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Author Topic: Best (and quickest) work flow suggestions?  (Read 6725 times)

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« on: August 22, 2007, 00:20 »
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iStockPhoto's people are a bunch of snobs.   :P

They like my photos, but the most consistent complaint I've been getting for rejected ones has been "undue artifacts, undue artifacts, undue artifacts, wah wah wah wah, undue artifacts, sniff, sob sob..."   :'(

Sheesh.  They just saying that cuz they don't want my photos to compete with theirs.   ;D  I kid, I kid.... I think.

Previously, I had my camera set to save photos in the highest JPEG format available (SHQ 3264x2448), but it's capable of taking pics in TIFF and RAW too. (I have an Olympus 8080Z)

I'm thinking I should just go with RAW since I can postprocess it to death if need be, but it takes about 20 seconds per photo to finish though, and I can just forget about taking continuous shots too.  I've had this camera for a while, but is this still typical of how slow RAW is on a digicam that's not a dSLR?

If it is, I may keep the current JPEG format and tinker with the settings a little more.  I don't get it though.  On a clear blue sky, bright day, the photos will sometimes look awesome, and then out of the blue noise starts showing up en masse for no reason (even when ISO stays the same).  Anyone else experience this?  Any suggestions on how I can reduce these kinds of distortions?  I'm not a professional so springing for a more prosumer level camera isn't really cost effective for me right now.   ;D


« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2007, 00:55 »
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I have no experience with your camera, but considerable experience in IS rejections. (grin)

Have you tried downsizing your images to iStock 'Large' size (1820 x 2730)? This might go a long way in getting rid of your rejection gremlins.

« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2007, 01:40 »
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Oly 8080 is a very nice camera for many applications, but it's a noizy little SOB. And blue sky is one of the worst offenders. Also, I think you are mistaken when you say you can postprocess RAW to death... It gives you more freedom but it's not unlimited freedom - expose wrong by a couple stops, push them in RAW and you have major noize. Start blurring that noize out, and banding pops up. Get it all right after careful tweaking and search for the best combination, then discover that you want colors to pop up a bit, and bamm, everything went to hell and noize is all around...

I am not saying it's impossible, but forget easy and quick fixes. careful picking of the subject, good lighting, well though through metering, careful inspection and fixing will do the trick. Price to pay is your time and effort (which may not necessary be a bad thing for the starters, you will learn a lot), and limited freedom of chosing the subject, time of the day, etc.

I love Oly, they are very nice player but really, as far as technically suitable for microstock shooting is concerned, only their latest generation (e-410/510) nailed it.

« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2007, 09:12 »
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I have no experience with your camera, but considerable experience in IS rejections. (grin)

Have you tried downsizing your images to iStock 'Large' size (1820 x 2730)? This might go a long way in getting rid of your rejection gremlins.


I never even thought of that.  I tried downsizing all the way to 1600x1200, and while the noise is not as noticeable, it's still there.  I HATE noise as much as IS apparently does, but I may have no choice but to use TIFF or RAW, then use noise filtering software to clean up the photos, but that may end up being more trouble than it's worth.  This sucks.  I really love my Oly camera, but it was only until I started viewing photos in full size that I noticed how noisy it can get.  iStock has made me hate all the photos I used to love so much now.   :'(

« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2007, 09:18 »
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I am not saying it's impossible, but forget easy and quick fixes. careful picking of the subject, good lighting, well though through metering, careful inspection and fixing will do the trick. Price to pay is your time and effort (which may not necessary be a bad thing for the starters, you will learn a lot), and limited freedom of chosing the subject, time of the day, etc.

I love Oly, they are very nice player but really, as far as technically suitable for microstock shooting is concerned, only their latest generation (e-410/510) nailed it.

Yeah I should clarify to say I don't mean you can do anything with RAW, just more than you can with JPEG.  I'm going to check out the cameras you mentioned.   ;D

« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2007, 09:41 »
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I shoot with E-510, if you have any questions about it feel free to ask

« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2007, 10:26 »
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Have you tried noise reduction software (Noise Ninja, Neat Image, etc)?

« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2007, 13:27 »
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I never even thought of that.  I tried downsizing all the way to 1600x1200, and while the noise is not as noticeable, it's still there.
Make sure to use the 'Bicubic Smoother ' option when you downsize.

Also, pay attention to IS sizing:
XLarge= 2800 x 4200
Large= 1820 x 2730
Medium = 1134 x 1701

This means that ALL of your shots - even the ones that you don't downsize - will be sold on IS as 'Large'. Given the nature of your camera, you run the risk of noise rejection if you don't downsize.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2007, 13:30 by sharply_done »

« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2007, 02:37 »
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I never even thought of that.  I tried downsizing all the way to 1600x1200, and while the noise is not as noticeable, it's still there.
Make sure to use the 'Bicubic Smoother ' option when you downsize.

Also, pay attention to IS sizing:
XLarge= 2800 x 4200
Large= 1820 x 2730
Medium = 1134 x 1701

This means that ALL of your shots - even the ones that you don't downsize - will be sold on IS as 'Large'. Given the nature of your camera, you run the risk of noise rejection if you don't downsize.

