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Photography QnA: Digital Image Problems

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Category: What's Wrong With My Photographic Technique? : Problems with Images : Digital Image Problems

Trying to avoid grainy digital images? Wondering how to soften digital images? Ask these questions and more in this Q&A discussion.

Page 3 : 21 -25 of 25 questions

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Photography Question 
Kathy Hart

member since: 4/27/2002
  21 .  Image Corruptions on SmartMedia Card
What could I be doing to corrupt the images on my SmartMedia card? I try to work with the image in Photosuite 4.0 and several of the images will not open. The message that the file is corrupt is displayed and the image is erased from my photos. What am I doing? They are saved in JPEG and I am gathering that I need to learn to save them as TIFF when uploading them to my computer from the card. Is this correct?

I appreciate any input....

4/27/2002 7:51:53 PM

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Photography Question 
Donna R. Moratelli
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Donna
Donna's Gallery
DonnaraePhotography.com

member since: 11/23/2000
  22 .  saving images without compression
HI, Can someone tell me how to save files with very large amounts of one color without having them appear compressed. Before I save my image it is beautiful but no matter what format it is saved in, it looks compressed with extreme loss of detail. THANK YOU

4/23/2002 8:31:00 AM

doug Nelson
DougNelsonPhoto.com

member since: 6/14/2001
  Generally, save in TIF or Photoshop's psd mode to preserve the image's integrity. Without compression, save it to a hard drive or CD where you have the storage space.

Were these images originally captured as JPEG's? If you worked the image and saved more than once in JPEG mode, you may have done this once or twice too often. You can do it and save all day in JPEG with some images, and get away with it, but then one comes along that won't tolerate it.
If the image originates as a JPEG or some proprietary format, get it into TIF or psd in Photoshop before doing anything to it.

4/23/2002 9:41:47 AM

 
 
 
Hi Doug, Thanks! Here is what I do. My original image is scanned into my documents and saved in TIFF format. After I scan, details and sharpness are usually lost.When this happens , I then try to make adjustments in PS to bring it back to way it looked origionally. After these adjustments, the image looks great. I then save for the web. This is where I loose the details and sharpness again. Most of the time they look worse after I save them then when I started. TIFF and jpg are always compressed, especially when I have lots of areas of saturated colors. These colors are the colors that come from the scanning and not the program. How can I save an image and keep it looking the way it looks prior to the last save?I have avoided pictures like this for too long because of this problem. Thank you! Donnarae

4/23/2002 11:01:58 AM

doug Nelson
DougNelsonPhoto.com

member since: 6/14/2001
  My monitor settings went awry once, the settings were for 256 colors, instead of millions of colors. If you're OK there. . .
Scanners these days tout their bit depth, but most of us just scan at the default 8 bit (or 24-bit, 8 each for RG&B). Do that initial scan at 36-bit, 42- bit or whatever it can do. The file size will be huge. Now do your brightness/contrast (Levels /Curves). THEN, go to Image, Image Mode and change the file to 8-bit. You'll see the file size drop. This gives you more color information to start with, so that you don't throw out as much when you make changes. These mode changes should not perceptibly degrade the image.

Is this full Photoshop? You could be compressing too much.
You're a pretty advanced photog; ever consider a film scanner? The cheapest decent scanner, the HP S20, does negatives extremely well. I don't think you'd have this problem scanning off the film.

