Old 07-15-2007, 09:48 PM   #51
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Plus, it's rewarding to see that you can do better.
Ironically enough, so is progressing with your post-processing techniques over time.
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Old 07-15-2007, 10:00 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by Ween
Ironically enough, so is progressing with your post-processing techniques over time.
That may be true, however, it is more rewarding to know that you can accomplish more with the camera. Especially when it's something that you would otherwise have to do in PP. Maybe that's just me though, I don't know.
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Old 07-15-2007, 10:10 PM   #53
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That may be true, however, it is more rewarding to know that you can accomplish more with the camera. Especially when it's something that you would otherwise have to do in PP. Maybe that's just me though, I don't know.
No, it's just you! I think I'm a pretty competent photographer (exposure/levelness/composition), but PS just enhances what the camera caught. And the thing is, alot of the times the dSLR doesn't do a 100% job of getting it done. In fact, I've said in past posts that capturing the image is half the battle, the other half is processing. While those percentages may be off, post is just as important to me as capturing the image is.

What's the difference in using a filter on the front of your lens or doing it later in post? There's quite a bit, but the end result is/can be the same.

Do you listen to your music with all your graphic equalizer settings at 0? Or do you bump up the bass and treble and lower the mids so it sounds better? The digital RAW image is the same thing. The camera output is the CD/MP3 while PS is the "graphic equalizer" that let's you, the user, optimize the 'sound.'
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Old 07-15-2007, 10:17 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by Ween
No, it's just you! I think I'm a pretty competent photographer (exposure/levelness/composition), but PS just enhances what the camera caught. And the thing is, alot of the times the dSLR doesn't do a 100% job of getting it done. In fact, I've said in past posts that capturing the image is half the battle, the other half is processing. While those percentages may be off, post is just as important to me as capturing the image is.
I completely agree that PS is there to enhance the photo and I've never had a photo that didn't require at least one thing, even though I may of thought differently at the time.

I do disagree with you on that taking the photo is half the battle. I think how you actually take the photo has a much, much bigger role in the outcome of the photo. I would say it's more like 90% camera, 10% processing. That could be a bit generous too. How I take the photo is 10x more important to me compared to processing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
Do you listen to your music with all your graphic equalizer settings at 0? Or do you bump up the bass and treble and lower the mids so it sounds better? The digital RAW image is the same thing. The camera output is the CD/MP3 while PS is the "graphic equalizer" that let's you, the user, optimize the 'sound.'
I just click play.

Last edited by Mike B.; 07-15-2007 at 10:20 PM.
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Old 07-15-2007, 11:27 PM   #55
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Mike,

Sounds like you are happy doing what you do, and that's good. If your photos are the quality you want and they capture the image the way you want them captured, that's what it's all about. Your desire to master your medium is something more people should take to heart.

I shot slides for 30 years and have a basket full of under and overexposed shots that I wished I had gotten right at the time. Unfortunately, most of the locos and railroads in those shots are gone and the shots will never be re-done. If I had been shooting digital, you bet your bippy I'd have recovered some of those shots (not to mention having gotten the shot right the first time anyway - test shots, you know! ). I'm not embarrassed to admit that I screw up from time to time and that if technology can save me from myself, that's great!

But, more to the point, no medium, film or digital, can truly capture the world the way it really is. We can capture a portion of that reality, but not all of it. With darkroom work it is possible to make an image that does a better job of revealing the world the way we saw it. Photoshop is merely a digital darkroom. If you read any book about Ansel Adams, I think you will find that he spent a lot more than 10% of his time in the darkroom and ditto for O. Winston Link. They were not just photographers, they were artists.

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Old 07-16-2007, 06:09 AM   #56
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Let's talk about TRAINS Magazine's photo contest and why Photoshop matters.

To summarize, TRAINS will only be accepting "unaltered" straight-from-camera photos both in their upcoming contest and for future magazine submissions. This means you shoot it, then do nothing but send it in. Sounds like a great deal, right? Not if you like to have control over your photography.

It would appear that TRAINS has a great panic over the fact that some unscrupulous photographer might hatchet up an image, pulling in a sky from one photo and a foreground from another or some nonsense like that. These types of images are almost always easy to spot, and the TRAINS Photo Contest judges have every right to throw them on the cutting room floor. There will always be individuals with no ethics who will pass off significantly altered photos as originals. However, most people are essentially honest and trustworthy. Instead of using their discretion on an image-per-image basis, TRAINS has reacted by imposing a blanket policy for all digital photography. By doing so, they've implied that *all* digital photographers are unscrupulous. This strikes me as insulting.

I can make a clear differentiation between "image fraud" as in adding and removing objects from a photograph and standard post-processing, where the photographer does contrast, color, exposure, and sharpness adjustments. Apparently the TRAINS staff cannot tell the difference, and feels that any changes made to an image after it is "captured" constitute fraud or "excessive manipulation" on the part of the photographer. Yet TRAINS does the same kinds of manipulations themselves when they prepare images for printing. If such photos must be labeled "photo illustrations" under the new TRAINS policy, does that mean that TRAINS has become a comic book?

