WPPC (Weekly Post-Processing Challenge) - October 19, 2014

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by michaellinder, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. The photograph I selected for this week's challenge is one I took in the 53rd Street subway station in New York City. Here's the exif data: Tamron 18-270 mm at 30 mm, ISO 500, f 5.6, 1/25th sec. I tried to capture an ordinary slice of life as it occurs routinely in New York. In this regard, I felt a momentary connection with the subject as he was preparing to exit the subway station and to make his way back to the world above.
    My basic edits (cropping, sharpening, resizing) were done in PSE11. Enhancements (low key filter, dark contrasts filter, and the darken/lighten center filter) were done in NIK Color EFEX Pro 4.
    It's all yours.
  2. Michael, I couldn't find a lot to work with in your original shot. I cropped off the left side and top a bit and cloned out the remains of "Entry" as a distraction. Other than that, just did some low-level "sharpening" with Topaz Detail 3...
  3. Good stuff, William. It looks like your sharpening the image may have brightened it as well.
  4. Michael,
    Nice image, but given you've already processed it yourself, I think it's going to be rather difficult to get much variation. Any chance you could post the raw version pre-processing (as a jpeg of course)? My own hopes for this thread were that all challenge images would be non-processed outside of the camera, but perhaps others have different ideas. Of course, given you are the last of the scheduled posters, perhaps it doesn't matter. Thanks for posting regardless.
  5. I think there's not much I'd do to it. It's a good photo -- and an interesting commentary on big city folk! ;-) The little girl holding the bars is an interesting tidbit I wish were more apparent. I like that the only color, for the most part, is the two people. Everything else is cold and gray.
    Either for this week or next, I have a challenging photo for this series -- not a very "good" one, even if its technical issues were addressed, but perhaps fodder for a useful exercise.
  6. Offering an already heavily processed image as a starting point, seems contrary to both the spirit and the point of these exercises.
  7. Nice picture, but Gordon B.'s comment is well-taken.
  8. On the other hand, you can always 'double down'.
    As unlikely as it may seem, I saw a so-called "news" photo yesterday that was done no less than this.
  9. Sorry for my senility. The "raw" image is forthcoming.
  10. Here 'tis. Again, my apologies.
  11. Hi Michael, i haven't been around for a while but is this or are you planning on a weekly post-processing forum on even contest...i think that would be great as there is a strong interest in post-processing, maybe I'm more interested in the section we call digital alterations which implies more than just post-processing i believe...it would be interesting if photo.net put together weekly challenges in the digital alteration/post-processing area of photography...it's a huge area of photographic art especially amongst younger artists...regards....David
  12. OK, I'll bite... ;-)
    Although I think Michael did a phenomenal job pulling something of interest out of this photograph, I don't feel his final photo is quite honest. I'm not a nose-in-the-air prude who believes any alteration of a photo is bad. However, when the end feel, flavor, or intent of the photo departs so far from the reality of the situation, I feel I have been misled. What the edited photo in the OP depicts is a depressing, grungy, machine-like underground, from which the subject is emerging. The subject is a number (#4, in fact), and yet he is human and not "of" that environment. But that doesn't seem to be the reality of the scene as originally shot. It's not as depressing as all that. It's quite ordinary, in fact -- urban, but ordinary. I do not feel it would be my place as a photographer to depict the scene as it is not.
    Therefore, rather than showing the subject emerging from a metallic dungeon, I'm cropping to show a different (and less interesting, but more honest) perspective -- the subject walking through the turnstile and moving towards the exit, where we can see a bit of daylight. I dodged his head and shoulder a bit to even out the tones and draw more attention to the subject. Of course I had to enlarge a tiny bit of the original image, so sharpness isn't going to be so hot. Here's my interpretation:
  13. Sarah, I guess I have a somewhat general philosophical question for you. Assuming that one postprocesses an image, why is it that the result has to be - in your terms - honest? My postprocessing involved in the OP enabled me to communicate what I gleaned from the original so that I could tell a story that viewers might find interesting. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I would think that someone with your experience and expertise accepts the proposition that not all images have to be representational to be successful.
