View Full Version : Photography/Photoshop Help
09-28-2008, 06:12 PM
Ok, let's start out with me saying that I'm really not great with photography.
Anyway, I was doing some hiking, and saw a really neat scene where a thick layer of clouds was moving over the mountains.
So I took this picture:
http://img90.imageshack.us/img90/2891/firstxl0.th.jpg (http://img90.imageshack.us/my.php?image=firstxl0.jpg)http://img90.imageshack.us/images/thpix.gif (http://g.imageshack.us/thpix.php)
As you can see, the clouds kinda washed out. Now I'm taking these with a Cannon Powershot G2, which has adjustments for fstop and exposure time, but I took these on automatic (mainly because I don't know what I'm doing).
So, first question: Given this scene, what would have probably been reasonable settings to use? Any hints? It was sunny at that point, so there was a lot of light.
This kind of leads to my second question: what kind of stuff can I do in photoshop to make this picture look better? I don't really know that much about photoshop either, but would like to learn. I simply did equalize and got:
http://img255.imageshack.us/img255/5070/secondey6.th.jpg (http://img255.imageshack.us/my.php?image=secondey6.jpg)http://img255.imageshack.us/images/thpix.gif (http://g.imageshack.us/thpix.php)
This does show the details in the clouds way better, but some of the closer things (like the near trees in the shot) look a bit worse overall.
09-28-2008, 09:02 PM
you can start with the "sunny 16 rule." use it as a starting point in manual mode and adjust from there based on what you see in the preview screen. if the scene seems overexposed (washed out, too bright, etc) start making the shutter speed faster or reduce the aperture (refer to your manual). If the scene looks underexposed (too dark) do the opposite. There are other tricks you can do which involve ISO settings and such, but start from there and see what happens.
in photoshop, usually, the most reliable one-click fix is "auto levels." if you're still not satisfied with the result open the "levels" setting and start manually moving the middle lever in either direction to see if that helps.
09-29-2008, 02:26 AM
Read your manual and find out how to use the EV or exposure compensation (Canon may call it something else- I have Nikon cameras). Of course that does not usually work in the automatic or preprogrammed modes but if you use either shutter priority or aperature priority you can still let it do most of the settings for you. I use aperature priority- AV on your camera.
One nice thing about digital is that you can see the shot you just took and try to figure out if you need to adjust your exposure and in which way. I do not suggest checking every shot- this uses up lots of battery power to view the picture and zoom in on it.
I see the EV compensation is found as part of the multifunction button- it is a square with a diagonal across it and a + in one side and a - in the other half of the square. When a scene comes out too dark and you want to lighten it (say to show more detail in a shadow or a darker object against a bright background) you want more exposure so you want to have a + number for your EV. This increases the exposure and lets more light hit the sensor. A - EV value will reduce the exposure which is probably what you wanted to do in this case to get more detail in the white clouds.
In basic exposures, the meter in the camera wants to turn everything to an average shade of gray (18% if I remember correctly). If what the meter is looking at is bright or even white, it will want to turn that into a gray and it will tend to underexpose the scene. If the meter is pointed at something black, it will also want to turn that gray too meaning overexposing it. If it is a whiter scene, you will want to increase the EV to a higher number, if it is a darker scene you will want to use a lower EV number. Try a couple different settings to see what works best for your scene.
The one you have here is difficult. The mountains are darker but the sky is bright. It seems like the camera took most of the exposure reading off of the mountains which let more light in and that lightened the clouds- losing detail there. If you had aimed a little higher the main exposure would have been on the sky and the hills would have come out darker.
But we have the photo you took so let's try to see what we can do with it. It may seem a little complicated at first, but the best way to edit photos in photoshop is using layers. I came across this video at Radiant Vista.com and found it very helpful. They have an entire new series which I have not seen yet on photoshop. Layers has two benefits. One is that it does not harm the original picture. Second is that you make each type of adjustment on a different layer which allows you to go back and make further changes in that layer.
