8 as  you will see eight points to the star. 16 points are actually produced but the over lap each other and look like 8. If you have 7 blades you will see 14 points because on odd numbers they don’t overlap. (Generally the more blades the better the lens, better bokeh)

 

Hope that helps,

PT

Sharpening for Print and the Web – Home Brews and Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0

Ahh sharpening, more ways to do it than probably ways to do HDR. But let’s look at first why we sharpen and then the best ways to sharpen. 

Sharpening is totally “Output” dependant. In other words we apply sharpening depending on how we will display that image. If it’s going to be displayed on screen we need to know how big a screen and what resolution the actual image will be. If we are printing the image, we need to know how it is being printed (Inkjet/Giclee’ or true photographic print/continuous tone) and how big. Sharpening for one use will not be correct for another. If we applied the same sharpening that we use for a 20 x 30 Giclee’ print on a 600 x 400 image on our Facebook page, that Facebook image would be way over-sharpened and full of sharpening artifacts. 

One note before I continue on. If you have any aspiration of do Stock Photography, do not apply any sharpening to your images. You don’t know what the final use will be for that image and that should be left to the end user and their re-toucher/designer 

Sharpening for print

Sharpening for print is dependant on print size and how it will be viewed. Thisis why I work with a Master Tiff or PSD file and then make Print JPEG copies depending on the size print I am making or having made. You can, if you don’t want to go this extreme, just make one print file but make it for what you expect the average large size print to be. Say 16” X 24” I print up to 40” x 60” and would rather do each size independently but that’s me. 

Since sharpening is so size dependant, first we must look at that image correctly so that we can see in real time/ real size how our sharpening affects the image. So I will let you in on a little known or used property of Photoshop. “View> Print Size”. Now wait a minute you say, I’ve always known about that. You probably have. BUT did you know how to calibrate it or use it in practice? 

Size Calibrating

This will take a measuring and a little calculating. Get a small tape measure or ruler and measure your monitor screen’s width Don’t just go by what the monitor says it is as in I have a 23” monitor that’s what it says on the box. That is the diagonal measurement, it was perpetrated by men, we always want things to seem larger than they are. So measure the width of the actual display area of your screen. In the case of my “22 inch “screen that measurement was `18.75”. Now find out what the horizontal resolution of your screen is set at. In Windows you can do that by right clicking on your desktop and go to properties. Macs…well you own a Mac so you should know everything (jealous laughter) 

My resolution is 1680 x 1050; the first number is the width resolution. Now take that number and divide it by your width measurement 1680/ 18.75 = 89.6 pixels per Inch

We can round that so we have a Screen Resolution or 90 ppi. Write that number down. (Well, write YOUR number down) 

Now open Photoshop. In your Preferences (Edit>Preferences) go to the Units and Ruler tab and under Screen Resolution put in that number (whatever yours works out to be) (don’t change the Print resolution number) 

You have now calibrated your monitor to be the correct size so that if you have an 8 x 10” image displayed at print size, you will see it actual size. Go ahead measure it if you don’t believe. 

Our next step is to size our image for the size print we will make. When we do this we will not be changing the actual file itself but rather just the document size. I know that sounds confusing but we won’t be altering the pixels at all, just how big the print will look on screen. 

We do this by going to Image> Image Size 

The first thing you need to do is UN-CHECK the box for “Resample Image” this will ensure that we don’t actually change the file. Then in the width and height areas put in the dimension for the print you want to make. In this case I choose to make a 30” x 20” print.  One item to take note of though is the Resolution, this number will change as you change Print sizes the only time you need to worry about it is if that number falls below 100. Most print labs need at least a number of 100 to make an acceptable print. 

 

 

Once you have you print size in, click OK. Now if you go up to View> Print Size, the size you see on screen is the actual size of the print that will be made. 

With this view we now can make an accurate judgment on how sharp the image needs to be. It may by itself be plenty sharp and you may need to do nothing. If that is the case do just that, nothing. The less you do to an image, the better off you usually are. But if you find the image lacks the detail you want, then we need to move on to sharpening. 

Sharpening –High Pass Sharpening -The Home Brew 

As I stated earlier there are as many ways to do sharpening as there are ways to do HDR. Photoshop itself has about 6 sharpening method built into its filter menu. Lightroom has its own sharpening area. For me I like an alternative method known as High Pass Sharpening. I feel it has the most power and control and I think. It just looks good. If you like the  built in sharpening then by all means use them, just make sure you view the images at the correct size as above to apply the right amount of sharpening. Smart Sharpening in Photoshop is probably the best built in 

Hi pass.

