Muckross House Post Processing

During our trip to Ireland last year my wife and I visited Muckross House, and participated in a guided tour. Unfortunately no photography is allowed on the inside of the property. This article shares a selection of exterior photographs and discusses Muckross House post processing approaches.

Since these images required a range of different approaches in post processing, I thought they were good candidates for an article on this topic. Each of the ten compositions in this article shares an out-of-camera (OOC) jpeg followed by a finished image that was produced from the corresponding RAW file.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400, out-of-camera jpeg

Upon examining the OCC jpeg above we can see some sky details on the right and left hand sides that can be accentuated. There are also some reasonable colour variations in the flower bed running across the centre of the photograph. The composition is balanced, but the gravel pathway could use a bit of horizontal correction. This was a fairly simple image to adjust in post.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400, image finished to taste in post from RAW file

I ran the RAW file through DxOMark PhotoLab 2 using a custom preset that I created for my landscape images from Ireland. Some basic adjustments in CS6 were made using common sliders such as highlights, shadows, black, and white. Clarity and vibrance settings were also tweaked. To help bring out some additional definition with the bark of the trees in the foreground, I made a minor adjustment in the Nik Collection (Color Efex 4) using the Pro Contrast settings.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400, out-of-camera jpeg

The OOC jpeg above represents another fairly simple challenge in post. All of the images in this Muckross House Post Processing article had the same custom preset applied to them, as well some basic CS6 adjustments. I used the Polarization adjustment in Color Efex 4 with this image, as well as with a number of other photographs in this article. The Polarization adjustment enabled me to punch up the sky details considerably, while also bringing out more of the colour highlights.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400, image finished to taste in post from RAW file

In the image above we can see that the details and colour differentiation in the trees have been improved. The clouds in the sky are also much better defined. For example, you can now see some nice details directly above the tree line on the right-hand side of the image. One of the things that I often do after using the Polarization and/or Pro Contrast adjustments in Color Efex 4 is temper some of the saturation levels. With the image above, I bought down the yellow saturation slightly to tone down the grass.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-1600, out-of-camera jpeg

The photograph above was a little bit more complex. Some of the highlights in the sky are at risk of being blown out. Many of the branch details on the trees in the distance have started to fall apart. There are also some heavy shadows in the foreground of the image. The combination of these factors creates a dynamic range challenge.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-1600, image finished to taste in post from RAW file

I typically use the DxO Smart Lighting Spot adjustment with all of my images… often with only one box. This helps to balance out the dynamic range in a photograph. To deal with the additional challenges in the photograph above I used three different Smart Lighting Spot adjustment boxes, placed on different parts of the photograph. Other adjustments were similar to the ones noted on the previous images. Small sensor cameras are often criticized for their smaller amounts of dynamic range and colour depth performance when compared to full frame cameras. The image above came out reasonably well, especially since it was captured at ISO-1600.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-1600, out-of-camera jpeg

Of all of the photographs featured in this Muckross House Post Processing article, the one above had the biggest dynamic range challenge. You can see that the red-leafed tree in the background is almost blown-out, along with other elements close to it. After using the DxO Smart Lighting Spot tool, I did some localized burning with CS6 to try to bring back as many highlight details as possible. Other adjustments followed actions noted in previous comments.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-1600, image finished to taste in post from RAW file

Perhaps surprisingly, the details of the red-leafed tree were able to be retrieved to a decent level. Some additional spot burning was done on the gravel pathway. A few tweaks using the Pro Contrast tool in Color Efex 4 were helpful for this photograph.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-160, out-of-camera jpeg

As we examine the OOC jpeg above we can see some fairly minor wide angle lens distortions in the photograph. I used the perspective control adjustment tool in DxO PhotoLab 2 to correct these lens distortions. We can see some hints of highlight details in the sky. Since this photograph was captured at ISO-160 I knew there would be a decent amount of sky details with which to work.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-160, image finished to taste in post from RAW file

In this example of Muckross House post processing, I corrected the wide angle lens distortions with the perspective control tool. Some spot burning was done to bring out more of the sky details. These were then accentuated with the Polarization tool in Color Efex 4. Small tweaks using the Pro Contrast tool helped to bring out more leaf and brick details, and also added more definition to the sky.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7 mm, efov 18 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400, out-of-camera jpeg

The photograph above was captured using a focal length of 6.7 mm with my 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 wide angle zoom lens. This created a higher degree of wide angle lens distortions in the image. When using wide angle lenses it is important to anticipate the amount of lens distortions that will be created. Framing your composition to allow for corrections in post is needed. This anticipative approach gives a photographer the ability to correct the lens distortions in post, while still maintaining the composition they had planned when they originally created the image.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7 mm, efov 18 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400, image finished to taste in post from RAW file

In the finished image above we can see how correcting the wide angle distortions has resulted in a much more pleasing image. The six blue downspouts from the various roofs are all aligned vertically. This helps to create good symmetry and visual flow with the photograph.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7 mm, efov 18 mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160, out-of-camera jpeg

At first glance the horizontal framing of Muckross House in the image above looks quite bizarre. I purposely captured this photograph using that specific horizontal angle. If you look at the left-hand side of Muckross House you will see that it is close to being perpendicular. When a perspective control adjustment is done to that side of the building it will be reasonably stable and not move very much in the frame. A perpendicular side of a structure serves as an anchor when a perspective control adjustment is done.

