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  • Things we're noticing while screening

    Greetings,

    Lately, we've been noticing an increase in the number of photos coming through the queue that show excessive use of the shadow/highlight tool, as well as an increase in generally mis-sharpened photos. We believe that one of the reasons for these kinds of processing errors is the increase in availability of online workflows. When using these workflows, it is important to understand that they are intended as a reference guide only, they shouldn't be followed exactly for every photo, because every photo is different.

    Let me show some examples of bad processing edits that I've done to a photo. The properly-processed version can be found here:

    [photoid=5771228]

    Firstly, let me adress the shadow highlight issue. To demonstrate what too much shadow/highlight looks like, here is an example:

    http://www.rockymountainavphotos.com...whighlight.jpg

    As you can see, overall the photo has a nice contrast and the colors are generally acceptable, but don't be fooled by that, because what immediately pops out at us when screening is the noise in the empty areas of the photo, and the halos that surround the aircraft, particularly around the undercarriage and the dark halo across the top of the fuselage. It is important to understand that a properly exposed and properly lit photo should not need any shadow/highlight adjustment, normal post processing will yield the same colors, contrast, and exposure results without the excess noise and halo effects.

    Another thing that's come up is the improper use of selective sharpening, here is an example of that: http://www.rockymountainavphotos.com...badsharpen.jpg

    Overall, the photo has an odd noise artifact in the empty areas where the sharpening algorithm has picked up on things like hot pixels or pixels just noisy enough to set them apart as an edge to be sharpened, as well as halos and jaggies around certain spots of the photo, whereas other spots appear quite soft by comparison. Things like this appear when improper selective sharpening techniques are applied, for example being too agressive with the USM between layers, such that when a spot becomes oversharpened, it's very difficult to find the medium by erasing away the top layer because the bottom layer is much too soft by comparison (note the cheatlines and the United logo).

    We've been noticing problems like these with increasing frequency most likely due to the increasing availability of online photoshop guides. It must be noted that these are for instructional purposes only, if your photo doesn't need shadow/highlight or aggressive sharpening or similar effects, you don't have to use them in order for the photo to be acceptable, because as you can see the photo I used in this example was perfectly acceptable on its own.

    Thanks for your time reading this and good luck with your uploads!



  • #2
    Well done Eric.

    Possibly one of the most useful threads seen here for a while. I acquired PS CS2 and, before using it, was chatting to Jid Webb at Heathrow about the shadow highlight tool and its use. He warned me then about the pitfalls of using it....what happened.....right into the pit I went, up to my neck. Lesson learnt.

    I have a personal saying..."If it 'aint broken, don't mend it !"

    The same applies to some pics. If they don't need a processing procedure, don't use it.
    If it 'ain't broken........ Don't try to mend it !

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    • #3
      Another thing that has increased imho is the wrong use of the airport overview category. It is not to be used, when you have aterminal building or something like that in the background of a plane. It is only to be used if the airport and/or its buildings itslef are the main subject of the photo.

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      • #4
        Interesting observations. I too have been bit by improper use of the Shadow/Highlights tool and now I hardly use it preferring to use curves to lift the shadows.

        However, I am mindful of the danger of trading contrast for an unnaturally well lit under surface.

        As with everything use in moderation.
        Wallace

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        • #5
          When I got PS CS, I of course started using this shadow/highlight tool. It gave unknown possibilities. Unfortunately, I also noticed the disadvantages of this tool. Nowadays, I almost never use the shadow/highlight tool anymore. In 99.99% of my photos, I simply can adjust the contrast by adjusting the curves. It's just a matter of getting used to.

          Gerardo
          My photos on Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/geridominguez

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by LX-A343
            simply can adjust the contrast by adjusting the curves. It's just a matter of getting used to.
            That's the deal. I include myself as an amateur for curves management

            I use many times the Shadows and Highlights tool, because the interface is quite easier than the curves one.

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            • #7
              It's easier, but the results can be awful. I have more control with the curves.

              Gerardo
              My photos on Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/geridominguez

              Comment


              • #8
                And if you use Adobe's Lightroom, curves get a LOT easier to manage. As you don't have to edit the curve it self, you can use just a few sliders to make changes. Just as effective but much easier to learn. With a couple of months Lightroom usage, I've learned a whole lot more about using curves for adjusting photos.
                http://ovp.fi

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by E-Diddy!
                  Things like this appear when improper selective sharpening techniques are applied, for example being too agressive with the USM between layers, such that when a spot becomes oversharpened, it's very difficult to find the medium by erasing away the top layer because the bottom layer is much too soft by comparison (note the cheatlines and the United logo).
                  You probably know this already but it is possible to vary the opacity of the eraser. These days I sharpen on a single layer until the aircraft looks sharp enough overall, ignoring jaggies. Then I go to work on the jaggies with the eraser opacity varying according to need (usually between 25 and 75 per cent or thereabouts). This saves lots of time compared to applying passes of USM one layer at a time.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kukkudrill
                    You probably know this already but it is possible to vary the opacity of the eraser. These days I sharpen on a single layer until the aircraft looks sharp enough overall, ignoring jaggies. Then I go to work on the jaggies with the eraser opacity varying according to need (usually between 25 and 75 per cent or thereabouts). This saves lots of time compared to applying passes of USM one layer at a time.
                    Indeed opacity is adjustable, and the way you describe it sounds like you have a solid technique. Basically I have my sharpening all done with an action, I do all my edits at full size (contrast/color/saturation/dust/levelling) and then after I crop the photo I hit the run button on the action, it resizes the image to 1200x wide, then duplicates the background layer and applies USM at 250/.2/0, then repeats the process 2 more times. All that's left is to erase the jaggies through the layers until none appear, and because my settings are quite conservative, I don't need to worry about the eraser opacity.


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                    • #11
                      Curves Tutorial

                      The best tutorial on curves that I have seen lately is this one. http://www.thegoldenmean.com/technique/curves1.html
                      There are other useful tutorials on this site although navigation is not as straightforward as it should be.

                      I bought a UK photo magazine recently, Digital Photo, in it is a tutorial for selectively adjusting whole areas of your picture using curves. Works reasonably well with mono but a bit problematic with colour stuff - so far.

                      As for jaggies, I would recommend selectively sharpening. http://www.ophrysphotography.co.uk/p...sharpening.htm

                      Layers is the way to go with difficult photos as it is non destructive to the original.
                      Wallace

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wwshack
                        The best tutorial on curves that I have seen lately is this one. http://www.thegoldenmean.com/technique/curves1.html
                        There are other useful tutorials on this site although navigation is not as straightforward as it should be.
                        Got to admit, that was one of the funniest intros I've ever read:
                        Letís clear up some misconceptions right away:
                        • Curves are not a filter
                        • Curves are not hard to understand
                        • Mastering Curves will make you dramatically more productive
                        • Curves will not make you more attractive to the opposite sex
                        Nevertheless, a very useful explanation.

                        Originally posted by wwshack
                        As for jaggies, I would recommend selectively sharpening. http://www.ophrysphotography.co.uk/p...sharpening.htm

                        Layers is the way to go with difficult photos as it is non destructive to the original.
                        I put most of it into an action, which makes editing almost as easy as applying sharpening on the whole photo.

                        Thanks for the links!

                        Gerardo
                        My photos on Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/geridominguez

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