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Comment Re:Why do you want to combine them? (Score 1) 165

>Thanks for an informative post. I already have three battery-powered flashes, two mains-powered studio flashes and an RF trigger set, so I'm covered there, and I must say proper flash photography is a lot of fun (Strobist and cheap ebay equipment got to me...)

That's a decent setup - my own kit is mostly from second-hand purchases as well so I can appreciate that.

>The background is plain ( e.g. white paper table cloth)
In general I would recommend avoiding white backgrounds - dark blue, gray or black is usually better unless you compensate for the reflection in your flash. More importantly the high amount of white in the picture will throw off the camera's sensors so you cannot even use them as a guide for exposure (in practise you almost HAVE to over-expose a white background to get the subject correctly lit).

>Would the purpose of shooting this in RAW instead of JPEG be that the e.g. 1/3 stop I'll have to adjust it in gimp will be better based on the RAW than the JPEG? Or would it be more that the RAW lets me get more creative in post-processing, playing around with curves and colors to turn the picture into something significantly different from what my camera captured?

Both. The adjustment in RAW will produce a better quality outcome. Now the amount of modification you want to do will vary. Many of my pictures contain nothing but RAW editing, while others are significantly adjusted (for example taking a portrait and trying to reproduce the kind of post production that Diana Holga invented) - it's nice to have the option even if you rarely use it.
Even more subtly there are things like pimples. Even for a picture I will barely be editing I would generally get rid of those, pimples are temporary blemishes and they are not representative of the person and have no place in their memories as far as I'm concerned.
I mostly do glamour and erotic-art photography, often with models who pay me for portfolio work and that also comes with expectations to show them just a little prettier than they really are. In those cases I would often create a layer from the background, blue the hell out of it (gaussian blur with 50 pixel radius in both directions) and then slowly adjust it's opacity down till I find that perfect balance between soft skin and impossible perfection (though one of my all-time favourite shots I deliberately pushed it up until the girl's face looked as plastic as a Barbie-doll and named the picture "perfectly flawed" to make a point).

So the degree of value you may expect from RAW shots really depend on what you do with your pictures. For the kind of scenario you describe - I would say the biggest advantage is that you get the power to make subtle adjustments to lighting. Studio lights give you picture-perfect setups but they don't really adapt well to the nuances of a specific shot. Depending on how your daughter was posed, what you want to stand out and remember in one picture may be subtly different from another - RAW gives you the power to make those subtle changes with little or no loss in quality.

Comment Re:Why do you want to combine them? (Score 1) 165

>with correct WB.

Define "correct".
If you define it as "closest as possible to the actual colour of the subject" then you have something of a point (not much) - but in fact you will be surprised what lovely and subtle effects you can sometimes obtain by deliberately using the wrong one.
Take a picture with studio-flash white-ballance, and open it in RAW and then see what it looks like with Tungsten WB - 99% of the time you will hate the result - but 1% of the time you'll find a work of art you would never have had if you hadn't used RAW.
That 1% is enough to be worth it.

This exact example happened to me after a studio shoot just a week ago:
http://silentcoder.co.za/photography/art/Caryn-Fetish/IMG_1858.jpg/

Comment Re:Why do you want to combine them? (Score 3, Interesting) 165

I'll try to answer as well. My previous DSLR a Canon 400D couldn't do Raw+Jpeg so I used ONLY raw, for things like "holiday snaps" style shooting I'd just mass-export to jpeg, but for real work I'd always use the RAW.
With my new 40D I use Raw+Jpeg for shooting but I'm tempted to go to pure RAW as I've yet to use the jpeg, I figured it may be useful for a reference (what the camera thought was there) but otherwise, no thanks.

1) 1) For a reasonably well-exposed photo where the white balance is roughly correct in the camera, are you able to produce a significantly better end result from RAW than from JPEG?

For me the first part of post-processing is playing with the RAW - for example sometimes I will deliberately switch it to a different white balance or even do manual white balance to achieve some or other artistic effect. Raw is also very powerful for adjusting things like the global saturation and contrast levels very finely (while you'll want a tool like photoshop or gimp to adjust individual elements).

