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Jill Morgan

Desperately need critique on photos and andjustments

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Awhile ago I posted a topic about using a tv instead of a monitor to do pp.

 

I had wondered about this as it seemed anytime one of you guys looked at my portfolio, I got the consensus that my pictures were dark, yet they didn't appear that way on my flatscreen.

 

So I decided to hit Black Friday and got myself an LG Monitor.

 

When I put some of my photos in PS, you guys were right, they all looked real dark.

 

So I have put 5 pairs of photos in here, the first of each pair being the one that is on Alamy, and the second one quick adjustments I made using the new monitor.  How do you guys see these images? Are the Alamy ones as dark as my monitor is showing them?

 

aaa3cessnas_3708.jpg aaa3cessnas_3708a.jpg

 

aaacountry_mailbox_IMG_4179.jpg aaacountry_mailbox_IMG_4179a.jpg

 

aaaduc_park4_IMG_4094.jpg aaaduc_park4_IMG_4094a.jpg

 

aaaNGORONGOROSCENIC4_3148.jpg aaaNGORONGOROSCENIC4_3148a.jpg

 

aaatrain_wheels_IMG_4134.jpg aaatrain_wheels_IMG_4134a.jpg

 

 

 

I think I overdid it a bit on the train wheels, but generally, are the second sets much better than the originals?

 

Any criticism gladly taken.

 

Jill

Edited by Jill Morgan

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I think you overdid it on several images, all really. You do NOT want to blow out highlights. Do you have Lightroom? Yes, you need to brighten and open up shadows . . . but now you're burning out the highlights, and your contract is flat and unnatural looking.  QC does not often fail images for being ideally too dark for stock, but I think sales will suffer. I'm left wondering about your step-by-step workflow. You seem more savvy than I about computers . . . but you are coming to some wrong conclusions.

 

More simply put: the images on the left are too dark, the images on the right are too light and lacking in contrast. 

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Jill from my perspective, and everyone will tell you something different, they are somewhere in between on most of them.

 

Just briefly, I wonder if you have got to grips with Gradient filters. In other words, pulling a filter over the sky and making adjustments,and/or pulling a filter over the land and doing the same. Sometimes, it's easy to blow out skies and get everything at land level too dark. Shadows adjustments in Lightroom 5 is very useful, providing you don't overdo it and flatten the whole thing. There are lots of pitfalls unfortunately with editing and too long to go into here. Practice is a good idea on whatever software is your preference and over time it becomes second nature.

 

Edit: I wrote this before seeing Ed's reply and there you go!

Edited by Gervais Montacute

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More simply put: the images on the left are too dark, the images on the right are too light and lacking in contrast. 

 

 

Practice is a good idea on whatever software is your preference and over time it becomes second nature.

 

+1 on both of these. Jill best advise I can add is watch vids on Adobe.TV and YouTube. Though the thing that helped me out the most was a gift subscription to Lynda.com to get a handle on what things do what in Lightroom and PS. I've been editing for about 2 yrs. and with each day I get better and faster. Also would recommend to calibrate your monitor, as the colors look a tad off to me, not much but some.

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Somehere in between, IMO... plus a tad more contrast and colour saturation (pix need to 'pop' as thumbnails)...

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I think you overdid it on several images, all really. You do NOT want to blow out highlights. Do you have Lightroom? Yes, you need to brighten and open up shadows . . . but now you're burning out the highlights, and your contract is flat and unnatural looking.  QC does not often fail images for being ideally too dark for stock, but I think sales will suffer. I'm left wondering about your step-by-step workflow. You seem more savvy than I about computers . . . but you are coming to some wrong conclusions.

 

More simply put: the images on the left are too dark, the images on the right are too light and lacking in contrast. 

 

 

I did rush the process a bit, and did some gamma corrections which I think is whats blowing the highlights on me.  I do have Lightroom, just haven't used it much.  I normally edit in raw, sending my raw files to PS as Smart Objects so I can flip back and  forth between ACR and PS to edit the pics.  I did these saving the original jpg as a tiff, as I lost my RAW files in a hard drive crash.  So don't actually use PS much as almost all my PP is done in ACR.

 

I will go to Lightroom and see how they go there.

 

I appreciate the feedback guys.

 

Jill

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Yes, left images are too dark, and washed out right images are more seriously off.

 

I strongly second suggestion made by Images by Charly's - calibrate your monitor, since its brightness, contrast, saturation are probably way off if the right images look good to you.

Edited by ann
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I neglected to mention it, but I agree with John's point that these images also need more saturation.

 

Lightroom is intuitive, very simple to use and great for a digital fool like myself.  I once interviewed the great photographer-illustrator, Art Kane, and he confessed to being less than professionally educated in the technical ways of photography "but I stay with things until I can produce the images I need," he told me. Since I shoot "Romantic Realism" Lightroom is perfect for me; I'm just not in need of the far-out possibilities that PS offers. I have CS5 but only use it as the last spot for a clean-up and the conversion to jpeg. 

