Green with envy over your beautiful photos | High Sierra Topix  

Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Topics covering photography and videography of the flora, fauna and landscape of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Show off your talent. Post your photos and videos here!
User avatar

Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby bheiser1 » Thu Oct 14, 2010 8:02 pm

SSSdave wrote:... it is true that 95% of more serious photographers today included those on this board have embraced manipulations and have little interest presenting images that have fidelity to what they saw with their eyes. However there are some of us whose style is still in presenting images that are reasonably accurate representations of 2-dimensional frames of what our eyes experienced. ...



I guess those of us in that remaining 5% are "special" :smirk:



User avatar
bheiser1
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 176
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:39 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby Ciocc » Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:07 pm

David Vestal wisely wrote in 2002: suit yourself.

He also wrote this very important piece of advice: "Naturally, you need to protect yourself from the overzealous minions, so don't call their attention to anything you do that you know they will hate".
f/64 and be there an hour early.
User avatar
Ciocc
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2006 9:27 pm
Location: Sacramento
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby STRETCHMAN » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:19 am

What SSSdave does not seem to realize is that what his eyes see and what my or anyone elses eyes see are not the same. We all see light and color differently. So, for SSSdave to throw a "blanket umbrella" over the digital process just doesn't seem right. :soapbox:
User avatar
STRETCHMAN
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:58 am
Location: San Diego
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby fishmonger » Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:11 am

rlown wrote:so.. here's a challenge.. show us the raw and then the retouched photo..


Let me show an example image I actually tweaked a little more than others.

I only shoot RAW and bypass what the camera manufacture offers to those who are cheap on storage cards (such as fake "active de-lighting" HDR effects most users have enabled all the time)

In the below example, the Nikon D90 camera was set to f/16 and 1/60th of a sec, ISO 200 (lowest), handheld, VR enabled, shot at 40mm (60mm on 35mm full frame equivalent). I think I had the circular Polarizer on the lens, given the low shutter speed for the light available at that time of day. Don't remember too many details, because I didn't stop for more than 15 seconds for this photo and then moved on down the trail to keep up with my kids. I am quite sure because I didn't spend much time on the image, the light was metered in Aperture Priority in matrix mode. My process is simple - I see something that may be cool if framed right, I shoot, I move on. I do not plan these things, because I simply don't have the time to stop and wait for great photos to come together when I have to cover 15+ miles a day and take care of two young hikers who aren't very experienced.

The images:

raw file from camera (NEF file from D90) zipped so the web server actually delivers it

Full JPEG of completely unretouched RAW file, as it came out of camera and opens up in Photoshop with what Adobe considers "default" for Camera RAW - auto white balance as shot, no slider in Camera RAW touched, nothing done in Photoshop other than save to JPEG, keeping the color space from the camera.

unretouched JPEG scaled to web size:
Image


Now the processed JPEG:
Image

Full JPEG of processed file

What did I do?

Photoshop Camera RAW info: White balance remains as shot in auto, I slightly dropped the exposure by -0.15, moved the black point from 5 to 6, added about 11 clicks of contrast (default +25 to +32), +12 on clarity for more contrast in the midrange, +4 clicks on saturation because the in camera setting was set to a pretty non-popping landscape mode, added a very mild curves adjustment, moving highlights about 5% up, lights 8%, darks down 3% and shadows down 3%. Finally, I also dropped the luminance of the blues by -25 on the slider in camera raw, which results in a slightly darker sky overall - all in the interest of enhancing the contrast between the sunlit and the cloud shadow areas, which were the striking feature of what I was trying to capture on a day with extremely low humidity and what appeared to me a rather unusual display of light/dark shadow play on Split Mountain (maybe because I was wearing those deceiving unrealistic polarized sunglasses...). The web size has been sharpened with unsharp mask, (50%, 0.9 pixel radius, threshold 8 levels, i.e. barely noticeable).

Once opened in Photoshop, I sometimes crop and image before saving, but since I use zoom lenses and know how to position myself to get the frame I want, in most cases I am done adjusting when the image is opened. No additional changes at that point.

