Post Processing Week One

This would be something like before and after sessions. I tend to post process my photos extensively, and if there is enough interest I might do step by step or video tutorials for it.

Additionally my camera is always set to RAW. Jpeg is never an option.

 

Before:

Straight RAW dump, only lens correction and sharpening applied.

Straight RAW dump, only lens correction and sharpening applied.

After:

The final result.

The final result.

The result is practically a composite of several different exposures derived from the same raw file. The sky has boosted blues, -2 EV and toned down shadows, while hands have different color balance and white balance in order to be less over exposed due to the direct sun exposure. Blurred trees have been structurized better in order to emphasize the motion and the grey and dead trees have gotten the life back. Minor tweaks and stuff to other small areas.

Note that everything in this picture is derived from the same picture, there aren’t any other textures used.

1/30th | f/16 | ISO100 | Canon 1000D w/ EF-S 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm

How To Increase Efficiency When Doing Travel Photography

We have all been there, fun and new place, wanting to document it from top to bottom. But it doesn’t always turn out as planned now does it? That is because we get way too excited snapping pictures all over the place, while being pressured by the people who we travel with to move on, or the tour group/guide. So you rarely have the time to take the perfect picture. Well, that will always be the case, now what can you do about it?

Blue hour and light traffic in Amsterdam

Blue hour and light traffic in Amsterdam

1. Research. First of all, before you take the trip, it is good to research a bit, bring photos from other people cataloged by location. That is in order to get to know the places better and be able to plan a bit before getting there.

2. Idea. Set some goals for yourself, come up with some ideas beforehand. This will help you shoot less, but shoot better. That way you’ll be able to enjoy the view, feel the culture and still have decent amount of pictures.

Light trails from the metro and cars leading to the Triumphal Arch

Light trails from the metro and cars leading to the Triumphal Arch

3. Less is more. When you have the idea you want, and when you have scouted the locations via the internet and others people work, you will be able to shoot less, and shoot something that haven’t been shot before. That way, you shoot less, and you gain more.

4. Gear. Everybody will tell you, you have good gear, bring everything you got. Well, I can’t agree on that matter. Yes, if you have all the gear with you, you will probably have more options to choose from. But is it worth the effort? Packing all the gear will mean that you’ll need to drag all that gear with you, along side the other stuff you need, like food and water. That said, you’ll have much more weight on your back, meaning you’ll get tired and demotivated way faster than usual, which will impact your experience as well as the creativity which will show up on your pictures. Aditionally the more gear you bring, the more chances of damage/theft. Since you can’t really keep an eye on everything. I would advise the gear your bring to be something like one body, one or two lenses max, and small tripod (something like gorilla pod would to the trick). Also bear in mind that you might not have access to power source, so get spare batteries and charge them at home, because there is nothing worse to have empty battery pack on the most awesome places ever.

Was photoing the waterfall in Nice, when i turned around and saw that beautiful sunset.

Was photoing the waterfall in Nice, when i turned around and saw that beautiful sunset.

5. No post processing. Now wait, hear me out first. I’m not saying that you need to avoid post process, quite the contrary. But leave that part for when you get home. The time you spend on post when traveling is time lost of the experience, and the quality on post process will be affected by your tiredness and being in a hurry. Do the post processing at home, and enjoy abroad.

6. Test run. Give travel photography a test run in your home town. Pretend that you are a tourist and try to cover as much important stuff as possible. While at it, bring all the gear with you. Do that few times and see which gear pieces you use the most, and pack only that for your trip abroad.

7. Let your fellow travelers know. Tell them what you plan on photographing. Let them know how long you need for a photo or ten. If they know upfront about your plan on photographing that and that, it will reduce the tension, and might as well convince them to assist you if needed. Also don’t be a grumpy face. If they ask for a photo or two of them, take the photo. That will keep the good vibes between you, and the fact that you’ll need to send the photos to them afterwards means you get exposure, marketing, potential clients for the future.

All that said, this article mostly applies for people which travel in groups and want to make some good shots while at it. If you have the cash to travel just for taking cool photos, then you’ll probably be able to drag everything you want with you.

A Guide For Noise Free Shots Using Median

Hey guys, this post should serve as an addition to my previous post regarding noiseThis article will focus on median stacking, so it is mostly for still objects, macro/product photography.

Now, lets get into it. Following my previous tips for reducing noise, we can now get more in depth on how to make it all better. Using median, we can exploit the power of averaging pixels from more shots in order to reduce noise. The more shots, the better. However, median is the last step in that process. We can practically feed that algorithm anything. The point is, the better quality it receives, the better results it produces. Note that there are many different software solutions that pretty much do the same basic job so you can use any software that does median stacking.

