When PP is overdone or too much

Discussion in 'Pentax' started by hin_man, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. When do you usually draw the line in not post processing too much over a photo. I recently ran into a lot of needs in post processing as some of my photos are shot in the dark after sunset and hence without post processing, the picture are quite boring and likely sit untouched in my ignore-bin. But once I try the latest LR 5.3 release candidate, I am totally hooked on the various preset color and b&w filters. Can you all comment on how you think of post processing and when you think you rather not push too far.
    I usually PP with the following objectives:
    • Bring out the best in the picture
    • Hide the mistakes as much as I can
    • Change something boring to interesting
    Here are few pictures that I think I may over-do on the processing. I have this off focus scene that I post process it to be like a painting. The focus is still off no matter what I do to the picture but the painting like impression take away the pain in the off focus shooting for me

    #1 Horizon


    [​IMG]
    K-5 and Tamron 135mm f/2.5 adaptall-2 (03B)
    I used one of the Cross Processing bring out the contrast but I may have overdone as the water never look that blue in the real scene. What would you have done differently?
     
  2. Description on the above picture.

    It was off focus NOT by intention as I was scrambling to pull my camera out arriving at the sunset scene in Cayucos. I had a total manual focus lens and I only managed to take 2 shots in the scene before the sun drops below the horizon.

    Nonetheless, it was a beautiful scene and I was screaming at myself for the off-focus part. Maybe it was all meant to be off-focus.​
     
  3. After the off focus shot, I tilted my camera to landscape and tried to salvage the remaining scene with the sun above the horizon. A couple passed by and my eyes are old for the manual focus on the far end -- I wished I had focus peaking on my K-5. The couple passed the central spot and I clicked away knowing that that was not the shot that I wanted
    #2 Touching Horizon

    [​IMG]
    K-5 and Tamron 135mm f/2.5
    In post processing, I chose not to exaggerate the color and it is very much in line with what I saw in that dramatic sunset in Cayucos beach. The water is no where near as dramatic as the 1st photo. Instead of having the full picture in landscape, I cropped the picture as a portrait as I like the portrait orientation that I instinctively picked for the 1st shot. Lesson learned is that I manual focus better on landscape over portrait orientation. I don't know if a vertical battery grip would have helped in manual focusing in portrait orientation.
     
  4. This may be too much but without the post processing with 'cross process', I won't be uploading this picture at all. It is way too dark into the early evening after sunset. In some way, the painting like color attracts me for the picture. Partially the color is very close to what I see that day but it was way too dark for my K-5 to take on. I was shooting this with FA 43mm f/1.9 in f/2.5
    Fishing Pier


    [​IMG]
    Do you find the color too fake to enjoy the edited picture? That is the the question that I am lingering without much inputs from others. I think it is okay and acceptable but I don't know how you or others think.
     
  5. Hin, both look pleasing to me for a genre style sunset image which really isn't a good example for determining whether an image is over processed or not. They're too abstract looking to indicate whether the post processing noticeably distorted the character of light enough to tell a different story or emotion about the scene than was intended by the photographer that being you. We weren't there, but I wouldn't say both of those images look over processed.
    And from that I'ld suggest as a good guide on this subject would be if anything in an image/scene distracts from what was intended by the photographer, that's when you know you've gone too far. This of course will be based on an image by image basis because if all that is being portrayed in a scene isn't enough to convey the intended idea the only thing that would make a person take notice and appreciate that particular image is whether it just looks pleasant or draws attention to itself overall (the scene becomes an object in itself like looking at jewelry). There's nothing wrong with creating a pleasant looking image if that's the original intent.
    For instance there's nothing wrong with over done "grunge" HDR if it helps tell the story. In most instances if it's done to a landscape, then that look would draw attention to itself because the viewer is being told directly that they are looking at a landscape which suggests that subject is what's important, not the stylized look. If there is an element in the landscape that makes the landscape secondary to the story and HDR/over processed treatment brings out the idea behind the inclusion of the element, then over processing is appropriate. The look fits or it doesn't and the viewer is going to spot it in a heartbeat.
     