4/23/2002 2:03:18 PM

  Hi Doug,Thank you again. My monitor settings went awry yestereday and I immediatly went out and bought a new one. It is set up right now. It was the contrast though. The color settings may have been messed up too. Who knows? Regarding getting a film scanner, no way. I'd rather save the extra money and get a decent digital camera. I have heard that the prices are going down and if they do I will purchase one. I have been doing my homework and that seems to be the best way to go for my needs in the future and the needs of the publications that I shoot for. In the meantime I will suffer scanning tons of stock that I already have. Where do I find the information on color bits. I don't recall seeing anything about that. I will try taking your instruction if I can figure out a way to do it. BTW, my scanner is an epson perfection 2450 flatbed photo and film scanner and my imaging software is photoshop elements. I am fairly new to digital imaging as you probably can tell. Does that help at all? THANK you

4/23/2002 5:07:20 PM

doug Nelson
DougNelsonPhoto.com

member since: 6/14/2001
  Good choice of a scanner; this one is close to state-of-the-art unless we go over $1000.
For good info on bit depth, go to scantips.com, point 14 on his first page. Ignore the part about dynamic range for now, and read what Wayne says about using higher color bit depths. Try scanning at the highest level, do your tonal corrections and then change to 8-bit. That way you wring the best performance out of this already excellent scanner.
If you're shooting professionally, wait on digital cameras. Before long, you'll see a 6 megapixel SLR that will use the best optics, from Nikon and Canon. Eventually, we might be able to afford them.

4/24/2002 7:20:23 AM

  Hi Doug, Yes eventually?!* Thanks you! I should be able to figure some things out now with all of this information.. BTW, your deluxe website is very resourceful and well executed.

4/24/2002 8:18:04 AM

doug Nelson
DougNelsonPhoto.com

member since: 6/14/2001
  Thank you, DonnaRae. I guess we'd better be sure Elements can accept images over 24-bit.
Also, if your scanner has Silverfast scanning software, learn all you can about it. Some quirk in that may be part of your problem. Steve at sphoto.com has an article on Silverfast.

4/24/2002 9:25:07 AM

  Hi Doug, Strange that you mention silverfast. Every time that I have used silverfast with the exception of (1)time, I have had an extreme increase of compression in combination with other small problems. I thought that it was most likley too much color saturation in the photo and an excessive amount of the same color. I will research that situation too. I checked out scantips.com and couldn't wait to get home today to thoroughly examine it. It is a fine website as is yours. With the help of Wayne and all of the tips from you and your excellent articles, I think that I will be headed in the right direction. I have my fingers crossed. (when I'm off the PC)Thanks angain and again!!

4/24/2002 4:44:06 PM

 
 
 
Hi Doug. I am working with the scanner manually now. Here is a picture that I used 48 bit color. It doesn't seem as compressed. Is is degraded too much. I figured how to overide the color settings but not the workable size settings. Could you please tell me what numbers to use as a workspace. My program defaults to its own settings and will not let me put in the numbers that I want to use. I don't understand why.I am assuming that I am putting in numbers that the program cant handle. The picture that I have been working with under the default settings is very small. Is there any way to change those numbers and what would be the numbers to use. Thank you, Donna

4/25/2002 10:20:12 AM

doug Nelson
DougNelsonPhoto.com

member since: 6/14/2001
  Compression to me means what an imaging program does to decrease the amount of pixels in a file for a specialized purpose, such as going into the JPEG format for sending, or using LZW compression on TIF's when you have only limited storage space. If you haven't asked Elements to do any compression, it shouldn't be doing any.
I don't have Elements, but there is a way to find out what color space your image is being scanned into. I like the one called Adobe 98, but there are others. sRGB is the one used for images to be placed on the net. Your image could be going right into sRGB, and seeming to be compressed because of that.
The JPEG image you sent is perfectly fine for a JPEG. Nice composition, BTW. We have to remember that a JPEG is not a final product for the serious photog; it's only a convenience we use to talk about our work.
Your concern seems to be with the image you have BEFORE you turn it into a JPEG. I haven't used Silverfast, but I'd encourage you to find all you can about it, as it's supposed to be one of the very best scanning softwares. They all have a learning curve; Nikon's is giving me fits because I need to learn more about it.

