the Photo thread

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the Photo thread

Post by Lost Leopard Spot » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:02 am

I was fascinated about Bish's explanation of tone mapping on some other thread, and I had wonderered why certain photographs, especially in magazines like Country Life, looked 'artificial' to me. When I say artificial I mean those pictures captured all the tonal qualities of all parts of the picture which is not what I get when I'm trying to create a 'good' photo. I like the fact that the camera cannot see the complete range that the eye can and I try to utilise that in my photos rather than try and eliminate that 'defect'.
Thus, one of my favourite photos (Longships lighthouse from Sennen Cove) from my recent hols demonstrates this: the eye would not have seen this scene in this way - the cliffs would have had detail, and the contrast between waves would not have been anywhere as severe as the photo details:

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Re: the Photo thread

Post by clapton is god » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:22 am

This is another traffic trails image I did recently. I travelled 20 miles out to Cheshire to get this one after seeing the location whilst out working. It shows your 'what the camera sees but the eye does not' contention as the sky was not as violet as seen here.

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Re: the Photo thread

Post by Lost Leopard Spot » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:30 am

Is the beam of light that connects the lamps together a trail from a high sided lorry? If it is it's a really good coincidence with the positioning, linking all the lights up!
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Re: the Photo thread

Post by thebish » Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:43 am

clapton is god wrote:This is another traffic trails image I did recently. I travelled 20 miles out to Cheshire to get this one after seeing the location whilst out working. It shows your 'what the camera sees but the eye does not' contention as the sky was not as violet as seen here.
and nor can the eye mimic the long shutter speed that produces the trails of light that the camera "sees"...
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Re: the Photo thread

Post by thebish » Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:51 am

Lost Leopard Spot wrote:I was fascinated about Bish's explanation of tone mapping on some other thread, and I had wonderered why certain photographs, especially in magazines like Country Life, looked 'artificial' to me. When I say artificial I mean those pictures captured all the tonal qualities of all parts of the picture which is not what I get when I'm trying to create a 'good' photo. I like the fact that the camera cannot see the complete range that the eye can and I try to utilise that in my photos rather than try and eliminate that 'defect'.
oh - I agree... but, like everything, it has its place... HDR has been a bit of a fad recently - and some people have produced horrific results with it (usually claiming it to be "art") 99.9% of my photography is not HDR - as i said before, most of the magic of photography resides in the composition (which is why I'll never be a great photographer!)

I'm very cautious of "right" and "wrong", though, in photography debates - or "natural"/"un-natural" (there was a time when people thought colour photography looked "artificial" and there are MANY who would still claim that monochrome is the only natural photography..). what the camera captures is never "natural" - it's the interpretation of some camera software on the light hitting a sensor..

so - the camera nearly always "lies" and the results are "simply" art

I like your intention to utilise the fact that the camera cannot see the complete range that the eye can - I think that's a very good description of the art of photography...
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Re: the Photo thread

Post by Lost Leopard Spot » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:29 pm

Aye, I wasn't having a go at it, that's why I described it as 'artificial' and a 'defect' in inverted commas. Thing is until you'd outlined the technique I didn't even know it existed which is why I was fascinated by it. I cannot try out tone mapping as I don't as yet own a digital camera, I'm still using my trusty old Nikon FM2. But I do intend (soon) to buy a digital camera, and at that point there are one or two tricks I'm eager to try out including tone mapping.
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Re: the Photo thread

Post by thebish » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:39 pm

Lost Leopard Spot wrote:Aye, I wasn't having a go at it, that's why I described it as 'artificial' and a 'defect' in inverted commas. Thing is until you'd outlined the technique I didn't even know it existed which is why I was fascinated by it. I cannot try out tone mapping as I don't as yet own a digital camera, I'm still using my trusty old Nikon FM2. But I do intend (soon) to buy a digital camera, and at that point there are one or two tricks I'm eager to try out including tone mapping.
aye - such terms are interesting.. HDR photographs (even subtle well-done ones) look artificial to a certain extent because of what we have been trained to expect from a photograph. it's not quite the same - but 3D in films may appear similarly artificial...

my reaction to HDR when I first realised what it was was very similar - except that I saw a more extreme version - it was very similar to this one:

Image

and i thought to myself - that's not natural - there's summat very odd about that photo...

