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Thinking of printing, need more eyes

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SnowFella View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote SnowFella Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Thinking of printing, need more eyes
    Posted: 30 May 2015 at 11:48
Hopefully everyone forgives yet another PP subject

I mainly do birding and the times that I'm out with camera, tripod and filters in a year can likely be counted on your 2 hands (even if your nickname is lefty/stumpy) so tried making the most of things at a rare sunset opportunity earlier on in the week. As new as I am to it I likely got lucky I managed to get the tripod set up level and the stitch worked out.
Having thoughts of printing it large, think 36x12 with some border around it.

The stitch more or less as it came out of camera with minimal PP


Now I do like the compo, sky and smooth water but the more I look at it it feels too dark.

Que a first attempt at balancing it by boosting exposure in LR


And a second round, this time HDR composite's from my original files. +-2EV through Lightroom and sent through Photomatix


And now I'm lost. Other than cleaning up some obvious stitching errors more apparent in the large sized version, around 15000x4000 in it's current form and cloning out some of the stray buoys, I just don't know where to go from here.
Where would you go with the image?

Self criticism regarding the shoot: Should really of been smarter with my filters, had one cheap ND filter and an equally cheap ND grad mounted (think they came advertised as 3 stop but who's to tell with chinese ebay purchases) and shot in manual @ 30 sec, F9 and ISO50. Also had long exposure NR on so it was slightly more than a minute between frames.
30 sec exposures made for some nicely smooth water but the light was fading quick so towards the last shot it was almost gone from the horizon.
So I would likely of been better off having removed the ND filter and dropping down to 10sec exposure time, other shots taken just before and after the pano at 10sec had the water equally smooth.
The shorter exposure time likely also would of meant less movement in the moored boats, full scale has some obvious motion blur.

Any and every hints/tips/crits more than welcome!
 



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Post Options Post Options   Quote thornburg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2015 at 13:42
Obviously this is completely a matter of opinion, but I personally find the original (dark) exposure more appealing.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Octupi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2015 at 15:05
I like the dark foreground and top sky but lighter middle.

I'd take the original and use a Grad Filter at the horizon and bring up just the exposure in that area, play w/ the size of it. It would help draw your eye into it. You could increase Saturation and color w/ it as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote nandbytes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2015 at 15:12
I find the HDR one more appealing followed by the second one. I find the first one a bit too dark (as said its a matter of taste).

The only problem I have with the HDR one is the lights in the cabin on the extreme right is bit too bright/blown. This can be easily fixed I think with a bit of radial filter magic in LR.

Good luck, let us know what you decide
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Post Options Post Options   Quote TheEmrys Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2015 at 15:54
I like elements of 1 and 3. Ideally, you could overlay them and get the best of both. This isn't to knock 2, but 1 and 3 stand out to me for different reasons.

Have you played with the Grad ND filter on LR? It may make this image have a bit more Zing.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote SnowFella Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 May 2015 at 07:10
Thanks for the input!

I have to agree on the blown lights in the marina/cabin and would have to work it over some more, likely make some more HDR tests along the way too to see if I can tame the highlights.

Still haven't played around with the grad or radial filters in LR, above 3 are mostly 100% as they came out of the camera/photomatix and would indeed need some massage back in LR or PS, going to have to take the result into PS to paint out the stitching errors so might aswell do the bulk of the post work there.

Downside is that my only rig with PS is dead at the moment so I'll have to get that fixed first before I can finalize the shot.
 



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Post Options Post Options   Quote TheEmrys Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 May 2015 at 13:24
LR is awfully powerful. I would give it a shot and see what you can do. The grad nd changed how I approach landscape PP.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Octupi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 May 2015 at 15:27
You can do a ton in LR...keep playing and learning and you'll be amazed.

Could be a fun experiment w/ your original to do a Before/After using LR only if you provide the file. Make it a requirement that ppl document their process or at least show the history of the edits.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote SnowFella Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 June 2015 at 09:17
Yup, LR has plenty of horsepower though I'm not 100% confident it would deal with stitching errors as well as PS would.
I'm looking at a fair few sections of sky looking like this that would need to be sorted.


With PS I'd just import the originals as separate layers, align them to the stitched layer and use layermask's to blend over the errors. In LR the only way I know of doing something like that would be with the spot removal brush and that's hit and miss when it comes to large bits like this.

Funny thing is that every time I run the original's through MS ICE I get a slightly different result, both in size and stitching errors.

