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10/25/2006 01:44:33 PM · #1
I've been experimenting with tone mapping as a part of the workflow instead of an "effect". The image is nothing to shout about, but the process is intriguing. Here's the original, straight from RAW:



Here's a tone-mapped version, no other editing. It is deliberately light.



And here's a photoshopped version, with a sepia layer created and contrast masked, then a duplicate of the full color image (leveled and curved) laid over it and faded for muted, warm colors:



For whatever all that's worth :-) Note that the tone mapping makes a significant difference in the rendering of the water and the rocks.

R.

Message edited by author 2006-10-25 13:47:25.
10/25/2006 01:52:15 PM · #2
Seems that the tone mapping adds a light wide halo around the bridge. It has less blue artifacts than the Photoshopped image. The sensor dust? on the top right corner is also affected by the processing.
10/25/2006 01:57:33 PM · #3
Originally posted by pineapple:

Seems that the tone mapping adds a light wide halo around the bridge. It has less blue artifacts than the Photoshopped image. The sensor dust? on the top right corner is also affected by the processing.


Yes, the halos are the problem, and also tone mapping tries to build up contrast in smooth, even areas if you push it too far. The artifacts are showing up more in the PS version because it has more contrast. If I were optimizing the processing I would get rid of the artifacts and the halos both, but it takes work. The sensor dust is gone because I cloned it out of the PS version; the other two are as-found, no processing except of course the actual tone mapping in the middle version.

R.

ETA: it looks like the "original" version was after I cloned the dust also... but that's all I did.

Message edited by author 2006-10-25 13:59:18.
10/25/2006 02:03:09 PM · #4
From what I've seen so far in tone-mapping, some of it looks great, but often the results look strange (to my eyes). Tone-mapping seems to bring out a lot of orange, to the point where things look quite weird at times. It also evens out the light range so much that the pictures become sort of overwhelming, and, again IMHO, often not that attractive anymore.

I think it's something that needs to be used with a lot of care.

For example, in your examples above (or below), I like the original best. Even though the light is not ideal, it gives a good sense of the kind of light there and the feel of the place. The tone-mapped version doesn't (IMO). The third PSed version gets back closer to the original.

10/25/2006 08:48:01 PM · #5
I suppose my old eyes don't have as good a dynamic range as tone mapped images give one. Hence they look strange. I can imagine that in scientific field trips tone mapping would be useful. I used to do geological mapping and would often take photographs of cliffs and outcrops in sunny conditions. Had I had tone mapping, those images would have yielded much more useful information... In this case, I rather like the tone mapped image best of the three. Tone mapping also reminds me of that Gothic Glow action you have sometimes used; Gothic Glow with Zoooom.
10/25/2006 09:11:57 PM · #6
Originally posted by pineapple:

I suppose my old eyes don't have as good a dynamic range as tone mapped images give one. Hence they look strange. I can imagine that in scientific field trips tone mapping would be useful. I used to do geological mapping and would often take photographs of cliffs and outcrops in sunny conditions. Had I had tone mapping, those images would have yielded much more useful information... In this case, I rather like the tone mapped image best of the three. Tone mapping also reminds me of that Gothic Glow action you have sometimes used; Gothic Glow with Zoooom.


I'm sure even bad eyes have a hundred thousand to a million times the dynamic range of digital images.
10/25/2006 10:58:05 PM · #7
Originally posted by ursula:


For example, in your examples above (or below), I like the original best. Even though the light is not ideal, it gives a good sense of the kind of light there and the feel of the place. The tone-mapped version doesn't (IMO). The third PSed version gets back closer to the original.


Yes, that's the point; I'm overflattening the tone mapping and then layering with some version of the original right now; in this case, a B/W sepia version. The tone-mapped version in this thread cannot stand on its own; it was created to use as a layer in photoshop. It's a work in progress, technique-wise. I'm acutely aware of the limitations here.

Look at my Ecola Point Free Study for one that clicked really well. And I have one that I'm holding in reserve for "Best of 2006" also, that's stunning. Then there's my "morning" entry, which finished in 10th place but seems painfully clumsy to my eyes now :-(

There's a HUGE learning curve on this, it's all technical nitty-gritty right now. I'm constantly being disappointed, running test images through the wringer and finding I cannot do with them what I had envisioned doing.

But the tone mapping is incredibly good at bringing out subtle details in relatively flat areas; again, check out the water in the merged version in this thread, and compare it with the original version; that's tone-mapping doing the job I want it to do.

R.

