Is sharpening necessary for landscape work?

Discussion in 'Nature' started by jkaufman, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. Greetings All,
    Is sharpening necessary for landscape work? I realize this may strike many as a rather amateur question, but it is one I am currently debating. My shooting ethos is to do my work behind the lens, instead of at the computer. This is not a judgment, merely a preference. For me, the challenge of the photographic endeavor is to expose and compose in the field and otherwise not manipulate the image. Toward this end, the only "manipulator" I used in any part of my workflow is a graduated ND filter (although I am still exploring its possibilities). Beyond the automatic in-camera sharpening that compensates for the weaknesses of the Bayer array, is postprocess sharpening necessary to bring the image into alignment with what was actually witnessed? Alternatively, is it merely one of the many available methods to enhance an image?
     
  2. you can not possibly produce the best images without some post processing, this may, and most likely will, include some sharpening. It is not wise to think that the image captured on the sensor is as good as it gets, or even representative of what you saw. As for how much sharping, it's up to you and your style but it is most often necessary.

    You might do yourself a favor and read up on the digital process, and as I like to call it, "the digital system." There are so many parts to capturing an image these days that any one of them can and often will change the out put. At the end of the day, it's all digital and it's all up to you to decide what to do with the data once you capture it. . .

    Tony
     
  3. lwg

    lwg

    Without knowing all the parameters in your work flow I can't say. But if you shoot raw on a Nikon body you will want to apply some sharpening to get the best quality. Having said that I think many people way over sharpen. I generally apply very little sharpening to my images. You should certainly never see a sharpening artifact.
     
  4. What's so magic about the camera? Why can it apply what degree of sharpening it thinks is appropriate (or some Canon engineer thought was appropriate), while if you use your judgement you're "cheating"?

    You can set artifical limits on yourself if you like doing things the hard way, but there's no virtue in it. Every great landscape photographer did some post exposure processing, whether it was Ansel Adams in the darkroom while printing or some current photographer in Photoshop.
     
  5. What Bob wrote.
    “Unmanipulated” simply means following a particular old recipe that some people decided a long time ago was the One True Recipe™. Following that recipe is the exact logical equivalence of refusing to shoot in anything other than full-auto program mode: all you’re doing is letting either the camera or the recipe make all the creative decisions.
    If you like the results, then great — whatever makes you (and your audience / clientele) happy, go for it. It might even be an effective marketing gimmick.
    But don’t delude yourself into thinking that there’s any sort of purity involved or that it’s somehow more representative of reality. In the end, it’s still just a small piece of paper with an arrangement of very small blobs of pigment, about as far as one can get from the original four-dimensional scene as one can get.
    Cheers,
    b&
     
  6. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    If you consider that your work is sufficiently sharp for your purposes without sharpening, then don't sharpen it.
    Most people of course would not make the same decision as you, and will sharpen at two or three stages in the journey to finished images. They will all have sharper photographs than you, and they ( if not you) would tend to regard your work as less sharp than they'd like. If that doesn't concern you , don't sharpen it.
    We can if you want go on to consider the same issue about curves and saturation, and other post processing tools. If you think that you can, by taking care, replicate what you saw closely without any post processing , then I fear you will be doomed to constant disappointment. A raw image doesn't look "real". But then of course you will have been disappointed all along, because film and the process of converting film to prints most often represents a visible departure from "reality" and indeed one has to ask quite how anyone can remember exactly what that reality in fact looked like by the time you get your pictures processed. You may think you've been occupying the territory of realism. In fact you've been living in the land of plausibility. You can if you wish do the same thing with digital.
     
  7. If you want to do all your work behind the lens with nothing altering what you captured...
    ... you are setting an impossible goal for yourself, one that will likely hamper your photographic vision, and one that is out of step with photography as an art historically. It would also be worth thinking about the difference between seeing an actual scene and viewing it as pigment on paper - it cannot, by definition, possibly be a perfect recreation of the original thing.
    There is a lot of misleading stuff written about "doing it all in the camera" and so forth and it often creates a false and misleading set of expectations among photographers. I've actually seen people essentially make that argument that "I don't like digital because if makes a false image. I prefer to shoot real images like Ansel Adams (or fill in your favorite name) did." The problem is that photographers like Adams were emphatic and open about the role of pre- and post-processing in achieving their vision.
    As to sharpening, why in the world would you not do it? All it does is more clearly reveal the picture data that is already present in your RAW file. (And don't hold any romantic notions about the "picture" that the sensor captures - what it captures is numerical values corresponding to luminosity levels at photosites, and these are then converted into something that you regard as a photograph... according to someone else's notions of how to best interpret these data.) It isn't a phony or artificial thing to sharpen, and you cannot get an optimally sharp RAW capture image without sharpening.
    To eschew sharpening is roughly equivalent to a person with slightly bad vision deciding to not wear corrective lenses since the corrected image "would not be what my eyes recorded."
    There is much, much more to say about this... but I may have already worn out my welcome on this topic.
    Dan
     
  8. From a slightly different perspective, while the image in it's native size may please you as sharp enough, as soon as you do any reduction or compression there is a need to sharpen the image to some degree, in order regain detail lost on those processes. "Regain detail" is probably a poor choice of words, but crispness and edge detail is lost to some degree when reduction or compression occurs and light sharpening can restore that crisp look.
     
