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Which of these photos is better?


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River Valley  

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I'll tell you what this is about after I get some feedback. Also, I made 733 pics on this little adventure, so you'll have a tale coming. But for now I could really use your help. Putting this together was actually an all day project.

 

Below are pairs of photos. They are the same shot but processed differently. You get to vote on each pair! Feel free to comment as well. Here is the first pair:

 

417798381_WZccy-O.jpg

 

417798348_bf9L5-O.jpg

 

The next pair:

 

417798454_bWKVV-O.jpg

 

417798420_TzWRS-O.jpg

 

The third pair:

 

417798316_kwS69-O.jpg

 

417798270_wgDXK-O.jpg

 

The fourth pair:

 

417798025_B4BTZ-O.jpg

 

417798472_Assj6-O.jpg

 

The fifth pair:

 

417798219_quqLw-O.jpg

 

417798182_iYrCo-O.jpg

 

The last pair:

 

417798139_aaFGu-O.jpg

 

417798126_hjLiW-O.jpg

 

hmmmm... preview isn't showing my polls... but the poll manager says they are there.... here's hoping they show up in the post.

 

Thanks,

 

Jan

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jan, I voted for the first of each pair, except one. In all of these, the vote was based on the colors seeming more real, with more contrast and interest. The moonrise shot, for example, the tree is gorgeous in the top one, but muddy in the second.

 

The exception was the canyon overlook. Although I prefer the color of the top one a little, the difference isn't huge, and the sky was blown compared to the bottom one. So the bottom one got the vote. I might adjust the white balance just a little bit, to diminish the blue in the canyon walls.

 

The first shot is nice. I'd bump the saturation just a wee bit.

 

In the grasshopper shot, the color of the rock is better in the bottom shot, but the grasshopper itself is too dark in this one. So here too I picked the top one.

 

Can't wait to see the rest!

 

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Francois_Dumas

Same as stubble on the canyon look. The sky is better. But you could have filtered the canyons separately to get some of the color hue out as well. The little animal didn't really show much difference on my monitor.

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Well thanks for all the votes and comments! With 24 votes in at this time there seems to be a clear winner in the number one photos from each pair. In every case the number one photo was processed with the utility that Canon supplied with the camera, Digital Photo Professional (DPP), and the second set was processed using a 30-day free trial of the $699.00 professional grade Adobe CS4.

 

Adobe allows many more adjustments than DPP, and you can adjust parts of images or things in images, whereas with DPP you just change the whole image at once, have much coarser controls, and many fewer options. I tried using CS4 to add some fill lighting, create more dramatic scenes with more "pop" using the different options. That does not seem to have been popular at all, or maybe I'm just not good at it.

 

Now I don't play with color settings (other than saturation) because I am "color blind", which actually means that I see most colors, most of the time, but can make some real bloopers from time to time. However, I do try to optimize the white balance in my shots. In most cases I'll use one of the presets that are available in the software because I don't trust myself to play with the custom settings. The point being that camera is pretty good at picking some sort of average white balance for the shot, but it may not be right for what I see as the subject of the image. So if a flower is in the shade, but most of the frame is sunny, the camera has chosen some sort of middle ground setting that is really not right for either sun or shade, I can set white balance to a shade preset and get it right for the flower. The point of all this is that the CS4 presets and rendering seem to be consistently much more yellow than the DPP presets. So for instance in that river valley shot, both versions done with a cloudy preset, the grasses in the CS4 version seem almost to be catching some light from somewhere, when in fact it was full blown storm, misty, sleeting hard, and deeply overcast. Most of you picked this out as unnatural. I think the sky is rendered better in the 1st, DPP version as well. On the other hand, the CS4 version seems to have more "pop" as is the style these days.... and many professionally done photos seems overblown and unnatural to me nowadays.

 

Now on the moonrise shot, the CS4 version allowed me to add fill light to the tree, bringing out the texture of the bark, and the traces of sunlight that were still playing on the tree, while preserving the sky scene untouched. I thought this was much more "correct" or "accurate" as to the actual scene, but Sebastian saw the tree as muddy in the CS4 version, and Sharon said she preferred the "drama" of the nearly black tree in the DPP version. Nearly all of you have voted with them, for number one. A learning experience indeed.

 

Well, DPP is much, much easier (faster) to use than CS4 (I also down loaded Lightroom2, and Elements 7.0, DPP is much easier than any of the Adobe line), and the results, at least for me, seem to be better... so I'll stick with DPP for now and keep my $699.00.

 

Thanks again....

 

Jan

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Hi, Jan. Nice pictures. I liked picture number one of each pair, also.

 

Editing pictures to look better after the fact seems a little like cheating. Sort of like embellishing a true story. On the other hand, cameras don't seem to capture the true color sometimes and you have to be resort to "touching it up". Often you see pictures posted with the saturation so high they look unreal. Pretty, but unreal.