Basically, the photo is all about the shadow on the mountain, and in the processing, that's what I am looking to enhance without blowing out detail at either end of the brightness spectrum. Note the D90 file coming out of the camera is a 12-bit lossy compressed RAW file (10mb, while the D300s with the same sensor allows you to shoot 14-bit uncompressed 25MB RAW files with more detail and dynamic range, both vastly superior to slide film). Neither RAW file format can capture the dynamic range your eyes can perceive, so I felt a little help was in order in post processing to better relate the pretty amazing cloud shadow that swept over the mountain. Honest? Dishonest? Who is to judge what the real view was like other than me who saw the scene? I could have turned this image into a cartoon of what I saw with a few more nudges on some of the sliders, but I generally set the limit where things would have been had I been shooting slide film, which I am sure would have dropped that shadow into much darker values than even my processed digital image does.

Post processing also can help save images that aren't properly exposed: this summer I messed up a lot of images because I once forgot to turn off auto-bracketing and, well, for a full day and a half, I was shooting every third frame with the proper exposure, and the other two either 2 stops over or 2 stops under (I rarely check my images on the LCD - saves battery). The great thing about post processing is that most of those images were easily salvaged and are very usable. Purists will cringe, but I shot this for memories, not for some sort of higher scientific or hyper-realistic purpose. Why not move the exposure slider 2+ stops on those frames and tweak what I have to save the day. Example:

RAW with bad exposure, as out of the camera:
Image

Same RAW file, but after setting exposure to +1.85, saturation +3 clicks, with some clarity added to get the blown out snow back to normal, saving the image from the delete button, although given we have seen this angle a thousand times, it wouldn't have been the biggest loss:
Image

So there you have it - two of my digital hack photos. I know, the danger is that people may now head to the Sierras thinking they'll find these sublime cloud shadows floating across the mountain sides and return in anger when they don't see it that way.

More seriously - I posted this mostly to return to the original thread subject - why do some images look better than others. It is not just the gear and some skill in using it. Post processing does play a role here, and you can do pretty dramatic corrections to photos where your camera simply wasn't good or smart enough, or you made a mistake, or just to emphasize what you hoped to capture in the first place. I still think the tool with the biggest impact on the images above was the polarizer I had on the lens, something many casual photographers are not very familiar with and I am sure some realism fanatics are likely to condemn as the tool of the devil and the end of photography as we know it.
User avatar
fishmonger
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 945
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Madison, WI
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby SSSdave » Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:38 am

STRETCHMAN wrote:What SSSdave do...So, for SSSdave to throw a "blanket umbrella" over the digital process just doesn't seem right. :soapbox:


STRETCHMAN you obviously seem to have little understanding of my considerable positions on digital processing issues apparently making your own quick assumptions from what little you've read in the terse posts above while not even bothering to read my link in the above posts.

http://www.davidsenesac.com/david_philosophy1.html

David Senesac
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby STRETCHMAN » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:43 pm

SSSdave, believe or not I have been reading your post for years. I have also been on your Website which is very well put together. I just don't understand your "closed minded thinking" when it comes to Photography. No one is right or wrong when it comes to opinions, they're just opinions. Just because your philosophy is different doesn't mean everyone else should conform to the way you view the world. Lighten up, have fun, and don't be such a stiff shirt. :)
User avatar
STRETCHMAN
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:58 am
Location: San Diego
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby rlown » Sun Oct 17, 2010 12:24 am

fishmonger,

Thanks for posting your reply! An excellent response to the "challenge" i posted. And so meticulous in how you achieved what you were after. kudos. You can actually see the difference between what your camera saw "raw" and what your eye told you it looked like.

SSSDave and STRETCHMAN, get a room already.. Stay on track or don't comment.

Step up to the challenge..


Russ
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5325
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby STRETCHMAN » Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:54 am

:) Point taken. :)
User avatar
STRETCHMAN
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:58 am
Location: San Diego
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby fishmonger » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:42 am

never went through this list of questions in order - so here goes

GH-Dave wrote: Questions:

Are you guys using hyper expensive high-end cameras to get these shots?