Wrong! Bicubic smoother when you upsize; bicubic sharper when you downsize

« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2007, 02:42 »
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Nothing wrong with your camera-just get exposure right and correct white balance:

Sunrise/sunset     2400-3000 KelvinUse Auto white balance
Tungsten lighting 3200-3500 Kelvin Use tungsten/Incandescent white balance
Fluorescent lighting   4000 Kelvin               Use fluorescent White balance
Early morning/afternoon sun 4000 Kelvin.Use auto white balance/ --fluorescent white balance
(Magenta filter) to counter greenish cast on skin from foliage if under trees or on really green grass
Noon sun/Sun overhead5000-6500 Kelvin.use Cloudy White balance
Flash photography in daylight  5500 Kelvin Use Flash White balance
Deep shade.6500 KelvinUse cloudy/shade white balance
Shade in daylight    7500 Kelvin ......Use shade white balance
Heavy overcast, very dark shade 8000 to 10000 KelvinUse shade white balance plus 81a-85c glass filter

Exposure

Thanks to digital cameras, exposure has never been so easy and simple to achieve, for general outdoor photography. (Studio work still requires a hand-held meter and grey card for its more exacting demands on the photographer) Most of the time matrix (evaluative) metering, will do a great job. For portraiture, centre-weighted is preferred, and where high contrast separates dark from light, spot metering comes into its own.  Considering stock photography, we need to also keep in mind the element of noise, the biggest reason for rejection in our business- noise can be reduced in  post-processing, to an extent, but if we can avoid excessive noise when making our images, the better our chances of approval, and less time at the computer. Correct exposure is how to control noise at the making/taking stage- and correct exposure is simple-By studying the histogram on the cameras monitor screen, we can adjust our exposure compensation to ensure that the bulk of the graph is just to the right of centre, and each end is just touching bottom corners.- If left-hand side of graph climbs left screen edge, the shot will be over-exposed, with no detail in the shadow areas: If the same thing happens to the right-hand side, highlights will be blown, rendering the shot totally useless. For a second opinion, we can use the highlight flashes, also on the monitor screen, which flash black and white  when highlights are blown. NOTE: If you can, get hold of a hand-held exposure meter, and you will be amazed at the difference it will make to your images
        Sometimes you will find a scene will be beyond the cameras 5-stop dynamic range, so if you meter using ,Matrix (Evaluative) or Centre-weighted, you will lose some detail in either highlights or shadows. A split-graduated neutral density filter (ND Grad) is recommended, But if you dont have one: Try Dynamic Range Increase: With camera on tripod: meter for highlight,  take a shot-then  meter for shadows, take another shot. In Photoshop, add lighter image to darker as a new  layer, then: Select> Color Range-click highlights ,check invert, click OK. Add layer mask. Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur 250 pixels. Flatten and save. You will get detail in highlights and shadows

2. Photoshopping  (Digital darkroom)   Basics

a) Check Levels -(Histogram)

b) At 100% (Actual Pixels) check for:

- Noise
 Image> Mode> LAB Colour> Channels
Channel a   Gaussian blur 5 pixels
Channel b   Ctrl+F
Channel lightness Filter> noise> despeckle
Image> Mode> RGB colour

- Lateral chromatic aberration (fringing)

Ctrl+J select brush tool and click on the quick mask tool.
Choose a brush size to match the width of the fringe.
Trace over all the areas that have fringing. When done, click icon next to quick mask
 Select> Inverse.
 Image> Adjustments> Hue/Saturation and pick the color closest to your fringe color Click eyedropper on the fringe color on your image.
drag Saturation slider to the left until the fringing goes.
Select>deselect
Flatten and Save
- Transverse chromatic aberration (Moire banding) - Filters/blur/Gaussian Blur  at 1.5 pixels radius


-Contrast Enhancement (Pop)

Ctrl+J
Filter> Sharpen> Unsharp mask  Amount 30
                                                    Radius  60 pxls
                                                   Threshold  10
 Blend mode> Luminosity- Flatten

- To sharpen - Smart sharpen
Ctrl+J
Select> All> Edit> Copy
Channels> New channel (alpha 1)> Edit> paste
Filter> Stylize> Find edges
Ctrl+L move sliders for clean edges
Filters> Blur Gaussian blur1.5 pixels
Select> Load selection-Check invert click ok
Select RGB channel
View> Show> selection edges uncheck
Filter> Sharpen> Unsharp mask- Amount 500
                                                     Radius   0.2
                                                   Threshold  0
Select> deselect>  dump alpha channel   
Blend mode luminosity
Ctrl+shift+E   

Regards, Grizzly

« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2007, 03:42 »
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Wrong! Bicubic smoother when you upsize; bicubic sharper when you downsize
Not if he wants a quick and easy way to reduce noise and artifacts, it's not.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2007, 03:46 by sharply_done »

« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2007, 09:59 »
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I might go for the E-510 if I see myself getting more professionally minded, but I never liked the pains (and expenses ) of using a modular camera.   :-X

For noise reduction I have Grain Surgery used within Photoshop.  I don't know how this compares to Noise Ninja or Neat Image though, but I think it's slower.

