NATURE photographs with post-processing or none?

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NATURE photographs with post-processing or none?

Postby energypolice on Sun Mar 12, 2006 6:16 am

Hi, my first post,

I believe there should be no post-processing done on nature photos, because it will lead to the “slippery-slope” syndrome, and where will you draw the line on fixing the photo?
The bird was in the wrong tree, or the moon was too high, or the color of the sunset was not the right color. These conditions can be changed easily on the computer.

Let the emphasis be NATURE Photography and not all photography.
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Postby Killakoala on Sun Mar 12, 2006 6:38 am

I'l' start by welcoming you to the forum. :)

It depends what you mean by Post-processing. If you mean to add or subtract objects, then maybe, but to increase saturation, apply curves or sharpen, then yes, that may need to be done.

No DSLR camera is perfect straight off the CMOS or CCD, so some post processing will probably be needed. The effect of filtering on the CMOS will decrease the sharpness so some sharpening is certainly needed to get back what the CMOS has lost in it's acquisition from analogue to digital. You will also likely get some level of desaturation so you may need to adjust that too.

Also, most professionals will always be in search of the best product he/she can produce and PP will help get them there.

The gorgeous nature photos you see in magazines and posters etc, will have had some PP done to them, even the ones taken on film.

Of course for an amatuer, it comes down to personal preference and if you don't do any PP to an image, then that is your perogative.

Personally, i do PP the vast majority of my images, but usually to get to the image i saw with my own eyes, and not the image a CMOS interpreted.

But that's me..

:)

EDIT: As John said below, your website images are fantastic. The birds are gorgeous. You must have great patience to get some of those images, certainly more than i do. :)
Last edited by Killakoala on Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby leek on Sun Mar 12, 2006 6:46 am

Welcome to the forum Michael...

That's a very noble aim and you certainly have some stunning images on your website... I'd be interested to hear where you draw the line on PP...

As Steve said, some amount of PP (sharpening, curves, colour) is fairly necessary with DSLRs... I can understand your desire to refrain from cloning and other manipulation though, but rules are meant to be broken and I have been known to clone out the odd twig for compositional reasons...
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Postby pharmer on Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:20 am

Well, the nature of RAW images means that you WILL have to do post processing on them to achieve what you saw.

RAW images generally lack the saturation and the contrast of the real scene and need to be modified.

Browsing your site I see many good images taken with a D70, but they are very flat and lacking colour and contrast. Altering these is no different than using Velvia/Provia slide film or a warming filter or a polariser.

Even the great nature photographer Art Wolfe quotes regarding his scanning of slides and digital work:

"There is a process that each photograph goes through of sharpening, boosting of contrast and boosting of saturation to bring out the color"
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Postby Oneputt on Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:30 am

Welcome to the forum, you will find it a friendly helpful place.

I think that your viewpoint on PP is extremely narrow minded. Every digital image needs some sharpening due to the nature of sensors. Next you will be telling me that every horizon should be horizontal nad every building vertical. Hard and fast rules are the death of creativity.

You are welcome to your viewpoint, but I doubt that you will find many disciples :wink: :D
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Postby Manta on Sun Mar 12, 2006 9:06 am

Welcome to the forum Michael. We pride ourselves on being an open community where members are not only free to to express their views but also actively encouraged to do so.

The topic you raise has been spoken about before and will be discussed again. It's one of those perpetual condundrums faced by photographers who grapple with the integrity of their art.

I have spoken at length on this matter with a good friend of mine who began his digital life with a healthy loathing of PP and a desire to present his photos as 'naturally' as possible. Coming from a film background, he was somewhat of a purist when it came to this issue and felt that a lot of PP done on shots was 'cheating' in some way.

He has since realised some home truths - the inherent failings of the digital sensor and in-camara workings of modern DSLRs (as mentioned above by Steve); the fact that a single image may now have several different commercial or visual applications requiring some adjustment of the image for colour, saturation, contrast, composition (e.g. having to add some 'room' for titles or text etc), sharpness, crop and a host of other aspects; and, perhaps the two most important truths, that a photograph is primarily an image obtained in a specific manner but able to be adjusted, enhanced or 'repaired' after the fact and it's his image, to do with what he likes. This last point, of course, comes with a rider that there should always be a level of honesty maintained with the viewer such that any major diversions from the original image should be advised if the inclusion or omission of certain features are what makes the image stand out.

I hope these ramblings make some sort of sense...but, in the end, they are merely one persons view and certainly encourage others to state theirs.

:D
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Postby losfp on Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:04 am

I don't like to add or subtract elements, clone things out etc.. But I do apply levels/curves/sharpening/cropping to virtually all my photos that I show other people. Fact is, the digital sensor has some limitations, and a small amount of PP is normally necessary to bring out the best that the picture is able to offer.
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Postby the foto fanatic on Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:18 am

In case you think that PP is unique to the digital world, think again!

Most professional film photographers used techniques in the darkroom to improve their images. In fact, many of today's PP techniques come directly from the manipulation that used to be performed in the darkroom.

A common definition of photography is "painting with light", and just like painters, photographers have the ability to represent something realistically or with some artistic licence.

As long as images are not altered for deceptive or fraudulent purposes, then I definitely think there is a place for PP.

