DJI Mavic, Air and Mini Drones
Friendly, Helpful & Knowledgeable Community
Join Us Now

Interesting challenge - before/after lighting photos...

Donnie Frank

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2017
Messages
528
Reactions
374
Age
60
Location
Albuquerque, N.M.
Hey doods!

I recently acquired a new client who sells and installs parking lot lighting. Naturally, they want before and after shots of their various locations.

Quick back story...

The company in question had hired another drone pilot to shoot "before" shots. Here's an example of his work:

1662563833306.png

They found me through a friend and asked me if I could do better than this. I told them I could. So that said...

Up to now, the locations they have given me to shoot have been "lighting improvement" shots. In other words SOME lighting existed, and their objective was to *improve* the lighting. In these scenarios, shooting "before" shots isn't that difficult because there is SOME lighting to work with. However, last night's location had ZERO lighting. The only light was the quarter moon and ambient light from other parking lots and the building itself. Needless to say, this was tough to shoot. I tried several ISO settings and exposure times. I tried bracketing to no avail. Fortunately, the night was calm so I was able to shoot a couple 4-second exposures. For obvious reasons I honestly didn't want to shoot above ISO 400, but ended up shooting ISO 800. The Mavic 1 has a fixed aperture (f/2.2 I believe).

I should also clarify that my pricing was based on using the Mavic 1. As the size of drone increases, so does my price. Also, because I'm shooting at night (as late as midnight in some cases), I want my drone to be as quiet and diminutive as possible. In all honesty, this kind of shot would be better shot using my X5 camera, but as you all know, an Inspire 1 is a MUCH louder drone. Since I'm shooting roughly 120' - 150' AGL, it's pretty easy to hear the drone. At 11:00 at night an Inspire 1 sounds like a lawnmower! Even so, I may offer that as an option. But I digress...

Of course I shot RAW so was able to manipulate the photos a bit in post. While I was able to remove some noise, I don't think a shot this dark will every be completely noiseless with the Mavic 1 sensor and aperture. While I know my way around Photoshop fairly well, I'm definitely not an "expert" at it. I may try Lightroom. So to my question:

For photo post-production do you guys prefer Lightroom or Photoshop? Those are my choices. If you have other third-party photo editors you like for dark photos, I'd be interested in hearing about them.

Oh....here are last night's photos. The client requested two angles; one facing East and the other facing South. This is the East-facing shot. I'll remind you that the target is the parking lot.

1662565901926.jpeg



And here is the South-facing shot.

1662565971287.jpeg

D
 
I personally prefer Lightroom for this type of work. The toolset and workflow are much better in my opinion. Another tool I have been using alot lately is Luminar Neo. It has some nice AI features for image editing and enhancement.
 
I personally prefer Lightroom for this type of work. The toolset and workflow are much better in my opinion. Another tool I have been using alot lately is Luminar Neo. It has some nice AI features for image editing and enhancement.
Okay...it's settled then. I'm going to give Lightroom a test drive. Any advice for someone who has never even opened the program before but knows their way around Photoshop fairly well? I think YouTube might be a good start for beginner tutorials.

D
 
I personally prefer Lightroom for this type of work. The toolset and workflow are much better in my opinion. Another tool I have been using alot lately is Luminar Neo. It has some nice AI features for image editing and enhancement.
I gave Lightroom a shot. It seems to have a lot of the same tools as Photoshop but kind of arranged differently. They seem to act a little different, as well. I reprocessed the photos through Lightroom and I like the results.

1662587605118.jpeg

1662587636528.jpeg

I send the updated photos to the client citing that she was free to use whichever photos she liked better. She seemed very pleased.

D
 
Here's an unretouched photo where I properly exposed the lights. This gives you an idea of how dark the parking lot really is.

1662587808538.jpeg

D
 
@Donnie Frank While there are solutions to your current dilemma, erhaps you might use this job as a platform to update your drone. While overall DJI makes the best prosumer drones, Autel makes the best prosumer CAMERA drones. While the Autel drones tend not to fly as well as the DJI drones nor does Autel's customer service have the best of reputations, their sensors and image quality are as good as you're going to get; IMO even better than the Mavic 3. The RYYB sensors are superior to DJI's RGGB sensors for image quality and low light. Just something to think about going forward.

