Old 07-02-2007, 04:20 AM   #1
Carl Becker
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Question Removal of Birds, etc., in shots

In shots like this one [for submission to RP.net]

Image © Carl Becker
PhotoID: 189327
Photograph © Carl Becker


is it too manipulative to digitally remove objects such as what appears to be a bird above the locomotive in this one? I don't have the tools to do it, but was wondering if that is considered acceptable, and, if so, if someone would be able to do it for me in this shot?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-02-2007, 05:40 AM   #2
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Here's 4 pretty recent threads that discuss bird removal in them; make your own conclusions:

27 Jun 07:
http://www.railpictures.net/forums/s...ighlight=birds

24 Jun 07:
http://www.railpictures.net/forums/s...ighlight=birds

16 May 07:
http://www.railpictures.net/forums/s...ighlight=birds

24 Jun 06:
http://www.railpictures.net/forums/s...ighlight=birds
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Old 07-02-2007, 05:43 AM   #3
Arne H. B.
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I think it is acceptable, I remember reading that birds and dust can be cloned out, but not anything that alters the real appearance of a train or location. I'll see if I can post the rules that are stated. -Arne
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Old 07-02-2007, 07:52 AM   #4
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Question is...
If this was BirdPictures.net - would it be OK to remove the train?

Seriously, I would say it's OK to remove the bird in this specific case as it looks more like a spec of dust then a bird and the shot was to be had before and after as it would be rendered.

On the otherhand - manipulation is manipulation. Some would say you should have retaken it, or if you didn't notice it (and it bothers you), then you should retake it at another point in time. Considering how minor, I think most would let that slip, though similar but different, would be closing a door on the nose of a cab, removing graffitti or cloning out polls or trash. I guess if you take a picture at a specific location and time that someone else could not then it is way too major a detail to toy with. And again, manipulation is manipulation - since, it would be frowned upon to add the bird.

OK, that shouldn't make things much clearer for you.
(Maybe a little).

/Mitch
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Old 07-02-2007, 08:22 AM   #5
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If the bird looks like a bird, leave it. If the bird looks like a speck of dust, chances are it should get canned from RP for looking like dust on the sensor. Therefore, clone that sucka out!


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Old 07-02-2007, 03:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arne H. B.
I think it is acceptable, I remember reading that birds and dust can be cloned out, but not anything that alters the real appearance of a train or location. I'll see if I can post the rules that are stated. -Arne
Arne,

Thanks for the work on the image. It looks good. I have saved your copy but I'm waiting to see if an admin or screener stumbles upon this thread and gives their opinion before I resubmit.

Others-- I appreciate the advice. Thanks.
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Old 07-02-2007, 07:44 PM   #7
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The bird is removed...

Increased saturation, contrast, adjusted exposure, gamma so it doesn't look so overexposed.
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Old 07-02-2007, 08:49 PM   #8
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Arne:

I went ahead and resubmitted your copy of the image (without the copyright bar of course) after taking a look at the uploading guidelines. Thanks again for the assistance.

~Carl Becker
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Old 07-02-2007, 08:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mgoldman
Question is...
If this was BirdPictures.net - would it be OK to remove the train?
If this was BirdPictures.net, I would say that my shot would be a piece of crap to submit!

Quote:
Seriously, I would say it's OK to remove the bird in this specific case as it looks more like a spec of dust then a bird and the shot was to be had before and after as it would be rendered.
After taking another look at the guidelines, I agree there.

Quote:
On the otherhand - manipulation is manipulation. Some would say you should have retaken it, or if you didn't notice it (and it bothers you), then you should retake it at another point in time. Considering how minor, I think most would let that slip, though similar but different, would be closing a door on the nose of a cab, removing graffitti or cloning out polls or trash. I guess if you take a picture at a specific location and time that someone else could not then it is way too major a detail to toy with. And again, manipulation is manipulation - since, it would be frowned upon to add the bird.
In this case it will happen again, more than likely almost every week. They typically take those engines down there to serve the elevators on that line. Although that is the last operating set of units like themselves.

Quote:
OK, that shouldn't make things much clearer for you.
(Maybe a little).
It does. Thanks.
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Old 07-02-2007, 08:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe the Photog
If the bird looks like a bird, leave it. If the bird looks like a speck of dust, chances are it should get canned from RP for looking like dust on the sensor. Therefore, clone that sucka out!
I've actually had that happen with a small cloud before in another shot, but it got in on appeal. I completely saw at a glance why it would have been rejected but I took a look up close at the original photo and the cloud was obvious.