Do the people at TRAINS think shooting digital is like shooting slides? Sorry, it's not. When you shoot a slide, you're done when you press the shutter button. With digital photography, the shutter button marks the halfway point. In the face of this arcane "we only want unaltered images" rigamarole, I have to ask myself if the TRAINS staff even understands how digital works. Just because someone sits at a desk and is paid to choose photos doesn't automatically mean that they understand how the photos are made.

TRAINS is trying to "level the playing field" by making the digital people play their game with rules written for film people. It's like comparing a Model T to a horse and buggy. Everyone knows an automobile goes much faster than a horse. TRAINS is asking us to race the horse against the car while limiting the car's speed to that of the horse. True, you'll get a tie. But why buy the faster, better car in the first place if you can't use it to it's full potential? The whole point of shooting digital is the improvements the medium offers over film photography - like the ability to post-process photos.

The very fact that TRAINS feels the need to "level the playing field" by handicapping the digital photographers is an admission in and of itself that the digital photographers have an advantage. Why not let the best photo win, without any strings attached?

What I don't understand is *why* TRAINS needs to handicap the digital photographers. Do they simply not understand how digital post-processing is as much a part of photography as developing film, or do they simply not trust their contributors? Do they feel a need to appease the film photographers, who are at an obvious disadvantage? Perhaps it's both; as film photographers themselves, do they feel threatened by something they don't understand?

Unfortunately for the TRAINS staff, "how talented you are with Photoshop" is as much a part of photography today as the tripod. (If TRAINS had been around when the tripod was invented, would they limit their contest to handheld-only shots, proclaiming that "At the core, we're more interested in seeing how long you can stand still, not what gadgets you purchase?")

Let's look at some pictures. I've posted six "Before and After" example of images that have gone through Photoshop. Five are straight from the camera and one is straight from my Konica-Minolta Dimage 5400 ll scanner. The RAW files were opened using the "Camera Default" settings in Photoshop's Camera RAW application. I did not do any cloning beyond removing dust spots.

http://homepage.mac.com/allegheny/ex1.jpg
http://homepage.mac.com/allegheny/ex2.jpg
http://homepage.mac.com/allegheny/ex3.jpg
http://homepage.mac.com/allegheny/ex4.jpg
http://homepage.mac.com/allegheny/ex5.jpg
http://homepage.mac.com/allegheny/ex6.jpg

You can see that I'm an extremely terrible photographer, because my photos direct-from-camera don't look anywhere near as nice as those "unaltered in any way" shots that I see every month in TRAINS. I wish I could be like those TRAINS photographers and get everything perfect straight from the camera. I wonder how they do it? It must take extraordinary skill, skill that a simpleton like myself doesn't possess. Sadly, I'm forced to lean on Photoshop to post-process my photos.

Would I send those unprocessed images in to be published? Not on your life; I'd be embarrassed to attach my name to something so terrible, so "unfinished." But Photoshop brings those images to life. Photoshopping a photograph is like raising a child; you get to mould and shape in in the manner which you see fit. Would you want your neighbors raising your children? I think not, nor would I want the TRAINS staff converting my RAW files. They'd probably do an excellent job, but at some point the photo would stop being a "John Ryan" photo and start becoming a "Tom Danneman" photo. I though the whole point of the contest was to show TRAINS what you can do, not to see what TRAINS can do.

I cannot understand why TRAINS failed to create a sensible scenario wherein the photographer sends both their processed image AND the original, unaltered version for comparison. This would allay any fears about "excessive manipulation wile allowing the photographer to retain ultimate creative control. Instead, we've been presented with a muddle implying that all digital photographers are inherently unscrupulous. Hello, is it any surprise that TRAINS circulation is contracting?

I have read the TRAINS/Canon Photo Contest rules in detail. Unfortunately, it would take nothing short of a constitutional convention to sort out all the double standards, inconsistent applications, loopholes, and outright bias. Who wins? The film people, because they get to cling to their limited, conventional methods. Who loses? Creative photography and expression, because TRAINS refuses to acknowledge the the world has moved on to a better method. Editor Kathi Kube cites "TRAINS magazine's ... tradition of honor and good journalism ... to present it's readers with an accurate view of railroading." Frankly, good photography is not going to damage TRAINS magazine's reputation as much as insulting the methods, integrity, and intelligence of their contributors.
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Old 07-16-2007, 10:40 AM   #57
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Are there any forums besides here, at the Trains magazine or elsewhere, where there has been discussion of the Trains contest rules?
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Old 07-16-2007, 12:52 PM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ryan
Let's talk about TRAINS Magazine's photo contest and why Photoshop matters.
EXCELLENT post, John. Everything you've said is what I felt after reading the contest rules.

Have you thought about posting that on the Trains forum?
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:37 PM   #59
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John;

You have to make sure the folks at TRAINS sees that post. It brought up a lot that I had thought and put it in words I never could have captured. I've sent some stuff in since they now accept shots from their web site, but I've had a real hard time sending in my unaltered shots. Can you imagine RP saying you have to submitt unaltered shots?