  14. Well, I suppose it doesn't really HAVE to be "honest." However, the photo you presented seems to me to have a social documentary intent. Perhaps I perceive it that way because much of what I do (and most of what matters to me) is social documentary photography. So please forgive the source! ;-)
    Please don't get me wrong, though. I do like your photograph. My comment about your photo is no different from a comment I made about this "decisive moment" photo by HCB:
    It seems the decisive moment makes the woman to the right appear zealous and frenzied, almost fanatical, when in fact it was a fleeting moment of facial strain as the woman was winding up to slap the woman on the left (as I recall seeing in a motion picture sequence). So although the photo is a very powerful one, it is only powerful because of the untruth it tells. The truth of the situation would have also been interesting, but it wasn't told. If I were HCB, I wouldn't have used that shot. It was an "honest" shot in the sense that it was shot straight-up and not manipulated in any way, but that doesn't make the message honest.
    Of course there's nothing wrong with fiction, as long as we know it's fiction. (I'm reminded of "War of the Worlds")
  15. My edit was to use various layers to even out the image and basically try to blend the man into the surroundings. I applied some artistic filters including underpainting and noise simply because doing so made the shot look flatter and grittier, which is how I imagined the environment to be. I de-saturated it and reduced contrast as well as an end to that means. I cloned out the other subject because I wanted to portray something similar to how I believe many of us wander through life in the technical age, interacting more with man-made materials than with man/woman. I cropped the image to keep in as much of the metallic items as possible, and also applied a cooling filter to the entire image to represent the 'coolness' we often encounter when we have little personal contact.
    I think this image would make an excellent marketing tool for an organization trying to encourage in-person communication. I have not yet looked at other entries for this week's WPPC, so any similarity is purely coincidental.
    And thanks to Sarah for volunteering to post next week's challenge. Just a reminder to try to post an image that is at least 1400-1500 on the long end for ease of editing.
  16. Right away I thought this should be a black and white image as it is lacking in any great color. That, and I have always felt that city scenes look somehow more “mentally realistic” in black and white. I admit I am biased toward black and white, but with nearly any industrial, news or social scene, if it has limited color I see it right away in a black and white style, in my mind.
    I would like to emphasize again that it is important to talk about the steps you took to process your version of the images in this forum. I know many of us process photos and then don’t actually recall all the steps we took, but if it can at least be summarized that would be great. I personally open up a blank Word or Text document and write or edit the steps as I do them. This helps me then recall for this forum what I did! I am not one to have a good memory. I am actually trying to learn from this forum how some of these “astounding” images come about via post processing.
    Because this image is so small it is hard to get a good post processing experience. Too many pixels are gone. but I tried it anyway.
    1 - I cropped in such a way as the main subject was at the two-thirds line on a grid. I wanted some of the grungy ceiling in there to get the subway feel. Cropped mostly the right side and some foreground floor. I enjoyed the mysterious dark figure on the far left as this is a part of the NYC subway feel (mystery, danger, dark characters, stress). I could have cropped all the way up to the main figure. I wasn’t sure if I should.
    2 - NIK Silver Efex Pro 2. This is likely the best black and white post processor on the planet. I chose a preset of “Antique Plate II” and upped the blue filter to 43 percent. This brought out the little person in the background more. I changed the “Grains per pixel” to make a smoother photo. I decreased the brightness also. I set the overall contrast at 22 percent.
    3 - I placed a control point (which NIK Silver Efex Pro has) on the mystery man on the left and made him darker and more contrasty.
    4 - I paced a control point on the “E” subway sign and added the color back in. Why did I do this? I wanted something that drew the eye around the photo, back and forth.
    5 - I increased the structure some, which acts as a sharpening technique.
