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Posts tagged ‘contrast’

Up for Discussion – HDR Photography

Love it, or hate it, it seems to be everywhere at the moment, and has been for the last couple of years.  I did my first HDR image back in December 2011.  I believe this was the first HDR image I put on the blog.

schealesville_hdr1It would have been done with Photoshop, I didn’t get software for doing HDR until later.  I look at it now, as I do most of my early attempts at HDR and just cringe.  The colours are over saturated, they have a very surreal effect to them.  I am not sure that it is what I was after at all.

These, as I said, HDR is everywhere, some are good, some are bad.  I’m not saying which, but I thought we could talk about it here.

So what is HDR?

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.  The idea of it, well my understanding, is that it will take the bright areas of an image and the dark areas and make an image that looks more like what we see with our eyes.  If you have an image, that has a very bright sky in it, behind a building or something like that, and when you take the photo the sky just takes over and everything else, like the building end up black, or a silhouette the an image like that is perfect for HDR.  You would take a series of bracketed images, so all taken at different exposures.  Then software like Photomatix Pro would take all those images, and make the best possible image.  I don’t know how it does it, but the dark areas will have detail and the light areas won’t be so blown out.

Let me show you in pictures.

This is the main dining hall at Montsalvat.  It is a very dark room.  You can see that looking at it now you can see what is out the window, but you can’t see what is inside.

This is the last photo of the bracketed shots, you can see a lot more detail inside the image now, but everything out the window is all blown out.

This is what the HDR software did to the images.  You can see both inside and out now.

When I first started doing HDR, I would make every image one.  I don’t do it anymore, and actually hardly seem to do it much now.  I find myself using single images, or if I do do a HDR I will only use part of the image.

When I look at images these days, I can nearly always tell if they are HDR, there are little things that give them away.  There is often a grayness to them, I’m told by Victor that is a lack of contrast.  There are often Halos, though halos can come from other things, but most often it is with HDR.

Victor Rakmil has written a post just recently on HDR Photography which you might like too.  He goes into the technical aspects of it more than me and gives more detail about what HDR is.

We were discussing it the other day, and something came up that I think is very true.  We think processes first and subject second, rather than trying to work out what is the best way to process an image to show the subject as its best.  It is something we can get bogged down with.  Rather than looking at a subject and asking if it would be better as a HDR, it is easier to just do it, regardless, which is where I used to be.  Now days, I’m more likely to still do the HDR, but then I compare it with just one image that I think is exposed correctly and ask myself which I think is better.  Often the HDR image is deleted.  The subject in the image always has to come first and then what is the best way to process it so the subject looks its best.

I’m coming down with a cold, so my brain is a bit scattered and I hope you can understand this post.  I just wanted to give you my views on HDR and explain it a bit better for people who don’t understand what it is.

Do you do HDR images?  What software do you use?  Do you do it for every image?  If you don’t do HDR then why?  Do you do HDR and then combine it with other images?

These posts are a great way to share knowledge, so please contribute.

I will approve them, as long as they are nice and not nasty in any way.  I am travelling home today, so I won’t be able to respond today, but I will try and get to them when I get home. I will approve them from my phone.

Feel free to respond or reply to other comments.  It would be good to generate some discussion.

The Same Sort of Theme

Since this week we seem to have been looking at Black and White Images, I thought I would go through the images I took up in the Mallee and see if I could find some more that would make good Black and White images.  Though I suspect I did the best ones the other day.  I don’t know, I couldn’t seem to make these ones work.  It could have been because I was tired, but you take a look and see what you think.  I will put them in a gallery for you.

Some of them you have seen before, so if you want to go back and see the originals you can.  They aren’t completely black and white and there is a little colour in all of them, but I do like that and think it adds to them, but I have to admit one thing I am learning is to be careful about which colour.

Short post today.  Getting ready for a cooler weekend, and hopefully a chance to get out and take more photos, or work in the garden, not sure which just yet.  Take care everyone.

It isn’t Always Black and White

sccemetery-7919Yesterday I did some photos in Black and White and added a touch of colour.  It was a fun process to do and I think the images came out well.  I know there are many people in photography that think black and white is the only way to go, there are others who think most images look better in black and white, then there are some of us who think it depends on the image.

