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Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Soon….

The temperatures are staying consitently above freezing, the sun is no longer sleeping behind clouds, and the ground is remaining dry.  Soon the landscape will melt from brown to green, and it will begin again.  The epic struggle of Labrador verses Woobie.

soon1

Goddamn spring is taking forever.

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This shot sucks.

 

I took alot of photos that day, and this one I took as an experiment, wondering how it would look.  I hated it.  It lacks depth, composition, any kind of emotional reason for taking it.  The one and only redeeming feature is that I captured the water’s motion by leaving the shutter open for a second or two.  It’s the kind of picture you’d find on a motel wall.  It’s nondescript, and has absolutely zero impact.  Which makes this next exchange interesting:

 

“Wow, some of these photos aren’t very good – well, that one of the dog is pretty cool,” Em’s friend Clint says as we browse the ‘Arts and Crafts’ building at the Cuyahoga County Fair; looking specifically at the photography competition (who knew at a fair?).

 

“Well, the problem with the kid photos are that they’re hoping the cuteness of the kid will make up for the lack of anything to grasp your eye,” I say, mostly mumbling to myself as I look at old newspapers that people had saved.  Hitler’s coffee was confiscated en-route to Berlin in 1943.  Made the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer – below the fold.  Interesting.

 

“Hey cutie?” Em says, tapping my shoulder.  “Didn’t you take a shot just like that?”

 

“Which one?” I reply, looking up and gazing at the photos – they were all matted and taped up on the wall.

 

“Third from the left on the top set,” She says, pointing me toward the one.

 

“Wait, didn’t I…”

 

“Yeah, you too a shot like that when we went to Quarry Park with Hershey.”

 

“Wow, that’s like, the exact same spot and everything.  Woah, that made 2nd honors?”

 

I’m unsure about the judging specifically, but most likely it was divided into categories which were then judged by different people for each category.  The top, say, 10 were then promoted to another category, which were then judged by a different group.  The top, oh 5 were then promoted to another category, where they were judged by another group, with the winner being selected by all.  I can’t guarantee that’s how it worked, but that’s how a few competitions I’ve seen in the past went.

 

Some of the photos were good – really good, actually.  But some of these were just….bleh.  They just didn’t have any impact to them.  They seemed amateurish.  But the one that really bothered me recreated Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photo in 1945 where the sailor kissed the nurse at Time’s Square.  They did it on a dock or something near a park.  It took first place along with another photo (this one was black and white, the other was color) – I can’t believe someone staged that photo, called it art, and then it wins 1st place?

 

The reason why the original is such an icon is that it perfectly captured what the nation – and the world – felt at the time.  You can’t recreate that and still maintain the reason the first was so great.

 

I hope to submit some stuff next year.  See how I do.

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So this technique is pretty stellar.  Using a combination of bracketed exposure, a tripod, and Photoshop, you can achieve an image that’s far closer to what our eye sees than what a camera can capture.  Relatively easy, the real work is done in post – where I have very limited experience.

 

Essentially, the human eye is a wonder to behold.  Every second, your eye is making thousands of small changes and alterations to itself to better discern the world around you.  Focus, brightness, movement, it’s all captured and ‘exposed’ perfectly in real time.  Unfortunately a camera can’t do this.  It can’t look at each detail and perfectly expose every section to get an image that directly represents the location you saw.  So you have to get essentially an average – a shot that best represents the scene as a whole.  But when you do that, you lose the details.

 

One way to get around this is to basically take multiple images and merge them in post.  One would be overexposed to capture the detail in the shadows, one would be normal (the ‘base’ image), and one would be underexposed to get more detail in the highlights.  You would combine these images together and tell the computer to take the base image, and average the curves of all 3 so you get a better representation of the scene.  You could go further and take even more images (5, 7, always an odd number to ensure it’s evenly under/over exposed), each a certain level away from the ‘base’ image, and get an even more accurate representation.

 

This technique has a few drawbacks:

 

  • It can only be done on a camera with bracketed exposure, that basically leaves ‘prosumer’ SLR’s and up – although I know some of the entry level SLR’s are starting to pick this feature up
  • The subject has to be stationary, if it’s moving, the differing images will throw off the final image
  • It has to be done with a tripod, the human hand is just not steady enough
  • You can’t make adjustments in the field – it’s all brought together in post (unless you’re carting around a laptop)
In certain situations, I really like it.  It has great potential to do some amazing things – just search on flickr for ‘HDRI’.
What I shot above is this great little spot in the Cleveland Metroparks, and unfortunately it doesn’t really do the technique justice.  The saturation is lost in the leaves because they were moving in the slight breeze, and the sky is ‘bleeding through’ when the images were composited together.  The real difference is in the ground, stairs, and the treebark.  You can see in the image on the right, it was shot at an ISO of 250 for half of a second.  During that time, you can see the noise that built up in the darker areas that the sensor was trying to make sense of.
My next step is to try an HDRI image in RAW format and see what happens.  I may have some time later today during my lunch, so I’ll head out to the park or something – something with a good amount of color and detail.
Ideally, the next step forward would be a digital sensor that was capable of multiple exposures for each shot.  Once the camera shutter was opened, you could divide up the sensor in a matrix pattern to grab different exposure levels for each shot.  Since it’s done digitally, you wouldn’t have to worry about the noise that comes from turning up the ‘gain’ on current analog sensors.  This would allow you to take an image of something – anything, and have it be an HDRI image, thus rendering photos we’ve taken now grainy and obsolete.  They would have greater detail and look absolutely fantastic, since they’ll able to more closely recreate what the human eye is capable of.  Then that technology would be transferred to movies, for obvious reasons.

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“Every day I’m at my desk / At my desk I’m like the rest / All I do / I want to do / With you”  – The Servant

 

Sun in the sky, 75 degrees, Em’s outside with the dog playing and doing some chores.  I’m inside, toiling away to meet a early deadline I accidentally set myself.  Try to impress the boss and you know what happens?  They expect you to deliver.  What the hell is that?

 

I did manage to get out and shoot a couple.  Including Em trying to get Hershey to not be so afraid of the hose.  Yes.  We have a Lab that’s afraid of water – afraid of nearly everything, really – so we have to acclimate her to the purpose of her breed very slowly.  

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Not amused by my new toy.

 

Picked up my camera last night.  Hershey isn’t amused by my new toy.

 

Ah well.  I wasn’t amused when she peed in the hallway by the bathroom.  So all is fair.

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