Message edited by author 2006-10-25 23:00:30.
10/25/2006 11:36:07 PM · #8
Here's another experiment, from this afternoon:

(original)

(rotated, cropped, tone mapped)

(this was a grabshot, handheld at 200mm, 1/60 sec, as the gull was stepping away from me; I'd been shooting the clouds)

R.

Message edited by author 2006-10-26 00:57:02.
10/25/2006 11:44:10 PM · #9
OK, I realized after posting that I don't know much at all about tone mapping, and started reading about it.

Question: How are ou making the tone mapped images?

Isn't the idea of tone mapping similar to (I can't think of the term now) but when you make various exposures for an images that goes over a very large tonal range, then sandwich the image so that different areas of the image are used from the various exposures? Similar in a sense to graduated filters also, except that the filters have this cut-off line, whereas in exposure blending you wouldn't be limited to where the filter is or isn't?

So, if tone mapping is similar to this, how is it similar? The results are different somehow, at least to me they "look" different. As I said earlier, from what I've seen of tone mapping, it tends to bring out the oranges, and it looks unnatural to my eyes (whatever unnatural is).

It's interesting you bring up your 10th place image. I think the image is quite good, but personally I do not care for the treatment, it looks "fakey" for lack of a better term. It looks like something where someone is trying too hard. Does that make sense?

I am very interested in this, and am not asking the questions in a confrontational manner. I know that when I look at stuff (for example a poppy) with my eyes, I see the orange of the petals, the darker shadows, the green and yellowish stripes on the stem, the purplish on the little piece that joins the stem to the flower - then, when I make a picture of it (depending on the light) I will not get what I see. Sometimes I like what I get BETTER than what I see, other times not. Tone mapping seems to be an attempt to put in a picture what eyes would normally be able to see. Yet, the results are not what I see, but fakey. Why is that?

Added: Sometimes I wonder if what I see is not all in my imagination anyway, and reality is nothing like what I think I see.

Message edited by author 2006-10-25 23:45:20.
10/26/2006 12:01:03 AM · #10
Originally posted by ursula:

OK, I realized after posting that I don't know much at all about tone mapping, and started reading about it.

Question: How are ou making the tone mapped images?

Isn't the idea of tone mapping similar to (I can't think of the term now) but when you make various exposures for an images that goes over a very large tonal range, then sandwich the image so that different areas of the image are used from the various exposures? Similar in a sense to graduated filters also, except that the filters have this cut-off line, whereas in exposure blending you wouldn't be limited to where the filter is or isn't?

So, if tone mapping is similar to this, how is it similar? The results are different somehow, at least to me they "look" different. As I said earlier, from what I've seen of tone mapping, it tends to bring out the oranges, and it looks unnatural to my eyes (whatever unnatural is).

It's interesting you bring up your 10th place image. I think the image is quite good, but personally I do not care for the treatment, it looks "fakey" for lack of a better term. It looks like something where someone is trying too hard. Does that make sense?

I am very interested in this, and am not asking the questions in a confrontational manner. I know that when I look at stuff (for example a poppy) with my eyes, I see the orange of the petals, the darker shadows, the green and yellowish stripes on the stem, the purplish on the little piece that joins the stem to the flower - then, when I make a picture of it (depending on the light) I will not get what I see. Sometimes I like what I get BETTER than what I see, other times not. Tone mapping seems to be an attempt to put in a picture what eyes would normally be able to see. Yet, the results are not what I see, but fakey. Why is that?

Added: Sometimes I wonder if what I see is not all in my imagination anyway, and reality is nothing like what I think I see.


That last bit is exactly why I do it; I'm trying to capture the intensity of what I "see".

What you're talking about is HDRI (High Dynamic Range Imaging) where you take several exposures (or the same exposure in RAW processed several different ways) and merge them into a single HDR image. I use Photomatix Pro, and when I make a "true" HDRI image it shows up as a very dense, contrasty image. Then the next step is to apply tone mapping to it, which is instructing the program how to handle the various tonalities. So in Photomatix at least a true HDRI image is first merged then tone mapped to get the final version. THIS use of tone mapping is what it was designed for, and it doesn't as a rule produce these extreme variations.

There's another form of quasi-HDR imaging where you use Photoshop or Photmatix Pro to "average" several exposures into one; there are various parameters you can specify when you do this. It's not as extreme (or not potentially as extreme as HDRI and tone mapping.

