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Under Water, Over Land
Tools & Techniques for Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife & Underwater Videography.


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Old February 28th, 2009, 02:29 PM   #1
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Saturation

Saturation

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After having watched so many of the great moving images, from this group, I am still stumped by how you get the great image/colour saturation. I have been trying, but still am not having any success.

Are you using filters, or is it just the time of day, or the type of light from your location?

I have tried shooting in different locations, in and around my main location, Toronto, so the light won't be able to vary to much, unless I am in a deep wooded area, with lots of leaf cover.

I have shot at different times of the day.

I have not tried filters,as the only filter I have is a polarizer.
Have to get some ND.

Any tips and info would be appreciated.

Going to camp in Algonquin this summer, and am practicing on technique, right now, so that I am ready to go, when I get there.

I know the area, and what I can expect as far as lighting and terrain, and flora and fauna, and want to capture these moments in time.
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Old February 28th, 2009, 05:12 PM   #2
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Hi Sam,
Boy do I know where you are coming from. I was in the same boat myself. Tried everything I could think of and couldn’t get it. Tried turning up the saturation in the camera which only helped a little. Didn’t know what to do. Then one day I was reading a book on digital photography by Photoshop wizard Scott Kelby and a sentence leapt of the page. This isn’t an exact quote, but it said something like: Professional digital photographers post-process every single shot they take. It hit me hard. I had been shooting digital video for some years and I didn’t do that. I would fix an occasional bad exposure or remove an unwanted color cast ect. but it never occurred to me to work on a shot that already looked “good”. Why not?
Give this a try:
Continue what you’ve been doing to get a good exposure. Now take that shot into your NLE and drop it on the timeline. Then under color correction dial up the saturation until it looks really good on the computer monitor, and then dial it back just a bit. If your editor has a function to check for illegal colors you might run it now. Drop an Unsharp Mask filter on the clip and give it a modest amount of sharpening. Now drop your original unprocessed clip on the timeline after the processed version and render it out. Play it and check out the difference. I think you'll like it. I still don’t do it to every shot I take (just the ones I want to use).
A Neutral Density filter is called neutral because in theory it shouldn’t effect the color. Use it to reduce the amount of light getting into the lens so you can use the f-stop you need to get the depth of field you want.
I hope this gets you where you want to be. Good luck.

Last edited by Mike Sims; March 1st, 2009 at 04:31 PM. Reason: Accursed word processor thinks it knows better.
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Old February 28th, 2009, 08:25 PM   #3
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I agree with Mike. There is a whole lot you can do in post-production to improve color and saturation of images. True, the result may be better than natural, and not exactly reflect reality, but it's pleasing to watch, and fun to do. It all depends on what your NLE will do.
Play with settings, and see what you get. Three things you can do easily on most any editing software are 1. Increase the brightness until your eye says it's bright enough. 2. Whatever that number is, increase the contrast to half of that. 3. Increase the intensity of "blacks" or shadows (called pressing). This makes everything more vivid, including colors.
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Old March 1st, 2009, 01:49 AM   #4
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Oh gee, now the secret is out ! <smile>

Great question, terrific answers. Welcome to the club Sam. prepare to be delighted.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 07:09 AM   #5
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Thanks for the help.

I do play with Photoshop a lot, but never thought to try the same thing, in Premiere.
I guess it will tax the computer a little with the extra processing, but from what I have seen here, it should be well worth the effort and extra wait time.

I have some material that I shot recently, that I will try this on, and get back with the results.

I guess the reason I haven't posted any videos, since joining the group, is that I didn't think the visual quality was good.

I am still working on technique, with my tools, but my editing is good. So, hopefully soon, I will get to that higher level, where most of you are at.

Thanks.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 01:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Mendolia View Post
Thanks for the help.

.......... I guess the reason I haven't posted any videos, since joining the group, is that I didn't think the visual quality was good.
I didn't think the visual quality was good on my videos either but I posted a score of bird flight clips ages ago on IBC and up to 5 minutes ago I was wondering why they all seem so bland. Thank you Sam for finding a really significant question. I'll be working on the answers ... hope there may be more.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 01:41 PM   #7
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Most of my "bland" video, has been happening since I got my DV camera.

When I was shooting with my 8mm, and transfereing to computer and then to DVD, all seemed fine.
I think I will have to go back, to those tapes, and see what is different, becasue they do look better, and that camera was all automatic settings only.

