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Image & Video Galleries => Portrait => Topic started by: sandymandy on June 25, 2012, 10:15:40 AM

Title: My photos look so dull
Post by: sandymandy on June 25, 2012, 10:15:40 AM
Hi,

well im regularly browsing around several websites checking out portraits cuz thats what i like to shoot too. Usually i come across pictures where i just think they look so good because the photo just looks so "fully lighted".
Feeling a bit retarded at the moment but i will still try to explain what i mean.

For example this photo

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8600629@N06/4448073209# (http://www.flickr.com/photos/8600629@N06/4448073209#)

Its not about the composition or anything but the lighting in this just looks so good to me. It looks so bright and the shadows are so soft. Like so awesome contrast and colors.

Other examples (randomly picked from pixe-peeper.com with 50mm 1.4 and 1.2):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/24285656@N07/7224316282# (http://www.flickr.com/photos/24285656@N07/7224316282#)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/41174696@N00/3606301684# (http://www.flickr.com/photos/41174696@N00/3606301684#)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/97349383@N00/4021765535# (http://www.flickr.com/photos/97349383@N00/4021765535#)

And in contrast when i take a portrait it just looks so...boring and dull and not brilliant.

Some of MY samples (SORRY FOR ADS ON THAT SITE :( ):

http://s7.directupload.net/file/d/2932/v8c7htox_jpg.htm (http://s7.directupload.net/file/d/2932/v8c7htox_jpg.htm)

http://s14.directupload.net/file/d/2932/e6d27om2_jpg.htm (http://s14.directupload.net/file/d/2932/e6d27om2_jpg.htm)

and last one where i overexposured a little trying to get "that look" from the samples at the beginning.

http://s14.directupload.net/file/d/2932/kbxf5b2c_jpg.htm (http://s14.directupload.net/file/d/2932/kbxf5b2c_jpg.htm)

Is it just my lens thats so crappy? 50mm 1.8II L(ens hood attached)? OR my 1100D camera? It just doesnt look so shiny awesome like i want. Like so "mellow" contrast only. Or is it just the post processing? Feel free to give my photos a try.

Thanks already


Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: lopicma on June 25, 2012, 11:45:42 AM
Have you tried using the different camera STYLES?  Those might be an on camera option if you can't afford a software solution.  You can also change the STYLE settings to get even more.  Be aware they are only good for JPEG files and you won't see much [any] change in RAW files.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: RLPhoto on June 25, 2012, 01:27:22 PM
Processing your RAW will get the best results. Nail you exposure for the skin tones of the subject.

5Dc - 24mm 1.4L @ F/2 - ISO 800 - 1/100th

5Dc - 24mm 1.4L @ F/2 - ISO 400 - 1/200th
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Kernuak on June 25, 2012, 04:41:55 PM
I did a very quick edit (about 30 secs) of your first image. I started off by increasing the exposure by around 2/3 stop (I could probably have gone a bit further), then I did a curves adjustment, followed by a levels adjustment to fix the shadows I created from the previous step. With a bit more care, I could probably have achieved the same in less steps. As was mentioned, it's all about nailing the exposure and in some cases, getting the lighting right. The in common with all photos, it will need some processing to get the best out of it, particularly when shooting RAW, as they usually need a contrast boost (except in hasrh lighting). It could probably do with a slight hue adjustment too.
I just made some adjsutments to colour balance and dodged some of the shadows.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Mt Spokane Photography on June 25, 2012, 07:48:03 PM
You will benefit by using post processing.
I imported your image into lightroom and just hit the auto tone button.  Then I backed off the exposure slightly, and added to the saturation slightly.  You can make a image look any way you like it, I preferred to lift the shadows so you can see the eyes. A little work with a raw image, and the eyes would brighten up even more.
 
(http://www.mount-spokane-photography.com/Photography/temp/i-cwzfxN3/0/XL/v8c7htox-XL.jpg)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: wickidwombat on June 26, 2012, 12:11:32 AM
Probably the most noticable item on most of those shots is the white balance is off
are you always using auto WB? regardless make sure you shoot RAW and you can tweak the WB a little
also tied in with White balance is sometimes skin tones can benefit from just a very slight tweak of the magenta
when tweaking white balance (in lightroom this only needs to be as subtle as +2 from the base value)
the first shot the lady's skin looks very pasty and pale so i would suggest the following

I'll put some values in to try in light room other programs the values might differ

increase the whitebalance temperature to warm it all up a bit (not sure without the raw but maybe 5200 or there about)
add in a little magenta on the wb colour tone slider +2

in some cases bring up your exposure a bit much better exposing a bit more than trying to pull it up in post though
then increase contrast a little +10 then tweak up or down a bit to taste
increase clarity a little maybe try +20 and again tweak to taste
increase vibrance +10 and tweak it

Add a subtle tone curve to bring in a bit of punch into the midtones also some very minor adjustment to the

black level can really help especially if your blacks are looking a little grey

if you are shooting jpg you should be aiming to nail your white balance in camera grab one of these and set custom white balance for each scene
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/58mm-White-Balance-Lens-Cap-Canon-EOS-450D-500D-50D-/250562087175?pt=AU_Cameras_Photographic_Accessories&hash=item3a56aa0907 (http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/58mm-White-Balance-Lens-Cap-Canon-EOS-450D-500D-50D-/250562087175?pt=AU_Cameras_Photographic_Accessories&hash=item3a56aa0907)
these are easier to use and carry than grey card and work really well
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: ScottyP on June 29, 2012, 11:58:59 AM
What do you use for post-processing?  Picking up a copy of Lightroom is much cheaper than it used to be since Adobe decided to cut the price in half.  Immediately after I purchased it, actually, but oh well.

A little extra exposure would help, possibly brushed onto the faces only, or perhaps by raising "fill light."  Also a little bit of "vibrance" and a small tad of "saturation." 

I agree with WickedWombat on the white balance point.  Add a touch of warmth in the WB, and you should be there, though getting it close while in-camera helps a ton if you shoot JPG because the camera is discarding data and making decisions that cannot be fully reversed as would be possible if you were shooting RAW.  If it is an important shot, consider shooting in RAW +JPG so you have both.

Also, to go low-tech for a minute, your subjects are wearing washed-out colors (grey and faded denim).  The photo you liked of that kid was bright orange and other vivid Romper-Room colors.  Sometimes it is just as simple as colorful clothes and backgrounds.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: @!ex on June 29, 2012, 02:27:23 PM
My swing at it.  levels, curves, contrast, adjusted color, fixed tones and skin, a bit of dodging and burning.  All and all about 2-3 min of work.

(http://i.imgur.com/GYb81.jpg)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: DavidB on June 29, 2012, 02:36:36 PM
There is something to be said for using good glass (e.g. L lenses), where all the post processing in the world won't help... The 50mm 1.8II is a great lens for the price, but it's just that, good for the PRICE.  It can't compete with the 50mm f/1.2L or 50mm f/1.4 in color, contrast and bokeh (The L lens more than non-L).  Those pictures you posted that you like so much are all taken with either the 50mm f/1.2L or 50mm f/1.4 (at least according to the author's tags).  You pay a premium for good glass for a reason! :)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: NotABunny on June 29, 2012, 04:33:38 PM
The well lit photos that you've shown (especially the first and last ones) are illuminated with photo lighting equipment. (The second one looks natural light but with a brush on the face to increase its brightness.)

That means that the subject is lit so that it fills the entire optimal dynamic range and tonal range of the eye. This happens because of light intensity, light spectral power distribution and light distribution / direction.

