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Author Topic: Your Personal 7-Point System  (Read 5389 times)

unfocused

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Your Personal 7-Point System
« on: December 09, 2011, 04:37:57 PM »
This is an offshoot of a thread that has been growing fast. The original post was about how "earth-shatteringly" disappointing the Canon 7D is. http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php/topic,2375.0.html

I was struck by how insightful some of the comments were and thought I'd start a new thread. It's named after Scott Kelby's book about his "7-Point" workflow for all images he processes. The point of this thread is simple.

Share your tricks and techniques. When you are processing a RAW image, what steps do you routinely use? What secrets are you willing to share with others? How do you reduce noise, improve sharpness, expand range, etc. etc.

There's a lot of knowledge out there. How about sharing?
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Your Personal 7-Point System
« on: December 09, 2011, 04:37:57 PM »

awinphoto

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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2011, 04:54:47 PM »
I'll bite... while this is a post raw filter, I love the topaz filters... from topaz denoise to adjust... adjust is good at giving a little pop and expanding DR and can even do faux HDR if you want to push it that far, Detail is very good at sharpening, denoise goes without saying... I use them when finishing an image to give a good photo a "wow" affect...
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, Canon 85 1.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

dr croubie

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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2011, 05:00:42 PM »
I'm only just starting out with learning to process my RAW shots, i've got DPP working under linux and that's all I use so far (given up on UFRaw).
The way I work in general is:
- overall brightness
- ALO on/off
- white balance
- contrast/saturation/highlights/shadows etc
- sharpness normally stays at 3 (for 7D), sometimes up for iso100, sometimes down for an iso3200 shot
- then NR last.

Not hard-and-fast rules, but that's what I've found so far works best for me (i'm definitely going to keep watching this thread for better suggestions though, i'm nowhere near the level of others), and a lot of the time I go back and adjust things out of that order. NR generally goes last because contrast and brightness will affect the noise level, normally I do it in conjunction with playing with the sharpness slider.

Oh yeah, Step One:
- take the best shot possible with the camera because I hate PP and cropping, composition and lighting are the keys to better photos; they happen in the field, not on the monitor.
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thepancakeman

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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2011, 05:01:35 PM »
I'll bite... while this is a post raw filter, I love the topaz filters... from topaz denoise to adjust... adjust is good at giving a little pop and expanding DR and can even do faux HDR if you want to push it that far, Detail is very good at sharpening, denoise goes without saying... I use them when finishing an image to give a good photo a "wow" affect...

Excuse the ignorance, but...huh??   :o  I honestly have on idea what you're saying; can you expand/explain a little more?

And maybe for the thread as a whole, provide before and after examples so we can see the results?

awinphoto

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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2011, 05:16:39 PM »
I'll bite... while this is a post raw filter, I love the topaz filters... from topaz denoise to adjust... adjust is good at giving a little pop and expanding DR and can even do faux HDR if you want to push it that far, Detail is very good at sharpening, denoise goes without saying... I use them when finishing an image to give a good photo a "wow" affect...

Excuse the ignorance, but...huh??   :o  I honestly have on idea what you're saying; can you expand/explain a little more?

And maybe for the thread as a whole, provide before and after examples so we can see the results?

Sure... Topaz Labs create the filters that are plug-ins for photoshop and I believe possibly lightroom/aperture/iphoto but you'll have to double check on those... Anywho, adjust allows you to do some real fun effects... You can do full single image HDR if you so choose or you can just add a little for a "pop"... I personally dont like to overdo it, but I found a before and after of an image on my website that you can see... They are scaled down for internet, all copyright reserved... 
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, Canon 85 1.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

dr croubie

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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2011, 05:20:05 PM »
Excuse the ignorance, but...huh??   :o  I honestly have on idea what you're saying; can you expand/explain a little more?
And maybe for the thread as a whole, provide before and after examples so we can see the results?
I'm thinking Topaz is a program or plugin, sounds slightly familiar but i've never used it obviously.
<edit, damn, you beat me to it. Love that shot, the walls on the right look better, as does the sky. How's the noise look on it, any worse from the extra gain in the shadows?>

And good idea, here's an example of mine. Camera L-jpg and "finished" raw-converted attached at the bottom.
Taken with a black-towel as a background, speedlite to the left, maybe onboard flash in a high-ratio, can't remember, and a big silver dinner-serving tray to the right reflecting a bit of the flash back.