and - yes there is summat "odd" - but - weirdly - it is closer to what the eye would see than any simple snap of the scene would ever be - yet the simple snap would look more natural to me! this must simply be because my mind/eye has been trained what to expect from a photograph...
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Re: the Photo thread

Post by BWFC_Insane » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:48 pm

thebish wrote:
Lost Leopard Spot wrote:Aye, I wasn't having a go at it, that's why I described it as 'artificial' and a 'defect' in inverted commas. Thing is until you'd outlined the technique I didn't even know it existed which is why I was fascinated by it. I cannot try out tone mapping as I don't as yet own a digital camera, I'm still using my trusty old Nikon FM2. But I do intend (soon) to buy a digital camera, and at that point there are one or two tricks I'm eager to try out including tone mapping.
aye - such terms are interesting.. HDR photographs (even subtle well-done ones) look artificial to a certain extent because of what we have been trained to expect from a photograph. it's not quite the same - but 3D in films may appear similarly artificial...

my reaction to HDR when I first realised what it was was very similar - except that I saw a more extreme version - it was very similar to this one:

Image

and i thought to myself - that's not natural - there's summat very odd about that photo...

and - yes there is summat "odd" - but - weirdly - it is closer to what the eye would see than any simple snap of the scene would ever be - yet the simple snap would look more natural to me! this must simply be because my mind/eye has been trained what to expect from a photograph...
There is I think a similar argument within 3d films.

Some are shot with "natural" (and yes its not natural at all but anyhow....) perspective where either foreground or background will be out of focus depending upon the scene as with the human eye. The plus side of that is that you are seeing an approximation of how you see the real world with layers of focus. The downside being that in the real world the brain filters the non-focussed objects out, so in effect your brain does the processing for you.

When you see a 3d film the brain does not expect the "2d image" to be 3d so you often "notice" the out of focus bits and its a bit disturbing in some ways either on your eyes or your brain or both.

Other films are processed post filming with something I've heard referred to as "hyperreal 3d", which effectively removes a lot of the "out of focus perspectives" and makes everything "clean" and sharp and in focus. This creates what seems like a less natural 3d image but can make the 3d effect more substantial and startling, your brain and eyes tend to not hurt as much and therefore the 3d CAN (but not always) work better.

Some people prefer the more natural image whereas others prefer the processed "hyperreal" image.

At least thats my understanding, and I think its possibly similar here.....

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Re: the Photo thread

Post by Lost Leopard Spot » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:59 pm

thebish wrote: and - yes there is summat "odd" - but - weirdly - it is closer to what the eye would see than any simple snap of the scene would ever be - yet the simple snap would look more natural to me! this must simply be because my mind/eye has been trained what to expect from a photograph...
Ever since you'e told me about this technique I've been looking back at some magazines where it is used to brutal effect, trying to get a grasp on why the photos look so artificial while at the same time having a more natural tonal balance, and I don't think that it is because our mind/eye has been trained what to expect from a photo, I think it's a more subtle thing - I think it might be because our mind is trained to see 'reality' and we automatically adjust the depth of shadows and the tonal qualities of light across our visual field and although we don't consciously see those adjustments we are unconsciously aware of them and so when we see a photo where the differences are eliminated, (and although it is closer to the 'reality' we experience), our brains know that it isn't 'real' because our automatic visual processes are trying but failing to find the tonal qualities that we/our minds expect to iron out. [pause] if you get my drift.
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Re: the Photo thread

Post by thebish » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:01 pm

Lost Leopard Spot wrote:
thebish wrote: and - yes there is summat "odd" - but - weirdly - it is closer to what the eye would see than any simple snap of the scene would ever be - yet the simple snap would look more natural to me! this must simply be because my mind/eye has been trained what to expect from a photograph...
Ever since you'e told me about this technique I've been looking back at some magazines where it is used to brutal effect, trying to get a grasp on why the photos look so artificial while at the same time having a more natural tonal balance, and I don't think that it is because our mind/eye has been trained what to expect from a photo, I think it's a more subtle thing - I think it might be because our mind is trained to see 'reality' and we automatically adjust the depth of shadows and the tonal qualities of light across our visual field and although we don't consciously see those adjustments we are unconsciously aware of them and so when we see a photo where the differences are eliminated, (and although it is closer to the 'reality' we experience), our brains know that it isn't 'real' because our automatic visual processes are trying but failing to find the tonal qualities that we/our minds expect to iron out. [pause] if you get my drift.
I think that's quite a penetrating insight - and certainly sounds feasible to me!

the human eye is looking for some processing to do - because it expects to have to do some - but doesn't find it!

