Overprocessing photos

  • Thread starter chroot
  • Start date

Which do you prefer?

  • Color

    Votes: 6 85.7%
  • High-contrast B&W

    Votes: 1 14.3%
  • Low-contrast B&W

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    7
  • Poll closed .
  • #1
chroot
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I'm working on my photography, and I've recently discovered that I have a tendency to drastically over-process my photos. Post-processing is essential for virtually all forms of photography, but I seem to approach photos the way hammers approach nails.

Which of the following do you prefer?

Color:
DSCR-1275.jpg


High-contrast B&W:
DSCR-1275.jpg


Low-contrast B&W:
DSCR-1275.jpg


- Warren
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
mgb_phys
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Photography is art, unless it's the sort of work where you are including scale bars in the picture you should go for the maximum story-telling effect (although no Cokin filters!!!)
 
  • #3
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For me, the color works better in this set. Next would be low contrast B&W is you want to shoot a western. The high contrast B&W seems too dark for my taste.
 
  • #4
Danger
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In this particular instance, I agree with Humanino. The colour is gorgeous.
In 'street' type portraiture, such as photos of the homeless or whatever, low contrast B & W can really bring out the poignancy of the scene. Some cases of studio photography of posed models, especially artful nudes, the B & W is also preferable to me.
My vote in this thread is based upon the pictures that you posted, and is not representative of my general taste. It all depends upon the individual shot and what it is trying to accomplish in the viewer.
 
  • #5
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For me, the color works better in this set. Next would be low contrast B&W is you want to shoot a western. The high contrast B&W seems too dark for my taste.
Agreed.

Additionally, the primary subject will typically govern the overall contrast requirements, however, the sample provided lacks a primary subject.
 
  • #6
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How about this?

2eg74ax.jpg


Notice the details in the deep shadow of the rock.

A tad less saturation,
A wee bit sharpening
A bit more contrast in the highlight
Much less contrast in the dark areas.
 
  • #7
chroot
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Agreed.

Additionally, the primary subject will typically govern the overall contrast requirements, however, the sample provided lacks a primary subject.
The intended subject is the large, detailed rock formation in the left-hand third of the frame.

- Warren
 
  • #8
chroot
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How about this?

Notice the details in the deep shadow of the rock.

A tad less saturation,
A wee bit sharpening
A bit more contrast in the highlight
Much less contrast in the dark areas.
Andre,

Thanks for giving it a shot! I personally do not like the blown-out clouds or the sharpening artifacts around them. The colors are also rather unnatural, to my eye -- the sky is not turquoise. To my eye, your version is overexposed by a stop or stop and a half, but that's just me...

- Warren
 
  • #9
Ben Niehoff
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I agree with everyone that the high-contrast B&W is the worst. I can't decide between the other two which one I like better, though. The color image has a lot of clutter over on the right side from the "civilization" there; the B&W image helps mitigate this, because now at least the clutter doesn't come in several colors.

I think I would have tried to move the horizon lower in the frame, and possibly used a slightly longer lens, to help focus more on the subject. I don't know, I find landscapes very challenging, because it's hard to find a view without extra stuff in it, and the picture never quite does justice to what my eyes actually saw.

Also, it looks like you have some dust on your sensor, about 2/5 in from the left, 1/5 down from the top. The clone tool will get rid of it in the image...and a blower should get it off of your sensor for future pics.
 
  • #10
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Pictures often fail to capture the proper sense of a place, due to the cropping, field of view, color mapping, etc. Image editing is a delicate art, and there is no set fast set of rules to follow, but the objective should be to try to restore some of the life that was lost in the imaging process.

In some cases, switching to black and white just adds something amazingly mysterious and indescribable. If you don't see it "pop" like this, then don't do it. A good candidate for this is pictures that are over-saturated to begin with, and naturally high contrast. In this case I don't think it adds anything...but in general, low contrast black and white is never good.

This picture seems a bit unbalanced to me (not that symmetry is good), and I think part of the problem is the aspect ratio. It would look better as a panorama. Also the foreground is too dark, but I don't agree with the way Andre put the brightness through the roof and over saturated the distant mountains.

Here is how I would edit your photo:

Original
DSCR-1275.jpg


Edit
http://img197.imageshack.us/img197/2058/edito.jpg [Broken]

Of course, a landscape such as this is not going to look impressive at such a small size no matter what you do to it. With a little more kung fu, we can upsize it a bit without it being too noticeable,

http://img188.imageshack.us/img188/1499/upsk.jpg [Broken]

The full list of edits were to change the histogram (but only for the foreground), slightly increase saturation for the forest and city in the lowlands, then upsampled and added some high freq back into the rocks (but not the grass, to avoid aliasing).
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #11
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"Civilization" is a very nice title to this picture (as Ben Niehoff described). A suitable title really helps untrained people like me, to find some meaning to a picture.
 
  • #12
chroot
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By the way, the image I'm showing as "color" is not the raw image off the camera. I had already done some minor tweaking, such a darkening the blue channel a bit to saturate the sky, a little tone curve correction to add contrast, and of course resizing from 12.9 megapixels down to a web-sized image.

It's really instructive to see how differently you guys all view the same photo. The "clutter" in the right hand side of the photo is the beautiful city of San Luis Obispo, CA. This mountain, called Bishop's Peak, is a local treasure. I actually intended to show both the city and the mountain together, but I wanted the rock formations to be a well-defined foreground subject.

The more I look at it, the more I like junglebeast's pano crop. It makes the rock formations appear to go on forever, and it eliminates some of the area of the big blue sky. In general, big open skies don't look good in photos. The lens clouds hovering over the distant hills were beautiful that day, and the crop definitely helps bring attention to them.

Thanks all for your input!

- Warren
 

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