I don't want to tape in auto mode, as I know how want the end result to look, and adjusting the focus and shutter speeds as well as the iris, is the way I want to go.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 02:44 PM   #8
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And I'll take a different track and disagree with Mike. Shooting great looking images starts in the field with attention to exposure, white balance, some camera tweaking and some other tricks of the trade. Post production processing should be a bonus not a crutch. My clients appreciate the fact that they get to spend less time (and money) in post because I did a good job on the front end.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 06:21 PM   #9
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I donít think we need disagree Rick. I think weíre basically on the same page here (other than I think getting good images starts long before you reach the field, but letís not quibble). I by no means meant to imply that post production allows you to ignore the fundamentals- far from it. Thatís what I meant by ďdo what youíve been doing to get a good exposureĒ. If you take exception to Mr. Kelbyís statement or my interpretation of it as applied to video- more power to you! Thatís merely my opinion. My clients have definitely appreciated the fact that theyíve spent less time in post because I now spend more time processing the footage before it ever reaches them. Letís get back to Samís original question about how to get more saturation. If you have tricks of the trade for doing that in the field I urge you to share them here. I, for one, would love to learn from you. Thanks.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 07:45 PM   #10
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I'll respectfully side with Mike (as if this was about taking sides) The OT did not talk camera specific, so discussing camera set up etc would not have been particularly productive in responding to his original post, nor would it have answered his Q's.

I doubt any one disagrees that light and sound both deserve to be captured in the field as best you can. But often, what you can do in post is what sets one film (ok) apart from another (wow).

My 2 cents.

I do agree a thread about optimizing camera setup would be a great one. Anyone want to start?
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 08:01 AM   #11
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Although I did not specify camera setup, that is one of the things I was looking for.

Post tips, were also what I was looking for, as you cannot always get the look you want, in every situation, no matter how well you plan it,in the field.

I would love to see a camera setup thread. You all come from varied backgrounds, in this field, and not one of you works the same way, but what you all do well- is share your wealth of knowledge, for those like me, who are trying to get better at this.

I do this as a hobby, and not for profit. I just want my images to look better, not to take any bussiness away from anyone, so as I said, do what you all have proven to do here, and share.

What I learn, I do pass on, always have and always will, it's in my nature.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 01:24 PM   #12
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Consider my two cents as food for thought and merely what works for me. Take from it what is useful.
Proper exposure is a must, the times of day you shoot in are also important as harsh sun overhead is less appealing than early and late sun or as it is called, the golden hour. The probelm is wildlife is not always on that schedule. This is where post porccessing can help if used properly.
Post processing has it's place. I attended Kelby's personal and private Photshop workshops where I learned a lot about PP in dealing with my still imagry. I soon found though that I felt like I was an animator not a photgrapher. I went back to my roots of proper exposure using PP as a clean up tool only. I do the same now with my video in Vegas. I would rather utilize my time elsewhere than trying to salvage footage that was poorly shot.
Something not mentioned here is that all settings adjustment have counter effects in PP. An example of this is...saturation adjustments effects levels, contrast effects sharpness, and so on. Every PP adjustment has a counter effect that needs to be understood and should be compensated for during these adjustments.
I read above where someone said bump up the contrast by half the amount of brightness? That is a pretty generic blanket comment, especially without seeing the footage so I can only add this...Not sure where that was learned but contrast is an adjustment that a little goes a long way on and should be used sparringly.
I want to make it clear here that I am saying only what works for me, it is not the only way, just the best way for me.
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Old March 4th, 2009, 05:22 PM   #13
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Tim,
Your first paragraph I translate as "exposure is greatly dependent on the angle of the sunlight ... get that right and you're off to a good start"

"I attended Kelby's personal and private Photshop workshops where I learned a lot about PP in dealing with my still imagry. I soon found though that I felt like I was an animator not a photgrapher."

....... this is so true and commonplace that I am delighted to join you in exposing it ... there seems to be a tyranny out there which starts from the assumption that "Hey you, you don't think you can shoot a bit of action out in the wild, do ya; ha ha ha? Hey man, all action is done in a studio, Okay; are you dumb or sumpin?" This is a pain in the butt orchestrated (& financed) by guys who think the countryside is one long boring highway ... No, sorry they don't think it; they know it AND they will go to their graves knowing no better. It reminds me of the RELIGION that preaches "You can't be really happy unless you get high on something."