I would like to, but since the switch from film to digital began, I have moved away from high end bodies and treat them like computers: they depreciate very quickly as the technology advances and unless you get your money's worth out of a body in the first 18 months you own it, you will most likely regret having spent extra cash on it. I don't sell images any longer, and most of my output is web-only, so the extra quality of full frame sensor bodies is somewhat lost on my current use pattern. If you have the extra cash, you will definitely get better results with a full frame body, but at the expense of weight. Low light performance is the most important gain when going to full frame. You also get more options in the wide angle lens range, but that's starting to change with custom ultra-wides for DX becoming available. Other benefits of the high end bodies such as better auto-focus speeds and brighter view finders are features mostly relevant to sports shooting and don't really matter out in the woods unless you're into the wildlife shooting thing.

Camera manufacturers do certain things to the internals of their higher end cameras to separate them from the budget bodies, such as higher quality filters on the CCD, or higher bit depth recording and uncompressed storage of RAW images. The cost goes up, the difference between the cameras diminishes. Cost and weight go up as the visible returns of these features diminishes.

GH-Dave wrote: Color enhancement filters?


The only filters I packed this summer were a polarizer and a close-up filter that allows closer focus with a non-macro lens. I also have a 4X ND filter to cut light for long exposures (water falls), a graduated neutral Density filter to do pretty neat stuff with high contrast scenes (bright sky dark foreground), which replaces HDR by shooting it all in-camera. I don't use those filters often enough to worry about carrying them on a trip where weight is important.

If I was shooting black and white on film, I'd also pack a red and yellow filter, and for infrared, you can bring some IR filter, but the use of that is really limited on unconverted digital bodies these days. I'm contemplating to convert my D40 to dedicated IR shooting, but then you're basically hauling a 1.5 pound IR filter for a few custom effects shots.

Polarizer

Quality close-up lens

Plain ND filter

Gradual ND filter

IR converting a camera body


GH-Dave wrote: Photoshopping to bring out colors?


see above post on what I do. Shooting RAW images is the key to have the most image data available the camera can record, but it also requires post processing to tap into that data. You don't want to leave the decisions about contrast range and color balance to the camera's auto mode or some preset. I never bothered to buy one of those white balance filters that let you customize the camera's setting for each shot (you need a body that lets you do that to begin with - my old D40 didn't do that for example), but if you want to make sure you get the proper white point for the scene in front of you, and you have to the time to measure those settings, you can bring another filter to do that, or at least a white piece of cardboard to use as a target to calibrate the camera. Doing that saves you the task of setting colors on a screen that may not be calibrated.


GH-Dave wrote: Expensive lenses.


I love expensive lenses, but they just are too heavy to bring on the kind of long distance hikes I prefer. They are a much better investment than expensive camera bodies, because the technology on that end of the system doesn't advance nearly as fast as the electronics attached to them. If you go with a full frame digital body, you can also pick from a number of classic manual focus lenses that are a great value, expecially ultra wide glass where auto focus is pretty irrelevant due to the depth of field you get with them. Glass is very important to get the best out of your body. Zoom lenses are pretty good these days in terms of sharpness and other fatures, but if you're a purist and want the best quality shot possible, you will need to look into owning a few prime lenses, which due to their simpler optical design will generally outperform a zoom in sharpness, flare, distortion. Recently such lenses have become rather expensive, because only enthusiasts buy them. They are better than ever, though, and if you have a 5 figure budget for your gear kit, something like that should be in your bag. The good news for the lanscape photographer is that prime lenses from the late 80s and 90s work very well at a fraction of the cost of these new high end lenses.


GH-Dave wrote: How much tweaking of settings do you do to get those beautiful shots?


Not sure if my shots qualify, but I rarely do much tweaking at all. I may bracket a little if the light is challenging, or fire a fill flash in a people scene. If the image is important, I'll actually make sure I use a safe shutter speed, possibly even check the histogram (since the LCD doesn't really show how well you exposed highlights or darks). I'm sure I' do a lot more if I was out there for the sake of the photos. A tripod would be the first thing I'd use for every shot just to get that stability thing perfect. I also bring a small infrared remote to allow for shutter release without touching the body (flip up mirror, then release).

GH-Dave wrote: Does one have to use a tripod?


No, but it helps with low light and long lens shots, plus you can use it for HDR (if so inclined), and with a proper head for panorama shots that line up better than hand-held. Night timed exposures, ND-filter waterfall shots, self portraits when hiking solo, etc. I have a super light custom tripod made from a few old tent poles and a mini table top tripod, but for anything serious with big bodies and glass, you will need to spend some real money here to have a solid set of legs without a lot of weight (Gitzo carbon)

GH-Dave wrote:
Will the 18-55mm lens that comes with the camera be adequate, or should I invest in a zoom lens if my older ones aren't compatible?


