Processing order

I have to admit I’ve been doing more post-processing of my pictures since the eyesight failure. Most of it is cropping to make up for not seeing what in the viewfinder correctly, but some of it is the usual colour/brightness/contrast tweaking to get things just right. Then I usually shrink things down and sharpen them as a matter of course.

One of the photographers I follow recently did a very long video on all the rigmarole he goes through in processing, and at least I haven’t fallen into that trap. I say “trap” because I think a lot of people over-process their images, and not just the HDR ones. I probably will never do this because I now lack the ability to see subtle differences.

That said, I’m going to show you some subtle differences! The purpose of which is to demonstrate that what order you make adjustments (at least ‘automatic’ ones) has an affect on the final result. First the base image which has only been shrunken down and sharpened:

A somewhat poor image of lilacs, taken with a not-so-good lens.

This picture can benefit from both some colour enhancement and tonal correction as it is somewhat washed-out, lacking both richness and contrast. So let’s correct the white balance then enhance the colour, using ‘automatic’ functions for both, before shrinking & sharpening:

White balance, colour enhance, S&S.

But what if we colour enhance first, then correct the white balance?

Colour enhance, white balance, S&S.

There is a subtle difference, even to my eyes. Better? Worse? That’s a matter of opinion.

Now let’s look and see what happens if we shrink & sharpen first, then adjust white balance and colour:

S&S, white balance, colour enhance.

And in the other order:

S&S, colour enhance, white balance.

The last two images are the most alike, and you can see they are both different from either image which had colour changes before being reduced in size. This is because the computer program judges the whole image when making its adjustment ‘decisions’, and if the image is made smaller first there is less information to work with. Will that make the end result better or worse? That would depend on the particular image and your personal tastes. It is important to remember this especially if you are cropping segments out of the whole, as whether or not the removed portions are included in the program’s analysis for adjusting can have a significant effect of the final result (as in if large amounts of a particular colour or shadow/highlight are being left out).

There’s not only science to this, but art as well. You may find it helps to try such multiple changes in different orders to get the best results.

It’s still not a good picture, though.

How much kit?

Recently I watched a video about some wonderful magnetic neutral-density filters. I thought: “I have neutral density filters, but do I ever use them?” The answer is “no”. I have all sorts of gear in fact, and most of it stays home all the time even after switching to the Canon DSLR which doesn’t have all the built-in capacity of the Nikon bridge. Hmm. Let’s think about this.

Deadhead. (Canon T100 & Sigma 150-600mm)

I have often read one of my favourite professional photographers writing about how he went to a gig and brought these four cameras and those six lenses – and ended up using two of each if not less. He’s not alone in that either. How often do you schlep around a bag full of kit and never take it out? Let’s be honest, for all the fun specialized gear is it’s simply easier to just shoot with a basic set up and get what you can out of it. This is why we are often happiest with the point-and-shoot pictures we grab when “playing” with simple cameras rather than agonizing over getting just the right camera-lens-filter-settings combo – and then going mad in post-processing trying to decide over +1 or -1 variations of brightness/contrast/colours.

Angels’ hair. (Canon T100 & Canon 55-250mm)

In truth I only ever take out the special gear when I have a specific idea in mind, such as shooting in infrared. Otherwise I have favourite camera/lens combinations and take one or maybe two and whatever happens for pictures happens. Whatever doesn’t, doesn’t. No sense getting all worked up over it, eh? One of my often-used sayings is: “If only things were different they wouldn’t be the way they are”. You’d be surprised how often that is true. Or maybe you wouldn’t.

So here’s to serendipity, kismet, chance, and fate. The artist should embrace them as friends, not view them as enemies.

Oh yes, and as an engineer that goes entirely against the grain!

A good picture

Or: Take On Photos: Part 5, analysis

I realize I dropped out of my series on what I think makes a good picture, having completely ignored the planned final entry of self-analysis (most people think I should go for the professional kind). Anyhow the reasons for why this happened are numerous and not important. So instead I’ll explain this recently taken random picture:

Lilacs coming on.

