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Old Oct 16, 2007, 11:20 AM   #11
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Steven R wrote:
Another free program that I've found handy is Irfanview.

Which is actually an excellent application to use as your default graphics file viewer in Windoze computers.

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Old Nov 6, 2007, 12:15 PM   #12
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The only reason I don't like post processing is setting in front of the computer instead of being out and about with my camera.

People have been post processing their shots ever since cameras were invented. The only difference now is that we can do it on our computers instead of in a dark room. I wouldn't think thatyou have ever seen an image in a magizinethat has not had some post processing done to it. Although you do need to learn your camera and what the different setting do so you can at least minimize the post process.

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Old Nov 6, 2007, 6:04 PM   #13
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Well, there's two issues there. One is that the best results often require post processing, and the more"professional" the camera, the more the default setting assume you are going to do post processing. That is, most pros can do a better job of things like sharpening, and boosting contrasst, in post processing, than the camera can do internally. So the defaults are often "flatter" looking than say a consumer point and shoot, which assumes you don't want to do post processing.

So the other point is, this doesn't mean you can't shoot punchy out of camera jpegs either, if that's what you want. You just have to learn how to tailor your setings to the shooting conditions a bit. There are three main "picture modes" on the Olympus DSLRs, muted, natural, and vivid. You can also independently adjust the saturation, contrast, and sharpness for each of these presets. I like to change these modes depending on the conditions. For outdoors in bright sunlight, where you have to worry about blowing highlights, and not having enough dynamic range, I switch to muted mode, because it has lower contrast (and thus better dynamic range). In especially dull light, I might switch to vivid, for more color.

The other key to good out of camera shots will be metering. Which is basically mostly about learning to expose well without blowing highlights.

In the most difficult situations, though, some post procesing will be needed. In the windmill example above, I might have lowered the contrast in bright sunlight, and then used some negative exposure compensation to avoid blowing out the windmills. But, in order to combat the "haze" problm you described, one of the best ways is to increase the contrast. Obviously that gives you two conflicting goals. And the best way to deal with that might be to preserve the highlights when taking the shot, then deal with the rest in post processing, where you could even choose to mask off an area and selectively boost the saturation or contrast.

Another difficult situation is that cliff shot, where the light seems to be coming from behind the subject. Any camera is going to have problems there. There, you could use the multiple image technique mentioned above, but another way to do that is to shoot RAW and use multiple exposures (like +2 and -2EV) from the same RAW file. Take the sky from one and the cliff from the other and you have something more like what your eye sees.

So even if you don't want to do much postprocessing, its useful to be able to do a few of the basics, like a bit of sharpening, adjusting contrast or saturation, or a quick tweak of the tone curve using a "levels" or "curves" tool. Most images won't need much, of this, and you can do it pretty quickly when needed. For the more complicated stuff, like the HDR techniques, you will really only need them in difficult conditions, and you can decide for yourself if you want to go to the trouble, or only take pictures when the light is more favorable.

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Old Nov 10, 2007, 6:43 PM   #14
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Another approach to the wide dynamic range of a landscape is to take 2 or 3 shots of the same scene (using a tripod), one exposed for average, one for the highlights and one for the shadows, then combine them in post porcessing. There is a plugin for Photoshop and elements and PaintShopPro called "Optipix" that does this well (along woth many other things it does) but you can simply create 3 different layers and blend them yourself.
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