I used the Nikon 18-55 VR lens for most of my shots this summer. Not the greatest lens, but light and surpringly sharp for it's price. See comments about expensive lenses above - there's a difference with the good pro glass, but it is also the area where the budget becomes an issue. Perhaps a single prime lens in addition to a zoom, somewhere in your preferred focal range, bought used as a manual focus lens will give you that extra crisp punch on some images when you have time to set up and focus, zoom check detail, shoot again, etc - all a matter of how to get the most out of your gear without spending big.

Other notes - I don't bring a camera bag at all - not having a $2500 body on my strap means I don't worry about damaging it, and I have it ready to shoot at all times. I've carried bodies over the entire Muir Trail and there's barely a scratch on any of them. When it rains, I put a platic bag over it or stuff it in the backpack. Put some gaffer tape on the areas that may get scratched and just use the thing. I also carry a battery grip for the body so I can use AA batteries for power - much cheaper and easier to resupply than the default rechargeable batteries. Only matters on long trips, though.
User avatar
fishmonger
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 945
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Madison, WI
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby GH-Dave » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:45 am

Hi Fishmonger,

Thank you for the detailed answers. I appreciate the time and effort you put into writing them.

For me right now the main thing is budget. I can't justify spending any more than the initial cost of the new camera. So, I'm stuck with the basic kit lens that comes with it.

I'm thinking that it might not be such a bad thing, though. It will force me to really learn the camera and to focus on taking better shots with existing equipment, rather than relying on some newer and better equipment to take different kinds of shots, but not necessarily better shots. Know what I mean?

I do have a cheap, but lightweight and usable, tripod. I figure I should get at least a polarizing lens and a remote shutter release to start. But, that will be about it for awhile.

Thanks again for your input.

Dave
User avatar
GH-Dave
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:24 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby mountaineer » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:23 pm

This thread is hilarious. Reminds me of years ago when a certain photographer on this forum criticized the lighting in my photographs and then posted his photos saying he chooses to photograph in the middle of the day. All the photos looked the same and with the sun directly overhead I didn't see too much special about his work. I think he must be a disgruntled, starving photographer. :)

Anyway, here are a couple I took about ten days ago on the east side.

Image
Image
Image

Sigma SD-14(Can't wait for the SD-1 to be released)
User avatar
mountaineer
Founding Member
 
Posts: 651
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2005 8:35 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby mokelumnekid » Mon Oct 25, 2010 11:29 pm

It would be exciting and interesting to see what you all might pursue beyond the concepts of "pretty," "beautiful" or "Biblical dramatic." Of course I'm not talking about what sells- eye-candy sells, and I understand the reality of the marketplace requires one feature that in their portfolio. Fair enough. I'm talking about concept-in-art. The human form in the landscape (but not in the service of 'pretty'), the unique geometrical aspects of the micro-to-macro scale, from the juxtaposition of the granular to the massive, etc. Photography of mountaineering and rock climbing is well down this road, but I can imagine that one doesn't even need those elements or an obvious back story to capture a sense of drama, a sense of place uniquely in the alpine setting that isn't conditioned on having clouds make pretty reflections on yonder lake.

Might this reduce the inherent tension in values that arises between what seems to be a literal interpretation of a landscape but that has been, for whatever reason, subject to various levels of conditioning? I'm not trying to go all Susan Sontag here- only thinking about what all the experience and effort in this forum might produce in service to a different set of inspirations/objectives. Show us the Sierra with a new set of eyes and visual cues. Tell us a story that in the immutable way of good art, calls out something universal but still distinctly Sierra Nevada.

Everyone here shares a fantastic passion and a wide experience. It would be kind of fun to have a 'show' on this forum of work that transmits a sense of authenticity and a certain Sierra something, but specifically not in the service landscape romanticism.
User avatar
mokelumnekid
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 446
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:45 pm
Location: Seattle
Experience: N/A

PreviousNext

Return to High Sierra Photography / Videography



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests