"Naupaka Coast" Serious Photos

reiverix

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When you reach 1000 pageviews at deviantart, it's customary to release something special as thanks to your fans. In this last week, my account finally reached 1000 pageviews (in large part to the support from aquascaping forumers I'm sure). I decided, that the only piece that could merit this special spot (and then become my featured piece) is a full-tank shot of the current "Naupaka Coast." I realize the tank (being only 3 weeks old) is still at a very immature stage. That said, the plant condition has reached a good point for some "serious-style progress photos." The folks at devART won't know the difference anyway. :D

Saturday, I scraped the glass clean, changed the sand to get rid of as much AS as possible, and re-set the twigs to more balanced positions. I was so pleased that I had to take tinker around and take some photos:


sept-end1-2006.jpg


sept-end2-2006.jpg


sept-end3-2006.jpg



Look for the full tank shot, and maybe some close-ups later on today!
 

reiverix

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Thanks George. I'm trying my best. The fish is Emerald-Eye Rasbora. I think it's because of my weak photography that the eyes are blue, they are more of a silver in real life.

septendshot2.jpg


septendshot5.jpg


My close-ups are still really weak compared to others, but I'm trying! :)

septendshot4-net.jpg
 

Tom Barr

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One's that are often done with digital images.

This is a big issue and many want to defend their works as untouched, I see certain red colorations, certain hues, certain degrees of shading.

Some can enhance the real look, some can enhance what the artists wants you to see.

Rather than telling you, you can try messing around with the various PS and similar programs to see how to improve such photo's.

Post production is about 30% or more of many pics.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

reiverix

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Ah, actually all these photos were edited by me in CS2. I'm not quite sure what edits are good and bad yet, as my photography experience is still very limited. It looks to me like you increased the detail/sharpness, at the expense of adding a bit of noise. Perhaps that's not bad because the added noise is not to prominent-- I just don't like noise, and don't mind photos with some blurryness.
 

Roman

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Wow

Wow, wow, wow!

I can't believe those are the same pictures. That's amaaaaaaazing.

Tom, you must tell us more about that.
Some tricks and tips about picture post production :)

What did you do with the first image, please, please, please tell us.
I mean, original picture is nice, but your is pro style :D

What program is PS?
 

reiverix

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Roman, I can't be 100% sure, but I can tell you what I think was done based on the original and the edited one.

--The picture is much brighter. Actually, if you look at the boarder of the picture, it's now grey instead of black, meaning he edited the whole thing together and the color of the boarder got altered too. Also, a bit of the rotala and the ripples is now missing, because of a greater area of over-exposure. He might have also done a shadow/highlight balance. Which, while it can show you more info inside the darker areas, is something I try to avoid because it leads to less contrast in the photo.

--Probably used a filter to sharpen the picture-- you notice all the edges are cleaner. However, that also means that the picture has more noise. Noise are the specs that are now inside the colors. Basically, if you sharpen a picture in post processing, you end up with more "fuzziness" in noise, and if you blur a picture, you can details/edges that are not as sharp. It's just about figuring out where you want it.

--In the full tank shot, the hue was changed. Actually, I think that's a really good idea, since now that I look at it, the original is too yellow.

Well, it's all about finding the right place for the photo.

Anyway, for some reason, my photos look over-saturated from my mac, but fine from my PC . . . it's very unnerving . . .
 

Tom Barr

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That is the thing, the post production can really enahnce a look you are after or render a more realistic look.

Many think thewe tanks all look this way or that way in real life, but as you can see just moving from one screen, or the settings on your own screen can change, so does the reality that is our tanks.

So the picture is a poor method to judge a scape IMO.

To accurately judge, you must do it in person.
But that is unrealitic for the ADA and AGA, and other competitions.

Still, I have a fair amount of distain for such trade offs in judging.

"Hue" is a very significant color renderer.
Makes the reds pop out
Greens, green up

Sharping is a trade off, too much, grainy, ugly edges, too little, no effect.

Such tools need to be used and played with to see about what your preferences are or are not.

Contrast can bring detail that was not there by reducing it, or hide something you might not want to judges to see.

Amano does this(hides some things in photo's).
Post developing methods with film or perhaps digital, not sure if he's moved into that area etc. But the methods are still there for either, it's just easier to play around with digital methods for most folks.

Contrast, lightness, gramma, hue, sharpness, cropping, resizing, rotation, RGB, should all be looked at.

Rather than suggesting what I prefer, I'd rather folks try it out for themselves.
Then they know what has been done and the subtle nuiances that are changed when other folsk do such post production and to realize that it's not reality in the tank/scape, it's art.

This is why I am suggesting folks to do this, to learn and see what other folks are and have done to render their scapes a certain way.

You will find your own preferences, and thus know and be able to see further into such images while improving your own sense of aesthetics.

