<<< o >>>houses in the rain 14 comments + add yours

Of all the shots I’ve taken recently, this is one of the ones I’m most pleased with; not because I think it has a considerable amount of artistic merit, but because – for once – I actually managed to sharpen it in a way that I’m reasonably happy with. I don’t know about anyone else, but one of the exasperating problems I have with many of my shots is sharpening them after reducing them in size – what looks great at 2592x1944px often doesn’t translate all that well to 700x525.

Clearly it’s possible to produce extremely sharp images (see this absolutely stunning example from Emese Gaal’s site), but I’m not normally all that pleased with my efforts. This one though, I quite like; and while it isn’t perfect I do think it comes close to being pretty reasonable. And for anyone who’s interested: this one was sharpened in four stages – an unsharp mask (of 300%, 0.3px, 0 threshold) for the whole image, some selective blurring of the borders between the dark background and the top of some of the drops (the sharpening made these look unnatural), then some selective sharpening on the detail in the drops (using the sharpening tool (set to a strength of 50%), and then a final overall unsharp mask of 300%, 0.2px, 0 threshold. All of which is probably overkill – but it seemed to work ok for this image.

So, if anyone has any killer sharpening tips, I’d be really interested to hear them.

Oh, and the other thing I like about this shot is the detail in the raindrops, particularly the large one near the middle/bottom of the image. And if you can’t work it out; it’s shot through my car windscreen, the two dark, blurred vertical areas are chimney stacks, and the roofline of the houses (including the chimneys) is reflected upside down in many of the raindrops ;-)

capture date
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
focal length
image quality
white balance
optical filter
Canon G5
12.13pm on 10/3/04
aperture priority
B+W UV 010
4x3 + macro
comment by myla at 12:28 AM (GMT) on 11 March, 2004

this shot is fantastic. thank you for the link to emese's site, I'm newly inspired.

comment by Zero at 12:53 AM (GMT) on 11 March, 2004

I love this shot. And the sharpness is definitely noticeable. It's what makes this shot awesome.

comment by Raj at 02:08 AM (GMT) on 11 March, 2004

Wow!...what a great shot. I love the fact that the reflection of the building is so very clear on the big main drop. Incidentally, the photo that I posted today includes water droplets, but nowhere close to this sharpness. Mebbe I have to work on it a little bit more:-)

comment by gisele at 04:03 AM (GMT) on 11 March, 2004

this is an awesome shot. I just bought a canon G5 for my purse. (my digitial slr is just too big to luge everwhere!) your work is wonderful!

comment by Richard at 04:21 AM (GMT) on 11 March, 2004

I like it...but I'm not crazy about it.

I think mostly due to two factors;

a) It seems as if the 'interest' is only in about 1/3 of the photo - bottom right area. I cropped out that area with my hands infront of the screen and the resulting image became quite 'scary' - a dark scene with the towering building in the back clearly magnified/reflected in the water drop.

b) I was ruined when it comes to water drop/reflection photos many years ago - but now I of course can't remember the name of the photographer... Someone contemporary with Walker Evans. It was an AMAZING photo of water drops placed on metal and EVERY water drop picked up the same reflection (but different in size based on the size of the waterdrop..). Stunning...

Sorry - so I was already 'ruined' :-)

The sharpening looks great and I like the colour tones in this one a lot. Good eye.

comment by Daniel at 08:25 AM (GMT) on 11 March, 2004

I think the picture even look very cool even in the way smaller size of this comment-page.

Actually I don't understand the fuzz about sharpening the image. If there are no bad jpeg-fragments or any blurry shit going on I just switch to the LAB-mode and unspark mask the luminance channel 40 - 200% with a radius of 0.3 - 0.6px. As I actually like images a bit grainy (like analog) I sharpen with a treshold of 0.

comment by kawaii at 08:59 AM (GMT) on 11 March, 2004

Wow, this shot is amazingly clear. I love this image. :)

comment by Deceptive at 11:58 AM (GMT) on 11 March, 2004

I have similar problems with sharpening. Some shots are easier than others - I find landscapes with lots of fine detail to be the hardest to get right and I'm never satisfied when I see them on my site, compared to the original version.

I like the sharp reflections in some of the drops and the tone of the image, a pleasing abstract.

comment by Houser at 02:40 PM (GMT) on 11 March, 2004

I dunno - I rather like it. Sure it may be a little on the cliche side, but that doesn't mean you can't shoot it, right? As I'm still learning, I'm sure to shoot lots of stuff which has been "inspired" by other shots I've seen.

While I simply LOVE Richard's work, I have to disagree about the interest only being in the lower right 1/3. To me, the dark shadows in the background add a lot to the image. I aslo like the sift in tonal range from left to right.

But then again, what the hell do I know.

comment by m a z i a r at 09:31 PM (GMT) on 11 March, 2004

absolutly engaging and clean. Daniel's tip about sharpening is cool, i can also suggest some advance plug-ins for Photoshop like THEIMAGINGFACTORY's UNSHARP MASK PRO which gives you more option. having said that i find this image almost flawless, great job.

comment by p23e at 06:38 AM (GMT) on 12 March, 2004


comment by djn1 at 10:06 AM (GMT) on 12 March, 2004

Thanks everyone.

Richard: not surprisingly I suppose, I tend to dinagree ;-) One of the things I like about this image is that it works at various levels of magnification - close up it's a study of detail in the reflections, but from across the room it's quite abstract. Anyway, I do take your point, but I think that's only one way of looking at it.

Daniel: thanks. That roughly describes one of the methods I use, so it's good to have the process corroborated.

maziar: thanks. I've downloaded the demo version and will give it a try. On first glance its ability to sharpen differentially based on source colour looks interesting.

comment by fredrik at 02:28 PM (GMT) on 14 March, 2004

this is one moody shot! i like it alot. the muted colors and tonality really adds to the picture, and you've done well in sharpening it (which i find to be a problem in the post-processing of my own photos). great work!

comment by jane at 11:22 PM (GMT) on 16 March, 2004

this pic has taken my breath away......gorgeous, I want to reach out and touch the glass