Opportunism is a big part of photography – not everything has to be planned down to the last detail. This shot is a case in point, I was making my first coffee of the day and spotted the shadows cast by the bug screens on our windows. I have never noticed this before and I suspect that the effect requires extremely bright sunlight from a certain angle. Two minutes after I had taken this shot the effect was no more.
At first I tried to get a shot of the wall on the left but then noticed the shadows on the toggles. Here there is a bonus because the shadows really help to define the form of the toggles.
Anyway this version of the image is a little small but click on it and the original mesh and the shadows cast on both the toggles and the wall will be obvious.
This photograph represents an attempt to play around with scale. I wanted to create the illusion that the beach ball was normal size and that the chairs in the foreground were toys.
For reference the beach ball was somewhere in the region of ten foot in diameter.
The ‘toy’ effect is usually achieved by the simple use of a pseudo tilt shift software filter but that alone didn’t work in this case. This image is the result of a lot of selective focus work, vignetting and adding texture layers. If I had to do it again I could probably lose some of the steps but to be honest, I quite like the way this turned out.
Things are going to be a little quiet around here for the next few days – until around Tuesday 15th to be precise. I have to make the final corrections on the book (the one advertised somewhere on the right of this page). It is going to print next week so this is the final push.
I will probably post one or two photos but please don’t expect much in the way of text. I will make up for it towards the end of next week.
Have a great weekend :)
This used to be one of my favorite spots for taking fun candids. It had a real Reservoir Dogs vibe despite the fact that it is probably one of the safest places anywhere.
Unfortunately the spot no longer exists, or at least not in this form, the wall has been patched, the No Parking sign is no more and the whole place is now much more upmarket.
Good for the town for sure but one less good location for a photographer. The fact that this spot is only about a hundred yards from my house makes the loss even greater.
The model, by the way, is my wonderful and tolerant wife – Meg.
Something abstract. For what it’s worth it is a recipe holder shot at f/1.8 (to limit dof) as much as possible against the light from another room (bright light on the right) and a couple of smaller windows (dimmer lights on the left).
I wanted to create the impression of a spiral floating in space which is why I was careful to make sure that no part of the recipe holder that gave away its function should be visible. Even a tiny part of the stand would have shattered the illusion. The object had to be obscure.
The same thinking applies to the background. Nothing could be identifiable as this would have also destroyed the illusion. Apart from anything else it was important that the scale of the image stay ambiguous. An identifiable doorway for example, would have immediately signaled to the viewer that the spiral was small and the abstraction would have been lost.
Edited with Lightroom and Snapseed. Snapseed does a great job with retro effects, anything from fairly subtle to garishly unsubtle.
Sometimes it is the general feel of a scene that makes me pick up the camera while on other occasions it is something very specific. With this image it was something very specific – the shadow cast by the spiral mounting onto the bell itself.
This made the post processing very straight forward – I wasn’t playing with hunches or something equally vague – I wanted to pop that shadow out as much as possible. I knew that the rest of the image would fall into place if I succeeded in doing that.
The added texture and vignetting may appear to be purely decorative but they both serve to emphasize the shadow cast on the bell.
Adobe CS 2 now free
You probably already know about this but just in case:
Adobe have made all of their Creative Suite 2 software available for free including Photoshop – download all or parts of it from here. No catch, no trial version. I can vouch for the fact the Photoshop CS2 works absolutely fine on my windows 7 machine – in fact it flies!
Of course it goes without saying that it round trips with LR 4 perfectly. So my new recommended cheap but professional editing setup is Lightroom 4 as a hub with Photoshop CS2 and Snapseed as external editors. This image was edited using Snapseed.
looks like this was a mistake by Adobe. Apparently the whole thing was intended for those who had already purchased the software. At the last check the downloads were disabled.
Not Adobe’s finest moment.
An intricate dance.
Photography is a language and like all languages it takes some effort to learn.
I am not referring to the technical side of things – that is the easy part.
This is about the emotional, the thing that actually connects with the viewer. I can look at a photograph and see that it is exposed well, composed well and everything else well yet the image leaves me cold. On the one hand I can appreciate the technique but the photograph doesn’t speak to me.
A photographer needs to go deeper than technique, to be able to either bring an emotion to an image or see an emotion within an image that can be drawn out and presented to the viewer. The viewer has to feel empathy for the photograph to work – to make them want to look into the photograph and even to return to it.
This is where seeing is important. The photographer has to know what visually is likely to trigger an emotional response. Now this is where I am going to double back on myself a little – not only does this have to be learned but the technique to achieve it has to be known. I stick by my original statement that learning the technique is not hard. We are not talking about Photoshop layers being manipulated at pixel level here, rather differences in contrast, crop, saturation – the basics.
The next time you are editing a photograph go beyond the standard teachings e.g. exposure, noise reduction, filling in shadows, cropping etc. and decide what the image means to you and what you want it to mean to the viewer – Example: Are you trying to portray a hard brutal reality or do you want to idealize something in a romantic way? Obviously very different editing approaches would best serve these very different efforts. At the risk of stating the obvious a harsh, dissonant approach for the former and a softer more harmonious approach for the latter would likely yield the required effect.
Edit according to what draws you to the image and what will hopefully draw your viewer to it. Don’t do what many photographers do which is to have more or less a preset workflow regardless of subject or emotional content. The actual taking of the photograph is only a part of the project – your job as an artist is to then work on directing the viewers attention so that the image can have the impact that it should,
This is the second shot taken at dusk a few nights ago. Here is the first That one was a very grungy lofi type edit but it did ‘pop’ – or at least others seemed to think so.
This is a slightly different take, a lot cleaner and a lot more cinematic – although certainly not clean by purist standards.
Of course the crop to increase the length/height relationship adds to the cinematic quality. The other one was a 4:3 crop.
Also worth noting – this was shot with a point and shoot and not a DSLR showing that it is possible to get atmospheric results with a small sensor.
An exercise in keeping things very simple.
Large aperture (f/1.8) to limit depth of field.
Simple background - the squares on the right are part of a tray which was propped up against the wall and not part of the post processing.
Focus is on the two drips on the side of the glass.
Contrast and vignette added to unify the image.
This was shot on a kitchen work top with three overhead naked light bulbs (hardly ideal). A small depth of field combined with increasing contrast can overcome just about any lighting conditions however unhelpful.
This was also shot at a high ISO, 3200 which meant that I didn’t have to use a tripodd or any other support.
In other words, shots like this do not actually require a studio or any specialized equipment.
This was shot with a DSLR but a very similar end result could be achieved using a point and shoot and a good tiltshift (selective focus) software filter such as the one that comes with Snapseed.