  6. Fishing Pier In Cold Tone

    [​IMG]

    No this one is totally not the original color. Instead of turning it to b&w as I always like to, I try out 'Cold Tone' which lifted the dark shadow on the wooden pier building structure for me as I like to focus on the pier instead of the dramatic lighting. This shot was done earlier and not as dark as the last picture on fishing pier and the whole scene come out very flat until I try out the PP in cold tone. Is the post processing too much? Please share your thoughts.
     
  7. Honest question: if you are not making these photos for a news organization or for a contest where no post-processing is a requirement, why do you care what others think?
    If you are pleased with the photos, if you've worked them to where you feel it captures the mood of the scene as you saw it, then who cares? If the photos reflect your minds eye, then you've done good work.
     
  8. That first fishing pier image looks gorgeous, Hin. I'ld say it has a pleasant color style that's reminiscent of Kodachrome scanned on a high end Howtek scanner.
     
  9. Hin,
    In general the point where I have issues with post-processing is when it calls too much attention to itself to the detriment of the photograph. Selective desaturation is commonly abused that way. Or oversharpened images that show halos.
    The problem with your No. 2 shot above is that your use of software to attempt to salvage the image is too blatant. I understand your impressionistic intention here, but working from an well-focused original would have given the image more dimensionality and allowed you to selectively de-focus key areas.
    ME
     
  10. exaggeration may be a virtue alright, but would fully subject to your personal sense of 'art', we'll say. In other words : if you like the picture, everything is permissable.
    Now if you want to present a picture (to a public) then it's a different story again.
    I find it very difficult to believe in my own creations, if I don't get the desired feedback. Still, I'm in favour of making (the expression of) an image stronger through pp. And end up calling it an image rather than a photo :)
    Might be interesting to present images here that you feel very strong about, but never got the credits ?
     
  11. An actor on stage will have to wear rather heavy makeup when the audience is at the usual distance. The same makeup on a person on the street would be noticeable and most people would think it ugly. The situation and intent matters.
    If you have any idea of naturalism, then, if you can tell it has been done, then it has been done too much.
     
  12. Thank you all for the feedbacks and comments.
    @Tim, thank you for the comment and I am glad that I added the punch to the 1st fishing pier picture and I have never shot a single photo with Kodachrome and I should have tried it before Dwayne's Photo stopped the processing end of 2012 or an earlier year. I frequently process film with Dwayne's Photo in Kansas city. Without the post processing, that first or 2nd fishing pier will not be uploaded at all. It was way too dark on the 1st fishing pier oicture and 2nd fishing pier is dull with flat color.
    @Bob, the reason I ask the question is to learn how to connect with audience of my image. I am non-professional but I love picture taking and sharing nonetheless. Photography to me is about sharing besides preserving what I have experienced. Don't know how to phrase it properly, but I like to be connected to people who come across my images. And I want to learn about the turning point where too much PP can harm instead of helping the image.
    @Michael, thanks for the tips but I have more post processing on the #1 image, more so than the 2nd shot. The 2nd shot focus was on the sun in the horizon and it was not focusing on the two persons passing by. The water was turned blue on the 1st picture because of the PP while the 2nd shot only have minor tone adjustment. The sky and water color on 2nd shot are close to the real scene. The first shot was post processed to have the impression of a painting to hide the painful mistake that I had with off-focus on the sun.
    @Guus, thank you for your inputs. I love your assessment -- 'everything is permissible' It is our pictures and we should have a say on how to craft our pictures to our liking. I find it liberating sometime to be bold on the post processing. To be honest, I always admire at the simplicity and the surreal tone of your images. Your post processing is part of my inspiration for this thread and my new learning endeavor with color and b&w filters.
     
  13. Whenever that I ran into a not-so-good picture, my first reaction is to turn it into b&w. This is my typical sample
    Young Surfer

    [​IMG]
    K-5 and Tamron 135mm f/2.5
    It was after the sun went below the horizon. The young surfer was back-lit from the residual light and there was not enough light to show any detail on the young face. I turned it to b&w with focus on the shadow and reflection. This is not highly processed but only use one of the b&w filter from LR. I like how this one come out as I can enjoy the reflection without getting distracted from a partially lit face. I added Medium Grain to the picture as it adds character for me.
     
