How could have I improved this picture? Could someone maybe post process it nicely?:)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by KimJonNumberUn, Mar 28, 2014.

  1. KimJonNumberUn macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    So i upgraded to a canon 70D DSLR, still getting use to it. I wouldnt say im a noob with photography as I know a few things about playing with aperture, depth of field and the basics....

    Anyways I shot this photo of a group of people and the other photos were of similar to this.

    The equipment was a Canon 70D with a Canon 1.4 35mm L lens.

    The settings were:

    ISO - 1600
    O EV
    shutter: 1/60.
    flash (the built in flash)

    the setting was, bar/club kind of scene with dim lighting is best i could describe it.

    was there anything i could have done with what I had to make it better in terms of settings or what would you guys have set the camera to if you were in my position?

    I won't lie I set the camera on auto. I'm getting more inclined to go manual but I would hate to ruin a photo of good friends so I'm still more confident in the cameras settings then my own but hopefully in time I will get more use to manual, hence why I am asking here right now.

    Also my last request was. does anyone here have alot of post processing skills to make this pic better? I just want atleast one to look nice in the album :)

    Full sized picture on flikr:
  2. slayerizer macrumors 6502a

    Nov 9, 2012
    Click the link for pic, will remove it in a few days...

  3. KimJonNumberUn thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    thanks for doing it! but the pic looks kinda grainy?
  4. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    He applied either a sharpening algorithm with wide radius or a combination of them. What you're seeing is noise that is simply more evident in that version. I prefer the original. It looks much more natural.
  5. themumu macrumors 6502a


    Feb 13, 2011
    How could have I improved this picture? Could someone maybe post process it n...

    I think for photos like this, the built in flash is the weakest link. It's not too bad, but if you want dramatically better results in conditions like that, you need to look at better control of light, not just post production.
  6. KimJonNumberUn thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    so the settings are okay, but a external flash would make a difference? I thought about getting one but for taking pics of people seems a bit intimidating / excessive for casual
  7. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Sep 5, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    The easiest way to make a picture look better is with a wider aperture. You've got fast glass, crank that down to something under 2.0. The easiest way to make a picture look worse is to use a flash. If there's simply no option, find a way to make the light diffused and indirect. But go a far with the lens first as possible.
  8. AirborneAngel, Mar 28, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014

    AirborneAngel macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Settings are ok - but they could be better! With your current setup you can do several things without purchasing a speedlight (external flash.)

    The main problem with this image is that it is underexposed by about one/one and a half stops.

    1. Increase your ISO - on the 70D you can safely increase your ISO (sensor's sensitivity to light) beyond 1600 without introducing too much noise into the image, next time try out ISO 2000, 2500 or even 3200 - this will increase the exposure of your photograph.

    2. Open up your aperture - shooting at 2.8 on a 1.4 lens restricts potential light that could hit your camera's sensor. Try opening up the lens (widening the aperture) to f/2, f/1.8 or even all the way open at f/1.4.

    3. Shutter speed is good - anything lower than say 1/60 or 1/80 you are extremely likely to increase camera shake/blur in the image. Generally you do not want to shoot below this shutter speed handheld, unless you are using a flash or tripod.

    4. Use your camera's light meter! That little bar that moves in your viewfinder when you point it at things is a very powerful tool for letting you know, roughly, how the photograph will turn out. If the little ticker is too far in the "-" direction your image will be underexposed, too far in the "+" direction and it will be overexposed. Somewhere around the middle marker (preferably on the "+" side, and you should be right on the money.)

    5. Only use your camera's built-in flash if absolutely necessary (as it may have been in this situation). I have completed hundreds of photo shoots in the past few years, and not once did I use my camera's built-in flash! If you can get the image properly exposed without using on-camera flash, do it.

    6. Shoot Manual mode - this gives you much greater control when shooting in low light environments. As I'm sure you know, there are 3 key things on your camera that control exposure:

    a. Shutter Speed: how fast your shutter exposes the sensor to light
    b. Aperture: the amount of light allowed by your lens
    c. ISO: your camera sensor's sensitivity to light

    Once you figure out how these work in relation to one another, shooting in manual becomes a breeze. For example, when I go to a shoot (I'm a sports photographer/editor) I will shoot at a relatively constant aperture (F/2.8 or 3.2) but tweak my ISO and shutter speed so I can freeze action based on the amount of ambient light. (Generally I don't dip below 1/1000 or 1/800 of a second to freeze action) so the only thing I'm really messing with is my ISO.

    An alternative to manual mode is either aperture priority or shutter priority mode on your camera (AV and TV, respectively). In aperture priority mode you set the aperture on your camera and it does the rest to achieve what it deems to be "perfect" exposure. In shutter priority mode you set your shutter speed and the camera sets your shutter speed to achieve proper exposure. Using these modes you should understand your camera's metering modes/exposure compensation, but that's a story for another day.

    7. Shoot RAW instead of JPG. Shooting your files in camera RAW gives you much more control in the post-production process. Even if all you're doing is increasing exposure and decreasing noise. I wouldn't suggest shooting in RAW if you are unfamiliar with editing however, focus first on mastering your camera's manual functionality.

    Hope that helps - let me know if you have any other questions. Always willing to help a beginning photographer out! The learning curve can be a little bit steep in regards to shooting manual mode on a DSLR, but once you do you will find you have significantly more control over how your images come out.

