Shadows in flash pictures

Bring out what’s hiding in the shadows

Pictures taken indoors with on-camera-flash usually have dingy, dark backgrounds. There is little that can be done about the behavior of light. An object at twice the distance from the flash will get only a quarter as much light. That means it will be darker in the picture.

There is no need to live with that problem. Post-processing, just a little bit of adjustments, can substantially enhance such photos. That is what the Shadows slider in Photo Gallery can correct substantially. With some judicious use of the Hightlights slider, and maybe a bit of adjustments with the others, a flash photo can be made to look quite good.

Here are a couple of screen shots to illustrate what can be done with a flash picture.

Shadows-01

This is the oroginal photograph, just the way it came from the camera. It looks like what you expect from a flash picture, the objects close to the camera, the table and chairs here, are properly exposed, things farther away look progressively darker.

Next the picture with some enhancements.

shadows-06

The Shadows slider was moved all the way to the right to make darker areas of the photo lighter. Sometimes such a drastic adjustment may turn out to be way too much, but for this picture it worked well. The Highlights slider is moved a little to the left to make the lightes areas a bit darker. The Contrast slider was also moved to the right jut a little bit to increase contrast.  Note how much lighter the far wall is, it looks almost normal they way you would see it.

Other photo editors have similar tools. Sometimes they have different names. In Picasa the Fill Light slider brings the details out of the shadows. The Shadows slider makes intermediate toned areas darker. Careful use and a little trial and error will help you get the best pictures out of your flash photos.

shadows-05

.:.

© 2016 Ludwig Keck

Advertisements

Screens and dirty windows in front of your camera lens

Sometimes the conditions for taking pictures are very marginal but the photo is a must. Such was the situation recently for me. We have not had any rain lately and even the deer that live around our neighborhood were getting desperate. It was after dinner when a doe wandered to the bowl of water I have sitting our for the chipmunks and small birds. It was unusual and I wanted a photo. The only view was from a window with a heavy screen. There was a good deal of light falling on the screen from a window behind me.

image

Here is the result. The exposure was 1/15 sec , f/5.6 at ISO 1600. Marginal at best. Note the histogram, nothing on the black end as the illuminated screen provided glare and nothing on the high end as it was dark and there was not enough light for a hand-held exposure. My lens was as open as it goes at the zoom setting I used.

Those little controls on the histogram are the salvation for shots like this. I moved the bottom one up to just were the histogram curve starts and the top one down enough to brighten up the photo. A little bit of added contrast and a small boost of  color saturation was all, I did not crop the photo.

Deer

DeerMuch more acceptable, don’t you think? As a record of the event it will serve just fine. I only managed a few exposures. Our guest only stayed for a long drink and then scampered back into the woods. Maybe I should have told you, this drinking bowl is in our front yard! You can see a little more of the lawn in the parting shot.

The moral of this story is this: Don’t let screens, veils, or dirty windows stop you. Even in impossible situations, take the photo. Then use a bit of processing magic to bring out the picture.

 

.:.

© 2011 Ludwig Keck

Vertical Panoramas

No, that is not an oxymoron. In fact, vertical panoramas are quite common. Most of us think of panoramas as wide views of spectacular landscapes, but they can be wide, or high, or just large and detailed images. Vertical panoramas have the nice advantage of fitting well into web pages as you can see here.LJK_2619-30-Stitch - Copy (270x1000)

The panorama here is of a huge tulip poplar tree at McDaniel Farm Park in Duluth, Georgia, just starting to leaf out this spring. This image was composed of twelve individual photos.

So how does one make a vertical panorama?

The technique is the same as for a “normal”, horizontal, panorama. You start by taking overlapping pictures of the subject. I like to overlap quite generously so I don’t accidentally come up short. Here is one of the photos that make up this composite.

LJK_2625-800

You can see the others by clicking on the photo (above), the link leads you to my Photosynth of the set.

To make a  composite set use Windows Live Photo Gallery. Select the image thumbnails you want to combine, click the Create tab then Panorama. The photos do not need to be in order, they do need to overlap. There is no need to tell Live Photo Gallery what kind of composite you want, it analyzes the images and combines them in the correct way. The panorama at the right was made that way and then cropped.

My favorite tool for complex composites is Microsoft Image Composite Editor. Click on the photo at right to see the uncropped output from “ICE” – also as a Photosynth.

I have already illustrated one way to show of a large composite with Photosynth. There is another way I like using Zoom.it:

Zoom.it of Giant Tulip Poplar Tree

The zoomit image is based on the WLPG panorama made as a full resolution JPG (100% quality setting). This made the image 48.4 MB – close to the SkyDrive upload limit of 50 MB. The image size is 4534 pixels wide by 11639 pixels high (this includes the black areas illustrating how the photos overlap).

 

.

.:.