  14. I really like how your images turned out, Hin. They do not come across as artificial to me. The out of focus sun went unnoticed to me because the sun being low at or near the horizon can become distorted due to increased atmospheric influences. The color of water can certainly be very blue depending on variable atmospheric reflective characteristics. In any case, very nice, I think.
    Your 43mm Limited appears to be performing very well on your K-5. I am wondering if you have employed the camera's custom AF fine tuning for this lens.
     
  15. @Michael K, thank you for your kind comments and encouragement. Maybe I am lucky, I don't need to adjust focus on my 43mm and it works fine for me.
    Here is a picture that I posted before but this time, I apply heavy noise reduction.
    Leaving The Scene

    [​IMG]
    K-5 and FA 43mm f/1.8 @ f/2.5 in iso 1600, -0.3 Ev
    The guy dodged to my right as I was hoping he stayed in course and I had to pan right cutting the fishing rod on the left.
     
  16. Hin Man: The last four images are really nice. If what you have done so far is an example, you are off to a fine start. Just remember that PP is another tool in your tool bag. Use it for the result that you want, but don't use it just because it can do something. Less is more as they say. When I first started out with the PP software, I did too much. Over time, I began dialing it back, way way way back. Now I try to use it either 1) to create a particular vision (filters, colors, tone) , 2) to correct my screw ups (such as under exposed), 3) correct camera deficiencies (open up shadows, bring down highlights, sharpen) or 4) some combination of all three.
    Good luck.
     
  17. Hin, your last image of the man and the fishing rod cut off on the left is the type of over processing that distracts in that the electric over saturated blue sky draws way too much attention to itself away from the rest of the image. That saturated blue is quite unnatural looking. My eye went directly to it instead of the two figures in the foreground.
    If the blue sky is the most important element in the image and what you want to convey about that scene then you've achieved it in spades.
     
  18. I actually like the last image. A lot. The sky was not a distraction for me. I liked the coldness of the photo and the blue added to that feeling. So Hin Man, I guess this is the part where everyone's personal taste is different. The only processing issue I note is purely a technical as opposed to artistic one. The sky is pushed a bit too far in the upper left corner and appears to break down a bit.
    Tim is right, however, in his point about using the PP to help focus the eye on what you think is important and for the effect you seek to achieve.
     
  19. Tim and Jemal, thank you for your comment and you both are right in your assessment. And Jemal, I like your reminder in not making it a habit in heavy post processing -- less is more.


    The last picture is flawed and so is my attempt in the post processing. It is my instinct to change the subject of the picture in moving the focus from the two persons fishing to the blue sky on the background. The guy in front of me was dodging my paparazzi picture and I panned my focal point right and hence cutting the fishing rod of the left fisherman. The 43 limited and the twilight lighting gives a a very bluish tone on the sky and it was quite beautiful. That night was a funny experience. Depending on the shooting angle, the sky color came out pinkish and purple in one while others went with deep blue color. It was quite dark and quite a bit of noise happened in iso 1600. The noise adjustment gives some water color effect with some loss of detail and my toning with the 'direct positive' color filter indeed broke out the middle section of the sky. I have another cold tone light blue attempt on the picture but I picked this variation to upload as it was closer to the real scene that I saw that shooting night.
    Thanks guys for the honest comments!
     
  20. This following picture is my best loved photo in the series and likely my best loved photo in 2013. I did the least processing as I like to preserve the scene with as little processing as I can afford. It was shot with K-5 and my trusty Tamron 135mm f/2.5 adaptall-2 (03B).
    Catching My Boy In Twilight Color

    [​IMG]
    My older boy doesn't like picture taking and I can only wait patiently on the sideline for a picture or two when he is enjoying himself in the beach.
     
  21. I think it's a matter of taste and it is something I have struggled with at times as well. I think it's ok to a point, and that pint can be hard to define. If the scene looks really unnatural then to me it's usually to much. I have gone overboard in the past trying to fix flaws that I later realized were pretty much terminal flaws for that particular shot. Or at least flaws that couldn't be properly fixed with my tools and skills.
    Bottom line is if the PP becomes the dominant element in the the shot then it's too much IMO.
     
