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Thread: On Light and Perspective

  1. #1
    dje's Avatar
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    On Light and Perspective

    Hello All

    I took these two images yesterday of St John's Cathedral in Brisbane. I think they illustrate the effects of lighting and perspective quite well. I'm probably preaching to the converted here for many of you (yes pun intended ) but maybe some of the less experienced photographers (like me) will get something from it.

    It was one of those frustrating days for photographers as the sun was coming in and out from behind the clouds all afternoon.The first image has better lighting IMO with some mild shadow effects on the stone adding some interest. However the second image has a better perspective IMO. The first was taken basically across the street whereas the second was taken about 20m further back and in a position with about 1.5m extra elevation. This I think gives a more natural looking perspective with the first having that "bottom heavy" look about it.

    I'd be interested in your opinions on this.

    Why did I take these pictures ? Well the cathedral has a slightly interesting history. It was designed by an English architect John Pearson and work commenced on the building in 1901. For those who know about these things, it is apparently early English gothic in style and was probably a relatively modest design by British and European standards. However for we poor wretches in the colonies it would do. Presumably due to financial constraints, it was built in stages and it was not until 1989 that work on the final stage (3 towers and spires) commenced. Twenty years later in 2009 the building was finally complete and I've been meaning to photograph it ever since.

    Anyway, thanks for looking. I hope I haven't bored you to tears!

    Cheers Dave

    On Light and Perspective

    On Light and Perspective
    Last edited by dje; 28th June 2011 at 01:32 AM.

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    Re: On Light and Perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by dje View Post
    The first image has better lighting IMO with some mild shadow effects on the stone adding some interest. However the second image has a better perspective IMO. The first was taken basically across the street whereas the second was taken about 20m further back and in a position with about 1.5m extra elevation. This I think gives a more natural looking perspective with the first having that "bottom heavy" look about it.

    I'd be interested in your opinions on this.
    I agree with you regarding light and perspective in the two shots, Dave. It is unfortunate that in changing your position the second has also gained a street lamp. This is probably also preaching to the converted but the magic of photo editing software enables you to edit the perspective (and crop to remove the skyscraper) so that it is possible to make the first look more like the second - hope you don't mind Dave - e.g. -

    On Light and Perspective

    Philip

  3. #3
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: On Light and Perspective

    Philip

    Thanks for that, I certainly don't mind. What software did you use to change the perspective ? I have Photoshop Elements but haven't noticed it there however I'm not an experienced user.

    Cheers Dave

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    Re: On Light and Perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by dje View Post
    What software did you use to change the perspective? I have Photoshop Elements but haven't noticed it there however I'm not an experienced user.
    I haven't used Elements, Dave, so I don't know where you should look. My software is Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 (cheaper!). In this editor there is a set of tools labeled "Geometric Effects" one of which is " Perspective - Vertical". In your photo I used it to squash the bottom (giving an inverted trapezium shape to the frame), then I stretched it horizontally a little by resizing slightly to return the building to appropriate proportions before cropping.

    Philip

  5. #5
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: On Light and Perspective

    Found it under Image, Transform. Must have a play.

    Thanks again

    Dave

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    Re: On Light and Perspective

    YEP! Adjusting perspective is one of the amazing capabilities of Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and probably quite a few other image editing programs. IMO, along with sharpening, it is one of the most valuable tools available. Sometimes just tweaking an image a tiny bit will transform it from a distorted view to a more realistic view.

    When I was a motion picture photographer we used to call perspective distortion "keystone effect" Hollywood actually used "keystone tables" to eliminate the effect when shooting a group of people at a dining table or a table in a board room. The "keystone table" was made so that rather than being a rectangle, one end was actually wider than the other. Shooting along the length of the table with the wider end furthest from the camera, the "keystone" distortion would be reduced or eliminated.

    Now, if architects only felt pity for photographers, they would construct buildings wider at the top than at the bottom so the perspective distortion would be reduced or eliminated (LOL). However, until that time, we have to do one of several things...

    1. shoot from a distance with a longer focal length lens
    2. use a tilt-shift lens
    or
    3. sdjust the perspective in an image editing program

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    Re: On Light and Perspective

    Philip, in your edit of dje's second photo, did you also add some texture to the building to compensate for the less favorable lighting (compared to the first) - or am I imagining things? The building in your edit seems to have much more presence than in his second shot.

  8. #8
    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    Re: On Light and Perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Howard View Post
    Philip, in your edit of dje's second photo, did you also add some texture to the building to compensate for the less favorable lighting (compared to the first) - or am I imagining things? The building in your edit seems to have much more presence than in his second shot.
    OK, well now I see that you worked on his first photo ... Duhhh

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    Re: On Light and Perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    YEP! Adjusting perspective is one of the amazing capabilities of Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and probably quite a few other image editing programs. IMO, along with sharpening, it is one of the most valuable tools available. Sometimes just tweaking an image a tiny bit will transform it from a distorted view to a more realistic view.
    Actually, I've found that almost every image containing buildings (especially if there's more than one) needs straighting or squishing in PP, even if it's not a wide angle shot. It many times is all that is needed to fix that "something's wrong but I can't put my finger on it" thing that tugs at me.

    If I recall correctly, it also seems that, especially with a wide angle lens, in composing the shot, I need to allow a generous amount of wiggle room in the horizontal plane so that if I need to do some serious straightening, I don't end up cropping out an essential element somewhere else in the frame.

  10. #10
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    Re: On Light and Perspective

    On Light and Perspective

  11. #11
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: On Light and Perspective

    Thanks all for your comments and edits. Gee I've learnt a lot since joining this forum only a short time ago ! It was interesting to hear from Richard about one of the "secrets" of the motion picture world too.

    I suppose the only concern I have with perspective correction in software is that there is some judgement involved in preserving the proportions of the building (for want of a better term). Then again, judgement is required for most pp anyway. Intuitively I think we should still be aiming to get the best perspective possible straight from the camera however this is not always easy.

    Cheers Dave

  12. #12
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    Re: On Light and Perspective

    Dave...

    Photograpy is a matter of judgement from the original aquisition of the image, through post processing to the final display of an image online or in a hard-print version.

    One thing that people tend to do (IMO) is over-correct perspective. We are used to a building looking a bit more narrow as we look up at it. If the perspective is totally corrected and the lines look perfectly parallel all the way up, it may look somewhat odd.

  13. #13
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    Re: On Light and Perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by dje View Post
    I suppose the only concern I have with perspective correction in software is that there is some judgement involved in preserving the proportions of the building (for want of a better term).
    It is probably just a matter of personal preference whether it looks right, but there might also be valid reasoning behind a particular judgement that others might be interested in, as in Richard's post. For example, if the aim is to achieve a more natural look, Steve has possibly slightly over-corrected your original in the way that Richard describes.

    Below is another one from your original posted image which (in my judgement) might look more realistic (if that is what you want), but as you were there you should be the best one to judge! -

    On Light and Perspective

    Philip
    Last edited by MrB; 29th June 2011 at 09:10 AM.

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