You can recognize this from the lack or softness of shadows and also from the exquisite colors and the very high resolution of tiny detail.

You can compensate (to some degree) the lack of photo lighting equipment with RAW processing, depending on how much time you're willing to spend processing photos.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Jettatore on June 29, 2012, 04:36:56 PM
Quick edit.  Using only curves and vibrance adjustment layers.  Basically you're exposures aren't perfect so the curves adjustment gets better tones for the underlying values, and then the vibrance adjustment makes the colors pop.  Do the curves first.

Attached is a picture of the curve used, Vibrance was set to 63.  I'd also try to get better exposures in camera, you can practice this by shooting in B&W and if you shoot in RAW, you can always shoot in B&W on camera and it will still keep the color data of the shot when you get the CR2 file back onto a computer.

Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: NotABunny on June 29, 2012, 04:50:03 PM
Here is a before and after-RAW-processing shot. You can see how I've altered the result to fill more of the eye's desire to see light and color. It feels that I've used a flash on the subject's face. This was a good case to get such a result because the original shot had enough light and tonal range in it to withstand the drastic changes that I've done to it. (You don't normally get such good results with room lighting.)

The colors are wacked in Chrome, so don't mind that.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: wtlloyd on June 29, 2012, 04:54:25 PM
you need to spend some time here: http://strobist.blogspot.com/ (http://strobist.blogspot.com/)

maybe a lot of time.

start by reading "lighting 101"
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Jettatore on June 29, 2012, 04:56:23 PM
NotABunny.  My eyes feel you are going too strong on raising the black point (not that you didn't set the black point where it needs to be, you did, but...) I am seeing a loss of detail in areas like the hair of the man behind the woman and the other man on the right's face, and so on (basically anything in shadow is getting some detail clipped).  Nice picture, improved by your editing as well, but I'd try to get that detail back either through masking or via altering your settings/procedures (using 'fill light" in RAW maybe in combination with masking, etc.).  It's a nice picture and I think your adjustments improved it further, but I would like to see those details return, it will add additional contrast to the overall image.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Axilrod on June 29, 2012, 05:24:40 PM
Nice adjustments, some look a little too processed for my tastes but all of them are improvements.

As for the original poster - A lot of new photographers think all of the photos they see on the web came straight off the camera, but rarely is an image perfect right off the bat.  I'd say nearly 100% of the photos you see on the web have at least some basic adjustments, and some have many more.  So don't get too discouraged.  And as it was said before, the lens has a lot to do with it, the 50 1.8 is a great lens for the money, but comparing it to the 1.2 or 1.4 isn't very fair. 
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: NotABunny on June 30, 2012, 06:16:42 AM
NotABunny.  My eyes feel you are going too strong on raising the black point (not that you didn't set the black point where it needs to be, you did, but...) I am seeing a loss of detail in areas like the hair of the man behind the woman and the other man on the right's face, and so on (basically anything in shadow is getting some detail clipped).  Nice picture, improved by your editing as well, but I'd try to get that detail back either through masking or via altering your settings/procedures (using 'fill light" in RAW maybe in combination with masking, etc.).  It's a nice picture and I think your adjustments improved it further, but I would like to see those details return, it will add additional contrast to the overall image.

Thank you for your comments, Jettatore.

The reason why I had to use such a strong black point is, aside the fact that I like my photos punchy (you should see them on OLED display), the camera was is direct sunlight and the girl under a tent. That meant that the exposure received all the direct sunlight, which has destroyed my blacks / shadows, hence the washed out look of the original.

If I add fill light or go easier on the background (with the Lightroom brush), the photo would start to look washed out.

In any case, I have spent hours trying to get the photo where it is (because unfortunately Lightroom has no blacks / whites for brushes), so more time fiddling with it would not be justified.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: @!ex on July 02, 2012, 02:18:52 AM
NotABunny.  My eyes feel you are going too strong on raising the black point (not that you didn't set the black point where it needs to be, you did, but...) I am seeing a loss of detail in areas like the hair of the man behind the woman and the other man on the right's face, and so on (basically anything in shadow is getting some detail clipped).  Nice picture, improved by your editing as well, but I'd try to get that detail back either through masking or via altering your settings/procedures (using 'fill light" in RAW maybe in combination with masking, etc.).  It's a nice picture and I think your adjustments improved it further, but I would like to see those details return, it will add additional contrast to the overall image.

Thank you for your comments, Jettatore.

The reason why I had to use such a strong black point is, aside the fact that I like my photos punchy (you should see them on OLED display), the camera was is direct sunlight and the girl under a tent. That meant that the exposure received all the direct sunlight, which has destroyed my blacks / shadows, hence the washed out look of the original.

If I add fill light or go easier on the background (with the Lightroom brush), the photo would start to look washed out.

In any case, I have spent hours trying to get the photo where it is (because unfortunately Lightroom has no blacks / whites for brushes), so more time fiddling with it would not be justified.

Hours?  Wow, a little familiarity with photoshop would get you a long way.  These types of adjustments should take minutes at most.  Too many people rely on the sliders in lightroom, and fail to realize the power and creative freedom they are missing out on. 
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: wickidwombat on July 02, 2012, 02:46:00 AM
NotABunny.  My eyes feel you are going too strong on raising the black point (not that you didn't set the black point where it needs to be, you did, but...) I am seeing a loss of detail in areas like the hair of the man behind the woman and the other man on the right's face, and so on (basically anything in shadow is getting some detail clipped).  Nice picture, improved by your editing as well, but I'd try to get that detail back either through masking or via altering your settings/procedures (using 'fill light" in RAW maybe in combination with masking, etc.).  It's a nice picture and I think your adjustments improved it further, but I would like to see those details return, it will add additional contrast to the overall image.

Thank you for your comments, Jettatore.

The reason why I had to use such a strong black point is, aside the fact that I like my photos punchy (you should see them on OLED display), the camera was is direct sunlight and the girl under a tent. That meant that the exposure received all the direct sunlight, which has destroyed my blacks / shadows, hence the washed out look of the original.

If I add fill light or go easier on the background (with the Lightroom brush), the photo would start to look washed out.

In any case, I have spent hours trying to get the photo where it is (because unfortunately Lightroom has no blacks / whites for brushes), so more time fiddling with it would not be justified.

Hours?  Wow, a little familiarity with photoshop would get you a long way.  These types of adjustments should take minutes at most.  Too many people rely on the sliders in lightroom, and fail to realize the power and creative freedom they are missing out on.

lightroom does you can just dodge and burn the same way you would in photoshop using a brush
granted doing it in ps via a mask is cleaner however LR edits are effectively non destructive anyway

if anyone needs to learn photoshop this website has lots of easy to follow tutorials and each one doesnt take too long to work through

http://www.photoshopessentials.com/ (http://www.photoshopessentials.com/)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: NotABunny on July 02, 2012, 01:56:16 PM
Quote
In any case, I have spent hours trying to get the photo where it is (because unfortunately Lightroom has no blacks / whites for brushes), so more time fiddling with it would not be justified.

Hours?  Wow, a little familiarity with photoshop would get you a long way.  These types of adjustments should take minutes at most.  Too many people rely on the sliders in lightroom, and fail to realize the power and creative freedom they are missing out on.

Sure, it takes a minute to paint a brush over her body, add a graduated filter to darken a corner, and move 3 sliders (that's what the photo has); okay, plus a few tens of spot removals. But it took me hours (over multiple sessions) because I was learning, I was trying all sorts of stuff and I never knew what the photo should look like.

I've only posted this shot because it was an extreme example of what post-processing means. Initially, I thought it's a dud. It's not among my preferred, so I don't feel like spending more time with it; maybe when I'll learn more about post.

