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Thread started 11 Jul 2010 (Sunday) 10:00
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Tall Ships - C&C Please

 
Walczak ­ Photo
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Jul 11, 2010 10:00 |  #1

Greetings All,
It's been a long time since I've posted anything here so before I get in to this, please let me explain my absence. The past 2 years have been -very- difficult for myself and my family...after a year long battle with cancer (her 6th), my mother passed away last October. After two months of going thru her stuff, my 76 year old father ended up falling and breaking his hip and required emergency surgery. 3 months after that my older brother ended up in an emergency room with a ruptured colon (still waiting for surgery) and then 3 months after that, my wife lost her job (and our sole means of support). Very simply it's been one thing after another around here and my photography...or commenting on other people's work...simply hasn't been at the top of my priority list.

That said, I have been getting out more here lately and trying to do a bit of shooting. For those who may remember me, I'm primarily a critter/nature/wildlif​e shooter so what I have here is certainly something new for me...the Tall Ships at Cleveland's Harbor Fest 2010.

From a spectator point of view, this was truly beautiful and magnificent to say the least but from a photography point of view...wellllll. First and foremost, on both the days the ships came in and the day we got to board some of the ships, the light -SUCKED-. Harsh over-head light the day they came in and cloudy nasty sky's the second day we went. Of course I also only had a very limited perspective...had I of been out on the break wall when the ships came in, it might have made for some better pics but there was simply no way for me to get out there. So, needless to say, I've Photoshop'd the living crap out of some of these just to add a bit of color to the sky.

It's also worth mentioning that there was really no wind out there Wednesday as the ships came in...even though the sails were unfurled, the ships were all running on engine power so regardless of which direction they were traveling, the sails were pretty much "inverted".

I am still tweaking these images...I'm going to print at least a couple of them but as of right now there's still a few inconsistencies in color and such.

So all of that said, I would like to get some comments here. I -KNOW- these are not up to my usual snuff...between the lighting, my limited perspective and never really shooting this kind of stuff before, I was certainly struggling and it shows in the pics. I guess my main questions are how bad (or good) are these really, what could I have done better...or at least differently, and what else can I do in Photoshop to give these a bit more "ommpphh" before I print any of them? Please feel free to be as specific and detailed as you like...in other words, if you're just going to say "I like them" or "They suck", please save the bandwidth...tell me -why- you like them or -why- you think they suck! I can handle honest, constructive criticism (I prefer it actually).

As for the technical info, these were all shot hand held with my Canon 40D using either my Tamron 70-300mm or my Tamron 70- 200mm f/2.8...feel free to look at the EXIF date for anything else.

Here's the first batch of pics...

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
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IMAGE: http://img121.imageshack.us/img121/1125/img1516jk.jpg


IMAGE: http://img291.imageshack.us/img291/4558/img1536niagra.jpg


IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
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IMAGE: http://img822.imageshack.us/img822/9082/img1681vertical.jpg

(Yes, that's the HMS Bounty...the actual ship constructed for the move "Mutiny on the Bounty" and more recently featured in "Pirates of the Caribbean 2 - Dead Man's Chest".)


IMAGE: http://img822.imageshack.us/img822/8211/img1484g.jpg


As I said, I have done a great deal of adjustments in Photoshop. In addition to the usual stuff like Levels, Saturation, Contrast, RAW adjustments, etc., I used Nik Filter's Pro to give the sky's some "color" (accept for that last one of the Appledor IV) as most of them had just pretty much flat, boring gray or bluish-gray sky's. I also had to do a pretty fair amount of shadow and highlight adjustments (as well as noise reduction) as most of these started out as little more than silhouettes against the bland sky's.

So again...considering the shooting conditions, I'm I really just being too hard on myself? Are these really -that- bad? What could I have done better and any ideas as to how to improve them?

As always, I'm grateful for everyone's input here...thank you!

Jim

"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. " - Ansel Adams
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Rio ­ Sundoro
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Jul 11, 2010 10:25 |  #2

I am sorry to hear all those misfortunes and I hope some things are back on track for you.