Virtually every pro photographer PS's every photo some.

Now GMF may not have liked what I did to the photo, but it's opened folks eyes to what can be done.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Tom Barr

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BTW, most all digital camera software has a version or their own of "Photo Shop Light", it has most of the main features I've used.

You should play around with the tools, see what you like, if you are a scaper and want to display on the web, this is a critical thing you need to work on and familiarized yourself with.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

reiverix

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I have my own natural preferences, but I think it's just (if not more) important to get a sense of what the preferences of other people are. If more people have a preference for photos closer to the settings Tom used, then I would really like to learn and get a better sense of that before the next ADA. Rather I should say, as one learns about other's preferences, it allows to to better evaluate his own.

For instance, the 4th photo of the photoshoot (the one pointed up with lots of water disturbance) received 4 +fav within the first minute after I posted it at deviantart. Learning what types of photos people outside of aquascaping have a preference for can be useful information as well.

I, like Tom, would like to see/hear from others what their own prefences would be. It is very good feedback.

Of course, it's also important to think about what I like, but at some level one should realize that he's not the one running the ADA contest. lol
 

George Farmer

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Fascinating. I had no idea image editing could be so "effective". I only have MS Paint!

I believe NBAT aquascaping contests have the owner's aquariums visited by the judges. That's the fairest judging but how realistic on an international scale?

Steven - you know my thoughts on your skills, brilliant! Even my wife is impressed, believe me - that's a compliment!
 

reiverix

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I'm pretty sure it's not practical at all on an international scale. Besides, this way is not bad either I think-- allows people to rapidly move between lay outs if they can, and show the tank at its best as opposed to trying to time it with the visit. Moreover, it levels the playing field-- while in person, a large tank might win just because of it's overwhelming presence, in a photo format a smaller tank has just as good a chance. It forces the judges to look at the details.

I know that you want to compete at ADA etc. too George, so I'd advise getting some form of photoshop-- even a basic elements 3.0 will give most of the important tools. Recently I got my hands on Adobe CS1 for mac and CS2 for PC, and I g2 say that they are really great. Only a few extra tools but, they're much easier to use IMO. I've also used a program called "Photo Pro" that gives easy ready access to color levels.

A photo I edited in photo pro:

Small Stream by ~StevenChong-no-GMF on deviantART
 

George Farmer

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GMF;10646 said:
I'm pretty sure it's not practical at all on an international scale. Besides, this way is not bad either I think-- allows people to rapidly move between lay outs if they can, and show the tank at its best as opposed to trying to time it with the visit.

I know that you want to compete at ADA etc. too George, so I'd advise getting some form of photoshop-- even a basic elements 3.0 will give most of the important tools. Recently I got my hands on Adobe CS1 for mac and CS2 for PC, and I g2 say that they are really great. Only a few extra tools but, they're much easier to use IMO. I've also used a program called "Photo Pro" that gives easy ready access to color levels.

A photo I edited in photo pro:

Small Stream by ~StevenChong-no-GMF on deviantART

Great photo Steven.

Yes, I'd love to compete one day. Not too sure on the whole digital image manipulation thing though. I never realised it was commonplace, I guess I am naive.

The whole "what is reality?" concept is fascinating when we think of photography and editing, I'm sure it goes a lot lot deeper than I care to think about in my simple head!! For now I'll settle with my no-frills camera, aquarium lighting and MS Paint. Who knows what the future holds though?
 

Tom Barr

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Make no mistake, photography is definitely "Art", you can get your BFA from most good schools in photography.

Scapes are real living things, as such, they must like any aquarium judging contest should be measured in person live.

Would you judge a discus contest via the web?
Heck no!!!!

We could manipulate the colors, finnage etc, we could not see the shadows and many other aspects.

I find it erronous to suggest otherwise for planted tanks.
Sorry, they are just photographes that are art, not true judged tanks.

Those must be judged in person.
Practical or not.

Would you judge any live stock, dog shows, based on a nicely doctored image of the web?

Just ask yourself that question a few times honestly before responding to me about any of this.

Now think about it some more.
Still agree that I am wrong?

What about the fish that are part of the scape?
Ask the fish breeders and fish judges if they would be willing to judge a group of fish based on a front photo off the web.

Some have argued that the aquarist are honest, but unless you are very good at knowing what to look fo0r and have a lot of image experiences, you maybe ignorant and judge one image better due to that alone rather than the scape itself.

It's a photography contest is the point.
Not just a scape contest.



Regards,
Tom Barr
 

turbomkt

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For folks looking for a fairly full featured and completely free alternative to Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements usually included with a camera) or Paint Shop Pro, check out gimp.org. The GIMP is a full featured and free program that is just as hard to learn as Photoshop ;)