A Dark and Stormy Day

jeffashman

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What can I do with these photos? The second one especially, is very grainy. The conditions were very heavy overcast and rainy. Are there techniques to adjust these, or due to conditions this is just how they will come out? Both pix were taken at 500mm ISO 6400, f/6.3, 1/2000 through a window, and were adjusted in Camera Raw, then exported as jpg from PS. Originals have not been adjusted.
DoveLanding01 by Jeff Ashman, on Flickr
DoveLanding02 by Jeff Ashman, on Flickr
 

nokk

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give topaz denoise a try. they've got some crazy voodoo magic in that software.
 

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Maybe I’m just old, but I can remember when that second shot would be considered a fine grain film/print. Especially shot under those conditions, in 1980 I’d have been happy with that.

I would worry more about composition and adding some contrast than the grain.
 
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A few thoughts

1) Yep high ISO on a camera like that (2000D) is going to give you noise in those higher ISOs. It's basically the cost you pay for setting your ISO that high.
I don't know the lens you've got but 500mm at f6.3 and I'll guess that its one of the zooms and that your aperture was wide open (smallest f number) so you're already letting in the most light you can and whilst your shutter speed is fast, you're clearly going for those more static wing captures so yep that's going to be hard to come down much slower than that whilst getting a sharp shot of the bird and wings and such.


In the end you've used the right settings for the situation. Now one truth is that noise shows up more if you underexpose and then brighten in editing. Though you're already pretty high and you said you didn't make many adjustments so might be your exposure isn't too bad.

When you shoot do you use the histogram when reviewing photos on the back of the camera?


2) Noise can be handled by noise reduction software in editing - photoshop and lightroom both have powerful noise removal features which can be used to help reduce noise whilst at the same time you might have to sharpen to boost the sharpness since noise removal will affect overall sharpness.

There are fancy ways to make masks which let you remove noise from the background areas only whilst letting you then sharpen only on the foreground. Using layermasks nad the brush tool you can thus select where you want either effect on a new layer in photoshop. This can be great for removing a lot of noise from backgrounds and keeping the subject sharp.

3) One thing I do notice is that the whites in your shot are looking quite strong/bright/overexposed. Or if not overexposed very close to it. Now this suggests that even on the overcast day you were still shooting at a brighter time when the sky was overcast but the sun still high.

4) I think one issue you've got no matter the light quality is the actual scene before you; in the end its still birds on a feeder with a slightly blurry fence/shed behind. What you might want to experiment more with is trying different angles if you can and manipulating situation. Even just moving the feeder "forward" in the scene (ergo closer to you) so that when you focus on the bird the background is thrown more into blur.
You've a lure for the birds, but you might want to "construct" things around that lure to best help you.



Overall there are times, especially with action and wildlife, where the light is soft but not strong enough and its a pain. In the end you can either put the camera down; reach for high ISOs or use flash if possible. Though flash opens up a whole other can of worms of its own, especially if you want to use it a as a main light not just as a fill light. For subjects that far off and of that nature the actual use of flash is often not an issue, but the setup to make the light pleasing can be more tricky to achieve.
 
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jeffashman

jeffashman

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give topaz denoise a try. they've got some crazy voodoo magic in that software.

Thanks! I’ll give it a try. I’ve seen it advertised. The wonders of eavesdropping phones. [emoji16]


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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jeffashman

jeffashman

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Maybe I’m just old, but I can remember when that second shot would be considered a fine grain film/print. Especially shot under those conditions, in 1980 I’d have been happy with that.

I would worry more about composition and adding some contrast than the grain.

Thank you! I remember those days, and seeing photos like that. I’ll take a stab at the contrast and cropping a bit.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

nokk

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give topaz denoise a try. they've got some crazy voodoo magic in that software.

Thanks! I’ll give it a try. I’ve seen it advertised. The wonders of eavesdropping phones. [emoji16]


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
that's just creepy. i can't take my personal phone into work with me, but my work phone comes up with the creepiest things after some of the events/discussions that happen on the floor.
 