As for the photos, I like the composition and subject. But I do find them not as sharp I would like them to be.

Regards,


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Walczak ­ Photo
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Jul 11, 2010 10:55 |  #3

Rio Sundoro wrote in post #10515686 (external link)
I am sorry to hear all those misfortunes and I hope some things are back on track for you.

As for the photos, I like the composition and subject. But I do find them not as sharp I would like them to be.

Regards,


Well, that first day out I was admittedly having a problem with the auto focus. I've been over it and over it and the only thing I can think is that maybe the reflections of the water or perhaps my position relative to the ships was affecting the auto focus. It was also, rather hazy out there and as I said before, I had to do a fair bit of noise reduction because most of these were little more than silhouettes.

Here's a couple of "artsy-fartsy" shots I took Friday when we went on board a few of the ships...


IMAGE: http://img819.imageshack.us/img819/1125/img1986g.jpg


IMAGE: http://img688.imageshack.us/img688/196/img1924vq.jpg


IMAGE: http://img571.imageshack.us/img571/6577/img2013t.jpg


As you can see, these are much sharper. Either way, I'm not really too worried about the sharpness of these shots...I'm only going to print them as 8x10's. I'll see if I can jack up the sharpness just a bit more before I print them but it's not something I'm that terribly worried about. I'm really more concerned with how I did with adding the color to the sky and such more than anything (and clearly the shot of Bounty needs more too).

Peace,
Jim

"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. " - Ansel Adams
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rjc1
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Jul 11, 2010 23:30 |  #4

Walczak, I tried to get to the Lake front Wed. for the sail, but it was just to darn HOT. The pic of the Bounty is the best from that day, but they all lack contrast. The last pic is absolutely superb. I love it.....


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Lightworks ­ Imaging
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Jul 11, 2010 23:55 |  #5

Gotta agree. Most of them look soft. The last one works in almost every way.


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Kevin ­ B
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Jul 12, 2010 21:49 as a reply to  @ Lightworks Imaging's post |  #6

Sorry to hear about all the issues. Hopefully they're all behind you and better times are ahead.

The first set of images would really benefit from a levels adjustment. They all have a washed out look that can be fixed and will make a big difference.

--Kevin


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Walczak ­ Photo
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Jul 13, 2010 08:24 |  #7

rjc1 wrote in post #10519032 (external link)
Walczak, I tried to get to the Lake front Wed. for the sail, but it was just to darn HOT. The pic of the Bounty is the best from that day, but they all lack contrast. The last pic is absolutely superb. I love it.....


Yea, no kidding on the heat issue! My wife was the smart one...she stayed parked under some shade most of the time but me with my camera, I just had to be up by the edge of Voinavich Park so I could try and get pics.

I got to thinkin' about that I and think that could have been one of the problems I had...even though I was shooting at ISO 200 a bunch of the pics came out -really- noisy (and I'm sure the heavy noise reduction has been a contributing factor to the images being on the soft side). Thinking back to my telescope days, I remembered how heat can affect image sensors, so yea...not only did it kick the crap out of me, I think the heat may have kicked the crap out of my camera too. If I ever find myself in similar circumstances, I may have to bring along an ice pack along to set the camera on to keep things cool.

For the sake of comparison, here's a different shot of the Bounty...

IMAGE: http://img682.imageshack.us/img682/8646/img1648y.jpg


This one is certainly a bit sharper but in this case it was cropped in from a much larger shot as the ship was actually still a ways out (on it's return run). I didn't do anything with the sky on this shot...you can see it's just really blah. The issues with the contrast are here as well but every time I've tried to make anything more than subtle adjustments to the levels or even some shadow and highlight adjustments, it just doesn't look right. Either the sails end up getting blown out or the hull of the ship(s) end up being all shadow and silhouettes. Just really difficult to adjust no matter how I come at it.