(By the way, the reason why her face looks like it has a flash on it is because of the +25 clarity. Who would just know that? My general experience is that positive clarity is bad for women portraits.)


Here is an even more dramatic example of recovery (although LR is not of much help here - can't properly do the edges of the lips); if someone doesn't think it's dramatic, consider that it's F4, 1/100 s, ISO 3200 on a 40D (that's how low the light was). Sure, this one can't be transformed into a real fashion looking shot, but I've learned a lot about what can be done.

Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: @!ex on July 02, 2012, 11:25:33 PM
Quote
In any case, I have spent hours trying to get the photo where it is (because unfortunately Lightroom has no blacks / whites for brushes), so more time fiddling with it would not be justified.

Hours?  Wow, a little familiarity with photoshop would get you a long way.  These types of adjustments should take minutes at most.  Too many people rely on the sliders in lightroom, and fail to realize the power and creative freedom they are missing out on.

Sure, it takes a minute to paint a brush over her body, add a graduated filter to darken a corner, and move 3 sliders (that's what the photo has); okay, plus a few tens of spot removals. But it took me hours (over multiple sessions) because I was learning, I was trying all sorts of stuff and I never knew what the photo should look like.

I've only posted this shot because it was an extreme example of what post-processing means. Initially, I thought it's a dud. It's not among my preferred, so I don't feel like spending more time with it; maybe when I'll learn more about post.

(By the way, the reason why her face looks like it has a flash on it is because of the +25 clarity. Who would just know that? My general experience is that positive clarity is bad for women portraits.)


Here is an even more dramatic example of recovery (although LR is not of much help here - can't properly do the edges of the lips); if someone doesn't think it's dramatic, consider that it's F4, 1/100 s, ISO 3200 on a 40D (that's how low the light was). Sure, this one can't be transformed into a real fashion looking shot, but I've learned a lot about what can be done.

5 min in photoshop.  I think this image is perfectly useable.  I went with a different look than you for sure (I could have done a bleach bypass or desaturated the skin to get the vampire look).  I probably over smoothed the skin, but that was because I was in a hurry.  the real problem was the skin tone (white balance) but I think I got that sorted out.  Definitely needed quite a few masks (teeth, curves and levels, warmth, saturation), which is why photoshop is so much more powerful.  Just my two cents, but learning photoshop is the quickest way to improve your photography...
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: NotABunny on July 03, 2012, 01:32:23 PM
Thanks for your effort @!ex, I appreciate it :)

Still, I do not plan to use Photoshop. I need a photo editor, not an image editor. My photographic style is candid, not posed / directed; oh, and I hate skin without texture. If Adobe were only to include blacks, whites and HSL for brushes in LR...

For what I do, LR is plenty good (note that this is a screenshot taken on an aRGB monitor, so people on sRGB or Chrome will see weird colors):
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: NotABunny on July 03, 2012, 02:19:35 PM
Sandymandy, here is my attempt to the photo of the man. I chose that because the light is very good.

If you have LR 4:
* General: Shadows = 100, Whites = 50, Blacks = -60, Clarity = 12 (50 for the second sample).
* Adjustment brush on his face: Exposure = 0.63.

You can exaggerate more with the contrast by going lower with the blacks and higher with the exposure / whites / shadows. You can also use a higher clarity for that rough look that works on men.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: SandyP on July 03, 2012, 04:49:41 PM
Skin blurring = no good.

I think the main problem here is just getting your exposure and your white balance right, in the camera. I mean perfect.


I spend a lot of time retouching portraits for studio work, for make-up artists and such, if you'd like I can run down some tips for you, for more advanced editing. Otherwise, I'd totally drop these global adjustments like "clarity" and such for portrait taking. Those are..... crap.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: blaydese on July 17, 2012, 11:44:05 PM
Ahhh so folks DO post process their pictures and not call it HDR or HDRI eh?  Hurmmmm.  Interesting.

Peace! 8)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: @!ex on July 18, 2012, 02:34:44 AM
Ahhh so folks DO post process their pictures and not call it HDR or HDRI eh?  Hurmmmm.  Interesting.

Peace! 8)

WTF?, maybe I missed something here...
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: dhofmann on July 18, 2012, 03:14:57 AM
There are three main problems:

1. The images are underexposed. Watch the histogram on the screen when you take the photos. If you took the photo in RAW, Photoshop can fix this, but it will create some grain.

2. The light source is directly overhead, creating shadows on the faces. It needs to be a little more to the front of the face, especially with the woman, because both eyes are in shadow in both of her photos.

3. The white balance is slightly off in the first two photos.

Using natural light can be a challenge in getting good photos, but the rewards are great. I second the suggestion to learn Strobist Lighting 101. It will teach you what good light is. With good light, you can completely eliminate the need to use Photoshop.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Hillsilly on July 18, 2012, 05:11:30 AM
The 50mm should be fine.  I see that some of the sample photos were taken with more expensive lenses.  But really, this would only produce minor differences.  I've got a 50 / 1.8 myself and have never thought it lacking.  A couple of tips for using the lens:

1.  Buy a lens hood and use it.  Doesn't have to be the overpriced "Canon" one.  Just pick up a cheap one off eBay.
2.  It doesn't produce optimal results when you are aiming in the direction of the sun.  Try taking photos with the sun behind you (so that your shadow is pointed towards the subject) and see if this makes a difference.

I don't know if all of your photos always look like this.  If so, play around with some contrast and saturation settings until things start looking better.  But I suspect that your photos were just taken on an uninspiring,  dreary day.  If your subjects aren't in great light, the camera is unlikely to make things look better.  Taking photos in the early morning or late afternoon usually produces the best results.

You might notice that the sample photos were taken with a flash - The sparkle in the boys' eyes gives this away.   Try using a flash yourself (if outdoors, try it on a very low setting for a little fill).  Bouncing the flash off a wall or ceiling also works well to give a nice diffuse light.  The other advantage of using a flash is that you can keep your subject well lit, but reduce the background brightness slightly (making your subject stand out more).  Some fun things to try.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: And-Rew on July 18, 2012, 05:51:36 AM
The trick with any post processing is to get the image looking like you wanted it.
It may have been captured with the sole purpose of processing, other times it may just need a little 'pick me up'

As with learning how to use you camera to its fullest, post processing software also needs to be mastered to get the best. Personally, I'm a Lightroom man, though I do admire and appreciate the looks people get with Photoshop - it just doesn't appeal to me, at this moment in time, as something I'm in a hurry to learn and do.

Find the look, find how it was created and do or learn what is necessary to get your images like that. You can always ask the photographer how they created a look. Many are willing to help you learn, hence sites like this  :)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: koolman on July 18, 2012, 06:37:09 AM
As other are showing:

1) Improve WB accuracy !

2) Make sure to pay attention to the direction of the light. Shooting with light source above (like your shots) can produce shady shots

3) Exposure and PP
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: elflord on July 18, 2012, 07:31:12 AM
Hi,

well im regularly browsing around several websites checking out portraits cuz thats what i like to shoot too. Usually i come across pictures where i just think they look so good because the photo just looks so "fully lighted".
Feeling a bit retarded at the moment but i will still try to explain what i mean.

If you're shooting raw, you will get a lot of mileage out of just bumping the exposure (on the raw image) and tweaking the white balance.

You could just expose more to start with but that's always risky because you end up blowing out highlights if you're not careful -- easier and safer to add a little exposure when working with the raw image.

