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  #1  
Old 08-15-2002, 07:50 AM
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SharpByCoop SharpByCoop is offline
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Making 'good' BETTER...!

Last week I submitted this pic to the contest. I took about 20 shots of various poses and props. then, as I do, I go through them one by one eliminating them untill there's one that I prefer. (Often I'll go back and shoot again when I see a pose that needs just a bit more work).

After final picking I spent about 15 minutes in PhotoShop editing and resizing, etc. thisa was all done in the span of about 1.5 hours last week.

Now.... PhilL emailed me and was quick to bolster me with his appreciation of this pic. He also quickly pointed out he'd be voting for Daniel's as it was even better as-is, and he was dead-on! Phil's a straight-shooter, if you didn't know this by now!

Phil spent a bit more time in his PhotoShop program and gave it some 'POP' to make it alive. I think it really brought it to life better.

Original Coop pic:



Phil's redo:



Now after I posted this, Richard took the liberty of tweaking it, too. I like this deal!!! Here's HIS version:



For me, the point here being: Take a moment and don't rush to post. There might be something I feel like editing when I come back to it later (if I have the time).

Be aware of the contrasts and the cropping. Little things like this can really make a difference.

Thanks again, Phil and Rich!

Coop

(edited to reflect all contributors)


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  #2  
Old 08-15-2002, 11:57 AM
Richard_T Richard_T is offline
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Not to bad, although there are a few things to watch out for. Sometimes even the redo needs further adjustment.

Your pic would seem to more accurately reflect the blades actual color, where as the redo has a slight blue tint. Easily fixed during adjustment.

The original seems to be a bit smoother where the bottom one is a tad pixelated in a few areas, possibly from trying to sharpen the pic. Whatever the reason, the fact remains the level of focus in the oringinal was very good and should have been left as is.


I do think the background being made more 'brown' gives a bit better contrast to the pic, however the rest of the photo was fine in the original and doesnt appear to have needed any fixing.
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Old 08-15-2002, 12:55 PM
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Terry Primos Terry Primos is offline
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I liked the original also.

The color of the wood, which is Western Black Walnut, is much closer to the actual color. When that knife was made, I took lots of photos, trying to get the activity in the wood to show up. If you look at the handle, you'll see cross-hatching, like a bunch of X's running through the handle. I was not as successful as you were trying to capture the figure in the wood.

Also, I was quite fond of the slight softness to the original. That probably doesn't surprise you since most of my photos have a soft, almost dreamy sort of look.

One thing that would have made it maybe a little better for me would have been to remove the patination from the copper and brass spacers before making the shot. There was a lot of contrast between the materials that really jumped out at you in the knife's "younger days".

There is the nickel silver guard, followed by a golden brass spacer, followed by a copper spacer, followed by a stainless spacer. The four different colors sandwiched between the steel blade and the dark wood was more visually exciting before the patination formed on the brass and copper.

At any rate, I felt you did a great job Coop, and I was honored that you chose that knife for the contest. It makes me think that you still really like the knife.

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Old 08-15-2002, 07:41 PM
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PhilL496 PhilL496 is offline
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I guess that's what makes horse racing.
A dozen different photographers could photograph the same knife and come up with 12 different pics, it's the same thing with image editing. I admitted to Coop that I can be heavy handed at times, and where some prefer a monochromatic look, I always push the contrast. I like things that jump off the page. I sent Coop this pic as well as the .PSD file with the layers to illustrate the work I'd done on it. I assured him that I liked the original shot and only play with pics I do like. Maybe I overdid it, to each his own.
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Old 08-15-2002, 07:50 PM
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PhilL,

Whether someone likes the original or your edited version, you teach a great lesson........every photograh needs some editing. Unless you are very lucky, you need to at least crop to show your composition best. Most of us need more, some need less, but the tools are out there and everyone needs to give attention to the final output.

Thanks for taking the time to care!

Bob Sigmon
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Old 08-15-2002, 08:14 PM
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It's a horse race, alright!

Phil,

Your point is perfect. We'll get just as many versions of this pic as we have editors, and then twice as many opinions on what looks good.... to the onlookers!!!

I updated the original post with a pic that Richard took the liberty of editing, too. Like a good story, we can re-edit this one untill it resembles NOTHING like the original!!! But--hopefully even better!

This has been fun. I hope Phil and Rich and ??? don't mind the 'exposure'. Heck I stick my neck out enough!

