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Thread: Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

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    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    Goals for 2012:
    • Continuing a goal I set for myself last year, improve all aspects of B&W photography: selecting subject best served by B&W interpretation, composition, and post-processing development.
    • Close-up/Macro photography, particularly DoF and lighting skills.
    • Flash and Artificial lighting; this is going to be a big one with lots of reading and experimenation, since I'm a complete newbie in this respect.
    • Obviously, the preceding goals are not mutually exclusive, and it's certainly possible to combine any 2 or all 3 objectives in a single shot.
    That should be more than enough to keep me busy for a year (at least).

  2. #2
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte) Week 1

    B&W Photo:

    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    Artificial Light:

    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    Macro/Close-up: Still TBD, but I'll post it here later this week.

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    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte) Week 1

    I do like the abstract sculpture in that final version of black and white you've done. Your macro shot is ironically something that I appreciated most when I zoomed into the shot. My first thoughts were that your subject was too dark and didn't show enough detail. However after I zoomed in I realised the detail is actually there.

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    Re: Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte) Week 1

    Hi Al,
    Just looked through all this weeks photo's and while I don't have the experience in photography to pass comment on anyone's photo's, your B&W was my favourite.
    Don't know if you are familiar with the Allan Parsons (I Robot) or Pink Floyd (Wish you were Here) albums, but the architecture of this building made me think of them as soon as I saw it.
    Great shot.
    PS, what and where is the building
    Greg

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    Sam Smith's Avatar
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    Re: Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte) Week 1

    It #1 for me AL. I always wounder what the designer was thinking when they come up with them, I like the way you captured it and the conversion isn't bad at all.

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    Re: Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. The sculpture is located in front of the municipal library in downtown Tucson, Arizona. I did get a chance to grab a shot of the sculpture in it's entirety; I don't especially like this shot (poor splotchy light, distracting elements, bland composition at best), but as I said before, this piece does not lend itself well to being photographed (or viewed, for that matter) in total... it's about the angles, lines, and relationships of various parts. I intend to post some more (closer) photos from various angles later, but here's the whole thing, for what it's worth:

    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

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    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    I see what you mean about the whole scuplture. Perhaps it just needs a different perspective and the right light to make it really stand out the way its creator had intended it to.

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    Week 2

    #1: Macro and Artificial Lighting.

    This is a creosote seed, taken with Canon 7D using EF100mm L IS lenses, 50mm extension tube, and MR14-EX Macro Ring Light. 5 image stack using PS CS5. I don't know the exact magnification for this shot or the next, but knowing the size of the 7D sensor, and the size of the seed, it must be pretty close to 1:1.

    Lesson learned - macro work can be tough on the knees

    1/180s @ f/22, ISO400

    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    #2: Another Macro with Artificial Light shot

    Same equipment as previous image, but this is a 6 image stack. I'm not really satisfied with either of these macro shots... both are a bit soft in some spots (despite stacking), and the lighting could definitely be improved.

    1/180s @ f/11, ISO200

    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    #3 Black and White
    This one is for Don, so it just has to be B&W... maybe it will bring back some memories.
    A very simple shot, really, but I kinda like it. I'd love to get some interior shots of this place, but it has become a very popular venue for weddings and other formal events (a wedding party was being photographed on the sidewalk in front of the entrance when I shot this, so entryway shots weren't even possible).

    Canon 5DMkII with EF24-105mm L lens, hand held.

    1/180s @ f/8, ISO400

    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

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    Re: Week 2

    You were right about the sculpture Al. In it's entirety it looses something. The tease of just a piece I really like the 1st image of the seed. The detail in the texture of the fuzz (for lack of a better word) is amazing. Great work.

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    Re: Week 2

    Hi Al I really like the sign and the way you have composed the shot. Like you say it's a simple shot but it really stands out and has a nostalgic feel to it, like something from an old movie.

    Not so sure about the macros. Technically great for detail and lighting, But the subject isn't very pretty. Don't you have some flowers Just kidding, I think you took a big step in working on your macro DOF and lighting setups - so mission accomplished.

    Wendy

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    Re: Week 2

    Great perspective on the sign. I think that works very well. You've also managed to get some great detail with your macros although they do seem to lack something. Perhaps try a bit of post processing to make the greens a bit more vibrant?