Just as there is also a case for those who choose not to use it, as long as there is no misplaced "holier than thou" attitude.
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Postby mudder on Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:38 am

G'day mate, welcome to the forum :)

Whether you PP at all or not I spose is one of those beliefs that you either subscribe to or not, I tend to fall in the "yep, I PP" camp... Wonder where the line is between simply applying camera settings or doing the same actions much more efficiently in PP?

I'd be very surprised if some of the lovely landscape and wildlife images we've seen over many years from the various well known photographers have been "unmodified sensor/film recorded data".

I think what's being done in PP is no different to what's been done in the old film darkroom for many many years, just that the digital age has brought the techniques the "masters" used many years ago to the common man (ooops, person :wink: )

When I take a nature/landscape/wildlife image, I always have everything in the camera either turned off or down low in an effort to record as "unmodified" as possible, things like sharpening off, contrast low, etc. then apply the settings selectively myself in PP rather than have the camera do generic stuff to the entire image.

I enjoy the art of PP (I find it fun) and try to basically make an image more pleasing to my mind's record of the scene, and perhaps to the viewer. I'll do things like merge two landscape exposures in PP to tame the dynamic range for highlights, or some dodgin and burnin etc. For wildlife mainly just some selective lighting such as levels and curves and some sharpening etc.

I certainly don't consider myself a skillful photographer or have a good eye, just takes time and experience I suppose, maybe that's why I fall into the camp of doing PP as I need all the help I can get :lol:

An interesting experience:
I recently had the learning experience of showing some images of a camping trip in the mountains to a few people at work, one of which also became interested in photography at the same time as myself (about October 2004, don't laugh!). The interesting thing was that as I was receiving some quite complimentary comments about the images, my colleague seemed to "get his nose out of joint" and proceeded to discredit my work to all the others as "it's not real because I post process my images". ? I found this interesting as my colleague shoots compressed jpeg, with high sharpening, color saturation, strong contrast, srgb, etc. but of course his images were not modified and were natural? errr OK :) Is a flash natural? Apparently the use of a filter (like a polariser, or ND) was cheating, uhm, OK :?

The old thread is here...: http://www.dslrusers.net/viewtopic.php? ... highlight=

Had a sticky nose through your gallery and I must say you have some lovely bird images, I admire your appreciation of nature and your skill and tenacity in getting the images, some excellent examples, good work, although I mist admit some of these do look as though some simple sharpening or tone adjustment could help lift them (argh, there's my PP fun mindset coming out! :lol: ). I assume when you convert from raw there's zero sharpening and you use a linear tone curve during the various processes of conversion eventually to re-sized jpeg for web? Thought the Mandrill had interesting color etc...

Good question I spose, one that everyone will have a different viewpoint and that's what's so great about art related stuff like photography.
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Postby phillipb on Sun Mar 12, 2006 12:23 pm

How many "Purists" go to their minilab and ask the operator not to use their densitometers or fully automated machines to alter the contrast or colour balance in their negs?
A real purist should only be using a polaroid camera without flash.
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Postby energypolice on Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:06 pm

Thank you all for the warm welcome to the community.

I am surprised of the large number of responses in so short of a time, but that is good and I will try to answer your questions. John and Andrew you asked where I would draw the line on PP? I have used the software which came with the camera and applied Auto Enhance to some of my images, such as Mandrill, Magpie Robin2 and about two others.

I am a man of a few words, and this post is about my seventh life-time and my communicating skills are not good, but let me try to explain myself by using practical experiences.

In the past I shot mostly slide film and found it enjoyable to view such images by slide projector, and the images that did not look great saw no viewing time, because there was no way to fix the image, but re-shoot if possible. Today I am using digital cameras and being swept along with the crowd that say use photo mechanic software and fix the not so great image, but I have chosen to take the narrow path and do not fix, but re-shoot the image if possible with the new Nikon D2X several thousand dollars camera.
The money spent on this new expensive camera would be wasted if most of the photos shot had to be fixed in photo mechanic software as the trend seem to be by most photographers.

I figured credit should be given to me for no post-processing of NATURE images, and the maker of the camera would be happy that the images needed no PP, and since the RAW file could be used as a proof of no PP to image, very little cheating would be done.

The conclusion of the whole matter is we as consumers should hold the national NATURE magazine producers accountable to us, informing the readers whether the images on their pages had post-processing done to them or not. This would separate the purest photographers from those who manipulate the images greatly to get an advantage.

God bless, Michael
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Postby pharmer on Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:47 pm

Well, if any PP is "cheating", then using any filter on the lens is "cheating" and any use of films like Velvia must also be "cheating" because they produce totally unrealistic colours and contrast that do not exist in real life.

In fact Velvia would have to be the "fakest" film in history.

So much for the purity of nature photography.

Rant over

Oh well, back to post-processing my RAW files.

I do love a good post-process. :twisted:
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Postby kipper on Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:47 pm

I've just reviewed your website and whilst you talk about how a nature photographer shouldn't resort to post processing to get the money shot, I'd say the majority of your photos seem to be taken at a zoo? Now I know when I've spoken to Nature photographers in the past they tend to dislike photos taken at zoos. I mean where is the challenge of photographing a caged animal? Granted using zoos or wildlife centers in conjunction with the handlers there to get special shots that you wouldn't necessarily get in the wild (eg. closeup portraits), but aside from that they tend to stay clear of them. Anyway that's my perspective on this argument.
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Postby Steffen on Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:24 am

I know better than getting involved in philosophical discussions like this, but then, maybe I don't... If you don't want to read my rant, GOTO HERE

Anyway, here's my view: photography can have many purposes, some of the main ones being documentary, artistic and decorative.