I am not going to get into an argument about what is best, it is purely a personal thing.  However, having said that, I know there are many images that could be great black and white images, but due to the processing they aren’t.  Again, I know this can be a very personal thing, so all I can do is talk about what I think.  You can all have your say in the comments section.

Today I had a comment from someone wanting to know about how I did the photos yesterday.  It was an interesting comment, and I remembered that I had done posts on this in the past.  I did a tutorial on doing Black and White photos in GIMP, Black and White in GIMP – My Way and then I did one on Black and White Conversions.  It is a very subjective subject and I thought I might tackle it again, especially since I sccres-hpm5786-7wrote the latter over two years ago.

I think black and white images can be very dramatic, but they can also be boring, and it really depends on your subject matter.  I have always felt that your subject matter should determine which images should be made into monotone or duotone images.  Does it enhance the image more, if the colour is gone does the image miss something?  There are so many questions, but you have to answer those. In the end it is your image and has to be what you want.

However, having said that, there are still ways of taking a photo that would be great in black and white and then making it look horrible.  When I wrote the article on conversions it was because I was seeing so many black and white images on the scbarwon-8016-se1internet that had a lot of potential, but they hadn’t been processed right.

Many cameras now can take black and white images for you, it is not something I have ever done.  I like to take all my photos in colour, and then decide once I get them on the computer if I will make them black and white.  I like to have that choice, but I know many photographers that just shoot in B&W, again it is a personal choice.

Once the image is on the computer there are many ways to make it black and white. You can convert it to grey scale (if you do this, you won’t be able to use colour in the image, unless you save it, then convert it back to RGB), you can completely desaturate your image, or if you have Photoshop you can use the black and white adjustment layer.  I like the last option because then you have the choice to play with the tones of each colour, not sure that is the right way of putting it.

There is something that a lot people do to their images, or don’t do, and that is lookscbarwonheads-hpm8063-1sep1 at the contrast.  The contrast is the different between the darks and lights in your images, or the black and whites and everything in between.

When I started photography, I started with black and white, and developed my own films, and then printed them.  I converted my laundry into a darkroom that could only be used at night.  It worked, and I spent many evenings in there working on my images.  I was given some advice from another photographer that said, “make sure there is a black in your image, and there is a white.  He suggested using a piece of white paper and a piece of black to help make sure I had those.  It is good to also have the greys in between.

LeanneCole-ocean-ant4173You don’t want the image to be just black and white, that would be horrible, but you want a range of tones from black to white.  When I was at art school and drawing, I can remember my lecturers telling me that my drawings had no contrast, I didn’t know what they were talking about, now I do, the drawings had no darks, and they were very grey.  I worked it out eventually and my drawings got a lot better.

Photography is the same, if you don’t have that contrast, the images can look washed out if there are no blacks, or too dark if there are no whites.  It is a good thing to remember.

So how do you like your black and white images?  What is your favourite subject for those images?  Lastly, what do you use to process them?

Here is a little gallery of the images if you want a better look at them.

 

Tweaking Your Images – Tutorial

This last week I have had a few people telling me that images shouldn’t need any editing at all.  I find this such a hard thing to understand, since, from what I can understand, images have been edited since the first images were made when photography first started.  I was surprised to find that the first HDR image was done in the 1850’s, so over 150 years ago.  Even Ansell Adams edited his images, he manipulated them to suit what he wanted.  Yet now, with the age of digital, for the first time, the camera is now supposed to be able to take the perfect image.

Then you start reading stuff that digital cameras can’t take images the same way as film did.  I understand this.  When I was using film I would use different films for different types of photography.  You can’t do that with digital cameras.  I have been reading Enmanscamera’s Blog – Kamloops post on 10 tips for to make better prints.  There are a couple of points made about what you need to do to digital images and gives good arguments why.  I suggest you read it.

Two things it speaks about, I thought we would look at today.  The image I am going to use it one that I showed a week or so back, one from the BMX that I had done nothing to.