  22. Hin, some of these work for me. The first OOF sunset isn't doing much for me -- it's not the colors but there's just nothing really to look at, especially with nothing in the frame that's crisp or contrasty. I think that might be a bird at 7 o'clock but it's so soft I'm not really sure. #2 and 'Catching My Boy' are much better. The weird colors on 'Catching My Boy' don't bug me at all. The colors on 'Leaving The Scene' do bother me though, sort of ruining it for me.
    I like the muted colors on 'Fishing Pier in Cold Tone' though sort of feel it's just a little too monotone for life -- feels like there should be just a touch more warmth closer to the horizon. Without this it starts to have this slightly-off feeling in the general direction of the oft-abused selective color /desaturation.
    Young Surfer is OK -- I think B&W can be a bit of a crutch for some people to make really ordinary shots seem a little more interesting, though at least this one has something going for it, a decent silhouette and reflection, plus the extra interest of the dragged board.
     
  23. Some people will object the very idea of an image being captured digitally. Some will only want to see images in black and white regardless of medium. Some people think you should only shoot in a 1:1 aspect ratio. Some believe that whatever camera defaults are programmed in should be enough for you and that RAW processing is too much PP work. Some believe that you should be bracketing and blending N+1 different exposures to maximize dynamic range.
    You will drive yourself insane trying to please everyone. You should find a style you are happy and comfortable with and pursue it. Perfect it. Find good subject matter and your path will probably be made more clear.
     
  24. Thank you all for the inputs
    [​IMG]
    Some of the post processing can turn people off, I need to learn to strive for a good balance. Collectively the mosaic is filled with joy as well as flaws in the post processing. It is effectively what I want to turn it to something unique and different to share my experience and vision. Art can be subjective but I like to be inclusive with the audience.
     
  25. Delete top right as bottom left is the stronger image. Pick only one of the top left ones (to match the rest I'd pick the right one). Delete the shot one in from the bottom right. If you like the B&W image put it somewhere else or make it color- it does not match so well with the color shots.
    Now you have a stronger set of images. The PP is fine - this is my aesthetic opinion, but that is all it is.
     
  26. Robin, thanks for you suggestion. I will try your version as soon as time allows. The last picture just happens to be my flickr photostream main page and it is a screen shoot in reverse order of the photos for this discussion. I like it for what it is. I personally don't look for a perfect picture or perfect tone as I like off-balance that may be thought provoking to some and mediocre at best to others. The inclusion of the b&w photo is my off-balance ingredient. I like things random in a mosaic without much of a purpose and thoughtful insights.
    And the same principle was applied in this mosaic with an off-balance b&w photo. I am not copying the idea from others and this is my instinct in mosaic and collage making
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I kept thinking of many of the inputs from this thread. It is very useful and engaging conversation. I kept thinking what Guus and Rob were telling me to be 'everything is permissible' and 'find your own style'. And I also listen closely to Jemal, Matt and other similar comments in not making PP the main point in the picture.
     
  27. After few days of re-examining my changes, I have to pick one favorite of those PP pictures. It is Tim's choice of Kodachrome like color on this one on the fishing pier that were shot at twilight lighting late after sunset.


    [​IMG]
    k-5 and FA 43mm f/1.9 limited @ f/2.5
    1/100 sec, 43mm, f/2.5, iso 800, -0.3 Ev


    It strikes me as reasonable edit at first but the more I look at it, the more that I like the vivid color combination. The residual sunlight can be seen in the reflection of the lamp post and reasonable good detail is retained for the gentleman arranging his fishing gear. And the exaggerated orange tone in the horizon is not overpowering like the blue tones in some of my edits in other pictures. I don't have the original uploaded but you can take my words that the unedited picture is dull and flat with underexposure due to late into the shooting after sunset and my dial down on -0.3 Ev.
     