  9. If you decide you like "Pictorial" results you may even want to blur things rather than sharpen. Of course, what I'm saying is that it depends on what you want the final thing to look like.
    Sharpening is the "rouge" of photography: if it shows, there's too much of it.
    Be especially aware that sharpening at smaller sizes may become glaringly obvious at full size in a print or even web image. I've seen some results posted in portfolios and the like where it's all too obvious that it is "mutton dressed as lamb" as they used to say about makeup.
     
  10. Greetings All,
    There is here a strong argument for sharpening, one I can accept. There is perhaps a certain implicit vitriol in some of the comments, but I appreciate your many and nearly immediate responses to my query.
     
  11. Hi Jason: Sharpening, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It really depends on the results you are trying to achieve. Having said that, pretty much any digital capture is going to require some post processing sharpening, unless you are going for that soft focus/dream look. But I would be very cautious with sharpening. It doesn't take much to turn a nice image into a pixalated mess. Photo shop does a pretty good job with its unsharp mask - try it using the sliders. But look at all of your sharpening at 100% - that way you will pick up on pixelation, noise, etc. that oversharpeing can create. If you plan on selling your work, or are looking at making fairly large prints, this is where it will show up. Also, consider SELECTIVE sharpening. Your whole image may not require it, especially if you want to set off one subject within the frame. If you have the $$, consider a PS plug-in, like Pixelgenius PhotoTools sharpener or nik Software Sharpener Pro3. Both do a better job, IMHO, than PS and have excellent application tools to allow you to selectively sharpen. I currently have all three "sharpeners" but find I use PixelGenius almost exclusively.
     
  12. stp

    stp

    If you use film and have a lab do an R-print, there is no need to sharpen. If you use a digital camera or scan film, most of your images will need some degree of sharpening to look their best (noting, however, that sometimes you may want a more diffuse rendering for a particular subject, but that is the exception). In the digital world, I don't consider "sharpening" to be a compromise on your standard of doing the photographic work with a camera rather than with a computer.
     
  13. i for one hate the idea of pping an image. i just do not like the idea of sitting at a pc and fixing an image that should have been shot right in the field. but there is one item i do to all images in the pc and that is sharpen it. the abilities of csx or pse are far better than what is in the camera. so why not use them. the image has to sharpened at some point anyway due to the loss of sharpness that is part of the digital process.
    my normal pp workflow is to do whatever touchup the pic needs and i wish then sharpen it and save as. on many pics the touchup is not needed/done, but all images get sharpened. i find myself using a ps plugin for my sharpening. that plugin is Focus Magic, it works very well. there are other software that does the same thing. one item i wish to mention, and that is to me you should never sharpen to a final amount in the camera. the reason is that if you do and pp later and sharpen some more in the pc then you could oversharpen and get bad artifacts from over sharpening. for this reason the sharpening in my 2 dslrs are both set to give a VERY minamal amount of sharpening, knowing the final amount will be done later.
     
  14. I sometimes sharpen/auto contrast and always set white balance. The color in your photos will never look right without proper white balance. A lot of folks set WB in the field, I set camera on auto and post process. I will look at all photos anyway to get the keepers and it only takes a couple seconds to set white balance and auto contrast.
    Jason can you show us some of your work without any PP?
     
  15. Just for fun - an outline of how I apply sharpening:
    http://www.gdanmitchell.com/2009/10/15/how-i-sharpen-a-quick-overview
    Dan
     
  16. There is perhaps a certain implicit vitriol in some of the comments​
    None more than in the opening post :) You didn't just ask a question about sharpening, you went into the old and tired "i am ignorant and i let my camera process my photos, if you do it yourself on Lightroom you are not a true photographer", which is exactly as stupid as it sounds. Unless you store your RAW files away and never look at the photos on a screen of any kind, in which case no post-processing is involved and i stand corrected.
    Create good photos however it suits you, and everyone will do the same.
     