20121125-0124The image looks pretty good, but I suspect it could look better.  For this tutorial I am going to use the trial version of Photoshop Elements 11 that I have.  I am thinking I might buy this for doing Tutorials.

tweak1The image has been opened in PSE11, this is what it looks like, pretty much.

tweak2So following on from the other blogs tips, I have opened an adjustment layer for Brightness/Contrast.  To open this, go to Layer at the top, click on New Adjustment Layer, then click on Brightness/Contrast.  I haven’t changed the contrast too much.  It is one of those things you have to be careful, too much contrast can really ruin your image.  Have a go and see what it does.

tweak3

Next is the sharpening.  I had a lot of trouble working out where this was.  So to find it go to Enhance, then go down to Adjust Sharpness…

tweak4This comes up, you can move the image around to where you want, I changed it to a face, that is usually what you want to be the sharpest.

tweak5I have changed the sharpness, but again, you need to be careful, it is very easy to go too far.  Though I think you should try it out and see what it looks like when you do go too far.

I have to admit, I can’t always tell when an image is sharpened, though I suspect you would be able to tell more when it is printed.

tweak6Even though these images are okay, I always thought that they were a little light, so I opened another adjustment layer and clicked on Levels.  I have moved the slider so that the image was darkened a little, not much, just a little.  This has helped make the image pop more and the colours start to stick out more.

tweak7The dirt track was very light, and so I used the Quick Selection Tool and selected the dirt track, then opened another Levels, Adjustment Layer and made it a little darker again.

Side by SideHere are the two versions, the original on the left, and the tweaked image on the right.  I have’t done a lot to it, but it has been improved, and, I think, it looks so much better.  If you saw the image on the right without me saying anything, you would think it looked fine and probably wouldn’t have thought anything had been done.

sced20121125-0124Here it is on its own.  I like this version and am very happy with the tweaking.

I still find it strange that doing this is considered cheating.  I have been down to my photo lab where I get all my prints printed and they tweak images as well.  They print them, then go through the images and make adjustments for each one.

Even working in the darkroom, each image had to have the light adjusted, the amount of magenta used for each one could change.  You couldn’t print image after image without making any adjustments.  I have many proof sheets where all the images were given the same amount of time, some were fine, but most weren’t.

So the next time you think that digital editing is cheating, remember that photographers have been cheating in the darkroom for over 150 years in their attempts to get that perfect, wonderful image.  That is, after all what we are all looking for, that one beautiful image that we are so proud of.  Okay, maybe more than one.

Awards 

It has come to my attention that I have been nominated for some more awards.

Blog of the Year 2012, I have received 3 more nominations for this.

Marsha Lee Streaming Thoughts

Bear Tales

My Travels & Photography

I have also received the Sunshine Award from

ARIADNISTHREAD

Also the Super Sweet Award from

the REmissionary

That is enough for today.  I would like to thank all of the blogs that have nominated me for awards and ask that you all go and visit their blogs as well.

Black and White in GIMP – My Way

A request was made about converting some images into black and white.  I have spoken about converting images before, but I have never done a tutorial on it.  I have decided to use GIMP again, though if people want, I am happy to do one in Photoshop another time.

As always we have to choose an image to convert.  I decided that I would make use of the images that I took last Friday.  These have a lot of clouds, and I think the images that work best in black and white are ones that have more drama.  The more mood the image has the better it can look in monotone.

So, my image is open, remember, right click, press file, then open.

Next the image needs to be converted to black and white, or grayscale.  Right click on the image, then go to Image,  click on Mode, then click grayscale.  It will go like the image above.  Many people stop right here and don’t go any further.  This is only the first step.

The image is a little dark, so I used Levels to lighten it up some.  The area circled in red is where I moved them too.

When printing images in the darkroom, I was told to have two pieces of paper with me, one white and one black.  The pieces were used to make sure that my image would have white in it and black in it.  You can do a similar thing in GIMP, I just opened two new images and filled one with black and one with white.  It is important that your image has the full range, otherwise they look washed out and not very good.  I have seen so many images like this on the internet.  If you are one of them now, you won’t be after this.

