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Post-processed Photos

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Josh of the Bushveld
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Post-processed Photos

Unread post by Josh of the Bushveld » Fri Dec 04, 2009 5:11 pm

Hi all,
For the first time I tried some post-processing of images. All I did was crop and clone out some branches that clouded the image. I'd like your opinion whether the cleaning up was successful, and whether I've made the crop too tight (i.e. degraded quality too much). I used the GIMP for all processing and it was all done on the JPEGs.

Both shots were taken last weekend, in Welgevonden Game Reserve (adjoining Marakele NP).

Bar-throated Apalis
Image

Striped Kingfisher:
Image
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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by RUMURUTI » Fri Dec 04, 2009 5:25 pm

ho joshilewis,
Not bad for a start.
I do this sort of thing every day and it takes a while to get a hand of it.

I can see the cloning on left of the kingfisher pic. A little advice, if GIMP allows it of course!, set your cloning tool between 50 and 75% transparency and not at 100%. This will give you a smother result, in particular when it gets to skies and clustered colours.
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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by Josh of the Bushveld » Fri Dec 04, 2009 5:30 pm

Thanks for the advice Andy, I will use it.
I did try to soften the cloning by cloning with a 'pencil sketch' brush, and then smudging it after.
As far as I know, the GIMP should offer everything Photoshop does. I have also come across a new UI for it which emulates PS, in terms of menu structures and key shortcuts.
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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by oddesy » Fri Dec 04, 2009 5:35 pm

They look quite good, i prefer the kingfisher though :thumbs_up: maybe try sharpen the Bar-throated Apalis a bit? I usually use lightroom so i dont clone anything out so i cant comment on that, and i have only seen GIMP once.

I used to use photoshop but found that lightroom was far better for me and now very seldom use PS :D

I saw them in the flash thread maybe you could just put a link
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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by RUMURUTI » Sat Dec 05, 2009 12:07 am

Evening joshilewis, as I said today fiddling with pictures is my everyday bread and I enjoy every minute of it. Here is an example of what you can do to save a good picture, cloning where it's needed!, and given it that extra touch to make it good enough for print.

This is the original picture - 400 mm!
Image
Pretty soft on the focus side and too many branches cluttering.

This is the final result, 20 minutes work!, no colour correction but a good go at pruning a few branches and twigs. Look at the beak of the left bird and the tail of the right one!
Image

I work a lot with Photoshop CS4 which is by far the best around the market today.

Please give me your opinion, thanks.
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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by PAPA SMURF » Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:06 pm

Hi RUMURUTI
This is a great photo but I would take it a bit further.
I would clone out the stick in frount of the left hand bird and also clone out a portion of the stick between the two birds. My reason for this is that the two bird would then be "looking" into "clean" area without obstructions.
The right hand bird has a nice "eye highlight" and if you lasoo the eye, feather 1 pix and then sharpen it , then the highlight may become more promenant. You could also push up the brightness (curves or layers) a tad.
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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by RUMURUTI » Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:50 pm

Hi Papa Smurf, Thanks for the advise. Tried it out and must say looks clean.
I don't like touching pictures too much but and generally have a go at them for printing purposes.

Here's a corrected version, the eye looks definitely better!
Image
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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by Switchback » Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:42 pm

joshilewis wrote:Hi all,
All I did was crop and clone out some branches that clouded the image. I'd like your opinion


Hi JS,

I can give you tons of opinions on post processing, but there's one aspect you mentioned that stings me a bit... The part you mentioned you cloned out braches... I FIRMLY do not believe in manipulating wildlife shots. I do, however enhance images meaning cropping, lighten, darken, tweak saturation etc etc, but I do not put in or take anything away. I keep mine the way I shot it.

If you enter your shots into competitions, they almost always ask for you ORIGINAL file to check out if you manipulated or just enhanced your shot.

From reading this thread you're not the only one manipulating, and they may stone me now, but hey, that's just me, I like to keep things "natural". In the end of the day that one GREAT shot is going to mean a lot more... :thumbs_up:
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Josh of the Bushveld
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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by Josh of the Bushveld » Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:59 pm

Sure, I agree with you from a purist's point of view. I will say that in the two shots posted above, the branches that were cloned out were not in front of the bird, they were in the periphery of the image in both cases. I will post the originals soon, but I'm having an issue with external drive (yay!).

I have however read quite a bit of comment on the Internet about manipulating nature shots. A lot of people say that by taking a photograph, you're manipulating the scene anyway, (white balance, perspective distortion due to focal length etc), so in any case there is no such thing as a 'true to life' or 'realistic' image.

This is the first time I've post-processed any images.

Switchback wrote:If you enter your shots into competitions, they almost always ask for you ORIGINAL file to check out if you manipulated or just enhanced your shot.