What do we feed the algorithm? The answer is the best stuff we can get, cleanest full resolution uncompressed .tiff files.

Before we get into file format, we need to prepare the picture.

 

Sample Image, 10 images stacked @ 100 ISO

Sample Image, 10 images stacked @ 100 ISO

Obtaining the cleanest picture for the series is crucial to the whole operation, therefore make sure you go through this checklist of key stuff when taking your pictures.

1. Overexposing. Over expose the shot as much as possible, this will make the dark areas brighter, thus avoiding noise to be generated in post production. You can go back 2-3 stops in post process without ANY damage, while if you go up 2-3 stops in post process, you increase the noise in the shadows significantly.

2. Really really tough tripod. In this case  you need really tough tripod, since a slight movement can ruin everything and leave you stuck for hours trying to align the frames manually (on which you will most likely fail). So if your camera weighs 2 kilos, get a tripod that has a maximum of 5 kilos weight.

3. Light. Set up your light good, make sure it is nice and bright, because over exposing for few stops can mean great increase in shutter time and induce more noise.

4. Remote trigger/ intervalometer. Touching your camera each shot will move it by a millimeter or two, making the series of shots unusable. Make sure you have your intervalometer set to about 10 second timer before it starts the series of shots, in order to give time to any vibration from the cord (if there is any) to settle down.

5. Beat it. Yes, get away from the area your camera and photographed objects are. Doesn’t matter if you walk and breathe like a ninja or not, not all floors are perfectly solid and rigid to kill any vibration, so step away few meters while the intervalometer does its thing.

6. Keep it cool. Less heat = less noise, but turn off the a/c before you start the series, the air flow can move the object/camera slightly and that would be a problem.

When the process of obtaining the RAW files (I didn’t mention the RAW format because by now I hope all of you already use it) is complete, we can continue on the post process.

First we need to bring back the exposure to compensate for over exposing the image. It is wise to do this to all the images in the same time (as in Lightroom or similar solutions can) to save up time, and make sure that every single image looks exactly the same. It is also good to do the general editing on all the images before processing them through median, so while you have all the images selected, set your white balance as you prefer, do all the basic editing shadows, highlights, contrast, and all that stuff, but don’t do healing brushes and everything that alters the structure of the image (including sharpening) you can do all that on the output median image later. Also DO NOT use noise reduction software, while it does reduces noise it also reduces the detail which kinda beats he whole purpose of doing this whole delicate process. When you are satisfied with how the image looks, export as uncompressed .tiff files.

Why uncompressed .tiff? Because we avoid nasty .jpeg compression and artifacts it produces, while keeping most of the information that comes with the raw file. Feeding the .tiffs to the software that will do the median for you is a straight forward process, the results however are different. The more images you give it the better the results will be, however .tiff files are quite big and it can easily overload your hardware resulting in a process that lasts for hours or the software crashing. That is why it is best to stay around 10-20 pictures per shot, it reduces the noise to almost nothing and feeding it 30 or more pictures won’t make that huge impact we expect it to.

Median Demo

Canon EOS 1000D with Helios 44m-4 @ f8 (100% Crop)

When we take a look on this 100% cropped images ( I intentionally cropped at this area because it is darker and it is more prone to noise, while the text is just to show the detail retained), it is obvious that using the lowest ISO produces the best results. But notice the improvement in the 800 ISO shots – it is staggering. But also notice that the 10 median stacked images from properly exposed samples are just a little less noisy than the single over exposed-than-toned-down shot. The benefit from over exposing is clear and obvious and when paired with median can produce 3-4 stops better signal to noise ratio.

I hope this will help you in the process of making better photos.

Feel free to share and comment, your feedback is appreciated.

 

Until next time friends, Dz.

Changes

Welp, that is that. Time for changes around here.

What’s new? Well I have few tutorials prepared and ready to go, will be posted in the next few days, as I get around of making them one by one. Those will mostly be for entry level photographers, showing how to do stuff on a budget with very limited resources. Since that is my workflow, and I’m kinda proud of it.

A Picture A Day gets abandoned. I don’t have the time nor the resources to do that. And also I found that it is kinda ruining my whole creative process, forcing me to take much more compromises instead of going for the better picture, I’m kinda forced to go for the better-than-nothing picture. Which I don’t like. If and when I have much more spare time, and much more people willing to stand in front of my camera, I might have another go at that.

What else? Hmm… Oh yes, I’ve made a flickr account, in addition to my deviantart account and facebook one. Not sure why I made a flickr account, but I’m surprised of the functionality it offers. Everything is nicely set up and easy to use, good licencing, easy embedding and so on. In addition to everything it is free to use. Free is kinda the necessity for people in my situation.

