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Thread: Light and Water

  1. #1
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Light and Water

    I had this marvelous vision in my mind when I took this shot. I saw the sun behind the water fountain creating a profusion of sparkling droplets briefly suspended in space. What I ended up with was pretty disappointing despite spend a lot of time trying to get the sparkling water drops.

    Here is the SOOC original.

    Light and Water

    Here is the best I could come up with so far. Pretty sucky, I'm afraid.

    Light and Water

    Any suggestions on what I can do with this to really make it sparkle?

    Thanks for viewing and considering the problem at hand.

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Light and Water

    Frank

    I hope someone who's more experienced at this type of shot comes in, becuase I'm just trying to surmise rather than provide the definitive answer.

    I see that you were at 1/1250 and f29 @ ISO400. Not sure why you were at 400, but it's clear you were working in enormously bright light, particularly as you were going straight into the sun. And that made me wonder if you had given yourself an almost impossible challenge.

    As we can see in the original, the main body of water has been put on, about, the 1 or 2 zone (if you thought about analysing it using the zone system). Now, we know that water jumping up out of a fountain like this, shouldn't be anywhere near that.

    In you 'best effort' shot, you pulled it back up nearer to where it might have looked to your eye at the time. But in doing so, you've had to brighten the sky way up. And that's killed the sparkle of the droplets. To get the sprkle, you need the droplets sitting on a darker background. I think the sparkle probably is there in your second shot. It's just that we can't see it.

    So, I wonder if this is a problem about dynamic range. What you saw with your eye gave you the vision. But the camera is not capable of capturing that vision?

    Anyway, I'm sure someone will come along to advise us that my thoughts are way off beam.

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    Re: Light and Water

    I am certainly no expert in this type of shot Frank but over the years I have come to understand the problem a litle better. You see, the eye sees this type of scene almost like a movie i.e. a rapid series of 'frames' over time as the individual droplets twinkle on and then off. The eye retains each 'frame' for a short period and the brain translates the whole to a curtain of sparkling droplets.

    Unfortunately, the camera doesn't see it this way. It records the droplets at one moment in time and the number of droplets that are 'switched on' at the moment the shutter fires is pure chance. Theoretically you might capture a moment when they are all 'on' and you have got your dream shot - or they may be all 'off' - the nightmare shot and sadly, in this shot it looks to me as though the majority of shots are 'switched off', particularly in the denser area of water.

    In the days of film (yup, I really am that old ) I used to have the most success by using a motor drive on my old Canon A1 and blasting odd a whole roll of film and hoping that somewhere in the roll there would be one reaonable shot. However, it was somewhat expensive so it wasn't something I did often.

    Hmm, I've just realised that I've never tried this since I moved to digital so perhaps its time I had another go and thinking about it, I wonder if layering and selectively masking a series of shots would work? It would be time-consuming but it might be worth a try Now, where can I find a fountain, ah yes, my garden hose

    These are just my thoughts Frank but perhaps they may give you some ideas until the experienced guys show us the way.

    Keith

  4. #4
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Light and Water

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I see that you were at 1/1250 and f29 @ ISO400. Not sure why you were at 400, but it's clear you were working in enormously bright light, particularly as you were going straight into the sun. And that made me wonder if you had given yourself an almost impossible challenge.
    Hi Donald, I had been working at shooting garden spiders in the shadows and as I saw this opportunity I completely forgot where I had the ISO set. At my age, I'd rather accept senility over stupidity for that one!

    I wanted the water to be frozen and get good DoF but knowing I couldn't pull the EV range I shot over 30 images, some at different exposures, to try to 'catch' a good one. Given that tonemapping won't do me any good with the action involved, I knew it would be an experiment and hoped that I could pull a rabbit out of the hat in post processing. As I have never seen an image quite like this, I figured it was worth the effort to learn something new. If I can get the right technique, I can return and shoot again so I may have more than one kick at the cat to get it right.

  5. #5
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Light and Water

    Quote Originally Posted by KeithH View Post
    Theoretically you might capture a moment when they are all 'on' and you have got your dream shot - or they may be all 'off' - the nightmare shot and sadly, in this shot it looks to me as though the majority of shots are 'switched off', particularly in the denser area of water.
    I appreciate your insight to the problem, Keith! I did shoot over 30 images in an effort to favorably 'catch' the light. Most of the images have the same issue, the center column of the water is very dark. I suppose if it hadn't been, I wouldn't have been able to shoot directly into the sun at all and there would be no image to critique.

    I did try creating multiple layers with varying contrast, exposure, luminosity, etc., then masking and combining the layers. I found it to be almost impossible to control the selection masks to achieve a good result. I'm sure that there are many selection and masking techniques that I am not aware of so there may yet be a way to do this.

    I hope to try this again with some better ideas on how to proceed so if your garden hose experiment provides any additional insight, I would be most interested in trying a new approach.

    One thing I could do is to take more shots, but I'm hoping to hear about additional promising techniques that can improve the chances of achieving the goal.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Light and Water

    Hi Frank,

    One idea that hasn't surfaced yet is fill flash from 'this' side, at worst it should reduce the contrast ratio, at best it might even add more sparkles

    I would experiemnt with a range of different Flash Exposure Compensations though, in addition to the multiple shots for catching them on (good explanation by Keith I thought)

    Good luck with round 2, might even give a go myself next time I am out. Althought thinking about it, I did try something similar a few weeks ago, I'll see if I can find it.

    Cheers,

  7. #7
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Light and Water

    Hi Dave, I like the fill flash idea but if I recall, the top of this fountain was about 20' up, not sure a camera based flash would change much but it's worth a try. Having mulled over what has been previously said and looking at the image, I wonder if it would be worth trying some identical shots with the sun behind me, then masking just the darkest portion of the original with some of the sunlit side image?

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