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kallisti
Apr 15, 2010, 11:47 AM
I hesitate to make this post. I have no illusions about my photographic skills (or lack thereof). I usually trust my judgement on what works and what doesn't. I post pics in the POTD thread knowing that they aren't perfect, but hoping that they have enough going for them that others might find them interesting.

I have an image that I actually really like. I have much to learn about processing in post, but I've played with the image on my own and am reasonably happy with the result. But I'm not sure it's as good as it could be and am curious about what others would do with it. Plan on printing it for my office, not for sale.

Original:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4022/4523746030_fb98d8a0d4_o.jpg

My tweaks in post:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4060/4523562632_b24cedf8f5_o.jpg
(posted in the POTD thread this month)

Obviously I'm happier with the changes I made. I think it works better in B&W and cropped to a vertical orientation. But I keep having these niggling doubts that it could look better and as I play around with it I can't decide what works.

(1) The shot is what it is. Can't change the lighting, point of view, composition, etc. without planning another trip to NYC. Possible (and I'm actually thinking about doing it and shooting at dawn and/or dusk or in different weather) but that doesn't help me with this image.

(2) Vertical vs landscape. Obviously I chose vertical for the crop and I think it works better. The lines in landscape are still interesting, but I think a vertical orientation works better for the subject.

(3) Color vs B&W. I like B&W for this since I think the texture is more interesting than the relatively muted colors present. Possible I need to play more with the B&W conversion though.

Thoughts? I feel fairly lame even making this post. I should be able to sort this out on my own. I just keep having this feeling that I am close to making this into an interesting image but that I have missed something that I can't put my finger on.

Input appreciated.



miles01110
Apr 15, 2010, 11:50 AM
I definitely like the portrait (vertical) orientation and the B&W version better.

Even though I've seen similar shots, I think yours is certainly no worse (that was intended as a compliment :p). The shot is interesting, has direction, and I think it'd look great in your office.

Care to post the exif data, out of curiosity?

GoCubsGo
Apr 15, 2010, 11:52 AM
The B&W shot is hands down better than the color shot. I would boost the contrast just a smidgen though, if possible.

kallisti
Apr 15, 2010, 12:11 PM
EXIF data:

D700 shot in RAW
14-24 Nikon @ 22mm
ISO 200
f/11
1/320 sec
Handheld

CrackedButter
Apr 15, 2010, 12:29 PM
Yes the crop is so much better and I agree about the contrast, bump it up! It would heighten the senses so much when viewing.

If you can go back, I would take this image further by shooting the same scene during twilight, open up the aperture some more, like f22 and allow for all the colours to become exposed, make it a slow iso like 100 or 50 (you'll need a tripod). It would take the image away from being just a snapshot, and you will learn more about composing a picture rather than just taking a picture of what you see.

ManhattanPrjct
Apr 15, 2010, 12:59 PM
I'd hope for some clearer skies if you go back. You might also want to get a little closer - maybe try this standing next to that light fixture so you can fill more of the frame with the suspension tower without having to crop it.

I'd also go to Grimaldi's for some amazing pizza after you've recaptured this image.

kallisti
Apr 15, 2010, 01:00 PM
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4038/4523918388_8a3590b78b_o.jpg

Boosted the contrast a bit, though I lost some shadow detail in the process. It has more *pop*, but the loss of shadow detail bothers me (see especially the inner portion of the left strut).

@ Jessica: here's a little contrast boost.

@miles01110: no worries. I know it's a generic image. But this one happens to be mine :)

@CrackedButter: I'm debating how to improve this. Early morning/late evening would improve the light for a color image, but I don't honestly know what effect it would have in B&W. I have to plead ignorance there. I'm open to trying it (i.e. only one way to find out), but since I think this image works best in B&W I don't know whether shooting during the traditional times of day will be effective. I'm still struggling with light though--while intellectually I understand that light is perhaps the most important aspect of any image I'm not at a stage in my learning that I really have a good understanding of it. Additionally, for this image I'm not sure how much a tripod would have mattered given the light it was shot in. Depth of field seems okay to me and the image is decently focused. Shooting in this light at f/22 wouldn't have added much in my opinion. Would the increased DOF at f/22 add to the image? Perhaps it would. If I retake the image at a smaller aperture or in less light, a tripod would be mandatory.

kallisti
Apr 15, 2010, 01:09 PM
I'd hope for some clearer skies if you go back. You might also want to get a little closer - maybe try this standing next to that light fixture so you can fill more of the frame with the suspension tower without having to crop it.

I'd also go to Grimaldi's for some amazing pizza after you've recaptured this image.

