Gorgeous scene, drab photo

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Fox Paw, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. Fox Paw

    Fox Paw TPF Noob!

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    Here's a snapshot I took a year ago with a little Canon Powershot. It's exactly what the camera yielded. It's not very good.

    [​IMG]

    I can improve it a fair amount by processing but not enough--at least not without giving it an overprocessed look.

    Usually I can look at old shots that aren't very good and figure out how to do better. Here I'm stumped. I can't figure out how to photograph such a scene (and I may get another chance in a few weeks, so I'm curious).

    The scene was beautiful. The sky was partly dark with rain clouds and partly bright. Rain was falling in several places but that's mostly washed out in the photo. I suspect that haze was a problem but as a desert dweller I seldom encounter haze and I'm not sure. There were vivid colors in places on the horizon...also lost in the photo.

    If anyone has thoughts about how they'd approach such a scene, I'd appreciate hearing them.
     
  2. asfixiate

    asfixiate TPF Noob!

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    why do you say its not very good? I happen to think its pretty good especially with what you were using.

    What don't you like about this photo?
     
  3. Fox Paw

    Fox Paw TPF Noob!

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    Asfixiate, thanks, and I didn't mean that it was awful, but the scene was vivid and the snapshot isn't. For example, the separate rainshowers in the distance were very evident to the eye but they aren't so apparent in the photo. I have better equipment now and I know more about how to use it, but I still don't know what I'd do in those conditions to get a better photo. I've wondered if a longer exposure might help, or if a polarizer might help with the haze, or maybe something else.
     
  4. Suzumushi

    Suzumushi TPF Noob!

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    The last couple days I've been trying to use photoshop to get rid of drabness in a bunch of my old pictures. I don't know much about photoshop yet, but I did the same series of basic fixes that I've been doing on my pictures and here's what I got:

    [​IMG]

    I think it's an improvement. Then again, maybe this is that "overprocessed" look you mentioned...

    Edit: guess I should mention what I actually did. Numbers are estimates, I don't remember the exact ones. Just play with them until you like the result.
    - Image/mode/16 bits per channel
    - Image/adjustments/...
    ...Levels: brought the endpoints in to meet the edges of the graph and moved the middle to where I thought it looked best
    ...Brightness/contrast: increased contrast a bit. Too much removed detail from the clouds.
    ...Color balance: I shifted greens around +10, blues around +6, cyan around -3 for all three tones to try to get a more natural green in the trees.
    ...Hue/saturation: I increased saturation around +15
    - Filter/sharpen/unsharp mask: I think around 200 or 300%
    - Edit/fade unsharp mask: faded to around 50%
     
  5. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Do you still think it looks drab?
    Do you think it now looks overprocessed?

    [​IMG]

    I threw a lasso around the ground scene, feathered it at 30px, and worked on the levels for the ground, then I chose "select inverse" and worked on the sky, but added a lot less shadows and midtones to it than the "auto levels" would have suggested! (I accidentally hit "auto levels" first, and the sky turned all horrible!).

    In the end I selectively upped the saturation for the yellows to 30, those for red to 10 and those for blue to 10, too. (This I did for the entire picture).

    No more.

    And the "haze" looks like real and true RAIN to me, which I think is super-interesting!
     
  6. Fox Paw

    Fox Paw TPF Noob!

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    Both of you made huge improvements and, no, I don't think either one looks overprocessed. This suggests that the camera did its job and my processing skills need work. I appreciate the details about the processing. Thanks very much.
     
  7. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    The shot would have been much better done with a polarizing filter, which would have cut down on the haze. The ideal way to bring out the color separation in post is by steepening A/B curves in Lab color in Photoshop. I'll try to post an example.
     
  8. LynziMarie

    LynziMarie TPF Noob!

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    I actually think that's pretty good!!

    the edits really look nice too!
     

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