Layers, Blend Modes, and the digital darkroom

Forums Forums Get Technical In the darkroom Layers, Blend Modes, and the digital darkroom

This topic contains 47 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Curious 8 years, 10 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 48 total)
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  • #36312

    ravnostic
    Participant

    I also cropped it slightly and killed a dust speck or two….

    You missed the pigeon poo in the position 1 o’clock window piece, and I think that’s a couple making out up there in the tiers.

    //Wow. Nice work.

    #36313

    ennuipoet
    Participant

    I also cropped it slightly and killed a dust speck or two….

    You win for closest to the actual scene (as I recall) the hard part is hitting the particular blue of sky behind the tower. The church is made from a very pale stone, here is a daylight shot from a different photostream:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/broccoli/102940829/

    So, it really takes on the hue of the light shining on it, so the red of the tower in the HDR is not terribly exaggerated.

    #36314

    chupathingie
    Participant

    So, it really takes on the hue of the light shining on it, so the red of the tower in the HDR is not terribly exaggerated.

    That’s been my issue with HDR. Sometimes I really think the image benefits from exaggerated tonemapping, and that’s what so many people think HDR is. Current technology defines HDR as multi-exposure imaging, so as far as my opinion goes should be out unless defined as part of the theme.

    Tonemapping is a different animal, though, and what the general public seems to think of as HDR (Silverstag got me thinking about this). Tonemapping and HDR are separate entities. HDR requires bracketed exposures, and relies on tonemapping only to kill the washout when trying to view the image; while tonemapping requires simply an image.

    I love tonemapping, it’s usually part of my processing for any image I’m serious about toying with. It’s usually subtle, if it pushes over into the surreal I back off. Different algorithms have different effects (and controls). In single 12 or 14 bit RAWS, shooting to keep the sky inside the histogram usually means you can drag a couple few stops out of the shadows with some gentle tonemapping.

    My one gripe with my drooled-over-and-saved-for dslr is that it only brackets 2 stops either way, so I have basically 9 stops on auto, and maybe 3 additional on the low end via processing.

    But back to tonemapping. I don’t think there’s an analog equivalent to it (would love to be proved wrong, tho), so it’s also out IMO. It seems to be a dividing line between film and digital.

    So I’m with inclusion of layers in general, provided there’s a not-insanely-difficult analog; I’d have no objection to Silverstag’s PS treatment as shown here…

    On the flipside, I also have no ethical objection to recovery of data in an image. Digital allows for tools without an analog equivalent, and eventually will be accepted as “photography”.

    I think I prefer the contests to default to “simple” photography with global analog-equivalent PS or the like (aside from local dodge/burn in conjunction with analogs). It keeps the challenge level up to those with an eye for composition and scene and allows for some digital darkroom action.

    /loves me some Ansel Adams
    //knows that his negatives were only half the picture

    #36315

    Curious
    Participant

    I think I prefer the contests to default to “simple” photography with global analog-equivalent PS or the like (aside from local dodge/burn in conjunction with analogs). It keeps the challenge level up to those with an eye for composition and scene and allows for some digital darkroom action.

    i’m with except IIRC selective dodge/burn is a spot treatment and against the rules.

    #36316

    Elsinore
    Keymaster

    That was changed in the 2008 rules overhaul. Spot dodging and burning were allowed then because it’s an accepted dark room technique for film, and the way the rules were previously written didn’t allow it even for film. There was a very long discussion about all of this stuff then, and for anyone with a serious case of boredom or too much time on their hands, the thread should still be on the Pub board. The rules as they stand now allow light retouching (a pimple or stray hair) but do not allow large scale removal or addition of compositional elements or textures via cloning or similar tools. And of course, no stacking of exposures either digitally or with negatives, which is where HDR comes in.

    I’m really not sure how I feel about tone mapping. chupathingie raises good points about HDR and tone mapping being separate beasts. I’ve seen folks who tone map a lot of their stuff without it being HDR, and it often looks crunchy and overdone like the bad end of the HDR continuum. I’m not familiar enough with what tone mapping is doing under the hood to really know whether it should be allowed under current rules or not, but in general, it seems like far more post-processing than the spirit of the rules get at (if not the letter of the law). I do like the idea of analogues between film and digital being allowed, and I think ultimately that’s closer to the spirit of Farktography .