  17. I ditto what G Dan Mitchell says above. I started shooting landscapes in the 1970's with a 4x5 camera. http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=253029
    I used the Ansel Adams zone system of exposure and development which is itself a manipulation of the process to capture the brightness range in such a way that the much more limited print paper can represent it. Dodging and burning when making the print were also pretty expected in order to create a print that matches the visualization of how I wanted the finished print to look. I sometimes used a yellow filter to render the sky darker and the clouds more dramatic. Adams used many types of colored filters himself to dramatize a scene. Black and white film by nature does not accurately represent all the colors and manipulation is used to create a satisfactory final printed image.
    Now, using a DSLR for a landscape I have used two different exposures of the same scene and blended them in photoshop to accurately capture the dynamic range of the actual scene, which sometimes is much wider than the digital sensor can capture. The resulting image looks "normal" and not "manipulated." Here's an example: http://www.photo.net/photo/4433463&size=lg
    I've even shot several shots horizontally and stitched them together for a panorama. http://www.photo.net/photo/4377567&size=lg In that case I "visualized" a panorama and shot a series of overlapping images in order to create what I was visualizing.
    Sharpening for me depends on the printed size of the image. Typically I print at 300ppi and for a D80 gives a 8.6 by 12.9 inch print without resizing the pixels. At that size a small amount of sharpening can be useful in a landscape, which has many small details which can be soft from the inherent design of the camera's sensor.
    The short answer is: use the tools you have to produce what you are visualizing in your head of what the finished print/image should look like. Adams said this over and over again.
     
  18. Jason
    Unless you remember to turn off sharpening in the camera, you are going to get what the engineers who designed your camera thought would be about the right amount of sharpening in the default case. Just the physics of creating a digital image from a real life scene creates a softening of all the distinct edges in the image among other things. Therefore, to get back to a theoretical representation of what you saw through the camera some degree of sharpening would be required. However, as noted above, the process of creating a digital image involves all kinds of processing steps (e.g the algorithm that samples multiple photosites and combines them to create pixels, etc, etc) so the degree of final sharpening is usually left to the photographer. Images where there is absolutely no sharpening are not very attractive and not terribly representative of anything - certainly not "what you saw".
     
  19. Jason
    Unless you remember to turn off sharpening in the camera, you are going to get what the engineers who designed your camera thought would be about the right amount of sharpening in the default case. Just the physics of creating a digital image from a real life scene creates a softening of all the distinct edges in the image among other things. Therefore, to get back to a theoretical representation of what you saw through the camera some degree of sharpening would be required. However, as noted above, the process of creating a digital image involves all kinds of processing steps (e.g the algorithm that samples multiple photosites and combines them to create pixels, etc, etc) so the degree of final sharpening is usually left to the photographer. Images where there is absolutely no sharpening are not very attractive and not terribly representative of anything - certainly not "what you saw".
     
  20. Indeed, I did not realize until reading the earlier posts in this thread and checking the data on m 450D that shooting in the Neutral picture style essentially turned off sharpening within the camera. This was an intentional choice when I began using the camera, but I did not realize it necessitated the postprocessing later in the workflow. I have begun experimenting with sharpening in DPP, and while I would not say the difference is remarkable moving from RAW to sharpened TIFF, there is no doubt that the sharpening gives my photos greater punch.
    At present, my interest is in posting my work online via Picasa (I am still playing with the notion of moving everything to Photo.net or my own URL). Is it advisable to convert the RAWs to JPEGs, and then do the sharpening in the JPEGs? This seems to be what I have been reading on Photo.net and elsewhere.
     
  21. You also want to think about the fact that your output medium can dictate how much sharpening you need to give any image. An image shown on a computer screen will need less sharpening than a print. Sharpening really isn't one size fits all
     
  22. Do you "expose to the right" and then adjust brightness in pp? If not, you're not taking full advantage of your digital sensor. This is not like using transparency film in a film camera. If you don't treat it differently you'll lose dynamic range and detail.
    For the most critical images you're generally best off to turn off internal NR and sharpening in the camera and instead do it to taste in pp. You can look at your image 100% to avoid going overboard. For the very best IQ you'll want a tripod, mirror lockup and the full dynamic range of your camera. The ND can be handy, but if the camera has enough dynamic range, adjusting an too bright sky will be better done in pp rather than with ND because the ND is unlikley to match the any but the staightest horizon.
     
  23. jason k- you want to do the sharpening as the last step BEFORE you save as. make sure all other pp steps are done first. and if you do a noise reduction software THAT is the step before the sharpening. if you are going from raw to tiff OR jpeg then you want to do the sharpening to the tiff or the jpeg since that is your final image. again the sharpening is the last item you do do before the save as.
    if you really do not want to mess with sharpening in the pc, consider getting/using photoshop elelments 8($99, unless you can get it on a sale) and simply doing AUTO SHARPEN. this is one of the items in the enhance tab. it does a very good job without any fuss.
     
