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Ween
04-19-2005, 07:54 PM
In my short time in this hobby, I have come to the realization that being in the right spot (sun at your back) at the right time (there's a train) is half the battle. The other half of the battle seems to come down to how you do you post-processing photo editting. I have seen a number of threads recently dealing with problems encountered during photo editting, so I figured a thread talking about it may be of some use, especially to those who are new to the hobby and those of us who may be unaware of an awesome technique that we just don't know about.

I've tried to start threads in the past about how we do our photo editting, and the results have been less than what I had hoped for. Some of you out there are masters at Photoshop (when you start talking 'gamma this' and 'gamma that;' I'm lost), and have a huge wealth of knowledge of how best to use the program to maximize what you're working with. I myself am a novice, and I feel that although I can edit my photos good enough to pass the grade with the screeners, I feel that I'm not getting the type of results I think are possible with my hardware/software. Several times I've gone back to a photo that has been accepted here and tinkered around with it and actually produced a result that was better with trial and error tinkering. So, I know there's more I can be doing; I just don't know where to start.

Here's how I do my photo editting:

- I have my camera set on 'Fine' JPEG which gives me results that are 3456 x 2304 pixels, ~3MB/photo.
- I use Photoshop 6.0 for almost all my editting. Typically what I do first is either use the Auto Levels or Auto Contrast function to see which, if either or both together, produce a better result. I have found that Auto Levels makes the photo's colors look fake when shooting orange BNSF pumpkins for some reason. For those units, I usually just use the Auto Contrast.
- Next, if the shot is not level, I use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to hightlight the entire photo. Then I go to Edit->Tranform->Rotate and then level the shot.
- After the shot is level, I'll use the Crop Tool and frame the shot how I want it. This usually results in an image size in the neighborhood of 2700 x 1800 pixels, give or take.
- After the shot is cropped, I go Filter->Sharpen->Unsharp Mask (Amount: 100%, Radius: 1.0 pixels, Threshold: 0 levels).
- Then I have typically gone to Image->Image Size to make the width 1024 pixels and the height whatever the Constrain Proportion gives me (usually high 600s).
- Finally, I go File->Save As then name it and then save it under the Image Options pop-up at '12' and 'Maximum' with the Format Option of Baseline Optimized checked.

That's how I've been doing it since I got the XT. If you like the result you get if you try 'my' way, then that's great; I just think I can be doing something differently/better. Last night I tinkered with Filter->Sharpen->Sharpen and I liked the results. I have not tinkered with the Save for Web option yet. What does that do and shoud I be doing that instead of how I do it now?

I think I've gotten pretty good at fighting the front half of the battle; now if I can just get this other half down, I think I may be headed toward where I want to be...

Thanks for your inputs!

Donna
04-19-2005, 09:19 PM
Wow, I think I'm taking lessons from you. That's more than I can do with my PhotoShop 7. :o :o

cmherndon
04-19-2005, 10:36 PM
Typically what I do first is either use the Auto Levels or Auto Contrast function to see which, if either or both together, produce a better result. I have found that Auto Levels makes the photo's colors look fake when shooting orange BNSF pumpkins for some reason. For those units, I usually just use the Auto Contrast.

You're right about the Auto Levels. I noticed that a long time ago and started adjusting the levels and contrast manually (which isn't really hard). When you get to the point where you need to level a shot, it's easier to go to Image => Rotate Canvas => Arbitrary and then use quarter or half degree increments either CW or CCW.

I have not tinkered with the Save for Web option yet. What does that do and shoud I be doing that instead of how I do it now?

The Save for Web option compresses the photo a little bit more than Save As. You'll notice a difference in quality if you experiment with saving as either low/med/high/max quality. Try that tonight with a previously edited photo, and you'll be amazed. I crop mine down to 800 x 600 (give or take 20 pixels on height) and do a Save for Web at max quality, resulting in a filesize of about 250-350K, depending on how much detail/color is in the photo.

Just for the record, here's usually how I do my Photoshop work with version 6.0.1:

If there's anything that needs to be removed, like specks of dust or stray power lines (I'll never learn... :lol: ), I'll get rid of them with the clone stamp. That's usually a rare occasion though. The rest of my workflow is as follows:

- Rotate canvas if needed
- Adjust levels (manually)
- Adjust contrast (manually)
- Adjust saturation if needed
- Save As (if I want to print out an 8 x 10 or something)
- Crop
- Resize to 800 x 600
- Sharpen (once)
- Put my copyright on the photo in a conspicuous, but non-distracting area.
- Save for web at Max quality
- If needed, I'll run the photo through Neat Image.

I can usually get by with doing the above. I'm by no means an expert in Photoshop, since there are a lot of things I don't know how to do. I've been using the program for close to 2 years now, and have learned quite a bit.

dsktc
04-19-2005, 10:37 PM
Ween, after converting from RAW to TIFF, my
steps in PS CS and PSP 7.0 are:

1. Adjust Saturation if necessary

2. Adjust brightness/contrast

3. Rotate if necessary

4. Crop if necessary

5. Resize

6. Apply Unsharp Mask (100/.5/2) for Strength/Radius/Clipping

7. Save as JPEG under a new name for RP.Net.

Dave

Joe
04-19-2005, 10:47 PM
I don't have photoshop, but there are only a few photos that I felt that I could have used it.
I've got 'Microsoft Office Picture Manager' and it works for me.
Here's my steps for the record:

1. Rotate if need be
2. Crop
3. Auto Correct (Usually this helps, other times it completely kills the pic)
4. Saturate the color a little

ccaranna
04-19-2005, 11:19 PM
Ween,

I don't have much advice to help, other than I'm finally getting up to speed on using photoshop.