  17. Oh no, I just read Sarah's response. Yikes!
    While I'd hate to see any of these threads go down the path of talking about the image itself, Sarah's comment is appropriate because it deals with the post-processing in particular. However, it is not typical of the challenge poster to post their post-processed image initially, so I suppose it would be more appropriate for her comments to be directed towards me, in which case I accept that my edit may not be 'honest' in terms of the original environment, but I felt there was some social commentary that could be squeezed from it.
    To David, we started the WPPC when there appeared to be enough interest from fellow p.netters to respond to the 'challenge' of post-processing another member's photo. There are a number of threads on it here and in the Casual Photo Conversation forum (where the idea was given birth) that provide a history of its evolution. The photo.net admin did not initiate it nor do they control it (other than being able to remove posts if they find them objectionable). You could probably start a similar thread in a different forum to see what interest it garners.
  18. I found this photo to be a bit small and blurry on my laptop, but this is what I did...
    1) uploaded to LR 5.6 to adjust exposure, shadows, highlights, then cropped it.
    2) downloaded to PS12 to resize for Photo.Net and it seemd blurry, so I used the Dry Brush artistic filter and then changed it to a b/w.
  19. OK. This is a forum for learning about post processing techniques. It is not a forum to offer political or social comments. All the great photographers here just want to present photos and then learn ways to possibly post process them to look better. There are no honest or dishonest photos. Period. Its about artistic technique. If your social comment is about why you chose a certain technique for this particular photo then it is good. There is no other purpose for this forum other than technique. We already have too many forums where photographers attempt to philosophize about photos (which I find boring, just my opinion). This is pure technique in this forum.
  20. I'm glad to see that Mark took the plunge with a B&W version. For whatever it's worth, I also had prepared a B&W before initially posting this thread.
  21. I don't have time this week to offer any edits, but I would chime in with the other folks about general practices for these threads...
    For the original poster/person initiating the weekly post-processing challenge:
    • It's best to submit a "flat", undoctored image that's as close as possible to the raw file. Or, for folks who remember the film era, the equivalent to contact prints from negatives. Let's give participants free rein to crop, edit, etc.
    • Or a JPEG using "neutral", standard or portrait image modes - for cameras lacking raw mode such as some camera phones, P&S digicams, etc., or even scans of film photos.
    • Skip the vignetting, graduated density filters, heavy brushwork, excessive color saturation, etc. Limit edits to fixing basic flaws such as recovering highlights and shadows in raw files - something that would be difficult to do with JPEGs submitted for these threads.
    • Around 1000 pixels in dimension is probably a reasonable compromise, although larger may be better for folks who don't have bandwidth restrictions.
    • If you're the OP and post one photo at 700 pixels or smaller to show inline with the thread, please do follow up with an attachment of a larger version, around 1000 pixels or larger in dimension. This will appear as an attachment.
    • Or you can link to your preferred file host where the larger version is archived. This option may be used if the OP wishes to provide TIFFs, raw files, etc.
    • When the OP is submitting a photo for editing, save that original JPEGs at 90%-100% quality. Subsequent edited JPEGs posted by participants can be smaller, 700 pixels in dimensions and 85% JPEG quality or lower.
    Again, those guidelines apply to the original version of the photo submitted by the OP/initiating poster for the week's post-processing challenge. Subsequent edits should have free rein to interpret the OP's photos.
  22. This is a very small image to work with... which proved to be indeed a challenge. I opted for BW. Changed the lighting in Color Efex. Converted to BW in Silver Efex where I turned the fine structure to zero to get a smooth painted style effect. Made adjustment to the blacks and whites. I then created a copy and applied high pass filter at 100% blended hard light at 83%.
  23. Oh no, I just read Sarah's response. Yikes!​
    I'm sorry! 8-/ Seriously, it really wasn't my intent to be critical -- merely expressing a philosophical difference behind my differing approach -- clumsily at that.