  24. Gary, that used to be the standard advice but it is now dated. In Photoshop you can (and I do) accomplish sharpening in smart layers. Unlike the old "hard sharpening" that could not be undone or modified, this sharpening can be turned off/on and modified at any time.
    I posted a link to my basic process earlier in this thread. The (very) short story is that I typically apply a "smart sharpen" and a USM layer as smart layers and save them in the Photoshop file. When I print or save to jpg I make a copy of this image, flatten it, and apply one-time sharpening for the target image.
    Dan
     
  25. Jason,
    It sounds like you stirred up a few hornet's nests, with this simple question ! : )
    Why some people get so defensive about this stuff is a mystery to me. I suspect, you and I think along the same lines. You want to do as good a job while pressing the shutter, as you can, and as little time fixing the image the camera saves, later. I don't think there should be anything wrong with that idea. It does seem, that once you get the images into a digital world, you DO need to fix what the camera engineer thought was best. You're just NOT going to get what you used to see with slides. Therefore, expect to need to do some manner of digital editing before you get it the way you want or the way you saw the scene.
    I think the idea that you can spend thousands of dollars on a camera and lens and it can't make a properly sharp image, no matter what you do, is just annoying as heck. The fact that you then need to buy hundreds of dollars of software to make it right makes it worse. Yes, I know, it's better than spending all that money on dark room gear, in the past, but it seems ALL photographers need Photoshop, now, and they did not all need their own darkroom before.
     
  26. My shooting ethos is to do my work behind the lens, instead of at the computer... ...This is... ...a preference ...For me, the challenge of the photographic endeavor is to expose and compose in the field and otherwise not manipulate the image... ...is postprocess sharpening necessary to bring the image into alignment with what was actually witnessed?
    If you are at the scene when your images are captured by the camera then compare the unsharpened images with sharpened ones and you can answer your own question. Then you can figure out what you want to do.
    Responses
     
  27. Jason:
    I think the idea that you can spend thousands of dollars on a camera and lens and it can't make a properly sharp image, no matter what you do, is just annoying as heck.​
    You can if you use the in-camera defaults. But with post-processing you can make it better (remember that USM in digital processing came from a technique that was developed for printing from film!). And films differed in their 'sharpness' as well, though this was more directly related to ISO.
    As a matter of interest has anyone compared a print from an in-camera jpeg with a print from a negative? I keep meaning to but haven't got round to it though my ailing memory suspects the answer is that they are not much different.
    It does seem, that once you get the images into a digital world, you DO need to fix what the camera engineer thought was best.​
    Not so if you shoot RAW. But is jpeg vs negative any different to the old decision of photo lab vs your own darkroom for the best results?
    The fact that you then need to buy hundreds of dollars of software to make it right makes it worse.​
    Nope. GIMP is free. So is the software that Canon give with their cameras. PSE is less than a $100. And the in-camera jpegs do a very good job. People shooting film will compensate for the colour preferences that particular films, and in fact choose different films for different situations their precise properties (for ultrasharp they chose ISO 50, for reds they would use Kodacrhone, for greens maybe Fujichrome etc etc) - so film was not this amprophous panacaea to recording 'reality'. One advantage of digital is that all those options exist in a single body - no more messing around swapping films mid-shoot if you need a different 'effect'.
     
  28. In many ways, a lot of this is fundamentally no different than it was with film cameras.
    • If one wants to just take pictures without a lot of fuss and use what comes from the camera then jpg output is quick and easy and can produce quite good results. I'd say it is better than the situation back in the film days since you still can just go with the default output of the light recording medium or, if you prefer, you have some simple and relatively effective in-camera options available.
    • If you want to get the highest possible technical quality from your images you can, just like in the film days, choose to spend more time (and money) on the post-processing of the captured image. Here, again, those who choose this route have even more opportunities to fine tune and control the final product today than they would have had with film.
    The difficulty comes when people "want it all" - the technically perfected output that comes from investing in the time, skills, software, and hardware but without having to make the investment in those things. That wasn't possible with film and it isn't possible with digital photography.
    Please be clear that my point is not that there is anything at all wrong with wanting to keep photography simple and avoid worrying about a lot of post-production or about other technical concerns. That, too, was and is a valid choice.
    Dan
     
  29. G Dan Mitchell-my answer to jason was geared to his desire to keep the pp to a minamum. what you said about making layers and using smart sharpen certainly does not fit with jason's wishes. that was why i said to use the pse or csx auto sharpen. i usually use Focus Magic which if used means that other sharpening is skipped. personally, i would not go to layers and smart sharpen either and for the same reason. i most definately want to stay away from pping. sitting at the pc doing pping is for me akin to root canal and is the same enjoyment, like none. this is why i mput a large effort in the takimng odf the pic in the field to keep the pp at a very low amount. my rule is if i cannot pp an image in 60sec or less, and that includes sharpening, that means that it was not taken right in the field. and that is unacceptable.
     