The RAW-recipe for this was:
- ALO Off.
 -Bump brightness to +0.33, so the right-most histogram peak was right on 0.
 -AutoWB (DPP's auto, not "camera-settings" which I normally use, they're almost always the same though) and standard picture-style (I don't think I've ever changed from standard).
- Contrast 1, Highlight and Shadow both 1.
- Saturation 1 and Colour tone 1 (just to bring in a big more green on the leaves and less pink in the stamens, rather than WB it, to me it's the Pink/Green slider).
- I think at this point I decided to bring up the Black Point using the slider on the histogram, to about -3 instead of -9, and played with the contrast etc to get the values above. It got rid of most of the 'almost-black' bits in the background.
- Sharpness 4 because it didn't add too much noise.
- I never touch the RGB Tab.
- Turns out I set the NR to 0/0, don't think I've ever done that before, but that's what DPP says I did.
- Convert and save, copy for backup, open in GIMP, add watermark, shrink, post to CR.

I'm still not 100% happy with it, I might re-do it with less saturation to make the stamens stand out more as individuals, and get rid of that bright-spot in the bottom right. My gf calls me a perfectionist. I just think I can do better. I'm always learning, and I've always thought that anyone who thinks they know it all obviously doesn't.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2011, 05:23:12 PM by dr croubie »
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skitron

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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2011, 05:26:17 PM »
As far as the NR/sharpening goes, mine is pretty simple. In Capture One 6 Pro, import RAWs using a predefined profile I built for 50D and then zoom 400% on an area with small details, usually the eyes since I'm primarily a people shooter. Adjust as needed and apply local contrast while at 400%. Pan to dark areas to verify NR. I tend to lean on CO's "surface NR" and pull back "(regular) NR" as much as possible (which usually comes out about 1/3 NR slider 2/3 surface NR slider). The "color NR" value sent from the camera is usually right. For sharpening I tend to stay around values of 400/1.1/1 for the 50D and reduce the radius if hair doesn't look right, then increase threshold if it still isn't right. Add a hint of fine grain. Zoom out to normal and tweak local contrast as needed. This method is very fast and effective for me. It's interesting just how inter-dependent these particular functions are and it took some experimenting to find the sweet spot and fast workflow.
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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2011, 05:26:17 PM »

RC

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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2011, 05:34:37 PM »
I second "unfocused's comments & request (good grief 6 more posts since I started typing this).  I too have been reading the "earth shatteringly" post with great interest especially since I have 7D and it is my first digital SLR (in other words, I still have lots to learn in the digital world).  Some of the questions which have been going through my mind are how do you get the sharpest and highest IQ images possible from your gear.  I'm more interested in from the gear as opposed to PP.  (PP is a whole other topic.)

For example, I always shoot in (large) RAW, lowest ISO possible, and the optimum aperture setting.  My Picture Style is set to standard and usually with highest sharpening.   I do a great deal of exposure bracketing and when appropriate I use IS.  I assuming I am doing everything correct to get the sharpest and highest IQ but I'm always interested in others expertise and experience.  I do use LR and DPP but I'm a rookie at PPing.

1.  One question that pops into my mind from time to time, based on things I read, is what size of image will give you the highest IQ.  I assume it is large RAW or large superfine if you shoot JPEG.  Is this true?  If so, why would you use a lower image size and normal as opposed to fine (JPEG) aside from conserving CF and disk space, or maybe maximize your burst buffer?

2.  From jrista's post "The 7D, unlike other canon DSLR's, has ISO 80 as a base, making ISO 160, 320, 640, 1250, and 2500 ideal."   I've never heard of this, this is very interesting.  Can someone confirm if this is theory or fact?

As always I appreciate you sharing your experience, expertise and time helping others.

BTW, I do not have any IQ issues (that I know of) with my 7D.

skitron

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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2011, 05:39:52 PM »
2.  From jrista's post "The 7D, unlike other canon DSLR's, has ISO 80 as a base, making ISO 160, 320, 640, 1250, and 2500 ideal."   I've never heard of this, this is very interesting.  Can someone confirm if this is theory or fact?