In this case I agree that it doesn't look much like a bird at glance. After looking at that shot for a while on RP I decided that if it was possible, the bird had to go.
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Old 07-02-2007, 09:56 PM   #11
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Here's my version. It has also been rotated 1 CCW.
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Old 07-03-2007, 12:10 AM   #12
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Distant birds may be recognizable as birds on your full size image, but downsizing to 1024 wide for RP may convert the birds into one or two rectangular pixels. In that case, I think it's OK to clone them out. If they are clearly recognizable as birds after downsizing, I'd have a harder time accepting that.

Trains Magazine wants photos submitted for their photo contests sent as RAW files. They state they want to see how good a photographer you are, not how good you are at Photo Shop. I think that's the most extreme position on image manipulation. I think RP's position against digital "manipulation" is a reasonable one.

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Old 07-03-2007, 05:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a231pacific
Trains Magazine wants photos submitted for their photo contests sent as RAW files. They state they want to see how good a photographer you are, not how good you are at Photo Shop.
That is a pretty tough requirement, what about people whose cameras can't take RAW files?
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Old 07-03-2007, 05:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WembYard
That is a pretty tough requirement, what about people whose cameras can't take RAW files?
They'll accept unaltered JPEG's too. To further continue the thread-jack, I think that rule is BS. They're not requiring the negatives from film shots be submitted. IMHO, it just demonstrates how far behind they are at the moment... the whole point of digital is that you (as opposed to a tech at a film processing store) can make your photos look that much better...
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Old 07-03-2007, 06:00 PM   #15
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Since this discussion on TRAINS magazine came up, I think they also prefer you submit a shot of an 18% gray card or something like that so they can better gauge the correct color.

The funny thing about all this "we need RAW and the gray card" deal is this: check out the photo on page 10 of the August '07 issue. That color just looks so far off it's not funny. And I'm not knocking the photog either, but TRAINS and how they processed it. I thought it might have been a printing issue, but then again, all the other photos in the issue look fine to me.

One thing about TRAINS though, at least they're doing online submissions now...
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Old 07-03-2007, 06:14 PM   #16
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For the upcoming Trains contest, they also want the file name unaltered!!!! For a shot you can take now but won't be submitting for months!!! (I'd provide a quote but I don't have a Trains mag handy at the moment.)
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Old 07-03-2007, 09:35 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ottergoose
They'll accept unaltered JPEG's too. To further continue the thread-jack, I think that rule is BS. They're not requiring the negatives from film shots be submitted. IMHO, it just demonstrates how far behind they are at the moment... the whole point of digital is that you (as opposed to a tech at a film processing store) can make your photos look that much better...
If shooting film, you should be using slide film. Of course, slides have no negative, the slide is the negative so requesting the RAW file doesn't seem too outrageous to me. As long as you're properly composing the photo, it shouldn't be problem.

I didn't switch to digital to improve how my photos look. I did it mostly for convenience. The nice thing about slides is that when you receive the slide, all your work is done.
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Old 07-04-2007, 12:38 AM   #18
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Arne:

I went ahead and resubmitted your copy of the image (without the copyright bar of course) after taking a look at the uploading guidelines. Thanks again for the assistance.


You're very welcome, Carl that was an easier one to do on PS. I was a little surprised to come home from work this morning and see your photo as my current desktop, I guess my wife likes your photo, and she's never added one of my own! -Arne
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Old 07-04-2007, 04:13 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arne H. B.
You're very welcome, Carl that was an easier one to do on PS. I was a little surprised to come home from work this morning and see your photo as my current desktop, I guess my wife likes your photo, and she's never added one of my own! -Arne
Thanks for the compliment. That shot turned out better than I had even hoped it would, check out the original, unmodified copy found somewhere in this thread:

http://www.railpictures.net/forums/s...ead.php?t=5358
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Old 07-10-2007, 04:03 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ottergoose
They'll accept unaltered JPEG's too. To further continue the thread-jack, I think that rule is BS. They're not requiring the negatives from film shots be submitted. IMHO, it just demonstrates how far behind they are at the moment... the whole point of digital is that you (as opposed to a tech at a film processing store) can make your photos look that much better...
I agree. And, how will they know if it's been unaltered or not? If you open up a jpg file in photoshop, do a couple of alterations without creating a new layer and then hit save, it saves it as a jpg file and NOT as a photoshop file.