One might come to the quick-shot conclusion that the first one does not allow for image alterations of any kind, whereas the latter two see the act of photographing as merely one in a series of steps peformed to come up with a final product, which is supposed to convey the artist's vision or to fulfill the decorative purpose at hand. For those two, manipulation starts before the shutter is fired and doesn't end until the result is printed and published.

Even if we agree on the latter two, the first one remains contentious. The problems start with a mere technical one. No apparatus is capable of accurately capturing what one would have seen if one had been at the scene. The way eyes and cameras see are simply too different. Seeing through eyes is never static, always scanning, since our angle of sharp view is tiny. How can a 45 degree shot ever come close to what anyone who was there would have seen? What a person sees is a series of narrow-angle impressions, a photograph often tries to put them all onto a large canvas, simultaneously. (How does macro-photography fit in here? I don't know.)

Instead, even the documentary photographer selects (often subconsciously) elements that should be present and powerful in the photograph taken. What's in the photo is not what the photographer saw, but what the photographer saw in the viewfinder. Choice of perspective, angle of view, depth of field, lighting (to a degree) are all within the manipulative arsenal of every documentary photographer. To produce an image of the things the way he or she saw and felt them, i.e. a subjective image.

I therefore see no reason to stop subjectivity in its tracks when it comes to processing digital images. I do find among photographers (often in myself) the tendency to overdo things in one way or another (sharpening, saturation, cloning, etc), mostly because those things come cheaply and the possibilities are endless, and lend themselves to overuse.

If that happens I suppose it stems from underdeveloped aesthetic judgement, and is best cured by putting up one's work for open, honest critique, like in this forum. If anyone feels that a shot posted here was overprocessed, then they shouldn't think twice to point it out. This way we can all keep it "honest", which for me means aesthetic, meaningful, relatable to.

HERE: Wow, this was long.

Cheers
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Postby dooda on Mon Mar 13, 2006 7:28 am

The instant you begin to look at something through the lens you're manipulating it. I shoot mostly with a super-wide angle lens, and it manipulates and distorts reality. And I love it. We manipulate further in deciding what type of film we use. We manipulate it by putting it in a square box, and hang it on the wall. Photography in itself is compelling because it's a manipulation of truth. Anyone saying that they're photography is actually truthful is lying (ie, many of the birds you've photographed are probably dead, but there they are alive and well on the photo; I looked through my wedding photos, there was nothing honest about them, we both looked way better than we really do, and the shots where we're kissing was because the stupid photographer asked us to). It's really your choice if you want your manipulation to reflect your vision, or to reflect the inherent limitations of technology (and btw, your D2X isn't designed to take photos that don't need any post production).

There are many cameras that are several times more expensive than yours, all of which require post production to bring out the ideal image. I personally can't stand images that insert a moon in the sky. It's manipulation I find a little too obvious, but any well place manipulation that fools me and oohs me is a manipulation well done.

I personally think the slippery slope is saying that you do no post processing. What about the centuries of photographers that did pretty much everything we do in photoshop today (including cloning and composites)? What about the in camera processing? What about the developer's processing?
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Postby meicw on Mon Mar 13, 2006 11:20 am

Hi. I would like to add my welcome!!
I can see where you are coming from. I do not like images that have had objects inserted or have been 'manipulated' to make them more palatable or 'artistic'. That being said, I do some PP on my photos. This is usually confined to adjustment of colour and white balance, sharpening, saturation etc.
To my eyes, this is no different to what I used to do when I processed film. I would use a different film/developer combination to get the results I strived for. In the darkroom I would use different grades of paper to get different results. Not to mention burning and dodging.
Thanks for starting a very stimulating discussion. As you can see, in this community we all hold different views, but no one is ostracised for holding them.
Hope to hear from you again, and to see some of your work posted here.

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Postby Manta on Mon Mar 13, 2006 11:28 am

energypolice wrote:I am a man of a few words, and this post is about my seventh life-time and my communicating skills are not good, but let me try to explain myself by using practical experiences.


I think you've expressed yourself extremely well Michael, as have many others here.

I think this will always be one of those "agree-to-disagree" topics that will continue to rage.

I definitely respect your decision to keep your images as natural as possible, Michael, but I also accept that skilful post-processing has resulted in me thoroughly enjoying an image that I otherwise wouldn't have looked twice at. PP can turn humdrum into brilliance but it can work the other way as well.

I'm prepared to leave it to the individual and their conscience regarding how far they go without letting the viewer in on their secrets. None of us likes to be cheated but I think we'd be pretty naive to think there isn't an awful lot of manipulation going on out there.

If an image appeals to me, moves me, entertains me, shocks me or inspires me, I don't really care how it was created.

I can't help but draw the analogy that many novels I've read have had me rolling on the floor laughing or sobbing like a baby - yet the stories and the characters were completely fictitious.
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Postby energypolice on Mon Mar 13, 2006 9:21 pm

I may be too narrow minded on post-processing, but I found from experience, doing nothing to the photo from a DSLR after viewing it on my computer works better for me.

