Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tell a story

A picture that tells a story is often a stronger picture. A chap walking for his health is one picture but a chap pumping a bit of iron while he strolls is another picture — a better picture. There is no doubt why this fellow is walking through the park — no question whatsoever.

The barbells also add a little extra dash of interest, always a plus.

In cropping this image,  the bright yellow dandelions on the left were retained as was a little bit of green grass on the right. Both help to define the paved path and while softening visual effect of the hard, wide, asphalt walkway.

The long lens on the Fuji FinePix HS10 was zoomed almost to the max. This helped to throw the background slightly out of focus by keeping the depth of field shallower than it would have been if shot at wide angle.

Lastly the bright, red shirt underlines the importance of the subject in the picture. The combination of red on a green is a classic. This placement makes the red pop.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bright values pop, attracting the eye

These mushrooms did not pop into our view from the forest floor but they do command our attention here. Why? Well, they are clearly the brightest objects in the picture. Their bright value makes them pop out from the work. Also, this image has been "printed" with increased contrast in the "digital darkroom."

Plus their placement and clarity, the mushrooms are among the few objects in focus in this shot, just adds to their control of the visual territory.

I've talked about depth of field before and how images with shallow depth of field force attention onto the in-focus subject. With point and shoot cameras controlling this effect can be difficult. But, when the light is subdued, as it was in the forest, and the camera lens is set to a wide aperture in order to capture enough light, shallow depth of field is the natural outcome.

If you are shooting with a point and shoot and you find all these promising possibilities coming together, take advantage of the moment and shoot lots. You may get a winner. I got two!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Imitating selective focus

Shooting with a point and shoot, there is one thing that I really miss: Selective focus. Choose a fast shutter speed and mate it to a wide aperture and slash the depth of field in your picture.

Depth of field being the depth of sharp focus in front of and behind the point at which you focused when composing your shot. The smaller the taking aperture, the greater the depth of field. About one third of the depth of field is in front of the true focus point and about two thirds is behind that point.

Use a wide aperture, an f/stop with a small number, and the background in your shot will be rendered out of focus. This can make the subject of your picture, the think on which you focused, pop right off the page. It is a nice effect.

The small sensors in digital point and shoots make blurring background difficult. Depth of field is also dependent on the size of sensor, or with film cameras the size of the film. Cameras that used 4X5 film had very little depth of field. Back in the days of film, 35mm cameras were thought to give a lot of depth of field. Now, with sensors so small in many digital cameras, the 35mm cameras seem in comparison to have been great for blurring foregrounds and backgrounds. They made subjects pop from the image if you took the time to force the effect.

Usual look of a point and shoot picture of a flower in bright, full sunshine.

Digital single lens reflex cameras, the top of the line ones with sensors the size of 35mm film, are great at reproducing the shallow depth of field of the old SLRs. But what to do if one is using a point and shoot with a small sensor. The answer: A photo enhancement program. I have found Photoshop does a great job of emulating the look resulting from shallow depth of field.

The flower picture taken into Photoshop to have the background blurred.

So, how was it done? The pedals I wanted to remain sharp were selected using the magic wand. I also selected the flower immediately behind the main flower in order to keep them in focus too. I felt the traditional depth of field of the past might well have extended as far as that second flower in the image. I inverted the selection. I feathered the edgles about 2 pixels. Finally, I applied the Filter -> Blur -> Field Blur... until I got the look I desired.

Clearly, doing this in-camera is preferable. It is far quicker and the results are better if one simply shoots at a wide open aperture and then takes a couple of other pictures with the lens closed down an f/stop or two. But, if one doesn't have the money for a SLR and one can pick up Photoshop cheap - I did, keep an eye open for sales - then Photoshop, or another enhancement program with this blurring feature, may be the answer.