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I don't think this looks natural, but...

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  #1  
Old 07-10-2004, 01:16 PM
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Rexx Rexx is offline
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I don't think this looks natural, but...

First I'd like to ask if there are any Alice Cooper fans here. On his "Goes to Hell" he sings "How many said, I wonder what happened to Alice?"

Well in case you haven't noticed I've been away. Starting a new project at work coincided with my getting my new Minolta A2. Something had to give and it was RetouchPro Sorry folks! But I've shot close to 2000 pictures with the A2 since early May, and I'm starting to learn it. After a difficult honeymoon I think I am also starting to love it

Now here's where I need better eyes than mine. I don't think I have much PS technical problems anymore, but I'm back where I started, the "Does this look OK?" question. (And my own answer is No...) The picture in question is at the very end of an odyssey, and I would appreciate it if you took the time to read it. Here it is.
DP Review Nikon Forum thread

The image in question is here but you should really read the thread first, since it is in many ways a small tutorial, both photographic and PS wise. And it explains the necessary background for the picture. And of course -- I hope you will like it!
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Old 07-10-2004, 04:05 PM
Noelf Noelf is offline
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I like the picture, but you are right it looks staged.

The thing that caught my eye, was the reflections in the glass were too bright compared to the reflections on the "ground". If you softened those a bit, I think you would be able to bring it a little closer together.

The other issue was where is the light source coming from that is causing the circle of reflection. The candle isn't deep enough in the glass to be causing it to come from within.

- Noel
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Old 07-10-2004, 05:14 PM
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Well, Alice, I found the progression you went thru very interesting and your picture unique and beautiful. I'm a little bit surprised you have your own doubts but I find it close to real art in that it teases the eye, caused me to ask questions ie. how the candle holder seems to be floating and quite frankly gave me a pretty good emotional jolt.
Perhaps the only thing I would consider would be to put the flame in thirds instead of central. I think it would have even greater impact.

Cheers
Dave
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Old 07-10-2004, 06:49 PM
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I agree with you, I like the previous "straight out of camera" image better as well. The reflections in your multi-layer image are very impressive, but the candle and candle holder (picking up on the question in your first post, I think we'd generally call something that size and shape a "candle holder" rather than a "candle stick") just don't look right -- look like they are floating and also a bit artificially cut out.

It is an interesting story and experiment, though. I think you really enhance this forum in the way that you try this sort of thing and document the results so thoroughly -- this shows through in your tutorials too, which always provide something to think about as well as the "step by step".

On a slightly different subject and picking up a discussion we've had before, have you played around with Photoshop CS's "lens blur" filter yet? It's supposed to do a reasonable job of reproducing lens bokeh in narrow-DOF simulations, more so than the other PS blur filters. Based on images I've seen in the photographic press I'd say it does seem to be better, but ultimately not entirely convincing. But I don't get my CS upgrade for a few weeks so I've not had a chance to experiment myself.
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Old 07-11-2004, 01:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noelf
I like the picture, but you are right it looks staged.

The thing that caught my eye, was the reflections in the glass were too bright compared to the reflections on the "ground". If you softened those a bit, I think you would be able to bring it a little closer together.

The other issue was where is the light source coming from that is causing the circle of reflection. The candle isn't deep enough in the glass to be causing it to come from within.l
Any Paul Simon fans here? "Ah, it's good to be back home"

Nothing like an intelligent question for bringing a halted situation back in motion. What I need to show is an (almost) unedited original of course. So here is one I didn't use. It's #13. The only editing I have done is add a Levels layer and drag the Gamma slider to 0.24.

I think this answers your questions and amazes even more. Where is the light source? It's the sun, directly from the right. No tricks, no mirrors. And did I say the original artist was a Master of Lights?
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Old 07-11-2004, 01:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duv
Well, Alice
Moral: Perhaps have that first cup of tea before checking mail and forums
Alice? Who is that? It took me 10 seconds... Firing on only one plug I think.
Now, "How many criiiiiiiieed?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duv
I found the progression you went thru very interesting
Thanks, Dave
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duv
and your picture unique and beautiful. I'm a little bit surprised you have your own doubts but I find it close to real art in that it teases the eye, caused me to ask questions ie. how the candle holder seems to be floating and quite frankly gave me a pretty good emotional jolt.
Really? Now that is kind! Nobody has ever said that about any of my photos. Ever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duv
Perhaps the only thing I would consider would be to put the flame in thirds instead of central. I think it would have even greater impact.
Grey and clouded here this morning. Since I don't have original material to re-compose, I will have to re-shoot, but will definitely consider it!
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Old 07-11-2004, 02:25 AM
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Rexx Rexx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leah
I think we'd generally call something that size and shape a "candle holder" rather than a "candle stick"
Thank you! How simple

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leah
The reflections in your multi-layer image are very impressive, but the candle and candle holder just don't look right -- look like they are floating and also a bit artificially cut out.
Now that you can all see an original (apart from the Gamma correction), what is the verdict? Wrong question. The reflections, etc are out of this world, unbelievable. But in my opinion, I agree to "artificially cut out". So there's something about my selection technique I think. This is how I did it, please analyze:

No pixels have been erased (except unused areas in the composite)
Everything is done with masks
The original image is 3264*2448.
I first tried to create a Contrast mask, cranking up the contrast to ridiculous levels and creating a mask from that. It didn't work. I got jagged edges and a lot of manual touch-up work.
I ended up painting the mask by hand, using a sharp brush of about 70 pixels.
I then selected - now what did I select? White or Black? Black I think - and did a Select>Modify>Expand of 3 pixels I think, meaning the mask is "biting into" the glass. I think the mistake was here. This was probably a superfluous and wrong step.
Then I Gauss'ed the whole mask by 5 pixels to soften the mask edge. On an 8 Mpix image, is this too much, too little or just about right?

Same technique for the candle to separate it from the glass, and the top of the candle to separate it from the outside.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leah
It is an interesting story and experiment, though. I think you really enhance this forum in the way that you try this sort of thing and document the results so thoroughly -- this shows through in your tutorials too, which always provide something to think about as well as the "step by step".
Well, I am not exactly Cartier-Bresson so I need other means than talent to create photos

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leah
On a slightly different subject and picking up a discussion we've had before, have you played around with Photoshop CS's "lens blur" filter yet?
No, I haven't upgraded yet. But initially, nobody had an idea what I was talking about when asking about the artificial "bokeh". Now I have seen a few reports, indicating that it actually attempts to create realistic-looking bokeh. That's interesting, and almost a reason to upgrade!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leah
Based on images I've seen in the photographic press I'd say it does seem to be better, but ultimately not entirely convincing.
I guess it doesn't know anything about distance, so you must supply that info manually. Still far ahead of Gauss.

PS: I think the lyrics read "Ooh it's great to be back home", not "Aah"
It really is
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  #8  
Old 07-11-2004, 03:08 AM
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Wrong again

I just went to the living room and checked. It's...
Gee, but it's good to be back home.
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