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Image & Video Galleries => Animal Kingdom => Topic started by: Narcolepsy on September 07, 2012, 12:11:59 PM

Title: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: Narcolepsy on September 07, 2012, 12:11:59 PM
I need help....
For work I have to take photos and can't choose the weather
I was wondering how to make the best of photos taken in flat light like the example I attached

I find the areas of the picture where the subject is against the sky particularly problematic

Any advice on post-processing or exposure (preferably without flash) would be gratefully received

RAW is here:
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/61771147/Exercising%20ECG%20Gallop.CR2

5D2 24-105 @105mm 1/800 f4.5 ISO800
Shot Raw - curves and black point in PP
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: RLPhoto on September 07, 2012, 12:14:19 PM
I need help....
For work I have to take photos and can't choose the weather
I was wondering how to make the best of photos taken in flat light like the example I attached

I find the areas of the picture where the subject is against the sky particularly problematic

Any advice on post-processing or exposure (preferably without flash) would be gratefully received

RAW is here:
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/61771147/Exercising%20ECG%20Gallop.CR2

5D2 24-105 @105mm 1/800 f4.5 ISO800
Shot Raw - curves and black point in PP

You could get lower to the ground and use the sky as a giant White seamless. I've used that many times before.
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: rcarca on September 08, 2012, 05:16:42 PM
Try Lightroom 4. It is brilliant IMHO in bringing life back to your photographs.

Richard
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: Ewinter on September 08, 2012, 06:17:25 PM
+1 on lightroom 4, it really is a quick way of turning around images like this. I had a crack at it, maybe took me 30 seconds.
As for exposure, it was bang on for something to play with in lightroom. If i was shooting straight out of the camera, I might look at a different colour space. Attached is my first crack at it.
I might have gone a little overboard on the vibrancy slider, but literally took me about 20 clicks to do this.
I applied a little cropping, lens correction and a touch on curves, vibrancy and contrast
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: Hillsilly on September 08, 2012, 07:18:28 PM
Would black and white be acceptable?
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: squidgyg on September 08, 2012, 09:58:38 PM
Probably a bit too extreme in my example (only spent a minute in LR4), but for dull sky's I usually lower exposure, lighten the shadows, add a bit of clarity, and then raise the blues, and lower the luminosity for the blues. Play with colour temperatures and vibrance til i get what I like.
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: squidgyg on September 08, 2012, 10:22:41 PM
Here's another go.
I dont know haha, probably still a little extreme.
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: scottkinfw on September 08, 2012, 10:29:30 PM
Would you consider flash with high speed synch, and a better beamer?  This is a difficult scenario indeed.

sek
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: Narcolepsy on September 08, 2012, 11:12:28 PM
Thanks to everyone who has answered so far... and I am beginning to think I need to invest in Lightroom or perhaps learn to use what I have better? (I have Aperture, NikSoft - full suite, Photoshop CS3)...

I am afraid that flash is out of the question for this (could scare horse and rider....)
Also need a color image if at all possible

Thanks again - and be glad to hear any more advice
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: adhocphotographer on September 09, 2012, 12:03:55 AM


You could get lower to the ground and use the sky as a giant White seamless. I've used that many times before.

+1 would make a very interesting angle too if you don't mind getting in close (i would be scared to hell, but since your job appears to be horse orientated, i guess you're fine with them).
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: fotofool on September 09, 2012, 12:42:06 AM
With flat light I sometimes use split toning in LR4.  On your pic I gave highlights a yellow cast and shadows a blue cast.  I also cranked the clarity slider up to 70, darkened the sky and added a blue cast, turned down the green and yellow channels and added some vignetting.  It probably took 5 min.  Clearly all these things can be done with the software you have but maybe not as quickly.

It's too bad you can't do monochrome.  It sounds like you have Nik Silver Efex Pro.  I'll bet you could do good things with this image using that!

Good luck!
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: dirtcastle on September 09, 2012, 03:17:11 AM
Lightroom.
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: And-Rew on September 09, 2012, 05:08:56 AM
+ 1 on Lightroom 4 - especially since the huge price drop for version 4 (slightly more than Photoshop Elements).

It is extremely easy to use, and very quick to use - times of 5 minutes on an image means some one was taking their time to get it right  ;)

If you're shooting in RAW, then i'd say you've already covered the main option...
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: Narcolepsy on September 09, 2012, 10:38:32 AM
With flat light I sometimes use split toning in LR4.  On your pic I gave highlights a yellow cast and shadows a blue cast.  I also cranked the clarity slider up to 70, darkened the sky and added a blue cast, turned down the green and yellow channels and added some vignetting.  It probably took 5 min.  Clearly all these things can be done with the software you have but maybe not as quickly.