Thanks to all.

Coop


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Old 08-16-2002, 12:24 AM
novembre novembre is offline
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I really love this thread! It's turning out to be a great discussion!

Here are a few of my views:

On editing - I've heard some people suggest that it's not even photography if you edit the image...I disagree with this notion, mainly because one would have to do the same editing if they were in the darkroom (e.g. color burning and dodging, filters, etc.)

I really appreciate all of the nice compliments paid to my image, and I thought that I'd share a little bit about how I made it in the service of agreeing with the point above about "taking your time." My original image was OK, but I took the time to refine it in photoshop and the differences were stark in nature: I took a mediocre photo and polished it into a fairly good one. Taking time definitely ensures a better photo!

While I'm on the topic of editing, I thought I'd share the following 5-step procedure for improving a photograph. It's not a "sure fire" way of editing a photo, nor do I proclaim it to be the best one, but it seems to work for most of my images.

1. Adjust the levels of the image by going to Edit Image>Adjust>Levels. Just simply drag the middle arrow to the left a bit to bring out the brightness, or right a bit to darken any severe hotspots you may have.
2. Duplicate the background layer. Then run Sharpen>Unsharp Mask on the duplicated layer.
3. Flatten the image. Duplicate the Bacground image again.
4. Run "Sharpen" on the top layer and then reduce the opacity of that duplicated layer to soften the harshness of the filter.
5. Flatten the image again and now run Edit Image>Adjust>Auto Levels to the final product. If you want, you could do this to another duplicated layer and reduce the opacity to taste.

Hope this helps!


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Old 08-16-2002, 02:03 AM
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Good points all!

... yes, anyone who denies the power of software as a tool to improve their digital (even print) photography is basically avoiding the modern age. As we've all seen, anyone can buy a good camera and take decent images. However, you really see the separation of skills when it comes to the attention placed on the final product, enhancement wise, and also the techniques used to acheive the result.

For instance, hands down, Daniel's image was the best this last week, in my opinion. It got my vote, but I will say that it had a couple of things that I wouldn't have let slide, had it been mine.

No offense to a great image, but let's learn together ...

1) The first thing I would have done would have been to remove the lint. Not that lint isn't normal in real life, but these photos are competitive entries, so it's all about total performance in this case. When you go head-to-head with another equally compelling shot, lint may be enough to cost you a win. So, the point would be "attention to detail" at all costs!

2) The winning image was 161K in file size, which needs serious attention. Because I'm in the business, I may be more critical of this point that most, but the average internet connection value remains at just under 26.6, so you guys need to stay focused on the load times. 161k translates to 40-50 seconds on the average connection, which will get it waved "bye-bye" to out here if you're not careful. Stay focused on this point when you finalize your work and learn how to compress for speed without overcooking the core image too much. That's how you separate your work from the average attempt, so it's worth learning about, for sure.

Here's what I mean ...

Before ...


After ... (60.1K and cleaned up - acceptable compression effects, 60K is my target on the largest of image files)



Sorry I can't devote more time in here to help you men, but we're going 100 miles per hour over here. If anyone needs help though, I'm here, so e-mail me if so ...

Have fun ...

Alex


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  #9  
Old 08-16-2002, 02:27 AM
novembre novembre is offline
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Alex,
you make some good points, but here are a few to consider:

I run an internet art forum, and it's usually customary for competition to allow users 150k images....I do web design for Neil Blackwood and Trace Rinaldi and none of the images on their site are large at all. The largest file size on Neil's, for example, is in the 60K range. This is a competition, so larger file sizes should be allowed for optimal quality. I do realize that programs such as Fireworks (which I own) can do a wonderful job at optimizing, however, at the time my graphics computer (I have two computers) had the flu....

About the lint, yes, you're absolutely correct! that should have been removed! Unfortunately, and as you can see, I entered at the very last minute! In the future, I will ensure that when I enter any images that I do so with enough time in advance.

Finally, although these are some good points, I think it may also be helpful to consider standards criteria of good photography: composition, exposure, lighting, etc....I've seen some knife images on the internet that aren't even focused correctly!

I think this kind of discussion (i.e. critique) is very good and I appreciate the comments you've made about mine. I hope, for the sake of our improvement, that we continue to have this kind of constructive discussion. We may want to do this with more than just the "winning" image, however.


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Old 08-16-2002, 02:43 AM
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I feel the need to chime in at this point in response to something Dan said.