 

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Nice images. All of them could benefit from some masking and "regional" tone control. They could also be punched up a lot in terms of saturation w/o doing violence to reality.

 

Your eye is good! The only composition that is unpleasant is the the one w/ the horizon obviously off kilter. You can get away with this type of avant garde composition on almost anything but water.

 

I liked the first image in the whole series. The alternate versions are what I would call "over cooked" with post processing and become unnatural in feel. One may really tweak a photo w/ post processing but it must be subtle in the final image.

 

I took some liberties here, and this quick and dirty version is headed in the right direction. It is border-line over cooked for emphasis:

 

418309364_FDNPa-XL.jpg

 

417798381_WZccy-O.jpg
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Dances_With_Wiener_Dogs

Hi Jan! I picked photos 1 except the first and last. Generally I want the greater contrast. Looked like a fun outing.

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Francois_Dumas

Ah, but then again, Photoshop has long passed it usefulness for the occasional user. It is a true Pro tool for people that use it often, and learn a lot about it to begin with. And it gets harder to master with each version, NOT easier.

 

You should have a look at ACDsee (I think there's a trial version of it)... that allows you more control than the Canon utility, but with a similar ease. I use it a lot for my 'web work' that doesn't require using special effects, certain part of photos or other special effects.

 

I use the Pro 2.5 version which I think is some $ 130.

 

www.acdsee.com

 

 

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Jan, I voted for the first of each pair, except one. In all of these, the vote was based on the colors seeming more real, with more contrast and interest. The moonrise shot, for example, the tree is gorgeous in the top one, but muddy in the second.

 

The exception was the canyon overlook. Although I prefer the color of the top one a little, the difference isn't huge, and the sky was blown compared to the bottom one. So the bottom one got the vote. I might adjust the white balance just a little bit, to diminish the blue in the canyon walls.

 

The first shot is nice. I'd bump the saturation just a wee bit.

 

In the grasshopper shot, the color of the rock is better in the bottom shot, but the grasshopper itself is too dark in this one. So here too I picked the top one.

 

Can't wait to see the rest!

 

+1....I think you read my mind....

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I'm with you, and with Francois: Photoshop is not the app you want to use for general post-processing. You CAN of course, but it's like using a nuclear reactor to heat soup. Better to use a purpose-built tool.

 

I use Lightroom for most things, only moving to Photoshop for more creative work. I find that the vast majority of my shots need a very similar treatment, and Lightroom makes it easy to run through these adjustments for each one, doing a whole batch of shots in little time. I also like that Lightroom is a catalog utility, so I can rate & caption photos there. Then I use the export function to make jpegs or go straight to Smugmug. I shoot raw*, as I don't care for the jpeg treatment that my D80 gives.

 

(*) Edit: Well, to be very specific I shoot raw+jpeg mostly. But only because I've had a couple of instances where a few files were corrupted on a card, and so this way I have a jpeg copy as a safety net. I don't keep the jpegs.

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I use Lightroom for most things, only moving to Photoshop for more creative work.

 

And, w/ Lightroom 2.1 you really only need PSCS4 for pixel level editing, adavanced masking / compositing, etc.

 

Lightroom is getting very very powerful.

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Jan, I voted for the first of each pair, except one. In all of these, the vote was based on the colors seeming more real, with more contrast and interest.

 

Can't wait to see the rest!

 

+1 on that - my sentiments exactly - looks like it will be an awesome ride tale - great pictures

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I use Lightroom for most things, only moving to Photoshop for more creative work.

 

And, w/ Lightroom 2.1 you really only need PSCS4 for pixel level editing, adavanced masking / compositing, etc.

 

Lightroom is getting very very powerful.

 

One of the programs I downloaded a trial of was Lightroom 2.1. One issue I have with it is that in the editor, it does not seem that "What you see is what you get". After editing, when you look at a shot in Library it is totally different. I especially had trouble with the sharpening. I would tend to way over sharpen looking at the pixel level display. I used it for about a week before I decided to download CS4 (I previously did a trial of CS3, so hadn't felt any immediate need). I also took another look at Elements 7.0 and found it now has a RAW editor that includes the "Basic", "Sharpening" and "Camera Calibration" modules from Lightroom or CS4. It would probably do for me. It has a very Lightroom kind of feel to it, however it is "WYSIWYG".

 

CS4 has a few features I would use if I got it, for instance merging shots of different exposures to extend dynamic range and a few other little features like that.

 

I know I need to run through Adobe tutorials and film clips if I really want to learn their systems, but was hoping to choose a software package first.

 

I'm also going to look the ACD system that Francois suggested.

 

Thanks!