Last Independence Day weekend I shot “Miami Vice!” photo with a Nikon D70 camera and also with a Nikon F5 camera and Velvia 50 slide film, then compared both photos after ordering 11x14 prints from Smugmug. My wife’s brother-in-law who is an outstanding photographer looked at both prints, and chose the D70 photo over the F5 photo, and I also agreed with him. The good thing about this experiment is, no post-processing was done to the D70 photo.

The reasons I have changed over to digital photography are several, with the cost being the main. I now shoot about 300 to 400 shots per week, which would amount to ten rolls of film, at a cost of about ten dollars for film and processing per roll, doing the math is about five thousand dollars per year.

There is too much to learn about digital photography in a short time, and it keeps on changing so quickly, you need great advice from experts like Digital Darrell at Nikonians to keep with what is good for you.

I do take great numbers of photos at Wings of Asia which is located at Miami Metro Zoo, because the cost, to get good photos of endangered and uncommon birds which are almost impossible to find in the wild.
There are a great number of pro photographers using this aviary because it is rated among the best in the world.

Michael
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Postby johndec on Mon Mar 13, 2006 10:20 pm

Michael. I admire your sentiment but question your statement. A non-PP'ed raw image straight from the sensor is actually nothing like that at all. The camera itself applies quite a lot of PP in the milliseconds from the time the sensor receives the image until it is written on to the CF card.

Even if most settings are set to the lowest possible, all sort of parameters get modified. If you zeroed or minimized every setting, there is no way known that the images on your website would look the way they do. I would guess that you have spent a lot of time adjusting your "in camera" settings to provide very acceptable images "out of the box". More power to you for taking the time to do that, but you are still modifying what the sensor sees.

The only difference is that your PP is pre-processing rather than post-processing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not into image manipulation either, but I have plenty of images posted here that went from duds to presentable by fixing a WB error or adjusting the contrast and saturation, not to cheat but to present the image as my eye originally saw it (that is, restoring the features lost by the limitations of the sensor).
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Postby phillipb on Mon Mar 13, 2006 10:41 pm

johndec wrote: I have plenty of images posted here that went from duds to presentable by fixing a WB error or adjusting the contrast and saturation, not to cheat but to present the image as my eye originally saw it (that is, restoring the features lost by the limitations of the sensor).


John, to be fair to Michael, I think that there's a bit of difference between adjusting contrast and saturation and fixing WB due to error.
I dare say that Michael would rather re-shoot with proper WB setting then adjust it in PP.
Me, I'm not proud, if I make a mistake (and I usually do),I try to fix it the easiest way possible, that's usually PP. :)
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Postby johndec on Mon Mar 13, 2006 11:08 pm

phillipb wrote:John, to be fair to Michael, I think that there's a bit of difference between adjusting contrast and saturation and fixing WB due to error.
I dare say that Michael would rather re-shoot with proper WB setting then adjust it in PP.


If so, good luck to him. I wish I had the time to drive 500 miles to re-shoot something that isn't quite perfect, or wait another 6 months for that sunset to be "just so". :lol:

OK, a hypothetical to throw this thread even further off topic. When I shoot in RAW and open the file in Nikon Capture, it displays the image using the settings that the camera was configured to at the time. Of course, this is not how the RAW file actually looks, just a representation of my choices at that moment. If I choose to reconfigure these settings in NC, am I PPing or just changing my mind?

To go a step further, if I adjust the curve in NC or PS, am I PPing or just correcting for the fact that I didn't have a custom curve loaded in my camera. For that matter, is using an in camera custom curve PPing? This whole PP thing can rapidly become very grey :shock: Hence my sceptisicm about people that claim they dont PP...
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Postby dooda on Tue Mar 14, 2006 5:52 am

It's a slippery slope any way you look at it. The more you understand, the more you realize the grey area of image enhancement.

When you shoot in Raw + Jpeg, the raw file is generally more grey, less saturated, and by and large, less presentable.
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Postby DaveB on Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:04 am

energypolice wrote:I believe there should be no post-processing done on nature photos because it will lead to the "slippery-slope" syndrome

That statement itself leads to a slippery slope!

Steffen makes a good point regarding various purposes for photography. Photography of our environment is by default assumed to be documentary. Whether or not the artist had that intent, the fact remains that when most people see an image of an animal or other part of nature, they would like to believe that what they're seeing is real. This is where the "slippery slope" comes into play: should the artist have to attach a statement to every image guaranteeing its veracity? In the PJ world a lot of effort has been put into setting the standard as images being "true", requiring labels such as "photo-composition"/"photo-illustration"/etc. But not everyone wants to follow those standards.

For me there are two primary purposes of my nature photography: accurate portrayal of the environment, and producing "pleasing images". Wherever possible I try to fit both purposes, but there are often exceptions. Sometimes I produce images which are not accurate portrayals (as I've cloned something, or used colours that are enhanced a bit too much, etc) but that's the exception and I try to either label the images as such, or use them in contexts where there is no confusion.


energypolice wrote:What you see is what was shot! (No PP)

These can be conflicting statements. To accurately portray the scene you need to apply various manipulations of the image, and this applies to film as well as digital photography!
When someone shoots with slide film it's very easy for them to think that it's all in the instant of capture. But just because they've chosen their filtration and film then (along with possible push/pull-processing choices) that doesn't mean that it's the only valid means of producing an "accurate" image. Even within the constraints of shutter speed and aperture, your choice of film, filtration, WB, contrast, saturation, etc will all affect the way the colours and tones are rendered. Your choice of film, imaging sensor, sharpening (even when printing in the chemical darkroom) also affect the final image. Colour filtration and film choice (Velvia has been mention, but it's not the only example) can have a huge impact on the final image, as is often seen in sunset images for example.
The process of producing an image extends from the instant of image capture through to the final production of the image. You may decide to give up control of some of those areas (e.g. to the slide processor, or to your camera's JPEG compression) but that is your choice and does not invalidate the choices of others.
In fact I think the term "post-processing" (PP) puts unnecessary emphasis on the "post" bit: it's all part of the processing flow.