>2) Do you have any rough idea about the bit depth the RAW photos need to be at before you get a significant advantage over JPEG? My old camera produced 10 bit RAWs, and at that time I was almost never able to out-perform the JPEG. My new camera has 12 bit RAW, and I haven't really had much time recently (small children here as well) to play around with RAW. But maybe it would be worth it?

It doesn't much matter. If you are taking snapshots then just use jpeg. RAW comes into it's own if you're doing real photography - product shoots, studio work, landscape work, art photography etc. - where the post-production is as important a part of the process as the taking of the shot. RAW is stage one of producing the perfect image, gimp/photoshop is stage 2. Even those photographers who eschew editing of pictures will usually do RAW adjustment - which doesn't change what's there, only how it's 'presented' in terms of light.
Personally I point out to those types that there is nothing I can do in gimp/photoshop that the old boys didn't use to do in the dark-room, it's just faster, easer and a LOT cheaper.

For the most part a human cannot on a computer screen tell the difference between a 6MP camera (the smallest DSLR I know off) and an 18MP one since no common desktop/laptop screen could show such a picture full-size anyway you're seeing a distorted/shrunken version to begin with, but where it DOES matter is prints. I do prints of my best work and some have also been printed in magazines like Marie Claire and when you're doing prints you need to provide the images in the right level. Generally you will want to ensure they are scaled to page size (e.g. A3 for example) yourself - and that means including white-space bordering to prevent stretching - and you'll need to ensure they are high print-resolution (professional printing should be 300 DPI). Format wise uncompressed jpeg is usually used.
Simple reality is that to get an uncompressed jpeg at 300DPI that is A3 in size you need a high MP shot to begin with or your picture simply won't look good at that resolution.
RAW is invaluable here as it lets you handle such things as exposure levels much better. You cannot just yank up the exposure of a picture - if you do that you create lots of digital noise (which shows up as red-speckle) which no amount of editing can ever REALLY cover up properly - but in RAW you can subtly adjust lighting to make a useful picture from a slightly underexposed shot sometimes anyway. On 800x600 web-quality jpegs you'll never even NOTICE the noise being created in typical "push up the exposure" steps - but if you print that as an A3 poster for framing every one of those red dots is a glaring monstrosity.

The first and finest art of ALL photography is lighting, don't think you can fix bad lighting in post, at best you can maybe make a useful website picture. If you are trying to do anything that's printable - you need to get your light right. The purpose of editing (both RAW and gimp) is to modify and subtly adjust the end result to say what you want to say - you cannot really use it to fix light flaws.

If I can give you one of the most important and cheapest starter hints: there is nothing worse than on-camera flash if you are taking a picture of a person's face. Straight on flash is atrocious and harsh. If you cannot afford a decent flash (that you can bounce off something) at least, then here's a little tip - hold a sheet of paper in front of the flash. It will soften and scatter the light and while the results won't be studio quality it will be a DAMN sight better than it would have been.

Comment Re:Why do you want to combine them? (Score 1) 165

>>OK, just fess up - it's your pr0n collection, right? 1TB of images at a gargantuan 20MB apiece is over 50000 images; at a more reasonable 5MB that increases to 200k+. "Hobby photographer" my foot.

>You've clearly never heard of RAW-images. 20MB RAW-image is actually still on the smaller end of the scale.

And 50000 is the approximate useful actuator operations on most higher-end DSLRs - most photographers who use them are on their third or fourth one by now.

Comment Re:Mannequin Attack (Score 4, Insightful) 323

>On another note, I'm guessing (let me repeat that: I'm guessing) the sorts that would resort to professional protesters are likely left-wing types trying to inflate their presence.

Odd, I would have guessed the exact opposite. Surely none of those people who show up at teabagger protests can actually BELIEVE that insanity !

Comment Re:"Elegant jails" (Score 1) 527

>Give them too much freedom and you will get things like The Gimp.

The only people who complain about The Gimp is people who got raised on photoshop, but you know what's interesting: if you learned professional photo-editing on the gimp then you find photoshop quite impossible to use and wonder what absolute idiot signed off on that atrociously unusable interface !

