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Few ?'s About Photography & Editing
755 5 2017-5-9
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fans1c013969
lvl.3
Flight distance : 766791 ft
Canada
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I've been getting more and more into photography with my Inspire 1 v2 and have the general idea on how to get some decent photos at the end of the day. The problem is I still do have a few questions in the whole process of things:

1) AEB - I enjoy taking pictures facing right into the sun and/or photos that have lots of shadow and highlighted areas. I found in some situations taking multiple photos with different exposures to produce the HDR photos is appealing to me (I've heard this is sort of frowned upon by the pros, but is this just a style of taking shots?). Anyways, I was wondering how much setting the exposure before you take the shot(s) matter for the best results. Do you set the exposure so you're in the middle of the lowest and highest exposure? I'm assuming thats how it works but wanted to know for sure. Also, I have been watching Serge Ramelli on Youtube and he edits each photo before he merges them. I've started doing that a bit but I wasn't sure how necessary that step is for landscape photos. Any ideas?

2) Camera Settings - This is kind of where my knowledge/experience is lacking... I know what each camera setting does (exposure, shutter speed, etc.) but I don't really know the best way to utilize these settings in different situations. As a general rule (hopefully I'm right) I have been trying to keep the ISO as low as possible, using the ONE ND filter have, and then using the shutter speed to get the right amount of light for the photo. Is this the right way to go? I heard bringing up the ISO increases the amount of grain I get in the photo. I primarily do landscape photography so I'm assuming the shutter speed doesn't really matter so much. A side-question would be; what about action shots? For example, a skiier going hitting a jump? You would want a faster shutter and then bring up the ISO a bit? What would be a good shutter setting?

3) Long Exposure Shots - I was recently trying to get a long exposure (about 3 seconds) of a river last weekend but even with my ND filter, everything was completely white. Do I simply need a better ND filter or am I missing something? Is it only possible to do long exposures of a river, for example, near dark? What would be some good settings for this sort of shoot??

4) Editing - In Lightroom I feel like I have been doing almost the same thing for every photo. Reduce highlights, remove shadows, bring up the contrast a bit, bring up the clarity and saturation a bit, gradual filter for the sky, decrease exposure to bring out the blown out information, lens correction, etc.
Does anyone have any tips on how I could make my photos more unique or do something in the editing stage to get the most out of the photos I took??

Any and all help would be greatly appreciated!! Meanwhile, I'll be reading and Youtubing to learn more about photography! I thought perhaps I could get some good information from the forum community though! I'll leave you with an example of what I've done so far!

Horsefly-1.jpg
2017-5-9
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lvl.4
United States
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All of my landscape work is HDR and any pro who frowns on it is not a true pro but just someone who doesn't properly understand how it's done. I've been practicing photography for over 50 years and plan to continue to do so for another 50 . I got bit by the drone bug back in Feb. and have been doing some HDR with the my Inspire 2 and XS5s and am quite impressed.Back to HDR. I'm assuming that you are shooting RAW, if not, why not, and start doing so. You set your exposure for the proper average exposure for the scene, the brackets will be above and below that exposure. I usually shoot 5 exposures, if possible, though 3 will work well. I've never heard of processing your images before combining them and would think it would be counter productive as you would probably mess up some of the information you are trying to save by bracketing. The idea of HDR is to capture more detail in the shadows and highlight so fiddling with the images to me would risk the chance of loosing some of that detail. I use one of the NIK filters, a Photoshop plugin, for combining and tone mapping my images. It's called HDR Pro. I export the Raw images out of Lightroom to the plugin, create the HDR image, tone map it, then in is imported back into Lightroom as a Tiff and I then process that image in Lightroom. For landscapes I will most always shoot aperture priority at the lowest ISO possible. For action shots you want to shoot the fastest shutter possible, if you want to stop the action and set your iso and aperture accordingly. On a sunny day an ISO of 400 with an aperture of f5 or 6 will usually give you a fast enough shutter speed. Working in Lightroom. Lightroom has come a long way since it's first version, which is where I began with it. The best way to get the most out of Lightroom is to play with the sliders. That's the great thing about it, you can always undo, nothing is ever actually done to the image it's self. There are also tons of great tutorials on the web for Lightroom. Hope this helps a bit.
The image you posted is really nice, a bit of dehazing might help clear it a bit. Wish you the best of shooting.
2017-5-10
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Blackwood
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United States
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I'll second that.  All my stills taken from the Inspire 2 are HDR and a lot of my handheld shots are HDR.  I'll also 2nd shooting in RAW whether you are doing HDR's or not.  Makes a HUGE difference in post.
There's a local restaurant that displays photos from a local photographer that shoots exclusively in HDR.  They can't keep his pictures on the walls.  People buy them up right away.
2017-5-10
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lvl.4
United States
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As to the question of long exposure. The exposure dictates the shutter speed. You can not just decide I'm going to shoot a 3 second shot or like you are seeing it will come out over exposed. Again you shoot shutter priority. Lowest ISO smallest Fstop probably F11 on the drones, some of my lenses go down to F34, then the camera will determine the proper shutter speed. If it is to fast for your purpose then you begin to add the ND filters. You can buy them in sets and stack them as needed. The thing here is that you need to set you focus and lock it before you add the filters because it will be to dark to do it once the filters are on.This means that you are using manual focus so it is unlikely you are going to be able to take very long exposures using a drone. Low light is of great help for long exposures. Overcast days, early morning, late evening, shaded areas.
2017-5-11
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pritchiedotcom
Second Officer
Flight distance : 125738 ft
United Kingdom
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"any pro who frowns on it is not a true pro but just someone who doesn't properly understand how it's done."
Very true.  
There are lots of folks who get paid to take photos (more due to who they know and business skills) and therefore call themselves professionals and not due to their craft or artist skills.
Calling themselves professional does not mean they are good at what they do or their work is good either.

