Saturday, January 22

OILY - A Tutorial

NOTE: all images in this posting can be enlarged by clicking upon them....

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How about some tutorial? Or comparison? Or review? Or - wuddever of what I was up to here. Let me type out some thoughts about the what and why of this image of my grand-niece Katelyn Rose.

You'll recall I raved about the quality of low-light images that come from the Canon 7D, even at 3400 ISO. Well, that's not the case with the Canon G10.

A touch of background. The G10 is Canon's 'professional' point-and-shoot. It allows full override of all automatic controls, plus unlike any other point and shoot I could find, it has an optical range finder as well as a real-time LCD. So when the sun is at your back - washing away the LCD preview - the viewfinder does the job. It's a terrific camera, and just about pocket sized - if you have a generous pocket. The G10 has a quarter frame sensor coated with 14.7 mega-pixels (MP).

Which is a LOT of pixels for a small camera. Previously the Canon G9 had 12.1 MP, and the bump up in these things in the G10 was Canon's attempt to ratchet onward in the sensor-size wars. OOOPS! Since the camera has a quarter frame sensor the smaller pixels just do not take as large a sample of the light falling upon them. Which leaves more room for error... and error turns into what appears to be grain- which we all noise. In fact, Canon's brought out the G11 with just 10 MP! What? About 20% fewer than its G9 and double the reduction over the G10? Why? They installed a bigger computer chip to allow the larger pixels to do a lot more. In fact, more, but smaller, MPs - beyond some point in low light - actually seem to increase noise, decrease tonal range, and add little sharpness. To be sure, the G!0 is wonderful at ISO settings up to 800, but beyond that those hailstones grow bigger.

Now I took this photograph at 1600 ISO with the G10.

The lighting was lovely, though dim coming principally from a windowed patio door to the left on a very gray winter afternoon. The fill light was tungsten from various table lamps. No flash or artificial fill was used. Okay, take a look at this blowup of the details of her face from that un-retouched photo... See: A hailstorm of grain makes the image almost unacceptable.

Now, I've recently seen ads from the Topaz Labs ( for their Topaz DeNoise 5 ( filter. Okay, I really like Topaz filters. For a reasonable outlay the one I own, Topaz Adjust ( is robust and totally productive. "So," I says to myself, "Self... what if you use Topaz DeNoise 5 on images shot at higher ISOs with your Canon G10? Might that not compensate and turn the G10 into a real competitor for the 7D at lower light levels?"

Which led me to download the thirty day trial version of Topaz 5 and apply it to this image of Katelyn. Here... What do you think of the same expanded area after it was cranked through Topaz 5?

Surely there is considerably less apparent grain, but the skin tones look a bit as if they were in a thin plastic film. Still, with some adjustment layer tweaking of the dynamic range, the result can be turned very easily into this.... Which is good enough for government work, huh? But... but... Well, the image lacks the lighting of the grand masters, and has, of course a ton of distractive background through no fault of the G10. Fine... now onto the diddling to suck out the good stuff from this image.

And that's where I turned to my AlienSkin filters - three of them in fact. First I popped Katelyn out of the image and copied her to another layer above this original. Then I copied the original image to a new layer to which I applied the AlienSkin :Bokeh filter and masked it back in around her to throw those pesky distractions out of focus. Then I applied AlienSkin's SnapArt: oil filter to that carefully blurred backgroung image to create an oil painted background. Finally I applied the SnapArt:watercolor filter to Katelyn's image on the upper level - and went back to allow each of them to carefully fit together. To these I added some adjustment levels to mask in appropriate areas of shadowing, vignetting, and tonal range to the introudctory image way up there atop this posting... and I added an additional custom green screen on a higher level which I blended with an overlay adjustment to suggest a warm Rembrandt mood.

So? Think at me. I think the G10's a pretty good backup for the big apparatus - Comments? Does Topaz DeNoise 5 save the G10 at the higher ISO?

1 comment:

Flo (tonebytone) said...

Thinking @ you, Ted - yes, I'd say that the Topaz DeNoise 5 saves the G10 (and undoubtedly other such point and shoots) at higher ISOs. I like what it did to Katelyn's image.

Just a thought - had you converted the original noisy D10 image to B&W, you could have made the image seem like an old film print with grain - slightly sepia toned, it would have been magnificent - just her head without all the background stuff. So try it, you might like it.

As for your finished painted result, I really don't like the bright spot - the light on the chair's arm - above her. I think it's distracting, so would like to see this result cropped down from the top to eliminate that spot.

"Out-out, bright spot!" AARGH, with apologies to the Bard, lol.