Start by duplicating your image in a layer. Layer > Duplicate layer. Now go up to Filter>Other>High Pass

Your image will turn all gray and this dialog box will pop up. 

Start with a Radius of 2.0 and work from there. What we are looking for is just the edges of object since that is what sharpening deals with the contrast of edges. Move the control back and forth till you just see the fine edges of object. If you select too much the sharpening will be applied to areas beyond the edges resulting in haloing. Once you have your edges. Click OK.

With that layer selected go up to the Layer Blend mode where the drop down now says “Normal” drop down this list and here we have quite a  few choices. The ones that are applicable are

  • Overlay
  • Soft Light
  • Hard Light
  • Vivid Light 

Changing the blend mode will change the amount and the look of our sharpening. If I have an image with a lot of small detail, I will use Overlay, if my objects are larger I will use Vivid. But it totally depends on your image. There is not just one right answer. You can also vary the opacity of that layer if the look is right but the power is just too strong. 

Play close attention to edges; look for telltale of over sharpening. haloing, white lines, color changes, color fringing. If it looks good, it is good 

You can flatten the image a then Save as a JPEG to keep or send as a Print file for that image and that size with it’s own unique name. I usually don’t flatten the image because that allows me to go back and make changes to that sharpen layer later on if I so choose and I save the image as Tiff or PSD 

That’s all there is to it. 

Geez isn’t there an easier method?

Once again Peter, I didn’t think I needed a science experiment just to print a stupid picture! Well once again this is where we use the smarts of the software makers to take care of our problems and Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0 does just that. It does the calculating for you. 

Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0 

Sharpener Pro 3.0

Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0 is two sharpeners built into one. It is a RAW Pre-sharpener if we just wanted to sharpen an image not knowing what our final output would be and want to make up for some general softness to our image. But then there is the more adaptive and useful part, The Sharpener Pro 3.0 Output Sharpener. This takes what you want to do with your image into consideration and pretty much guides you through the process. Just answer some simple question in drop down boxes and it will do the thinking for you. 

 

The first thing it asks in the right Adjustment area is: What do you want to do with this image?

  • Display
  • Inkjet Print (Giclee type Photographic Print)
  • Continuous Tone print (photographic type print)
  • Halftone (Print Press)
  • Hybrid

 So you tell it what you want to do. I want to make a continuous tone print. Select that and now you are posed with other questions you answer

  • Viewing Distance
  • Yes viewing distance for a print can matter. The closer you view something the less sharpening it may need. If it is a print held in your hand or a print on the wall this can vary. (I found that the Auto setting worked well) 
  • Printer resolution: If you know this then enter that in, I know my print lab uses 250 ppi. If you don’t know , use 300 
  • Image Height and Width, Enter in the print size you want to make and it will apply enough sharpening for that size. This is a substitute for viewing at print size like we did for the High Pass Sharpening. It is also what the AUTO setting for viewing distance takes into consideration. 

Answer the questions and you are done. You do have the options to apply more or less sharpening in the section below. But for the almost all situations the software does a great job of applying sharpening for your image. 

Another cool thing is the ability to apply Selective sharpening. If you remember from our post about Bokeh, you don’t always want sharpening accross the entire image espcially parts that are supposed to be out of focus. The use of control points in Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0 allows you to just apply sharpening to selective areas of an image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s it; you can either do the work yourself or let software work for you. 

Here are some examples using 100% Crops to see the effects of Sharpening 

This is no sharpening (SOOC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is High Pass Sharpening

 

 

 

 

This is The Nik Sharpening

 

 

And yes there is a difference in the two sharp methods, mine was as my eye saw, the other was as the program saw fit. 

Noise

Sometimes as we sharpen an image it makes the noise in an image more apparent. In most cases if you find unacceptable noise in your image, you should De-Noise the image before sharpening. Then you know about how much to sharpen the image. Bear in mind it kind of a back and forth thing and you are trying to find a happy medium. The noise reduction reduces sharpness and the sharpening makes noise more visible so sometimes you need to find a compromise.

 Sharpening for the Web

So far we have discussed sharpening for print or large display on an LCD. Now let’s discuss sharpening for the web that actually is a two part process: Resizing an image (which reduces sharpness, and then sharpening that image. Even the process of re-sizing can affect how our image looks and its sharpness. 

What size?

The first thing we need to know is what size will our image be displayed on the web. The last thing you want to have happen is for either a website (Facebook, Google + etc) to resize our image. Nor do we want our web-browser itself to resize the image. They use the worst possible resize method (Nearest neighbor) and make our images look even worse than just resizing does.