You can also tweak the curves (similar effect to tweaking exposure)

You can do all of this in jpeg too but it works much better in raw (especially white balance correction)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: @!ex on July 18, 2012, 12:34:10 PM
Well, we have had a nice little conversation haven't we, but I'm curious if this lady will ever read any of these comments.  Sorta feels like we are talking to ourselves at this point.  oh well.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Tammy on July 18, 2012, 02:00:48 PM
Well, we have had a nice little conversation haven't we, but I'm curious if this lady will ever read any of these comments.  Sorta feels like we are talking to ourselves at this point.  oh well.

that's fine, because i am reading them.. :)

they can be helpful to others.. knowledge can be found, even by those who know much, if one has an open mind..
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: philsv77 on August 15, 2012, 07:51:26 PM
I know it's hard to explain.  However, it's all about quality of the light, whether it is natural or flash, whichever.  For  a portrait photo, soft and directional light is "usually" the best light for a subject, particularly in a female, or kids :). 

Yes, some photos you post were in wrong white balance setting, which is another thing you will need to learn so my suggestion is shoot in RAW so you can easily fix it in pp.

These are the shots of my kids taken 4-6 years back.  Tell me if you know which one is shot with flash.  Hint: only 1 taken with "bounce" flash

(http://www.pbase.com/phi_tran/image/111979912/original.jpg)

(http://www.pbase.com/phi_tran/image/114826835/original.jpg)

(http://www.pbase.com/phi_tran/image/116428909/original.jpg)

(http://www.pbase.com/phi_tran/image/137959144/original.jpg)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Xeryus on August 15, 2012, 11:29:55 PM
Looks like all of them are shot with flash , except the first one (Unless you were using a diffuser to soften and spread the nice evenly while shooting at a higher focal length)

I vote that the last one was bounced. just because i like the picture the most :)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: sandymandy on August 16, 2012, 04:59:04 AM
Im still here. Well a bit disappointed auto WB seems to work crappy T_T
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: paul13walnut5 on August 16, 2012, 05:55:30 AM
think about perspective... for that real focus fall off you want the subject nice and close to the camera, and the distance between the subject and the background at least double that of the distance between the subject and camera, ideally even more.

Think about light...  your guy is in the shade, no catchlight = dead eyes.

Look into fill flash, the wee pop up flash on the 1100D is actually fine for a little bit of fill flash.

Post prod is important as discussed.

Think about colour profile, are you going to be primarily printing it (use Abobe RGB) or sharing it online (use sRGB)

Think about a little post sharpening and NR on the RAW files.  Can help make things POP a little if used in a subtle way.

Nothing wrong with cam or lens, should actually be a pretty good combo for portraits.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: sama on August 16, 2012, 06:29:55 AM
If Photoshop or lightroom is too much trouble to you. Edit your images with the Windows live photo gallery and see what you will achieve.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: wockawocka on August 16, 2012, 08:27:59 AM
I know it's hard to explain.  However, it's all about quality of the light, whether it is natural or flash, whichever.  For  a portrait photo, soft and directional light is "usually" the best light for a subject, particularly in a female, or kids :). 

Yes, some photos you post were in wrong white balance setting, which is another thing you will need to learn so my suggestion is shoot in RAW so you can easily fix it in pp.

These are the shots of my kids taken 4-6 years back.  Tell me if you know which one is shot with flash.  Hint: only 1 taken with "bounce" flash

(http://www.pbase.com/phi_tran/image/111979912/original.jpg)

(http://www.pbase.com/phi_tran/image/114826835/original.jpg)

(http://www.pbase.com/phi_tran/image/116428909/original.jpg)

(http://www.pbase.com/phi_tran/image/137959144/original.jpg)

This is just my opinion, but the above examples are what you should be paying attention to. The other ones given, shown, used as examples leading up to the post are over processed and very poor indeed.

It is indeed all about the quality of the light and where it comes from in relation to the subject. You are after all, painting with it.

(http://www.booheads.co.uk/gallery/actors/tessa-cushan.jpg)

(http://www.booheads.co.uk/gallery/actors/headshots-london.jpg)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: DB on August 16, 2012, 09:52:48 AM
You can do amazing things in post (as many others have shown here on this thread), but it's 100% better to improve the image at point of capture.

2 things you can do (that I did when I was shooting before with a T2i):

(1) Buy a Grey card e.g. Lastolite 18% mid-tonal grey collapsible card (fits in a camera bag) & custom WB

(2) Buy a decent lens. I went from an EF-S kit ens to EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM and the colours blew me away. I shoot a lot outside in the garden, woods etc. and people see my shots and say how did you get the colour like that, did you do it in Photoshop? Before when I took pics with a cheap lens, I would always Auto Tone & Auto Colour in PS automatically in post, now I never mess with the colour from my L lens.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: sandymandy on August 16, 2012, 10:45:02 AM
Im on a really low budget. An L lense feels like lightyears away from me. Plus i think i would rather get a Fullframe body first before im gonna buy any L Lense unless its ridiculously cheap :)
Probably the next lens i will buy around xmas is an 50mm 1.4 SMC Takumar m42. Good image quality and good price. But so far i just stick with my 50mm f/1.8 II and vivitar/kiron 28mm f/2.5.
I think theyre not bad lenses.
I have an anti flash hate, perhaps i will be cured one day when i get a decent flash. Im traumatized by the P&S inbuilt flashes.

For WB what about this:

http://www.amazon.de/Enjoyyourcamera-Balance-Wei%C3%9Fabgleich-Graukarte-Objektivdeckel/dp/B000WII2PA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1345128130&sr=8-2 (http://www.amazon.de/Enjoyyourcamera-Balance-Wei%C3%9Fabgleich-Graukarte-Objektivdeckel/dp/B000WII2PA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1345128130&sr=8-2)

Im not a pro so i dont need perfection...just something close to that would be good. I always shoot in RAW.

Anyway thanks for yall advice guess i just have to practice more.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: RLPhoto on August 16, 2012, 11:09:03 AM
Im on a really low budget. An L lense feels like lightyears away from me. Plus i think i would rather get a Fullframe body first before im gonna buy any L Lense unless its ridiculously cheap :)
Probably the next lens i will buy around xmas is an 50mm 1.4 SMC Takumar m42. Good image quality and good price. But so far i just stick with my 50mm f/1.8 II and vivitar/kiron 28mm f/2.5.
I think theyre not bad lenses.
I have an anti flash hate, perhaps i will be cured one day when i get a decent flash. Im traumatized by the P&S inbuilt flashes.

For WB what about this:

http://www.amazon.de/Enjoyyourcamera-Balance-Wei%C3%9Fabgleich-Graukarte-Objektivdeckel/dp/B000WII2PA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1345128130&sr=8-2 (http://www.amazon.de/Enjoyyourcamera-Balance-Wei%C3%9Fabgleich-Graukarte-Objektivdeckel/dp/B000WII2PA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1345128130&sr=8-2)

Im not a pro so i dont need perfection...just something close to that would be good. I always shoot in RAW.

Anyway thanks for yall advice guess i just have to practice more.

You can get a 5Dc for around 700$ if you want full frame. It still is one of the finest cameras ever made for little $$$.

On the L lens stuff, There is a couple of non-L primes that are very good. 100mm F/2, 50mm 1.4, 28mm 1.8 (when stopped down a bit to F2.8 ).

Glass first, bodies second.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Jamesy on August 16, 2012, 01:17:52 PM
My swing at it.  levels, curves, contrast, adjusted color, fixed tones and skin, a bit of dodging and burning.  All and all about 2-3 min of work.