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jeffashman

jeffashman

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A few thoughts

1) Yep high ISO on a camera like that (2000D) is going to give you noise in those higher ISOs. It's basically the cost you pay for setting your ISO that high.
I don't know the lens you've got but 500mm at f6.3 and I'll guess that its one of the zooms and that your aperture was wide open (smallest f number) so you're already letting in the most light you can and whilst your shutter speed is fast, you're clearly going for those more static wing captures so yep that's going to be hard to come down much slower than that whilst getting a sharp shot of the bird and wings and such.


In the end you've used the right settings for the situation. Now one truth is that noise shows up more if you underexpose and then brighten in editing. Though you're already pretty high and you said you didn't make many adjustments so might be your exposure isn't too bad.

When you shoot do you use the histogram when reviewing photos on the back of the camera?


2) Noise can be handled by noise reduction software in editing - photoshop and lightroom both have powerful noise removal features which can be used to help reduce noise whilst at the same time you might have to sharpen to boost the sharpness since noise removal will affect overall sharpness.

There are fancy ways to make masks which let you remove noise from the background areas only whilst letting you then sharpen only on the foreground. Using layermasks nad the brush tool you can thus select where you want either effect on a new layer in photoshop. This can be great for removing a lot of noise from backgrounds and keeping the subject sharp.

3) One thing I do notice is that the whites in your shot are looking quite strong/bright/overexposed. Or if not overexposed very close to it. Now this suggests that even on the overcast day you were still shooting at a brighter time when the sky was overcast but the sun still high.

4) I think one issue you've got no matter the light quality is the actual scene before you; in the end its still birds on a feeder with a slightly blurry fence/shed behind. What you might want to experiment more with is trying different angles if you can and manipulating situation. Even just moving the feeder "forward" in the scene (ergo closer to you) so that when you focus on the bird the background is thrown more into blur.
You've a lure for the birds, but you might want to "construct" things around that lure to best help you.



Overall there are times, especially with action and wildlife, where the light is soft but not strong enough and its a pain. In the end you can either put the camera down; reach for high ISOs or use flash if possible. Though flash opens up a whole other can of worms of its own, especially if you want to use it a as a main light not just as a fill light. For subjects that far off and of that nature the actual use of flash is often not an issue, but the setup to make the light pleasing can be more tricky to achieve.

Thank you!

1) Sigma 50-500 4.5-6.3 APO HSM SO. As noted, wide open and fast speed. I didn’t use the histogram, as the screen on the 2000D is small and the histogram is hard to read. Also, I was more focused on getting the bird, which was on the ground initially, so getting the histogram didn’t come to mind at the time.

2) I’ll fiddle around with LR and PS. They are new to me, and have a lot of things going on. Definitely a steep learning curve.

3) I didn’t think about adjusting the AEB, but that may have made the whites even brighter. I saw a setting in PS that might help with the whites. I’ll experiment.

4) I’ve thought about moving the feeder closer. That would be interesting. It would certainly make some things easier if I did, and I doubt the birds would care. The squirrels, on the other hand, may not be too keen with the idea. The only time the birds mind is if my Sheltie Daisy comes out with me. [emoji4]

Thanks again!


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smoke665

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@jeffashman at ISO 6400 you start to learn the limitations of gear and software.

In LR after first setting WB, try setting your whites and blacks (this is different than WB). You can do it manually by eye. You can hold down the alt or cmd key and the screen will go black for the white or white for the black when you start to adjust the slider adjust until either white or black point starts to come through. Finally you can let LR adjust it for you by holding down the shift key and double clicking on the word "white" or "black" beside the slider.
 
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jeffashman

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@jeffashman at ISO 6400 you start to learn the limitations of gear and software.

In LR after first setting WB, try setting your whites and blacks (this is different than WB). You can do it manually by eye. You can hold down the alt or cmd key and the screen will go black for the white or white for the black when you start to adjust the slider adjust until either white or black point starts to come through. Finally you can let LR adjust it for you by holding down the shift key and double clicking on the word "white" or "black" beside the slider.

