Friday, December 02, 2011

On photography

Thanks to those who have voted so far for best photo. (see yesterday’s post if you have missed it) At the time of writing, it’s tie between No 4 on the Coventry canal and NB Leo taking the wave.  I’ll leave the polls open for another day to see if we get a decider.

Mystery no 1 is solved.  The reason why I couldn’t find the lock leap original on my PC is that it was never there.  Kath reminds me that she took it on her phone – one of those raspberry things.

All this is doing me a bit of good because it’s making me think about what makes a good photo. First let me say that I do not in any way regard myself as a good photographe  You should see the hundreds of mediocre shots I have on disc.  I look at the work of our local photographic society and am immediately humbled.  Canal blog photographers I admire in particular are Andrew on Granny Buttons, (his night time photos are amazing) and Captain Ahab, who pictures often impress me, like here.  In spite of my limitations, I like to learn and looking back I realise that two things in particular made a contribution to the ones I shortlisted.  So this is a sort of note to self. 

The first is having an aim in mind of the picture you are looking for.  I think they all have that in common.  In most of them I knew what I wanted even before I picked up the camera – not just to record the scene, but to make a picture with a deliberate composition in mind.  

Secondly, looking at the short list another obvious factor shows itself.  Choosing the moment.  In fact the only one of the six that didn’t require that was no 4 the current leader!  In the case of 3 and 6, the sky shots, the light was right for barely half a minute.  I could see it coming and waited for the right moment.  A minute later the chance was gone.  In the case of the Leo picture, as well as having several goes at it as the waves came in, I also took advantage of the fact that my Canon can fire off six shots per second so I had a fighting chance of getting the right instant, and it worked!  I’ve since discarded some of the near misses, but here are a couple I kept.

a) using the rapid firing

IMG_0445 (1024x683) (2)IMG_0444 (1024x683)

b) seperate shots that missed the moment

IMG_0440 (1024x683) IMG_0447 (1024x683)

Truth or fiction:

Halfie suspects that the Braunston church picture with that dramatic sky might not be the original or real colours.  Well yes and no.  People say the camera never lies.  I think it very often fails to tell the truth, so sometimes you have to help it.  A camera is never as good as the human eye, and all too often the image that you get is not as vibrant as what you saw with the naked eye.   I well recall the vividness of the sky that evening, it was stunning. I did have to tweak up the colour saturation to bring the effect back to life in the picture.  Although on this occasion I have pushed it to near the reasonable limit, I see nothing wrong in adjusting an image to convey the feeling you got when you took the picture.   The other sunset picture by the way has not been tweaked at all apart from removing a couple of dust spots. 

Conversely if you look at the picture of the boat through the bankside flowers, it’s obvious that the eye wouldn’t have seen that.  In our brain we adjust focus as our attention flicks between the boat and the flowers, so the boat wouldn’t appear out of focus. At the same time I took another shot with the boat in focus and the flowers blurred, but it didn’t work so well.  These were taken with my little Lumix compact.

P1050394 (1024x768)

These days I nearly always crop a picture afterwards to get the framing of the subject and I’m quite happy to adjust the depth of the shadows or ease down the highlights or whatever.  I do all this using the standard windows 7 photo software, so nothing fancy.


Anonymous said...

Neil, Wow, more dramatic shots of nb Leo. In the top pair she looks like a submarine about to dive.

Halfie said...

Neil, for the record: I didn't suggest you had tweaked the photo, I merely asked if those were the true colours.

Unknown said...

I love that photograph of the boat tucked away in the frothy flowers. A nice reminder of summer.