(http://i.imgur.com/GYb81.jpg)
This was done is PS right? As soon as you say Levels it implies PS.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: @!ex on August 16, 2012, 03:51:53 PM
My swing at it.  levels, curves, contrast, adjusted color, fixed tones and skin, a bit of dodging and burning.  All and all about 2-3 min of work.

(http://i.imgur.com/GYb81.jpg)
This was done is PS right? As soon as you say Levels it implies PS.

By PS, you mean photoshop I assume (I guess is could mean post process too).  Either way I did it in pohsotoshop, but levels adjustments do not, in of themselves, imply photoshop per say.  Levels adjustments are available in any image processing software (Aperture, lightroom, DPP, iPhoto, ect). 
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Jamesy on August 16, 2012, 05:05:45 PM

By PS, you mean photoshop I assume (I guess is could mean post process too).  Either way I did it in pohsotoshop, but levels adjustments do not, in of themselves, imply photoshop per say.  Levels adjustments are available in any image processing software (Aperture, lightroom, DPP, iPhoto, ect).
Right I was referring to Photoshop. The most common use of the term Levels is typically the Levels dialog in Photoshop, at least that I have seen. When you talk of Levels in Lightroom do you mean the Exposure and Brightness sliders (LR3) and  Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks (LR4)?
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: @!ex on August 16, 2012, 05:37:48 PM

By PS, you mean photoshop I assume (I guess is could mean post process too).  Either way I did it in pohsotoshop, but levels adjustments do not, in of themselves, imply photoshop per say.  Levels adjustments are available in any image processing software (Aperture, lightroom, DPP, iPhoto, ect).
Right I was referring to Photoshop. The most common use of the term Levels is typically the Levels dialog in Photoshop, at least that I have seen. When you talk of Levels in Lightroom do you mean the Exposure and Brightness sliders (LR3) and  Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks (LR4)?

Whoops, your right, LR doesn't have a levels adjustment.   I work in Aperture and just figured that any image processor worth it's salt would have this as a standard feature, as it is immensely useful.  Either way, you can set your black point with the blacks slider, and the white point with the white slider, so you can do that much, the problem is hitting the mid tones in a similar way as moving the midtone set point on levels adjustment.  I'm guessing you could get something similar with a mix of brightness and exposure, but that is a pretty dirty way to do it.  Wow, pretty huge hole in LR that I wasn't aware of till now.  Seems like they tried to dumb everything down to sliders and have in fact made certain simple adjustments more complex...
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Jamesy on August 16, 2012, 07:37:26 PM
I use LR3 which has brightness and contrast while LR has the white and black slider - although LR3 also has a blacks slider.

I tend to do contrast type adjustments with the tone curve in LR and I have used Levels in PS CS5. I was just watching a video that sayd the new 'auto' button in CS6 is much improved in the Levels and Curves adjustment layer dialog in CS6.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: philsv77 on August 16, 2012, 07:58:57 PM
Looks like all of them are shot with flash , except the first one (Unless you were using a diffuser to soften and spread the nice evenly while shooting at a higher focal length)

I vote that the last one was bounced. just because i like the picture the most :)

Indeed, only the last one is shot with bounced flash at night time inside the house.   The others are all natural light coming from a large window.  Window lighting is the simplest thing I learned to shoot portrait and I strongly suggest every newcomer should learn to master it :).

I would not recommend buying WB card or such, it's a waste of $. When you first start, shoot in RAW and adjust it in post-processing.  Only take < minute.  When you're good, you can set manual WB to adjust to the env you need and off you go, no more post-processing :):):).   
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: wockawocka on August 17, 2012, 08:08:04 AM
I love how examples of rescuing the image are so oversaturated and clipped.

What I did:

Created two layers in CS5, Top layer was a screen overlay, pulled back until the brightness was correct.
Auto levels
Auto curves
Auto colour

Then manually edited the RGB values in levels with the slider. The grey of the jacket is perfect for getting a neutral reading from.

Then added contrast by dodging the highlights around the light spots, bit of the jacket, forehead and tips of the hair.

Use your eyes, does the skin look green? blue? and bit purply? Skin tones are your colour and brightness barometer. Nobody cares about the jeans, or the jacket, or the grass. We'll look straight at the face and go 'that looks weird'.

Keep it real, don't go balls out and over saturating things like the examples on here.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: @!ex on August 18, 2012, 03:25:26 AM
I love how examples of rescuing the image are so oversaturated and clipped.

What I did:

Created two layers in CS5, Top layer was a screen overlay, pulled back until the brightness was correct.
Auto levels
Auto curves
Auto colour

Then manually edited the RGB values in levels with the slider. The grey of the jacket is perfect for getting a neutral reading from.

Then added contrast by dodging the highlights around the light spots, bit of the jacket, forehead and tips of the hair.

Use your eyes, does the skin look green? blue? and bit purply? Skin tones are your colour and brightness barometer. Nobody cares about the jeans, or the jacket, or the grass. We'll look straight at the face and go 'that looks weird'.

Keep it real, don't go balls out and over saturating things like the examples on here.

Bro, I get what you are going for.  You would make a nice museum curator, but in this case your edit looks a bit mummified.  Portraits are a fine line between reality and surreally.  In fact that goes for all creative photography (excluding photo journalism).
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: elflord on August 18, 2012, 07:11:22 AM
I have an anti flash hate, perhaps i will be cured one day when i get a decent flash. Im traumatized by the P&S inbuilt flashes.

Point and shoot flashes tend to blast indiscriminately in the subjects face. I think this is largely the reason why many new enthusiasts develop a taste for "available light photography" (meaning "I don't use a flash") About the only time you want the flash aimed directly at the subject is to compensate for backlighting. However, consider this -- nearly all studio photographers and most wedding photographers make heavy use of flash. The difference is that they nearly always either bounce the flash or have the flash off the camera (e.g. a studio setup will use off camera flashes). The result is that the light isn't coming directly from the camera. The key to effective use of a flash is getting the light source away from the axis between the camera and the subject.

Regarding lenses, the L designation is just Canon's marketing. Usually lenses that are marketed as more high end are higher quality but the rule is far from absolute -- there are several exceptions including newer budget primes, some APS-C only lenses and some third party lenses (which aren't marketed by Canon and therefore don't carry Canon's marketing badges).
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Jamesy on August 18, 2012, 09:26:40 AM
About the only time you want the flash aimed directly at the subject is to compensate for backlighting. However, consider this -- nearly all studio photographers and most wedding photographers make heavy use of flash. The difference is that they nearly always either bounce the flash or have the flash off the camera (e.g. a studio setup will use off camera flashes). The result is that the light isn't coming directly from the camera. The key to effective use of a flash is getting the light source away from the axis between the camera and the subject.
An on-axis fill by way of an umbrella or a ring flash is also used, typically in conjunction with a key light coming from a location not on-axis can render a pleasing portrait too.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: unkbob on August 18, 2012, 09:51:23 AM
Bro, I get what you are going for.  You would make a nice museum curator, but in this case your edit looks a bit mummified.  Portraits are a fine line between reality and surreally.  In fact that goes for all creative photography (excluding photo journalism).

Bro, your edit is terrible.

(http://i.imgur.com/GYb81.jpg)

Seriously, those eyes are shocking - far too much contrast and the whites are too bright to the point where she is now a robot. Whole image is just an over-saturated mess.

I'm only saying this because you critiqued someone else's edit, which was infinitely better than yours, even if it was a bit flat. Don't worry though, this whole thread is littered with horrible edits so you're not alone! There's only so much you can do to an image which was awful to start with - bad lighting is bad lighting.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: CowGummy on August 18, 2012, 11:24:41 AM
I love how examples of rescuing the image are so oversaturated and clipped.