    I realize not everyone works a photo the same way (nor should they), but for me, my PP decisions usually derive very much from my intent with the photo. That's the only reason I offered the commentary I did -- that MY intent would have been different, hence my different approach to cropping, lighting, etc.
    I'm happy to toss out next week's photo. It's nothing very profound or artistic, but it's a commonly encountered problem, and I thought it useful to chew on it as an exercise. I look forward to seeing what everyone is able to do with it. There's a lot of talent here! Next week.... :)
    PS Michael, I prefer your monochrome for some reason. Nice tonality in it!
  24. Looking forward to it Sarah. Complexity, artistry, and profoundness are irrelevant in the challenge image, and lack thereof might even present a greater challenge!
  25. I went with the poor man walking in and a near future, science fiction feel for this whole vibe.
    I had a little fun with this. Reminds me of a short story I could write.
  26. ""Complexity, artistry, and profoundness are irrelevant in the challenge image"" (Bill)
    The challenge might be intended to follow such a claim, but in general I could not disagree more. Contexts (intended, perceived, objective) are always the main inspiring rational for post-processing like they are for shooting photos - unless they are automized without human intervention - and yet !
    Ken's take on postprocessing this weeks photo of Michael above is a good example.
    But maybe that is a discussion, which lies beyond these weekly discussions.
  27. Anders,
    That sounds like an interesting topic for the philosophy forum, though those posts generally get a bit involved to hold my interest for very long. No one would ever take me for an intellectual.
    I agree that, for our own images, there has to be something compelling about them for us to want to post-process them, whether we see them as artistic, making some kind of social commentary, telling a story, or simply 'pretty.' But for the challenge, there is no requirement that an image be any of those, and it might prove even more challenging to take one of your throwaways and see if others can find something in it you couldn't or didn't. Or, you might take one that you think does meet one or more of the aforementioned criteria, and see what ideas others have for it.
    In short, there is no specific guideline for the challenge photo, and no one should feel a certain subjective standard needs to be met to offer one.
  28. Sarah - I truly appreciate your honesty. In no way did I take your comments as critical. And even if I did, the criticism was constructive. In my opinion, our brief dialogue was about postprocessing. Glad you liked the B&W.
  29. Thanks Bill, I agree that when it comes to choosing a photo for the challenge, there are no specific demands of Complexity, artistry, and profoundness.
  30. I like the above conversions of this photo to black and white, but find the details in the image rather too complex and distracting. Here is my attempt to simplify the image to accentuate what I regard as the most appealing geometric shape, that of the turn-styles. Unfortunately, the resultant cropped image is only 245 pixels wide, so starting with a larger image would be necessary to produce anything of quality.
  31. Here it is resampled in Photoshop, sharpened, and stretched to 700 pixels wide.
  32. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I took the opportunity to allow the man to be eaten up by the metal monster.
    The light and dark either side of the turnstile/entry area was the first attraction to my eye.
    I enhanced the mid-tone contrast; boosted the colour saturation; burnt the background; dodged the last little bit of light on the man; cropped to 2:1 to simulate a frame from a movie and to align with the story of the man walking into something metallic and perhaps sinister.
    It needs some melodramatic music . . .
  33. That's brilliant, William, as I had the same sinister thoughts -- this poor dude is giving up his "earthly soul" to meld with the machine. He's about to meet the new Tech Overlords and compensate his biological weaknesses with steel, titanium, carbon fiber, and 1 TB RAM and the fastest CPUs that he can afford to enter his cybernetic future.
    In his backpack are platinum coins in which to feed the true machine that will remake him.
  34. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks Ken . . .
    . . . the turnstile on the right is only an ominous glimpse of its intended purpose – it is not really the “way out”, but in a later scene it is used to munch up the non-compliant ones . . .
    My possible excuse is the several childhood nights spent secretly listen to radio plays - when I was supposed to be asleep.
    Please send me a copy of your short story!

Share This Page