I am not sure how much info you have so I will try to guide you through what I normally do. First of course, open the image in Photoshop. Next, instead of clicking on Image- Adjustments, select Layer- New Adjustment Layer and then one of the options. I usually start with Levels to get the brightness and darkness pretty close to how I want it. Click "OK" to get the adjustment box. There are three sliders at the bottom- the left is the blacks, the right is highlights and the middle obviously midtones. Down at the bottom is "Output level". This you can use to lighten the blacks or darken the whites by sliding their triangles towards the middle. On this picture you may try moving the white output triangle towards the left. Darkening the midtones (middle triangle in the main portion) may help a bit. Most photos don't usually need lots of adjustments here- it depends on the exposure and how you want it to look. Play around with the sliders here until you like what you see. Done with that? Click "OK". You can try the "Auto" on here, but I prefer to do it all myself. If you do not like it, you can hit "cancel" and start over. There is also a little box that has "preview" next to it. If you click on it to uncheck the box it will show you what it looked like originally and rechecking it will show the changes you have made. You can go back and make more adjustments later if you want.
OK. That is your first layer. I usually move on to color next. Click again on Layers- New Adjustment Layer and now Hue Saturation. This should not be too hard to understand what it does. Saturation of course adjusts the "volume" on the colors and "Hue" adjusts the tint of the color. The top box says "Master" this will adjust all of the colors at the same time. This is fine, but I like to adjust each color seperately. If you click on the arrow in the top box next to "master" you can select each of the color groups. I first move the saturation bar to what looks good and then see what looks better in the hues. My camera tends to sometimes overdo reds so I may reduce the saturation on them a little while increasing the blue. On the hue slider, going to the left adds more red, to the right more yellow. Try to avoid the urge to give it too much saturation trying to give a picture more "pop". Keep it more natural looking. I also sometimes have a tendancy to make things too dark or too high of contrast (getting the darks and whites too close to each other in Levels).
Color is taken care of. Click OK. This is all most pictures need. If you want to fine tune things a bit more, I like to do another Layer- Adjustment Layer- Selective Color. Here you can make more changes within each of the colors. There are more options here too. I mostly use the "Black: option to adjust the brightness of each color. This can also be done in Hue/ Sat with the bottom slider. In your shot here, I might have lightened up the blue some more to bring back some of the details in the mountains which got darkened a bit on the Levels adjustment. In that picture I would also have gone to the "White" channel and tried to both lighten and darken it to see what made the clouds look better. In "Neutral" here you can adjust the tones of the entire picture- more red or less yellow or a bit bluer. Your shot taken at high altitude probably has a slight blue tint to it so I might have moved the blue slider there to the left a bit- reducing the blue. This layer is optional.
So now you have all these layers- now what? If you think that after you adjusted the color now the brightness needs adjusted a bit more you can. Over on the right hand side of your screen in Photoshop you see all of the layers listed. Find the one for levels and double click on the square box. This will bring up the adjustment settings you have made so far. Now you can change them if you want. Lighten midtones. Darken highlights. Whatever you think you like. At this point if you hit "cancel" it will only wipe out this most recent adjustment- not the ones you already made earlier.
This is the point where I would do any resizing- like if I was going to post in in my gallery or on GotApex? You probably know how to do this. Image- Image Size and I usually make it 700 pixels on the long side. But here is something I do differently from what some people do. In the box at the bottom, I scroll it to "bilinear"- I just like the way it comes out a little better. Then hit OK. At this point, go to View and Actual Pixels to see how it looks at full size. I have not flattened all my layers yet because it may need to have some readjustments after resizing. Probably won't but it might. If it does, again double click on the box for the layer you want to adjust.
Happy now? Go back to the "Layers" at the top and to the bottom of that list and choose "Flatten Layers". Now all of your adjustments are in one layer. If you need to go back (here or at any earlier point) go to the top and find "Edit" and "step backwards". Now all you have to do is some sharpening (Filter- Sharpen- in CS3 I like to use Smart Sharpen but Unsharp Mask works fine too). Try to avoid too much sharpening. If you start to see things like halos, then back off.
This got a bit long and I am not sure if I helped answer your question but let me know.
09-30-2008, 10:05 AM
Thanks a ton for the help guys. I tried working with the picture a bit last night, and I can tell it's going to take some practice to get good at it!
09-30-2008, 12:05 PM
AWESOME info, Zippy - thanks!
In addition, here are some tutorials that have been quite informative on Photoshop:
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