Old 04-12-2007, 06:33 PM   #1
John West
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Default The difference Photoshop can make

I just noticed in my file these fairly dramatic "before and after" versions of a picture I posted at RP way back. They make an interesting demonstration of how PS can improve (or is it manipulate?) a picture. This was done primarily with the the "highlight/shadow" tool in the newer versions of PS, although some color balancing was also done as well. The result does have something of an unreal lighting effect, which makes it seem like a painting. But it certainly made an irreplaceable old picture much better.

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Old 04-12-2007, 07:18 PM   #2
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If the first one is on RP, I would definitely use the "Re-Submit Photos" tool to replace it with the second one! Huge improvement!

I wonder, however, if you could improve it a bit further by doing a shift away from the magenta, turning some of that purple in the sky and snow into more of a blue. Just a suggestion, I am certainly no PS maven.

Yes, digital stuff is great. Just a few weeks ago I ran across a scan, made maybe in 2001 or so, of a slide from 1984. I played with it a few minutes and it looked so much better! It actually began to make sense as a picture! I am still contemplating whether to submit it, the issue is the file size is only 200k or so and it is hard to see whether I might get an opportunity to re-scan it soon, or not for a few years.
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Old 04-12-2007, 08:50 PM   #3
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One of challenges of digital is it gives you so many variables that some times it is hard to pick what you like best, and when you fiddle with one variable it affects many others, especially in an "extreme makeover" like that picture got. Two of us were working on it and emailing it back and forth. I tried removing the magenta, started getting worse results, and finally decided to learn to love magenta. A battle for another day.

The improved version was the one that was submitted to RP. It was one of my earlier submissions and I was not aware of the issue about "manipulation". Knowing what I know now about the desire to keep things here true to life it is debateable whether I would submit it, or at least if I did I would alert the screener to the amount of processing the original image was subjected to.

But I really like the results. I have a trio of matched pix showing the road engine, the helper (the version shown), and finally the caboose.

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Old 04-12-2007, 08:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John West
The improved version was the one that was submitted to RP. It was one of my earlier submissions and I was not aware of the issue about "manipulation". Knowing what I know now about the desire to keep things here true to life it is debateable whether I would submit it, or at least if I did I would alert the screener to the amount of processing the original image was subjected to.
I don't have a problem with notification about processing, but I don't see the manipulation issue here. If one is trying to get the picture looking "true to life" (as we all do), what could be wrong with what was done? Certainly the original is not true to life, although it is true to the film in its current state.
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Old 04-12-2007, 09:16 PM   #5
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Hmm, just looked at the guidelines:

Quote:
Bearing this in mind, digital manipulation of photographs (beyond standard post-processing techniques such as levelling, sharpening, dust removal, etc.) is not permitted on photographs submitted to RailPictures.Net.
Anyone know if this guideline is made less strict when it comes to working over old slide/negative images?
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Old 04-12-2007, 10:55 PM   #6
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John,

Print it on watercolor paper, frame it and watch your friends oooh and ahhh over your Ted Rose original!

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Old 04-13-2007, 12:50 AM   #7
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A manipulated photo is simply a photo that has been altered to a point that it is different then the scene at time of capture. Removing objects is significant, as is changing details and colors. The rest could be considered, within reason, as acceptable "enhancements".

A manipulated photo is altered, or different physically from the original, where an enhancement is more like an exageration of an aspec of the photo. Both the owner and reciever of such images must set the tolerance for such wisely.

Improving shadow detail is fine if it was simply that your film or camera did not have the dynamic range to capture the image as scene. If it was in fact dark at the time of capture it's an enhancement. If you clone in, or insert details from another photo - basically, you have yourself a manipulation - OR DO YOU? What if you take two photos, one photo set to capture the brightest part of the scene and then another to capture the darkest part of th scene and then merge the two together... If it is how the live scene appeared, I would venture to say it's not manipulated. On the otherhand, if you substituted a white sky for a blue sky, or one number board for another number board, it would definately be a manipulation.

Another interesting "enhancement" would be saturation - this is where the line gets fuzzy. If a light blue sky becomes a bit darker, OK, but if it becomes a rich dark blue - you got yourself a manipulation. I discovered a while back that some railfan magazines alter images, quite a surprise - I would get my film back and the skies would be drab and white but a few weeks later the same scene taken by someone else would be in the magazine all nice, bright, blue skies and colorful. If you are going to change a scene to that extent, label it as a manipulation.

Recall there are acceptable manipulations - B&W, Sepia, Infra-Red, polarizers, color filters and time duration. Some would say a photo is not manipulated if it could be recreated at time of capture with a film camera. For me, if it is more then a slight exageration from what your eyes saw, it's a manipulation but I'll exclude time duration and B&W.

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Old 04-13-2007, 03:35 AM   #8
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Mitch,

Saturation is one of those gray areas that has been around a lot longer than digital. I used to shoot Kodachrome because I regarded it as giving a "true" image, but friends shot Velvia because it was super saturated and gave their photos a real "wow" factor. I never got in the habit of using a polarizer very much, but a lot of those bluer than blue skies were probably shot either with a super saturated film or a polarizer. Underexposing by a half stop could also enhance the colors. Back in the good old days of B&W, people used red filters to bring out the cloud detail. Some of those great steam era shots were probably shot with filters. So, where does digital manipulation part company with the previous era of acceptable film manipulation? Hard to tell, right?