I like many of the renditions - but I really like this one

Thank you to everyone for their advice and excellent manipulations of my image
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: acoll123 on September 09, 2012, 12:21:47 PM
I have Aperture and spent a few minutes on your .jpg file. You probably know you can always do more with a raw file . . . No doubt you can do more in LR but are you sure you've pushed the limits with Aperture? I use it alone 95% of the time and the other 5% I use Photoshop Elements . . .
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: DianeK on September 09, 2012, 01:17:28 PM
dirtcastle's version gets my vote.
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: Jim Saunders on September 09, 2012, 02:12:50 PM
In LR4 I applied brushstrokes as follows:

To the sky: Temp -21, exp -.6, contrast +55, shadows -50

To the horse & rider: Exp +.1, shadows +25, saturation +20, sharpness +30, noise +50.

Globally, temp 5200, tint +2, clarity/vibrance/saturation +5, sharpening +30, NR luminance +20, enable lens correction.

The sky/tree interface looks a little rough because I used the auto-mask for the sake of speed.

Jim - Long time listener, first time caller.
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: Mark1 on September 09, 2012, 04:56:35 PM

Personally I would like to see how this image would have come out with a polarising filter over the lens. Yes you need to speed things up due to the light loss but it doesn't look like lack of light would be a problem in this case. It's not actually a bad image considering the bright background and dark colours of the subject - it needs straightening and cropping more than anything. Try a polariser next time?

All the editing seems to do is render the sky unnaturally.
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: Tabor Warren Photography on September 09, 2012, 05:05:50 PM
I was a big fan of fotofool's version, but here is my own.


In Camera Raw 6.6 via PS CS5

Temp: 5000 Tint +10
Dropped the exposure a touch
Increased the blacks and brightness
Dropped the contrast
Increased the clarity (+25)
Dropped the vibrance a tad (-2)

Cranked the highlights (+100)
Adjusted the  remainig sliders a tiny bit

Dropped green saturation to -30

Applied a vignette -18 amount with a midpoint at 75 and roundness at -35

Other than that I didn't do anything! lol

Really it only took ~7 minutes which is about 5 minutes over what I typically do, however, I really enjoyed playing with this one.

Shout out to fotofool for inspiration to dropped the greens, I really like that effect for this type of photo.

Hope this helps,
-Tabor
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: Northstar on September 09, 2012, 05:43:27 PM
I'm not that great at PP, but I'll give it a try because I need practice  :P
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: Viggo on September 09, 2012, 06:42:13 PM
Use a few underexposure gradients leaving your subject the brightest, that can solve some of it.

@Dirtcastle: Sweeet!
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: smithy on September 09, 2012, 06:46:50 PM
There are a couple of commonly-used rules when it comes to shooting on overcast days:

1.  Avoid the sky as much as possible - use the overcast conditions as an opportunity to have a giant 'diffuser' in your lighting arsenal.  Obviously that's not always going to work for an action shot where you'd like some background, etc, so we'll move on.

2.  Use black and white.  That's what I've done here.  Using Photoshop CS4, I first cloned out that rail in the foreground.  Then I rotated (levelling the horizon) and cropped it - the classic 1/3 layout (nothing original there, but it works).  Then levels (just using auto, with clipping disabled).  Then black and white conversion, setting the colour conversion to occur in a way that brings the subjects' details out (the horse's head, the rider's jacket, etc).  Then I did a very gentle 20% burn on the sky - you never want to overdo this, otherwise it looks nasty.  Then a couple of little dodges here and there.  Reduced to 25% size for posting here, and a very gentle unsharp mask and a couple of little sharpens (with the brush) here and there.

Before I did the B&W conversion, it looked okay, but I think it really pops in greyscale.  :)

Note:  it looks way better in Photoshop than in a browser or Windows Photo Viewer.
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: westr70 on September 09, 2012, 07:35:15 PM
Wow, I use lightroom 4 all the time but I got a few lessons from these examples.  This is a great learning tool.
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: dirtcastle on September 09, 2012, 08:15:56 PM
I find that getting colors right is the most difficult part of post production. I can almost always get the exposure, contrast, and composition right. But I am rarely satisfied with the colors. My edit here is no exception.

When you have a photo like this, with unappealing colors SOOC, it is tempting to immediately go B&W without trying to do it in color. But I believe every photo can have its colors improved.

Alas, there is rarely a silver bullet for color. I find that getting colors right often requires every tool in the LR kit.
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: Tabor Warren Photography on September 09, 2012, 08:52:58 PM
I really like how many different views there are on how the end image could look. This is definitely one of my favorite posts.

-Tabor
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: dirtcastle on September 09, 2012, 09:05:55 PM
Here's a B&W edit with Lightroom.
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: Canihaspicture on September 09, 2012, 09:08:15 PM
Ok, I'm bored too.
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: Narcolepsy on September 25, 2012, 08:42:18 PM
Having carefully looked at everyone's fantastic edits, and using them for inspiration - I tried myself
This was done with Aperture and NikSoft

I would appreciate honest opinions
Thanks
Title: Re: Need help - photographs on dull days
Post by: matt2491 on September 25, 2012, 10:13:34 PM
Looks good man. Has a little punch but stays smooth & clean.