The last photo that got rejected was a battleship photo that got rejected as usual for undue artifacts.  What annoys me is that my camera was set at ISO 50 and there was STILL noise.  That really pisses me off.  But, I used Grain Surgery and the results seemed to be MUCH better.

Can you guys take a look though?  The first photo is the one that got rejected by IS.  I'm not going to fault them for this though, because there was clearly noise.  The second one is after a single pass through Grain Surgery.  I think this would pass inspection, but I'm not sure if it might be too "smudgy" as a result of the noise filtering.

http://www.habitationofjustice.com/images/Battleship.jpg

http://www.habitationofjustice.com/images/Battleship-noisefree.jpg


BTW, if I want to downsize an image, is that just a matter of resizing in Photoshop and saving in the max (12) JPG setting, or should I use another approach?
« Last Edit: August 23, 2007, 10:32 by Lincoln »

« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2007, 10:18 »
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It is smudgy... sorry Lincoln, it just doesn't seem to at the level of quality their reviewers are looking for. There is some purple fringing, focus is a bit questionable, and noize reduction is unhelpful in this regard. You are fighting uphill battle trying to fix this kind of things. Again, I am not saying it's impossible but... I've been there, tried to shoot stock with advanced P&S that produced noize as if it was its purpose. Had some sales at less fussy agencies, suffered very low acceptance rate at DT, couldn't get accepted at SS and IS at all. Switch to dSLR changed it all (almost) overnight, not even saying how much time and work it saved me and how much more joy shooting started to bring.

The again, concept of SLR was not appaling to me at all, used to shoot with one in film times and in fact missed a lot about it. Obviously different for you judging from what you say about pains of SLR... 

« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2007, 11:02 »
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The again, concept of SLR was not appaling to me at all, used to shoot with one in film times and in fact missed a lot about it. Obviously different for you judging from what you say about pains of SLR... 

I'm not saying using an SLR would be appalling, only that it might be too much of a costly investment for something that is still just a hobby for me.

I didn't even see the purple fringing by the way until you mentioned it.  But it's so minute in the background that you can barely see it.   :P  I see your point though.

I've been shooting in P mode 90 percent of the time with this cam, which is kind of silly considering it was designed for those who like to customize EVERY setting.  It also has a built in noise filter, which I kept off as well, mainly because I never knew I had one till I started fiddling with it recently.

So, I'm not gonna give up with this camera just yet.   ;D

« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2007, 12:12 »
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Well, the problem is reviwers know exactly where to look for purple fringing... I would be surprized if they didn't notice it on this shot.

About Noize filter on/off - I don't have 8080 handy but going by memory, it's not what you are looking for. Your camera has noise REDUCTION on/off switch which is different animal than noize FILTERING... it's just a dark frame subtraction eliminating hot pixels in long exposure shots. Correct me if I am wrong though, it's been a while since I played with 8080.

In any case, as I said earlier - attempts to squeze maximum of your camera potential will serve as a great education in both, seeing flaws in photos the way reviewers do and fixing them (flaws, not reviewers). If you have passion for this, it only will be advanced by this grunt, and in a few months you won't believe your own shots, so much improvement will be there. Downside is, you are going to look at your old ones that you used to like, and you will be like "who shot this crap"... :)

« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2007, 16:24 »
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I fiddled about with your image in photoshop, and quickly came to an inconvenient conclusion.

I'm sorry to say it, Lincoln, but you're not going to be able to produce commercial-grade images in quantity with that camera. You may be able to get by with it in a controlled-light environment, but there's just no way that it's going to work in making shots such as you supplied.

On the brighter side, maybe my opinion will really tick you off, and you'll make it your mission to squeeze every little bit of goodness out of that that camera, thus proving me wrong.

... good luck!

« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2007, 03:08 »
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I agree with sharply, I took a look at it. The only way I see this image might be accepted is by downsizing it to 3 MP after you applied noise reduction on photoshop. Even then I do not know if it would be accepted. However I think with this much of sky and this much of grey area in your image you do have more noise in here then in other images.
The best way to downsize is with photoshop with bicubic. Then save it with JPG 12.
If you have really amazing images with your camera, which you think might have lots of sales, I do think they can be saved with lots of effort. All my penguin images are shot with a 3MP Olympus 720UZ camera. And I still get manipulated images accepted at all agencies .


« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2007, 13:07 »
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« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2007, 11:59 »
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Thanks for checking!  I've checked through some of my best photos again, and for some reason the noise seems to come and go sporadically.  I'm not sure why.  All of the battleship related shots though had noise in them.  I have several other photos that didn't have noise, even though the lighting conditions were the same.  One of them got accepted too.  ;D   I should find a board where people use the same camera and see if they've found workarounds for the noise, and when it's likely to show up.

I just hate the fact that some of my best super duper shots can never be sold because of these blemishes, and it's not like I can go back and retake them either.   :-\  Oh well.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2007, 12:04 by Lincoln »


 

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