(you'd think the eye would be grateful!)
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Re: the Photo thread

Post by Lost Leopard Spot » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:12 pm

thebish wrote:
Lost Leopard Spot wrote:
thebish wrote: and - yes there is summat "odd" - but - weirdly - it is closer to what the eye would see than any simple snap of the scene would ever be - yet the simple snap would look more natural to me! this must simply be because my mind/eye has been trained what to expect from a photograph...
Ever since you'e told me about this technique I've been looking back at some magazines where it is used to brutal effect, trying to get a grasp on why the photos look so artificial while at the same time having a more natural tonal balance, and I don't think that it is because our mind/eye has been trained what to expect from a photo, I think it's a more subtle thing - I think it might be because our mind is trained to see 'reality' and we automatically adjust the depth of shadows and the tonal qualities of light across our visual field and although we don't consciously see those adjustments we are unconsciously aware of them and so when we see a photo where the differences are eliminated, (and although it is closer to the 'reality' we experience), our brains know that it isn't 'real' because our automatic visual processes are trying but failing to find the tonal qualities that we/our minds expect to iron out. [pause] if you get my drift.
I think that's quite a penetrating insight - and certainly sounds feasible to me!

the human eye is looking for some processing to do - because it expects to have to do some - but doesn't find it!

(you'd think the eye would be grateful!)
You've boiled it down to the nub of the problem - that's it (I think).

Here's another I took that does the opposite of tonal mapping, where I've used the camera to emphasise to the max the extremes in the tonal qualities. I had to bracket quite a few to get this, and it being film as opposed to digital it was weeks before I knew if I'd gotten what I wanted...

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Re: the Photo thread

Post by clapton is god » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:19 pm

Lost Leopard Spot wrote:Is the beam of light that connects the lamps together a trail from a high sided lorry? If it is it's a really good coincidence with the positioning, linking all the lights up!
Yes, possibly three high sided lorries. Also, look at the bottom right of the photo and there are several strings of dots that I can't think of any explanation for. These strings are not parallel with the red stream and one of them is on this side of the lamp post. Very odd! I can only think camera shake as a cause but I was using a very sturdy tripod. Possibly glass defect, but its a top quality lens that cost me well over four figures. Whatever has caused it it's very odd and a little bit ghostly bearing in mind that the shutter was open for around 20 seconds and the dots are sharp rather than blurred.

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Re: the Photo thread

Post by thebish » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:22 pm

nice effect with the cloud-texture and the framing with the tree!

of course - that's the key benefit of the digital camera - you can view your efforts as you take them and if it isn't what you were after, adjust your settings and take the shot again... with film - it' either totally knowing what you are doing (being able to predict what will come out) - or just taking loads and hoping for the best (which is expensive on film and processing costs!)
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Re: the Photo thread

Post by Lost Leopard Spot » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:27 pm

clapton is god wrote:
Lost Leopard Spot wrote:Is the beam of light that connects the lamps together a trail from a high sided lorry? If it is it's a really good coincidence with the positioning, linking all the lights up!
Yes, possibly three high sided lorries. Also, look at the bottom right of the photo and there are several strings of dots that I can't think of any explanation for. These strings are not parallel with the red stream and one of them is on this side of the lamp post. Very odd! I can only think camera shake as a cause but I was using a very sturdy tripod. Possibly glass defect, but its a top quality lens that cost me well over four figures. Whatever has caused it it's very odd and a little bit ghostly bearing in mind that the shutter was open for around 20 seconds and the dots are sharp rather than blurred.
I don't think that can be camera shake... a possible explanation would be one of those flashing LED lights on a bicycle, maybe some kid riding on the opposite side who rode around this side of the lamppost, maybe even did a wheelie to get back onto the pavement?? Maybe you didn't notice him when concentrating on the shot (but if it's an SLR you used, the mirror would have been locked and you wouldn't have been looking through the lens).
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Re: the Photo thread

