Hope you’re all having a good weekend
Hope you’re all having a good weekend
If you don’t mind, I’m going to take a little side step in this post and instead of waffling about my camera or my photographs, I’m going to talk about my mobile phone.
Or at least my new camera.
OK. I know camera phones have been around for ages, but I’ve always found them to be blurry awful things with more shutter lag than a thing with a lot of shutter lag. (Frankly when I heard stories of people using them to peep on people getting changed, it always amazed me – any phone I had in the time it took you to peep and take the picture, the person could have been washed, dressed and halfway to the pub.)
But, since it was contract renewal time and I didn’t want an iPhone or Google thing I took a look at the Sony Ericsson C905.
I’m not going to talk about the phone. It takes calls, makes calls and does those text message things. So that’s all good.
But some genius built a Sony Cyber-shot into it. Yup, a genuine Sony Cyber-shot 8 megapixel camera. That’s 8 megapixels, a decent lens, a flash, a video camera and a bundle of love like face detection, macro mode and shiny shiny goodness.
It even takes a nice picture…
If you want technical specs, you can get them here.
If you’re in the market for a phone and a camera, then this seems like the business.
Following on from that game a week or so ago…
The 10 minute Chilli
I’m not as happy with this one.
These days, most of the photos I put online or print out have had some form of post processing on them. I’ve nothing against unedited photographs, I just think that there are a few things you can do that make a difference, things that a film photographer would do in a darkroom as a matter of normal practice.
One of the most common adjustments I make to a photograph is the application of curves.
(OK, if you’re an experienced photographer or know all this already, switch off now…)
Curves adjustments allow you to tweak the tonal ranges in an image without changing the overall exposure. At its simplest level, you can brighten shadows (or make them darker) or do the same for the highlights. Getting more advanced, you can adjust individual channels (typically – red, green, blue) in an image to increase the contrast of specific colours. You can even use curves to correct white balance issues.
Typically, the tonal range of an image is represented in a curves dialog by a straight line running bottom left (dark) to top right (bright). When you adjust the tonal range, you manipulate that line, essentially adding a curve (can you see how they named it?)
Here’s some examples of pictures I’ve taken before and after curves have been applied. (Note, none of the pictures are great, but hopefully they show how curves can help).
In all the following examples, the original image is the part on the left.
By pulling the lower portion of the line down, dark tones within the image are intensified. The line becomes steeper as the contrast in the picture is increased, but the highlights in this (already blown out) image aren’t increased.
The original image here is a little dark, but simply increasing the exposure would have ruined the look of the dark grey suit. By pulling up the upper portion of the tonal line, the part dealing with the highlights, the shirt gets brighter as well as the face whilst the suit retains most of its original dark formal tones.
By using both the adjustments mentioned above, it’s possible to take a flat or lifeless photograph and breath a little contrast and life back into it. As the curve here shows, a little is often enough – remember the steeper the line the more contrast the picture will have.
Increasing a specific channel
Using the curves tool, it’s often possible to define a separate curve for each colour channel in the image. In this example, the highlights of the green channel have been stripped back, whilst the reds and blues have been made darker and more intense to differing degrees.
These are all pretty simple adjustments. It’s possible to have many points on the line and make lots of different adjustments all the way through the tonal range. But, typically a few minor modifications is all that’s needed.
Hopefully you can see the value of using curves to enhance an image. If your images are flat or dull, it’s easily the quickest way to bring some life into them.
Sometimes I think pieces of architecture suit black and white more than colour. I think so with this picture anyway, the original was flat and lifeless and any attempt to improve it left it feeling over contrasted (on this site, too much contrast? Never!).
However, I picked up a neat trick for B&W conversion a while back and it just made all the difference. And it’s really simple – just convert the image into “Lab Colour mode” in photoshop and then delete the channels you don’t want. You’re left with a crisp image.
A little (OK, a lot) of sharpening later and…
I swear, I will not start randomly posting images on a Friday for no reason. I just liked the gold colours of the sunset…
Built from three exposures using HDR and then some additional tweaks, it lost all semblance of “natural picture” a while back, but I took a shine to the gold colours.
Yesterday was an unusual day.
I turned down my first ever photographic engagement and I gave my first ever photographic talk.
Pretty impressive huh?
Well, I guess it’s all in how you sell it.
My work asked me if I’d take some photographs at an event they’re hosting in a few weeks. Sadly, it conflicts with actual real work for me, so I had to decline. Annoying, but it was lovely to be asked.
And my talk? CPA had a members choice evening where 6 members were asked to talk for 10 – 20 minutes about a selection of their photographs. I picked 8 photographs that represented things I’d tried with photography, from HDR through to portraits and trying to sell stuff.
Good fun, but more nerve wracking than I expected. I also felt a little down after I did it as the other talks contained photographs which just blew mine away. So, If you were talking to me after the event and I seemed ‘funny’ I was just feeling a little exposed and needed to run away!
That’s not to say I won’t do it again…
Oh, and that reminds me – People Photography 2009 must be coming round again.
My father was showing me a flower today in his garden. He has a bunch of yellow tulips (I think) and a single red one.
Annoyingly. it was close to a fence with really bad light for taking a picture – I know, I tried. There was lots of cross light and dense shadow because of a fence right behind the flower.
I was about to give up when I remembered I had my flash gun and off camera remotes with me and, never having used them outside the house before, it seemed like an opportunity to try some form of fill in flash.
OK, my understanding of “fill in flash” is that when you have a subject that’s back-lit or has a shadow on it, you can use a little “pop” of flash to compensate. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a compact or an SLR, if you can turn on your flash you can use it to help fill in the missing light. Using this, you can expose the image, front and back equally.
I guess I took it a little further, by using the flash off camera (with my father holding it) and deliberately under exposing the background I was able to mostly isolate the flower. A little photoshop later and I ended up with this.
I was chatting to a friend after work tonight and doing the usual procrastination about things. to get me motivated (and because he’s mean) he set a challenge – to take the best photo I could in the garden in the next 10 minutes.
It’s actually quite tough to work under a time constraint. I guess it’s something professional photographers deal with – that knockout punch only lands once, that couple get married only once (we hope). As an amateur, if I miss the shot, it’s a pain, but nobody gets sued.
Anyway. As I grabbed my camera, I suddenly realised how constraining 10 minutes actually was. Realistically I needed to take one lens. I then realised I had to pick my shot as well – I could take a lot of shots quickly, but since I’d to pick a final choice as well, I had to draw a line so I had to get the shots I took right….first time.
I spent 6 minutes in the garden. I took 8 pictures. I then spent 2 minutes uploading and another 2 picking and tweaking my shot.
This is it…
As challenges go, it’s good fun to try. I guess repeating it will help focus your mind on the shot, but in future I’d allow as much time as you want for post processing if nothing else!