I don't know what some people are looking for when they vote for one of the posted pictures that to them makes it the best. Personally, I felt that the week I won that Dan had a better picture and I voted for him. Yet, as I recall, there was a fairly wide margin between his photo and mine. This last week Neil Blackwood's picture garnered absolutely no votes!!! His picture, in my experience as an art student, was within the top five of those posted. So, quite honestly, I am totally baffled. The idea of this contest is great and I think that it is a good way to bring together two of my hobbies but I think that perhaps we need a tutorial on what makes a good photo or, at the very least, I would like to know why people cast their votes the way they did. Criticism is one thing sorely lacking and it is the one thing that will truly help all of us develop our photographic skill.

I know that I am new to CKD and I don't mean to rock the boat but the two points that Alex picked out where relatively minor. The lint I can understand but the file size? This is an art contest and I think that certain allowances should be made. It also may be useful to post guidelines for the contests because there have been allusions but no explicit statements as to "the rules."

I hope you all take this as constructive because that's my intention in posting

-Jeff
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Old 08-16-2002, 03:02 AM
Richard_T Richard_T is offline
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Daniel, nice pic. I voted for yours as well as I thought it was by far the best of the bunch, and also one of the best posted in a long long time.

The 60k limit has never been "strictly" enforced, but most try to stay within that limit for those of us with sloooowwwww connections. If this were a major contest with large prizes riding on it, I would agree with larger sizes. However, the main purpose is to have fun, and learn from it....and for that purpose, 60k is quite acceptable.

Although my post count doesnt reflect it (had to get a new account) I have been here for a while and have been entering the contest almost since the beginning. I agree that more critiques need to be done on each entry. It used to be that way. It seems that now when a contest is over, the winner gets a few "great pic" responses and then the forum dies until the next contest and a few more "great pic" posts.

As Phil once said, simply telling everybody they had a great pic does next to nothing to help. At the beginning we did have critiques of almost every entry. Many gave thier opinions and I think thats where some of the major improvement in quality came from. From time to time a few people (including me a time or two) would take the critique personally, feel insulted and get all bent out of shape over it. That never should have happened as the critiques were never meant as personal attacks, they were simplt offered as ways to help us all improve. They are a good thing, and hopefully we will all start doing it again. Search back to the early days, and you will see how it was.



On to Coops pic. He does nice stuff. Not always perfect, but consistently good. Phil saw ways to enhance it, and showed him....thats what its all about, helping each other. I saw a different way to enhance it based on what I like. Both redone versions simply reflect Phils idea and my idea. Some people may agree that they are better, others will feel that Coop didnt need our input and his original was the best....thats how it gos, and thats what keeps this forum going. If we all did the same thing and thought the same way, we wouldnt ever have to post a thing.

Daniel, as far as your comments about people saying that digital work is not 'real' photography, I have been told that as well. As it relates to me, I suppose it could be right or wrong. I know next to nothing about photography. F-stop, ISO and all those things are greek to me. I guess I just dont grasp the concept of that stuff, or film speeds or whatever. However, I do know a little about digital imaging. I have a digital camera, I shoot pics of knives, people, landscapes or any number of things. I try to do it as best as I can but sometimes it just doesnt work. Thats why I practice with my imaging software so much. After much practice I have gotten to the point where I can digitally alter or enhance the photo until it looks like it should. So, if a person knows enough to get it right from the start, or like me who gets it right after the fact using software, which is the 'right' way?? Doesnt matter to me, in my opinion only the end result matters and how a person obtains the result is irrelevent.

If you read all this, and you're still awake, then I applaud you for it.....I tend to be a little long-winded sometimes
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Old 08-16-2002, 03:14 AM
Richard_T Richard_T is offline
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jyen, good points. I sometimes wonder how people decide on how they vote, and I do think it would be a good idea for people to say who they voted for and why.

I think sometimes people vote on the 'knife' instead of the photo. However, they can vote on any pic for any reason.

I think its one of those things where you can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.

