Old 10-24-2014, 04:35 PM   #1
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Default Please Critique My Latest Learning Experience

Below are links (I believe) to several versions of a recently rejected photo of mine. I know it has problems, but I really like this photo, and I'm hoping I can edit it in a way that will get it accepted.

It comes from a Pentax K-5 with the weatherproof 18-135 lens, which DxO says is a low to middle quality (?) lens. I made these jpegs from a DNG original.

What I like about this photo is the way the train is emerging from shadow in uneven sunlight, which would be a problem, I know, but to me the lead loco is sufficiently illuminated, and half of the second loco, too.

I guess I am having trouble in several areas. Poor contrast/color saturation. The screeners then said it lacks sharpness. I'd say the train is in focus, but the trees and the grass elsewhere to the sides of the frame are not very sharp. Is this a lens optical quality issue, or is it due to a wrong aperture choice and subsequent inadequate depth of field?

In the third version my brother Pat looked at the first two and said, "You know, they're right about the colors looking washed out, go on and pump up the color!" So I whacked that saturation slider real hard to the right to make it pop. I think it might be a bit too much?

Also, nobody said anything about it, but there is a big, dark shadow from my parked car in the right foreground. So in the third try I went ahead and used the clone stamp tool to cover up the shadow of my car, which I thought was clever of me, but didn't seem to work so well in practice. Should this be done on a layer? Should I enlarge the image while clone stamping, or shrink it? Because there seemed to be a scaling issue relative to the size of the circle of the clone stamp. And I guess I really don't know how and when to use layers yet, if that would have helped.

Should I give up on this image? And on a separate note, about my camera, do you think its RAWs can be teased and edited to rival images from Canon and Nikon cameras? Some reviewers say they don't care for Pentax color rendition, and that Pentax lenses for the most part, apart from their primes and stars editions, aren't really so great. I really like my K-5, though. I got it brand new, and real cheap, because it's now an older outdated model. But it got a good review. And it's fun to use, and 'straight ahead' in design to me, and it's drizzle friendly! So it makes sense to a relatively new DSLR shooter like me! But maybe I should trade it in for a Canon 6D or a Nikon D610 or Sony a6000 or A7s or something? Because I don't see too much Pentax around here. Maybe they don't like them?

I am going to attach the three images I submitted to this thread, in addition to the links below, just in case the links expire. Actually, one of the images from my rejected photo list already has expired!



Thanks for your feedback in advance!

Dave Sommer of Ithaca, New York
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Last edited by dnsommer2013; 10-24-2014 at 08:15 PM.
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Old 10-24-2014, 05:56 PM   #2
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K-5: camera is more than good enough for the task of putting images on RP. Don't give it another thought.

original: neither you nor your brother bothered to read the rejection thoroughly. It says "contrast", not "color". It says "color" absolutely nowhere. Color in the original looks fine; in the revised, juiced. [EDIT: I guess maybe the rejection that has disappeared said "color". Didn't mean to imply stupidity.]

I should add that I find things more juiced than many others do. But if they didn't say fix the color, don't fix the color, unless someone else here chimes in and says that rejection is coming. I think the original is fine.

redo: I don't see the sharpness issue

shadow: don't bother with the fix, no need.
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Last edited by JRMDC; 10-24-2014 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 10-24-2014, 07:24 PM   #3
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Third one looks way off. Fix contrast on the second, I think.
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Old 10-24-2014, 07:48 PM   #4
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I agree with J. The original rejection was for low contrast, so I would address that first.

Start by looking at how much shadow reduction you are using. If you are using a lot, back it down. Overuse of the shadows tool will reduce the contrast and make your images look washed out. Assuming you're only kissing the shadows, you can then bring the contrast up (slowly), a bit at a time until the elements in the photo have nice, solid colors and don't look washed out or faded. A tiny dash of highlights wouldn't hurt either, in order to bring out a little more detail in those clouds. Again, adjust the sliders in small increments. No big whacks. Editing is surgery, not heavy construction. If you're not using a calibrated screen, look at the result on a couple of other computers, if possible, just as a check to make sure you're not working with a screen that's way off.

Like the others, I don't see the sharpening issue.

Lastly, I am not sure how you cloned out your car shadow, but I would go back to the original image. The shadow was not objectionable where it was and the result of the clone job was just a big blurry spot in the photo. Cloning is something that takes some attention to detail, if you want an image where the surgery is not obvious.

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Old 10-25-2014, 03:12 PM   #5
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Location and subject is nothing special, for a shot like that, with the cloud on the first few cars, I think the rejections are valid.
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Old 10-25-2014, 08:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by troy12n View Post
Location and subject is nothing special, for a shot like that, with the cloud on the first few cars, I think the rejections are valid.
Okay. I understand. Thank you for your comment! Maybe I will take some more time to try to improve it anyway, just for my own purposes. As a learning experience.

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Old 10-26-2014, 03:15 PM   #7
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