Details, Details, Details!!

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Andy
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Details, Details, Details!!

Postby Andy » Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:43 am

I have a friend who exchanges photos, comments and critiques with me. I recently looked several of her new shots and made some comments. Usually about the "details" we need to "mind" in order to "make" a good photograph. One of the things I am constantly saying to her is "watch the horizon line."

Yesterday, another friend, and very talented photographer and teacher (many of you know him here) reminded me of the same thing, pointing out that the horizon line was not level on a couple of my images (thanks, AL). So, when my friend sees my comments, I hope she sees that my comments are not from an "I'm better, or smarter than you" perspective. Rather, I often see things that I am personally guilty of, in other's photographs. It serves as a great reminder to me on how important those pesky details are. Sometimes, as the creator, you are "blind" to simple problems that scream out at other observers. It is one of the reasons I welcome critique. I fixed them (I think :lol: ).

It makes me wonder what "process" you folks use, when composing a photograph, to make sure the details are being "minded"??
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .


MrBumps
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Postby MrBumps » Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:19 pm

I have a real hard time with horizon lines myself. I always have a bubble level in my hot shoe now! I don't know how many times I have composed an image in my view finder, thinking it was "level", only to look up at the bubble level, and see that I am "crooked". I highly recommend using them.

You can always "straighten" the image in Photoshop (and I have many times), but you will end up having to crop some of the image to do so, which you may not want to do.

autzig
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Postby autzig » Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:55 pm

Like MrBumps, I always have a bubble level in my hotshoe.

Because I shoot landscapes, there generally is no time issues to exposing the photo. (The rainbow shot was an emergency.) I often use a small matte cut to the 2x3 format. I'll try to compose the photo looking through it. I hold it close to my eye for a wide angle and farther away as I consider a telephoto shot. When I find the shot I like, I'll set up my camera, on a tripod of course, and compose the photo. I pay particular attention to the stuff in the viewfinder. I look for dead branches or other stuff that I don't want in the photo. Then I commence my housekeeping. I move the stuff that detracts from the photo. When I am finally satisfied with that, I consider not only the exposure but I think of what I want the foreground to look like. If I want it sharp, I'll shoot at f16 or smaller. For the pumpkin shot I made in Vermont, I shot at f2.8 and made the foreground and background blurry. I always use the stop down button to check to see what will be in focus. Most people don't even know their camera has this feature. It is essential for me.

When I've done all of that, I expose the shot. I'll check my histogram to make sure I've not burned anything out or made the darks black.

After all of that, I'll take multiple exposures, usually using different focal lengths. I may try different lenses and appertures before I move on. Sometimes the best photos are accidents.

Al

Andy
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Postby Andy » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:22 am

I'll have to pick up one of the bubble levels. 99% of the time, the hot shoe isn't being used anyway, in my shooting. Those other times, I could set up, and then attach the off-camera flash cord.

I do use the "Grid Lines" in my view finder. A lot of the time, when the camera is level to the ground I am shooting from, that won't equate to a level horizon on my subject. A combination might work well.

On the ones, Al noticed, I was shooting at pre-dawn and there was a fog layer on the water in front of the distant shoreline. It was very difficult to see (especially with my "old" eyes). Sounds like the level would have been a good aid in that case.
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

abby
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Postby abby » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:30 am

I think my body naturally tilts to the left. :roll:

Guilty as charged. Al put his bubble level on my hot shoe in VT and it really is pretty cool. I need to get one too.
Carol

MrBumps
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Postby MrBumps » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:53 am

abby wrote:I think my body naturally tilts to the left. :roll:

Guilty as charged. Al put his bubble level on my hot shoe in VT and it really is pretty cool. I need to get one too.
Carol


Get two! They are very easy to misplace! LOL

I have confirmed many times that my body has a natural 2 degree tilt! :D

Andy
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Postby Andy » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:53 am

I'll not say here, which way my body may tilt -- or why :lol:
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

faxmachineanthem
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Postby faxmachineanthem » Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:16 am

I should probably get a bubble level too. Especially in Vermont I find myself standing on hillsides, surrounded by hills. I can be pretty tough to guess what "level" is!

One tip I've picked up is to not always trust the brightness histogram when you're taking photos of very colorful objects. In this case, you should check the RGB (red-green-blue) histogram if your camera has it. I've heard that many cameras do not make this easy, although my Nikon D40 does. Often if you're taking a photo of a sunset, a red maple on a sunny day, or especially flowers, your brightness histogram will tell you that you have a good exposure when in reality you've completely blown the red channel. When you do this, it can greatly distort the color of the photo.

MrBumps
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Postby MrBumps » Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:33 am

Fax - Good point about checking all three colors of the histogram. Often you will be blowing one color, and not the others, which may, or may not be important for your particular shot.

pwt54
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Postby pwt54 » Sat Oct 24, 2009 1:17 pm

Do any of you real photographers have that " I'm an artist and I'll put the horizen any damn place I feel like" mood once in a while ? Or is it just us picture takers. I paid good money for my artistic license and plan to get my money's worth. :lol:

MrBumps
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Postby MrBumps » Sat Oct 24, 2009 1:39 pm

pwt54 wrote:Do any of you real photographers have that " I'm an artist and I'll put the horizen any damn place I feel like" mood once in a while ? Or is it just us picture takers. I paid good money for my artistic license and plan to get my money's worth. :lol:


I am a firm believer in "Rules Are Meant to Broken" Especially the "Rule of Thirds". But I do like my horizons straight! :D

Andy
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Postby Andy » Sun Oct 25, 2009 9:17 pm

Horizons are a funny thing. You can be as artistic as you wish, but they are the first thing that every third party viewer seems to see as being "out of kilter."

What I find a challenge sometimes, is deciding what the horizon is. When there are multiple elements in the photo that should be "level" but aren't, sometimes you need to make a choice. Also, when you are shooting, e.g., a tall building and have lens distortion, you sometimes have to make some choices. A lighthouse is a good example. But the bottom line is to step back and look at the photo. If it is "tilted" it will be very obvious to the viewer.
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

ixl
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Postby ixl » Mon Oct 26, 2009 7:05 am

Funny subject.

I used to religiously use a bubble level when taking images, especially with a tripod. No longer bother (when I even use a tripod). I just compose based on what looks right, and then correct in PS if necessary.
Charles Kozierok - DesktopScenes.com

View Autumn Scenes from Southern Vermont (2003), my free, 75-image foliage gallery!

Andy
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Postby Andy » Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:34 pm

Charles: Having played with the level a bit this week, I have come to the conclusion that your approach is the best for me. Its usually not off so much that you lose too much to the crop if you do have to fix
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

Andy
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D700 and "Virtual Horizon"

Postby Andy » Fri Jan 01, 2010 11:34 am

Well. First I just HAVE to Gloat! Santa (and we all know who that is, right?) brought me a D700 a few days after Christmas. UPS delivered it yesterday afternoon, so I haven't had a real chance to use it. But I did sit and play with it last night.

One of the items in the menu is a "virtual horizon" which shows up kind of like a level on the back LCD. Looks like it might be "gimmicky," but too soon to tell. My other thougth is that it is just one more thing to suck juice from my batteries :( . Being a "gadget guy" though, I'll have to at least play with the feature.

I did order 2 (I was listening, Rich :) ) bubble levels. That was an interesting odyssey. The ones being sold by B&H and like, are in the $30 range. I found a source out of China (actually there appear to be several of them) on eBay and bought two of them for about $8. Shipping was almost as much as the levels. I'll let you all know what the quality looks like when they arrive.

Happy New Year to all
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .



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