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General Feedback On Editing Requested  
User currently offlineZakHH From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 2370 times:

Dear fellow photographers,

I am currently trying to learn how to use Photoshop (with help of several books and online sources, including this forum). Right now, I have a basic understanding of most functions, and I can see my results improving. But there sure is still a looong way to go.  Smile

Thus, I'd not ask questions like "how do I do this or that", but I am looking for a more general feedback on my current editing, as it is quite difficult to judge own results.

Please find below a picture I took and edited today. Here's what I've done so far (in this order):

- converted RAW to PSD (16 bit),
- cropped and levelled it,
- worked on colours (mainly focusing on the fuselage - the pic was taken at early evening, hence the slightly yellow-ish coloured lawn) and contrast,
- slightly increased saturation,
- sharpened it, using the "smart sharpen" option at some 150%
- made a copy layer of the sky with the magic wand tool,
- used the "reduce noise" filter on the sky and set this layer to 50% transparency
- converted it to 8 bit and saved it as JPEG (using maximum quality)

Here's the result (click for full size). Any comment and suggestion is highly welcome. Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Cheers
ZakHH

Big version: Width: 2078 Height: 1385 File size: 841kb


13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineDM From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 336 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 2357 times:

Good, keep on practicing and you will get better at it.

As for the shot, its very grainy and has some quality problems. If you look behind the engine you can see lots of grain and noise as well as on the landing gear.

You should crop it so you dont cut of the left horizontal stabilizer.

DM


User currently offlineZakHH From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 2355 times:

Quoting DM (Reply 1):
As for the shot, its very grainy and has some quality problems.

Yeah, that's a problem I have all the time. I am shooting with a Canon EOS 400D. This picture was taken with the Canon EF 55-200 II USM lens at 200 mm. ISO 100, 1/400 sec., f/9. Still, lots of graining - what can I do about it? That is something which constantly gives me a headache.

Quoting DM (Reply 1):
You should crop it so you dont cut of the left horizontal stabilizer.

D'oh! That falls under carelessness. The stabilizer is vanishing a bit in the background building, and I focused on so many things when editing that I did not even realize I cut it off... thanks!


User currently offlinePsych From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2004, 3048 posts, RR: 58
Reply 3, posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 2352 times:
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Hello Zak.

I must start by saying that I do not have the most advanced PS version, so I cannot comment on things like 'Smart Sharpen' - I use USM for sharpening. Also, I am no expert on RAW editing, so I will have to limit my feedback somewhat here.

First off, the photo you have posted is pretty large in size - far too big for submission here. You will find that the quality of an edit will tend to look better the smaller the image, so I would always suggest resizing very early on in your editing process before applying other manipulations. The size of the image has a significant effect on things like the settings for sharpening. For example, in your shot, despite reducing noise in the sky, it still looks pretty grainy. That would be improved by an early resize, and then selecting the sky to filter later in the process.

My process is pretty simple, and involves leveling, cropping and resizing first, then adjusting the levels histogram. That is a really important part of editing, and I see you didn't have that in your workflow. Assuming a good quality camera and lens you will generally not have to do significant colour adjustment (what did you use to take the image above?). It looks as though you have overdone the colours/saturation here - they don't look natural enough. Then the tricky step - especially for A.net submissions, is the process of sharpening. I would always suggest applying sharpening to a copy layer (or learn how to use layer masks - a bit more complicated) - and you may choose to only apply the sharpening to a selected area - such as the plane itself. This then allows you to erase any excess sharpening using the eraser tool - very useful, as is the sharpen tool for little selective sharpening. After you can then merge the layers.

I hope this is of some help. If you want to send me the original image - unedited in any way except for converting to an 8-bit jpeg image - I would be happy to do an edit and take you through the steps I have done.

Paul

P.S. We were posting at the same time there. I see the photo was taken at the far end of your lens - was it also cropped a lot? That might explain some of the quality issues. But with a 400D and ISO 100 you shouldn't be having problems generally with grain, unless you have a lens problem.

[Edited 2007-07-23 00:41:11]

User currently offlineIlikeflight From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 366 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 2340 times:

Quoting DM (Reply 1):
Good, keep on practicing and you will get better at it.

As for the shot, its very grainy and has some quality problems. If you look behind the engine you can see lots of grain and noise as well as on the landing gear.

Totally agree



Think Different
User currently offlineSNATH From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3238 posts, RR: 22
Reply 5, posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 2335 times:

There's far too much grain on the picture. There noise in the sky reaches disturbing levels. You can do wonders

Quoting DM (Reply 1):
As for the shot, its very grainy and has some quality problems.

FWIW, noise reduction software (I use Noise Ninja) can do wonders in cleaning up grain.