  28. I think Robin Smith gave excellent editing tips. Most times we spend hours "editing" photos without actually spending any time at all on the idea of editing the photos from the perspective of does this photo actually work and need to be shown as my best work or should it be put somewhere else never to be seen again. That is the last and most crucial part. I love your first leafs collage. Masterful. Tightly edited in terms of which photos to use. Less is more applies to this form of editing too. It is something that I struggle with. But when I apply it ruthlessly, then, and only then, do I really show my best work instead of the work that I worked hard to make better, but failed at it work. Master that and the rest of your editing issues will fix themselves.
     
  29. Competently right level of presentation - "mosaic". Thanks for showing
     
  30. Google indexing is on its game. Went searching for Kodachrome shots of sunsets using Google Images and guess what shows up at the top of the page... http://www.google.com/search?q=Kodachrome+shots&newwindow=1&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=keWaUp3KMojE2gWvxICYAw&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1283&bih=970#newwindow=1&q=Kodachrome+shots+of+sunsets&tbm=isch&imgdii=_ ...Hin's fishing dock scene.
    I still can't find a film shot close to looking like Hin's color treatment but I know I've seen it somewhere. It reminds me of color I saw flipping through 1980's coffee table books of sunsets.
     
  31. @Tim, that is very amazing find on the link from google image search. The PP has a lucky element on it and I probably won't make it in another time on the similar photo. I can't even remember the color filter that I use and the few minor adjustments that I made to live the darkness and dullness of the original picture. When I search on Flickr on Kodachrome -- this is the link with most interesting sorted order.

    This thread of discussion has opened up new learning opportunities and enthusiasm for me and PP is like another art form that can bring joy and beauty to photography.
     
  32. Wow! Hin, thanks for posting that Flickr Kodachrome link. All those are Kodachrome?
    That gorgeous but a bit over processed "Lago Di san Domenico" bridge image is the kind of over the top clarity I always fear I imbue to too many Raw digital captures in order to rid the appearance I'm looking at the image through thick glass, a look I've come to associate with scanned film from my experience.
    Below is an example of my over clarifying PP habits as I try to mimic the character of light imbued by those rare crispy, clear days that occur usually after a rain. I don't see this done to the best effect without it looking like over cranked HDR, but at least I'll let you all decide if I went too far in PP.
    The first one is just ACR defaults adjusting WB, applying camera profile with +30 Clarity and an increase of +60 Exposure slider in order to show this base "looking through thick glass" lack of clarity that most accept as looking finished. The second PP is my attempt at showing the crispyness of that particular time of day under a bright sun.
    00cCaw-543902884.jpg
     
  33. And here's my attempt at communicating the character of light I saw when I took the shot which made such an impression on me I committed this look to memory because I knew how dull and unmemorable it would look using ACR defaults.
    00cCb0-543902984.jpg
     
  34. @Tim, that is a fine shot and I don't see any HDR effect in the shot. Your edited shot has much better detail in the white feather
     
  35. Thanks for the feedback confirming my eyes aren't playing tricks on me, Hin. I applied the edits using CS3 PV2003 whose Fill slider combined with Clarity tends to induce an unnatural HDR look that we've all become familiar with and most likely the reason for Adobe coming up with PV2012 in an attempt to correct.
    I have LR4 PV2012 that makes this harder to get this look, but because I've become mindful after years of reworking, stepping away from the computer and coming back with a fresh eye I find the "crispy" daylight look with PV2003 allows me to do this much faster with more subtle control. I think I've redone that image at least five times due to being shocked looking at my attempts with a fresh eye and my not knowing what Adobe's PV2003 is doing to the image and my eyesight.
    To see what I'm talking about with regard to the effects on eyesight do a visual experiment by staring at the top ACR defaults version for a while and then quickly switch to the bottom finished version. In first edits I had to go back and forth doing this visual experiment in honing each tweak in ACR 4.6 (namely Black Level, Fill, Contrast & Clarity) until the visual shock (i.e. Xerox copy or 50's TV Kinescope video high pass filter effect) was reduced.
    I was also concerned that variations of other's calibrated/profiled displays would either amplify or reduce this visual effect which is why I chose this image as an example to post for discussion.
     

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