4/26/2002 7:26:01 AM

  Hi Doug, I believe that the image here is TIFF. I was having problems with both Tiff and JPG.My pictures look excellent before I convert and save them. It is always the last save that compresses and kills it. I have been reading Waynes tips and it is now heping me understand the concept of scanning. Thanks for all of the time that you have spent with me and best of luck learning Siverfast!!! Best regards

4/26/2002 8:23:39 AM

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Photography Question 
Juan Rodriguez-Torrent

member since: 3/31/2002
  23 .  Optical "accuracy"
 
  Buildings
Buildings
New Heaven
© Juan Rodriguez-Torrent
 
  Steeples
Steeples
Yale green
© Juan Rodriguez-Torrent
 
  Art
Art
Sinking building
© Juan Rodriguez-Torrent
 
  corner
corner
Fleet Bldg
© Juan Rodriguez-Torrent
 
  Door
Door
NH Court House
© Juan Rodriguez-Torrent
 
After using my Olympus C4040 for a month I feel like I bought a very expensive dog. Of course there is the possibility that I got a lemon, the digital technology is lacking or that I'm such a bad fotographer that with everything in auto ... I manage to screw it up! Iím seeking your help to decide if I should send the camera to the manufacturer for repair or for a refund. Since most of you already have digital cameras your comments will be most appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time and help.

Most of the pictures I have taken look like Iím using a half of a fish eye. In these two pictures (http://www.southbury.org/oddcam/buildings.jpg http://www.southbury.org/oddcam/steeples.jpg) both buildings are supposed to be parallel and straight up. Could you please let me know if thatís whatís expected of an (allegedly) decent quality digital camera?
In this picture (http://www.southbury.org/oddcam/art.jpg)the building at the end of the alley behind the monument (the one that looks like the sinking Titanic) and the wall on the left of the frame are both perfectly engineered and should look, more or less, as the building on the right of the frame. By the way the tiled lines on the ground are (on the wild J of course) perfectly straight!
I took this picture (http://www.southbury.org/oddcam/corner.jpg) aligning the bottom of the frame to the bottom of the wall and lined the outside corner with the right side of the shot (looks squared to me). Is the left corner as one might expect? I centered this door (http://www.southbury.org/oddcam/door.jpg) in the frame to see how the corner of the building and the blocks would show on the picture. I just canít believe the results.

Again, thank you for your time and effort.

Juan

3/31/2002 1:12:13 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
 
 
  Indianapolis Canal Walk by Night
Indianapolis Canal Walk by Night
Shift lens shifted downward to move horizon upward and capture more of canal leading to buildings
 
  Battle at Tippecanoe Creek, November 1811
Battle at Tippecanoe Creek, November 1811
Shift lens shifted upward to move horizon downward and capture all of the 80 foot tall monument
 
  Circle Monument
Circle Monument
Shift lens shifted upward and to the right to capture all of monument and eliminate sidewalk clutter on the left
 
  Seiberling in Spring
Seiberling in Spring
Shift lens aimed directly down the front walk, then shifted upward to eliminate the street, then to the right slightly to eliminate suburban clutter on the left
 
  Monumental Christmas
Monumental Christmas
Lens aimed directly down row of street lights, then shifted upward to capture all of mounument, then shifted slightly to the right to eliminate urban clutter on the left
 
 
Juan,
There may be two effects confounded with each other. The first is perspective with how you aimed the camera. The second is *possible* barrel distortion in the lens (I've emphasized possible). It's hard to tell from your photographs whether there's barrel distortion as I'm certain about the first effect.

