Tuesday, 31 July 2007
Just looking at the pictures for the last two posts, I started thinking about how I visualise aspect ratio [AR] (if indeed I do). The "Cycle tunnel" shot is from the SLR, aspect ratio 6:4 (3:2), "Atop Alpe d'Huez" is from the digicam, AR 5.33:4 (4:3). Neither ratio is quite perfect - 6:4 looks a bit long (landscape too wide) - a bit less rock on the right would be better; 5:4 a bit short (landscape too tall) - light cropping from the bottom, maybe a sliver off the right.
So what is "ideal", how do I view AR and what about square images and wide panoramas?
One thing I have learnt about my own way of seeing is that I almost always think in terms of width of framing, even for portrait subjects. I then aim to capture everything I want in height through position or focal length. Taken to extremes, when I visualise a square image, I hold the camera in portrait orientation so the camera naturally frames the width I want. For panoramics, I always look for the extreme parts I want to capture to left and right, then selecting focal length to capture the height I want - number of shots falls out naturally from there.
What about "normal" shots - single frame, no cropping. In the past I thought I liked a slightly wide landscape AR (say 16:9) and for portrait a slightly short AR (say 5:4). Now I'm not so sure. The wide landscape AR comes from my view of the "grand scenic" - mountains and the like - which I often view in a panoramic kind of way. Not really indicative of the majority of landscape orientation shots. I often find myself cropping the long side of shots from the SLR - not quiet from 6:4 to 5:4.
SO that leads to the final point, and the first question: what's ideal? For me, I think something between 5:4 and 6:4. I might experiment, but 2 obvious candidates are 5.5:4 (round the difference) and 5.66:4 (1.41:1, format of A-size paper, and about the average). This won't be a universal truth of course, but might inform my general framing & cropping. What about Golden Ratio (6.472:4, 1.618:1) - seems so wide it's never considered in general photography.
Monday, 30 July 2007
Sunday, 29 July 2007
Something I noticed this evening reminded me of an even more impressive sight I saw during he week. Tonight, the wind was blowing through the trees in such a way that the leaves shimmered as they turned into and out of the evening sun. red leaves in particular glittered.
On Wednesday evening I was out having a few beers outside a local bar. The wall of the building next door was covered in ivy, all 4 stories of it. the wind was blowing down the street in such a way to make the ivy ripple like waves. It made the wall seem alive, as if the whole brick surface was rippling.
Both these events made me realise that there are some things that cannot be photographed. The photo image is just a point in time and sometimes things are more than points in time. Both the wind effects I describe could never be captured in a still image satisfactorily (I know, I've tried). Whilst movement (or the sense thereof, as above) can be portrayed in a still image, there will always be events that are best viewed as movement.
Hopefully those of us with cameras spend enough time away from the viewfinder to notice the dynamic events all around us, as well as trying to capture the moment.
Saturday, 28 July 2007
I can never quite decide with images like this whether I prefer colour or black & white. There are merits to both, of course. Then sometimes I try something a bit more unusual:
It may seem I've posted quite a lot from a single morning's photography but with good reason. It was the one time on the trip I had time to just concentrate on making pictures: much of the rest of the week's efforts amounts to holiday snaps. Fun if you were there.
Perouges, just north of Lyon in France, is an interesting location both to stay and to photograph. It is a small mediaevel citadel preserved in near-historic condition. It is clearly a tourist spot and has been the location for many films set in mediaevel France. It is a maze of cobbled streets and interesting architectural corners.
Overnight we ate in the restaurant of the one hotel in town, a very pleasant (if somewhat expensive) evening - something of a modern meets ancient dining experience.
In the morning, while the rest of the team ate a late breakfast I spent some time wandering around photographing the life out of the place. There is so much of possible interest that i didn't want to pass up the opportunity. With limited time and fast-brightening skies, bracketing everything was the order: many bright highlights and dark shadows. With no tripod, developing the pictures is a challenge.
Here are a couple more results from the morning's efforts.
Gallery, Perouges, France, July 2007
Angles, Perouges, France, July 2007
Friday, 27 July 2007
I've posted the entire collection in a folder on my portfolio site. Overall, there are about 3 that don't work technically, a few that didn't quite show what I thought I saw but on the whole I'm quite encouraged by the results. Hope you like some of the results, too.
Friday, 20 July 2007
...this time to Heidelberg in Germany. Another opportunity to flood myself with photos to stack onto the other incomplete work. Looks like a busy few evenings in the next couple of weeks.
One reason I know I'll have quite a bit to do is that I enjoy photographing historic towns. I like the way grand buildings sit alongside alleyways of odd-shaped houses, the hap-hazard nature of the street layouts and the way in which centuries of development and progress is laid out for all to see. This means I egt all kinds of interesting shots & interpretations to look at, often in difficult lighting. If it is sunny then there is always great contrast in every scene: bright skies, sunlit stonework, dark shadows. A real chalenge for handheld photography.
This will also be the first time I'll get to use my new 17-55IS lens in earnest for the purpose I bought it - available light photography of building interiors. I'll report back on my impressions of the lens for that purpose on my return.
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
Blogs have been intermittent recently as I've got my parents visiting, which inevitably means I can't spend as much time with the photo work as normal. One spin-off, however, has been the small assignment they've asked me to do.
