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Posts posted by Tanel

  1. Yes, I was just noticing that.

    It doesn't do a great job of fixing an over-bright area (like the sky, or a sun reflection on something). Perhaps it is just my source images that I've been using for testing.

    The shadow recovery, on the other hand, works like a charm.

    The plugin actually works equally for both shadows and highlights (you can test it on b/w gradient). You are just facing the major curse of digital photography - highlight clipping due to low dynamic range. There is simply nothing to restore once the pixel brightness reaches level 255 (and it does very easily). I bet that's the case with your tested photos.

    On the other hand shadows save far more detail before clipping to zero, that's why it is much easier to recover.

    The issue is nicely explained here: http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/fixing- ... -range.htm

  2. Honestly, delete bad photos right away - all photographers do. There's no way to make them look good.

    For good photos I recommend following workflow order:

    - Noise removal (use some special software for that)

    - Crop

    - Color correction (color balance plugin, white balance plugin)

    - Exposure & contrast adjustment (levels, curves, shadow/highlight plugin)

    - saturation adjustment

    - Defects removal (Clone Stamp)

    - Resizing

    - Sharpening

    You hardly need to go all those steps on a good photo, but it's a good order in general.

    And don't "decorate" photos with the ugly date stamp unless you do forensic photography. :wink:

  3. I am thinking about adding a "Basic" mode with just three controls (Shadows, Highlights, Smoothing), to make it easier for basic users (most of us I guess).

    That would be default UI, with ability to jump into Advanced mode (current design) and override fine settings any time. Ideally it would speed up the work for advanced users as well.

    But it takes quite some time, 'cause I need to test and figure out some generally good combination of settings to bundle.

    Meantime pretend you are advanced users ;)

    just a sketch:


  4. Plugin updated today;

    download version 1.5 beta: shadowhighlight_v1-5beta.zip

    Added a new control called Compression (on Smoothing tab). This control amplifies strength of effect progressively towards the extreme shadows/highlights, allowing to reveal much more detail from deep shadows. Default value is 5 (on 0-10 scale) - as a result, amount controls are also much more sensitive now. Turning the compression down to zero reduces the effect back to what it was in previous version.

    Hope you like it.

    See what I could squeeze out of darkness now:


    Settings applied

    Shadows: Amount 120, Tonal Range 0, Saturation 60

    Smoothing: Radius 8, Fade 140, Compression 6

    Damn, it almost replaces my HDR tutorial! :? :D :D

    The plugin remains in beta state as I continue R&D on it (I see room for improvement in algorithm).

    Possibly I will remove the compression control from final version by merging it with Amount controls.

  5. I believe this is a deficiency in the current point-to-point system used by the brush tools. The vertices along the path the brush follows end up being drawn twice, once on the line as it moves to that point, and again as it moves from that point to the next. If you use the Paintbrush with a transparent color, you'll notice this as well.

    Paintbrush with a transparent color draws evenly when switched to overwrite mode & antialias off. That's what I want from eraser too.

    BTW I found a bug related to Paintbrush.

    Anyway, I can work around the eraser issue now by turning transparency way down (to few % only). Then I can "paint" semi-transparency, but clicking then gives almost no effect. :?

  6. Is it possible to add the "Normal Blending / Overwrite" option to Eraser tool (same as Paintbrush has)?

    I have found semi-transparent Eraser to be handy in some situations, and I would like it to apply equal amount of transparency in both one-click and moving mode. Currently Eraser seems to use Normal Blending mode only, therefore moving eraser applies much different effect than single click. This makes it complicated to use for large work.

    This is my problem:


    I want moving eraser to add same effect as single click. I guess Overwrite mode would solve it.

  7. My first attempt at hdr ..

    It's a good start!

    I would try to give more depth to the tower at fine-toning stage, to make it stand out. And maybe clone out the dark spots from treetops.

    Something like this:


    I selected the tower and made:

    - local contrast enhancement with Sharpen+ plugin @ Amount 20, Radius 40 (would try Radius 80 at fullsize)

    - saturation +15

    Then deselected and sharpened whole image with Sharpen+ @ Amount 100, Radius 1 (would try Radius 2 at fullsize)

  8. This plugin is designed to fix excessively contrasty photos, by brightening shadows and/or darkening highlights.


    Menu location: Effects > Photo.

    Download as part of my plugin pack.



    Updated to version 2.2 (2008-12-24)!

    Changes: few UI and code optimizations; moved to Photo submenu.


    Updated to version 2.1 (2008-08-31)!


    - Plugin now starts with default settings loaded (shadows: 100; smoothing 50)

    - Compatibility fix for paint.net 3.36


    Changes in version 2 (2007-09-20):

    - Improved core algorithm produces smoother tone transitions

    - Added "Basic" user interface and re-arranged some previous controls (see below in blue)

    - Added "Review" button for quick before & after check: hold the button down to see original, release the button to re-apply changes



    Start in Basic mode - use Shadows and Highlights controls to get desired brightness; use Smoothing to adjust tonal blending.

    Switch to Advanced mode to override / fine-tune any settings.



    * Shadows - strength of shadow adjustment

    * Highlights - strength of highlight adjustment

    * Smoothing - blending of shadows and highlights. Adjust this together with Shadows and/or Highlights controls to get the desired look.

    Generally low values suite for images with extreme shadows & highlights, higher values for more balanced images.


    Basic controls actually use sets of Advanced controls. You can switch to Advanced mode anytime to override / fine-tune the settings.




    * Amount - strength of shadow adjustment

    * Tonal Range - brightness range of shadows to be adjusted (at the bottom of 0 - 255 scale)

    * Saturation - saturation of shadows



    * Amount - strength of highlight adjustment

    * Tonal Range - brightness range of highlights to be adjusted (at the top of 0 - 255 scale)

    * Saturation - saturation of highlights


    Note: saturation controls are independent from brightness, so alternatively you can only increase saturation - for example adjusting sky color.



    * Local Contrast Radius - preserves local contrast by bluring the original image at selected radius (in the backround) before reading the tonal values. In effect setting Radius 10 - 20 avoids fine textures from becoming flat. Default radius in Basic mode is 12, which is optimized for screen size images. You may need greater radius (30, 50 or more) for large, several MP images. Note that large Radius values slow down processing, so I'd recommend to tune it last.

    * Local Contrast Intensity - as a side-effect, Radius may produce halo near strong edges - for example around dark objects against bright sky. Intensity control allows to reduce halo. Reducing it too much results in flat look due to loss of contrast. Values between 50 and 100 (%) should be okay.

    * Compression - amplifies strength of effect progressively towards the extreme shadows/highlights, allowing to reveal much more detail especially from deep shadows.


    Color Mask

    aims the strength of adjustment into certain color areas based on selected color balance.

    For example increase red value while reducing green and blue, to aim majority of adjustment at skintones; or increase blue to aim adjustment at sky.


    Some extreme before & after samples:


    Settings applied: Basic mode, Shadows 180, Smoothing 50



    Settings applied: Basic mode, Shadows 140, Highlights 40, Smoothing 80


  9. I prefer to sharpen my photos with unsharp mask, because of finer results compared to built-in sharpen effect. So far I had to use other programs for that operation. Switching between programs is annoying - so I decided to learn the code and design a plugin with features I need. Hope you find it useful too.


    Menu location: Effects > Photo.

    Download as part of my plugin pack.




    Updated to version 3.1 (2008-12-24)!

    Changes: few UI and code optimizations.


    Updated to version 3 (2008-08-31)!

    Changes: Threshold control is re-designed to have much better feel and control over the result. Previous threshold had strong impact already from very small values, while large values were quite useless. The new one is literally "zoomed in" to small values only, so it is easy to find good setting with scrollbar.


    Updated to version 2 (2008-01-03)!


    - re-located the effect into Photo submenu

    - added Review button (press & hold the button to see original image, release it to see changes)

    - improved keyboard usability

    - reduced default Radius to 1 which is more suitable for most of images, especially for screen size photos

    - Color Mask has now some real impact on results: by aming strength based on pixel color. Range is expanded to 0-200

    - Tonal Range control in Highlights tab is reversed, in order to work in same direction as in Shadows tab: increasing the value expands the range

    - Faster rendering after OK click, especially when image fits to window

    - Code optimized for Paint.NET 3.2 (though it's still not a PropertyBasedEffect)

    - Source code available (VS2005 express): sharpen+2src.zip


    Using the plugin:

    * use three main controls (on top) to achieve required effect

    * use adjustment controls (in tabs) to fine-tune the result

    * re-adjust any control if needed


    Main controls

    Those are traditional unsharp masking controls (learn more here):


    Amount - percentage of sharpening to be applied

    100 - 200 usually does the job.