However, the manipulations I've described so far (i.e. "global" things such as colours, tones, cropping) are not the only types of processing that can be applied. A "big" one that springs to mind is the issue of cloning. And that's a slippery slope when it comes to Nature/documentary photography.
leek wrote:I can understand your desire to refrain from cloning and other manipulation though, but rules are meant to be broken and I have been known to clone out the odd twig for compositional reasons...

One of the issues here is that of deceiving your audience: if your audience finds that you've manipulated the content of your images and they had assumed that they were real, you will lose credibility. Witness the outrage when it was realised that many of the images in Art Wolfe's "Migrations" book had had animals inserted into the scenes.
And what if someone produced an image of a mammal wandering along a bush track with its young beside it, when in fact this animal never brings its young to the ground and carries them on its back through the trees. Did the photographer make a "pleasing" image composited from various source images, or is it in fact new behaviour that will excite the scientific community (or confuse a future student who ends up using the image as source material in a science project)?
Sometimes these veracity issues are obvious (polar bears and penguins together on the ice?) but so often we don't know 100% about a given natural-history subject (even when we think we do!) and choices one might make when cloning and/or compositing are likely to produce "false" scenes, even if you don't know it at the time.

So in general cloning is a no-no, but remember that the same tools (e.g. Photoshop's Clone Stamp Tool) are still useful tools (e.g. in dealing with dust bunnies, film dust/scratches, etc).


The question of photographing "wild" animals vs. photographing constrained animals (e.g. in zoos) is closely related to the above. For example the behaviour of many animals in captivity is vastly different from their natural behaviour. The images you capture in a zoo may be pleasing images, they may be accurate portrayals of the scene that was in front of you, but they may not be accurate portrayals of the natural behaviour of the creatures!


Another area that can be seen as contentious is compositing multiple images. This can be in order to extend the dynamic range of the image in an attempt to provide a better reproduction of the scene our eyes saw, or it can be to produce a high-resolution composite panorama. As long as the photographer is confident that the final image is an accurate portrayal of the scene then I think they can be valid "Nature" images. That doesn't mean that all such images fall into that category though! Such imagery is complicated by issues of moving subjects (animals, leaves, waves, etc) and changing light conditions as the image is not necessarily from an "instant" in time (but then does a 30-sec "single" exposure qualify as an "instant"?). As with everything, it depends!. For instance I have taken stacked composites where all the images were taken within one second and I'm confident that they're an accurate portrayal of the scene.
Incidentally, similar issues apply to images taken with some panoramic cameras (with slits panning across the film) and scanning digital backs.


This is just the tip of a very contentious issue, and debate can rage over the details if you're not careful. I've tried to keep the above post focussed at the actual issues rather than getting caught up in examples (not that I'm always successfull in that! :roll:)
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Postby kipper on Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:28 am

Dave I've seen a wonderful composite of a Hawk with the moon in the background, not possible (currently) without being a composite due to the nature of DOF.
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Postby DaveB on Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:39 am

kipper wrote:I've seen a wonderful composite of a Hawk with the moon in the background, not possible (currently) without being a composite due to the nature of DOF.

And if that composite was made from two images taken from the same position with the same lens & focal length at the same time (accounting for the time needed to change the focus) without moving the lens then I think there could be a strong argument for saying that it's a valid "Nature" image. In fact an image with the bird in focus and the moon a vague light blur could be argued to be a less authentic image.

But as with everything, "it depends". If you say that compositing is OK you can get people compositing in "bad" ways. If you say that compositing is verboten then you can restrict the veracity of images. This is where it becomes a "slippery slope". If you make rules by specifying the tools you can use, you teeter on a see-saw and there will always be someone to find a "bad" way to fit into the rules.

It's important to keep in mind the intent of the rules (which I tried to outline my interpretation of above).
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Postby Manta on Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:22 pm

Here's an interesting viewpoint. It's from the "Ask the Pro" section of Digital Camera World magazine (Jan2006). The "pro" in this case is multi-award winning wildlife photographer Andy Rouse.

Q. Where do you stand on image enhancement versus image manipulation? Where do you draw the line? (Stuart Frost, London)

A. Andy says: You draw the line where your conscience allows. In my opinion, retouching, which is defined as anything you can do on a RAW converter to change the colour balance, and dust spotting are perfectly acceptable. This also includes removing a distracting highlight in the background or an annoying blade of grass, as you are not changing the context or positioning of the subject.

Anything above this, such as cutting heads of one image and planting it
(sic) on another, is a personal decision. If you do this, be honest and call yourself a wildlife artist; you are not a wildlife photographer.

Food for thought.
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Postby gstark on Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:50 pm

Michael,

Welcome.

As an old time film user, let me be up front and say that there's almost no such thing as a photographic image that hasn't had some post-processing done to it.