Post by thebish » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:34 pm

perhaps it's where you accidentally wandered across the front of the lens with a ciggie in your mouth, bored of waiting for the long exposure?? :wink:

(also - nice starburst effect on the lamps - small aperture???)
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Re: the Photo thread

Post by Lost Leopard Spot » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:38 pm

thebish wrote:perhaps it's where you accidentally wandered across the front of the lens with a ciggie in your mouth, bored of waiting for the long exposure?? :wink:

(also - nice starburst effect on the lamps - small aperture???)
I'd assumed that clappers had used a starburst filter over the top of his lens.
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Re: the Photo thread

Post by clapton is god » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:47 pm

No filters used, don't possess any these days, although I used to enjoy using them. F18 so, yes, small aperture. Camera was Nikon D700 (I have the money together for a D800 but am reluctant to spend it as the 36mb files would give me storage problems - but its a hellofa camera.) with a 24-70 lens on it.

I love temperature inversion shots such as that one,spotty. It doesn't happen often up the Lakes but when it does it transforms the landscape into somewhere magical!

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Re: the Photo thread

Post by Lost Leopard Spot » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:49 pm

thebish wrote:nice effect with the cloud-texture and the framing with the tree!

of course - that's the key benefit of the digital camera - you can view your efforts as you take them and if it isn't what you were after, adjust your settings and take the shot again... with film - it' either totally knowing what you are doing (being able to predict what will come out) - or just taking loads and hoping for the best (which is expensive on film and processing costs!)
I tend to bracket just those shots where I'm after an extreme effect. I've gotten used to the FM2 so much so that I can almost guarantee what the outcome will look like on film. The main reasons I'm thinking of going over to digital are (as you say) the cost of film, the diminishing quality of film stock these days (I usually use Fujifilm, but even that is noticeably inferior to what it was a few years ago), but mainly because processing labs these days just don't seem to care and the number of scratches, fingerprints, over/underexposures (chemically, of the negatives) that I'm getting back is growing... so, reluctantly I'm coming in from the cold. But only now that Nikon has a good enough camera to compete with Canon, and I can therefore still use my lenses.
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Re: the Photo thread

Post by Lost Leopard Spot » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:57 pm

clapton is god wrote:No filters used, don't possess any these days, although I used to enjoy using them. F18 so, yes, small aperture. Camera was Nikon D700 (I have the money together for a D800 but am reluctant to spend it as the 36mb files would give me storage problems - but its a hellofa camera.) with a 24-70 lens on it.

I love temperature inversion shots such as that one,spotty. It doesn't happen often up the Lakes but when it does it transforms the landscape into somewhere magical!
Ah. there was a period where I went mad for filters, bought just about every type going: smoky sky, starburst, vaseline light, polarising, coloured... I've still got a camera bag full, but I grew bored with using them.
Only filter I used now is a UV filter of which I've got one for each lens, and I use them mainly as protection for the lens surface itself from windblown grit, dust etc.
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Re: the Photo thread

Post by thebish » Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:08 pm

Lost Leopard Spot wrote:
clapton is god wrote:No filters used, don't possess any these days, although I used to enjoy using them. F18 so, yes, small aperture. Camera was Nikon D700 (I have the money together for a D800 but am reluctant to spend it as the 36mb files would give me storage problems - but its a hellofa camera.) with a 24-70 lens on it.

I love temperature inversion shots such as that one,spotty. It doesn't happen often up the Lakes but when it does it transforms the landscape into somewhere magical!
Ah. there was a period where I went mad for filters, bought just about every type going: smoky sky, starburst, vaseline light, polarising, coloured... I've still got a camera bag full, but I grew bored with using them.
Only filter I used now is a UV filter of which I've got one for each lens, and I use them mainly as protection for the lens surface itself from windblown grit, dust etc.
with a digital camera you can recreate most filter effects very easily in post-processing, so, though I have a polorising filter and an 8-stop ND filter - I rarely use them.. I bought the ND filter (a cheap one as I couldn't afford the Big Stopper!) to take those arty photos of streams/waterfalls looking all milky and smooth... but - never actually did it as those shots are so cliched now!!

a nice long exposure with a small aperture (beyond f14, say) will produce the starburst effect - I discovered this by accident whilst on a London-by-night shoot/pub crawl with a couple of friends...

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