Edited by Ed Rooney

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Yes, left images are too dark, and washed out right images are more seriously off.

 

I strongly second suggestion made by Images by Charly's - calibrate your monitor, since its brightness, contrast, saturation are probably way off if the right images look good to you.

 

 

I calibrated my monitor using Windows built in calibration and now I can see how more blown out the images are than they looked to me before. I will post a couple of new ones and let me know the difference.

 

Jill

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+1 for LR.

Since getting it my PS icon is much neglected.

Edited by spacecadet

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It's not so much that you are blowing out the highlights in the images on the right - it's that there is no black in them - you've opened up the shadows way too much. As others have said, calibrate your monitor first. Then, learn to use the histogram in Lightroom or ACR. There are some very useful additional visual aids to determining whether you are in the right area with shadows and highlights in ACR/Lightroom - the little triangles at the top of the histogram box and the option key on your keyboard as you move the sliders are your friends - give them a try.

 

EDIT: Looking at the images again, you are definitely blowing the highlights as well where there are highlights, especcially in the bottom corner of the train image. Looks like you just brightened everything across the board. Use the histogram.

Edited by MDM

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It's not so much that you are blowing out the highlights in the images on the right - it's that there is no black in them - you've opened up the shadows way too much. As others have said, calibrate your monitor first. Then, learn to use the histogram in Lightroom or ACR. There are some very useful additional visual aids to determining whether you are in the right area with shadows and highlights in ACR/Lightroom - the little triangles at the top of the histogram box and the option key on your keyboard as you move the sliders are your friends - give them a try.

 

 

I would love to redo these in ACR, but as mentioned before I lost all the original RAWs, and it is my preferred PP tool. Going to work a bit in Lightroom to see if I like using it.

 

Also, ideally, a few of these need some masking I think. The train wheels especially.

 

After doing a quick calibration with Windows built in system, I know have redone the one with the women and children. It is a very colour rich photo.

 

First is the Alamy original, my blown out second one, and the third one redone after calibrating.  I do say, after just PP in ACR, I find it a challenge to work with the tiff converted jpgs. But what can you do when you don't double save your original RAWs!

 

aaaduc_park4_IMG_4094.jpg aaaduc_park4_IMG_4094a.jpg aaaaduc_park4_IMG_4094.jpg

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It's not so much that you are blowing out the highlights in the images on the right - it's that there is no black in them - you've opened up the shadows way too much. As others have said, calibrate your monitor first. Then, learn to use the histogram in Lightroom or ACR. There are some very useful additional visual aids to determining whether you are in the right area with shadows and highlights in ACR/Lightroom - the little triangles at the top of the histogram box and the option key on your keyboard as you move the sliders are your friends - give them a try.

 

 

I would love to redo these in ACR, but as mentioned before I lost all the original RAWs, and it is my preferred PP tool. Going to work a bit in Lightroom to see if I like using it.

 

Also, ideally, a few of these need some masking I think. The train wheels especially.

 

After doing a quick calibration with Windows built in system, I know have redone the one with the women and children. It is a very colour rich photo.

 

First is the Alamy original, my blown out second one, and the third one redone after calibrating.  I do say, after just PP in ACR, I find it a challenge to work with the tiff converted jpgs. But what can you do when you don't double save your original RAWs!

 

The third image looks pretty much right to me now in terms of contrast. Highlights may be a little blown on the child's hat. You could check this on the histogram or with the slides/triangles if you are seeking perfection. You can use Lightroom to check TIFFs - they don't have to be raws. Also you can set ACR to open TIFFs if you want.

Edited by MDM

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Better, yes. But not "far better." Now there is too much saturation and contrast. 

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It's not so much that you are blowing out the highlights in the images on the right - it's that there is no black in them - you've opened up the shadows way too much. As others have said, calibrate your monitor first. Then, learn to use the histogram in Lightroom or ACR. There are some very useful additional visual aids to determining whether you are in the right area with shadows and highlights in ACR/Lightroom - the little triangles at the top of the histogram box and the option key on your keyboard as you move the sliders are your friends - give them a try.

 

 

I would love to redo these in ACR, but as mentioned before I lost all the original RAWs, and it is my preferred PP tool. Going to work a bit in Lightroom to see if I like using it.

 

Also, ideally, a few of these need some masking I think. The train wheels especially.

 

After doing a quick calibration with Windows built in system, I know have redone the one with the women and children. It is a very colour rich photo.

 

First is the Alamy original, my blown out second one, and the third one redone after calibrating.  I do say, after just PP in ACR, I find it a challenge to work with the tiff converted jpgs. But what can you do when you don't double save your original RAWs!

 

The third image looks pretty much right to me now in terms of contrast. Highlights may be a little blown on the child's hat. You could check this on the histogram or with the slides/triangles if you are seeking perfection. You can use Lightroom to check TIFFs - they don't have to be raws. Also you can set ACR to open TIFFs if you want.

 

 

The child's hat should probably be masked when making some of the adjustments.