Also, RAW files typically need to be processed, as opposed to jpg files being processed by the camera. So, if someone shoots in jpg mode, their photo has been processed, but if they shoot in RAW (like me), they aren't able to do some simple processing? That doesn't seem logical.
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Old 07-10-2007, 02:39 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jim Thias: Also, RAW files typically need to be processed, as opposed to jpg files being processed by the camera. So, if someone shoots in jpg mode, their photo has been processed, but if they shoot in RAW (like me), they aren't able to do some simple processing? That doesn't seem logical.
You won't get any argument from me!

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Old 07-10-2007, 06:33 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias
That doesn't seem logical.
I'm sure the staff is perfectly capable of doing any needed processing. Many other publishers request the RAW file so TRAINS isn't alone. Like I said before, if you composed the shot well, properly exposed and it's in focus, I don't see what there is to worry about.
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Old 07-11-2007, 05:54 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
if you composed the shot well, properly exposed and it's in focus, I don't see what there is to worry about.
I think it's because you don't have control over what the final product looks like, and as an "artist", that's bothersome. It's like it's your baby you conceived, but you've given it to someone else to raise, but ultimately, you're judged on the final outcome. Like the example I gave from TRAINS, that bothced process job reflects poorly on photographer and not TRAINS. If you send them a processed photo and it's no good, they don't have to use it. But if you send them an unprocessed one and they botch it, it makes you look bad. Does that make sense?
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Old 07-11-2007, 07:07 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
I think it's because you don't have control over what the final product looks like, and as an "artist", that's bothersome. It's like it's your baby you conceived, but you've given it to someone else to raise, but ultimately, you're judged on the final outcome. Like the example I gave from TRAINS, that bothced process job reflects poorly on photographer and not TRAINS. If you send them a processed photo and it's no good, they don't have to use it. But if you send them an unprocessed one and they botch it, it makes you look bad. Does that make sense?
I understand what you're saying, although your analogy seems to be a bit extreme. However, if the shot was taken properly, what processing is really needed? Maybe some sharpening, but that should be about it.

Without looking, I think someone said TRAINS reason behind requesting the RAW file is to ensure that the camera/photographer is making the photo and not photoshop. I think a lot of people depend on PP too much and rely on PP when the work should be done with the camera. I think that's what TRAINS is trying to avoid and I see no problem with that.
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Old 07-11-2007, 08:04 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
However, if the shot was taken properly, what processing is really needed?
Unfortunately, life, and photography, isn't always that simple.

In the trestle shot that I used as an example in another thread, there is no way to "properly" expose that shot. Either the clouds in the sky are blown by properly metering the bridge and train, or the bridge and train are underexposed by metering off the bright clouds and sun. That is a common occurance with landscape photography and simply can't be written off as "if the shot was taken properly."

There are two ways to achieve a "properly" exposed image in THAT situation. Either use a neutral density grad filter while taking the shot, or creating the same effect in photoshop using layer masks and multiple exposures (or underexposing a single shot and then creating a new layer lightened with levels control). I didn't feel like using a filter, even though I carry them with me at all times, so I decided to go with the post-processing route.

Had the sky been blue with no clouds, I WOULD have been able to "take the shot properly" by simply metering off the blue sky and not worrying about any bright white clouds blowing out. However, a sky with white puffy clouds always looks more interesting than just a plain blue sky, and I'm glad the clouds were there to make the composition look more interesting. And, in that case, you must compromise, and you do that by using filters or post-processing.

Here is another example of a shot of mine where I had to underexpose it to avoid blowing out the clouds. I then boosted the levels to bring out the shadow details from the underexposed train and trestle, combined them with a layer mask and came up with an image that was evenly exposed. A plain blue sky would have been nice to meter off of, but again, clouds like this look MUCH more interesting and a shot should NOT be ignored just because there is some extra processing/filtering involved.

Image © Jim Thias
PhotoID: 168195
Photograph © Jim Thias


There are plenty of times where I do little to no processing other than sharpening (which Canon recommends), but times where there is a greater dynamic range of light due to bright white reflecting the sunlight, filters or processing IS necessary to achieve an image that appears to be "taken properly."
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