Here's the same section from the "original" stitch, above is from the +-2EV HDR Stitch


Edit: just finished running a +-1EV HDR stitch and think I might just have something to start working from.


Edited by SnowFella - 01 June 2015 at 09:42
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Octupi View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Octupi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 June 2015 at 13:38
LR CC has a Pano stitch option that works quite well. What version are you using?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote mikey2000 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 June 2015 at 21:15
I think I like the latest HDR version the most. One thing I've noticed is that prints often come out darker than I expect. I brighten pics accordingly now before sending the files off. Have you tried a test print with your supplier?

few other thoughts....

I feel the horizon is a bit tilted - maybe rotate anticlockwise a little.

I can't make my mind up about the bright lights at the right. Have you tried cropping? I think maybe to crop the same amount from each edge to keep that boat still in the centre. You would also lose the tall tree at the left. Also, the skies at both the left and right edges aren't massively interesting so maybe an edge crop might further focus attention on the dramatic parts of the sky.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote waldo_posth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 June 2015 at 22:23
Just a technical remark - how to come to grips with the very bright lights on the right: I would use the "user defined gradual density" filter from NIK COLOR EFX. And I would just tone down the lights with it (with a bluish grey), i.e. using it only for a snippet of the image at the right (there are lots of ways to customize this effect in NIK, i am not sure whether LR provides the same customization options). To see what I mean look at this image: The upper three lights dominate the whole scene in the original file; the grad filter makes them bearable.

It is not a bad idea to use - real - grad filters (like the Cokin #120-133) when taking photographs in the night, particularly for those parts in the image that might suffer from to strong artifical lighting.

Usually I am favoring HDR techniques over other ways of tweaking an image file. And your HDR process does a good job. But the results are too bright. I would think that reducing brightness by 1-2 EV will make the image more natural looking.

All the best!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote SnowFella Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 June 2015 at 09:58
Thanks.

I'm on LR 5.6, have looked into LR6 but can't really see a reason to upgrade since most of the new features are things I'd hardly ever use.

Good thought about doing a test print first! Never use this place for printing before so it would likely be worth it doing a first print at a smaller size to sus out if I need to go do any adjustments before pulling the trigger on a larger print.
I'd likely head in and get it ordered in person rather than do it online, that way I can ask the staff. Downside is that it's a regular electronics/furniture chain that also do prints so chances are small prints are handled on site while large is sent offsite, who knows if the offsite printer is calibrated the same to the onsite one?

As for crop, thought have crossed my mind but I'm kinda partial to the dark tree on the left contrasted by the lights in the marina on the right. 10 minutes later there were even more lights on but by then the horizon lights were gone.

Did use a grad when shoothing but was more concerned with keeping the highlights in the sky in check and didn't even think about the lights at the marina. Probably should of been smarter and started my panorama from the right to get the exposure right in what in the end had the brightest lights rather than start from the dark left side. Lessons learned for next time I guess.

Done a tiny little bit more today, have to say working on the file has my poor old laptop on it's knees just beggin for a coup de grace!
*Tried taming the highlights on the right hand side using a radial filter
*Slight crop from the left and straightening
*Darkened the patch of grass to the left to match the grass on the right
*Cloned out some distractions in the water
*Slight noise reduction and sharpening
*Minor adjustments to exposure and saturation

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Roger Rex Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 June 2015 at 12:52
Several suggestions; 1. correct the image distortion; it bows in the middle and is not level (this look could very will be the way the scene really appears because the distant shoreline might not be "level" but since the masts of the boats are all tilted slightly to the right, I assume the image is out of level); 2. SUBSTANTIALLY lower the exposure of the lights on the right side of the frame, even more so than already done (unless that structure is "the" subject (presently, the eye shoots across the frame do that spot and misses the essence of the image; 3. balance the exposure in the sand from the left side, now brighter, with the right side, now darker; and lastly and most importantly to my eye, 4. crop about 1/2 of the area below the horizon to eliminate most of the shoreline. The shoreline with it's bowed look and all the debris as a huge foreground area is VERY distracting to the scene and offers virtually nothing; what doesn't add, detracts. To me the beauty of the image is to be found along the horizon with the nice colors and the boat profiles and their reflections in the "still" water (nice shutter speed). To simply check this cropping suggestion just scroll up to cut off the bottom of the image - to my eye it makes a HUGE difference in the quality of the image; the brain fills in the rest of the shoreline - you don't need to actually see it.
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