  30. Gary, do you assume that those who use post-processing in their work flow do not also expend a great deal of effort in the field in order to capture that initial image? Some folks seem to presume that if pay attention to the capture that you won't be interested in work in post or that if you engage in work in post you must not be very careful in the field.
    There is no such correlation that can be generalized this way. I make extensive use of post-processing techniques and I work very carefully and thoughtfully in the field. Often the careful decisions I make about how I choose to capture an image are partly or largely based on my plan for how I will handle the image in post to get the final result I have in mind.
    Your rule is interesting, but very unorthodox, especially if you do things like landscape photography. I'm not one to tell other photographers what they can and cannot do, but your notions would astonish many photographers like A. Adams for example, who was astonishingly attentive to pre- and post-production work and who considered it central to realizing his vision for the print. (On the other hand, I guess you could point to Cartier-Bresson who wasn't very interested in the printing process.)
    Dan
     
  31. In many respects photography is like writing and a finished photograph is like a short story. Do you consider editing what you write to be necessary to getting your story clearly and in a way that engages a reader? The initial act of photography is like having a thought and scribbling it down. Processing (raw image to TIFF or JPEG form) and post processing ( what you do to the TIFF or JPEG) to get the photo into its final form is akin to careful editing and rewriting -- deciding what to leave in and what to leave out, and polishing your choice of words and grammar to bring attention to the points you want your audience to pay attention to, to make sure the audience sees what you want the mto see, to stimulate in them the emotional sensation you want them to respond with.
     
  32. Another analogy to complement Ellis's: Ansel Adams, who was an accomplished pianist as well as a photographer, said that the creating the negative was like writing the musical score, that is, getting the notes down on paper, and making the finished print was the "performance." In other words, taking the photo with the camera is just the first step. The final presentation of the image, whether as a jpg on the web or as a print for framing, involves taking further steps to ensure it represents what you want it to, as Ellis points out above. Post processing is as important as the taking of the photo. Its always been that way. There is nothing wrong with trying to get it as close to perfection as you can initially in the camera, but getting it "out of the camera" so the rest of the world can see it takes more steps. Some images do require more work. You can't always control the things you are photographing, and that means sometimes you have more post processing work to do. The darkroom has now been replaced by the computer.
     
  33. I'm not sure about the original poster, but I sometimes get the impression that some people spend SO much time, in post production, and change SO much that the the original shot almost becomes secondary. I'm sure this is not the case, for most. Perhaps this is accentuated by uploads on the gallery here, that have been altered a lot, yet the poster lists it as " unmanipulated ". Perhaps I feel a bit deceived by this. I think I fear a slippery slope of more and more edits becoming the "norm" and so are not even mentioned. That this bothers me, rather than learning to appreciate a total process, is my hang up, I guess. I am OK with changes that have a direct correlation to dark room techniques, but the wild stuff that can be done now, that Ansel could never have been able to do, still smacks of cheating, in my psyche. That's just me.
     
  34. G Dan Mitchell-first, i am not telling anyone what to do that is up tp ,them. i am saying what i do, and it works FOR ME. if someone asks for info or advce on photography i do supply it to the best i can. i should mention that i have carefully setup my 2 dslr to shoot the high quality accurate jpeg. most people on these forums shoot raw(and the needed converting and pping that goes with it). i have gotten out of shooting raw because for me i get the same results without the extra work. how many users on any forums have spent the 2+hrs on each dslr shooting checking adjusting reshooting to finally get the image that is wanted in order to adjust the jpeg to the quality needed? or are they just going with the defaults and saying jpeg is bad.
    my workflow is a success because i have many images framed and hanging in peoples homes and several businesses and i have also shot commercial and weddings. no complaints from anyone. rather many compliments on the pictures.
    we went to the western national parks in august and i shot my preferred subject, landscape. all came out great. it should be noted that i shot with 2 dslrs and took 543 pics. of the 543, how many were off in terms of wb or exposure? zero. how many needed cropping in the pc? about 10, maybe. i do my cropping in the camera, it is called composition. like everyone else i have LBA but i also use those lenses for the purpose that they were designed. to adjust what one sees in the viewfinder, to get the right composition, and make cropping unnessessary. and i did shoot raw during the trip, raw +jpeg. during the visit to carlsbad cavern. of the raw shot there how got used? none, the jpegs were better. i simply wanted the raws as a hedge against the lighting.
    in reading forums here and elsewhere, the large area of comments is what one does in photoshop and other pp programs. and the many hours are spent doing this. if this is what one wants and desires, fine for them. i just do not care for it, never will. i put my effort into shooting with a setup dslr(which is a rareity), and i shoot jpeg(which after shooting slides for 32yrs is for me the same thing(limited or no headrom m and a smaller dr)), and put a lot care and effort and trime into the field shooting. hence my 60sec limit. that is not to say i never go pp past the 60, but if i do then i know that my efforts in the field with the dslr were simply not good enough. and there fore i have to put more effort into the same kind of shots in the future. i do not shoot a lot of pics at one time but each is carefully thought out and then taken with the effort it takes to make it a keeper from the moment it is taken. this is not to say it will be kept or printed. but the intent and intial effort is there. and i use a tripod and cable release a great deal of the time, shake reduction not withstanding. all this prep work and shooting effort accomplishes for me what the rest are doing later in photoshop. the difference is that instead of photoshop(i have cs2 and pse7) i am doing other things.
     