 

Jan

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418639966_qa76m-M.jpg

 

For someone who is colorblind, Photoshop's LAB color, (RGB and CMYK are the others) can be used to produce some very good results by the numbers. In fact, it's very effective for the kind of photos you've got here- somewhat muted colors, although it does take some getting used to. Dan Margulis' book here is the standard. The image here took a few minutes in PS, and although not complete, illustrates what LAB can do. One of its advantages is correcting color casts (white balance issues) rather quickly. It's rare that a preset is enough.

 

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Jan,

 

I was the first to vote (I did not comment at the time).... I like the first one in each of the pairs! Thanks for sharing how you processed them...

 

J-

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One issue I have with it is that in the editor, it does not seem that "What you see is what you get". After editing, when you look at a shot in Library it is totally different.

 

Hmmmm..... something is rotten in Denmark. Are you referring to the "Library" module in LR, and the "Develop" module in LR? If so, the images should be identical in both, and show your post processing changes.

 

You realize that LR is non-destructive so that if you upload the image from its "original" location to SmugMug w/o "exporting" it from LR first, none of the post processing is applied. Right? That's easy to confuse. It is also a huge step forward in that your original image file is unaltered.

 

Here's a suggestion. Download Luminous-Landscape's Lightroom 2 Tutorial. It is both entertaining and a good way to learn the power behind the simple UI in Lightroom. It is also pretty reasonable price, IMO. When I first started exploring LR it seemed like a "pretty UI" w/ not much under the hood.

 

Since V2, I've been learning to use it, I've completely changed my mind. Also, the latest version of LR has the ability to "paint" selective adjustments such as exposure, saturation, sharpening, etc., etc. And vis sharpening, you really need the tutorial to get the hang of turning on the effect screen (ALT + slider) etc. during sharpening. VERY cool.... and amazing control that would take hours of masking and layering in CS4.

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I liked all the pictures Jan. There was something naturally beautiful about the 1st picture of each set that grabbed me. The 2nd picture of each set looked unnatural. But if I had not seen both pics of each set and had only seen the 2nd picture of each set, I wonder if I would have really liked the picture because I wouldnt have had a choice to compare. Here is an example in my life. Ive been working on this new classical composition Im writing for a musical Im writing. It has cellos and other strings with a classical guitar in the front. In the last 2 weeks I have recorded 25 tapes of the same song. I keep going back to the first one as my favorite. Even though it has a few mistakes I made on the guitar, it has a beauty to it that the other 24 tapes could not capture because I was trying to make something that was naturally beautiful, interesting and perhaps perfect. Look forward to more pics.

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One issue I have with it is that in the editor, it does not seem that "What you see is what you get". After editing, when you look at a shot in Library it is totally different.

 

Hmmmm..... something is rotten in Denmark. Are you referring to the "Library" module in LR, and the "Develop" module in LR? If so, the images should be identical in both, and show your post processing changes.

 

You realize that LR is non-destructive so that if you upload the image from its "original" location to SmugMug w/o "exporting" it from LR first, none of the post processing is applied. Right? That's easy to confuse. It is also a huge step forward in that your original image file is unaltered.

 

Here's a suggestion. Download Luminous-Landscape's Lightroom 2 Tutorial. It is both entertaining and a good way to learn the power behind the simple UI in Lightroom. It is also pretty reasonable price, IMO. When I first started exploring LR it seemed like a "pretty UI" w/ not much under the hood.

 

Since V2, I've been learning to use it, I've completely changed my mind. Also, the latest version of LR has the ability to "paint" selective adjustments such as exposure, saturation, sharpening, etc., etc. And vis sharpening, you really need the tutorial to get the hang of turning on the effect screen (ALT + slider) etc. during sharpening. VERY cool.... and amazing control that would take hours of masking and layering in CS4.

 

The CouchMeister speaks much truth Jan. If you are really serious about doing this stuff, then I would seriously look at learning the LR2. The Tutorials are the key since they are great at unlocking the door. If I can get some free time tonight, I have a bunch of pictures that I developed over the weekend from my trip to Utah. (One will be in the Monday thread)

 

You have the desire and the raw skill, you just now need to really practice practice practice.

 

Tom

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One issue I have with it is that in the editor, it does not seem that "What you see is what you get". After editing, when you look at a shot in Library it is totally different.

 

Hmmmm..... something is rotten in Denmark. Are you referring to the "Library" module in LR, and the "Develop" module in LR? If so, the images should be identical in both, and show your post processing changes.

 

You realize that LR is non-destructive so that if you upload the image from its "original" location to SmugMug w/o "exporting" it from LR first, none of the post processing is applied. Right? That's easy to confuse. It is also a huge step forward in that your original image file is unaltered.

 

Here's a suggestion. Download Luminous-Landscape's Lightroom 2 Tutorial. It is both entertaining and a good way to learn the power behind the simple UI in Lightroom. It is also pretty reasonable price, IMO. When I first started exploring LR it seemed like a "pretty UI" w/ not much under the hood.