Next I always adjust the contrast and brightness.  Right click on the image, go to Colours, then click on Brightness-Contrast.  I have already moved the sliders.  When you move the contrast one, especially to the right, you will also need to add some brightness, though, this isn’t a rule and should be done on an image by image situation.  Keep in mind your blacks, and your whites.

Hopefully you can tell that it looks a lot better.

Here is the final image as a black and white image.

Not every image is going to be as easy as this one.  Sometimes they are not so co-operative.

Here is the image from Friday’s post.  I have lightened this up a lot.  I wanted it to be fairly light.

The image has been changed to grayscale, and you can see by putting the white image and the black image on top, that we have plenty of white, but really no black.  So we need to get black.  You probably could also get it using the levels and just darkening the image again, but what if you image is just like this and you can’t do that.

I have used the contrast to bring up the blacks and to give it more contrast.  Contrast is the difference between black and white.

We have lost some of the sky detail, but the image doesn’t look so gray.  The final image from the above way.  Of course if I didn’t lighten it up at the beginning it would have been much different.

This version is better, the sky isn’t so blown out.  It is still crooked.  There is a lot more detail in the sky now.  The rocks are quite dark and the best version is probably somewhere in between.

Making images into black and white is easy, you just saw that, but remember that all images should have blacks and whites and a range in between.

An almost award.

Lovely (Blog) Or Not

An interesting take on the whole blog awards, I hope you go and take a look.

http://moderndayruth.net/2012/10/21/lovely-blog-or-not/

I would like to say thanks for the recognition.

Day 11 – Black and White Conversions

Black and White is a very popular way to show your images.  When you look at other photography blogs, I don’t know how many times I see images that have been converted into black and white.  Sometimes they work as an image, sometimes they don’t.  There seems to be this general impression, convert it to black and white and you will have a great image.  Not true.

The other thing I see is many black and white images, well, they are meant to be black and white, but the truth is they are more gray than black and white.  Many photographers out there converting their images don’t comprehend the basics of what makes a good image this way, or know how to do it.  Just for fun I often copy the black and white image from someone’s blog and then edit it to make it better, always helps me.

The main rule for black and white images:

There should always be a black and there should always be a white.

When your computer converts an image it makes everything grey, or as much as possible.  It doesn’t put in the contrast for you.  You can’t just go convert to greyscale and leave it at that.

Here is a image I did that too:

I used GIMP for this image, more on that later.  I opened the image and just converted it to greyscale.  I have done nothing else to it.  Does it look alright?  Yeah, it looks ok, but to me it is washout, too grey, I would like to see more contrast.

I put in more contrast, now there are more tones, more blacks and more whites.  I think this works so much better and all I did was change the contrast.  Simple.  Took me about another minute after converting it.

Using Photoshop is a little more complicated, but you get to do a whole lot more to your images.  I now prefer it over GIMP, but GIMP is great for someone starting out who doesn’t know a lot and doesn’t have the time to learn Photoshop.  The other thing that is fantastic about GIMP is that it is free and you can download it from the website, go here and take a look.

This next image you have seen before:

A colour version is my header for this blog.  It is one of my favourite photos taken this year and will be in my exhibition next year.  The above image is a straight conversion, I opened the image in Photoshop and then pressed the layer for black and white.  This is what I got.

Again, it is an OK image, but it has lost of the appeal that was there in the colour image, the late afternoon glow.  It is a very flat image now.  It needs more work,

The clouds have more detail, you can see the glow on the station.  All I really did here was change the tonal values for each colour.  I was able to change what I wanted to get the image I was after.  I think you would have to admit that this is a far better image.  I still think it is much better in colour, but I don’t mind this too much.

So if you are converting your images into black and white ask yourself if it can be make better.  I used to have a lecturer at art school that used to say “to learn and make better artwork you have to be prepared to f*** it up”.  I think that is true, try stuff, you can always delete stuff if you have to.  Make a copy of the image you are going to play with so you never lose the original.

If you have an image that you would like to see if it can be improved, then send me an email at leanne@leannecole.com.au and I will see if I can help.

Off to the Mornington Peninsula this afternoon.  Looking forward to getting away.  Hopefully will be able to post some images while I am there.  I hope you all have a good weekend clicking away.  Let me know what you get .

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