What I did:

Created two layers in CS5, Top layer was a screen overlay, pulled back until the brightness was correct.
Auto levels
Auto curves
Auto colour

Then manually edited the RGB values in levels with the slider. The grey of the jacket is perfect for getting a neutral reading from.

Then added contrast by dodging the highlights around the light spots, bit of the jacket, forehead and tips of the hair.

Use your eyes, does the skin look green? blue? and bit purply? Skin tones are your colour and brightness barometer. Nobody cares about the jeans, or the jacket, or the grass. We'll look straight at the face and go 'that looks weird'.

Keep it real, don't go balls out and over saturating things like the examples on here.

+1

This is the only edit in this thread I would consider good. Gets my vote for sure, and I'm not a museum curator.
A lot of shockingly bad understanding of what processing is and when/how to apply it on the rest of these edits.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: NotABunny on August 18, 2012, 01:21:37 PM
wockawocka's edit is natural, though a tad purple (especially in the upper half). But this is what you can get in a short time when having such bad light. The original has a very low dynamic and tonal range. There are no blacks and you can see the green cast which messes the color balance.

To point out some things:
* Bad color balance is virtually irrecoverable. You can try a BW instead (looks better for this shot); you can actually try some insane white balance values to give the shot a special film look.
* A good (hardware-calibrated) display is necessary for post-processing color.
* Taste varies wildly and the point of this exercise is to show the OP that good light and post-processing matter hugely.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: wockawocka on August 18, 2012, 03:11:11 PM
Bro, I get what you are going for.  You would make a nice museum curator, but in this case your edit looks a bit mummified.  Portraits are a fine line between reality and surreally.  In fact that goes for all creative photography (excluding photo journalism).

Bro, your edit is terrible.

(http://i.imgur.com/GYb81.jpg)

Seriously, those eyes are shocking - far too much contrast and the whites are too bright to the point where she is now a robot. Whole image is just an over-saturated mess.

I'm only saying this because you critiqued someone else's edit, which was infinitely better than yours, even if it was a bit flat. Don't worry though, this whole thread is littered with horrible edits so you're not alone! There's only so much you can do to an image which was awful to start with - bad lighting is bad lighting.

Leave him be, it's ok to be fascinated with the bad guys in Stargate.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: tx8koibito on August 20, 2012, 08:31:04 AM
Here is my attempt,

(http://i1203.photobucket.com/albums/bb382/tx8koibito/edited.jpg)

10 mins job.......!!!! no skin blemishing involved. Tried to stay true to the original without going overboard.

Photoshop only, NO Lightroom
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: unkbob on August 20, 2012, 11:50:10 PM
Here's my effort. 100% Photoshop.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: fallenflowers on August 22, 2012, 11:37:18 PM
it's definitely "post process" look you need, it's not your camera or lens. took me about 10 mins to edit your photo, i removed the blemishes, add contrast, little of saturation and using the levels to add more brightness.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: skitron on August 25, 2012, 01:15:53 PM
I guess I'll play too. So unkbob's sentiment not withstanding (there is a lot to be said for getting the shot right to begin with, but I will be the first to admit that isn't always going to happen, so then it becomes a game of salvaging what you have)...here's how I see it. Done with Capture One Pro 6 messing with some sliders and levels 'thingies', no layers.

Sometimes crop is your best friend...I probably went a little warmer than I should have going after the skin tones, but the idea is to show what a crop and some exposure tricks can do to change it up. In this case, crop for the face, expose for the face, "hdr" for the face, and then tone down the rest with a little vignette (CO has what to my eyes is by far the best vignetting tool out here). I also took the contrast back pretty far to help drag out some shadow detail and then did some color sat to make up for it. Also added a dab of clarity to help make up for pulling back contrast. [edit] Oh, and also used a stock 'darken mid-tones' RGB curve... And if you're really serious  :) you could use layers to lighten the hair shadows on the left a bit and contrast the right side of the scarf a bit.

Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: RLPhoto on August 25, 2012, 06:02:39 PM
Just imagine the possibilities if we had the RAW file. ::)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: NotABunny on August 26, 2012, 04:50:05 AM
I prefer to take a challenge rather than mock.

As I was saying, a BW helps you to get rid of a bad color balance.

(Half an hour in LR.)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: jVillaPhoto on September 05, 2012, 04:52:14 AM
Well, here's my attempt. Need the practice so any constructive crits welcome!

Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: DrDeano on September 21, 2012, 11:48:55 AM
Difficult because of the diffuse lighting, improper exposure and what appears to be mixed color temps.

Anywho, here's my attempt to fix the jpg. Done in LR 4.1.

-DrDeano
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: westr70 on October 03, 2012, 08:32:38 PM
My swing at it.  levels, curves, contrast, adjusted color, fixed tones and skin, a bit of dodging and burning.  All and all about 2-3 min of work.

(http://i.imgur.com/GYb81.jpg)

Seriously nice work.  Do a tutorial. 
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: cpsico on October 03, 2012, 09:12:22 PM
Hi,

well im regularly browsing around several websites checking out portraits cuz thats what i like to shoot too. Usually i come across pictures where i just think they look so good because the photo just looks so "fully lighted".
Feeling a bit retarded at the moment but i will still try to explain what i mean.

For example this photo

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8600629@N06/4448073209# (http://www.flickr.com/photos/8600629@N06/4448073209#)

Its not about the composition or anything but the lighting in this just looks so good to me. It looks so bright and the shadows are so soft. Like so awesome contrast and colors.

Other examples (randomly picked from pixe-peeper.com with 50mm 1.4 and 1.2):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/24285656@N07/7224316282# (http://www.flickr.com/photos/24285656@N07/7224316282#)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/41174696@N00/3606301684# (http://www.flickr.com/photos/41174696@N00/3606301684#)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/97349383@N00/4021765535# (http://www.flickr.com/photos/97349383@N00/4021765535#)

And in contrast when i take a portrait it just looks so...boring and dull and not brilliant.

Some of MY samples (SORRY FOR ADS ON THAT SITE :( ):

http://s7.directupload.net/file/d/2932/v8c7htox_jpg.htm (http://s7.directupload.net/file/d/2932/v8c7htox_jpg.htm)

http://s14.directupload.net/file/d/2932/e6d27om2_jpg.htm (http://s14.directupload.net/file/d/2932/e6d27om2_jpg.htm)

and last one where i overexposured a little trying to get "that look" from the samples at the beginning.

http://s14.directupload.net/file/d/2932/kbxf5b2c_jpg.htm (http://s14.directupload.net/file/d/2932/kbxf5b2c_jpg.htm)

Is it just my lens thats so crappy? 50mm 1.8II L(ens hood attached)? OR my 1100D camera? It just doesnt look so shiny awesome like i want. Like so "mellow" contrast only. Or is it just the post processing? Feel free to give my photos a try.

Thanks already
What color space are you using, srgb or adobe?
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Ryan708 on October 03, 2012, 10:13:31 PM

Is it just my lens thats so crappy? 50mm 1.8II L(ens hood attached)? OR my 1100D camera? It just doesnt look so shiny awesome like i want. Like so "mellow" contrast only. Or is it just the post processing? Feel free to give my photos a try.

