Firstly, thank you to all the members who worked on improving their critiquing on the site, and I am sure that all those who received some truly great replies to their threads have appreciated the time and effort taken to write the critiques.
So without further to do, it is time to announce the winner of the May Madness, best critique.
The winning critique was by WhoDo for this critique in hawko02's thread.
Here is a full copy of the critique:
Hope you enjoyed the dancing and managed to sneak in a bit of camera time.
I've had a play with your photo of Tom, as promised. Thank you for giving me access to the original RAW format file so I could work from the that. Following is my analysis of your image and its suggested processing. From your EXIF data I noted the following settings:
Focal length 18mm
Viewing EXIF data:
You can view the EXIF data yourself in the RAW format file using the free image viewer and catalogue program FastStone Viewer. You will find the EXIF data under View>Image Properties from the pull down menus. Ufraw will let you do it as well but I find that the FastStone program gives a wider choice of options and better previews for viewing RAW files when sorting and cataloguing them.
Causes of Noise in your image:
When talking about the noise in your processing of the image, the high ISO (3200) is the immediately obvious cause. You have closed down the aperture to f/16 (narrow aperture = less light) in Aperture priority mode and the camera automatically compensated with the other exposure settings by raising the ISO to 3200 and slowing down the shutter speed to 1/15; that's the exposure triangle we talked about before.
How to avoid the noise:
When your camera is in one of the semi-automatic modes (aperture priority, shutter priority or sensitivity priority) the complimentary exposure triangle settings will be automatically adjusted to give you the best compromise on exposure according to the camera's software. If you know that up front then you can make judgements about the compromises you are willing to make on the shot - high ISO means more noise, slow shutter speed means possible blurring due to camera shake when hand held and narrow aperture means less light will fall on the sensor giving a darker image and less image data. You can get around that by shooting in full manual mode (M setting) but you risk over-exposing or under-exposing if your judgement about settings is a bit off. You can also use exposure compensation (EV) to overcome some exposure issues by adjusting + or - a couple of stops either way.
To avoid the noise issue there are a number of options open to you; you can shoot at a lower ISO setting (eg ISO 400), set your aperture wider (eg f/8 or wider) or dial in a faster shutter speed (eg 1/320 for hand held to avoid shake). In Aperture Priority (AV) mode, dialling out to f/8 or wider aperture setting would have caused the ISO to come down to a more manageable level for noise. If the wider aperture causes problems with letting in too much light then you can compensate with an appropriate exposure compensation (EV) setting. Your camera may also have a feature to help control the amount of noise at higher ISO levels; high ISO noise reduction, which can be set to activate at ISO settings higher than a specific level (mine is set to activate at settings above ISO 400). You can also use your camera or lens shake reduction (SR) mode to help avoid blurring at lower shutter speeds.
Processing the image in Ufraw and GIMP:
Following are the steps I used in processing the image, starting with opening in Ufraw.
- Ufraw - set colour temperature to 6500k and Denoise at 498 (very high but there was a lot of noise)
- Open in GIMP
- Straighten using Layer>Transform>Arbitrary Rotation (1.20) to level horizon
- With Colors>Use GEGL set to ON, apply a flat "S" to the adjustment curve (Colors>Curves) to lighten the mid tones and slightly darken the highlights (no Levels adjustment was necessary at the shadow end for this image)
- Apply FxFoundry>Photograph>Enhancement>Vivid saturation (strength 7 - quite low)
- Apply FxFoundry>Photograph>Sharpen>High Pass Filter Sharpen (strength 7 - low)
- (Optional) Apply ScriptFu>Step Resize to adjust image size to more manageable proportions (1024 wide in 10 steps)
- Apply FxFoundry>Photograph>Sharpen>Edge Mask Sharpen (amount 0.70, radius 1.00 and despeckle=on)
- Merge Down
- Apply FxFoundry>Photograph>Enhancement>Graduated Filter (colour=c2cbd5, layer opacity=66%)
- Apply FxFoundry>Light and Shadow>Paint with light (one layer) and fill layer with white before setting layer opacity to 70% before merging down - this will lighten the image back to near original levels when viewed in Ufraw.
- Apply Colour>Desaturate (using luminance as the key for the grey scale)
Here are the results of that process:
I also had a little play with a portrait crop to try and reduce the amount of glare distraction to the right of frame. Here are the results of that as well:
Using Denoise in Ufraw has caused the image to be a bit softer than in the original. That's another compromise when you are trying to remove noise from an image; there will be some deliberate blurring introduced in the process. In this case there was more than I'd have liked but there was a lot more noise to start with. You can try it again yourself with Denoise set at say 250 to see if it still takes care of the bulk of the noise and keeps the softness to a minimum.
You will also notice that the outboard motor is quite sharp while Tom's hands, face and legs are a bit soft. That tells me that the camera's autofocus may have picked up the motor as its point of focus. You can overcome that by setting your camera in Spot focus mode so it will focus exactly where you are pointing the focus block in your viewfinder. Holding your shutter button half way will then allow you to recompose the frame without losing that focal point.
That's an awful lot to take in, and I'm conscious that the more detail used the more chance that some details will be overlooked. Take your time to digest what I've suggested and play with the original NEF file yourself. It's a terrific image and deserves the time you will spend on it. The dark look on Tom's face fits well with the foreboding clouds behind him. I think you were right to process in B&W, despite the colour version being an excellent image as well. It just seems to suit the mood.
If you don't have some or all of the scripts and presets in GIMP that I've mentioned, send me a PM and I'll email them to you. They are quite small and easy to add. The FxFoundry photographic presets are mostly based on similar Photoshop plug-ins so the steps should be available for PS and CS users as well, even if by another name or in another location.
I hope that helps, Kathy. Let me know how you go with applying the steps yourself. Don't be afraid to experiment. The beauty of shooting in RAW is that you can process and reprocess many times over without losing the original image data.
For his efforts Waz wins a $100.00 voucher to use as he wants with Ausphotography site advertisers:
Cheap Canvas Prints