Next month my parents celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary (we should all last so long) and wanted some of their wedding photos on display for the big day. As a result, I've been scanning some of their wedding album, retouching and reprinting. Everything is in black and white, which makes it a little easier - there were only a few colour shots taken that day 40 years ago: "colour was only just coming in" was my Mum's observation.
Several things have been interesting about it. Firstly are the high resolution reflective scans. The V750 does a nice job - easily able to out-resolve the prints -, the dust & scratch tool works as advertised and the overall quality is very high. I settled on 1200dpi scans as offering the limit of detail and grain suppression. The textured matt surfaces throw up quite a lot of grain/luminance noise in scanning.
This leads to the second observation - how much film & print have moved on in 40 years. These are good quality prints. Having been stored in an archival album, in the loft, in a box, there is no fading, curling etc. However, every bit of grain in the film is apparent and the level of resolution returned is nothing compared to modern materials. In a couple it is hard to tell whether it is a lack of critical focus or lack of film capability that is limiting.
Final observation is that even with all these limitations, the photos touch up very nice in digital. Scan, dust removal (PS dust & scratch tool), contrast, levels are all that's needed to bring the scans up. I'm only making 12" prints which means de-ressing the scans followed by final sharpening. I only ran 1 print last night but the result was a finer print than the original; of course no more detail but a generally more pleasing result (I think).
One of the prints I'm working on is one of the original proofs, which is made on much lower quality materials. It's curled, yellowed and has PROOF stamped across it. Despite that, I'm able to produce a good result and even remove the stamp mark with some careful
I wonder how photographers of the future will look back on our efforts today? Will things move on such that they will make similar observations to me?
Friday, 13 July 2007
The accompanying shot is an example: made from 6 images, handheld, the full size picture is 4200x7800 pixels.
In a side note, George Barr has posted a reply to a comment I made about knowing when to keep working on a picture. A very good post that helps consolidate my thinking.
Thursday, 12 July 2007
On looking at the pictures I added to the last post, I realised that the web just isn't very good for pushing that kind of idea. The top image has a lot of detail in the final incarnation that just doesn't show here. Here is a crop to illustrate:
The rivets on the door are clearly visible (I hope) and there is more detail in the far landscape than the little picture can show. Oddly, though, the shot straight out of the camera is just as bad in reality as shown in the small view.
The web really is a frustrating place for photography - maybe that is why everyone is pushing for the wow-factor shots, anything remotely subtle just doesn't show up clearly enough.
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
For me, the digital camera is nothing more than a means to capture data: both the spatial data (framing the image) and the colour data (in the RGB storage). the aim is to capture as much as possible without losing anything. My ideal is a low-contrast capture fully exposed to the right: all the data contained in the high value bits. That gives me the greatest opportunity to develop the image as I saw it. The shots illustrating the post demonstrate an example: at the top the edited version; below, straight from the camera.
Tuesday, 10 July 2007
Limited posts over the past few days are due to the fact that I was in London for the weekend: the Tour de France was in town for the Grand Depart. Saturday was the prologue - a short time trial around the famous sites, followed by the first stage on Sunday.
What a great event London stages. There were people standing 6 or 7 deep at every point around the 8km of the prologue route. People everywhere and from all over - in front of me were 2 Norwegian couples over especially for the day. Far more people than when I watched the Prologue in Liege, Belgium a couple of years ago, and they're cycling mad over there.
It's also a sports photographers dream: each rider comes past at 1 minute intervals, good views, full day out. For once Buckingham Palace (above) wasn't the main attraction.
Now I've hundreds of shots to go through, on top of the other 2 shoots uncompleted.
Friday, 6 July 2007
As you may have guessed, I'm very much the amateur (for the love) photographer - it is an addition to the rest of my life, albeit a very pleasantly enjoyable one.
this leads to a problem, which I am currently facing: there are too many new pictures to work on, too many images in waiting, too many projects to keep up with. Having got back from France on Sunday evening, I've just been 2 days away on business and busy in between times. I've only just finished cataloguing the France photos, still have half my project from the week before and this weekend I'm off again for the start of the Tour de France.
Too much to do, too little time. I don't have the patience to leave things for a long period - I want to get it done, clear out each job in order and make space for the next. Not that I rush the work, but I don't like it stacking up. Must persevere, though, or nothing will get done.
Tuesday, 3 July 2007
During the trip, Dave was posting "bloggable events" direct to his blog portableeye. It was a fun way to get pictures of the goings-on to the web quickly from remote locations and the link quickly became a hit with friends around the world. Turns into a sort of daily photoblog of the trip in a kind of Holga-view way. Good fun while we were at it.
If you want to check it out, anything from 22/6 to 2/7 is our jaunt across France.
I'll be doing the more serious photo end of the trip but this was kind of fun. Almost makes me want to get a device that can do something similar. For once, 2MP isn't really a limitation.
Reading through some news stuff on the web, came across this interview with Ken Russell (well known film director) about the photography work he did some while back. The interview ties in with an exhibition of the work relating to that period of his life. Interesting stuff, in my opinion, and certainly the sort of instinctive feel for "street photography" that I think we all wish we had.
Now I'm back from vacation, there's a pile of photos to go through. More on that later.