Low light can present a serious challenge for even the most seasoned photographers.
Low light can present a serious challenge for even the most seasoned photographers. Light is the most important part of how we perceive images and all photography involves capturing the light reflecting off of a physical object.
"RAW, RAW, RAW!…that’s the spirit!” I hear this all the time from a number of folks who shoot RAW with their cameras.
So let’s talk about image formats. And by "talk,” I really mean converse. I’d like to hear what you think. Note that I am at least vaguely aware I don’t know everything.
We’re pleased to begin providing articles on improving your Restoration/Throwback images. We’re also pleased to be working with Rachel LaCour-Niesen of www.SaveFamilyPhotos.com / #savefamilyphotos.
The below “conversation” begins this collaboration with a topic that is near and dear to all of our hearts – the connection to our past that photography provides. Both the images and the stories they suggest allow us to be a little closer to those no longer with us.
While we strive to make improving your pictures as easy as possible, sometimes people send comments to Support saying that the our software is not doing what we said it would do. On rare occasions, these requests would require the Magic of Merlin to retrieve anything worth looking at. But more often than not, when the customer sends an image, I can see that there is plenty to work with, and that our software can do a pretty good job of fixing the picture in less than a minute.
Remember Tina? She had a bad experience with a nationally known purveyor of printed pictures. Then she tried again at Vivid-Pix-Prints to get her pictures printed. Here is her reaction:
"I got my pictures back from vivid-pix today! Some of them look insanely better, much sharper, clearer and brighter, it's hard to believe that they are even the same picture. While others are still better, clearer and sharper it, was more subtle, but getting them through vivid-pix definitely makes a difference. I'll be printing my SCUBA pics through you guys from now on!...
"I've recently used the free trial software to enhance my SCUBA pics. They look AMAZING on the computer, but when I sent some off to be printed, I was highly disappointed with the results. The images look grainy or pixelated and the contrast looks terrible. My camera is an HD quality camera. I was wondering if you had any tips on how to get the pictures to look as amazing printed as they do on my screen.” - Tina
We at Vivid-Pix have heard this lament from time to time. It’s really a shame to spend the time and money to go to exotic locations, take pictures of the wonderful things, make them look great with Picture-Fix, and then get lousy prints. You deserve images that accurately represent what you saw, not what a misguided print service spits out.
Though certainly not the norm, occasionally some photos can come out grainy.
When an image is very dark, or very low contrast, the potential for graininess rises. In particular, when your camera is forced to boost the low light level that it captures, the image may become grainy. You may not realize this is happening because cameras generally make this boost automatically. And some cameras do this boosting much better than others....
So just what is lightness and contrast?
In an image, lightness (or brightness) is the overall light level. The picture of an eel in a coral crevasse at 30 feet is a good example of an image without much lightness, unless you illuminate it with a strobe. A dolphin just under the surface can be an example of an image with high lightness....
While there are many techniques for sharpening, some yield better results than others. We have selected one with a counterintuitive name...Unsharp Masking. Why? Because it tends to accentuate the important parts to the image without increasing visual noise or graininess.
Unsharp Masking actually began as a clever technique to enhance the sharpness of printed images in the chemical/analog world. Digital Unsharp Masking is uses a similar technique, and works something like this:...
As Marshall McLuhan said, "The medium is the message."
While I'm not so sure he was talking about underwater photography, the principle is similar. The medium in which a signal travels influences the information received. This not only happens underwater, but topside is well. The sky tends to be blue (where you dive...not here in Rochester, NY, where gray is the dominant color) because of the differing interaction between atmospheric molecules and wavelengths of light....