    #36317

    ennuipoet
    Participant

    I’m not familiar enough with what tone mapping is doing under the hood to really know whether it should be allowed under current rules or not,

    From Wikipedia: Forms of tone mapping long precede digital photography. The manipulation of film and development process to render high contrast scenes, especially those shot in bright sunlight, on printing paper with a relatively low dynamic range, is effectively a form of tone mapping, although it is not usually called that. Local adjustment of tonality in film processing is primarily done via dodging and burning, and is particularly advocated by and associated with Ansel Adams, as described in his book The Print; see also his Zone System.

    The normal process of exposure compensation, brightening shadows and altering contrast applied globally to digital images as part of a professional or serious amateur workflow is also a form of tone mapping.

    What does that break down to? Well, if we say “no tonemapping” then we should leave all shots as shot, no tweaking in post. I don’t know about you guys, but I tweak almost EVERY shot in post for saturation and contrast. These adjustments are usually very minimal and are aimed toward what I consider my “artistic style”, I like a vibrant constrasty image.

    This image is tonemapped in Photomatix Pro:

    to “pop” the reflection in the water. I used it for Reflections 2. It was a single exposure and I did the tonemapping long before the contest so I felt I was within the spirit and the letter of rules. The original shot was little flat because of the time of day it was shot, the enhancements were minimal but really made the shot.

    To tell the truth, there is no easy answer to this question. I personally feel that judicious use of software enhancement is exactly the same as judicious use of advanced darkroom techniques. It also purely a personal opinion that many photographers are so anti-software enhancement because anyone can do it without years of training in the darkroom. I know the technique I learned year ago barely brush the edges of dodging, burning, stacking and other methods for accomplishing what I can do in PShop and Photomatix is a matter of minutes. (I feel much the same about the new “in camera” HDR, it takes all the time I’ve spent learning the software and renders it moot.) The idea is to take a good photograph and make it a great photograph. No amount of technical wizardry can take a crappy photograph and make it a good one.

    #36318

    Elsinore
    Keymaster

    But Wikipedia also says from the start “Tone mapping is a technique used in image processing and computer graphics to map one set of colors to another, often to approximate the appearance of high dynamic range images in a medium that has a more limited dynamic range.”

    So what makes something “tone mapping” as opposed to merely adjusting contrast and exposure compensation? Because there’s obviously a lot more to tone mapping than merely contrast/exposure compensation.

    #36319

    sleeping
    Participant

    So what makes something “tone mapping” as opposed to merely adjusting contrast and exposure compensation? Because there’s obviously a lot more to tone mapping than merely contrast/exposure compensation.

    Standard brightness controls will preserve the existing relationship of light and dark tones in an image. Tone mapping won’t – it’s basically increasing local contrast by (more or less) lightening the brightest parts of shadow areas and darkening the darkest parts of highlight areas.

    It’s also why so many HDR images wind up looking so flat – if done to excess it increases local contrast so drastically it destroys most of the contrast between highlight and shadow in the composition overall….

    #36320

    Curious
    Participant

    Elsinore i need to get the new rules printed and scotch taped to my monitor since i seem to forget them 🙂

    i guess that at the end of the day i can go along with adjusting/tweaking beyond what i consider fair because the great god ansel did it and the results speak for themselves. but what i’d really like is contests that are judged on a person’s creative and composition skills. not their skill with photoshop or other tools. ennuipoet said: “I personally feel that judicious use of software enhancement is exactly the same as judicious use of advanced darkroom techniques.” now i agree with that but my point is that the vast majority of our entrants don’t have advanced darkroom technique skills. or their digital equivalents.

    olavf‘s winning entry last week may or may not have been tweaked but even straight from the camera if had good visual impact. nice composition, lighting — well you all know what constitutes a good photo. that’s an example of what i would like to see.

    i will now get off my soapbox, put away the cudgel and let this poor equine rest in peace.

    #36321

    Elsinore
    Keymaster

    i guess that at the end of the day i can go along with adjusting/tweaking beyond what i consider fair because the great god ansel did it and the results speak for themselves. but what i’d really like is contests that are judged on a person’s creative and composition skills. not their skill with photoshop or other tools. ennuipoet said: “I personally feel that judicious use of software enhancement is exactly the same as judicious use of advanced darkroom techniques.” now i agree with that but my point is that the vast majority of our entrants don’t have advanced darkroom technique skills. or their digital equivalents.

    That’s really always been what I see as the spirit and intent of Farktography.

    #36322

    SilverStag
    Participant

    You don’t need HDR if you’re patient:


    Tenth Street Bridge by pjern, on Flickr

    This was the result of being there at the right time of day with the right kind of weather. I don’t think you could cram much more dynamic range into an image without using HDR: There is a very small cluster of blown-out white pixels in the upper left of the sky, and a very few pixels at #000000.