Even trannies, where it's not normally done, can be subject to post processing (or manipulation, if you like) of some sort after the initial making of the image.

It's all too easy, for instance, to pull or push process E6 film, and there's all manner of ways to manipulate the final viewable outcome, from something as simple as extra cropping in the slide frame, to reshooting through a slide copier to add or subtract image elements or simply apply exposure correction.

So to say that film images are not subject to post processing is at best often a misleading statement.

When it comes to digital imaging, there truly is no such thing as an image that has no PP applied. Even raw images have an underlying curve applied to them - which can be replaced after the event - that determines many of the basic characteristics of the image.

When you then accept, for instance, the default jpg images as set by the manufacturer, you are in effect accepting that the default PP as applied in camera meets your needs.

And that is perfectly ok.

But you might wish to review some of the options available to you: digitialphotography opens up a whole new vista of options to you, and to ignore them would be akin to shooting that really small bird that's sitting there in that tree, 200 feet away, using your 24mm lens.

Yes, you'll get an image, but will it truly be optimal?

And the options available to your are vast and varied: just look at the various ways ypu can modify your image using just the in camera settings.

For instance: you make mention that you've printed images directly from in camera. Were those jpg, and if so, which jpg setting - basic, medium, or fine?

Why did you elect one setting in preference to another?

And please understand that to get to any of those jpg images, the camera has applied some measure of PP, whether you like it or not.

OK, maybe you printed directly from the raw image, and have all manner of jpg turned off. There's still the underlying curve (and you can load different curves into your camera) that was used to make the image, wb settings, contrast settings, hue and sharpening settings etc all of which are and have been applied to your image, regardless of whether you chose to do any PP afterwards.

Finally, you mention that you compared an image shot on film with a similar image shot on the D70, both of which you had printed out.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but so what? I accept and respect that you and your friend both felt that the digital image looked the better of the two. Csn you be satisfied that this was absolutely the very best rendition of the image possible?

If so, that's great, and there's no more to be said.

But if not, then where is your commitment to excellence? To producing not simply the best image that the camera might be able to produce, but the best image that you are able to produce?

Doesn't that aspect figure in your calculations? It sure does in mine. :)
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Postby gstark on Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:56 pm

kipper wrote:Dave I've seen a wonderful composite of a Hawk with the moon in the background, not possible (currently) without being a composite due to the nature of DOF.


Er, wrong.

With the right camera, and the hawk and moon in the correct locations, this would be a doddle.

Yes, on a film camera, even.

As it happens, I was discussing exactly the technique with a couple of members at our nightshoot last Saturday.

We're talking tilt shift here.

But true tilt shift, not the tiltshit that was lastr week's big boring event. :)
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Postby DaveB on Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:02 pm

gstark wrote:We're talking tilt shift here.
Every piece of technology has its limitations.
Have you ever seen a 500mm T/S lens? ;)
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Postby gstark on Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:08 pm

energypolice wrote:I do take great numbers of photos at Wings of Asia which is located at Miami Metro Zoo, because the cost, to get good photos of endangered and uncommon birds which are almost impossible to find in the wild.
There are a great number of pro photographers using this aviary because it is rated among the best in the world.


Be that as it may, I could probably muster a pretty solid argument that says that what you're doing is hardly nature photography.

Contrast that wih some of our members who might venture out into the wild and spend hours at a time in a hide, perched in a tree (or both) in order to capture the images that they're after.

Does the fact that they might choose to alter the in camera settings subsequent to actually making the image make their efforts any less valid than me wandering down to my local zoo to try to get a shot of the same animal?

No, I'm not going to offer any attempt to answer that one. :)

I'm not trying to decry anything in terms of what you're doing, but simply pointing out some elements of your posts that appear, to me, to be somewhat incongruous.
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Postby gstark on Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:11 pm

DaveB wrote:
gstark wrote:We're talking tilt shift here.
Every piece of technology has its limitations.
Have you ever seen a 500mm T/S lens? ;)


Dave,

You're in the wrong frame of mind here. Think "camera", not "lens". :)

And yes, I'm pretty sure that a camera with tilt-shift capabilities and a lens of that focal length could be rustled up if need be.
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Postby kipper on Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:16 pm

Gary, what Dave said. Given the detail in both the bird and the moon this would be impossible with a tilt shift lens. Unless of course you were patting the bird on the head at the time :) Out of interest what focal length do the tilt shift lenses come in?

Gary, the only other possible way would be to have a camera/media that could capture an inheritly large amount of detail and take the shot at a distance with an appropriate lens and then crop in during post processing.
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Postby gstark on Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:27 pm

kipper wrote:Gary, what Dave said. Given the detail in both the bird and the moon this would be impossible with a tilt shift lens. Unless of course you were patting the bird on the head at the time :) Out of interest what focal length do the tilt shift lenses come in?

Gary, the only other possible way would be to have a camera/media that could capture an inheritly large amount of detail and take the shot at a distance with an appropriate lens and then crop in during post processing.


As I said to Dave, you're thinking in the wrong context.

Camera is where my mindspace is at, not lens, and we're talking large format stuff.