    I edited your image by increasing it's exposure/sharpening and have attached it to this post. Sorry for the information overload!

    Edited image:

    Source: Professional photo editor / sports photographer
  9. Parkin Pig macrumors 6502a

    Parkin Pig

    Oct 23, 2009

    I had a go - the original is about 7MB after PP, so here's a 1800x1200 version...

    I tried not to over-brighten it, to retain some warmth and more detail in the white top of the girl on the right.

    Attached Files:

  10. tcphoto macrumors 6502a


    Feb 23, 2005
    Madison, GA
    I would drag the shutter and get more ambient light. You will get a little blurred edge around the subjects but it's a nice effect when done well.
  11. KimJonNumberUn thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    wouldnt a longer shutter make the pic blurry? especailyl since im hand holding this
  12. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    Only the parts that aren't lit by flash. Flash exposure is very short.
  13. BJMRamage macrumors 68020


    Oct 2, 2007
    Airborne Angel has good tips and a nice output.

    What Post Processing software are you using?

    I used to use Photoshop back in the day...then moved to iPhoto and now onto Aperture. I like using Aperture (very similar to Lightroom) as I can organize and quickly run through photos and apply the same settings to many shots with similar lighting. and the non-destructive nature of it helps too. you can come back at a later time and adjust some more or go back to the original versions easily.

    Here's a few shots that I edited with Aperture...I was using RAW for these:

    I started using RAW last summer and only shot RAW for a vacation a month later. I try to not use Auto (sometimes with kids Auto or even Program mode is easiest when somebody else is shooting). Anyway, I like to switch off Auto and either use Aperture or Shutter modes (sometimes going into Manual) and I will use the Exposure compensation or even the Flash compensation (I think i have those right) to adjust the blast of the flash and the way the camera shoots.
  14. tgara macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2012
    Connecticut, USA
    Here's my go. I wanted to keep the "bar" feel.

    Attached Files:

  15. pmxperience macrumors regular


    Aug 12, 2011
    United States
    AirborneAngel explained it perfectly.

    Here's my go at it. Spent a few minutes in Lightroom 5.
    Raised exposure, open shadows, brought down highlights on overexposed areas, a little more tweaking and...

  16. KimJonNumberUn thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    Thanks guys! You made the picture 10x better! :)

    hopefully i can figure out post processing after I get the hang of using the canon eventually ! :D

    I'll def take AirborneAngles advice in the future!
  17. KimJonNumberUn thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    Thanks for the great advice! I have one question regarding aperature. You said in low light situations for a shot like this I ciould krank the aperature all the way to 1.4. I found when the aperature is low like that in group shots,, say of 3 or 4 people, if one person is slightly back more then the others, they tend to be a bit out of focus. I suppose in those situations though i was closer and not as far back as I was in the picture i posted in this thread. Is that a correct assessment? this is totally based on my own experience.
  18. admwright macrumors regular

    Sep 11, 2008
    Correct, the closer you are to the subject the smaller the depth of field. At 1.4 it can get pretty narrow and so with a group it can be tricky to get everyone in focus.
  19. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    Airborne Angel summed it up well.
    From my experience the built in flash has only two purposes:
    - triggering another flash
    - shooting portraits, at night, in a cave

    Always try to get the shot without the on camera flash.
    It takes all the natural lighting away.
    Crank up the iso, go to f1.4, try to expose a bit longer, fix underexposure in post. (shoot raw)
    I'd do anything to avoid flash unless its in a studio / controlled lighting situation and you know what you are doing.
  20. KimJonNumberUn thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    whats ur opinion on an external flash?
  21. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    It depends on what you are trying to achieve.
    If you know what you want and how to use it an external flash can be great.
    In all other cases I would try to use the existing lightsources to capture the atmosphere of the moment.
  22. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    Figured I'd give it a try. My monitor is probably a bit out of whack colorwise, so it still looks a bit reddish, but I tried to bring up the "light" a bit on your friends without making it seem too blown out with the flash effect. I also removed a bit of reflective shine on the girl's cheek on the right. I used Lightroom 3.

    Attached Files:

  23. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    Actually, this is the one I meant to attach. It's basically the same as the one above, but I did a little light editing around the shiny spots on the noses and chins just to smooth things out ever so slightly. Nothing fancy, just used the healing brush in Lightroom.

    Attached Files:

  24. KimJonNumberUn thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    Thanks all, much appreciated! :)
  25. kallisti, Apr 6, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014

    kallisti macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2003
    I can't see the original image from the link in your first post.

    Great advice in the above responses.

    The problem with using the on-camera flash is that it effectively creates two different exposures for the scene--a foreground exposure from the flash and a background exposure from the ambient light. This tends to make the background too dark and the whole photo unnatural looking (like a snapshot).

    Ideally as stated above I would avoid using flash at all in these situations. However, you should try playing around with using negative exposure compensation on your flash output. Easy to do on Nikons (and I assume Canons). Dropping the flash exposure by a half stop up to a full stop might still provide a little fill flash, but allow the foreground and background to be closer in exposure.

    Of course this still changes the quality/temperature of the light between foreground and background (foreground looking whiter and background looking yellower/redder). But for posed subjects like this you might be okay with the results.

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