Back Modifications (7)
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34046 Braunton on the first leg of the Great Britain tour

By 6024ke1    
Braunton heads off towards Plymouth on the first leg of the Great Britain tour, in awful weather conditions.

Seen here just after Yeovil Junction.

The weather was atrocious and so i ended up opening it up to 1600 ISO which has resulted obviously in noise. Can anyone who is good with editing reduce the noise for me? Also what else could I have done to improve in this light situation?

Tags: Transport

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


dark_lord Plus
14 2.1k 538 England
26 Apr 2014 11:50PM
Sometimes the light is just not in your favour and you have to use a higher ISO than you or your camera are happy with. But if it means you get the shot, then so be it. Better to have a noisy shot than no shot at all.

You've managed a decent exposure nonetheless. The steam does add some interest, though I'm guessing there was a strong wind blowing into a less than photogenic position!

The train is very central and there is wasted space on the right hand side that does little for the image in terms of interest, so I'd crop that. I will add a mod to show what I mean.

When the light is on the duff side, and there is little colour around, a mono conversion can work very well especially as you can push contrast to much higher levels than in colour to get an acceptable image. Add some slight sepia toning, and although a popular technique does look good with this type of subject.

There are quite a few dust spots visible in the sky which need cloning out, but I also suggest you have your sensor cleaned, either do it yourself (various products are available, I use the Visible Dust range) or have a camera shop or service agent do it.

As for noise, there are several options. If you'd shot RAW, you could apply noise reduction in your conversion software to get a better result than that done on an in-camera jpg.
Using Lightroom you can do it on any image after import.
You should have Digital Photo Professional on the disc that came with your camera. You can import jpgs into that too and use the noise reduction slider.
Photoshop (not sure about Elements) does have a noise reduction feature under the Filter > Noise menu. Again play with the sliders to see what looks best.
I will have a go at reducing noise to show what can be done but you will need to work on your original full size image.


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Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
27 Apr 2014 12:20AM
As Keith says there are some dust spots on your sensor, more than you'd want to keep cloning out, so a clean is probably in order.
I'm not sure that much can be done to remove the noise from an image this size, although it doesn't look too bad. You could probably remove it more successfully using your original.
The weather hasn't done you any favours. A gentle tweak using the shadows/highlights tool helps.
The biggest fault here though is that it's more than a little crooked. Easily fixed in software and there's plenty of room to allow it.
Hope this helps.

paulbroad 10 123 1244 United Kingdom
27 Apr 2014 8:04AM
I wonder if the spots are dust or rain? If they are dust, then the sensor is VERY dirty indeed. Dust shows mre the smaller the aperture you used. Here you are at f4, so, if it is dust, you have a serious issue. Never change lenses in dusty conditions, change as fast as you can and NEVER leave a camera without a lens attached.

You are on a hiding to nothing here, I fear. A bit dark and under exposed even at ISO1600. Not terribly sharp either which may also be the high ISO. The camera will not be at it's best at these settings. You need a brighter sharp image, and you will struggle with any software.

Coast 10 1.6k 292 United Kingdom
27 Apr 2014 8:48AM
Some great points already made from Keith and Bren as well as their versions in mods for you to consider.

I thought I'd add my version too Grin

When the light isn't on your side you have to make the best of it. Here clearly your only option is to up the ISO as you need to have a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action. This is ever so slightly underexposed and if you could have got away with increasing the ISO to 3200 that would have helped although at the cost of increased noise. That said IT IS rescuable in editing and I hope you can see that in my mod where the image is a lot more bright and colourful without increasing the noise further.

The sensor marks I am absolutely certain are dust on the sensor. It really does need a clean. It only took about one minute to clean them in editing but it is a thankless task. You certainly wouldn't want to have to be doing this on every image you created!

Keith covers the noise reduction in software which will smooth out the speckling to a point.

Overall this needs a slight clockwise rotation to level the horizon, a crop for me to lose the bottom edge and place the train track right on the lower horizontal third (gives a better balance), a tweak in levels to lift the brightness and contrast, a little bit of burning around the steam to enhance the shadow area's as well as a touch of noise reduction.

My mod shows those changes and I'd love to hear what you think.

Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
27 Apr 2014 10:17AM

Quote:I wonder if the spots are dust or rain?