    Radius - width of area (pixels) around edges to be sharpened

    1 is good for small (web) images; 2 - 3 for large (several MP) images.


    Threshold - minimum level of pixel contrast (brightness difference between pixels) to be sharpened

    Use it to prevent sharpening of even surfaces like sky or skin. Keep at zero if you want to sharpen fine details.


    Adjustment controls

    those naturally don't apply any additional effect, but rather adjust it's strength by percentage from main Amount:


    Edge Balance

    Bright Borders - Percent of amount applied to bright side of edge

    Use it to reduce sharpening halo if it becomes too visible, or prevent oversharpening of bright fine detail, like sunlit hair.

    Dark Borders - Percent of amount applied to dark side of edge

    Use this to reduce dark halo (rarely needed).


    Note: it is not recommended to use Bright and Dark controls together: it would effectively reduce overall amount of sharpening (setting both to 0 is equal to setting main amount to 0).



    Strength - percent of amount applied in shadows

    Use it to reduce sharpening impact to image noise (noise is usually most pronounced in shadows).

    Tonal Range - level of brightness (at 0 - 255 scale) where shadows adjustment will be applied

    Range is "soft" control: strength of sharpening rises gradually back to normal through 50 next levels above selected level.

    Tip: set Strength to 0, move around Range control to find the brightness level where noise kicks in, then re-adjust Strength to appropriate amount.



    Strength - percent of amount applied in highlights

    Tonal Range - level of brightness (at top of 0 - 255 scale) where highlights adjustment will be applied

    Range is "soft" control: strength of sharpening rises gradually back to normal through 50 next levels below selected level.


    Color mask

    Adjusts strength of effect based on pixel color



    * Strength of controls is NOT equal to "other brand" sharpening tools (like USM in Photoshop or Gimp). For example radius 2 in this plugin is close to radius 1 in Gimp USM (due to differences in Gaussian blur rendering). So don't apply settings recommended in Photoshop tutorials - better trust your own eyes.

    * Sharpness (edge contrast) is increased through brightness channel only - thus no hue shift is caused (as far as color channels are not clipped); this is another difference from "other brand" USM tools.

    * Shadow and highlight areas are detected from blurred grayscale image, to achieve more even output spread.


    Alternative use:

    Instead of sharpening you can use this plugin for local contrast enhancement - to give extra clarity to a flat, hazy image;

    for example following settings: Amount 20, Radius 80, Threshold 0.

    (Be patient with this one: the larger the radius, the slower the effect runs - due to Gaussian blur function rendered in background).



    General recommendations for sharpening (collection of unwritten rules I try to follow)

    * Sharpening only works on sharp images. Use it to remove lens softness or give 3d look to otherwise flat image.

    * Don't try to fix blurry images with sharpening - it only makes things worse. Leave it blurry or shoot the photo again.

    * Sharpening should be the very last image processing operation before save / print, as it actually distorts image detail for better appearance

    (Generally my preferred workflow is: white balance -> noise reduction -> levels/curves/contrast -> saturation -> crop/resize -> sharpening).

    * The best sharpening settings depends on output - whether it is web image, small print or large print - every kind has different needs. Do experiments to find most appropriate settings.

    * For best output preview (to predict the results), use 100% zoom while sharpening a web image, use 50% zoom if sharpening for print.

    * Images appear sharper on LCD monitors than CRTs. So be careful while using CRT.

    * Mass production printers at photo stores automatically sharpen every jpg image (while they may keep tif's intact). So keep your settings modest or don't sharpen at all if you are going to use those services.


  10. Isn't there a way of feathering not only the alpha channel, but the normal picture as well?

    You see, as I love painting drawings on PDN (http://takemangaka.deviantart.com/) one of the greatest problemas is making everythin look smooth. I've been using a combination of Resizes to do it, but there might be a cleverer way...

    Try "Surface Blur" from Ed Harvey's plugin pack:


    That should smooth even areas while preserving sharp edges.

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