Monday, March 28, 2011

 Posting Nineteen

“Image Study I”

Let’s see if you are ready to play judge and jury on some of my images. Look at the three images here and decide what, if any, changes need to be addressed. The advantage of playing judge on your own images weighs heavily in your favor when others view them. Look for the obvious:
   1. What about the contrast? Can you do a levels/curves adjustment to help here? Would a run through shadows/highlights be helpful?
   2. Does the image need any cloning? Look for distracting backgrounds.
   3. Will a tighter crop help the overall impact? Is there unwanted space around the image that a crop can eliminate?
   4. What about flipping the image and changing its perspective?
   5. Would you do selective or global sharpening?
   6. Or, is it destined for the “Delete” button?

Let me know what you think. I’ll post what I did to them next week and some of your comments.

Image 01

Image 02

Image 03

So, what are you waiting for, get going!

Monday, March 21, 2011

 Posting Eighteen

“Watch Your Backgrounds”
 Part Three

Thanks to Hockomock Digital Photographer, Rick Alvarnaz, for his permission to share this with you.

Did anyone out there surf the photo vendors to check the prices on those “monster lenses?” And, where did you apply for the bank loan?

From lenses we shift our focus to filters, which are another tool used to alter one’s backgrounds. A diffusion filter on your lens will soften the background to varying degrees. How much? Well, that depends on the filter you chose, as some will soften the entire image while others allow the subject to remain sharp but not the edges. Vignetting filters actually obscure or cover the areas around the center of interest in different window shapes and colors. The aforementioned filters are more popular in portrait photography but have been successfully used in other areas.

In the digital darkroom era much of this filtering is done via the computer. One of the more successful techniques involves the use of the blur tool – especially, the Gaussian Blur. Also, selecting your subject and using the unsharp mask
can make the background appear “soft.” Unwanted objects in the back of the photo can be removed using several of the various clone tools. In CS5 a content awareness feature has been added which gives a whole new meaning to removal of objects - seamlessly!

As you can see, there are many ways to control the background of our images. So there is really no excuse for not creating the photos we want and with all the impact we wish to convey to our viewers.

A last word on this, going the extra step of dealing with unwanted or distracting backgrounds will keep the viewers (and those judges) more focused on where YOU want their eyes to be!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Posting Seventeen

“Watch Your Backgrounds”
 Part Two

Thanks to Hockomock Digital Photographer, Rick Alvarnaz, for his permission to share this with you.

So did you find any distracting areas since we last met? Were you able to step to the left or the right to eliminate them? Good for you!

Rick suggests several different techniques you can use to give you the kind of background to enhance your main subject.

The most obvious technique would be your point of view. Can you move up, back, sideways, or lower to the ground to give your subject a more pleasing background? This simple movement is greatly underused. All things being equal, the distance from the lens to the subject also affects the sharpness of the background. So the closer the focused object is to the lens, the less in focus the background should be. Also, the further the background is from the main subject, the less detail will be seen.

Camera settings can help to create the proper background. The f/stop on your lens controls how sharp your background will be. A low number f/stop (f/1.4 or f/2.8) will help to soften while the higher values of f/16 or f/22 will more clearly define that background and make it sharper.

Ever notice those long lenses on the sidelines of sporting events? These “big glass” lenses are used to isolate the main subject from the usually distracting stadium crowd or other players. These “monster” lenses are very helpful in wildlife photography as they are capable of blowing out the cluttered environments behind the animals.

In the end it’s all about you and how much of your background do you want in the overall image

Part Three will look at how filters and some of the tools from the digital darkroom can impact those backgrounds.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Posting Sixteen

“Watch Your Backgrounds” - Part One


Thanks to Hockomock Digital Photographer, Rick Alvarnaz, for his permission to share this with you.

How many times have you heard this at competitions or image study meetings, “Watch your background!” Just what does it mean? In truth, your background is just as important as the subject in your image.

Photography is all about communication and your message is more effectively presented with the proper background. Ask yourself. . . is a sharp detailed background what you want, or does a soft muted background better suit your subject? It’s your picture, so it’s up to you!

Even with the use of Photoshop, it is always better to fine tune your image as much as possible in the camera. The most effective way to assure a proper setting for your subject is to use a critical eye when taking the photo.

Someone once advised me to look through the viewfinder as if you were seeing a framed print already on the wall. Examine the ENTIRE frame – is everything there being included purposefully, or are there elements that are distracting and therefore taking attention away from your main subject?

Some distracting examples are unwanted bright spots, objects protruding from one’s head, or anything that does not support your subject. Did you see that beer can in the corner of your landscape shot? How about the blue Volvo just entering your capture of a red-tailed hawk? Is your main subject too close to the edge of your frame? What about the branch that appears to be sticking out of your spouse’s head? Look carefully through your image BEFORE clicking away.

This has got to hurt! If I took a few steps to the right, the flag would be in front of him adding to the overall impact of the image.

What was I thinking? Nothing like a Civil War Re-enactment to show the latest models in cars, right? What is that white triangle in the lower right corner? And, let's not forget the rope just above his head - a Confederate ploy? No easy solutions here. Delete it!