I think we can all agree on things that are clearly over the line, but as you get closer to the line, it tends to disappear! My personal standard is I try to make the shot look the way I remember it looking, so as time goes by, that sky may get a bit bluer and the sunset a bit more colorful, but poles, wires etc. have to stay put!

When I do a B&W conversion from a digital color photo, I do the conversion in channels, so I can use as much of the red (or blue or green) channel as I wish, as though I did or did not use a filter. The real world isn't B&W, so how do you decide which B&W rendering is "right?" The point here is to make the best looking photo possible.

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Old 04-13-2007, 04:26 AM   #9
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And to think I switched from Kodachrome to Anscochrome because Kodachrome was too saturated. Talk about dumb. But then that was the old Kodachrome. And I was young and ignorant.

With the exception of not adding or removing objects from a picture, trying to define "manipulation" objectively is probably more trouble than it's worth. What can be said easily is mostly obvious, and beyond the obvious is a land of mostly judgement. Seems to me we're stuck with dealing with intregrity and good judgement. Kinda scary, but I doubt anyone is loosing sleep.

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Old 04-13-2007, 05:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mgoldman
Another interesting "enhancement" would be saturation - this is where the line gets fuzzy. If a light blue sky becomes a bit darker, OK, but if it becomes a rich dark blue - you got yourself a manipulation. I discovered a while back that some railfan magazines alter images, quite a surprise - I would get my film back and the skies would be drab and white but a few weeks later the same scene taken by someone else would be in the magazine all nice, bright, blue skies and colorful. If you are going to change a scene to that extent, label it as a manipulation.

Good point Mitch...but as Michael mentions, Saturation can also be done in-camera or with filters. My personal pet peeve is Hue adjustments. I remember last year I was on a shoot catching a sunrise at Dolly Sods. The fellow who was shooting right next to me ended up in a magazine with his beautiful purplish-blue sunrise picture...which was quite different than the yellow/orange sunrise that I was shooting from 6 feet away.

Different strokes for different folks I suppose. I guess everyone's opinion of what defines a 'good shot' is different. Is it accuracy of duplicating the scene or is it enhancing the scene to make it as you wish it had been? As far as I can see, neither is right or wrong if you consider photography an artform...but I think this site is more of a journalistic site, where the standard rules of accuracy apply.

Just my 2 cents in this interesting discussion.
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Old 04-13-2007, 06:37 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill
Is it accuracy of duplicating the scene or is it enhancing the scene to make it as you wish it had been?
Boy, removing telephone poles sure falls into the second part of that phrase. Too bad it is verboten.

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Old 04-14-2007, 12:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a231pacific
Mitch,
The real world isn't B&W, so how do you decide which B&W rendering is "right?"
Michael Allen

Easy, just ask your dog if that's how he remembers seeing it.

/Mitch
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Old 04-14-2007, 05:05 AM   #13
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I think my cat sees in color!

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Old 04-16-2007, 03:40 AM   #14
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Pole removal should be an accepted and encouraged process.
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Old 04-16-2007, 03:51 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by socalrailfan
Pole removal should be an accepted and encouraged process.
Go for it Dave, first you'll need a chainsaw and a winch would also help.......

/Mitch
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Old 04-16-2007, 12:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by socalrailfan
Pole removal should be an accepted and encouraged process.
Ummm I dunno,
Looks strange if you take the poles out and leave wires behind
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Old 04-21-2007, 07:08 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by socalrailfan
Pole removal should be an accepted and encouraged process.
Maybe it's just me, but I think the poles ADD to these shots of mine --

Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©


Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©


I can almost imagine some photogs seeing the location of the above shot and thinking, "No way am I taking a shot there. Too many poles and wires." It almost only works with the wide angle. It certainly works better with end cabs.

Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©



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Old 05-11-2007, 01:31 PM   #18
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What about grain removal? I bought a Kodak Digital Ice grain plug in, and the results can be quite dramatic. I can make a big difference in the quality of a dark shot...but is it within "reason"? Your thoughts...especially from the screeners

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Old 05-11-2007, 02:39 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Brook
What about grain removal? I bought a Kodak Digital Ice grain plug in, and the results can be quite dramatic. I can make a big difference in the quality of a dark shot...but is it within "reason"? Your thoughts...especially from the screeners
Grain removal is completely acceptable. Either of these shots would be fine. But there is something about the presence of grain in a dawn/dusk shot... maybe because values of what looks good were set to some extent in the film days when such grain was unavoidable in those lighting conditions.

Your shot with grain removed, a bit too much noise reduction for my tastes, there is loss of detail in the background (yes, even though it is outside the depth of field in-focus zone).

At any rate, choose either one and get it submitted! That is a very nice shot!!!!!!!!
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Old 05-17-2007, 06:13 AM   #20
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I personally disagree with pole/wire removal. As much as they seem to intrude in train photos, they are part of the scene/environment. Brightness, saturation, sharpening, leveling, and cropping are all I ever do to a photo. I never remove anything, as I don't think it is an accurate representation of a scene at a given point in time: my main goal in taking photos. Having said that, I don't really have that big of a problem with poles and wires as long as it was obvious the photographer considered them (i.e. no poles 'growing' out of the locomotive cab, no wires blocking the train or hanging freely in the air, etc.).
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