Detail is exceptional, technique is where it's at, cost is horrendous, but cost was not one of the criteria. :)

I'm simply pointing out that this is possible, (and in so doing I'm refuting completely your statement that it's not :up: ) and with not simply current technology, but actually technology that is very very old: I could do this, in camera, with my Speedgraphic, in the one single exposure.
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Postby DaveB on Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:38 pm

Such an image in-camera would be unlikely to occur, but you're right that it's technically possible. But as I said: every technology has its limitations (practical ones in this example).

This is another example of people getting caught up in specific technical examples and missing the underlying issue.
If Gary accepts that Kipper meant to say something like "impossible with the equipment that any sane person would carry into the field" 8), and Kipper accepts that Gary was talking about what's technically possible with camera lens movements (get your mind out of the SLR model) I think we can move on...
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Postby gstark on Tue Mar 14, 2006 5:04 pm

Dave,

DaveB wrote:Such an image in-camera would be unlikely to occur, but you're right that it's technically possible. But as I said: every technology has its limitations (practical ones in this example).

This is another example of people getting caught up in specific technical examples and missing the underlying issue.


No not really. In fact, the technique invloved is one of the basics one needs to learn in LF photography, and is in very common use.

Check this page, and in particular, look at the section on tilts and swings, and look also at the references to the Scheimpflug principle.

This link also seems to be quite informative. Ain't Google grand? :)


If Gary accepts that Kipper meant to say something like "impossible with the equipment that any sane person would carry into the field" 8), and


Large format photography has been with us for well over a century. Ansell Adams did his best work using LF, and LF is still in significant demand today, especially for many applications requiring critical detail.

I'll grant that it's not in as common use as SLR photography, but that's probably as much a factor of cost and usability (probably more cost) as it is of portability.

I would even venture to suggest that some LF cameras actually weigh less and are more compact than many SLRs, digital or otherwise, and their lenses are far more compact than some of the big beasties that we see today.

Usability though might be a big issue - a Linhoff would not be a great idea to use at the F1, unless you're wanting to shoot a very highly detailed image of all of the drivers at, say, the starting line.

But in a forest or a fjord or similar, where you may already be committed to using a tripod and taking your time to make the image, the potentially lighter weight of the LF camera may well make for a more pleasant day in the wilderness.

As I've mentioned earlier, cost is horrendous: 20 years ago I was paying maybe $5 per E6 5x4 image. That's film cost only. Factor in today's film costs, use 7x5 or larger film stock, and watch your bank balance deflate more rapidly than Kim Beazley's popularity ratings. :)
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Postby kipper on Tue Mar 14, 2006 5:17 pm

I'll see if I can get a hold of the photo that I was refering to you so you can make judgement if it's possible. When I was saying that it's not possible, I meant with the average equipment that most of us would have not with any equipment available in the world - perhaps I should have been more specific :)
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Postby DaveB on Tue Mar 14, 2006 5:20 pm

Gary, I understand (and have used) the Scheimpflug principle but my point was that the particular example Kipper was describing is unlikely to occur.

If (and this is an assumption) it was taken with a 500mm lens on a DX-format camera, that has a field of view equivalent to a 2820mm lens on a 4x5 camera (let alone an 8x10 ;)). And even if you cropped the image from a shorter lens you would need to get the tilt effect happening within that tiny portion of the frame.
For practical reasons tilts are unlikely to be reasonable for such an example. The difficulties of shooting wildlife with a ground-glass viewfinder notwithstanding... Kipper has pointed out a scenario where compositing makes the final result possible.

Aren't we all in agreement?
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Postby gstark on Tue Mar 14, 2006 6:22 pm

DaveB wrote:Gary, I understand (and have used) the Scheimpflug principle but my point was that the particular example Kipper was describing is unlikely to occur.


But that was not Darryl's point.

Putting it as simply as I can, he made an unqualified statement basically saying that it was not possible to make a particular type of image in the camera.

I was merely pointing out that his statement was not correct, and that the technology permitting us to do this has been around for about 102 years, not to put too fine a point on it. :)
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Postby energypolice on Tue Mar 14, 2006 9:25 pm

>I figured credit should be given to me for no post-processing
> of NATURE images, and the maker of the camera would be
>happy that the images needed no PP, and since the RAW file
>could be used as a proof of no PP to image, very little
>cheating would be done.

I must admit that the word cheating is wrong here, and I am sorry to offend you by implying that if you PP you cheat, but the point I wanted to get across is having photos presented in two different categories, one with “no PP” and others with “some PP” so the viewer would know how the photo was developed, by the camera or by the photo mechanic software.
I believe there are great photos made by digital cameras without any PP, which most would say was a lucky shot, and am saying present it as shot, and placed in the “no PP” category, because I would love to see photos without the PP, since 99.9% do have.

Where can I see photos shot by 12+ mega pix cameras without any PP?

May be the camera manufactures should present these photos to show that not all digital photos need PP, and the high price you have paid is worth it.

I would rather be shooting photos than sitting at a computer fixing broken photos.

IT is obvious that I am not an educated man, but I do understand photography enough to produce some fair to good images with the camera.

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Postby gstark on Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:09 pm

energypolice wrote:but the point I wanted to get across is having photos presented in two different categories, one with “no PP” and others with “some PP” so the viewer would know how the photo was developed, by the camera or by the photo mechanic software.


But I suspect that you're missing a major point here.

No matter how you cut it, there will ALWAYS be an element of post processing applied to every digital image that you see. It's built into the camera, and you simply cannot avoid it.



I believe there are great photos made by digital cameras without any PP,



No.