Then there's what I'M doing here, which is taking a single, 16-bit TIFF image with an average, middle-of-the-road exposure and applying tone mapping directly to this image to change the relative values of darks & brights, the local contrast enhancement in the dark areas, and so forth. Both the images in this thread were done that way. So was my B/W entry in "lighting". Like I said before, if you look at the water on the bridge shot (or the details on the gull, for that matter) you can see where this works very well in adding considerable mid-and-low-range contrast. I don't mind the color shifts because I can neutralize those in PS no problem.

The thing about this is it's legal for basic editing! It uses a single exposure, it uses no layers or layer modes, it has similar controls to what CS2 users have in "shadow/highlight" adjustment, nothing is selected in this process, and so forth. So it's giving me another layer of control on how my tones are rendered. Colors too, for that matter, as far as intensity goes; look at the feet and bill on the gull. I actually SAW that bright, backlit reddish color, and it's simply not coming through in the base exposure.

Everything I'm doing with this single-exposure tone mapping is a little clumsy right now, I've just got into it. The Ecola Point shot is a true HDRI image, 3 variations of the same RAW exposure merged and tone mapped, so it's much smoother and less aggressive.

I think this tool would be perfect for you, actually; you do the kind of work that can really benefit from it. It's a fantastic tool for landscapes in general.

R.
10/26/2006 12:14:09 AM · #11
Silly question after seeing Ursula's, ut I am still wondering how I can accomplish some sort of tone mapping with photoshop 7 without the fancy plugins (I don't think there are any for 7). Like could you start with image A say and do a walkthrough of how you get to essentially image B? Maybe its because I had a little vodka tonight, but there's something I am not grasping ....
10/26/2006 12:19:01 AM · #12
Originally posted by Twyla:

Silly question after seeing Ursula's, ut I am still wondering how I can accomplish some sort of tone mapping with photoshop 7 without the fancy plugins (I don't think there are any for 7). Like could you start with image A say and do a walkthrough of how you get to essentially image B? Maybe its because I had a little vodka tonight, but there's something I am not grasping ....


You can't do it. It's not even a plugin, it's a whole other image-processing software, Photomatix Pro; you do your HDRI and Tone Mapping with that, then you export the image to Photoshop and finish it there.

I use PS7 also. One thing you CAN do is learn the cntrl-alt-tilde (~) contrast-masking technique. It is discussed at length in the Landscape Learning thread, but you have to dig to find it. This is a means of doing shadow recovery and highlight muting. In CS2 they have a whole dialogue box for it called "shadow/highlight". But this stuff is different from tone mapping in the results it produces; it's better for some images, tone mapping shines in others.

Robt.
10/26/2006 12:21:42 AM · #13
Here's a screen capture of the Photomtaix Pro tone mapping dialogue. Original on left, right window is the dialogue box and the preview image. I have deliberately pushed it to extremes for this screenshot; it's obviously hopelessly over the top. But notice just how much good detail is coming out of those shadows :-) The sky is trashed here, the halos are ridiculous, like I say it's been tweaked to extremes to show just how far off baseline you can get...



Robt.
10/26/2006 12:50:12 AM · #14
Robert, are you using multiple RAW conversions rather than multiple exposures for the tone mapping (I assume so, if you are entering them into challenges)? Does it work as well for tone mapping as multiple bracketed exposures?

It's definitely an interesting technique. I think the output is very painterly. Something I love in photos!

For those interested in a general description and some links, WikiPedia has a good starting point.


10/26/2006 12:56:23 AM · #15
Originally posted by nshapiro:

Robert, are you using multiple RAW conversions rather than multiple exposures for the tone mapping (I assume so, if you are entering them into challenges)? Does it work as well for tone mapping as multiple bracketed exposures?


Actually I'm doing it two ways; the ones in this thread, those are done from a single RAW-to-TIFF conversion, no bracketing at all. Those are basic-editing legal. Then I'm doing HDRI + tone mapping from several variations of the same RAW exposure in advanced editing; Ecola Point was done that way. My Ducky shot (4th place) was kind of a hodgepodge of the two.

Anyway, if the tonal range isn't TOO extreme the 3 variations of one exposure plus tone mapping work pretty well. There's a point beyond which it can't go, though. I haven't really experimented with the multiple-separate-exposures approach yet, just one forgettable scene to try it out. It's a VERY promising approach to large printmaking for sure. What I'm after right now, though, is DPC-legal processing, sad as that may sound :-)

R.

10/26/2006 01:25:30 AM · #16
What's the notion behind the sepia overlay you are doing? Add back in the contrast you removed?