Thank you!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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jeffashman

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I like the Topaz toolset. This is the image, reprocessed using Topaz Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, Photoshop Elements, and then cropped in Flickr, because Flickr has an option to lock resolution when cropping, and I haven't found a similar setting in PS yet.
DoveLandingOnFeeder by Jeff Ashman, on Flickr
 

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How do you mean "lock resolution" when cropping? Do you mean that you crop the photo and when its cropped it still has the same pixel dimensions? Ergo the software is up-scaling the cropped image to be larger
 
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Yes, it maintains the same pixel dimensions. I'm sure that PS does the same thing; just haven't found it yet. PS has a lot of knobs and switches and things. It would be nice to have a "lock dimensions" check box in the crop window, and it may be there, and these old eyes just haven't found it yet.
 

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So far as I'm aware Photoshop won't do that when you crop, however it can most certainly increase and decrease the size of a photo.

If you go to the top bar and pick "Image" then there are two options in that menu. Image Size and Canvas Size. If you pick Image Size then you open a new window within which you can change the size and dimensions however you want. Important to note is at the bottom of that new window is "Resample" as a tickbox which you want ticked. That basically adjusts the code and tells it how to either add data when its enlarging or take away data when its reducing. There are different forms (I generally leave it as automatic) of sampling that you can use, some which work better going one way or the other. The little preview image that the window has can help you see the changes that you're making a 100% size to see how they affect the photo.


So Photoshop makes it a 2 step process, but gives you greater control over the steps themselves, esp the resizing.

That said if I'm resizing for internet display I'm often cropping the shot how I like then downsizing it to around 1000 or 1500 pixels on the longest side*. I wouldn't think of upscaling the size unless I were doing it for a print. Note that when I'm changing sizes and saving I typically save one version without cropping at fullsize (after all the other editing) as a Photoshop file; then I resize and save a separate JPEG for web display. That way if I want to come back to it, I've got the PSD file that I can open before I've done any cropping or resizing.



ps - note that DPI has no effect on your photos what so ever. It's a value that printers read to tell it how many dots per inch to apply when printing. Some will set this value really low so that any who print their files without permission get a really low resolution; but anyone with knowhow can just change the dpi value. Again this changes nothing in the photo, its purely a value printers read.


*600 used to be about the default based on typical screen sizes and for limiting potential use of the photo; 1000 steadily became the standard a few years ago as screens got bigger and its slowly crept up as screens have got larger and larger. 1500 for landscape and 1000 for portrait tend to work well now a days; but it depends what you want to show.
 
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jeffashman

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So far as I'm aware Photoshop won't do that when you crop, however it can most certainly increase and decrease the size of a photo.

If you go to the top bar and pick "Image" then there are two options in that menu. Image Size and Canvas Size. If you pick Image Size then you open a new window within which you can change the size and dimensions however you want. Important to note is at the bottom of that new window is "Resample" as a tickbox which you want ticked. That basically adjusts the code and tells it how to either add data when its enlarging or take away data when its reducing. There are different forms (I generally leave it as automatic) of sampling that you can use, some which work better going one way or the other. The little preview image that the window has can help you see the changes that you're making a 100% size to see how they affect the photo.


So Photoshop makes it a 2 step process, but gives you greater control over the steps themselves, esp the resizing.

That said if I'm resizing for internet display I'm often cropping the shot how I like then downsizing it to around 1000 or 1500 pixels on the longest side*. I wouldn't think of upscaling the size unless I were doing it for a print. Note that when I'm changing sizes and saving I typically save one version without cropping at fullsize (after all the other editing) as a Photoshop file; then I resize and save a separate JPEG for web display. That way if I want to come back to it, I've got the PSD file that I can open before I've done any cropping or resizing.



ps - note that DPI has no effect on your photos what so ever. It's a value that printers read to tell it how many dots per inch to apply when printing. Some will set this value really low so that any who print their files without permission get a really low resolution; but anyone with knowhow can just change the dpi value. Again this changes nothing in the photo, its purely a value printers read.


*600 used to be about the default based on typical screen sizes and for limiting potential use of the photo; 1000 steadily became the standard a few years ago as screens got bigger and its slowly crept up as screens have got larger and larger. 1500 for landscape and 1000 for portrait tend to work well now a days; but it depends what you want to show.

Thank you! This was very informative!
 

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