I do actually like the lighting on the ship itself in this shot but that sky...uhhgg. I tried using a Nik bi-colored filter to do something with the sky but I'm having a great deal of trouble isolating all of the ropes and lines on the ship so that it looks right. What I'm thinking at this point is that I'll probably have to just let most of these shots stand as is...again they're only going to be printed as 8 x 10's anyways so the sharpness isn't that big of an issue, then I'll pick one and really spend the time to make it right. Unfortunately I just really don't think there's going to be any quick fixes here.

BTW...with that last shot of the ship masts against the sun, that's the flagship Niagra and that too is very heavily Photoshop'd. In this case I was playing with the Nik "Glamor Glow" filter trying to see if I could get anything out of it. I guess it's a nice examination of "lines" but I really wish I could have gotten some better shots of the ships to begin with...I guess some times you just have to take what you get and try to make the best of it.

The ships should be coming back again in 3 years...maybe next time it'll be a better day for shooting.

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Jul 13, 2010 12:39 |  #8

They're all very low contrast. Perhaps it was a hazy day and you were shooting on the long end of your teles. I would try to punch that up a bit. A good number of them are also back lit, which gave the sails the glow of a light bulb and put the crew and hull in shadow. That's tough too.

Too bad about the wind. It's less apparent with the schooners.


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Walczak ­ Photo
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Jul 14, 2010 07:39 |  #9

joedlh wrote in post #10528385 (external link)
They're all very low contrast. Perhaps it was a hazy day and you were shooting on the long end of your teles. I would try to punch that up a bit. A good number of them are also back lit, which gave the sails the glow of a light bulb and put the crew and hull in shadow. That's tough too.

Too bad about the wind. It's less apparent with the schooners.

Yea, the wind thing is another issue that I really just can't do anything about. I got to looking at the pics and it was pretty clear that all of the ships were running under engine power...with the Bounty for example, the sails were "inverted" going in -both- directions. You can really see where the engines were pushing those sails against the air. Having nice "full" sails would have been so much more pleasing but again, just nothing I could do there at all.

BTW, yes, it was a -very- hazy day out there and yes I was shooting with a tele...good call. Also as I said before, I think the heat was just wreaking havoc with my camera gear as I ended up with a lot of problems with noise and I was also having some serious problems with my auto focus. All things considered, I guess I'm happy just to have come away with anything at all.

What makes all of this even more disappointing was that I missed the ships the last time they came to Cleveland and basically they only come every three years...not exactly like I can just run down to the docks on a nicer day or something. I'm hoping that in three years when they come back again that I'll be able to rent a small boat or something and actually run out and meet the ships as they come in while they're still out on the lake...that way I could maneuver around them a bit, maybe get some better angles/light and maybe there'd be some wind in those sails. We'll see...

Peace,
Jim


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Flo
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Jul 14, 2010 10:31 as a reply to  @ Walczak Photo's post |  #10

Jim, I may have missed the reason, but why were you using auto focus?


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Walczak ­ Photo
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Jul 14, 2010 12:07 |  #11

Flo wrote in post #10534376 (external link)
Jim, I may have missed the reason, but why were you using auto focus?

Well, most of it is simply because it's there and most of the time it does a very good job for me. I grew up with an old Canon FTb and I can focus manually but that said, doing manual focus on these new DSLR's isn't the same as it was on my old 35mm. Manual focus on my old Canon was MUCH easier than it is on either my 40D or my Rebel.

Also, truth be told, I really prefer things to be as "automatic" as I can when I'm shooting. Again I grew up with everything manual so I -can- do it but I much prefer to just concentrate on what I'm actually shooting instead of fudging with the camera all the time. I know some folks will just kick the LCD over to live view and zoom all the way in but for me, by the time I've screwed around with doing that, I've usually missed the shot.

Think of it like this...a carpenter -can- build something using an old hand saw but a nice modern power saw is just soooooooo much easier (especially a laser guided one! Woo-hoo!). Same thing...I just don't like to work any harder than I have to or than I need to. To me, "photography" isn't about playing with the hardware, it's about taking pictures. Again most of the time auto focus does a really good job for me...just not this time out unfortunately.