Perspective Issues:
This definitely shows in your "Buildings" (New Haven), "Steeples" (Yale Green) and "Art" (Sinking Building) photographs. I can tell you aimed upward at the buildings by placement of the "horizon line" where the ground meets that building(s) near the bottom of the photograph. By aiming upward at the buildings the film plane (with digital it's the CCD plane) is no longer parallel to the vertical lines of the buildings. With all rectilinear lenses (nearly all lenses are rectilinear), parallel lines that are not parallel to the film plane will converge for the same reason more distant objects appear smaller than closer ones do. Imagine a CCD plane the same size as the front of the building. In this case, you've made the tops of the buildings farther from this extended film plane than the bottoms of the buildings. It's why they appear to be farther and smaller than the bottom. Furthermore, the tops of the buildings and the tops of the steeples will also converge and it's why they appear to lean in toward each other. If you aim at these buildings "dead level" instead of aiming upward, the vertical lines in them should become parallel again. This is a particular problem with buildings that are very tall compared to their width. Your "Art" photograph is particularly problematic with numerous prominent, flat, horizontal and vertical surfaces and the camera's CCD plane is not parallel to any one of them. The tops of the buildings on your immediate left and right converge for the same reasons they do in the other two.

I had to look at the "corner" (Fleet Bldg) photograph for some time. It appears as if you not only aimed upward slightly, but also turned to the right and then aligned the base of the building parallel to the bottom edge of the image . . . resulting in the seeming tilt to the right from not only converging vertical lines but converging horizontal ones also.

The "secret weapon" of professional architectural photographers is the "shift lens." Sometimes it's also called a PC lens (PC = perspective correction). Instead of aiming upward, the camera and lens is aimed dead level. In these cases, the lens would be shifted upward on its lens mount to move the center of the image upward while moving the horizon line downward. These lenses are specialized and comparatively very expensive because of their design and shift mechanism. Even the very least expensive of them *used* for a 35mm camera is in the $400-$500 range. New, they're easily well over $1,000 with some over $2,000. Unfortunately, I do not know of any digital that has a shift lens specifically designed for it, unless it's one of the very high end, very expensive ones that uses 35mm film camera lenses.

Without a shift lens, the alternative is finding a vantage point from which aiming dead level includes everything you want in the photograph, then cropping out the undesired portion from the result. This will affect resolution of your final image and how much enlargement is possible (as it does with film cameras also).

Barrel Distortion Issues:
I suspect you may have some very slight barrel distortion and that it's more prominent when the zoom lens is at its shortest focal length (widest angle). It's only a suspicion because the overwhelming problems with these photographs is due to perspective and tilting the camera upward.

As an aside, I have been disappointed with consumer digital camera lenses, especially the less expensive ones. Nearly all exhibit some barrel and/or pincushion distortion depending on camera and zoom length. The lens on some of the worst offenders is almost an afterthought with all the design effort poured into the electronics and little into the optics.

I've attached some images made with a shift lens so you can see what they look like. Camera is aimed dead level and straight at flat surfaces in which both horizontal and vertical lines are desired to remain parallel (i.e. camera is not turned or tilted). The lens is then shifted to compose the image. You will note that it does not eliminate the feeling of looking upward at something; it cannot do that. It does keep things from looking like they are falling backward or toward each other from the edges.

-- John

3/31/2002 7:49:54 PM

Juan Rodriguez-Torrent

member since: 3/31/2002
  John,

Thanks for the detailed explanation.

It's amazing how much one can learn when someone just takes the time to explain. A couple of pointers you gave in your comments made something in my head click. I followed a hunch and Iím sending the camera back to Olympus as it appears that the camera is defective.

Briefly, you made me think of some pictures I had taken of twin, high stone steeples. Three frames to be precise. From powering on the camera to the completion of the series it took less than a minute. Then I took a few seconds (maybe a couple of minutes) to compose another shot. While I composed the shot I left the camera on. This series of three shots showed a ďvery acuteĒ case of convergence. Inspecting the three initial shots I was already able to notice a difference between the first and the last shot. Did some quick tests and it appears that as the camera warms up the distortion increases (which makes the problem an electronic problem instead of an optical problem).

I sincerely appreciate the time you took to help.

Juan

4/1/2002 11:39:15 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  Juan,
It is possible there are some other problems . . . perhaps with the CCD and thermal expansion as it gets warm internally (mismatch in expansion rates of different materials). If it is heat related, the "root cause" is almost always mechanical, but the symptoms of it can be abnormal electrical or electronic behavior.