Example: There is a major knife company (no, I aint gonna name it ) who runs ads in most of the magazines most of the time. The knife photograph, and the general lay-out of the pic in my opinion is not very good, and some of thier ads stink (as far as the photography). However, they sell a bundle and people notice the ads and stop to look at them. It seems the pics stand-out to some people and make them want to look closer, so to those people its a great pic. Just because I dont think its very good doesnt matter. There are ads that I think are very well done and to me that makes a good pic, but others will think it aint so good and to them its a bad pic. Whose right?? Who knows. Sometimes there is no reason why some people think a pic is good or bad other than personal taste which cant always be explained accurately.
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Old 08-16-2002, 03:39 AM
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Terry Primos Terry Primos is offline
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Good thoughts all the way around. I think bringing back the critiques would be a good idea too.

On the 60K thing, if everyone was shooting for that size then the playing field would be even. I mean sure we could say shoot for 150K and alienate some of the dialup users.

And the arguement that it's not slow on dialups doesn't hold water. A lot of our members are country boys --that is, they live quite a way from town. Lot's of these folks with a 56K modem can't get a connection any higher than 26.6K. The distance, dirty lines, etc. have a big impact on it.

I suffered through the dialup thing for a long time. Our lines were so bad that with a 56K modem and a connection at 50K, my actual throughput would sometimes be as low as 2.2K. Average was about 5 - 7K. What a nightmare. I went with a cable connection and wow, what a difference. My connection speeds and throughput vary, but it is always around 40 - 50 times faster. Sometimes more. Right now my connection is 10Mb and my throughput is 223.2Kb.

Anyway, I rambling -- sorry. I can tell you that when I see a great shot at 160K or more, and pretty darned good shot at 60K or less, I vote for the smaller one. Look at how good Alex's touchup came out above. It's still a winning shot.

But like was already stated, the limit has never been enforced. It was just suggested that since we are doing this for the web, why not optimize the images for the web. When in Rome, etc., etc.

You see, a lot of us poor folks are doing our own websites. Learning to make good shots and optimize them for our websites makes a lot of sense.


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Old 08-16-2002, 07:15 AM
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I've also been around here longer than my post count would indicate. I've never seen the contest as an Art Contest or even a Best Picture Contest. I saw it as a way to show your work and get help. I don't have a clue what people are voting for, but without a critique after the contest it's almost a waste of time. Many who enter here want to take better pictures so they can help market their work...Knives. If you think for a second in advertising photographs aren't enhanced to make the products look better please don't ever compare your Big Mac to the way it looks in the posters. If you can take a perfect pic right out of the camera, more power too you. Most pics can be improved by image editing. I used to reccomend at least an Instant Fix and to hit the Sharpen Button once in Adobe PhotoDeluxe, it's amazing how fast the group here has moved up to Photoshop.

I have used the pics from the contest for a long time to work on my Image Editing skills. If I get results that I think the original photographer might enjoy seeing I send them a copy. I usually start of by saying, "I hope you don't mind me playing with your pic?" So far nobody has said they did. I'm not saying my editing is an accurate representation of the subject or captures the intended mood of the original. I do it for my ammusment and hopefully provide a different way of looking at it.

The goal here should be to make better images. To take what we learn through trial and error and share it with others. I see knife makers all of the time go out of their way to share with other makers, why should this forum be any different? I love knives, I love looking at great images of knives, maybe my wanting people to improve the quality of their pictures is just selfish on my part, so what.
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Old 08-16-2002, 07:40 AM
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Alex: SUPER job cleaning up Daniel's pic. Good example of how to keep it crisp and downsize the file, too.

Daniel: Thanks for your PhotoShop tips. I don't have a clue what you mean and why all that flattening works, but you can be sure I'll go in there and do as you say soon!

Richard: Thanks for your compliments on my work. I have a high ratio of losses-to-entries, but I keep coming back! This is why.

Jeff: I'm with Terry and Alex on the file size. Let's keep this level, regardless of what the Art sites do. Speaking of 'art', many of our voters have NOT gone to art school or have any background. I am clearly one of them! An art shot may please you, but this crowd tends to like no subleties. This may change since you guys have arrived!!!

Just as Richard said, votes are cast for a number of reasons. Some of which might simply be favoritism to a knife and even (dare I say?), favoritism to a person. Just like in life, it's not completely fair. Just like you guys, I try to be subjective, but when three pics look equally as good to me, I need to draw on my tie-breaker: Who hasn't won in a while, what knife do I like best? I don't believe you if you say this would NEVER happen to you. Bunk.

This point isn't to support this style of voting, but to acknowledge it happens and sometimes I scratch my head wondering why the voting turned out the way it did!

So maybe someone would like to start our critique thread? Maybe later...

Coop


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