Peace,
Jim


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HappySnapper90
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Jul 14, 2010 21:35 |  #12

Sounds like these are the Tall Ships that were in Cleveland this past weekend, right? The first group seems to have halos around the ship from too much processing, and lightening shadows too much. They seem too low in contrast for my liking.

I was unable to get to see the ships because i was exhibiting at the Cain Park arts fest instead. But I would have been more interested in pictures up close of the sails, etc. than the boats on the open water.




  
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Jul 14, 2010 23:10 |  #13

Jim,
When I saw the first image I thought it had been processed to death - the quality of color in the flag... That said, given the situation you salvaged quite a bit and I really like the compositions. I played with a couple here and found this tutorial - http://onlinephototuto​rials.com …ze-from-landscape-photos/ (external link) - worked wonders on them for my eye... Contrast comes up, with clarity and color. I know, they aren't landscapes but if it works why not?

BTW - looks like you've got some goobers on your sensor too.


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Walczak ­ Photo
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Jul 15, 2010 08:56 |  #14

HappySnapper90 wrote in post #10538392 (external link)
Sounds like these are the Tall Ships that were in Cleveland this past weekend, right? The first group seems to have halos around the ship from too much processing, and lightening shadows too much. They seem too low in contrast for my liking.

I was unable to get to see the ships because i was exhibiting at the Cain Park arts fest instead. But I would have been more interested in pictures up close of the sails, etc. than the boats on the open water.

Yep, Cleveland Harbor Fest 2010. I really wasn't focusing (no pun intended) on the sails because so many of them were inverted. There really wasn't any wind out there at all that day so the ships were all running under engines and most of the sails were "pushing" against the air (as you can see with the shots of the Bounty)...just didn't look right to me.

Titus213 wrote in post #10538908 (external link)
Jim,
When I saw the first image I thought it had been processed to death - the quality of color in the flag... That said, given the situation you salvaged quite a bit and I really like the compositions. I played with a couple here and found this tutorial - http://onlinephototuto​rials.com …ze-from-landscape-photos/ (external link) - worked wonders on them for my eye... Contrast comes up, with clarity and color. I know, they aren't landscapes but if it works why not?

BTW - looks like you've got some goobers on your sensor too.

Titus...thanks for that link. I'll take a closer look at it later today when I get home. I glanced at the pics real quick and yea, looks like a lot of the same issues.

Yes, a lot of them have in fact been seriously over-processed...even for me. I think a good part of that simply came out of my frustration with the situation...ended up doing too much of the wrong thing. Another issue that I haven't really mentioned is that I'm also in the process of job hunting at the moment (again my wife recently lost her job) -and- I'm trying to get funding to go back to college so I guess I've been trying to go for the "quick fixes" here as apposed to spending my usual degree of time to get them right. There's a very good chance I may come back to these again later when I have more time but again I'll take a look at that tutorial there and see what I can do with it.

BTW...I would -love- to see what you came up with on these...please feel free to post them!

Peace,
Jim


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Titus213
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Jul 15, 2010 10:44 |  #15

Walczak Photo wrote in post #10540855 (external link)
Titus...thanks for that link. I'll take a closer look at it later today when I get home. I glanced at the pics real quick and yea, looks like a lot of the same issues.

Yes, a lot of them have in fact been seriously over-processed...even for me. I think a good part of that simply came out of my frustration with the situation...ended up doing too much of the wrong thing. Another issue that I haven't really mentioned is that I'm also in the process of job hunting at the moment (again my wife recently lost her job) -and- I'm trying to get funding to go back to college so I guess I've been trying to go for the "quick fixes" here as apposed to spending my usual degree of time to get them right. There's a very good chance I may come back to these again later when I have more time but again I'll take a look at that tutorial there and see what I can do with it.

BTW...I would -love- to see what you came up with on these...please feel free to post them!

Peace,
Jim

I ran the tutorial on the first image, no other changes, and came up with this:


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Tall Ships - C&C Please
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