HDR, High Dynamic Range is good. The technique is not new (a lot of people relate it to being something belonging to new software age) and was invented by a very clever french chap (call Le Gray I believe) in the late 1800s (he even looked cool with his goatee).

Unfortunately HDR these days is also linked to grungy (high clarity) images that have been created poorly by newbies who think its different and new in the search for the holy grail of individuality within photographic world full of smart phones.

More senior photographers therefore generally frown upon it and it's all tarnish with same "juvenile", "in poor taste" and “artificial” label every time you mention the three letters HDR.  It's now also unfortunately been jumped onto by marketing departments of smart devices.. (Sorry, but photography is a personal art form, if your device does it, it's just mass produced without taste or personal style)

Smart photographers will know it is a way of over coming the limitation of all camera hardware.
The human eye can see about 7 stops of light (static, I've heard quoted from 6.5 to 14), however it can see over 40 stops of light dynamically!  A camera can capture around 10 stop of light.
A “stop” is a unit of light intensity, as in half or double the light intensity,
1/250 lets in half the light a shutter speed of 1/125 does.

As a camera can capture around 10 stops of light, detail can be lost in dark or light areas (under and over exposed).  Unintentional detail loss is frowned upon by anyone who is any good. (I'll assume you know this and why as you're using HDR) .

Taking a HDR.   There are many way of completing this successfully.
You need a starting exposure point for your brackets exposures.  This can be the middle (whole frame roughly equal 18% grey), or at a point at either side of the range if some detail loss is intended.
If in the middle, you take bracketed exposures +/- 1 stop.  The more exposures the better your final image will be.  Using 7 exposures with 1 stop steps will create a smoother (less halos) image than 3 exposures with 3 stop steps.  The higher the dynamic range of the scene the more stops will be required to fully capture it (7 x 1/2 gives you 13 stops, 7 x 1 gives you 16 stops.  You can measure the range using a spot light meter (like the metering used in a DSLR)  Measure the darkest area in the scene and then the lightest area in the scene (not directly at the sun as this may damage your eyes and your camera, but a bright area within the scene). (CAUTION always avoid looking directly at the sun with your camera, think of it as a magnify glass)
Once you know the light and darkest areas you can workout the range of stops required, your middle point etc).  To start with you'll probably be too slow and as the sun rises the dynamic range/exposure required will change too.  With experience, you'll learn to guess and pre-empt a little adjustment/extra steps before its required.
You can either start with your darkest exposure and bracket up (useful if you're not sure longer shutter speeds are not going to avoid unacceptable movement blurring)

ISO, use the lowest you can as noise is one of HDR weaknesses.
aperture, avoid going over f16 if you can, as your images will suffer from something called diffraction.  The ideal max aperture depends on the camera and its sensor (16Mpx FF is roughly f16, 36Mpx FF is roughly f11). Yes, going over a certain aperture depending on sensor size and sensor resolution will make an image softer not sharper.  (See Huygens–Fresnel principle)

Take RAW images and import these into your software directly.

