Monday, August 22, 2011

Deleting, Phtomatix and what I learned from an ok HDR Effort

Vacations always produce mounds of shots.  For me I find somewhere between 15%-25% that should avoid the trash bin on your computer.  In the past I would keep everything and boy oh boy was there a lot of junk - overexposed, underexposed, missing heads/feet/hands and just plain crappy composition.  Don't get me wrong snaps of random family things I love and want to keep when they are good and not everything has to be a soaring landscape, but I just didn't have what it took to get rid of the junk.  I am getting much better at the purging but I think I still need to be more ruthless with myself.  It also hurts me to delete photos of my kids and close family but I also know longterm nobody wants an out of focus shot of Auntie Bee.

I use a 5 star system plus in camera and here are my better but not optimal steps.
1) Delete in camera pure junk as even the LCD will show these
2) I try to give a Star rating to all remaining when I import.  Anything that has crap composition or really out of focus or was a pure mistake gets a 1 star.  2 stars go to so so composition but soft focus or really soft but not terrible focus.  3 stars is basically any picture that is ok or better but has an obvious flaw - composition somewhat out but cropping may help or it is slightly soft.  4 and 5 stars are used on good to great pictures with 5 being wow I nailed that.  I also group any HDR brackets so I don't accidentally throw them away as who knows when I will visit those.
3) I delete all the 1 stars at this point
4) I post process all the 5 stars and many of the 4 stars - this is where I have 15-25% left adding up these groups
5) I review the 3 stars for any that maybe salvaged and if possible work it and upgrade to a 4 star, plus make sure the brackets are marked to save
6) Delete the 2 star and remaining 3 star photos

My HDR adventure. I love HDR and use Photomatix now which is awesome due to it's speed, controls and super ease of use, but I do not "HDR" everything I shoot.  I have seen many an HDR that causes me to go wow that is incredible.  I have also seen a few that are not my taste, but oh well everyone has their opinion and just because I don't like it doesn't mean others don't.  On the shot captured in this blog post I am very satisfied with it for one of my early efforts.  The is my mother's lakehouse and it is clearly in the woods so it is super hard to get a shot of it in the summer as it is so dark and then when you expose the cottage the trees and sky are way blown out - trust me I have tried.  A split ND also doesn't really help much as due to the trees mixing with the sky so to speak.  Anyway I have been reading and reading the various tutorials on HDR and recently acquired Photmatix Pro after reading various recommendations on different products.  My first effort with other HDR S/W was marginal at best, but then I moved onto Photomatix, tried again and stuck closer to Trey Ratcliff's setting initial recommendations before deviating on my own and then it started to really come together but some of the sky and trees above the cottage still looked a bit muddy.  I took the additional plunge and went into a layered editor added one of the brackets as a layer masked it and then painted through to one of the bracket shots and low and behold it worked - that was a first and almost an aha moment for me as Photomatix plus the layered editor was a huge winning combination.

I will be putting up a more detailed Photomatix review next week or two as I have processed a half dozen more shots and have more to do over the next couple of weeks as well

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