"I went back to my roots of proper exposure using PP as a clean up tool only. I do the same now with my video in Vegas."

Now, this is where I want to hear more, lots more. From you, whenever you have time. What I want to learn are some of the details of the settings you use in various lighting situations; including if you ever have to allow for cloudy weather (like we have 300 days a year in Ireland). And then please refer me to a few examples of PP from your own editing or someone else's editing. What do you mean by "the roots of proper exposure" with stills and with video?

I do appreciate that you insist that your ideas are what works for you and you do not expect them to work for anyone else. But your openness gives me hope that you will tell us a bit more AND encourage others to chip in as well.
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Old March 5th, 2009, 07:51 PM   #14
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No Brendan, proper exposure is not dependant on the angle of the sun. Proper exposure is dependant on how you set your camera to see the light. Get proper exposure down and you are off on the right start. My opinion is that bad exposure is no reason to depend on PP skills, it helps but is no substitute for learning exposure. Many will argue that point however this line of thinking works best for me. There are indeed times when you absolutely need to tweak in PP. This seems to be a big debate in the world of imaging. I will not debate that because to me it is like saying a Ford is better than a Chevy, it all depends on individual preference.

By the way all you hard core PP folks, keep in mind when reading this that I am not bashing post processing or image manipulation. I have been there and done that (image manipulation I mean, not bashing) It works better for me to do most of it in camera via exposure control.

Okay Brendon, I will have a whack at your questions here regarding cloudy conditions. Many pros that shoot wildlife have said shooting in cloudy or overcast conditions make for better exposures. That may be true but images in gray conditions do little for me as the viewer. As the photographer on the other hand, I will shoot in whatever conditions nature hands me.

The bottom line here is there is no such thing as a set of settings. You need to know and understand two vital things, learn how your camera sees the light, then learn to control that light in your camera via exposure. Light is the name of the game....period. The camera is only a device that captures light. By understanding exposure you will then easily learn how to control the light your camera captures. A couple of books that may help you along with difficult lighting and exposure are:
Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson and
The Art of bird photography by Arthur Morris

Those books are both based around still photography but I am finding that exposure is relative in both still imaging and video.

Understanding and controlling exposure is a must at all times of day, indoors and outdoors, no light, low light, and harsh light. You need to expose for the situation at hand (available light, subject, subject color, background, just to name a few but certainly not all the things that need to be considered) then set your exposure to achieve the end result you wish to see in your image. There are also times when a proper exposure is impossible, for example….not enough light. Then you must use artificial lighting which I never do as I prefer natural lighting.

You asked for examples so I hope this works for you. Have a look at my site. I would be more than happy to explain the circumstances and settings used on any particular image you have questions on and give you examples of setting used on the image in question.

In closing I will bounce back to the issue of Post Processing. There are those who do it in PP, those who do it in camera, and those who utilize both. I prefer to do it in camera using PP as mentioned before only for minor clean up. PP is necessary to some degree. Personally If I have to make more than 3 or 4 minor adjustments in PP I am unhappy with my exposure. Neither is the right or best way as they both work for the different schools of thought out there.

Here is an analogy using music as the example…..
You can create synthesized music with a computer, you can orchestrate a drum section, a brass section, and all the other components resulting in a song that to a lot of people sounds good. No real instruments are needed. To me that is the talent of creation and manipulation through a synthesized process but definitely a talent indeed.
But I am of the old school. I would rather stand alone on stage playing my guitar to music I wrote and composed while singing the songs I also have written. There again, talent indeed. While the end result in both examples is a song and a creation, you must decide for yourself which you like better and who the real musician is.
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Old March 6th, 2009, 08:33 AM   #15
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I guess I will be digging out my Gossen light meter, from my old 35mm still days, to get me in the ball park, and give me an idea as to were to start, on the exposure side of things, and not totally trust the camera, and all its automated features, for all circumstances.

I have been lazy with all the digital innovations, in both my stills and recently video.

I know I had better results in my still days, as the cameras I owned were always used in manual mode only, where I had control, and knew what the end result was supposed to look like, and only some minor darkroom work need be done, on the final image.

If I can get back into that mindset, then I should get better at this.

The road is long, but getting there will be a learning experience.

Thanks for all the input so far, it is helping me tremendously, in my quest to better my images.
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