Sunday, April 10, 2011

Smart-Phone Photography ... Post-Capture Workflow

What kind of work does a picture need after it's captured in a smart-phone?  The same kind of treatment any picture would get.

I gave my impressions in the last post about an initial foray into taking pictures with an Android smart-phone, a HTC Inspire 4G. For its flat compactness, it carries in it a pretty powerful camera at 8 mega pixels.  After reviewing a couple of hundred images I've taken with it, my conclusion is that it shows its strengths best in close-up shots with lower contrast lighting.  Use of the "flash" (twin LED lights) often improves the image considerably in close-ups, giving a fill light that can enhance details.

Here is a recent shot, exactly as it looked straight out of the smart-phone:

Click on image to enlarge
 My critique: The chair on which the frog is resting should be white, and the background is actually grey concrete. The magenta cast clearly shows that the white balance is off.  I didn't use the "flash" in this shot, so the image can use additional differentiation of the subject from its background. The composition could use a little cropping. Focus is right-on, with the eyes being razor sharp.

Image corrections:
1. After importing it into Lightroom, the first thing I did was address the white balance issue.  I placed the white balance eye dropper on the concrete area, changing it to grey. With a little more tweeking of the sliders, I settled on Temp -46 and Tint -45.

2. Cropping, I changed the aspect ratio to 4x5 and moved the bottom up just a bit to remove some of the white space below the frog.

3. I expanded the tonal range by moving the Black slider to +10, the Exposure slider to +0.05, and the Brightness slider to +26.
4. Mid-tone sharpness improved by moving the Clarity slider to +26
5. I changed the Tone Curve from Linear to Medium Contrast.

6. Sharpening is something I always do to all images I work on. There is a loss of sharpness when photons change to pixels in the camera, and "capture sharpening" restores it.  The decision is, "How much?" Because I wanted to restore fine details on the frog's skin and eyes, I decided to boost the Sharpening Amount to 81, lower Radius to .08, increase Detail to 40, and put Masking at 30.
7. Sharpening can increase noise.  Noise is a particular problem in this Android camera.  Lightroom provides the solution with its Noise Reduction sliders.  I raised the Luminance slider to 45 and the Color slider to 22. That pretty much solved the problem.
8. Post-Crop Vignetting gave the picture the finishing touch.


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