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post #1 of (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
 
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Default Struggles with photography

Hi everyone,

For years now I have been wanting to take amazing photos of the Rockies. I work so hard for the summits but it seems like my photos never do it justice. I am trying to learn how to shoot in RAW and process in Lightroom. I have a Fuji X-T10 with very high quality Fujifilm Xf23mm F1/4. I was using a polarizer.

This weekend was a disaster picture wise. The pictures that I took just looked horrid. Take a look at the attached first picture - see what you think of it and then my processed picture in Lightroom and let me know what you might change? One thing I learned this weekend is that I had the entirely wrong light balance set on my camera which is why the first picture looks so gray - the blue that I added in post seems reasonable

What am I missing?

Brandon



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Last edited by brcollette; 10-12-2015 at 07:01 PM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 08:13 PM
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Since no one needs to pay for film anymore, I often use auto-bracketing when I am in the mountains. I'll shoot something like -1,0,+1. In post processing I can then use a technique like HDR if I want. More often than not, it just gives me more options for a starting point. In your case, I think you would have had more luck starting with an image that was shot at -1. That said, I think that your post-processed image looks great.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 08:16 PM
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To be honest the processed picture doesn't look that bad to me. It does seem a bit blue though, so try boosting the color temperature. Also, unless I'm completely missing something setting the white balance won't affect RAW. I think your first photo might just be a bit overexposed.

One thing I noticed when I switched to RAW was that the photos always looked like crap before processing. They definitely need to be processed to look good (if shooting JPEG the camera does this for you). I use Lightroom too and I've found YouTube tutorials really help to get the hang of it.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by brcollette View Post
Hi everyone,

For years now I have been wanting to take amazing photos of the Rockies. I work so hard for the summits but it seems like my photos never do it justice.
That's the way I feel sometimes but it all depends on the lighting conditions at the time...something you can't change. This is one reason why I prefer backpacking...because I'm already on location.

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I was using a polarizer.
A polarizer works best when the scene is at right angles to the sun. Also watch out if using a wide angle lens as only part of the sky will look polarized.

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What am I missing?
It's important to know how your camera functions (white balance, depth of field etc. then study up on composition. After that, it's a lot of practice and luck. I often go back to the same area repeatedly (months to years) before ending up with a good shot. This means hiking the same trails; something which most hikers don't bother but I'm into photography more than hiking from point A to B. Everyone is different but I prefer early morning and late evening when the light is softer and also stormy weather for photography. Don't forget forest shots with the sunlight beaming through.
Don't be discouraged because I felt like that at one time. Just keep at it.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 01:36 AM
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Hey Brandon. The photo doesn't look horrible but I have to ask, why shoot RAW? Fuji has an excellent jpeg engine. One of the best around. Combined with their shadow adjustment modes, it's amazing. I would shoot RAW+jpeg with a setting of DR200 or DR400 and see what you prefer.

Also, don't overdo Lightroom. Just use the landscape "punch" mode with some shadow adjustment to start with. I've been using photoshop and Lightroom for over a decade and it's a lot of extra time and effort to process RAW photos. When I owned Fuji I stopped shooting RAW because it wasn't worth it with that camera. YMMV of course.

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post #6 of (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 02:09 AM
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To add to the above:

Processed photo does not look bad to me either. But I see 2 issues:

1) Composition. Looking at original -- half of the frame is washed out sky. It makes pic boring. There are these rules of thirds, simplified: If goal of the pic is to show great sky, then use top 2/3 of the frame for that. If goal of the pic is to show lake, mountain, foreground -- that goes in bottom 2/3 of the pic. Now this has obviously been corrected with cropping in processed pic, but looking at light conditions it would have been better to originally compose frame in that way.

2) Exposure. Top half (sky) is overexposed. In general if you have underexposure information is still preserved & can be recovered in post-processing. But if pixels are burned, washed out -- info is lost. Without reverting to more complex techniques (exposure bracketing and such), I find easiest in these conditions to expose for the sky, lock exposure then re-compose the frame. Bottom will be underexposed but it can easily be fixed in post-processing.

As someone said above, pic is too blue (cold). But this is easily fixed with warming filter in post-processing; if you don't like it in all parts of the frame, just use layer masks and nice soft brush. I do flip White Balance in camera depending on conditions though, although cloudy setting (Canon) usually makes it too warm.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 06:12 AM
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Agree with the previous comments, the processed photo doesn't look bad!