  35. Gary, it sounds like we agree that neither of us is going to tell the other what to do. For my part, I'm not going to tell anyone that they must (or must not) "post-process," nor am I going to say that they should spend no more than 60 seconds on a shot or that they must spend more than 60 seconds. (In my own photography I have had successful shots where I've had to work so quickly that I've barely had time to get the camera out and fire, and I've had others where I literally spent hours - in a few cases I could argue that it was days - setting up and producing the photograph.)
    I stand by my points in my previous post. Note that I didn't say (at least not intentionally) that you should shoot differently or that you shoot in a wrong way. I did point out that any assumption that limiting your time investment in a photograph to less than 60 seconds at the time of the shot with no work in post is a much different approach than the approaches used by virtually all landscape photographers now and in the past. As such, that approach truly represents an outlier approach to landscape photography. (Though, as I acknowledged with my mention of Cartier-Bresson, it would not be so atypical of, say, some street photography. And, just to be clear, I respect and enjoy street photography and do it myself, so this is emphatically not meant as any sort of put down.)
    Beyond the question of this being your own personal approach to landscape photography - and who am I to argue with your own choice or your success with it!? - I was commenting on the common and just plain wrong notion expressed by quite a few people that
    • "good photographers get it right in the camera,"
    • and that is the end of it,
    • and that doing any significant work in the post-production stage betrays a lack of photographic skill and vision,
    • and that post-production work is mostly done to fix mistakes or cover up for errors in judgment at the time the shutter was tripped,
    • and that really great photographers don't indulge in post-production work.
    Yes, good photographers do strive to get it as right as possible in the camera. No, that is very rarely end of it.
    While your approach is different, the norm among landscape photographers at least is to both get it right in the camera and to get it right in post. This is not some sort of new cheap shortcut that contemporary photographers have given in to - it has been the case for a long time. Since Adams' name has come up a few times in this thread, I'm sure you must be aware of the extensive and complex and sophisticated post-processing (and sometimes pre-processing) he did both with his negatives and with his prints. In fact, his books about photography have as much to say about what we might call post-production as they do about the shutter-clicking business. The folks I know who worked with him tell me that he would fully embrace the post-processing methods we use today as a logical and improved method of accomplishing the things he accomplished so well using his skill behind the camera and in the darkroom.
    To summarize, I'm not saying that an approach to photography that eschews attention to the image outside of the 60 seconds spent composing it and tripping the shutter is necessarily a bad thing, but I am saying that other more traditional approaches applying extensive darkroom/post techniques have quite a tradition of producing really, really fine photographic art.
    Dan
     
  36. Gary, many cameras dermonstrate more sharpness when processed from RAW. At http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos7d/page14.asp DPReview compares out of camera jpeg to several RAW converters with Canon 7D. These results are typical with the current leading DSLRs. Of course, the RAW converter chosen is important, as the illustration demonstrates. Dan is using a 5D2, which indeed puts out a high quality jpeg, but its RAW conversion provides even more detail. (See the DPReview of the 5D2).
    JPEG+RAW is indeed a great strategy, no matter what your typical subject. For landscape I can understand someone's satisfaction with jpeg. When shooting birds and wildlife near dawn and dusk you want to use your DSLR's full dyamic range, which may mean bringing the exposure value up to the right on the hystogram, with intention to pull it back in PP. I find that using DxO's Optics Pro for RAW conversion and batch processing, I get a better, more detailed result out of RAW, even if all I do is pull down the brightness. BTW, I seldom violate Dan's 60-second rule in the user friendly DxO.
    If you do shoot jpeg only, then you need to expose as if your using slide film and will have little or no opportunity to adjust subsequently. That's fine and ok, but you give up some of the potential of a digital camera. The sensor does not act like Kodachrome or Velvia, but most of the time you can get good results by assuming that it will. An experienced photography will realize the few times when it doesn't and adjust accordingly.
    Part of this discussion comes down to what's good enough. For my bird photography I strive for tac-sharp, even in a 100-percent crop. When I met Bob Rozinski, noted wildlife photographer, one of the first things he said to me is that maybe we set out sights too high. When we look at our images at 100% and even 200% we often forget that it'll look very good at 1024x800.
    So, I'm changing my view a little. If the subject is interesting and the image looks sharp at 1024, then I consider it a keeper. I still strive for images that look great at 100% crop. Along the same lines, it's easy to understand how someone might decide that jpeg is "good enough" even for pro work.
    I'll stick with shooting RAW+JPEG and using the JPEGs for review and deciding which RAW images to batch process. I use PS only for 1 out of 1,000, where I want to do something "special" whatever that may be.
     