Conversely, the angle on the right-hand side of the building is much more severe. This means that the right-hand side of the building will shift considerably more than the left-hand side of the building when a perspective control adjustment is applied to it. By composing the image using this unusual horizontal angle, I knew that the right-hand side of the building would be pulled down in the frame when a perspective control adjustment was applied to it.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7 mm, efov 18 mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160, image finished to taste in post from RAW file

As we can see with the finished image above, Muckross House looks properly centred in the frame (I did crop the left-had side of the image slightly). The wide angle lens distortions have been nicely corrected . You can see that, as anticipated, the right-hand side of the building has been pulled down into the frame by the perspective control adjustment. As a result, the amount of foreground in the photograph has been reduced. As mentioned earlier, in situations when you know that you will be using perspective control adjustments in post, it is critical to compose your image to make allowances for them. This may necessitate using unusual horizontal framing in your original composition.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7 mm, efov 18 mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-400, out-of-camera jpeg

This example of Muckross House post processing is another one that required perspective control adjustments. In this case the sides of the building have similar wide angle distortions. That means when perspective control adjustments are applied, the subject building will get taller in the frame. You’ll notice that I left some additional room in the sky to allow for this increase in building height.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7 mm, efov 18 mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-400, image finished to taste in post from RAW file

The Muckross House post processing approach used for the image above was consistent with the other photographs in this article. It began with the RAW file being run through a custom preset in DxO PhotoLab 2. DxO Smart Lighting Spot adjustments were done, as well as perspective control. Basic corrections were made in CS6 along with a curve adjustment and some burning in the sky. The image was finished in the Nik Collection with Polarization and Pro Contrast tweaks in Color Efex 4.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 11 mm, efov 29.7 mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-400, out-of-camera jpeg

The photograph above is another one where I purposely captured the original image at an unusual horizontal angle. If we examine the right-hand side of the building we’ll see that it is close to being perpendicular. It acts as the anchor side of the building, and will not move much once a perspective control adjustment is applied to it. The left-hand side of the building has a much more severe angle. It will move significantly, and in this case will drop down on the left-hand side of the photograph.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 11 mm, efov 29.7 mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-400, image finished to taste in post from RAW file

As we can see in the finished image above, the left-hand side downward shifting caused by the perspective control adjustment has changed the angle of the hedge. It now is more horizontal and looks quite natural in the composition. Muckross House is nicely positioned in the frameĀ  and well proportioned. Details in the sky have been restored and there is more colour and snap in the photograph.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400, out-of-camera jpeg

Our final Muckross House post processing example is one that demonstrates the importance of paying attention to details. When we examine the photograph above we’ll spot some small details that need to be addressed. There is a person walking in the background on the left-hand side of the image. There is an out-of-place looking yellow flower in the bed of red flowers in the foreground. The hint of highlight details in the sky need to be emphasized. In the bottom right hand corner the hedge is visually blocking the walking path from forming a leading line for the photograph.

Muckross House Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400, image finished to taste in post from RAW file

All of those issues have been addressed with the Muckross House post processing approaches that were discussed earlier in this article. I hope you found this posting of interest and helpful for the post processing work you do.

If you enjoyed the photographs in this article that were captured with the Nikon 1 system, you may find our eBook, The Little Camera That Could, of interest. This eBook is available for purchase and download. It is priced at $9.99 Canadian. Readers interested in purchasing a copy can use the link below.

 

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Technical Note:
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

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8 thoughts on “Muckross House Post Processing”

  1. Tom,

    This reminded me of times before when I was shooting possible images for a magazine cover where you compose with an imaginary masthead and side article titles in mind. Thanks for the reminder on the anchor for helping guide distortion correction in post.

    Oggie
    http://www.lagalog.com

  2. Good article and helpful information as always. I think you did a great job of squeezing the details out of jpeg photos. I always shoot RAW because of concern of not being able to adjust the jpegs to my satisfaction but you did not have any problems with these.

    Joel

    1. I’m glad the article was helpful Joel!

      The out-of-camera jpegs were put in the article to act as references for each photograph. The finished images were produced from working with RAW files in post… not jpegs. This is indicated in the Technical Note that is found towards the end of the article. I made some changes to the article to clarify that the finished images were produced from RAW files to avoid confusion that may have been created earlier.

      Tom

  3. Excellent article, as always, Tom. Very topical for me too, we’ll be following in your footsteps (around Ireland) in May.

    That’s a great tip about framing to create a perpendicular anchor when shooting wide-angle – to assist the perspective correction process in PL. Thanks !

    A couple of comments;
    – You note the the perspective correction tool can sometimes make objects look taller in the frame. This can sometimes look odd (to me) – but it’s easily corrected via the “Advanced Settings” in that tool … using the H/V ratio adjustment

    – In the spirit of using fewer tools; you might be interested in checking out PL version 3 … which includes Local Adjustments (with Nik-like U-Points), instead of localised “burning” in CS6 … and a decent Clone tool … plus a greatly improved HSL tool. It’s a very worthwhile update.

    Regards, John TKA

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for adding to the discussion and providing some additional software details! I’ll have a look at the H/V ratio adjustment.

      We’re working on our Ireland photography eBook with the intent of having it published in early 2020… hopefully prior to your upcoming trip. You may find it of interest if you intend on traveling off the beaten path.

      In terms of ‘fewer tools’… I’m not much concerned about the number of software programs that I use… but rather the time it takes me to process an image. With CS6 I don’t often use spot burning… just happened to use it with these images. There are specific adjustments that I really like in each of the three programs that I use and I can get in and out of them quickly, so I don’t find it inconvenient. At this point I can’t see not using CS6 as I often take the highlight and shadow sliders to their extremes… and that is after I’ve already made these adjustments in DxO. I call this ‘double bumping’ my images and I’ve found it very helpful when trying to squeeze as much as I can out of small sensor images like Nikon 1.

      Tom

  4. Hi Thomas,

    thanks a lot for sharing these post processing details with examples. I found it very useful.

    Best regards,
    Matthias

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