I'm trying out the pro app but I already managed to crash it just while zooming (visual C error).
10/26/2006 06:22:09 AM · #17
The seagull photograph benefits from the tone mapping. In that particular case, the extra detail provided by this sort of processing outweigh the unreal, unbelievable element resulting from it.

With regard to Mr. Achoo's comment above, comparing camera dervived images to eyes is rather impossible, IMO. The eye constantly moves and resets according to the light received. One glance at a scene will reveal the detail in the brightly lit objects but little detail in the shadows. My 2 cents anyway.
10/26/2006 11:26:30 AM · #18
Allright. I have the plugin (trial) installed, and am going to try the self-standing today. I tried it a bit on flower shots last night, and the results are very interesting. Quite beautiful actually.

I like the explanation about the full process (HDR merged file + tone mappping + final processing), the results are very good, much more so than just tone mapping (at least on limited observation). Hmmmm. I get the feeling this would work for a lot of stuff besides landscape shots. Very interesting.

Thanks! Experimentation phase to follow.
10/26/2006 11:39:47 AM · #19
I've experimented with the free version of Photomatix with varied results but i'm really trying to figure out how to use CS2 HDR generation from 2 or more RAW coversions of the same file. Has anyone done this successfully? I recieve an error message stating that there isn't enough dynamic range to benefit from HDR. I wonder if the program is looking at the original exif data and interpreting the multiple conversions as one picture???? Maybe i could get rid of the exif tag and the program wouldn't know that the RAW conversions were from the same file.

Any comments? help?
10/26/2006 11:44:29 AM · #20
Very interesting = but on my monitor the tone mapped seagull has a lot of green and purply noise. Bill and feet are Very bright and oversaturated. Thw bridge looks pretty good though I agree with Ursula and like the raw image the best
10/26/2006 11:58:58 AM · #21
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Here's another experiment, from this afternoon:

(original)

(rotated, cropped, tone mapped)

(this was a grabshot, handheld at 200mm, 1/60 sec, as the gull was stepping away from me; I'd been shooting the clouds)

R.


Did you do any sharpening or was that done with tone mapping? What settings do you typically start with? This tone mapping looks really interesting.
10/26/2006 12:09:41 PM · #22
Originally posted by mpeters:

I've experimented with the free version of Photomatix with varied results but i'm really trying to figure out how to use CS2 HDR generation from 2 or more RAW coversions of the same file. Has anyone done this successfully? I recieve an error message stating that there isn't enough dynamic range to benefit from HDR. I wonder if the program is looking at the original exif data and interpreting the multiple conversions as one picture???? Maybe i could get rid of the exif tag and the program wouldn't know that the RAW conversions were from the same file.

Any comments? help?


I have not done this successfully, but I think you are on the right track. I read somewhere (I can't remember where, now) that CS2 is indeed looking at the exif and pulling the same exposure value from all images. Thus, in theory, if there is no exif associated with each image, CS2 should try to HDR them and you should not get the error.
10/26/2006 12:13:51 PM · #23
Originally posted by Bear_Music:


The thing about this is it's legal for basic editing! It uses a single exposure, it uses no layers or layer modes,


So is this the real value/ point of this exploration ?

Or is this an actually useful/ best practice technique, rather than just a work-around to do something you'd want to do normally in a different way, but to meet the particular wording of the dpc basic rules ?
10/26/2006 12:20:01 PM · #24
Originally posted by ursula:

I get the feeling this would work for a lot of stuff besides landscape shots. Very interesting.

Thanks! Experimentation phase to follow.


I just uploaded a portrait of a kid processed with HDR, It looks a bit fakey (cartoonish) and a bit painterly (at least to me), what I can say is it turned an ok photo into something that has been really memorable for lots of people (the more people that look at this photo the more they like it). I am also in the experimentation process, let's see what you think about it, I am trying to experiment with portraits and specially kids seem to be good subjects because of the even skin (I have tried this with older people but it just looks a bit freaky hehe)



***edit***
I forgot to add that this is not the straight tone mapped image, it is rather the blend of tone mapped and original image so it would not look too overdone, I have found that I prefer blending tone mapped with originals, this way you can get some of the benefits of tone mapping but have a "realistic" ground (whatever that is) or at least something that everyone is used to see that can bring down the fakey look of tone mapping

Message edited by author 2006-10-26 12:24:12.
10/26/2006 12:22:33 PM · #25
I'm a bit leery to think that a plug-in is basic legal just because it has one dialog box. What ever happened to "what goes on behind the scenes"? I thought this was taken into consideration.

Perhaps I'm missing what is exactly being done here. Are we using a 3rd party application or are we using PS's tone mapping?
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