Developing the digital negative (how much is just enough...)

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Reef Maniac, 8 Jan 2010.

  1. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac MASA Contributor

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    Let me start off by stating that I'm NOT a digital photography boffin, and that I'm trying to advance my digital skills, especially with post-processing.

    We had some discussion on this topic on another thread, and I thought that it might be a good idea to post some photos showing what I do to "process" my digital "negatives" - the RAW files as recorded by the camera.

    I really would appreciate comments on the following processes - how far is enough, what is too much... (Please just bear in mind that most of us have uncalibrated computer monitors, so what looks more green on my monitor might just look more yellow or blue on yours... Looks like I will have to get myself a Spyder calibrator real soon, if I want to be serious about post-processing...)

    Anyway, here are the photos, each with a short description on what I've done to that particular photo. All post-processing was done using Canon's DPP software, supplied with the camera, and the images were then captured to my computer with the "print screen" function on the keyboard, converted to .jpg using Microsoft's Paint program, so the over-all quality is not so good...

    1: This is the original RAW image, without any corrections/adjustments. As can be seen from the histogram graph on the right, the photo was somewhat over-exposed

    [​IMG]


    2: My first step in processing the "negative" was to adjust the left-hand "slider" of the histogram until it was close to the start of the graph. This shifts the exposure, removing that portion of the image where there is no "dark" information. this results in the image becoming darker, but showing more detail in the darker (shadows) parts of the photo.

    [​IMG]


    3: The second step is to move the left-hand "slider" to remove the lack of data on the bright side of the image, resulting in the image becoming brighter, and revealing more info in the highlights.

    [​IMG]


    4: The next step involved a slight adjustment of the contrast slider (increasing contract by "2", as well as a slight reduction in the over-all brightness, by moving the "brightness slider" to -0.33

    [​IMG]


    5: The next step involved the adjustment of the "color tone" and "saturation" sliders, until the colors looked more vibrant and natural. (I probably over-did this a trifle...)

    [​IMG]


    6: The final step was to tweak the "S-curve levels" in the RGB tab slightly to enhance the green color of the anemone, to make it look closer to what it looks like when viewed with the naked eye. To achieve this, I slightly increased the green (G) curve, and slightly reduced the red (R) curve.

    [​IMG]


    And here is the final crop, reduced to 800x700:

    [​IMG]

    Hennie
     
    Last edited: 8 Jan 2010
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  3. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Ross, Sean, all the other 'togs - please crit, and if possible, explain the process of what I've done in better English. Also, please feel free to tell me that I'm doing this all wrong - but only if you then explain the right way to go about this :biggrin:

    Thanks,
    Hennie
     
  4. Rory

    Rory Admin MASA Contributor

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    Nice walkthrough Hennie. Is that the Canon RAW software?
    I think most people overdo the saturation. Pretty sure I do...

    Just did a quick side by side in paint so not quite aligned/proportional:
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Hi Rory,

    Yes, it's Canon's RAW software, called DPP (Digital Photo Professional, if I remember correctly...) I do not have Photoshop (only version 2.0 of Photoshop Elements...), and do most of the processing in DPP. I suppose that's one more expense that I will have to grin & bear soon - buying decent post-processing software.

    I agree with the over-saturation, in this photo I should have kept it at +3 or +2, not +4.

    Hennie
     
  6. Warr7207

    Warr7207

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    Awesome thread
     
  7. Ross

    Ross

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    Hi Hennie

    This is a great thread. You are doing the basics that I would do when starting off with a RAW. The only thing I don't see you doing here is adjusting the White Balance. You may have gotten the colours you wanted without over saturating.

    However, you said exactly what you should have in here, you made the adjustments to show what your eye sees when you look at the image. If you are happy with what it looks like, then that is what you were trying to show.

    I don't think this is over saturated to be honest. If you look at the clown, the orange is still natural looking. The only place it may be a bit strange is on the tips of the anem, but I have not seen the live specimen so I might be wrong here.

    You also don't mention sharpening. I think all digitally captured images could do with some sharpening. I have not used the Canon RAW software before and have not seen the sharpening it can do but have learned over the years, do not sharpen in the RAW software if you can help it. Rather leave this for a program like Photoshop (elements 8 by the way is just under a grand and well worth it)

    If I could make one other comment here, your final crop shows a lot of the foreground rock on the bottom left, not so lekker. Take a look at the crop, even though a quick test, that Rory did, and see that your eye is immediately drawn to the clown and anem, in your crop the first thing I see is the rock. Even your tutorial images don't show as much rock. In fact in this situation I would be tempted to clone the whole rock out of the image.
     
  8. Ross

    Ross

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    Oh sorry, should say my monitor is calibrated :)
     
  9. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Quite right :thumbup:

    I did play around with the WB, but in the end left it at "Shot setting", which on the camera was set to auto WB. Changing the WB to any of the "presets" (i.e. "sunlight", cloudy", flash" - even 10 000K, made the anemone look much more yellow/red. I suppose I should have gone the other way with the color temperature, going down to 2000K perhaps... Anyway, the "shot setting" gave the closest color to what it actual looks like - I suppose it has something to do with the high-K actinics I use with the MH's (and perhaps the green-tinted glass of the tank...)

    That was my thought as well, although I suppose a 1 point lower saturation would have been better. This is a bubble-less BTA, and the tips are actually more fluorescent-green than what the photo shows.

    Yup - thanks for picking that up. I left the sharpening at "3", which is the default sharpening of the program.

    Would you please elaborate on this - why not the RAW image...

    Very good point. This is for sure the most difficult part of photography - having the knack to "read" the scene/photo, and deciding what makes the best picture. I'm pretty OK with the technical aspects of photography, but sorely lack the "arty" bits :whistling:

    Hennie
     
  10. seank

    seank

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  11. Ross

    Ross

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    I have a link to the article someplace, let me see if I can try find it.

    Yeah composition, the real art of photography.
     
  12. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Done... all 24 Mb of it :biggrin:

    Hennie
     
  13. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Oops... no, not done.

    Sean, perhaps you have a limit on file size, or else I have a cap that I don't know about...

     
  14. Nemos Janitor

    Nemos Janitor

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    Great thread Hennie. Did you get that program with the camera? or, Is it downloadable from Canon?
     
  15. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Yes, the program was supplied with the camera, but one can also download updates from the Canon website - not sure if this will work on it's own, though.

    Hennie
     
  16. seank

    seank

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    Sorry Hennie, my limit is 10MB per file, can you send it in sections (dunno what it means, but my e-mail says I can, otherwise see if you can send it in less than 10MB
     
  17. Ross

    Ross

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    Unfortunately you have to have an original version of the programs to download the updates.
     
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