More about the two most common optical distortions:

Regardless of the perspective issues, straight lines *should* remain straight in an image made with a rectilinear lens, even if they are parallel in the real world and converge in the image due to perspective.

Barrel distortion is a curvature of what should be straight lines outward toward the edges. The farther from the center of the image, the greater the curvature, as the viewer is looking at a barrel that is narrower at top and bottom, but bulges in the middle.

Pincushion distortion is the opposite effect, with lines near the edges curving inward toward the center, as if it's a stuffed pillow or pincushion. As with barrel distortion, the closer to the edge, the more pronounced the effect.

I suspect there might be some barrel distortion, from looking at what appears might be some curvature of the horizon line in a couple of them (the steeples one in particular). Barrel distortion would increase the effect of converging perspective lines because of how you aimed the camera.

Anyone can test a lens for obvious "barrel" or "pincushion" distortion by selecting an appropriate "target" to photograph and using some care with aiming the camera. The best method is a flat brick or tile wall. Anything with a pattern of rectangles or squares will work. Aim the camera directly at the "target" so the lens is perpendicular to it to make the film plane parallel to the target plane. Straight lines should remain straight even if the aiming is off slightly. Parallel lines should be parallel in the image *if* the camera was aimed properly.

-- John

4/2/2002 1:14:56 AM

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Photography Question 
Patricia Hatten

member since: 2/19/2002
  24 .  Compression
Even though I compress my pictures from 1600 x 1200 to 400 x 300, they do not look right after I upload them to you. What am I doing wrong?

2/23/2002 10:41:48 PM

James Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  Hi Patricia,

Are you saving them as JPEG files? If so, try saving them as TIFFs and see if an uploaded TIFF looks better (it should).

Compression is actually not the term you are looking for - it refers to how much an image get "squeezed" when saved as a JPEG. The more a JPEG compresses, the worse it looks. Save a JPEG image as another JPEG (this is what happens when you upload a JPEG) and you essential compress it twice. This often causes an even worse image quality; that's why I recommend uploading TIFFs.

The only problem is that they are bigger so your connection has to be somewhat fast for it to be manageable.

When you say you "compressed" an image down from 1600 to 400, you are really saving you "resized" the image. And resizing does not necessary mean better image quality. In fact, it often produces worse image quality. You will often have to sharpen up and fix up an image after it has been downsized dramatically.

The main reasons we recommend a size like 500 x 750 is so that a) the image size is more managable over the internet connections, and b) it doesn't get dramatically resized by our image uploading software, which saves images at about that size.

Confusing, isn't it?

2/25/2002 2:09:48 AM

Paul Cramp

member since: 6/1/2000
  Patricia.

What did you mean "doesn't look right?" Blurry?

When you change the size of your image does your software have a re sample tick box? If it does try de clicking it.

Hope this helps.

2/25/2002 5:33:34 AM

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Photography Question 
Jeff Fulks

member since: 6/8/2001
  25 .  The Way My Photos Look After Upload
My photo looks good on my PC but when I send it to the site it looks blurry and out of focus. How come this happens?

9/5/2001 2:30:15 PM

James Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  It could be that you are saving the photo as a highly compressed JPEG. When you upload a photo, it saves your original and then makes three thumbnail versions out of the photo for display.

Try saving your file as a TIFF, PNG, or high quality / low compression JPEG. Upload it and if you still see the blurriness problem, email me and I will look into it.

9/7/2001 12:13:09 AM

Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2005
  I think that the downsizing itself takes away detail, and you need to sharpen the photo before downsizing to counter-affect that.

7/2/2006 2:49:45 PM

Gunjan Karun
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/30/2006
  My 2cents for you.

Reduce the size of the image to make sure that the short side is set to 500 pixels.

Make sure that "Constraint Proportions" is set so that the other dimension is automatically selected.

Then the grand trick:
After reducing the size, apply 'Unsharp Mask' to your photos and then upload.