Tony



Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
User currently offlineZakHH From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 2305 times:

Quoting Psych (Reply 3):

Hello Paul,
first, thanks a lot for your detailed reply, as well as for your offer to work on my image. I will upload the unedited 8 bit JPEG to my webspace this evening when I'm back home, and will send you the link by PM.

Quoting Psych (Reply 3):
Also, I am no expert on RAW editing, so I will have to limit my feedback somewhat here.

Indeed, I should have provided some information about the conversion process. Usually, when planning to edit the picture later on, I will convert RAW to 16 bit PSD. This leaves more room for working with the colours later on.

For the conversion, I use Photoshop's Camera RAW converter (I use Photoshop CS2, btw). When converting, I will usually only check the white balance and the histogram, and apply minor corrections with these, if necessary (hence I don't have to change much later on). I will not apply any sharpening or other filters, as I find the result better when doing it later on in "core Photoshop".

Quoting Psych (Reply 3):
First off, the photo you have posted is pretty large in size - far too big for submission here.

Indeed, I did not resize it after cropping. I did not intend to upload this shot anyway, at least not yet. My current goal is to improve my editing skills, before bugging the screeners with more mediocre (or worse) shots...  Wink

Usually, I'd need my shots in various resolutions (I am working on a webspace and aim to offer several resolutions for each picture). Thus, I'd edit it in original size, and resize it only later on. But you are certainly correct - resizing affects the picture quality, so it would probably be better done first, before the other steps are applied. I will probably have to reconsider my workflow here.

Quoting Psych (Reply 3):
I see the photo was taken at the far end of your lens - was it also cropped a lot?

The original size was some 3900 x 2600, so the crop was somewhere below 50%. If I am left with any options, I'd usually try to leave around 25% for cropping when taking my pictures. I find there is nothing more annoying than having a great shot, but not being able to crop it properly.

Quoting Psych (Reply 3):
My process is pretty simple, and involves leveling, cropping and resizing first, then adjusting the levels histogram. That is a really important part of editing, and I see you didn't have that in your workflow. Assuming a good quality camera and lens you will generally not have to do significant colour adjustment (what did you use to take the image above?).

As mentioned above, I usually do the main work on the histogram when converting from RAW to PSD. However, I agree that in general no significant adjustment should be necessary, otherwise the shot is probably no good.

I cannot tell you the exact changes I applied here. I remember that I marginally changed the white balance before conversion. Also, I added some contrast (around 5%) and used the "shadow / highlight" function to reduce the highlights by 3% (adds more structure to the fuselage).

Quoting Psych (Reply 3):
looks as though you have overdone the colours/saturation here - they don't look natural enough.

I think I added some 15% on saturation (in general, not on specific colours). It may indeed have been a bit too much.

Quoting Psych (Reply 3):
Then the tricky step - especially for A.net submissions, is the process of sharpening. I would always suggest applying sharpening to a copy layer (or learn how to use layer masks - a bit more complicated) - and you may choose to only apply the sharpening to a selected area - such as the plane itself. This then allows you to erase any excess sharpening using the eraser tool - very useful, as is the sharpen tool for little selective sharpening. After you can then merge the layers.

I have tried sharpening in layers, but the results were not satisfying. Working with layer masks is indeed something I did not fully get yet. I mean, I basically understand how it works, but I have not yet managed to develop a workflow that delivers good results. Actually, that is just the kind of feedback I was looking for here...  Smile

Sharpening and grain / noise reduction is where I have the most problems. If I manage to reduce the grain, the picture looks soft. If I manage to sharpen it, it gets grainy.

Btw, about grain:

Quoting Psych (Reply 3):
But with a 400D and ISO 100 you shouldn't be having problems generally with grain, unless you have a lens problem.

Indeed, I already wondered if I have such a problem. As mentioned - ISO 100, 1/400 sec, f9 - should there really be that much grain? I played a lot with the camera, but never fully got rid of the grain. The results with the EF-S 18-55mm lens are a bit better, but still far from perfect.

Quoting SNATH (Reply 5):
FWIW, noise reduction software (I use Noise Ninja) can do wonders in cleaning up grain.

Hi Tony,
thanks for the hint, I didn't know that one yet. I see that it's available also as a Photoshop plug-in, and I'll make sure to check the demo version. As per your experience, how does it affect the sharpness of the pictures?

@all: thanks a lot for your support! Much appreciated! (And needed, obviously... Big grin )


User currently offlineSNATH From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3238 posts, RR: 22
Reply 7, posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 2278 times:

Quoting ZakHH (Reply 6):
As per your experience, how does it affect the sharpness of the pictures?