It simply cannot happen. The software in the camera expressly refuses to save images that have not been PP'd.

And furthermore, the camera is not what is making the images, and if you believe that it's the camera, then please reconsider why you even bother making making images.

It's always the photographer, and the camera is merely a tool used in the process. It just seems to be a better tool (for many people) for making phots than a hammer is, for some strange reason.


Where can I see photos shot by 12+ mega pix cameras without any PP?


Maybe in the Nikon factory, in one of their research labs. Nobody with a D2x can show you any such beast, because that is simply not what the camera puts out.

I would rather be shooting photos than sitting at a computer fixing broken photos.


I think that many here would rather you were out shooting photos too, rather than hearing you putting shit on their work.

IT is obvious that I am not an educated man, but I do understand photography enough to produce some fair to good images with the camera.


Why do you say it's obvious that you're not an educated man?

Neither your level of education, nor your gender, are evident from your posts. You come across to me as being able manage to string three or more words coherently, which places you way ahead of many others in the worl, and while you state your name as "Michael", there are no guarantees thatr this is your real name (not that I'm doubting it), and none either that it's a male name.

And while I agree that it's possible to produce to produce some excellent images with just the camera, I do not accept that those images might not be able to be improved through some further processing.

And I do also accept that you're perfectly free to disagree with me.
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Postby Big V on Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:21 pm

energypolice can you post one of your favourite shots please and let the members with your permission have a crack at it just as an exercise in curiousity to see what we can do with it. Now I know you are not a fan of any PP but surely you can see the value of this exercise. If the photo is already at its best, then we will not be able to make any improvement, if however we can, then maybe you should embrace the advice which has been offered. People here are not talking about faking a picture, just bringing out the detail that was originally captured.
I do hope that you allow this exercise to go ahead and look forward to seeing your image..Thanks in anticipation..
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Postby energypolice on Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:08 pm

I do not know how to get the image on this Forum, but will try placing a link. The photo is Red-faced Liocichla 3 at my site http://www.alphapulse.com on the last page of “Birds” taken Sunday 12, 2006 at Wings of Asia, Miami Metro Zoo.

The photo was taken with D2X camera shot in RAW and down loaded to a lap top computer via the Nikon software which came with the camera, then opened in Capture 4 Software and converted to jpeg file and uploaded to website, which took less than three minutes.

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Postby Alpha_7 on Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:16 pm

energypolice wrote:I do not know how to get the image on this Forum, but will try placing a link. The photo is Red-faced Liocichla 3 at my site http://www.alphapulse.com on the last page of “Birds” taken Sunday 12, 2006 at Wings of Asia, Miami Metro Zoo.

Michael P Stewart


Michael,

Do you mean this shot ? If not, or if you don't want me to post It I'll delete the post.
Cheers,
Craig

Image
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Postby gstark on Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:53 pm

energypolice wrote:I do not know how to get the image on this Forum


Please read this thread
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Postby Alpha_7 on Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:56 pm

Michael, please let me know if you want me to keep the photo posted (or if I got the right one). Also if you don't mind me asking, I noticed on your website the Sabbath is mentioned, out of interest what relgion are you ? (if you don't want to answer, now worries).
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Postby energypolice on Wed Mar 15, 2006 4:45 am

Thank you Craig,

The image is the correct one, and I am a Christian saint who obey the Words in the King James Holy Bible.

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Postby gstark on Wed Mar 15, 2006 7:27 am

Michael,

Could you also please post the EXIF data for this image?

YIA.
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Postby phillipb on Wed Mar 15, 2006 9:58 am

It's going to be a bit hard to PP that photo with PROOF in the midddle of it.

Regardless of the outcome of the experiment, the question I would like to ask Michael is:
If we both take the exact same photo at the same time, you use a top of the range camera and I use the bottom of the range. Your photo comes out nice and sharp with lots of contast, mine doesn't. I process mine in photoshop to add sharpness and contrast and it becomes identical to yours.

Does that mean that your photo has more merit then mine?
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Postby DaveB on Wed Mar 15, 2006 10:20 am

phillipb wrote:It's going to be a bit hard to PP that photo with PROOF in the midddle of it.

Indeed. In fact a more-interesting experiment would be to re-process the photo from RAW (I gather from Michael's web pages that he shoots in RAW).


Regardless of the outcome of the experiment, the question I would like to ask Michael is:
If we both take the exact same photo at the same time, you use a top of the range camera and I use the bottom of the range. Your photo comes out nice and sharp with lots of contast, mine doesn't. I process mine in photoshop to add sharpness and contrast and it becomes identical to yours.

You have to be careful with hypotheticals like this: the result would depend on the size the image was going to be reproduced at. A "bottom of the range" camera might not be able to cut it. And in Photoshop I don't think you can really "add sharpness": rather you can enhance what's there - Photoshop won't "fix" a bad photo.

Or put another way, you'd be hard-pressed to produce an Ansel landscape with a FunkyCam. :lol:
I would have proposed both using the same equipment with one just shooting with JPEG printing directly to an attached printer, and the other using RAW and a decent digital processing workflow...
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Postby phillipb on Wed Mar 15, 2006 10:57 am

I was thinking along the lines of Nikon D50 and Nikon D2x
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Joined: Sat Aug 07, 2004 10:56 am
Location: Milperra (Sydney) **Nikon D7000**

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