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malc_c

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  • Rush Hour Roundabout!

    Hi James,

    Yeah, late comment, but anyways...


    Quote:Would cropping out the skyline, making it more panoramic, improve the image?


    Well the simple answer is that it depends on what you want and what the image is for. If the image was to help illustrate an article about night driving or roundabouts etc., then the crop would be appropriate. As a picture to stand by itself however I wouldn't crop the image, in fact I'd want to have the sky somewhat lighter in order to get that rich deep evening blue which would complement the red/orange colours of the light-trails.

    The first option at doing this would be to simply use a longer exposure. However the street lights are already rather bright and tending to swamp the light trails, and a longer exposure would make this worse. So my suggestion at achieving the result in-camera would be to use a hard ND Grad filter upside down, along with a larger aperture and a shorter exposure time. Of course you would have to wait for a reasonably busy moment to get lots of light trails. My guess would be an ND4 grad, together with opening the F-stop from F22 to F11 and reducing the exposure time from 30s to 15s. This would double the exposure for the sky, half the exposure for the street lights and keep the same exposure for the light trails.

    The first alternative out of camera method would be to shoot two frames - one for the sky and one for the light trails. That way you could get the same effect as above but without a filter, after which combining the two images in PS and indeed most image processing software is trivial.

    Another more interesting/creative alternative for the light trails (forgetting the sky for now) would be to shoot multiple images and combine them with an image stacker such as the excellent (and free) startrails . What this essentially does is layer all the images you give it (even 100's) on top of one another and for each pixel select the brightest one to make up an output image. This means that every light trail would come through, being bright, but the street lights, which would be more or less the same brightness in every image, would effectively be taken from just one image. To get a lighter sky with this method would most easily be done as a separate image, as in the previous method, combined in PS with the output from startrails.

    Have fun!
    malcolm
    • 18 May 2011 4:23PM
  • Exeter Cathedral

    J,

    There's a nice feel to the brickwork here that has come out of the HDR without looking unnatural, and you've controlled the resulting halo's reasonably well too. That's not always easy to achieve, so well done. However, I just wanted to comment briefly on a couple of aspects of this image....

    Fringing
    The fringing is CA and as you are probably aware is down to the lens reacting to different wavelengths of light slightly differently, for example having slightly different focal lengths due to variations in the refractive index of the various lens elements. And there are few, if any, ultra-zoom lenses that don't suffer from this- it's simply one of the compromises to get the zoom range. However, there is a lot you can do in software....

    You say you are shooting RAW, so your RAW processing software is the first (and generally best) place to deal with the issue. Using Photoshop-CS and ACR, you can simply dial out the CA by going to the lens tab (in ACR) and adjusting the two sliders- one for Red/Cyan and one for Blue/Yellow. Unfortunately this is one of the parts of ACR that you don't get if you are using Elements.

    Most third party raw converters also have similar controls and some such as DxO 'know' about lens and body combinations to try and automatically apply these and other corrections, although in my experience you still need to adjust the CA sliders anyway.

    There are also both free and paid for plug-ins for PS and similar programs that either give you correction sliders or claim to give one-click wonder results. I did use one of these a while back with good results, but I now correct in the RAW processing.

    Another method I have covered previously is simply to de-saturate the fringes themselves. Although in reality this is simply modifying the distortion, it works well because the edges in question have, by definition, high contrast and therefore generally appear close to black-on-something anyway. The trick is to desaturate only the minimum and affect the background colour as little as possible. Of course, this isn't a one-click fix, but it does work very effectively.

    One last note- DO fix the CA before ramping up the saturation and sharpening controls, otherwise you are juat making things worse and DON'T, if possible, apply saturation and sharpening 'enhancements' to the corrected areas! Areas such as leaves against a sky often fall into this category.

    Levels
    I'm not sure if you used an ND Grad or it's a fall-out of the hdr processing, but the top of the church is unnaturally darker than the base. You can correct this very simply by first selecting the church (select the sky and then invert the selection) and then applying a graduated levels adjustment to lighten the upper section. It's trivial enough so I won't bother to post a mod.

    Halo's
    There are some halo's in the sky round the upper parts of the church which you could argue are appropriate to the type of building and you might say are artistic. Personally I find them small enough not to have an artistic aspect, but large enough to be dstracting. So I would remove them.


    malc.
    • 15 May 2011 9:41AM
  • !!!Merry Christmas!!!

    Update
    Well here's an amazing thing- this image, my first self portrait and my first picture taken with off-camera flash (but without the post processed Rudolf antlers!) has been accepted into the London Salon !!

    He he, I did do a little jig round the room... (some things obviously are best done alone)
    • 15 May 2011 7:32AM
  • Entanglement

    Here's wishing that all your dreams come true in 2011 Li.
    malc
    • 31 Dec 2010 9:41PM
  • the cage that trapped the bird

    Here's hoping that in 2011 the dove will be free....
    Happy new year!!!
    • 31 Dec 2010 9:33PM
  • Make Flash Work

    Jamm, Thanks for the comment on my PF, I have certainly been experimenting with ideas recently. Very observant too.... there's a story attached to that
    Douglas, thank you
    Welcome back Xiaoli, it's good to hear from you. I hadn't really thought of it so literally, more as a masque for the state of mind of the subject (is that western thinking?) But either way there's a dilemma posed to the viewer that only they can decide on what it means - to them - or reject as rubbish of course.
    malcolm
    • 29 Dec 2010 6:11AM
  • Dreams / Brick Lane

    Hya Jamm, Yes it's a three shot HDR, taken handheld and combined in Photomatix before quite a bit of post-processing in PSE.

    I've posted a version without the copyright watermark as a mod under my "I sailed away".
    malc
    • 28 Dec 2010 5:01PM
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