    The only adjustments to this image is a curves layer to redistribute some of the midtone values and a very small contrast boost.

    #36323

    orionid
    Participant

    I’m more or less leaning with the if it’s got an analog, it’s okay approach, but once I started learning HDR and tonemapping I started using them for personal non-farktography photos under the “hey, I’ve got some neat new tricks to add to my bag” guise. I did a proof of concept with myself on RAW processing, and started a thread about it somewhere in the forum, but here’s the gist.


    Proof of concepts by Orionid, on Flickr

    Top Left:
    As-shot jpg copy of RAW
    Top Right:
    “Best effort” with curves/bright/contrast/sat/etc in PS CS4
    Bottom Left:
    Tone-mapped psuedo-HDR from RAW with Photomatix.
    Bottom Right:
    Detail enhanced from RAW with Topaz Adjust.


    Proof of concepts by Orionid, on Flickr

    Top Left:
    As-shot jpg copy of RAW
    Top Right:
    “Best effort” with curves/bright/contrast/sat/etc in PS CS4
    Bottom Left:
    Tone-mapped psuedo-HDR from RAW with Photomatix.
    Bottom Right:
    Detail enhanced from RAW with Topaz Adjust.


    9777_tonemapped_light by Orionid, on Flickr


    9777_tonemapped_moderate by Orionid, on Flickr


    9777_tonemapped_heavy by Orionid, on Flickr

    So, as a whole, I can see light tonemapping being acceptable for farktography, but as Elsinore pointed out on a flickr comment, it would be nearly impossible to police “some tonemapping is okay, but not alot.” Conversely, I have noticed more recently that when I have tonemapping available, I use curves and contrast less abusively:


    Untitled_Panorama1a by Orionid, on Flickr (HDR / Tonemapped with Photomatix)


    Untitled_Panorama2 by Orionid, on Flickr (Not HDR or Tonemapped, “normal” PS adjustments only)

    But when I know curves are kosher but tonemapping is not, where I used to just tweak the “S” for contrast with two, maybe three points on the main curve, now I go through with much more detail, setting 10 or 12 points on each channel.


    Manana! by Orionid, on Flickr

    So which is worse, using a learned digital skillset, or using a program that anyone can use to achieve similar effects?

    /can, worms, etc.

    #36324

    orionid
    Participant

    You don’t need HDR if you’re patient:


    Tenth Street Bridge by pjern, on Flickr

    This was the result of being there at the right time of day with the right kind of weather. I don’t think you could cram much more dynamic range into an image without using HDR: There is a very small cluster of blown-out white pixels in the upper left of the sky, and a very few pixels at #000000.

    The only adjustments to this image is a curves layer to redistribute some of the midtone values and a very small contrast boost.

    At the same time, I look at that photo, and I see lots of neat detail in the clouds in the reflection that are washed out in the sky with maybe a half-stop to 2/3’s stop between them. My first hunch leans me towards a second exposure with a 1-stop grad filter. My second hunch leans me to your ealier demonstration of a multiply layer. My third hunch (and the easiest for me) would be a light tonemapping to really make the image “pop.”

    #36325

    ennuipoet
    Participant

    I second (or forty second) the basic idea that Farktography is about the content and composition skills first and foremost. I completely advocate the existing rules regarding digital tweaks and techniques. My advocacy of HDR is purely about defending what I considered to be a misunderstood technique by both is practitioners and detractors. A good photograph should stand entirely on it’s content and composition! Enhancements should the icing, not the cake! 😀

    #36326

    linguine
    Participant

    Alright, so I missed when this discussion started and am trying to catch up and make sure I understand everything thats going on and I keep going back and forth between this seems too much like hdr vs its similar to whats allowed and is more of just a different process of to the same end.

    On the surface what SilverStag seems a lot like the pseudo-hdr images I remember people making in linux the first time we did an hdr contest when there weren’t many(any?) good hdr/tonemapping options for linux. In these pseudo hdr images you would take multiple exposures or change the exposure of a single raw image like an hdr image but instead of tonemapping you would open the exposures in different layers and play with opacity levels and erase portions from layers that aren’t exposed well so that you finish with just the properly exposed sections visible. While this is a different process from dodging and burning jpgs in photoshop as different layers and then combining them to just show the properly exposed area seems like its pretty similar in terms of the outcome and what was done to the original photo, which makes me think its awfully similar to hdr.

    But on the flip side just burning and dodging portions of the photo on a single layer would be allowed even though the end result would be pretty much the same as burning on one layer, dodging on another and then combing the two. So I guess what I’m wondering is am I reasonably close to what you did or am I completely missing something?

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