But as far as reducing noise from the images you have on hand. Photoshop would be my choice over Lightroom. But there are other software companies that have even better tools for reducing noise: On1, the company that produces On1 Photo Raw has a noise removal plug-in that is available as a Photoshop Plug-in as well as being able to work with their O1PR main program, which IMO is superior to Lightroom in many ways, though Adobe continues to improve Lightroom (but picks your pocket monthly). On1 Noise removal plug-in The plug-in is offered with a 14 day fully functional trial, so this might be a good starting place for your current project.

Here is a link to the best noise removal tools (in the author's opinion).
"Best" noise removal tools
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cymruflyer
@Donnie Frank While there are solutions to your current dilemma, erhaps you might use this job as a platform to update your drone. While overall DJI makes the best prosumer drones, Autel makes the best prosumer CAMERA drones. While the Autel drones tend not to fly as well as the DJI drones nor does Autel's customer service have the best of reputations, their sensors and image quality are as good as you're going to get; IMO even better than the Mavic 3. The RYYB sensors are superior to DJI's RGGB sensors for image quality and low light. Just something to think about going forward.

But as far as reducing noise from the images you have on hand. Photoshop would be my choice over Lightroom. But there are other software companies that have even better tools for reducing noise: On1, the company that produces On1 Photo Raw has a noise removal plug-in that is available as a Photoshop Plug-in as well as being able to work with their O1PR main program, which IMO is superior to Lightroom in many ways, though Adobe continues to improve Lightroom (but picks your pocket monthly). On1 Noise removal plug-in The plug-in is offered with a 14 day fully functional trial, so this might be a good starting place for your current project.

Here is a link to the best noise removal tools (in the author's opinion).
"Best" noise removal tools
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on one's position), the client has actually indicated that they prefer the dark, unretouched photos (as seen in comment #5 from me). So, ironically, all my work and push processing was for naught. Apparently, all I need to do (at least for the "before" shots) is just point, shoot, crop and deliver. Easy peasy.

Regarding the plugin, my need for such a program may have just gone to the wayside. Since the client has indicated that she likes the darker photos (to better show before/after contrast), "noise" is really no longer an issue.

But again, thank you for your reply and plugin suggestion. I will keep your advice in my quiver if I find the need for more robust noise reduction tools.

D
 
When it comes to noise reduction I like to start by putting the raw file through Topaz Denoise before taking it into Photoshop. There is a RAW profile in Topaz that is likely to work best. I resisted buying Topaz Denoise, thinking that Photoshop had those tools, but this is noticeably better in Topaz.

If flying at night was an issue I would have chosen my Mavic 3. It is much quieter than the old Mavic Air and is better for low light by far. I suppose I would have shot in Dlog to further extend the range and would have the aperture wide open since DOF would not be a concern.
 
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on one's position), the client has actually indicated that they prefer the dark, unretouched photos (as seen in comment #5 from me). So, ironically, all my work and push processing was for naught. Apparently, all I need to do (at least for the "before" shots) is just point, shoot, crop and deliver. Easy peasy.

Regarding the plugin, my need for such a program may have just gone to the wayside. Since the client has indicated that she likes the darker photos (to better show before/after contrast), "noise" is really no longer an issue.

But again, thank you for your reply and plugin suggestion. I will keep your advice in my quiver if I find the need for more robust noise reduction tools.

D
I suspected that the client would want to illustrate the biggest contrast between no lighting and lighting.
 
When it comes to noise reduction I like to start by putting the raw file through Topaz Denoise before taking it into Photoshop. There is a RAW profile in Topaz that is likely to work best. I resisted buying Topaz Denoise, thinking that Photoshop had those tools, but this is noticeably better in Topaz.
I will keep that in mind. Thanx!



If flying at night was an issue I would have chosen my Mavic 3. It is much quieter than the old Mavic Air and is better for low light by far.
I used my Mavic Pro. And while "night" photography isn't bad, super dark photography (like moonlight level) does get noisy. The MP seems to handle ISO 400 okay, but starts to get noisy with long exposures @ ISO 800.



I suppose I would have shot in Dlog to further extend the range and would have the aperture wide open since DOF would not be a concern.
I did both...sort of. The MP' camera has a fixed aperture (f/2.2). In addition, I shot RAW.

D
 
Lycus Tech Mavic Air 3 Case

DJI Drone Deals

New Threads

Members online

Forum statistics

Threads
130,919
Messages
1,557,903
Members
159,923
Latest member
Weasel7