The only logical conclusion is that they are both featuring designs which are as simple as any software for that particular complicated and advanced job can ever be - but the two are very different designs, and if you learned one very complicated approach it's much harder to learn a new one (effectively you are now learning twice as much - and much of the memory triggers are overlapping which makes it much harder for the brain to compartementalize the two things and so you end up with confusion).

I maintain that Gimp is wonderful photo-editor, I'm a professional photographer who has been published in magazines like Marie Claire as WELL as a free software programmer/advocate. I learned photo-editing on Gimp because of my latter preference but I actually tried really hard to learn photoshop as well (for a pragmatic reason: if I knew it, then I could perhaps help other photographers to switch if they want to better because I'd know what they are likely to struggle with initially and could help guide them).

I couldn't - the concepts were exactly the same but NOTHING was where it ought to be. How the hell do you sensibly work with layers when you can't manage them in a seperate window ?
Do you know how much EASIER it is to do photo-editing on a dual-screen with a multi-layout app like Gimp ? I put all the control windows on my right hand screen and then maximize the photo I'm working on, on the left hand one letting me see a MUCH larger part of the picture while I work than I ever could in photoshop...

See your assessment is entirely subjective and my subjective experience is the exact opposite. Your mistake is to assume your experience applies to all people - it doesn't in the least (though I believe it applies the strongest to those who are well versed in photoshop).

I first learned photo-editing from "Gimp 2 for photographers" - a brilliant book I'm happy to plug, and I can't imagine working any other way than with a combination of UFRaw, Gimp and Digikam today (I am trying out DarkTable a bit though).
If you learned it with photoshop (and whatever support tools people use on Windows) I suppose you'd feel the same way.

Comment Re:The Problem (Score 1) 147

Not really. What if there was ONLY -1 votes ? And the winner is whoever got the least of them.

The psychological impact of "point out who is the worst candidate on the list and well keep whoever is the least insane/hated" would seriously put politicians back in their proper place.

Instead of a popularity contest, make it a "not hated" contest.
A knock-on effect would be this: right now name recognition is a politician's best ally, being remembered gets you elected. So elections are all about having the biggest marketing budgets. In such a system - that would be the LAST thing you want, the less memorable you are the less likely you would be to be voted out. So your politicians are motivated NOT to piss anybody off, not to do things that people will be riled up against, the only way you may want to be memorable is for passing a groundbreaking piece of legislation people really love. If you can't do THAT you're better off thinking about two-thousand times before you sign a law, you're better off staying firmly INSIDE the box (because thinking outside the box is for SMART people and let's face it - smart people rarely go into politics).
We WANT politicians to be afraid of voters - all the time. We want the vast majority of them to be too afraid to sign or introduce any legislation - ever, so the only ones who do are the rare few who come up with a genuinely GOOD idea.

Comment Re:More governmental abuse in Europe (Score 5, Interesting) 129

>But this is just more shit from European countries, and why as a NZer I want the internet to be kept out of the hands of the UN. And why letting the EU be able to write laws in for every European country is a bad idea.

Counter-argument: several of the worst laws introduced in Europe and the UK over the past decades have been defeated because they violated rights granted under European-Union law.
It's become the most successful democratic watchdog in history - exactly the OPPOSITE of what you paint, not a power-holder but a power-restrictor.
That is a very good thing. The EU in fact has only a very small amount of law-making power, but they have very strong rights-protecting and rights-establishing power - which PREVENTS the abuse of power within it's member states.
This is not something the EU is doing- this is a proposal by the NATIONAL government of Austria - telling them to go fuck themselves is EXACTLY what the EU is FOR - and WHY the EU is actually a GOOD idea.

Now of course (like everything else done by humans) it's not a perfect system - but if you actually follow the news - it's quite clear that the system with the EU is better than one without it would be. Some of the laws that got overturned just in Britain in the past few years for violating EU human rights clauses were truly terrifying, without the EU - nothing could have stopped those atrocities from happening.

Comment Re:Humans? (Score 1) 206

>Don't you think a company of Amazon's size should spend some of those billions on some modern industrial robots so that the humans can get a rest?

How many humans whose last job was "stacked boxes in a wharehouse" would be able to feed themselves and their families if they did that ?

It may or may not make business sense - but pretending that mass layoffs is somehow humanitarian is a new level of low.

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