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Same but Different?

Posted 03/11/2016 - 20:16 Link
I fear this thread may re-ignite the debate about whether or not we should post process images and it so how much? That's not the intent, as I'm firmly in the camp of post processing, although I do try to keep it to a minimum. If we shoot RAW (as I do), then PP is essential, if we shoot JPEG, the camera applies its own post processing without user control. My question is more about single exposures versus blended or HDR exposures.

What I've posted here are two images of the same scene. Image 1 is a single exposure, whereas image 2 is a blend of 3 bracketed exposures. Both have been post processed, under my control, not in camera. The location is the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, equipment used was the K-3, plus Sigma 17-70 F2.8-4 HSM OS lens, set at approx 26mm.

Which do you like best?

Which looks most 'natural' (if any)?

Image 1
Comment Image

Image 2
Comment Image

Thanks for your thoughts and comments!


Nicola's Apartments, Kassiopi, Corfu

Some cameras, some lenses, some bits 'n' bobs
Posted 03/11/2016 - 20:51 Link
I don't know if it looks natural or not, but overall I prefer the second one. I do like the dark and moody sky in the first but as I said overall the second one is the one I prefer. I think it is probably nearer what we would actually see if we were there.
Posted 03/11/2016 - 20:55 Link
Hi David,
Hope you had a good break. I'm pretty sure you could work the single exposure to look like the blended one. From your single jpeg version I produced this which (to me) looks pretty close to the blended one:
Comment Image

With the raw file it could be even a closer match. We're gifted with good dynamic range from the sensors these days, even from the likes of the MX-1 and the Q so blended exposures aren't always required.
Perhaps in a church with bright windows and dark shadow areas its a useful technique but for general outdoor scenes I'm not sure it really helps any more.
You can always let the camera do the HDR blending for you too.
John K
Edited by JAK: 03/11/2016 - 21:00
Posted 03/11/2016 - 21:07 Link
At first I preferred number two but after comparing the two shots for a while I changed my mind to number one. I would just lighten a few highlights (the foam) but overall it's quite nice especially the sky. Even though I prefer number 1 number 2 is still quite nice and Possibly more natural?
Edited by jemx99: 03/11/2016 - 21:08
Posted 03/11/2016 - 22:17 Link
davidstorm wrote:

... I'm firmly in the camp of post processing, although I do try to keep it to a minimum...
...if we shoot JPEG, the camera applies its own post processing without user control.....

I also am firmly in the camp of post processing, although I do try to keep it to a minimum.

But I am happy to shoot JPEGs because Pentax cameras offer a great deal of user control over how the images are processed in the camera. I am also happy use the JPEGs from the camera as the starting point for post-processing in computer software because, even though they might be "almost there", in my view every image can be enhanced by software edits and adjustments.

davidstorm wrote:

Which do you like best?

Which looks most 'natural' (if any)?


It is a very pleasant image, David. I prefer the second, and I think the second looks the more natural.

(To each his own!)

Posted 03/11/2016 - 22:32 Link
I prefer the first, post processed or not. The sea looks more interesting, and the light levels seem to better capture the mood for a shot that was taken towards the end (or beginning) of the day.
Posted 03/11/2016 - 22:55 Link
Definitely the second one, you know i'm a lover of pp and shoot in RAW myself and process until my hearts content lol, the second one adds another dimension and allows the sea to shine, in my opinion it brings the photograph to life.
Posted 04/11/2016 - 01:06 Link
I think the first one has that classic underexposed look, a typical camera response to the bright elements in the sky. I agree with the point that the 2nd one is more 'realistic', as in representing the brightness and tonal range that we could expect to see ourselves.

The real question is in the need for a blended exposure approach or not ..... this is normally a requirement for scenes where the overall dynamic range exceeds that of the camera in question, and when we do not want to sacrifice any image data and detail at either end of the histogram scale.

I'd say it is doubtful here whether there is a technical need for that special approach ..... perhaps I might be able to justify it with the K7 ..... but I'd think it would be possible to moves things around in RAW software enough to get a very similar result and good quality from the single RAW file. Thats not to say that is therefore the only desirable approach, if the blended version is easy to produce, or enjoyable to work on, thats a perfectly good reason to use it also.
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Posted 04/11/2016 - 08:41 Link
I'd go the 'whole-hog'

Comment Image
Posted 04/11/2016 - 09:05 Link
For me, its the second one. IMO exposure bracketing should be used to create a result that best looks like what the photographer saw on the day. The first one looks way too dark for me and the second one reveals more detail in the foreground rocks and breaking waves that I would guess best matches what you saw at the sime. For me the debate is not about single v mult-exposures, it's more about (accurate) exposure blending against the 'in your face' extremes called HDR !
Edited by Stridey: 04/11/2016 - 09:06
Posted 04/11/2016 - 10:09 Link
I prefer the second but without going to Galoots extreme I think you should seek to both retain and perhaps slightly saturate the colour in the sky and reflected on the foreshore. I would guess the second would also print better. I for one do carefully control in camera but do bracket or save the RAW for such images knowing they may need more treatment than a compressed in camera adjusted jpeg allows. Brightness,clarity, crop, saturation, shadow lifting are all regulars in post processing for me. Nice photo David. Hope to see more from your trip.
Posted 04/11/2016 - 10:14 Link
Some great comments so far, thanks to all. For what it's worth, I prefer the second one, although it doesn't accurately depict the sea because it's a blend of 3 different sea states, which does rob it of some details. Regarding colour saturation, both are pretty close to what I was seeing at the time, this was not a heavily saturated sunset, so I wouldn't personally saturate it any further. There's definitely scope for enhancing both images further, I haven't spent much PP time on either of them. I think what I may be tempted to do is use the multi-exposure image, but replace the sea with the one from the single exposure?


Nicola's Apartments, Kassiopi, Corfu

Some cameras, some lenses, some bits 'n' bobs
Posted 04/11/2016 - 15:27 Link
As I'm not at home I'm vIewing these on my laptop which is not as good as my PC but from what I see here No.1 is my choice. It has more 'bite' than the second, more intensley worked version.
But every picture is different and requires individual treatment so this doesn't support any sort of general RAW vs JPEG or straight from the camera vs manipulated argument.
As to which seems the more natural image I can't be decisive on this either as both look natural to me.
Posted 04/11/2016 - 20:37 Link
For what it's worth, I like number 2.
Posted 04/11/2016 - 21:31 Link
[quote:3496ace15f="Galoot"]I'd go the 'whole-hog'

I rather like Galoot's treatment - very David Noton.

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