I can't confirm directly but will say I saw that same info in several 7D video related forums.
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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2011, 05:42:55 PM »
I'm only just starting out with learning to process my RAW shots, i've got DPP working under linux and that's all I use so far (given up on UFRaw).
The way I work in general is:
- overall brightness
- ALO on/off
- white balance
- contrast/saturation/highlights/shadows etc
- sharpness normally stays at 3 (for 7D), sometimes up for iso100, sometimes down for an iso3200 shot
- then NR last.

Not hard-and-fast rules, but that's what I've found so far works best for me (i'm definitely going to keep watching this thread for better suggestions though, i'm nowhere near the level of others), and a lot of the time I go back and adjust things out of that order. NR generally goes last because contrast and brightness will affect the noise level, normally I do it in conjunction with playing with the sharpness slider.

Oh yeah, Step One:
- take the best shot possible with the camera because I hate PP and cropping, composition and lighting are the keys to better photos; they happen in the field, not on the monitor.
I don't mean to sound like I know nothing about photography, this is why I came to this post to learn... Anyway, what does DPP stand for?  And is it better to use for my RAW images than what I currently use (Adobe Camera Raw in CS5 & Lightroom 3.5)?
Thanks
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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2011, 05:44:48 PM »
Currently using Adobe Camera RAW (built into Photoshop).  If you are comfortable with RAW editing and retouching then don't bother reading this.

I go entirely by look and feel when developing my pictures in RAW.  I also make use of the RAW .xmp settings, so I can easily re-load a RAW file with all my previous developments in tact and further make tweaks at any point, aka I don't lose work if I decide to make changes later.  .xmp files are automatically saved next to your RAW files after you click "open image" or "done" and you can use the menu to reload Adobe defaults or a saved .xmp at any point.

I feel this is worth noting, -the intended purpose, or artistic style of any individual image, artistically is often not negatively effected by things that people commonly like to get rid of.  Sometimes things like controlled monochromatic grain, vignetting, flare, etc. can add to the image or at the very least not make any real world difference and I don't even bother wasting time to remove it unless it is specifically detracting from the image or will effect my intended purpose (printing/etc.), because often it's a complete waste of time when considering the finished work.

I often apply default lens correction (all my lenses are supported by default so I just have to check a box to enable it).  Sometimes I tone down a specific correction because vignetting and even barrel distortion can look nicer than the corrected alternative.  You get a minor amount of cropping when you correct for barrel distortion and if you carefully framed your image in camera you might want to pay careful attention to what the default profile does and dial anything back a bit or completely disable it if it looks better without it.

If the image I'm working on can't have any grain at 100% and 200% viewing/printing I head over to the detail tab, it's best to know what each slider does and act accordingly.  Zoom in so you can see the effects of what you are doing and learn the combinations and interactions of various effects.  Next zoom out/pan around and use the preview on/off toggle to see if you have destroyed any details and re-adjust accordingly.  In rare occasions different settings would be required for different areas of an image, in which case, process the image twice and put them together with masking.

The rest of most of my corrections take place in the basic tab which deals with exposure and white-balance.  More precise control over tone and color in the other tabs I often don't need to mess with but it's there for occasions where useful.

You need to know what each slider does, and what it does in combination with other sliders to achieve whatever correction or effect you are looking for.  Correcting color and exposure and retrieving highlight or shadow detail has an effect on the overall composition and you need to know what you want and how to get.  Notate any combination of settings that you think look good if you are afraid of making further changes (once you know what everything does, this is no longer important and the fear of making edits/losing your spot goes away). 

If you have a really great subject/composition captured in RAW your exposure/colors/etc. don't even have to be any where near remarkable to end up with something that after proper processing can look utterly stunning.  Because of this, it's more important for me to get focus/DOF and composition/subject timing and basic exposure correct in camera than any other concerns.  For me a big change comes into RAW when you know what you can do in RAW and then go out and shoot accordingly.  All of a sudden shots you wouldn't have thought much of previewing them on the back of your camera can look incredible and you can recognize what they can become while viewing previews only on the back of your camera, and then re-shoot accordingly if some detail you know will be difficult in editing needs re-doing.