Points well taken. Where exactly is Gimaldi's? I'm always open to a good slice (that is actually an understatement).

mtbdudex
Apr 15, 2010, 01:29 PM
I like the more contrast version, did you play with the un-sharp mask to see what that would give you in terms of detail?

Doylem
Apr 15, 2010, 01:35 PM
I'm still struggling with light though--while intellectually I understand that light is perhaps the most important aspect of any image I'm not at a stage in my learning that I really have a good understanding of it.

Nothing intellectual about light, not much to understand either... all you have to do is stand still and watch what it's doing... ;)

ManhattanPrjct
Apr 15, 2010, 01:49 PM
Points well taken. Where exactly is Gimaldi's? I'm always open to a good slice (that is actually an understatement).

You have a great lens - might as well see what you can do with it on the wider side if you choose to get a little closer. You may have to deal with some distortion though.

Grimaldi's = Best pizza in New York - underneath the bridge on the Brooklyn side (PS: no slices!).

kallisti
Apr 15, 2010, 01:57 PM
Nothing intellectual about light, not much to understand either... all you have to do is stand still and watch what it's doing... ;)

I assume this comment was made tongue in cheek. Light is by far the most important aspect in any image, assuming that the basics of composition and exposure are dealt with. A good understanding of light is what separates *potentially* good images from amazing images. I'm not there yet. I'm still focusing on subject, background, and overall composition. The images I create are snapshots because I largely ignore light. Something I hope to correct (by learning about light in a controlled studio setting and then transferring what I have learned to outdoor settings).

Based on your posted images, you understand composition. The *amazing* images you post (compared to the so-so but still very impressive images) are arguably because of your patience in waiting for "just the right" light.

While it may be intuitive for you, I would argue that being able to appreciate the *right* light isn't intuitive for most. I would also argue that an understanding of light is the last on most amateur's lists of things to learn. Most focus on gear, gear, gear, gear. Maybe a bit on reading about composition. Then focus again on gear. Light is never touched upon by most.

Are you really going to argue that light isn't important (and potentially challenging to learn)?

I don't want this post to sound argumentative or aggressive. Not my intent at all. But an understanding of light is key to image making. I'm struggling with it, but at least I see how important it is to the images I want to make.

Doylem
Apr 15, 2010, 02:08 PM
I assume this comment was made tongue in cheek. Light is by far the most important aspect in any image, assuming that the basics of composition and exposure are dealt with. A good understanding of light is what separates *potentially* good images from amazing images. I'm not there yet. I'm still focusing on subject, background, and overall composition. The images I create are snapshots because I largely ignore light. Something I hope to correct (by learning about light in a controlled studio setting and then transferring what I have learned to outdoor settings).

Based on your posted images, you understand composition. The *amazing* images you post (compared to the so-so but still very impressive images) are arguably because of your patience in waiting for "just the right" light.

While it may be intuitive for you, I would argue that being able to appreciate the *right* light isn't intuitive for most. I would also argue that an understanding of light is the last on most amateur's lists of things to learn. Most focus on gear, gear, gear, gear. Maybe a bit on reading about composition. Then focus again on gear. Light is never touched upon by most.

Are you really going to argue that light isn't important (and potentially challenging to learn)?

I don't want this post to sound argumentative or aggressive. Not my intent at all. But an understanding of light is key to image making. I'm struggling with it, but at least I see how important it is to the images I want to make.

Erm... I wasn't being tongue in cheek. Light is 99% of photography, IMO, but it's not something to learn... it's something to experience. Knowing the science of light won't help a photographer to take better pictures... but a focussed mindfulness will enable him to be nimble, responsive... and ready for whatever may happen.

CrackedButter
Apr 15, 2010, 02:28 PM
I assume this comment was made tongue in cheek. Light is by far the most important aspect in any image, assuming that the basics of composition and exposure are dealt with. A good understanding of light is what separates *potentially* good images from amazing images. I'm not there yet. I'm still focusing on subject, background, and overall composition. The images I create are snapshots because I largely ignore light. Something I hope to correct (by learning about light in a controlled studio setting and then transferring what I have learned to outdoor settings).

Based on your posted images, you understand composition. The *amazing* images you post (compared to the so-so but still very impressive images) are arguably because of your patience in waiting for "just the right" light.

While it may be intuitive for you, I would argue that being able to appreciate the *right* light isn't intuitive for most. I would also argue that an understanding of light is the last on most amateur's lists of things to learn. Most focus on gear, gear, gear, gear. Maybe a bit on reading about composition. Then focus again on gear. Light is never touched upon by most.