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Old 07-16-2007, 04:09 PM   #60
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Are there any forums besides here, at the Trains magazine or elsewhere, where there has been discussion of the Trains contest rules?
There has been extensive discussion on the ObservationCar Yahoo! Group. Most of the TRAINS staff members are on the group, and are aware of the general annoyance their new policy has created.

An associate editor responded, but instead of addressing the rationale behind the new policy, he repeatedly commented on how he wished people wouldn't put words in his mouth. After several days of silence, Kathi Kube, managing editor, responded with:

"In past contests, we didn't care if entrants adjusted the color balance or shadows (although in some cases, that actually hurt when the adjusted images were viewed on color-calibrated and maintained computer screens). All we asked was that the image be an accurate representation of the scene.

"Last year we had several entrants who "altered reality," ... but didn't state up front that they had done so. Not just adding raindrops, but removing wires, and changing backgrounds, too.

"So we felt a need to pull the bar back a bit. A talented graphic designer can alter an image in a way that the change is almost impossible to discern. The best way we found we could weed out the images that presented a false reality was to require digital images to be presented as RAW files or unaltered JPEGS. So that's what we've done."

I respect their attempts to maintain the integrity of their contest, and I believe that faked-up photos aren't an actual representation of photographic prowess. Unfortunately, in their attempt "to pull the bar back a bit," they went to the point where digital photographer are unable to submit "an accurate representation of the scene." That's because the camera doesn't always capture the colors or tones we see with our eyes. That's why we post-process. Anyone who looks at the before-and-after images posted above will see how this works. Sure, TRAINS can post-process our images for us, but seeing as they weren't standing next to us when we took the picture, how can they say what the colors and contrast really looked like?

Quote:
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Have you thought about posting that on the Trains forum?
I've thought about it, but TRAINS is already aware of how I and others feel. They also have a history of deleting posts and accounts that they don't like, even those of former employees. Given their total reluctance to deal with this issue, I'm guessing they would view it as some sort of hostile attack on their forum participants.

Seeing as the TRAINS staff sees no need for further explanation or comment, I think it's logical to conclude that they either don't understand the problem and the extent of the damage or they are assuming it will go away on its own. With several hundred posts on the Yahoo! Group devoted to explaining the problem, I think it would be next to impossible to NOT understand why the digital photographers are ticked off. To assume that this will go away also assumes that they can afford to marginalize anyone who complains. Unfortunately for TRAINS, things like this have a tendency to snowball, not go away.
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Old 07-16-2007, 05:44 PM   #61
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John,

Well said in both posts!

Send both of your posts directly to Jim Wrinn.

Kathi Kubi's concerns could easily be addressed by your proposed dual submission idea. Send the TIFF you have worked up and the RAW file so they can see where you started. There may in fact be print related reasons for their wanting to make the appropriate adjustments themselves, but they need to see your vision in order to be able to do so.

Railfan skunked Trains with their coverage of the 1225 photo charter. I know of one photogapher who was asked, by a Trains staffer, to send in his material, but who refuses due to the "send us only a RAW file" policy. Their loss, and ours too, since we (well most of you, since I have seen some of them) won't be seeing these great shots.

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Old 07-16-2007, 05:53 PM   #62
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What's this contest ever for? I kinda want to submit something now just to see how a RAW file would do.
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Old 07-16-2007, 06:24 PM   #63
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Trains magazine runs an annual contest; winning shots appear in the magazine. The last few years there has been a theme; I vaguely recall last year's was "international" and this year's is "small." For creative photographs, that issue is the best Trains issue of the year by far. Winner gets a Canon camera.
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Old 07-16-2007, 09:23 PM   #64
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Winner gets a Canon camera.
Eeee, I won't bother then.
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Old 07-16-2007, 09:30 PM   #65
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Eeee, I won't bother then.
I thought there was also something about an all-expenses-paid day of railfanning with a TRAINS staff member.
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Old 07-16-2007, 09:44 PM   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
Trains magazine runs an annual contest; winning shots appear in the magazine. The last few years there has been a theme; I vaguely recall last year's was "international" and this year's is "small." For creative photographs, that issue is the best Trains issue of the year by far. Winner gets a Canon camera.
Wasn't last year's "nature vs...." or something like that? I recall seeing some weather related shots in that contest (or maybe it was the year before). I would've loved to have been able to submit my Amtrak snow-busting picture.

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I thought there was also something about an all-expenses-paid day of railfanning with a TRAINS staff member.
As well as a "Canon technical representative"...probably to come along and show you how to expose a picture without having to post process it.

Last edited by JimThias; 07-16-2007 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 07-16-2007, 10:19 PM   #67
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As well as a "Canon technical representative"...probably to come along and show you how to expose a picture without having to post process it.
Hilarious!

When is Canon coming out with a "Picture Style" for trains, anyway?
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Old 07-16-2007, 10:38 PM   #68
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Eeee, I won't bother then.
Hey, Mike;

You could sell it if you won. All kinds, literally hundreds upon thousands, of people out there wanting the latest, greatest Canon gear!




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