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Author Topic: My photos look so dull  (Read 37794 times)

NotABunny

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #15 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.

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2012, 06:16:42 AM »

@!ex

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #16 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. 

wickidwombat

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #17 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/
« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 02:52:12 AM by wickidwombat »
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NotABunny

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #18 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.

« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 02:08:00 PM by NotABunny »

@!ex

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #19 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...

NotABunny

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #20 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):
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 01:38:02 PM by NotABunny »

NotABunny

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #21 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.

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2012, 02:19:35 PM »

SandyP

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #22 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.

blaydese

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #23 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)

@!ex

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #24 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...

dhofmann

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #25 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.
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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #26 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.
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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #27 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  :)

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #27 on: July 18, 2012, 05:51:36 AM »

koolman

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #28 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
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elflord

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #29 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)

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Re: My photos look so dull
« Reply #29 on: July 18, 2012, 07:31:12 AM »