    Oh, and perhaps you should get some knee pads if you're going to make a habit of the macros

  12. #12
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    Re: Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    Thanks for the comment, everyone.

    @Wendy: I did collect a cluster of tiny white flowers from a milkweed plant that I intended to shoot, but they wilted in the collection bottle. Who knew that milkweed curdles so quickly? So I settled for the creosote seeds because they were small and have lots of fine detail... good enough for technical practice, even if it isn't pretty. BTW, Hotel Congress was built in 1919, and was remodeled a several years ago to a 1920s decor, so "nostalgic" was exactly what I was aiming for with the shot of the sign.

    @Malcolm: The creosote shots were really a technical exercise, so I didn't worry about asthetics. The colors are pretty close to reality; other than WB with a grey card, I didn't make any color adjustments at all. I'm sure you're right that the images "lack something" (quite a bit, IMO), but I suspect it would be difficult to get an asthetically pleasing shot of a creosote seed, no matter what processing is applied. Thanks for commenting.

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    Week 3

    This has certainly been a busy week, with several personal firsts, including off-camera flash, multiple flash, bounce flash, and light painting. The results certainly leaves lots of room for improvement, but that's what this project is all about... and flash is a major learning curve. I do appreciate any and all comments and criticism, but keep in mind the flash shots are essentially technical exercises... I didn't worry about composition other than lighting angles.

    First, a B&W shot (natural lighting)

    #1 - Steam Locomotive
    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    The second shot is a light painting, done by making a long exposure (30 sec) in a completely dark room (a closet), shining a penlight on areas of interest from different angles.

    #2 - Camera Gear
    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    And now things get interesting... the lighting shots, all of which are also close-up done with a 100mm macro lens.

    #3 - Miniature Kumquats (~2cm diameter); Macro Ringlight.
    A ringlight has it's uses, and it's very portable, but it also has all the disadvantages of any on-camera light source, as this shot illustrates. This a stack of 10 images.
    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    All of the remaining shots were done in a dark closet, to eliminate any source of ambient or natural light, using 1 or 2 Canon 580EX II flash units. One thing I quickly discovered is that most of these shots would have been better served by continuous light sources (which I do not yet have <sigh>). I will be soliciting advice on continous lighting equipment in a separate thread in the Equipment forum, so if you have advice to share on that topic, please look up my thread there (Lighting Setup for Table-top Shooting). I set up in a walk-in closet in a spare bedroom, so I could isolate the light sources and have plenty of close walls and low ceiling for light bounce.

    Just to tease Wendy (ScoutR) for making fun of my poor little creosote seed, I spitefully searched out a non-flowering plant at the local florist shop. I have no idea why the florist sells it, or what it's for, but at least it doesn't wilt.

    #4 - Non-flowering plant (Decorativii nonwiltus); single exposure, no stacking
    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    #5 Same plant, but with a different lighting angle. Again, single exposure without stacking.
    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    And, at last... the flowers (miniature roses, just so Wendy won't nag ). The next two shots are stacks of several exposures, but there are still areas of soft focus (I'll be working on that, as part of the macro goal). Also, I'm not really happy with the lighting angles and intensity. All of the flash exposures were taken with auto-flash, with some + FEC. I will be working will manual flash control in weeks to come.

    #6 Miniature Yellow Rose; single flash, wall bounce
    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    #7 Red and Yellow Roses
    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)

    That should be more than enough for this week. C&C is very much invited, particularly regarding tips for using flash. As I said above, these subjects are really better suited for continuous light sources (especially since several exposures are required for stacking), but I do want to learn how to use flash, so the effort isn't wasted, even if there is a better way. Thanks for viewing!
    Last edited by Snarkbyte; 16th January 2012 at 03:07 AM.

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    Re: Week 3

    [IMG]Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)[/IMG] Spiny Orb Weaver macro capture using 21mm + 31mm exten tubes +70-200mm set at 100mm

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    Re: Week 3

    All I can say is great work! You've been pretty busy this week and that shot of the locomotive is fantastic - excellent lines (although I think the verticals are tilted to the left slightly so it might need a slight clockwise rotation). As for the rest, given that I don't even own a flash and it's an area that I need to get into, I'll leave it for the others to comment! Looks like you had a lot of fun though