There was one person named Arash which asked from me to do a Nissan GTR picture with the front lights. Similar to the one I made with the stop lights. Well I’m sorry I couldn’t fulfill your request bro, but the GT-R is challenging to capture like that with the front lights, especially when I don’t have one in my garage so I can mess around with. Hell, I don’t even have a garage. 😀 But, if I manage to see one on the streets, and snap a decent picture of it, I might be able to pull one for you.

In other news, I’m experimenting with few techniques, which mostly require breaking stuff down and using the components in the process. When I succeed in something fun and usable I’ll post a tutorial for that too.

So stay tuned, and as always

until next time friends, Dz.

A Picture A Day, Day 45 – One Of Us

_MG_8883

This.

Until next time friends, Dz.

A Picture A Day, Day 44 – Wrinkles

Wrinkles

This is a picture from an event which was intended to promote a magazine made with the help from homeless people, made to help homeless people. With additional help of Red Cross, in Skopje Macedonia, some artists, bloggers, photographers, media and so on, these people get some food on the table from the sales of the magazine. I respect that. The magazine is named as “Лице в лице“, translated would be “Face To Face“. You can read more (If you know Macedonian, or by using Google Translate) here.

Be kind, help a stranger in need.

Until next time friends, Dz.

Paying with recommendations. Yay or nay?

I get these offers way too often, and the worst part is that people actually think that that is actually okay and something rather normal. What I don’t understand is how can it be normal? How can someone in his right, sane and sober mind think that it is normal? You don’t go to the store to buy milk and stuff and pay the cashier with “I will recommend that you sell good milk to all my friends!”, right? All you’d get with that is a boot up in the ass. But people got used to doing that to photographers (and DJ’s sometimes).

The matters get worse when photographers started to accept that kind of gigs. Why? You are just encouraging them. You are just giving them another reason to continue exploiting your skills and time. And how will those recommendations happen, have you ever asked yourself that question? I’m sure that they will recommend you to their friends, but they will recommend you as the photographer which works for recommendations. Almost nobody will offer to pay.

I would understand say not that rich people, maybe companies which barely keep afloat. But fun part is, those kind of people usually offer something in return, maybe services they can provide, or products that are usable but they can’t sell, something that would seem fair or near fair trade. The richer people and companies on the other hand, will not offer anything. Well besides the “recommendations to their powerful friends and coworkers”. Yeah, right.

A while back, I had an encounter with a person of position in a quite rich company. That person was in need of a photographer. I was, okay, tell me what do you need photographed, how long, where, and what is your budget. The answer I had was:”Well, we don’t need art you know, just pictures for facebook/website uses in which we will retain all rights, the event lasts 2 days, so…”. I asked him about the budget, he answered that they don’t have any but he will personally make sure that I get recommended somewhere somehow. Um, yeah. No. Though next time somebody asks for just pictures, not art, i will show up with my 10 years old camera phone, and give them pictures which are something like 128×96 or so. They are still pictures, just not art, right?

I might not be the best photographer on the planet, but still, I think I can provide decent service, and in any case nobody has to work for free. I see this happening with rookie photographers, photographers with career starting way before I was born. It is just happening. Us photographers should do something about it I think, at least show the people that taking pictures isn’t just pressing a button, and it is not such an easy job. It is a honest trade as anything else, and for any other services you need, you pay for them.

At the end of the day, the chance that those “recommendations” will pay your gear and bills are pretty much the same chances as finding 50 000 bucks on the street.

Any thoughts on this matter? Please post bellow.

Feel free to share too!

Until next time friends, Dz.

A Picture A Day, Day 43 – Old School

Старата-школа

Elderly people, enjoying what little is left of the sun.

Until next time friends, Dz.

A Picture A Day, Day 42 – Ms. Woodpecker

Picus viridus

Picus viridus

Today I was teaching a friend of mine some photography basics, so we took a stroll in the City Park. Since it was a quite warm day there were animals all over the place, squirrels, cats, dogs, but no people. Monday morning is a great time to enjoy nature without people. Ms. Woodpecker has done this before, since she wasn’t afraid of the shutter nor me. She posed for good 10-15 seconds, then she flew away.

Until next time friends, Dz.

A Picture A Day, Day 41 – Nostalgia

Evil boy genius rocking!

Evil boy genius rocking!

Shot these more than 3 years ago, while I was still a kid with a Nikon, just I had a Canon, and I wasn’t really a kid. Anyhow those two shots are still among my favorites.

The magical thingie that produces sound when you annoy it.

The magical thingie that produces sound when you annoy it.

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© Ѕвонко Петровски / Dzvonko Petrovski, All Rights Reserved. Using this without my written permission is strictly forbidden.
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