 For this blog, I can post at 620 Pixels on the longest side, for my other portfolio blog, Petertellone.com I can post at 900 on the longest side. But because I can have people click on my images here for a better look, I do them at 900 pixels on the longest side too, Sacrificing a little in the blog display to make them look better in the large image (If I am doing a vertical image I keep it to 700 Pixels because that fits better when people view without scrolling) 

Find the right size for your website/blog/social media and then resize to it.

 In Photoshop To resize your image go to Image>Image Resize  for the resize method choose Bi-cubic, Lightroom also use that method. Despite what you may have heard about web size images needing to be 72 ppi resolution, that number in the context of digital image has absolutely no bearing 

Once resized now look at the image, this time using “Actual Pixels” since this is how the image will actually be seen. There no longer is a “Document size” for web images. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unsharp Mask

If the image has lost more sharpness than desirable then you will need to sharpen. I feel the High Pas ssharpening is over kill for sharpening for the web. Instead, this time I use one of Photoshop’s stock filters: Unsharp mask. I start with settings of Amount 40, Radius 1.8 and Threshold 1, varying these as I see fit. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightroom will do these operations upon exporting (resize/sharpen) you just don’t have as much control with those choices left to presets) 

Or, once again you can use Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0, Choose display and vary the adaptive sharpening to your eye. 

Save the image as a new file making sure to rename it something other than the original file name, such as Mydog_web.jpg and save it with enough compression to bring the file size to about 100K or smaller for fast load times. Too large and the image will take too long to load, Too small and the image will now have compression artifacts which look even worse than an unsharp image.

 And there you have it. To recap 

For print images

  • Calibrate Photoshop for correct display size
  • View at the actual print size
  • Use eitherHigh Pass sharpening or Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0 Output based sharpening 
  • Save a copy as a Print file based on the print size

For web Images

  • Resize the image properly and to the actual size it will be displayed on the website
  • Use Unsharp mask or Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0 Output based sharpening
  • Save as a web copy

 

 Hope that helps

PT

 

Watch your angles there Skippy!

My blog post: Shooting Architectural Interiors was featured in the Nik Software November newsletter where it came to the attention of LA photographer John MacLean. John commented that while I did okay with the HDR, I screwed the pooch on the shoot itself. And I did. I broke one of the cardinal sins of Commercial Architecture shoots. Angular distortions. Or more particularly, Keeping parallel lines parallel.

Now on an art shoot we may want to celebrate and in fact even play off these distortions, but in a Commercial Architectural setting, they are a big no no. What do these angular distortions look like? Well you may see them as Keystoning -the top of the object appears wider than the bottom (or the reverse) or we may see curvature distortions from using too wide of a lens and placing the object too close to the edges of the lens that have the most distortion.

As John also pointed out, how I should have corrected this was either to shoot level (Lens absolutely level) Or I could have corrected the mistake using the Lens Distortion correction in Lightroom (I believe ACR does it as well).

What the first part means is when shooting interiors or exteriors of buildings for that matter, We need to keep the camera level and not point up or down at what we are shooting We also may need to shoot centered such as when shooting a door or window, moving off of center will cause the side closest to the camera to appear longer than the side most far away.

Here are some examples…Of course I could not have shot at possibly worse time, The intense afternoon sun coming through my pergola and I had to Topaz the heck out of them just to make the shadows visible. But hopefully you’ll get the idea here. (I truly apologize for these shots but didn’t want to wait to shoot tomorrow since I am working on tomorrow’s post)

Here is a door shot low and not level (lens pointing up)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one was shot from the side and not square to the door but was at least Lens level which isn’t always bad since we maintained parallel lines. But notice the perspective. How the right side seems smaller than the left side even though we know they are both the same height

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one was shot High, Lens pointing down and at too wide angle (Hey look, There’s me!) This is an example of how this may work if we were doing an art piece and wanted some whimsy to it, but would never work commercially

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the Momma Bear shot, Level and Square

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I was unable to shoot level due to circumstances, the best option then may be to use a tilt-shift lens to correct for the distortions. That’s an expensive option but one that may be looked into if you do a lot of architecture shoots.

But as John suggested there is another means to fix this problem post shoot and that is by using the lens correction section of the develop module in Lightroom (and ACR).

Here is the original image (brightened to show detail) with some guides pulled in to show all the lines that are off

 

 

So I opened the image in Lightroom and in the Develop Module, scrolled down to The Lens Correction area

With this tool you can correct for horizontal and vertical shifts along with curvature problems with wide angle lenses. It’s a powerful and easy to use tool.

Clicking on one of the controls brings up a grid pattern on your image and you can drag the control until you get your lines in order. Clicking the box for keeping the crop will crop the image as you align.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here is our before and after of the shot  I used for the blog article

Before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope that helps,

PT