 

 

Better, yes. But not "far better." Now there is too much saturation and contrast. 

 

Ed:

 

I tried bringing down the contrast but it started to look flat. So this could simply be a personal preference.  Again, it would have been nice to redo in the original RAW file.

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Better, yes. But not "far better." Now there is too much saturation and contrast. 

 

Ed:

 

I tried bringing down the contrast but it started to look flat. So this could simply be a personal preference.  Again, it would have been nice to redo in the original RAW file.

 

 

This really is a matter of taste. I like the strong colours. It's probably a consequence simply of increasing the contrast.

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With a properly calibrated display, which usually means not the OS calibration but a stand alone like Spyder or Color Munki, one shouldn't need to mess with gamma or very rarely. I think that is one of the things messing you up.

 

I took a screen shot of your last edit and by Lr's histogram you have a lot of clipped areas, both darks/highlights. Admittedly I don't use PS to edit my images, but I tend to think you're possibly over doing the sliders. With the original dark one being a JPEG, not a TIFF, I took a screen shot and threw it over into PS, used Levels and Brightness/Contrast adjustments on it and it looked better. Though I think the vibrance/saturation is a bit overpowering in your final edit.

Edited by Imagery by Charly

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Jill,

 

Get yourself a Spyder 3 or 4 to calibrate your new monitor. I tried doing everything on a laptop that did not have a

calibrated monitor for a couple of years and now that I have a calibrated 24" monitor and a powerful desktop I save

a lot of time and the embarrassment of having to world looking at pictures that are just not right.

 

I think Data Color is having a Cyber Monday sale on the Spyder 4.

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Jill,

 

Get yourself a Spyder 3 or 4 to calibrate your new monitor. I tried doing everything on a laptop that did not have a

calibrated monitor for a couple of years and now that I have a calibrated 24" monitor and a powerful desktop I save

a lot of time and the embarrassment of having to world looking at pictures that are just not right.

 

I think Data Color is having a Cyber Monday sale on the Spyder 4.

 

I'm looking into getting one.  Probably a good idea.  I will work on some of my pics that are already up. I will re-upload, then delete the old photos, including the old file number in the new photo.

 

Gotta keep learning.

 

Jill

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Jill, nearly all digital SLRs and absolutely all mirrorless (because they meter from the sensor) will produce perfect JPEGs from the camera. Some makes, like Olympus and Fuji, are so good at making perfect exposures that if you set camera standard (not vivid or landscape or some other setting) and don't mess with defaults, anything except a very unusual situation will produce an ideal JPEG from a matrix metered exposure. Spot meter or focus-linked spot, or centre weighted, may not be so accurate. Obviously snow or night scenes etc may also be non-standard but general scenes in daylight will be on the mark.

 

Shoot some JPEG+RAW, and A-B what you see from the JPEG with your process prefs. I'd say 90% of my raw shots do not need an exposure change and NONE, EVER need a gamma change in PS. Altering gamma will wipe the life from your images, it changes the curve slope and loses you mid-tone contrast.

 

Shoot a nice set of predictable pix, JPEG+RAW, then process your raws to match and set your prefs and defaults that way.

  • Upvote 3

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Are you looking at the levels on these shots? For an even toned shot, dark will be skewed to the left and light to the right, perfect in the middle. Of course some images produce skewed graphs when correctly exposed  - e.g. high key light.

 

Do you check to see that you have a full range of tones (levels slider with Alt  key) ?

 

Do you apply a linear curves correction to boost mid tone contrast, and, as John suggested, are you giving the saturation a gentle nudge?

 

I customarily do all of these things for virtually every image, despite prepping in Lightroom.

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Jill,

 

Get yourself a Spyder 3 or 4 to calibrate your new monitor. I tried doing everything on a laptop that did not have a

calibrated monitor for a couple of years and now that I have a calibrated 24" monitor and a powerful desktop I save

a lot of time and the embarrassment of having to world looking at pictures that are just not right.

 

I think Data Color is having a Cyber Monday sale on the Spyder 4.

Couldn't agree more. It's really worth getting a proper monitor calibration device rather than relying on the manual "Windows monitor calibration" routine. Personally I like the i1 Display Pro.

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I agree with David. When I got my Fuji X-E1 I was impressed by how centralised the histopgram was, unless I am pushing the limits. Under normal conditions the JPEGS straight out of the camera are excellent but in difficult (e.g. strong spot lighting) or poor light I have had to open up the shadows quite significantly (I tend to get highlights right in camera - expose to the right as we did weith transparency film)

 

Normally I start with a RAW. I use Capture 1 Pro (have used LR as well) and all I usually do for "normal" images is adjust the white/black points, perhaps open up shadows and/or bring back detail in highlights and occasionally add a small amount of saturation, clarity or vibrance to taste.

 

And of course I work on hardware calibrated monitors.

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Although most of the posts here have been dealing with monitor calibration and image recovery (including mine), Jill's main problem is that she underexposed the images in question. 

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