First of all, this was heavily cropped from the full image to eliminate unwanted composition elements. As a result we have some of the aspects mentioned in my “Take On Photos” series: The framing and composition are there, including an interesting diagonal asymmetry produced by the ‘imaginary’ lines of both the bush branches and the slant of the varying height (perpendicular to one another). There is also depth-of-field controlled background blur to reduce distraction. How interesting the subject matter is depends on the viewer’s taste. Over-all it is a good picture, but not a great one. It isn’t going to make anyone say “Wow!”, but it is ‘correctly’ made from both technical and artistic perspectives.

Let’s examine another recently posted image while we’re at it:

Penco.

Again, not a “Wow!” picture. And you may argue about how the composition aspects haven’t been applied because the guitar is slightly off vertical but not so much so as to be a ‘correct’ deviation amount. That’s because in this instance true vertical would be too ‘industrial looking’ while a greater angle would look like it’s falling over. This is a case of “time to bend the rules” wherein the slight tilt makes the composition more acceptable; more ‘human’. First we learn the rules, then we learn when and how to break ’em. For the same reason the background is not a flat, smooth, evenly-lit solid colour: that would look like a ‘product shot’ rather than a picture, and this image isn’t about selling the guitar it’s about showing it.

Now a third image:

You’ll laugh.

As an artistic picture this is bad. It’s so heavily cropped it has lost some definition (notice it is smaller than my usual sizing). The composition is destroyed by the wire fence getting right in the way of the subject. But it couldn’t be helped under the circumstances; that bird wasn’t going to hang about for a long photo shoot. In fact it was one shot and gone. This is a ‘documentation image’, which ignores all the rules in hopes of getting down on ‘film’ the fact the bird was there at all.

Now for the laugh: that bird is called a yellow-rumped warbler.

No, really.

50 years on

This is my guitar which I can no longer play due to health reasons. It was not an expensive ‘name brand’ guitar, but I suppose it is ‘classic’ now because it’s 50 years old now.

Penco.

Today we find out Tina Turner is dead. Not entirely unexpected, but still sad.

Briefly, then

It’s actually easier to move the trailers in the yard using the van than the pick-up. Better visibility all-around. Ford has some explaining to do.

Okay so Saturday needed the A/C on while new fires broke out (including near the lake) and mosquitoes tried to eat everyone alive.

Monday needs the fire burning and everything is soggy but perhaps not soggy enough because still many fires burning.

Coming up, doctor consult followed by eye exam followed by endoscopy – all in one week.

How much work am I getting done? Almost none.

I got a little further than this before everything got on top of me again.

Is it fair to say things aren’t going as planned when you’re not actually making any plans?

Just get through each day and hope there’s no more surprises.

Good morning, sunshine?

Yes that’s the sun.

The smoke from the norther fires has made it down here. Came rolling in yesterday afternoon, after Brenda went out to the cabin. In retrospect that wasn’t such a good idea. One thing we discovered: Jojo the Highlander is way better on the bumpy road than Clifford the big red truck. Can’t carry as much cargo of course and probably won’t stand up to all those bumps for long (there’s already some noises in the suspension I don’t like the sound of), but a smoother ride until it fails. Gets far better fuel mileage too.

Nevertheless, she’s out there on her own aside from neighbours. Again, probably not a good idea. In fact probably not a good idea for either of us either way as it’s all too much work to manage the trip. Speaking of which, now I have to try to do work in oppressive heat and smoke. No, that’s not a good idea either. Why do we try to do anything? Should just stay home, inside, with the doors and windows shut staring at the wall. It’d be safer.

Coming up, thunderstorms for Thursday and Sunday because the people haven’t been causing enough wildfires on their own. Oh but it’s a holiday weekend, so maybe they’ll have a contest to see which source causes the most new fires: nature or idiots.

Famous black helicopter looking for wildfires.

Any more ‘fun’ like this and …

Addendum: the weather forecast for today actually says “smoke in the morning …”

It’s not going well

Hi there.

We’re having a heat wave. One source says it isn’t a “heat dome”, another says it is. No one cares what it’s called. We’re just suffering from the affects of highs in the 30s (86-ish for Fahrenheit fans). Lows are under 10 at night, so there’s some relief.

Dandelion

Unless you’re one of the tens of thousands of people on evacuation alert due to wildfires. Or flooding. We’ve got flooding in many places too, due to rapid snow melt caused by the high temperatures. Meanwhile this morning’s headline tells me “BC organizations scramble to make plans to protect seniors from extreme heat”. Notice they are scrambling to make plans, not do the actual protection. This story appeared on what is supposed to be the peak day of the heatwave. It’s not like they didn’t have any prior warning about it either. The same thing happened last year, for example, and is likely to happen again next year. Governments seem to plan along the lines of “cheer up, it may never happen!” even though it always does.