Here are my two cents of advice:

1) Shoot Raw. No need to decide on white balance when taking the photo - all settings are available when processing the image. Raw allows also much more control over exposure: Areas that are too dark can be adjusted. But not areas that are burned out (overexposed/ too white). Therefore...
2) Expose for the sky then re-compose (as zeljkok says above) - check if your camera has an exposure lock button. Or bracket shots towards underexposure (0, -0.3, -0.6 or so).
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 10:06 AM
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I've been shooting RAW for a decade but have come to realize that for a lot of folks it doesn't make sense with the modern camera - especially when dealing with Fuji cameras (I've owned the x-pro1 and x-e1 and x-e2).

Lightroom allows you to adjust jpeg's WB after the shot. Shooting RAW seems more "professional" but IMHO is a waste of time for 99% of shooters, especially with Fuji cameras which are known to produce excellent jpeg's. You gain almost nothing by shooting RAW except for a LOT of PP work which almost always looks much worse than what the camera would produce in the first place. IMHO there are only a few situations where RAW makes sense;


1. Large prints / future proofing - this is a great reason to shoot RAW+JPEG. Simply store your RAW files in a separate directory with the JPEG and you can always adjust or come back when you're ready to work with the RAW files

2. Low light - you can make custom noise adjustments

3. Extreme lighting - highlight / shadow adjustments (but Fuji has excellent DR anyway) NOTE: You also can't recover dark areas so exposing just for the sky is fine, but you could lose shadow areas...

4. HDR (rarely needed with modern cameras and way more work / storage space)

5. Panoramic stitching in certain cases


Again, YMMV but simply "shooting RAW" doesn't make a great photo - it almost always makes a much worse one unless you spend hours post processing your shots and coming up with a reliable routine which will probably only echo what the camera would have done in most cases, in the first place.

That being said, if you really want to shoot RAW and you use Lightroom, search for presets such as these ones that can make your life a lot easier. They work with both RAW and JPEG files, but are best used with RAW.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
I find easiest in these conditions to expose for the sky, lock exposure then re-compose the frame. Bottom will be underexposed but it can easily be fixed in post-processing.
This is good advice, and something I'm just starting to do more recently. I used to expose for the whole scene and it would ruin my clouds.

It's helpful to keep perspective (no pun intended). The photography learning curve shows the levels of frustration as you get better at it...

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post #10 of (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by vern.dewit View Post
"shooting RAW" doesn't make a great photo - it almost always makes a much worse one unless you spend hours post processing your shots and coming up with a reliable routine which will probably only echo what the camera would have done in most cases, in the first place.
This is interesting, because one of your "10 commandments how to make a great photo" used to be -- shoot RAW

But I understand what you are saying. JPG conversion is basically algorithm, and these only get better with time. I have no experience with Fuji, but if their JPGs look so great it only means their engineers have done really good job.

RAW + JPEG makes lots of sense; if you don't like conversion, "start from scratch on your own". JPGs can also be opened in Camera Raw.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 03:17 PM
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Never mind any of the above. Try metering off the sky or the clouds if half your pic is sky. Then your original will not be so washed out.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 04:05 PM
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Never mind any of the above...
Lol. A bit harsh, no? Even metering off the sky is only partially right. You need to have an "exposure lock" button, independent of your focus lock. You need to have a wide metering mode too, or you'll get blown shadows...

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post #13 of (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by zeljkok View Post
This is interesting, because one of your "10 commandments how to make a great photo" used to be -- shoot RAW
I knew someone would bring that up... I need to rewrite some of that.

With Fuji cameras RAW is trickier than most thanks to it's non-Bayer sensor design. And since they do great JPEG it's more reason to not bother too much with RAW.

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post #14 of (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 04:47 PM
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Lol. A bit harsh, no?
No. Simple problem does not require complex fix.
eg: American space program spent millions designing a ballpoint pen that would work in zero gravity. Russian space program used a pencil.
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 05:26 PM
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Never mind any of the above. Try metering off the sky or the clouds if half your pic is sky. Then your original will not be so washed out.
Metering off the sky is what I always do however, it depends on the camera's dynamic range in being able to recover shadow areas because the other half of the picture will be dark.
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