I hate to admit, but the only editing I did was a crop or a slight contrast adjustment with Zoom Browser EX and that was it. It wasn't until I purchased a new Cannon 300D and started to break away from using the automatic settings did I need to post-edit photos.

I felt silly when I learned that there was actully an Adobe photoshop program that came with the camera. That's how new I am at this. It's been an interesting and fun learning experience.

Now I can crop, resize, straighten, sharpen, and correct overexposed and underexposed photos well enough to get images accpeted that ordinarily would have been rejected.

Chuck

<A HREF="http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=5402">Click Here</A> to view my photos at RailPictures.Net!

trainmonster
04-19-2005, 11:19 PM
Good lessons here-guess I'm doing things right.

With Photoshop CS 8.0, I use the healing brush to get rid of dirt spots, cloning to get rid of power lines, etc.

My order is: 1) Rotate appropriately, 2) crop appropriately (975 pix. W to get rid of horizontal scrollbars), 3) use auto levels, if that ruins it, back up and use auto contrast, using the fade sliders as necessary 4) (PS CS) try auto color, 5) sharpen once, fading as necessary,add unsharp mask if it'll improve color, 6) then do the fine tuning; heal or clone out spots, power lines, etc. as long as it doesn't alter the photo severely or place it in the 'highly manipulated' category.

Hope this helps!

Rich

busyEMT
04-20-2005, 02:07 AM
I too use PS 6 and have taught myself from books and just hands-on.

With my old FinePix, I hit sharpen once or twice and that was good. Only a few months ago, in these forums, did I learn about USM. I have mine set close to yours. USM works better for images off my D10, sharpen is too harsh.

I used to shoot relying on the fact that I could crop the image on the computer. As I have matured as photographer (still a serious ametuer), but I found that many times the image would be too small and then become pixelated or less than desirable in quality. Now, shooting purely in RAW files, I still get a lot of shots from the same train, but now are cropped most often to get a 1024 x 768 image.

I don't have a monopod and rarely use a tripod, so I have to rotate with the free transform tool.

I never auto contrast nor auto levels. Again, through feedback on this site, I haven't relied on the curves function much. ***Although I highly suggest playing with curves to see what it can do.*** I only lighten some images with the levels tool (I use the histogram as a guide and that has cut down on underexposed and too dark rejections). Plus I add +8 saturation to 1/3 of my photos.

Overall, taking a good picture out there means less work for me at home on the computer. But some take extra work.

Also, you had asked about the save for web deal. I can't explain it as the "gamma this" and "gamma that" guys could. It is helpful to preview the quality. I use it for all the pic and all the graphics on my site. Aside from allowing you to select the quality, and providing image load time at web connections, it is great for web graphics. With GIFs, it allows you to select up to 256 colors found in the image and lock web safe colors, and allows you to save transparent GIFs.

nordicus
04-20-2005, 04:11 AM
cmherndon wrote "When you get to the point where you need to level a shot, it's easier to go to Image => Rotate Canvas => Arbitrary and then use quarter or half degree increments either CW or CCW."


Another way to quickly figure out how many degrees to rotate is to use the measure tool. Simple make a straight line on what ever you want to level and the go to Image => Rotate Canvas => Arbitrary. The measurement to level your line will be calculated for you. Just click OK and your level.

P.S. You've been able to to this since PS3.

Ween
04-20-2005, 05:53 AM
The Save for Web option compresses the photo a little bit more than Save As.

Does this mean that the Save for Web results in lesser image quality than the Save As function with the trade off being the Save for Web results in a smaller file size? I assume this is the case since it has more compression.

BTW, thanks to all of you for your input. Not only has it been helpful to me but also I'm sure those who lurk or are new are building your techniques into their bag of tricks. Thanks again!

cmherndon
04-20-2005, 06:10 AM
Does this mean that the Save for Web results in lesser image quality than the Save As function with the trade off being the Save for Web results in a smaller file size? I assume this is the case since it has more compression.

Probably. At a lower quality (low/medium) you'll notice it more than if you save at high or max. Personally, I save everything at max, except for photos that go on my own site, in which case I save at high.

Another way to quickly figure out how many degrees to rotate is to use the measure tool. Simple make a straight line on what ever you want to level and the go to Image => Rotate Canvas => Arbitrary. The measurement to level your line will be calculated for you. Just click OK and your level.

Thanks for the tip! I may have to try that one sometime.

busyEMT
04-20-2005, 02:27 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
Does this mean that the Save for Web results in lesser image quality than the Save As function with the trade off being the Save for Web results in a smaller file size? I assume this is the case since it has more compression.

Probably. At a lower quality (low/medium) you'll notice it more than if you save at high or max. Personally, I save everything at max, except for photos that go on my own site, in which case I save at high.


PS6 removes "unnecessary" pixels to bring down file size, while trying to keep the integrity of the image. But the smaller the file, the poorer the quality.

dodi4200
04-20-2005, 07:59 PM
thanks ween for this good topic and i will do my best for making my pix good and acceptable from screeners

RJSorensen
04-27-2005, 05:40 AM
Thanks for this thread . . . it will help me and perhaps others a lot.

Ween
09-03-2005, 09:09 PM
An updated version of this discussion is continued here:

http://www.railpictures.net/forums/showthread.php?p=14562#post14562

NicTrain35
07-29-2006, 05:15 AM
Post moved to the updated thread.