(mostly) daily photoblog

Posts tagged “Technique

Playing with photo processing

I took this photo a few months ago, it I downloaded an app on my iPad called Snapseed. It has a “tilt-shift” process that turned my photo of the Selamat Datang traffic circle into what looks like a miniature diorama. So fun, but so weird.

What do you think?


Life in sepia tones

sepia night

It rained last night.  Then, God turned on Photoshop and switched the world to the sepia filter.  My wife called to me to come look outside.  The whole world was bathed in a brown-orange-golden glow.  It was like stepping out of my apartment into an aging photograph.

The only thing I adjusted was curves and levels, for better contrast.

Photo-geeks, UNITE!

Pop Quiz!  What’s working well in the photo and what’s not?

1.  What’s working well?  Look at the photo and try to identify what makes this a good photo.  After looking for minute, look below for some possible answers.

2.  What’s not working?  After looking at the photo for a minute, scroll down and let’s discuss.


Working well:

It follows the rule of thirds.  The twin horizons of the bottom and top of the mountain are on the thirds.  By dividing a photograph into nine equally sized parts and placing compositional elements on the intersections of these nine parts, a photographer can create tension and energy and, thus, more interest in the photograph.

The horizon is straight.  If your horizon is not straight, it makes it look as though you are trying to disorient your viewer.  Or, it looks as though you might have been drinking the hard stuff before you went out to shoot your photos.  By the way, if you can’t shoot a straight for your life, every photo processing program has a “straighten” function, or a way to straighten out your photos while cropping.

The contrast is nice.  The brightness of the sky, leading to the whiteness of the snow, leading to the darkness of the base of the mountain, leading to the green-ness of the grass all leads the viewer’s eye through the photo.  I think that’s working well.


Not working:

There is no focal point intersecting on the “thirds”.  That is to say, there is nothing of particular interest in the photo besides the mountain and the snow, but there’s no object nor element that draws the eye of the viewer.  The only place that naturally draws your eye is the “V” in the mountain, which is situated in the middle of the photograph, precisely where a good photo should not lead your viewer.

The colours, though deep, are not bright enough.  Although the contrast from green at the bottom to blue at the top is working, the foreground loses detail in the darkness of it.  Also, the contrast could be a little stronger between the blue sky and the white clouds and snow.


So, that’s my opinion.  What’s yours?

Black and white always makes me feel cold.

What is it about black and white photos that feels so cold?

It was a very cool morning when I shot this.  I was wearing a cardigan sweater and t-shirt and freezing my niblets off as I stood on the back end of the ferry to take this shot.  When I was playing around with this in processing, I flipped the RAW photo to grayscale and felt that the photo suddenly matched the feeling that I had while I was on the ferry.

So, why it is that black and white photos feel cold?  Anyone?

All right kids – voting time!

I took my Pentax K1000, completely manual, old-school camera and my Pentax K20D, super digital, 14.6 megapixel camera with me to the Oregon coast.  The diptych above shows the difference between the two cameras.  The photo on the left was taken with my K1000.  It was shot on Kodak 400 Ultramax film.  The photo on the right was taken with my K20D.  It was shot on a CMOS digital sensor.  I adjusted the contrast slightly on each in Photoshop (I had the film transferred to a CD); otherwise, these two photos were taken in the same place with Pentax 50mm f1.7 lenses on two separate cameras.

So, which one do you like better?  The one on the left, or the one on the right?  Film, or digital?

If you’re stuck and want to see them bigger, click on the photo for a larger version.

A short lesson in depth of field

This was shot at an aperture of f3.5.  It was shot on a kit lens, the Pentax-DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL II to be exact.  It’s what comes with a Pentax K200D, and the lens that I bought for my K20D.  This lens is a good lens for the money (about $100), but the lowest aperture is not particularly low.  I have a Pentax A 50mm lens that has it’s biggest aperture at f1.7.  That’s a low aperture.

But Marc, that’s a lower number but you wrote that the aperture was bigger.  What gives?  Well, the lower the number, the larger the aperture (opening).  So what?  The photo’s background, above, is somewhat out of focus, leaving the viewer with the sense of depth that would not occur had the entire photo been in focus.  The lower the aperture, the less of the photo that is in focus, the more a sense of depth is felt by the viewer.  Make sense?

If you want to have a little fun, mess with your aperture on your camera.  Your photos will turn out differently than if you leave all of the work to your camera, and you might end up with a result that you like better than the automatic settings.


Do you remember when the way to be kind was to rewind?

Video cassettes, tape cassettes, camera film – all had to be rewound.  Ahh…the good old days before DVD’s, Blu-Ray’s, and MP3’s, when kindness was based on one’s ability to turn something  backward.  I’m not sure this is the best way to gauge kindness.  It seems to me that kindness should be based on compassion for others, helping those who need help, providing charity for those in need, giving of one’s time to worthy causes, not one’s pushing of buttons or turning of rewind knobs (as pictured above).

The photo, by the way, was taken of the serial number and rewind knob of my Pentax K1000 camera.  It was taken with extension tubes attached to my Tokina 70-210 lens, mounted on my Pentax K20D, which was, in turn, mounted on my tripod.  Fun stuff, no?

My Beast

I was inspired recently, after reading Chloe Sutcliffe’s blog, to take some photos of my old SLR camera.  I shot with this Pentax K1000 for a couple of years before I bought a DSLR.  I love this camera, but have largely neglected it since getting a Pentax K20D.

So, here’s a few endearing facts about this camera.  I bought it from the school at which I used to work as they were phasing out their traditional photography program in favor of a digital program.  Bad for tradition, good for me.  The camera, as I’ve been researching, comes out nearly as old as me, which makes me ever so in love with it.  It thrills me to know that it’s over thirty years old.

The best part is that it is entirely manual; this thrills me because if the photo that is taken is good, it is because of me.  It the photo is bad, it is because of me.  It made me a better photographer.  In fact, if I take good photos at all, now, it is because this camera made me learn how to take, compose, conceive of better photos to take.

I hereby present, to the world, my first triptych

I was playing with a bunch of photos of this helmeted guy – you can look at yesterday’s post if you want to see the photo all by itself.  I’ve been playing at different ways to present a photo and this offered the opportunity to play with perspective.  I tried to focus on the art and its context.  I also accidentally did the first one in grayscale instead of color, so below is the result of that.  What do you think?  Am I doing okay?

And, yes, I did play around with the composition of the triptych.  Which one worked better?