I also wondered if those spots were rain but I wasn't sure whether raindrops on the final element would look like that.

I've used my camera in the rain and the resulting spots look, to me, like looking through glasses in the rain.

I suppose you'd have to be a wearer of glasses to appreciate that!
dudler Plus
14 701 1340 England
27 Apr 2014 4:25PM
Despite the weather, you caught an amazingly effective action shot.

You've had a lot of good advice already, and I have one or two ideas to add.

First, in the process of doing a mod, I ended up with the dust bunnies enhanced. I am pretty sure it's a mucky sensor: raindrops on the front element have a bit of a different look as Jester says. And if these spots are consistently on pictures, they're definitely dust. Time for a clean. It's simpler than you think. Just follow the instructions carefully and it wil lbe fine.

My approach has always been to embrace the noise: I still use fast film, and am rather glad that my DSLR doesn't handle high ISO very smoothly. So I'll add more noise to my mod, as well as going for a "high structure" mono conversion in Nik Efex - though you can do decent conversions in whatever software you use.

For next time... Assuming you can't get closer, consider buying a longer lens if you don't already own one and can afford to lay out some cash. Also, trade off increaded grain for overall quality. I've recently found (thanks to another Critique Team member) that shooting in RAW allows a grainy but otherwise good image from an underexposed file, giving you much more leeway of what you want is a picture, despite the conditions. No use for a camera club competition, but for other purposes it would be fine.
6024ke1 11 13 United Kingdom
28 Apr 2014 8:45PM
Thanks very much for all the feedback on this one! Much appreciated. I have now cleaned my sensor, but it turned out that the skylight leans on there also had a couple of small marks on it, so hopefully these marks have gone now.
The problem with playing with images is that I haven't got to grips as yet with Photoshop or any other package, which is why I haven't shot in RAW so far.
Also my ISO only goes up to 1600 (coast) so that wouldn't have helped. I opened it up as much as I could, but the weather and light was against me for sure that day!
I have also taken on board the cropping and straightness of the image.
As regards the mods:
Dark Lord Thanks for your mod. I will look at curves, I quite like the mono shot although Im not usually a big fan! Must teach myself Photoshop!
Jestertheclown yes cleaned sensor and taken on board comments re squaring the image.
Coast- comments on tidying up and improving pic noted. How did you do that smoke burn just out of interest? Sorry Im a complete Photoshop virgin! Lol Very much like the second of the 3 mods you did too!
Dudler- I agree with the sentiments but not so much the picture. Horses for courses I guess, but thanks!
Coast 10 1.6k 292 United Kingdom
28 Apr 2014 9:10PM
Hi - I'm pleased you liked the mod. Its great to get feedback too which we don't always get the courtesy of so thank you for that. It helps understand how we can help better so now I know you are limited to 1600 ISO I won't suggest to raise it beyond that Grin lol.

More seriously however on future uploads if you want any advice around processing techniques any of the team will be happy to help. Useful to know what version of PS you are using.

For the smoke I just used the Burn tool in PS. Set to shadows and I think something like 30% exposure. I then used this to darken the shadow areas within the billowing steam and enhance its depth. The brush was set large enough to brush over the dark areas and was set to maximum softness to avoid any hard edges. When starting out it's sometimes better to go with a lighter exposure and build it up gently but if you make a mistake and go too heavy the a quick click on edit to step backward and remove the step you've just made is straightforward.

I hope that makes sense.

6024ke1 11 13 United Kingdom
28 Apr 2014 9:37PM
Hi Paul, I'm surprised that you don't always get feedback. I always think that if someone takes the time and trouble to help you, that's the least you can do!

I have Photoshop 7 but haven't really used it in anger as yet, although I should start learning it now I am shooting stills regularly. I have a Photoshop 5 in easy steps book which will probably give me the basics, but I will of course ask for help if I am stuck!

Thanks for the info on the burn. I will have a practice at doing that. All read and understood! Thanks.

Coast 10 1.6k 292 United Kingdom
28 Apr 2014 10:06PM
Often there are plenty of techniques on You Tube and other step by step tutorials that a quick search on Google will reveal and they can be really useful. I often have a little look to find new ways of doing things with PS and LR as there are many ways to skin a cat as apparently some saying goes Grin

Just one example that gives an alternative method for reducing noise. Worth a play with perhaps.


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