Muscari

Now then, how is it getting to me personally? Well you remember a tree fell on the house, right? Right. So I can only work on that for a few hours in the morning before I have to give up for the day. I nap in the afternoon, and it doesn’t help. The A/C is on, and it doesn’t help. It gets hot. I could make changes that would improve all this, but …

About that cabin trip. It hasn’t happened yet, and other things have which are screwing it up royally. For example I have an eye exam in Kamloops on the 25th. No problem. Just 2+ hours driving each way. 3+ if I were out at the cabin. At least it’s supposed to be cooler by then. After that it gets tricky.

Tulip

You see the doctor finally called about some further testing, to be done in Kamloops. On the 29th. Under anaesthesia. Which requires a driver. Which requires someone to look after the animals. And also an over-night stay due to the timing of the procedure. Hey guess what hotels cost these days! Never mind the gasoline for two trips back and forth. Bye-bye budget. The worst of it is we obviously can’t haul the animals out to the cabin for a few days and then haul them back again. The dogs won’t mind, but the cats get really upset about travel. Actually the dogs have trouble getting in and out of the car, never mind the truck. How bad is it? I built a ramp over the steps to the side door of the house where they usually go in and out, and we’ve borrowed a ramp for the car. Brenda would like to go out there, but at this point it looks like she’ll be on her own or with the dogs while I stay here with the cats until all my medical stuff is seen to. Never mind hers; she’s still not consistently well. This is a problem of being over 70. Mind you, if she had been okay this past week we might already be out there entourage and all – which would have been worse as it turns out.

Nor are we alone in problems. Everyone we know, especially in our age group, is having trouble, from broken refrigerators to brothers dying and it’s messing up everyone’s plans for … well, everything. We are all stretched thin and stressed out and having difficulty coping. This is not a fun Summer, and it has much potential to get even worse.

It’s all too much for a dog

For example I expect I know the outcome of the medical tests already; “you’ve got problems and we can’t fix them.”

And the lawn needs mowing again.

 

Cabins at the lake

I’ve not got out there again yet this year (that’s awkward wording), but the last time I was there (which was the first time this year) I took some pictures with the Canon T100 and the Sigma 150-600mm lens. These are the few that the dust on the sensor is not obvious in; I really can’t tell when it needs cleaning until after I see the shots on a 15″ screen.

(That whole paragraph could be written better, but I’m just not going to edit it as that’s too much like work.)

I can’t remember whose is which, but it doesn’t matter.

Need to go back out there again and do some more stuff (like mow the lawn) just in case we can get out there sometime this year.

Meanwhile there’s a lot of work that needs doing here yet. Like fixing the damage to the house now that I’ve got that tree mostly cleared away.

(This writing today is absolutely terrible; should I be worried about that?)

A few words

Robin on the podium.

Looks like we won’t be getting to the cabin soon. Things keep going wrong. Right now the Mrs. is ill, and this has been recurrent. When it’s not her it’s me. I tell you the seventh decade of life is nothing fun.

Plus we have bad weather which is about to go from teaming rain causing flooding to excessive heat causing wildfires.

Never mind all the projects around here which I find I don’t have the energy for. I’ve sort of got most of that tree cleared, but not all of it. Not started on repairing the house yet. And there’s the thing; nothing at the cabin really needs to be done whereas the projects here do need seeing to before Winter, which comes sooner than you think.

Don’t ask me how I’m going to deal with it. No, we are absolutely not going to hire anyone to do anything. The last time that was suggested the person in question turned out to be on drugs. Just the best choice for handling a chainsaw, right? Right. I’ll stick to my own liabilities, thank you. Even when you get someone sober they’re incompetent and I end up having to do the job over (witness all the corrections I had to make on the contractor’s cabin work).

Also it’d be nice not to be getting poorer by the minute, but Justinflation is rampaging our economy and doing no good for retirees on fixed income.

Yes I know what we should do, and it’s not move to England.

Needless to say there’s not any photography going on here right now, but I have some leftover pictures to post just so Chuck’s┬áSaturday Round-up isn’t polluted with this whine.