  37. g mitchell + david stephens-"good photographers get it right in the camera", yes they do. or are you saying shoot the image any old way even if the wb is off and the exposure is off by 2 stops that is fine? then you simply spend 2 hrs fixing what should have been done right in the pping. a adams is quite often used as the one who spent a lot of time in the darkroom and ended up with masterpieces. sure he did, but is anyone going to say that the images he took were not as letter perfect as is possible to take them? then he did his darkroom magic. my point is that i have already adjusted the dslr to give the image that most of the work in pping gets after the pping(except for sharpening). this leaves me in the position to only do touchup work pping and then sharpen. this is how you get the 60sec or less situation. you make sure that image when you get to the pc is as good as it is possible to make it. so what i start with is what after an hour of pping the others THEN start with.
    i shot slide film for 32yrs. for me it was ecktachrome 64, almost always. when i switched to digital i shot jpeg and just kept shooting as though i was still shootimng slide film. it worked great. for me having a very limited dr and no headroom was normal. because that is what slide film has. you have zero headroom and a dr of about 4+stops. so getting a dr of 6stops with jpeg is heaven. not to mention the 1/2 stop or so of headroom, compared to zero with slides this also great.
    "If you do shoot jpeg only, then you need to expose as if your using slide film and will have little or no opportunity to adjust subsequently". this is great since the image quality coming from the camera is so good. what exactly am i going to adjust? the composition is fine, so no cropping. the wb and exposure are dead on, so no adjustment there either. what is left to adjust? i fully realize that this way of shooting takes all the fun away from playing with the pp software, but that is exactly what i want. i, and a lot of shooters like me, never had pp software to do any pping to slides. you got it right in the camera or threw it out. there was no fix EVER RPT EVER. once you overexposed a slide it was a dead duck there was no fix with anything. the part of the slide that was overexposed simply went clear and there was no material to recover. if the composition was wrong there was no cropping either, you are simply stuck with what you shot. you projected the slide and then you groaned because you composed it wrong. but this is how i learnd to shoot. shooting a great many slides and getting a great many in the trash. after awhile you got better and did not throw very many or none out. before i switched to digital i got a least 95%(100% on a good day) right in terms of wb exposure and cropping. with my digital jpegs i am getting the same results now. when i started with slides in 1970 virtually every slide got thrown out. this was expensive. by the time i switched to digital i had reversed the percentage, and that score has stayed with me.
    i should mention that yrs ago i shot weddings with film. i said to myself never again, thoug the images turned out fine. IF i ever shot a digital wedding i would shoot all raw. this is because of the mixed and unknown lighting at weddings. and i would use white test shots for each lighting scene and later adjust the test shot then any images that were shot under the same lighting. i carry a 3 card test color card in the bottom of my camera case, just in case i need it. since the lighting was an unknown to me that was why i shot the raw+jpeg at carlsbad caverns. i wanted a hedge against the situation. as it turned out, the raws never got used. the jpegs were better.
     