Thanks already

My 50 f/1.8ii gives the same feel. It is an excellent lens as far as sharpness goes and the 1.8 is nice. But it has no saturation or contrast. I shot a wedding last weekend and the 50mm's images all needed retouching, to make them look punchy, where some of the shots from my 17-70 sigma almost seemed too punchy and saturated. every lens has it's strong points. My canon 28mm f/2.8 is very vivid and sharp! but not very versatile. I like lightroom but if you shoot Jpeg try making a custom picture style, thats a normal landscape style, but add +2 saturation. That livens up the 50mm a lot!
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: verysimplejason on October 03, 2012, 11:04:21 PM
Even Picasa can give photos some life though I use it only for previewing.  I've just tried doing it with several of jpegs here.  1 min photo editing.  I can't download the raw files because I'm at the office right now. :)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: stewy on May 20, 2013, 10:54:44 PM
A chance to try some post processing. Here's my attempt. I enjoyed seeing what others have done. I'm always trying to improve my skills in post processing. It feels like a battle I can never win. I've come to realize that its not easy at all. I should probably do some workshops to get some tips from some pros.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: bdunbar79 on May 26, 2013, 03:29:17 PM
My swing at it.  levels, curves, contrast, adjusted color, fixed tones and skin, a bit of dodging and burning.  All and all about 2-3 min of work.

(http://i.imgur.com/GYb81.jpg)

Seriously nice work.  Do a tutorial.

Why?  No disrespect, but the image on the right is awful.  Sorry.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: wayno on May 26, 2013, 03:39:22 PM
My swing at it.  levels, curves, contrast, adjusted color, fixed tones and skin, a bit of dodging and burning.  All and all about 2-3 min of work.

(http://i.imgur.com/GYb81.jpg)

Seriously nice work.  Do a tutorial.

Why?  No disrespect, but the image on the right is awful.  Sorry.

Each to their own, to be sure... But that's harsh. And maybe a wee bit tactless. At least you said sorry.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: bdunbar79 on May 26, 2013, 04:26:44 PM
It's not that big of a deal.  It's a photo edit.  I love his photography.  Which by the way, the above are not his shots.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Roger Jones on May 26, 2013, 07:17:02 PM
Its always easier to shoot it right than to fix it in post. This image is challenging due to the unflattering shadows on the face. OP should try to fill these in a little with flash or a reflector.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: wayno on May 26, 2013, 07:57:03 PM
Now I'll chip in. You've done something a bit odd to her face there, to my eye. Rest of the edit works ok though.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: @!ex on May 29, 2013, 05:55:48 PM
It's not that big of a deal.  It's a photo edit.  I love his photography.  Which by the way, the above are not his shots.

it was just a 2 minute edit.  I think I did go a bit overboard on the eyes and maybe a little to much skin smoothing, but I wasn't really going for perfection (or maybe going for too much perfection...).  Thanks for the compliment though.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: KyleSTL on May 29, 2013, 06:45:04 PM
Its always easier to shoot it right than to fix it in post. This image is challenging due to the unflattering shadows on the face. OP should try to fill these in a little with flash or a reflector.
You have completely changed the subject's face, and honestly, it looks a little disturbing and alien-like.  Go easy on the brushes.  Sorry to be critical, but it just looks really strange.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: dirtcastle on May 29, 2013, 07:46:49 PM
I prefer to take a challenge rather than mock.

As I was saying, a BW helps you to get rid of a bad color balance.

(Half an hour in LR.)

NotABunny's B&W edit gets my vote for best edit.

Most of the other edits I've seen do not improve the shot. Sometimes the inability to get a good edit is the result of the shot, sometimes it's due to lack of editing/post skills.

You gotta have a "feel" for this sort of thing, based on experience, observation, and intentions. People are quick to give guidelines and rules (and their own crappy edits). But you've just gotta be able to feel what's right while you're editing. No amount of suggestions will help in the long run if you don't have a good eye. BUT, if you do have a good eye, and you can tell the difference between a good shot and a bad one... then just keep practicing and you'll get it. :-)

Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: bdunbar79 on May 29, 2013, 08:01:49 PM
It's not that big of a deal.  It's a photo edit.  I love his photography.  Which by the way, the above are not his shots.

it was just a 2 minute edit.  I think I did go a bit overboard on the eyes and maybe a little to much skin smoothing, but I wasn't really going for perfection (or maybe going for too much perfection...).  Thanks for the compliment though.

No seriously, your HDR stuff I can only dream of someday doing.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: vuilang on May 29, 2013, 08:24:52 PM
If im not mistaken.. You took those pic with just natural light.. and the pic you posted took by others are used Off Camera Flash(s) OCF.... so that's the different
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: quartzie on May 29, 2013, 09:09:08 PM
Its not about the composition or anything but the lighting in this just looks so good to me. It looks so bright and the shadows are so soft. Like so awesome contrast and colors.

Thanks already

Since you seem correctly fascinated by the light in the photos, here's my 5c:
a) look at flash photography - but be aware that the color of your flash will often clash with other sources of light.
b) try to look at light modifiers, especially a very simple, cheap and effective one - bounce board. There are several collapsible reflectors  available online, with a white/silver/gold coating for changing the expression of the light. These will do wonders for all those dark facial shadows, while keeping the soft light quality provided by an overcast sky. If you use the golden film side, you can get very nice, warm light even under a dreary English sky.
They also rarely run out of batteries :D
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Pi on May 29, 2013, 10:47:34 PM
Post-processing helps, of course, but ... it is all about light. Shoot vibrant and colorful scenes, and you will get vibrant and colorful photos. As a poster above said, you have to have an eye for color; you have to be able to say which scene will make a great shot, and which - not so much.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: @!ex on May 30, 2013, 12:47:21 AM
Its always easier to shoot it right than to fix it in post. This image is challenging due to the unflattering shadows on the face. OP should try to fill these in a little with flash or a reflector.
You have completely changed the subject's face, and honestly, it looks a little disturbing and alien-like.  Go easy on the brushes.  Sorry to be critical, but it just looks really strange.

+1, wtf happened.   Looks like a creepy mannequin now.  I had to do a double take because I thought it was a joke at first...
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: @!ex on May 30, 2013, 12:57:19 AM
Speaking of joking...  (look closely, you will recognize the face..)
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: hockeyandbeer on July 08, 2013, 02:49:17 PM
My apologies for two things:

1. Piggybacking off this thread (my problem I think is related so I posted here as not to clog up the forums)
2. I am a new poster, so therefore I am probably going to make a mistake (wrong forum, topic is exhausted, etc.)

I always get nervous to post because it seems like some are overly critical, and I really just need some help to push me forward instead of getting me frustrated and putting my camera away indefinitely.  Someone else was taking photos w/ a Nikon at this event and even though hers were a little color-casted they came out extremely more vibrant than mine SOOC.

I seem to have the problem of the super dull flat photos coming straight out of camera.  I shoot on 'faithful' as I have read they are the truest colors.  For more "important" stuff I shoot raw but this photo in particular was jpeg.  This was outside on a very sunny day with some cloud cover at times. 

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/1044462_299052293572024_1648139847_n.jpg

I tried to follow some of the steps in this forum, but found that I obviously am doing something wrong as the photo either gets completely washed out or the skin does.  The "Auto Color" helped a bit, however, could someone help me by showing me their edit?  And most importantly, how they adjusted the level or curve to make the difference? 

I feel like I have a lot of decent shots that I never post because I never had any help on "proper" workflow to color correct photos.  I could really use some guidance.

Thanks in advance.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: @!ex on July 08, 2013, 03:37:22 PM
My apologies for two things:

1. Piggybacking off this thread (my problem I think is related so I posted here as not to clog up the forums)
2. I am a new poster, so therefore I am probably going to make a mistake (wrong forum, topic is exhausted, etc.)

