Nik Viveza 2: Overcoming Spiral Artifacts By Increasing Bit Depth

I am a huge fan of Nik Collection professional photographic tools and have only Google to thank for making them really affordable when they bought over the company. It began with the Viveza plug-in that made local adjustments possible (Lightroom offers a similar tool by way of the Local Adjustment Brush but early implementation isn’t nearly as smooth as Nik’s U Point technology). I’m writing this post not to review this tool but to highlight a problem I’ve encountered sometime back (visibility pronounced under the right conditions) with the Viveza tool, and how support staff resolved the (annoying) problem in less than 48 hours, in two emails.

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The problem I’m talking about are the spiral artifacts after I’ve applied local brightness and contrast adjustments to the white and red colored part of the helicopter body. You can see the spiral patterns (“banding” being the technical term to describe this occurrence in digital images) radiating from the chopper to the rest of the image.

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To further clarify, there are banding issues caused by the camera (as explained here) and there are those amplified and made more pronounced as a direct result of editing. I have another helicopter photo where slight artifacts can be seen even when the image is a 14-bit RAW (they can still occur under the right conditions but the effects are lessened due to the use of an anti-aliasing (AA) filter on the sensor.

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Because the raw converter (not Lightroom) I used to process this photo doesn’t have local adjustment capability, I exported the image to JPEG before making final adjustments using Viveza 2 as a Paintshop Pro plug-in. There’s no visible banding when I applied the same editing after increasing the image to a 16-bit image even though a JPEG file is inherently 8-bit (easily done via “Increase Color Depth”). <3

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Photo of Brunei Shell Petroleum’s Sikorsky S-92 SAR helicopter. Just so you know, if you’re noticing the area outside the body being unnaturally bright, that’s intentional as a result of more aggressive than necessary adjustments in my attempt to provoke banding. No signs of that happening, at least not with this photo so it’s all good! :grin:

Adobe Lightroom ‘Parallel Processing’ Speeds Up JPEG Export by 50%

It should be noted that I use Canon Digital Photo Professional as my RAW batch processor. I have dabbled with Lightroom more than once or twice but never found the encouragement to switch especially when I had been computing on under powered hardware that would only make the whole experience excruciatingly painful. To  cut a long story short, I got a new custom-built Windows 7 64-bit PC last December moving up from two generation old 32-bit processing platform — a project that began with me nearly committing to an Alienware Aurora gaming rig but something else much better persuaded me otherwise!

Machine Specs: ASUS Republic of Gamers Maximus V GENE, unlocked Intel Core i7-3770K 4.6GHz liquid cooled by Corsair H80 cooler, Corsair Vengeance™ DDR3 OC Edition 1866MHz 16GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB, Crucial M4 128GB + 256GB SSDs housed in a SilverStone Fortress FT03 chassis.

ASUSROG_STUDIO_FBMy photo-editing studio: Asus Maximus V Gene with dual Dell 27″ and 24″ UltraSharp monitors

Curious and better equipped than ever before I installed a trial copy of Lightroom 4.3 64-bit and imported 1,634 5D Mark II/III RAW files from the 2013 Lexus Golf Classic shoot. I first learnt of Lightroom’s parallel processing capability from ScottKelby.com who got the info from  MacPerformanceGuide.com and that was enough of a push to see how my investment fared. What happened next blew my mind, and I quote from the observation I posted on Facebook. I also shared this post on DPreview.com and Flickr.com

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In the interest of benchmarking, I exported 1,634 Large RAW files to JPEG (Quality: 100) in batches of 400 images per operation in 4 operations (pictured above) and timed how long it would take to complete. Note that this is purely an export with no adjustments made to the images. Estimating the time it took me to separate 4 batches of 400 images each to be 1 minute in total, the entire export processes completed in under 15 minutes – impressive! Batching the same number of images in a single process took twice as long. — Facebook, January 21 2013

ASUSROG_SPECS_FBI ran the tests several times and on one occasion I had Canon Digital Photo Professional export 296 images from the same batch of RAW files with Lightroom this time running  not 4 but 5 parallel processes. The result was nothing short of amazing!

One hot weekend of Lexus Golf Classic shoot, 3 thousand images, several shades darker and 2 itchy sand fly bites later, this morning I decided there’s no better time to push the ASUS ROG 4.7GHz to export Cyril‘s 1600 RAW files in Lightroom and DPP simultaneously. The setup: Lightroom to handle 1600 files in 5 parallel operations and DPP exporting just 296 of the same RAW files (parallel tasking of DPP not tested here). The result is nothing short of mind blowing – my quick CPU tweak to 4.7GHz remained stable, LR finished exporting 1600 RAW to JPEGs in times I’ve never seen before (see top left image “5 operations in progress”. — Facebook, January 21, 2013

Using Canon Digital Photo Professional to Easily Create Multiple Exposure Photography

At the recent London Olympics 2012 Reuters photographers showcased the multiple exposure capability of the Canon flagship EOS 1D X all done in-camera (the EOS 5D Mark III is capable of this too). If you own neither (like me) you’ll be delighted to know I’ve found a way to get the same results using the version of Digital Photo Professional bundled with the 5D Mark III. The software has since received some updates so if you’re wondering which version that is, I’m not quite certain but the one I have is 3.11.31.0 — features the new Compositing and HDR tools — and because it’s DPP you can get the magic to work on both RAW and JPEG images. Compositing Tool is what’s needed for to layer several images for a stunning composite. The example below uses a series of images I shot using my Samsung Galaxy S III.

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Canon Digital Photo Professional supports both RAW and JPEG files.

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Select the Compositing Tool and insert the images one after another .

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Anyone who has tried to make sense of layering techniques to get results like this knows it’s not a straightforward affair. DPP’s Compositing Tool is surprisingly easy to get results quickly and there are even options that let you control with preview of how the picture is going to end up.

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Once the final composite image is saved, you can then make localized changes just as you would with any RAW or JPEG image to get the desired result.