It depends how heavy the grain is. It might reduce the sharpness by a bit. But you should apply noise reduction to the full image anyway (i.e., it should be the first thing you should do). And when you resize the image you have to sharpen it anyway. So, reduced sharpness is not a big issue.

Tony



Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
User currently offlineZakHH From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 2235 times:

We have 2 new edits now, 1 from Paul (Psych) - thanks a lot for it:
Big version: Width: 1024 Height: 683 File size: 560kb


And another one from myself:
Big version: Width: 1280 Height: 853 File size: 334kb


Both show that the grain problem can be solved. I guess I oversharpened mine, and I messed a bit with the colours - tried to "cool" them down a bit, but the original colours (as in Paul's edit) are much closer to the impression I got from the scene.

But at least some progress - thanks again for all your feedback!


User currently offlinePhilGil From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 249 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 2183 times:

Another suggestion (which may sound like heresy to some)…

As you are just starting out, why not shoot jpeg? Canon has an excellent jpeg engine and, while you don’t have the adjustment latitude you would have with a RAW file, there’s also less opportunity to screw things up.


User currently offlineZakHH From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2161 times:

Well, that would be a bit like giving up, or?  Wink

RAW certainly offers far more possibilities to "create" photos. There is also some excellent automatic options in Photoshop, like auto-colour and auto-contrast. They usually deliver fine results.

Nevertheless, my goal is to understand how things really work. As I said above, I have a basic understanding of most Photoshop functions. What I am lacking is the right settings and an optimized workflow.

When I switched to digital SLR, I misunderstood editing as an additional option to improve my shots. I learned only recently that editing is really mandatory. And that it includes sharpening and noise reduction. Always.

I spent the first months trying to improve my camera handling, learning what was behind the various settings, and how to use them properly. Now, I want to do the same with editing. But buying a Photoshop compendium was probably the wrong approach. It's kind of like trying to learn how to drive by reading the manual of a car. I will probably get another book that focuses more on the editing workflow, instead of just explaining all Photoshop functions.

One thing I have learned already: so far, I usually applied following steps in this order:
- cropping & levelling
- adjusting color & contrast
- sharpening
- downsizing

With that workflow, I made my graining problems even worse. Now I do it in this order:
- cropping & levelling
- downsizing
- noise reduction
- adjusting color & contrast
- sharpening

As a result, I get significantly less grain. Now, I will have to fine-tune my settings for the last 3 steps.


User currently offlinePhilGil From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 249 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 2143 times:

Quoting ZakHH (Reply 10):
And that it includes sharpening and noise reduction. Always.

Sharpening - absolutely (every shot), levels - most of the time, color correction - occasionally, noise reduction... With my 350D at ISO 100 or 200 (shooting jpeg), it's vanishingly rare that I have to use any noise reduction. Perhaps the jpeg engine handles that for me and it's different when shooting RAW.


User currently offlineSNATH From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3238 posts, RR: 22
Reply 12, posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 2139 times:

Quoting ZakHH (Reply 10):
With that workflow, I made my graining problems even worse. Now I do it in this order:
- cropping & levelling
- downsizing
- noise reduction
- adjusting color & contrast
- sharpening

Hi. I'd personally apply noise reduction first, before doing anything else. Usually, the grain is the most uniform on the original image and before any editing. Actions like rotation or resizing can alter the grain on the image. And noise reduction software usually give the best results when the grain is uniform.

My  twocents 

Tony



Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
User currently offlineZakHH From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (7 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 2133 times:

Quoting PhilGil (Reply 11):
Sharpening - absolutely (every shot), levels - most of the time, color correction - occasionally, noise reduction... With my 350D at ISO 100 or 200 (shooting jpeg), it's vanishingly rare that I have to use any noise reduction. Perhaps the jpeg engine handles that for me and it's different when shooting RAW.

Indeed, my statement was based on shooting RAW, and it seems like graining is more of an issue there. If you shoot JPEGs, your camera still takes RAW images, but converts them to JPEG with own algorithms right away, without storing the RAW file. You can even tune the level of sharpening or saturation in the settings.

The camera algorithms are already tuned for maximum performance, while in Photoshop, you have to do everything by yourself, which leaves much room for mistakes (as to be seen above  Smile ). But I guess Photoshop has much more powerful tools to reduce grain and other flaws, than the algorithms of the camera. You just have to learn how to master them. I completely underestimated that in the beginning, but I guess I'm not alone there...

Quoting SNATH (Reply 12):
Hi. I'd personally apply noise reduction first, before doing anything else. Usually, the grain is the most uniform on the original image and before any editing. Actions like rotation or resizing can alter the grain on the image. And noise reduction software usually give the best results when the grain is uniform.

You certainly have a point here. I have already tried to apply noise reduction before resizing, but not before levelling. I will give it a try. Thanks!


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