  16. #16
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Re: Week 3

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldcoastgolfer View Post
    All I can say is great work! You've been pretty busy this week and that shot of the locomotive is fantastic - excellent lines (although I think the verticals are tilted to the left slightly so it might need a slight clockwise rotation). As for the rest, given that I don't even own a flash and it's an area that I need to get into, I'll leave it for the others to comment! Looks like you had a lot of fun though
    Thanks Malcolm. You may be right about the locomotive shot being slightly crooked, but it's hard to say. I used guide lines in PS to check against some of the vertical lines in the photo. Some verticals are true, and others aren't, so it depends on where you look. The fence, for example, leans to the left, while some of the vertical lines on the train are true and others aren't (though you might expect that of an antique engine, sitting on a bit of very old track). The vertical bars on the roofing strut are true, so either the shed or the fence is crooked. The proximity of the fence to the edge of the photo frame probably makes the crooked fence more apparent, but on the other hand, the vertical roof strut and the smokestack on the engine are really closer to the center of attention, so overall I have to vote for the leaving the crooked fence. That way, at least the subject and the building are true.

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    Re: Week 3

    Quote Originally Posted by Snarkbyte View Post
    Some verticals are true, and others aren't, so it depends on where you look.
    Lens distortion perhaps?

  18. #18
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Re: Week 3

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldcoastgolfer View Post
    Lens distortion perhaps?
    I thought the same thing. The fence visible in the background goes all the way around the train, so I couldn't back up any farther and had to shoot at a wider angle than I would have liked, and I had to aim upward a bit to capture the smoke from the engine. (It really is smoke instead of steam in this case; this engine hasn't been fired in long time and no one knows if it could handle the pressure, so the museum put a smoke generator inside the smokestack for effect.)

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    Re: Week 3

    Quote Originally Posted by Snarkbyte View Post
    First, a B&W shot (natural lighting)

    #1 - Steam Locomotive
    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)
    Nice! I agree with previous posters about the tilt though. Have you tried straightening using the verticals on the fence behind the engine.

    #3 - Miniature Kumquats (~2cm diameter); Macro Ringlight.
    A ringlight has it's uses, and it's very portable, but it also has all the disadvantages of any on-camera light source, as this shot illustrates. This a stack of 10 images.
    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)
    I'll be watching for feedback on your flash shots. It's another area where I have lots of problems. When you say all the disadvantages of on camera light sources are you referring to the hot spots? When I look at this I'm surprised at the lack of focus considering it is a stack of 10 images and I am wondering if it is lack of focus or just that all the detail was lost because of the hot spots in the middle of each kumquat??? I also wonder if toning down the orange channel would bring the detail that is there back OR if hot spots are totally unrecoverable. Sorry if these are sill questions and/or observations, but like I say On Camera Flash is something I'd like to get better results with myself. Have you tried negative flash compensation to try to tame this?

    I have no idea why the florist sells it
    Just to spite me.

    #5 Same plant, but with a different lighting angle. Again, single exposure without stacking.
    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)
    Actually I quite like this one. You have the focus right where the light is and managed to make it look pretty good. I'm thinking vignette....

    And, at last... the flowers (miniature roses, just so Wendy won't nag ).
    It's been a long time since anyone gave me roses. Thanks Al

    The next two shots are stacks of several exposures, but there are still areas of soft focus (I'll be working on that, as part of the macro goal). Also, I'm not really happy with the lighting angles and intensity. All of the flash exposures were taken with auto-flash, with some + FEC. I will be working will manual flash control in weeks to come.
    Hmmmm, I'm still wondering if it is soft focus OR flash intensity that is causing the blur???? Just curious. I see you have used FEC so that answers my silly question above. I'll be watching for future experiments, so I can learn along with you.

    #6 Miniature Yellow Rose; single flash, wall bounce
    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)
    I like this one, I think it would look nice with a texture treatment... parchment or something like that, but I guess that's another project

    #7 Red and Yellow Roses
    Project 52 by Al (snarkbyte)
    hmmmm, those hot spots again. If these can't be avoided I still wonder if the yellow could be toned down in PP.
    Very interesting week, Nice work! I look forward to seeing the feedback you get on these.

    Wendy

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    Re: Week 3

    You have been busy Al, the locomotive image is wonderful, good lighting and the detail is spot on.
    The focus stacking and light painting looks great, these are both areas that I have no experience in what so ever, but have added to my growing list of projects that I can explore.
    thanks for sharing the details

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