Assignment 2

This autumn I had the good fortune to visit Venice for aqua-alta. I took the images for this assignment while there.

Picture 1:Low contrast.

This in my opinion is one of the best photos I have taken in 2010, possibly ever!  It’s a low contrast scene.  I had just spent the morning shooting pictures in St Marks square with a tripod, up very early to catch the dawn light.  I packed up and was leaving, walking across the raised walk-way that they lay out at this time of year when I spotted the sun shining through the Doge’s palace.

I shot it hand help on F-22 to get a good star burst effect on the sun.  I did bracket a large amount of photos here to ensure that I got something usable later.  Its a RAW file, which means that the camera processing is practically nil.  Therefore I get to choose all of the steps during the post-capture processing.  I didn’t have time to mess about with neutral density filters and they probably wouldn’t have worked anyway.  The processing was done in Lightroom to begin with, cropping and straightening and small exposure adjustments.  Then I continued to process a copy in Photoshop, after converting to black and white using layers, then using the shadows and highlight tool to open up the shadows.  Sometimes I carry out this type of adjustment on a duplicate layer but in this case I did not.  I added a curves adjustment layer to increase contrast.  I have added a gradient  to the sky in Photoshop and then selectively burned or dodged different areas of the photo to get the look I wanted.

Histogram showing this is a low contrast image.

Picture 2: Mixed Light source.

Keeping with the theme of Venice, this is an example of mixed light sources.  It is taken with window light in the background and with a desk lamp which has a tungsten orange colour cast to it.  I have set the camera for tungsten white balance which makes the desk lamp turn white and the window light turns blue.   The most difficult thing about this photo is when to take it. By that I mean that I tried earlier in the day when the daylight was stronger but it overwhelmed the artificial light completely.  I tried diffusing the light from the window but it was still too strong.  I had to wait until the sun had moved and the window light was weaker but even then I had to move the desk lamp and hold it right above the magazine to get it strong enough to show up.

It is taken with a 21 mm wide angle lens at ISO 400.  The settings were F6.7 and 1/180 second.

Histogram for photo 2.  This is also a high contrast image.

Picture 3: High ISO.

This is an example of a high ISO image.  It was taken at ISO 640.  It is also an example of a low contrast image as the histogram below shows.    At time of capture I bracketed a set of RAW shots to ensure I had a proper exposure and proper shadow details i.e the exposure was correct.  This reduces noise problems.  Perhaps also the fact that I have a full frame sensor helps reduce the noise problem.  Following processing into black ands white in Photoshop I applied a noise reduction adjustment in Lightroom.

Histogram for photo 3, showing it is both a high ISO photograph and also it is a low contrast scene.



Photo 4: High Contrast.

Here I have an example of a high contrast image.  I used a Lee ND graduated filter at the time of capture to prevent blowing out the highlights.  The original colour file is again a Raw file shot with the white balance set for AWB.  I check the histogram to ensure I have a correct exposure at time of capture.  I have processed the file to black and white using layers in Photoshop and applied a blue filter in the black and white layer. This has had the result of toning down the luminescence of the lamps.  I have used dodging and burning in photoshop to accentuate the parts of the photo that I wish to stand out like the steps.

Histogram for image 4 showing the settings and also that this is a high contrast image.



Photo 5:Low Contrast.

Above is a low contrast scene as the histogram below shows.  Again I shot a bracketed sequence in RAW format checking the histogram to ensure I had got the correct exposure.  This is a 4 second exposure taken because I wanted to geta good smoothed reflection in the water so the camera is obviously on a tripod.  I have added contrast in Photoshop using a cures adjustment to the entire image.  I finished this off with selective dodging and burning to bring up the areas that I wanted to emphasise.

Histogram for photo 5 showing the camera settings and also that it is a low contrast image.



Photo 6:Low contrast.

A low contrast scene as the histogram shows below.  Once the exposure looks right and the histogram looks like I have detail right across the dynamic range I know that I can add contrast back to the raw file in post processing to a RAW file.  Its a long exposure too, taken at 1/15th of a second so again the camera is on a tripod.  I used a level to make sure the horizon was straight.  I had already taken a few shots with no people in them and then this person strolled into the shot and added something not there in the ones that have nobody in them.   Here I have converted to black and white,used a gradient on the sky and then selectively dodged and burned the areas I want to bring up in Photoshop.

Histogram for photo 6 showing that it is a low contrast scene.


About briancooney123

HOW I GOT HERE Of course, I wasn’t always a full time photographer. I spent a lot of time in the corporate world. I had a job which paid well, but just didn’t excite me. I remember the day when I had had enough. Enough of selling myself short, enough of dreaming too small, enough of doing what others expected of me. I had put away my dreams and told myself I would get back to them later, but somehow there always seemed to be something else that had to get done first. A friend of mine had recommended I take the NLP Business Practitioners course, and although I was really busy, I decided to do it. During that time, I began to imagine the different paths my life could take from here. While I had a hazy picture of what this other life might look like, I had a clear picture of where my current life was going if I didn’t change. It was a scary moment, a bit like standing on the edge of a cliff deciding whether to jump into the great unknown or stay on the cliff, safe but trapped. I jumped. The transition to the life I wanted was challenging The transition to the life I wanted was challenging but I would never go back. After that day I resolved to do what I love, to follow my bliss.  Picking up a camera after several years away, I found that many things had changed, the digital age had arrived. In the intervening years, I was too busy to pay any attention to my photography, and occasionally when I took something I really liked, I would think “how do some photographs seem so captivating and others leave me completely cold?” I knew this is what I was meant to do Somehow though, I knew this is what I was meant to do. I dedicated myself to learning everything I could about being a photographer. I took many, many courses and I read every book I could get my hands on, I still do. Since then, I have dedicated myself to helping other creative photographers achieve the results they want. And what a journey it has been. Last year I qualified as a coach. My main area of interest is creativity and helping others to express their vision. WHAT I BELIEVE Along the way, I’ve learnt that there are no rules. Experiment, explore, play. My advice is to make your art from your heart, not for the praise or the money.  Lighten up. It’s important to take your photography seriously, but it's a mistake to take yourself too seriously. Finally, you get what you want when you never, ever give up so enjoy every minute of it and just do it!
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2 Responses to Assignment 2

  1. Grayspace Studios says:

    All your pictures are beautiful, but for me I am in love with #3. The simplicity of it is tantilizing perfect. Nice job

  2. love your b&w processing. -Kim

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