Archive for January, 2009

Daily Photo – Santa Cruz Mountains

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

A couple years ago my dad built a small art studio for Susan, his wife, on the end of the same ridge his house sites on. The structure itself isn’t more than about 6′ x 10′, but there’s plenty of natural light to work by.  This deck sits on the north west facing (the sun normally goes down more or less where the chair is facing).

  • Shutter:  1/30 to 2 seconds (7 images)
  • Aperture:  f/22
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM

Black and white version:

One of the original shots:

Composition and Processing

  • Unlike the previous shot, I prefer the color version this time.  The stained wood is very complementary to the greens in the scene, but the color difference really helps separate and lift the deck from the trees and mountains beyond.  It’s also far more dominant in the image than in the shot of the house (which has the same wood tones).
  • I tried shooting this from lower on the deck, but the view tends to collapse as the trees block too much of the distant ridge.  Of course, I could have shot even higher, but that would have reduced the intimacy of the empty chair on the deck (and changed the lines entirely).
  • This is about 1/8 of the view from my dad’s house– the furthest ridge line actually wraps around about 180 degrees, and there are some cliffs to the right.  In fact, the only place the view is impeded is by a small hill directly behind the main house, to the south-east.  I chose this section of it because of the position of the late afternoon sun, and the way the fog was rolling in over the various ridges in the distance (on a couple rare occasions growing up I have seen this entire view socked in with fog up to about 50 feet below where this deck now stands, with nothing but blue sky above).

January 31 2009 | Photography | 3 Comments »

Daily Photo – Stephanie at the W take 3

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

This is the third shot of Stephanie from the W shoot, and probably my favorite from the entire set (around 14 shots total, some of which will find their way up here in the next few months).

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/160
  • Aperture:  f/2
  • ISO:  400
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

Original:

Composition and Processing

  • By pushing up the exposure in Lightroom, every surrounding distraction was effectively removed from the shot (i.e. turned to white or near-white).  A minimal amount of shadow was left on the inside edge of the wall — just enough to suggest a structure or support.
  • I cropped this to the left of the frame so it was clear she was looking down a wall at the camera.  In general, I prefer cropping to the side opposite where the subject is looking, so that they’re looking into the frame itself.

January 28 2009 | Photography | 2 Comments »

Daily Photo – Fire on the Grass

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Here’s a rare photo of mine from Lighthouse Point that doesn’t have a surfer in it.  This guy is part of the performance group Kinetica, based out of Northern California.  All I can say is that fire must be pretty warm, because it was low forties when this shot was taken.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/125
  • Aperture:  f/1.4
  • ISO:  800
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Original:

Composition and Processing

  • The nice thing about shooting fire at night is that it brings its own illumination to the shot.  Unfortunately, the dynamic range often exceeds that of a modern digital camera:  the more you increase the exposure to lighten the subject, the more you lose detail in the fire itself (as is the case above, where both highlights and shadows were clipped).
  • Fire in motion is even more challenging, since varying parts of the subject are in and out of shadow quite rapidly.  Auto-focus sensors don’t like that.  This might be a case where manual focus would be the better choice, except most folks (myself included) can’t track a moving subject in the dark at f/1.4.
  • As for the shot itself, the low end of the bar has lit the ground just enough to create an isolated platform in the darkness on which the subject stands.  It’s a bit off to his left, but that matches the direction he’s looking and the angle of the bar (and is also why I cropped him to the left of the frame).

January 24 2009 | Photography | No Comments »