Those shots you see where the author lists the same equipment you have and then all of the settings the camera was set to and you can't understand how they managed to pull it off...  It's all in RAW processing and then afterwards a bit of extra retouching love to put on finishing icing.  It's a completely different skill-set than actually taking pictures and I think it throws a lot of people off.  It certainly will change your opinions of what you read (and pay attention to) in equipment reviews.  For this reason, I pay a lot more attention to sample images taken with different lenses etc., knowing what are serious problems and what aren't.  I can say that most lenses on the market are capable of taking drop dead gorgeous pictures and it's not that useful to nitpick them as most reviews do.  I do however pay attention to when the reviewers point out things like handling/build quality/lens creep etc., more than these minor, pedantic concerns of IQ.  Obviously better gear is better, but if you can't take magazine worthy prints (or close to it) with even mediocre/oldish equipment then buying new stuff isn't going to help you at all.  If you are taking and editing to pro looking images, then your equipment decisions become entirely about personal preference and budget concerns and not about what some review or other photographer or amateur thinks about your equipment.  Stunning, large, high-res prints can be made even with old, consumer end gear.

Just have a look at what this guy is doing with old, cheap, makeshift equipment and duck-tape....  (high-res stills don't get shown until about 1:19)  You don't normally get shots like that directly out of the camera without processing.  Hope that helps someone.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqRn3at0H60&feature=related

dr croubie

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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2011, 05:50:24 PM »
1.  One question that pops into my mind from time to time, based on things I read, is what size of image will give you the highest IQ.  I assume it is large RAW or large superfine if you shoot JPEG.  Is this true?  If so, why would you use a lower image size and normal as opposed to fine (JPEG) aside from conserving CF and disk space, or maybe maximize your burst buffer?

I had a thread elsewhere intended to determine what is better out of  shrinking more MP versus natively less MP in terms of noise (for a future 5D3). It didn't quite work out as well as I'd hoped, but instead I came out with an answer to your question.
On my 7D, at least, shooting full-sized RAW (at iso 3200-12800 where I tested) and shrinking the file to the same size as sRAW ends up better-looking and with less noise than shooting in sRAW.

So for me it's simple, sRAW is to save card-space and burst-buffer, nothing more.
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unfocused

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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2011, 05:51:34 PM »
Since this was my idea, I guess I'd better play too.

One of my favorite tricks (stolen from Kelby) is "smart objects."

With almost all of my images, I process them first in RAW aiming for the best overall exposure possible. Then, I open the file as a smart object and make a duplicate smart object in Photoshop. I then open that second file in RAW and work on areas that need a bit more of something (for example, I may adjust the exposure, blacks, brightness, contrast etc. to get a little more detail in the shadow areas or in the highlights)

I send the second layer back to Photoshop, put a mask on it and paint in or out the areas that I want to fix.

I sometimes do this with three or even four layers. It's amazingly simple once you get used to it (although it makes for some big file sizes) and I find the results much nicer and easier to control than using the burn and dodge tools in Photoshop. (With dodge and burn you are basically just lightening or darkening a section with little control. By reprocessing the file in RAW you have access to the full range of adjustments)

I'll usually save a file with all the layers intact, just in case I need to go back and rework something later.
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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2011, 05:51:34 PM »

thepancakeman

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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2011, 05:54:30 PM »
Since this was my idea, I guess I'd better play too.

One of my favorite tricks (stolen from Kelby) is "smart objects."

With almost all of my images, I process them first in RAW aiming for the best overall exposure possible. Then, I open the file as a smart object and make a duplicate smart object in Photoshop. I then open that second file in RAW and work on areas that need a bit more of something (for example, I may adjust the exposure, blacks, brightness, contrast etc. to get a little more detail in the shadow areas or in the highlights)

I send the second layer back to Photoshop, put a mask on it and paint in or out the areas that I want to fix.

I sometimes do this with three or even four layers. It's amazingly simple once you get used to it (although it makes for some big file sizes) and I find the results much nicer and easier to control than using the burn and dodge tools in Photoshop. (With dodge and burn you are basically just lightening or darkening a section with little control. By reprocessing the file in RAW you have access to the full range of adjustments)

I'll usually save a file with all the layers intact, just in case I need to go back and rework something later.

Nice!  I'm gonna have to try that one.

dr croubie

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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2011, 05:59:19 PM »
Nice!  I'm gonna have to try that one.
Ditto, i'm a definite beginner with GIMP and layers in particular, but that's one i'm going to try too...
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Re: Your Personal 7-Point System
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2011, 05:59:19 PM »