Hope it helps :-)

-Gunjan

7/4/2006 4:51:08 AM

MŠrio  Ferreira
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/25/2006
  And what about resolution?

8/3/2006 3:50:11 AM

James Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  These are great suggestions, Ariel and Gunjan. I too use the Unsharp Mask or Smart Sharpen filters in Photoshop after downsizing, to give each image a bit of extra crispness.

Mario, your question is valid and points to a common confusion. I think you are referring to the kind of resolution such as 72ppi or 300ppi (resolution is a vague word that is used in a number of different meanings). I

If this is indeed what you mean, you do not have to worry about it at all. It makes no difference. The time that kind of dpi or ppi resolution matters is when printing. When uploading images to BetterPhoto, the thing that matters is the pixel dimensions (i.e. 500 x 750 pixels). Whether it's 300 ppi or 72 ppi doesn't make a difference in viewing.

8/3/2006 8:38:06 AM

  I usually upload 720px (along the longer dimension) to my premium gallery. I save all images in the best jpeg resolution.
now for some images, after uploading them I see loss in quality ( I see bands in plain blue sky of the image). I dont see them otherwise (i mean when I view them on my computer, and not through betterphoto) I tried different image viewers, none of them show this.
i am wondering whether I should process images differently for betterphoto? or am I being plain dumb?

3/6/2007 9:18:02 AM

Jeffrey Levy

member since: 9/3/2006
  Pranay, I see exactly the same problems. I just uploaded two pics, one at 720x480 and the other at 720x540, and both have strange, brush-stroke-like streaks in the sky or water on BetterPhoto where none exists in the file I have on my computer. Both are high-quality JPG files.

They're these:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/big.asp?photoID=5480468
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/big.asp?photoID=5480276

Can someone from BP please respond? I'd be happy to email the files I uploaded so you can compare.

Thanks.

1/14/2008 9:32:09 PM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Jeffrey, try an experiment with TIF and see if that helps...for some, it does. Good luck!

1/15/2008 3:52:40 AM

Jeffrey Levy

member since: 9/3/2006
  Thanks for the suggestion, Ken, but I'm not interested in having to try things like that.

If I upload a photo at the right dimensions, I think betterphoto should display that exact file without changing it.

I've never had this issue anywhere else. I wonder whether it's the script that adds the border that messes with the images.

I appreciate your time, but I'd really like to hear from someone at betterphoto.

1/15/2008 11:11:54 AM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Jeff, I should have caveated that in other posts on this same issue, the BP staff had suggested use TIF, including Jim Miotke. I use TIF and have often noticed improvement, cause I did experiments with JPG and TIF.

1/15/2008 11:29:33 AM

Jeffrey Levy

member since: 9/3/2006
  Well, I did try it with a TIF and got better results. I'm assuming the border-adding script is resaving, so it's a multi-generation JPG issue.


Thanks, Ken!

1/21/2008 5:34:18 PM

Robert G. Stalnaker
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/1/2008
  Everybody talks about resizing to 500 on the short side, but the instructions for uploading through the multi-image uploader clearly says you do not have to resize.

QUOTE: "For uploading images with the multi image uploader, it is not necesary to resize your images."

Since I have been a member, every single person has stated on comments about uploading that they resize their photos.

What is the story?

5/2/2008 2:11:46 PM

Russell E. Smith
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/12/2004
  Robert, there are two uploading methods, the multiple uploader (drag and drop I believe) and the more traditional method (that was in use PRIOR to the drag and drop). I have always used the older method.

THIS IS MY "technique"
If the photo has layers - I flatten it, then
I re-size in PS using 750 on the wide side
- when down sizing I use bicubic sharper(seems to help)
then save as highest quality jpeg.

I noticed that sometimes the photo was "flatter" in relation to colors when I had multiple layers (Levels, curves, etc.). So I added the extra step and was happier.

5/3/2008 10:20:31 AM

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