I always get nervous to post because it seems like some are overly critical, and I really just need some help to push me forward instead of getting me frustrated and putting my camera away indefinitely.  Someone else was taking photos w/ a Nikon at this event and even though hers were a little color-casted they came out extremely more vibrant than mine SOOC.

I seem to have the problem of the super dull flat photos coming straight out of camera.  I shoot on 'faithful' as I have read they are the truest colors.  For more "important" stuff I shoot raw but this photo in particular was jpeg.  This was outside on a very sunny day with some cloud cover at times. 

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/1044462_299052293572024_1648139847_n.jpg

I tried to follow some of the steps in this forum, but found that I obviously am doing something wrong as the photo either gets completely washed out or the skin does.  The "Auto Color" helped a bit, however, could someone help me by showing me their edit?  And most importantly, how they adjusted the level or curve to make the difference? 

I feel like I have a lot of decent shots that I never post because I never had any help on "proper" workflow to color correct photos.  I could really use some guidance.

Thanks in advance.

I went ahead and gave it a quick (less then 5 min) boost in post.  I usually start with levels, then curves, then any type of hue adjustment (you had a bit of a green cast), then lens effects (vignette, distortion), noise (none in this one), then doge and burn to my liking and sometimes a bit of levels again at the end.  One of the main reasons I don't find lightroom  adequate is the lack of levels adjustments, lame.  I use both aperture and lightroom (as they both have some advantages over each other) for minor tweaks, but most major stuff is done in PS.  Hope that at least helps a little
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: hockeyandbeer on July 08, 2013, 03:47:45 PM
Thank you, that does look better - Any tips for the magical adjustment of curves and layers?  I never know if I am doing it enough.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: Northstar on August 05, 2013, 08:55:24 AM
My attempt using Snapseed on my iPad....it's free(from Nic software) and works pretty well.

5 minutes max.

The original and then the edit
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: tron on August 05, 2013, 01:19:01 PM
This is a joke right?

There is nothing in these settings that cannot be done in post. They will serve you almost nothing.
Plus, In cloudy days less contrast and saturation that for standard shooting? This is certainly a joke!
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: gferdinandsen on August 05, 2013, 01:26:08 PM
This is a joke right?

There is nothing in these settings that cannot be done in post. They will serve you almost nothing.
Plus, In cloudy days less contrast and saturation that for standard shooting? This is certainly a joke!


+1  You can achieve a much better result shooting in RAW and doing post-processing.  This chart looks like it for an absolute beginner with no knowledge of post processing.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: surapon on August 05, 2013, 02:17:07 PM
Sorry, Sir, Dear Tron and Dear Gferdinandsen.
 I already remove my post, Sorry, I am wrong, Because, When some one ask how to Fixed the Dull Photos, And I think that person need help,  like me in the Past, I just offer my two cents lesson from my Photography Teacher= and I forget ,that  Lesson just for the Beginner like Me.
Sorry Sir, Yes, Now I know that most of the Members on this Post are the PRO.
I will not post the stupid Ideas, for the beginner like that any more.
Surapon Sujjavanich, AIA, CPS . Gold Member.
Apex, NC., USA.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: cnardo on August 05, 2013, 06:19:00 PM
Surapon....

I, for one, would appreciate it if you re-post your hand written class notes. I didn’t not have time to looks at them and try it out for myself. While shooting in Raw gives you complete flexibility in POST, these might be handy for the “kids party/family gathering” photos so many of us get asked to do.

Thanks…
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: LOALTD on August 05, 2013, 08:24:00 PM
Here's my effort. 100% Photoshop.

THIS.

This thread is frustrating.  Most posts are putting WAAAAY too much emphasis on things that would make a marginal difference:
Post processing
Lens choice

And almost no mentions of the most important thing of all, THE QUALITY OF THE LIGHT. You need to position your subject in a place with great light and stop thinking about post processing!  Some common places that usually have great light: right next to a window, under a tree, in a snow cave*, etc.  Or just anywhere with some nice even shade, these photos don’t have that.  Seek the good light, then make a composition, don’t get obsessed with composition and end up shooting in horrible light!

I do agree, though, that it’s usually handy (since we all shoot Canon) to overexpose a little, you can always back off of it a little bit and maintain image quality.  People usually look best with brighter exposures.

*the photo I’ve attached was shot with a 50mm f/1.8, no flashes, no lights, no reflectors, etc.  I just knew the light in here would be soft and diffused!  There was some minimal processing, I don’t remember exactly what but probably like 3-4 slider adjustments in Lightrooom that took a whopping 20-30 seconds.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: surapon on August 05, 2013, 08:51:33 PM
Dear Mr. Cnardo.
Thousand Thanks for your Goods words, Yes, Sir. I will Post for you to see again, That my hand writing/ Notes, just from The  intermediate  Photography class that I took in my local Technical College, just for learn the new tricks of Photography= The Hobby that I love since 1965, when I in the University. Yes, My First Canon Camera = Canon FT - QL, Which I still use from time to time.
This Attached Chart, That all students in that class , to use and report back to the teacher, and The Teacher teach us to adjust the Setting as we love and see fit to our eyes, after see final prints that our homework for that class.
Yes, That 4-5 years ago, and I still use with my 4 Canon bodies, When I want just Point and Shoot, with out Thinking , When I travel Around the World, YES, SIR,  I will get 85-90% of my good Photos from this setting ( in JPG. Files), With Minimum Post Processing by my Photoshop 6.
Thank You again , SIR, Dear Mr. Cnardo
Surapon

PS. My Dear Teacher teach me that= The Best Photographers are the Person, who can think from their Brain and Their Heart, Setting  up every thing, Include the camera,  before Press the Shutter, and Will get the Best Photos from the Camera---Not By Heavy Post Processing and that to much waste of times to enjoy our lifes.----Exception, IF YOU ARE THE PRO, and must earn the money from your BEST PRODUCTS.
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: surapon on August 05, 2013, 08:58:44 PM
Dear Mr. Cnardo
Here are more Photos that I use this Setting.
Thank you, Sir
Surapon
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: surapon on August 05, 2013, 09:11:27 PM
More Photos from use this Chart for Dear Mr. Cnardo.
Thanks you, Sir.
Surapon
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: PhotoCat on August 05, 2013, 09:53:16 PM
Picasa does a nice job on the jpg too.   :P

Added a bit of fill light and high light. Also tinted the pic to get a pleasing skin tone.

Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: cnardo on August 05, 2013, 10:14:55 PM
Surapon...

Thanks so much for re-posting your tables. I shoot a lot of jegs and these tables can help me get the best photos possible. And thanks for sharing your pictures. They were excellent !
Title: Re: My photos look so dull
Post by: surapon on August 06, 2013, 08:18:23 AM
Surapon...

Thanks so much for re-posting your tables. I shoot a lot of jegs and these tables can help me get the best photos possible. And thanks for sharing your pictures. They were excellent !

Dear Cnardo.
Thank you SIR, for your great Words---You make my days. I am the Fan of this great Website for many years, but Just start to post last week, as the Newbee. But I have learn from every one in this Post, Difference Brain, Difference Heart, Difference Ability = Difference IDEAS. But My Main Goal in my Life are try to improve my love Hobby/ Photography, Plus share the New trick that I have learn to all of my friends. If you have Facebook acc., Please be my Friend on FB.----THANKS.
PS. I use that chart and setting in my 4 Canon DSLR cameras since 4-5 years, and It's work for me , when I just want POINT AND SHOOT as fast as possible= with out worry, when I just want the RECORDED PHOTOS in all of my Trips.