Are you really going to argue that light isn't important (and potentially challenging to learn)?

I don't want this post to sound argumentative or aggressive. Not my intent at all. But an understanding of light is key to image making. I'm struggling with it, but at least I see how important it is to the images I want to make.

My point with the tripod and set the camera to f22 with a low iso means you can't hand hold your camera, it will slow you down and make you think about composing the picture. This is regardless of it being black and white. Your exposure time will be in full seconds and not fractions of, watch what it does to your picture and to the moving people and the sky.

I get the impression you want to hide behind B&W, tell me I'm wrong.

Anyway I agree with Dolem (hard not to ;)), it isn't difficult to watch the light, just stay in the same place for an hour and watch your scene change. Again get a tripod, the environment is changing all the time, the quicker you understand this, the quicker it will help you with all the other concerns you have.

kallisti
Apr 15, 2010, 02:35 PM
Erm... I wasn't being tongue in cheek. Light is 99% of photography, IMO, but it's not something to learn... it's something to experience. Knowing the science of light won't help a photographer to take better pictures... but a focussed mindfulness will enable him to be nimble, responsive... and ready for whatever may happen.

Touché. Though I would throw in a caveat. Some aspects of light aren't intuitive and can be learned. Reading Light, Science, and Magic (http://www.amazon.com/Light-Science-Introduction-Photographic-Lighting/dp/0240808193/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271359572&sr=1-1) actually radically changed my understanding of light as it relates to photography. And completely changed my approach to pushing my image making to the "next level."

While the book focuses on studio lighting, the basic themes apply to all lighting in any circumstance. Assuming you agree that lighting is important in any image, an intellectual understanding of light that can be applied in a practical manner (which is the focus of this book) should be relevant to anyone making any images.

Different people learn in different ways. But to dismiss efforts to understand one of the fundamental elements of image making because it is "intellectual" as opposed to "experiencial" is silly in my view. Please don't take offense with this.

Doylem
Apr 15, 2010, 02:47 PM
Different people learn in different ways. But to dismiss efforts to understand one of the fundamental elements of image making because it is "intellectual" as opposed to "experiencial" is silly in my view. Please don't take offense with this.

No offence... but how does your intellectual understanding of light help you to capture it? Do you know what's going to happen next? No... and nor do I. But if I'm standing still, with my camera on a tripod, and the cable release in my hand, I can give 100% of my attention to what the light is doing (no multi-tasking for me :)). What counts, for me, is 'being there' with my eyes open...

Of course, this is about ambient - or 'natural' - light. Flash and studio lights are a different thing altogether... in being fully controllable.

kallisti
Apr 15, 2010, 02:57 PM
My point with the tripod and set the camera to f22 with a low iso means you can't hand hold your camera, it will slow you down and make you think about composing the picture. This is regardless of it being black and white. Your exposure time will be in full seconds and not fractions of, watch what it does to your picture and to the moving people and the sky.

I get the impression you want to hide behind B&W, tell me I'm wrong.

Anyway I agree with Dolem (hard not to ;)), it isn't difficult to watch the light, just stay in the same place for an hour and watch your scene change. Again get a tripod, the environment is changing all the time, the quicker you understand this, the quicker it will help you with all the other concerns you have.

I have a tripod (and a good one for what it's worth). Just don't always take it with me. Most of my trips are taken with my wife and aren't specifically geared to photography. It's a tradeoff between playing the good husband and being mobile vs carrying around gear to capture "the shot." I use my tripod for times that I am alone and have time available to meticulously compose a shot. On vacation I am limited by what I can reasonably expect my wife to deal with. I'm not a professional selling my shots, this isn't a source of income. It's a compromise with what my wife is willing to put up with to satisfy my photography bug. Acceptable vacation shots that can potentially be mounted on a wall. Not shots that can be sold. I'm happy using a tripod at home or around town. For what I need, I'm not willing to travel with a tripod. So it goes.

CrackedButter
Apr 15, 2010, 03:33 PM
I have a tripod (and a good one for what it's worth). Just don't always take it with me. Most of my trips are taken with my wife and aren't specifically geared to photography. It's a tradeoff between playing the good husband and being mobile vs carrying around gear to capture "the shot." I use my tripod for times that I am alone and have time available to meticulously compose a shot. On vacation I am limited by what I can reasonably expect my wife to deal with. I'm not a professional selling my shots, this isn't a source of income. It's a compromise with what my wife is willing to put up with to satisfy my photography bug. Acceptable vacation shots that can potentially be mounted on a wall. Not shots that can be sold. I'm happy using a tripod at home or around town. For what I need, I'm not willing to travel with a tripod. So it goes.

