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MassArt Images 05-24-2019 11:08 PM

Top shot processing thoughts
Is it just me or does this look a little cooked ?


bigbassloyd 05-24-2019 11:44 PM

A little cooked isn't really describing it properly. I will say that since I haven't seen it in person, maybe 4014 and 844 does have red, purple, and green paint on parts of it. They may also have a speckled paint that looks like noise too.


Loyd L.

John West 05-25-2019 01:06 AM

I get the impression "cooked" is in these days. It has been creeping in for a long time, but the westbound trip of 4014 under cloudy skys seems to have made it the rule rather than an occasional exception.

KevinM 05-25-2019 02:02 AM

I process raw files about as aggressively as anyone on RP, and I've had a few edits go off the rails myself. Images like this one typically result from one of two situations. Either the scene requires really high dynamic range, or the image is severely underexposed and needs a ton of adjustment to save it. My money is on the latter situation here. Looking at the EXIF, I see that Chris shot this at 1/400th and f/20 at ISO 400. Given the cloud cover that he had, that mega-high f-stop was likely the culprit. Hopefully, Chris will chime in and give us the back story as to why he picked those settings. Me? Knowing that Big Boy was running about 45 mph, and the train was going to be close in order to achieve this composition, I would have gone for probably 1/800th to 1/1000th minimum, to assure no softness in the nose. I would have been at f/8, or certainly no higher than f/10. I don't think I have ever shot trains with a tighter aperture.

In this case, I am guessing that it took a massive application of shadows to brighten the dark locomotive. Doing that probably surfaced a couple of problems. The shadows decrease the contrast, and they also bring out noise. The cures for these problems are often jacking the contrast and noise reduction software. Jacking the contrast is fine, but if you get too crazy with it, the image will start to glow....and if you look at the side of the train, this one does just that. Using noise reduction software has its own pitfalls. In moderation, it just decreases noise, without a huge loss of detail. In mega-doses, the image loses a lot of detail....and this one also has that issue. A photo shot at ISO 400 and f/20 should have a lot more detail and sharpness. The "sparkle paint" that the Loyd referred to on the smoke box cover is color noise that even the noise reduction process couldn't fully handle. Lastly, I think there is something going on with color temperature as well. Sometimes, warming up a dark image will make it look brighter. Again, moderation is the key. Too much warming and it can look like Mars vs. Earth.

I am definitely not throwing any tomatoes with the above assessment. Like I said, I have a few that I "overcooked" myself. Take this little beauty:

Don't get a Geiger Counter near that one! LOL! I leave that up there just to remind myself where "the edge" is, and not to get too close. How that got a PCA, I will never know. The difference is that 10 years ago, I couldn't recognize the problem at 100% resolution. Today, I could see it in the shot under discussion from just looking at the thumb from a distance. All a matter of practice.

On the positive side, Chris found himself a very nice scene here and I like the composition. I would have given my eye teeth to stand shoulder to shoulder with him and take a crack at this scene myself.

John West 05-25-2019 03:50 AM

Cooking versus quality.
In looking through the many images of the 4014 posted, while there are several "cooked" images (some with very high hit counts), the bigger issue is just a lot of poor quality images. I guess the news value of the 4014 transcended image quality in terms of the screeners' standards. Which I could understand in the beginning, but as the volume of 4014 posts increased so should have the quality threshhold. But it's all for fun so I can't get too excited.

Photoshop and Lightroom make photo manipulation so easy. One result is a proliferation of "styles". And it also provides tools to try to improve those less than perfect exposures. Mostly all that is good, but it adds some additional dimensions to judging what we like or don't like.

miningcamper1 05-25-2019 08:17 AM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by KevinM (Post 195491)
"Again, moderation is the key."

Reduce saturation, reduce contrast, reduce color temp and it's fine! (IMHO, of course!)

[Trivia: Windows repeatedly announced "This file can't be saved." So this is a screenshot of the edit.]

miningcamper1 05-25-2019 10:53 AM

And now for something completely different...
[linked photo no longer available]

Dennis A. Livesey 06-02-2019 12:02 AM

Kevin's assessment is right on. Chris, who is an excellent photographer, made a goof and underexposed. He tried to correct a black, featureless mass by using the Shadow slider but even a RAW file can only do so much. 1-2-3 stops yes; but not 4-5-6 stops.
I was surprised he did not use LR>Detail>Color slider. That does magic in getting rid of purple noise color.

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