As far as I know (open to be proven wrong), there is no way to definitively prove that an image has not been altered since it left the camera. (Sure, things like cloning may be detectable to a degree, but if its done well enough, one can't prove it.)
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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by Josh of the Bushveld » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:25 pm

Sprocky wrote:I must say that I agree with Switchback 100%. :thumbs_up: I do not clone anything on a wildlife shot, all that I do is levels and sharpening.

Let's get philosophical.
What is the difference between removing a distracting branch on the periphery (or any manipulation), and sharpening and changing levels? You are still manipulating the image to improve it.

Are manipulations not created equal? Where does one draw the line?
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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by DuQues » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:31 pm

If you see what you can do with RAW, and then the small list of things with jpg... Then you may reconsider shooting jpg with a RAW-capable camera.

But ontopic:
Are manipulations not created equal? Where does one draw the line?

Personally my line is drawn at 1 point: all that you can easily do in a darkroom with negatives is allowed. So cropping, levels, etc is, but cloning out branches not. (Sensor dust is.)
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by Josh of the Bushveld » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:35 pm

DuQues wrote:If you see what you can do with RAW, and then the small list of things with jpg... Then you may reconsider shooting jpg with a RAW-capable camera.
I do shoot RAW :)

DuQues wrote:But ontopic:
Are manipulations not created equal? Where does one draw the line?

Personally my line is drawn at 1 point: all that you can easily do in a darkroom with negatives is allowed. So cropping, levels, etc is, but cloning out branches not. (Sensor dust is.)

Who made that rule? I mean why is it ok to manipulate an image at the darkroom stage? You're still manipulating the image.

(Am only playing devil's advocate.)

I will try post the originals soon so you can see the extent of the cloning.
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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by RUMURUTI » Mon Dec 07, 2009 6:04 pm

Hi Switchback, well first of all I agree with your point of view. My Breasted Roller cloning was done as an example of how much you can change an image with some very simple processes. I try and keep it as natural as possible and intervene only with cropping and colour balance, that is on my personal pictures.
I use Lightroom and Photoshop a lot and must say that in the last couple of years I've been able to "save" some of my best memories which I had on slides or printed.
I have seen quite a few pictures on the forum which filled me with doubts on how natural/real they really were and how much post-processing had been done.

On the other hand for work I use all the possibilities, filters and tricks offered by digital software. I have, on a regular basis people, dark skinned people who ask me to lighten their colour (!) and pale people who want to be "tanned". Removing spots, scars, straightening noses etc etc have become and are part of everyday work in my field. I'd say 99% of the sexy ladies you see on roadside poster have been fixed well beyond what would be considered acceptable.

Before the digital era dark room manipulation had it's limits and a bad shot could become decent but certainly not excellent. Today things are a lot different and bad shots can be revived, cropped, manipulated and so on without any real limit on possibilities.

I agree with DuQues on shooting Raw, jpeg cuts your legs when you want to do something with your pictures. Raw offers the whole range of possibilities and there are few limits to what you can do.

Limits on post-process, yes I agree on this when it gets to publication or photo contest.
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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by Switchback » Mon Dec 07, 2009 7:26 pm

DuQues wrote:There are plenty ways to see if an image has been altered....
As we are planning to run the annual photocompetition again I'm not going to list them, but you can trust my words....


Oh yes, I agree 100% with that... :thumbs_up:

joshilewis wrote:I have however read quite a bit of comment on the Internet about manipulating nature shots. A lot of people say that by taking a photograph, you're manipulating the scene anyway, (white balance, perspective distortion due to focal length etc), so in any case there is no such thing as a 'true to life' or 'realistic' image.


True in a way, but the colours were there, the lens was there, the light was there. I'm not taking any light, colours etc away, neither am I adding any colour, light etc. I am only working and tuning light and colour that was already present. In the same way, I'm not adding a branch or taking away a piece of grass.

Then again, when I am photographing a wedding like this weekend again, I take out all the stops: I use reflectors, move things around, make her pose and make the bride look absolutely PERFECT - because that is what she is paying me for. This is completely different in nature though, the word "nature" speaks for itself. A bride spend thousands to look her best and it is my job to reflect that in my images.

An interresting point: Go on the Nikon Club of SA's website and look there at the different categories - they tell you where manipulation is allowed and where not.

Again, just my 2c... 8)
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Re: Post-processed Photos

Unread post by PAPA SMURF » Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:22 pm

OK guys I am the one who seems to have sturred up the hornet's nest here, and by the way I was stung by 3 of the little devals yesterday, so let me put in my feelings
There are two situations here. One is compatition work and the other is photos for your own personal use. If the compatition rules -- which is the case in most nature photogrophy -- says no manipulation then that is what I will submit. But if I have a photo of a "wanted" bird for example and there is an offending branch then I will clone out that branch and save the photo --- my record of that bird in my "to keep" file.
Some compatition rules even go as far as to say no man made objects may be in the photo -- that includes things like rubbish, sides of a road, fences and poles etc. Gets all that more harder to get that perfict shot.
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