You're over thinking this my friend. Just get out into the world, even your back yard with your tripod and just practise, my advice wasn't to literally go back. It was just there to help you think about understanding more about the images you're trying to make and you don't need to be a pro either and nobody is suggesting you should sell the images. Your enjoyment and personal satisfaction should be enough

But you came here asking for advice and now you're throwing up brick walls. :)

And don't blame the wife. ;-)

kallisti
Apr 15, 2010, 03:36 PM
No offence... but how does your intellectual understanding of light help you to capture it? Do you know what's going to happen next? No... and nor do I. But if I'm standing still, with my camera on a tripod, and the cable release in my hand, I can give 100% of my attention to what the light is doing (no multi-tasking for me :)). What counts, for me, is 'being there' with my eyes open...

Of course, this is about ambient - or 'natural' - light. Flash and studio lights are a different thing altogether... in being fully controllable.

Doylem,

I don't want to argue this. Quite frankly, I'm not in your league as a photographer. I'm a hack amateur just trying to improve. I understand the importance of subject, background, and overall composition. I haven't mastered that yet but I'm trying. I also appreciate the importance of light in an image. Not even close to mastering that yet. I'm at a stage where I'm comfortable with my errors regarding composition, but I still see light as a *magic* element which I comprehend intellectually but don't really understand in a practical sense (i.e. how do I appreciate the available light and how it affects my image). Additionally, how can I make use of supplemental light (flashes/strobes) to enhance my images.

An understanding of light seems integral to photography (and I feel it is a major element that is holding me back creatively). I don't want to insult you. Please take my comments in the context of someone who is struggling to advance their understanding of photography. I'm better than the average person regarding "snapshots." I'm nowhere close to being a professional (which isn't something I aspire to). But I would like to improve my images. Forgive me if I overstepped my bounds regarding what I am qualified to comment on.

I posted this thread specifically to get feedback from experienced people on how to improve an image which I personally like. Like enough to want to print. I'm sorry if my comments on some of the posts implied knowledge or experience on my part which I don't possess. I will be very cognizant of my ignorance for all future posts in this forum. My apologies to all if I have implied experience in my posts which are unfounded.

Doylem
Apr 15, 2010, 03:51 PM
I still see light as a *magic* element

Hey... we're in agreement. Light is magic... it's nature's Photoshop... ;)

kallisti
Apr 15, 2010, 04:22 PM
You're over thinking this my friend. Just get out into the world, even your back yard with your tripod and just practise, my advice wasn't to literally go back. It was just there to help you think about understanding more about the images you're trying to make and you don't need to be a pro either and nobody is suggesting you should sell the images. Your enjoyment and personal satisfaction should be enough

But you came here asking for advice and now you're throwing up brick walls. :)

And don't blame the wife. ;-)

But, but, but it's so easy to blame the wife.

I hear what you are saying and appreciate your comments. It's all good. Ultimately, it's all just about shooting more and objectively evaluating the results. No excuses. Either the image works or it doesn't. No one cares about what ifs. No one also cares about excuses of convenience. If you care about an image, you will do whatever it takes to create that image.

There are people however that still love photography but set their own personal limits regarding what they will endure in the pursuit of a given image. They aren't "real" photographers and should be persecuted at every opportunity (because even if they happen to produce a decent image by chance they didn't "earn" it), but they still exist.... This said with a huge grain of salt and a smile. I really do appreciate your comments.

None of this is helping me to improve the image I posted however.

CrackedButter
Apr 15, 2010, 05:44 PM
But, but, but it's so easy to blame the wife.

I hear what you are saying and appreciate your comments. It's all good. Ultimately, it's all just about shooting more and objectively evaluating the results. No excuses. Either the image works or it doesn't. No one cares about what ifs. No one also cares about excuses of convenience. If you care about an image, you will do whatever it takes to create that image.

There are people however that still love photography but set their own personal limits regarding what they will endure in the pursuit of a given image. They aren't "real" photographers and should be persecuted at every opportunity (because even if they happen to produce a decent image by chance they didn't "earn" it), but they still exist.... This said with a huge grain of salt and a smile. I really do appreciate your comments.

None of this is helping me to improve the image I posted however.

You're not allowed to blame your wife because I'm now allowed to blame my partner, she's a boxer so in my own best interests it's the wisest decision.

Edge100
Apr 15, 2010, 07:13 PM
Grimaldi's = Best pizza in New York - underneath the bridge on the Brooklyn side (PS: no slices!).

+1 million

Grimaldi's is awesome! Just get there early for lunch; the lineups are legendary.