 

Since V2, I've been learning to use it, I've completely changed my mind. Also, the latest version of LR has the ability to "paint" selective adjustments such as exposure, saturation, sharpening, etc., etc. And vis sharpening, you really need the tutorial to get the hang of turning on the effect screen (ALT + slider) etc. during sharpening. VERY cool.... and amazing control that would take hours of masking and layering in CS4.

 

Thanks Scott

 

Yes, I understand non-destructive. I only upload finished web-ready images to Smugmug which I use only for hosting.

 

Yes, I was referring to both Library and Develop in LR 2.1. I'll check out the tutorial you mention.

 

The product Francois mentioned, ACDSee 2.5 Pro seems to be very powerful and less than half the cost of LR. Unfortunately I had trouble with it trying to format for the web... I use 96 pixels/inch resolution, 800 pixels wide for this board. It would only let me set one parameter or the other, but not both simultaneously. Maybe I'll figure that out at some point.

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The product Francois mentioned, ACDSee 2.5 Pro seems to be very powerful and less than half the cost of LR. Unfortunately I had trouble with it trying to format for the web... I use 96 pixels/inch resolution, 800 pixels wide for this board. It would only let me set one parameter or the other, but not both simultaneously. Maybe I'll figure that out at some point.

 

I use Irfanview for taskes such as re-sizing, not destructive copying/rotation etc. Freeware and simple to use.

 

Andy

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Lets_Play_Two

"One of the programs I downloaded a trial of was Lightroom 2.1. One issue I have with it is that in the editor, it does not seem that "What you see is what you get". After editing, when you look at a shot in Library it is totally different. I especially had trouble with the sharpening. I would tend to way over sharpen looking at the pixel level display."

 

IMHO, most people way overdo sharpening thinking that it will improve focus. Landscapes seldom need CS3/4 sharpening and in fact often looked contrived with it. Regarding viewing pictures and color, etc. issues, have you calibrated your monitor? This usually is a bigger concern between viewing on monitor and printing results. Also, pictures posted on the web will always look different because of color space issues. I agree that Lightroom and Canon's utility work great for simple post processing such as white balance, exposure and simple contrast adjustments. This may be all you need. If you know any students you might try Academicsuperstore.com for cheaper price. Also if you really want some "in-depth" intro to CS4 you might try Lynda.com where for $25 for one month access you can get 15 hours of video training on CS4 for Photographers. Great way to see if it is for you at a low cost. For the same $25 you can also do a Lightroom tutorial!

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Francois_Dumas

Jan,

 

you can of course resize your pictures and use 'save as.....' to save smaller copies (as I do for smugmug/BMWST).

Just go into the 'Edit mode' (hit Control+E) and you'll see the 'resize' option.

 

Alternatively you can use 'batch tools' after you select a number of photos. There too you can perform a lot of functions, including resizing.

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too old to care

I use CS2 and find it can do more things that I can do. I often find just selecting auto color and contrast works best, with a little sharpening from time to time. When I try to get creative I often mess up the photo, thankfully it allows me to back out one step at a time.

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"One of the programs I downloaded a trial of was Lightroom 2.1. One issue I have with it is that in the editor, it does not seem that "What you see is what you get". After editing, when you look at a shot in Library it is totally different. I especially had trouble with the sharpening. I would tend to way over sharpen looking at the pixel level display."

 

IMHO, most people way overdo sharpening thinking that it will improve focus. Landscapes seldom need CS3/4 sharpening and in fact often looked contrived with it. Regarding viewing pictures and color, etc. issues, have you calibrated your monitor? This usually is a bigger concern between viewing on monitor and printing results. Also, pictures posted on the web will always look different because of color space issues. I agree that Lightroom and Canon's utility work great for simple post processing such as white balance, exposure and simple contrast adjustments. This may be all you need. If you know any students you might try Academicsuperstore.com for cheaper price. Also if you really want some "in-depth" intro to CS4 you might try Lynda.com where for $25 for one month access you can get 15 hours of video training on CS4 for Photographers. Great way to see if it is for you at a low cost. For the same $25 you can also do a Lightroom tutorial!

 

Ok, I've run through the Lightroom tutorials and yes, a serious eyeopener. I'm practicing. It is very powerful. Thanks for all the help everyone.

 

But I'm still left with this WYSIWYG problem. These images are identical except that they are viewed in the two different modules, e.g. I "Developed" the image. When I return to Library I see a very different image. These screen shots are the best I can do with the 800 pixel wide board limitation, but I think you can see the difference. It is very dramatic in full resolution. Why is what I see in Develop different than what I see in Library?

 

Can someone explain this:

 

Develop

 

420474030_6gWED-O.jpg

 

Library

 

420460927_xRwad-O.jpg

 

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