Some selective editing can be done before merging, if advantageous, (eg. noise reduction)
however mostly it will cause more problems.  Avoid adjusting the exposure as software normally reads the meta data to calculate the stop gaps between exposures (so you're creating expected results). Avoid curve adjustments as you'll just get a compounded result in the final image.
Personally I'd just avoid pre-editing unless you know there is a clear reason to do it and it justifies the extra work involved.  If you do edit before merging, save edited files using a high bit range (Tiff 16bit or DNG).

The trick to a good HDR is to make it look as natural a possible, unless your gritty effect adds to your intended image's message, don't just do it cos you feel it looks different and “cool” (cos most of us will have been there, done it, and now look back and thinking “what was I doing? its so puerile”)
A good technique for making a HDR image more natural while maintaining a high dynamic range is to place the middle exposure as a layer over the final HDR image and blend it back in until you have the final scene you wish.

Avoid movement in scenes, (not just the camera), but the branches of trees, cars, boats.  Movement creates shadows, some are easier removed than overs (tree movement is very hard to remove).  Pick
windless day, early morning.

I also find using luminosity masks with 5 brackets is good, similar effect, more work, better results in my opinion for landscapes.  HDR I find better for large  luminosity ranges though (like inside cathedrals)

Final note (as I could go on and on), I sometimes use a term of a “composite high luminosity image” as it's not as cliché as HDR.

I hope some of my rambling makes sense and helps.  Though I find my students find practice lessons more helpful.

Sorry for any gamma spelling mistakes (no time to re-read it)
Pritchie

PS long exposure. white means over exposed.  exposure is a four element triangle (yes four elements)
- Shutter
- Aperture
- ISO
- Intended exposure value (this can be ignored for you)

So you (or your camera) is roughly aiming for a natural balanced exposure over the frame
Say this is 1/60 at f4 at ISO 400 for your scene.
however you wish to slow the shutter manually for long exposure.  This means the sensor will be exposed to the light for longer than required.  So you need to balance the triangle so all the imaginary values still equal a balance exposure.  (the exposure you'd get using auto on your camera)
So 1/60 to 2 seconds means there is time for 7 stops of extra light to pass through causing your sensor to saturate to white.
To compensate you can adjust;
- the aperture to create a smaller hole for the light to pass through so less light passes through during the 2 seconds.  Lets say adjust this from f4 to f16, that means 4 stop less of light can pass through to the sensor.
- now lets make the sensor less sensitive by changing the ISO from 400 to 100 (best quality setting).  that 2 more stops of light (2 + 4 = 6 stops in total).
We still have one more stop of light hitting the sensor than required for a  balanced exposure, and this is where the ND filter comes in.. add a 1 stop ND filter and you have now reduced the amount of light entering by 7 stops so creating a balance exposure for 2 seconds.

So for long exposures, find the correct exposure,  adjust the shutter to the required long exposure time, then adjust the aperture and ISO to create the required exposure value.  Add ND filters if you reach the limits of your camera settings.

I hope this helps too.. :-)
All the best
Again, sorry for any gamma/spelling mistakes.
2017-5-11
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fans1c013969
lvl.3
Flight distance : 766791 ft
Canada
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Wow thanks for all the help guys!

My instincts did tell me that HDR is the way to go, at least for landscape shots, but I wasn't sure what everyone else thought about this. It gives me a lot more room to play with when it comes to editing.

The camera I have at the moment on my Inspire 1 is the Zenmuse Z3. So I don't have as much manual control as you may think. I'm not sure about the 'stops of light' you guys are talking about, but that would be the next thing for me to research. I'm not even sure I can do manual focus with my camera.

Another question;
When shooting video, what shutter speeds and FPS do you all work with? I want a smooth video, so 60fps with 120 shutter speed is what I want right? I read you want the shutter at double the fps. Anymore insight on this?

Thanks again! That was good reading and I'll be coming back until it all soaks into my head more!!
2017-5-12
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