  38. Gary, you are setting up a straw man to argue with. You begin by suggesting that I hold or described an absurd point of view that is most certainly not mine. You wrote:
    "are you saying shoot the image any old way even if the wb is off and the exposure is off by 2 stops that is fine? then you simply spend 2 hrs fixing what should have been done right in the pping"
    I know my post was long... but did you actually read it? I wrote:
    "Yes, good photographers do strive to get it as right as possible in the camera. No, that is very rarely end of it.
    While your approach is different, the norm among landscape photographers at least is to both get it right in the camera and to get it right in post. This is not some sort of new cheap shortcut that contemporary photographers have given in to - it has been the case for a long time. Since Adams' name has come up a few times in this thread, I'm sure you must be aware of the extensive and complex and sophisticated post-processing (and sometimes pre-processing) he did both with his negatives and with his prints. In fact, his books about photography have as much to say about what we might call post-production as they do about the shutter-clicking business. The folks I know who worked with him tell me that he would fully embrace the post-processing methods we use today as a logical and improved method of accomplishing the things he accomplished so well using his skill behind the camera and in the darkroom."
    You also wrote:
    a adams is quite often used as the one who spent a lot of time in the darkroom and ended up with masterpieces. sure he did, but is anyone going to say that the images he took were not as letter perfect as is possible to take them?
    I admire Adams' work greatly, and yes, I will say without hesitation that some of his negatives were not as "letter perfect as is possible." It is well-known that while he did strive for perfection - who doesn't? - that he did not always achieve it during the capture phase and unlike you he certainly did not fully achieve it there . One of his most famous and successful photographs, the "Moonrise, Hernandez..." photograph a) was not perfectly exposed by any stretch of the imagination and looks pretty awful as a contact print, and b) was used to produce a print that relied on very significant amounts of post-processing manipulation. (Hint: the original sky looked nothing like what he gave us in the print.)
    If you have a chance sometime, look into Adams' work more thoroughly. Especially take a look at some other well-known examples of how he radically reinterpreted the original exposure in post, and how in some cases he greatly changed his interpretation over time. And do skim some of his books on his post-processing methodology - you might change some of your notions about the "purity" of the capture and so forth.
    Some links you might find interesting - if you have time for only one, make it the 3rd one. If two, add the 1st one:
    1. John Sexton on Adams' printing notes for "Moonrise ."
    2. Video of Adams discussing how he made this print .
    3. A very important discussion of the process of creating this print - especially see the "straight contact print" version near the top of the page and the following generalized description of his "post-processing" techniques... and then get back to me about "perfect" in camera... :)
    Dan
     
  39. Gary, your wedding example makes it clear that you understand the value of RAW to deal with variable lighting issues an to maximize dynamic range. I'm not sure that the OP understands that. He may be shooting all jpeg as some sort of badge of honor and not realizing that he can gain dynamic range and flexibility by shooting RAW and spending less than 60-seconds optimizing each image.
    Dave
     
  40. david stephens - i shoot jpeg almost always because i CAN DO IT and get a quality image. i am the first one to admit that not everyone can, for a lot of reasons. it takes skill patience experience effort care and time. if all or any part of this is missing or the user does not have enough, or not willing to do enough, then the user has no choice but to find another way of getting the quality image. i hope strongly that my method works ONLY if the user has the abilities to do it and make it work. if no then the user if going to be in a worse off position that before he started. i point out super strongly that what i do is only good, and going to work, if the user has the skill and experience and effort to make it work. it most definately is not for everone. please super note-i have been shooting with a slr/dslr since 1970. i am in my 40th yrs of shooting with a slr/dslr. that has given me a great amount of skill knowledge and experience in shooting in all kinds of situations. not everyone can say this. i hope the op knows this.
     
  41. So, Gary, you still seem to think that those who choose another route must do so because they don't have the "skill and experience" that you have, right?
    OK...
     
  42. Here we go... ;-)
    Jason, the OP, threw out the question and never came back. His line, "My shooting ethos is to do my work behind the lens, instead of at the computer" made me think that he might not be aware of how digital works differently from slides and/or negatives. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't, but until he responds in some way it's hard to continue the discussion in the context of the original thread.
     
  43. David: If you review this thread, I think you will find this is my third reply. I have kept my own comments to a minimum as
    my initial query was made out of a desire to learn, not to be heard.
     
  44. Sorry Jason, I reviewed, but missed your first reply.
    If Picasa is your final media, then sharpening will have very little impact, IMHO, due to file size that most are viewed in.
    Dave
     
  45. Jason, if you want to know more than most of us about sharpening, get the late Bruce Fraser's book on sharpening. It is the technical Bible on the topic. Jeff Shewe just edited an updated version, with references to Lightroom.
    A couple of years ago, I would have suggested getting an independent tool for capture sharpening, artistic sharpening, and then output device/media sharpening, the three step process. It is just too much to know given the varying needs of different ink jet printers, papers, viewing screens or print presses. There are several such tools. I chose Pixelgenius' Photokit Sharpener, a plug in for Adobe CS3. I understand Lightroom, Ver 2, now has Photokit Sharpener built in.
    The topic is worth looking into. One does not need to master Fraser's book, but it will serve as a wonderful education on the topic. As one Nikonian put it, "It'll hurt your head."
    http://www.amazon.com/World-Sharpening-Photoshop-Camera-Lightroom/dp/0321637550/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259474792&sr=8-1
     
  46. Gary, the simple fact is that jpeg is not an archival format. It has nothing to do with your skill. It's like a concert pianist recording in mp3. Nodoby's saying they aren't good, and that they won't eek the best quality possible out of the format, but there are inherent limitations that no amount of skill will change.
     

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