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Thread: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

  1. #1

    Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    I do know what I like to shoot - it's still growing, though. I don't know what it's use is, yet. I do know that it's possible to shoot these kind of photos and to have them really, really speak. I, however, have a ways to go. I looked up the names of the photographers that have been inspiring me for years, now - David Brittain, James Merrell, Laura Resen, Lizzie Himmel, Toshi Otsuki, David Whatshisname and that lady with the black and white photos (is she dead, now?)(yeah, I know, I need to find those last two again.)

    Anyway, they shoot "interiors" but it transcends the home magazine genre. It's lifestlye and still life. So, I don't want to copy them but I love their ability to capture mood, lighting, time ticking, textures and themes is really what I want to do. SO! Since that's what makes me tick, I am going to go fearlessly on with my baby attempts. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing, though. If I love it, I'm trying to shoot it.

    Do these speak AT ALL??? Does anyone know what I'm even talking about???

    Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Dumb stick! I thought that I had it pinned down. That's why there are two of the almost same, here. I like the first one better.

    Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Thanks! C&C and any thoughts on what inspires you is what I'm looking for.
    Last edited by Katy Noelle; 13th October 2010 at 07:15 PM.

  2. #2

    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Katy

    If you want that to be your primary subject go for it. If you can find one genre that stirs your enthusiasm it focuses the mind wonderfully. I would hold off buying that macro lens for a while yet. I don't know what the preferred focal ranges are for this kind of work but I am guessing a 100mm macro lens will restrict you.

    Don't stop with the natural stuff though the last few shots you have posted have been a pleasure and the is very tangible improvement in evidence. I have a definite preference for shooting still life but as you have noticed I try to keep my hand in with other genres. Although this sometimes frustrated me I feel I need to do other stuff to learn the whole range of techniques that could be applicable to the still life.

    Keep 'em coming

    Steve

  3. #3
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    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Katy

    The opening post has changed again and now the images are no longer visible. But they were up there long enough for me to see them.

    The first two (of the desk, chair, etc) show tremendous possibility. But I think the thing you would have to factor into the learning curve would be management of light. What you have in these is a very strong (blown) highlight that is the light at the window. But immediately adjecent to it, in the corner, is a very dark area in which we can see no (or very little) detail.

    So, it would seem as if some sort of artificial lighting is going to be required to assist you in getting more even light across interior scenes.

  4. #4

    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    This is like trying to hit a moving target....my reply copied from the first (or was it last) post

    Katy
    If you want that to be your primary subject go for it. If you can find one genre that stirs your enthusiasm it focuses the mind wonderfully. I would hold off buying that macro lens for a while yet. I don't know what the preferred focal ranges are for this kind of work but I am guessing a 100mm macro lens will restrict you.

    Don't stop with the natural stuff though the last few shots you have posted have been a pleasure and the is very tangible improvement in evidence. I have a definite preference for shooting still life but as you have noticed I try to keep my hand in with other genres. Although this sometimes frustrated me I feel I need to do other stuff to learn the whole range of techniques that could be applicable to the still life.

    The pics; First two need some fill lighting. Natural light is often best for this sort of stuff but you need to watch how that light source compliments your scene. Unless the light source is complimentary try to keep it out of frame. I think you realised this with the crop. But, this accentuates the unlit areas of the scene. I know you do not have photoshop but it may be worth giving GIMP a try. You can take several images of the same scene and light each shot from a different aspect. You can them put them together as layers and play with the opacity of each layer until you get the balance of light you require. You can of course achieve this by lighting the scene with several lamps and one exposure but unless you have the correct lighting rigs you will struggle.

    Now the pumpkiny things. I have noticed that you often add objects to your set. I do the exact opposite and take as much away as possible. Cluttered scenes rarely provide the impact needed for still life. There are exceptions and some photographers successfully portray bodegón with quite complex compositions but these rely on the skilled use lighting.

    Keep 'em coming

    Steve

  5. #5

    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    To respond to both Steve and Donald....That light thing is so important, eh? It's light that I want to photograph!!! When I do interiors or still life or macro, I always feel like I'm really taking a portrait. Isn't light desperately important in portraits? I think that I'm going to have to go look up Colin's lessons - judging by his PAD light monster, I'm sure he's talking about it. I need to learn how to be in control of the light - not just at the mercy of it. Especially, because I love windows - I need to figure those out. Does anyone know any secrets? I wonder if I got a big, thick white poster board, if I could throw some light back into the dark corners. Is there a thread on this? I don't think that I've missed any in the tutorials.(?)

    I'm sorry! My thoughts are all over the place, here.

    Anyway, I don't think that I could really give up on the other genres. I like them all. Anyway, I love small detail, that's why I'm interested in the 60mm macro (also, it's what I can afford). I do have my 18 - 55 mm lens, though, and Tom (DB) has some very wide angle lenses that can be attached. Actually, he has quite a few lenses hidden somewhere. They're for film camera but are supposed to be compatible. I wonder if I'm about to find hidden treasure....

  6. #6

    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    They're for film camera but are supposed to be compatible. I wonder if I'm about to find hidden treasure....
    If they are EF lenses yes you have hit the trove. If not you will need a flange converter and more than a little practice with manual focus and setting apertures on the lens itself

  7. #7
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    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Katy

    As well as teaching us about lighting in relation to portraits, Colin once wrote about lighting in interiors, albeit I think, in that case, it was for commercial purposes.

    But I suspect he's the person hereabouts best equipped to give you some pointers on this subject.

  8. #8

    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Thanks, Mr F. Wirefox! I got your more detailed message on the other/same thread. (Oh, mommy! how did I do THAT???)

    Anyway, The sad AND fun thing about still life is that I have to come up with it myself. I'll just have to keep growing in that skill, too. Also, another challenge is to not just be taking a picture of things but, also, to convey a feeling and/or mood from the things. I think that I'll try one of these pics in the mini competition ( ) just to see if it even registers with people.

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    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    I wonder if I got a big, thick white poster board, if I could throw some light back into the dark corners
    Hi Katy, you are on the right track, the poster board might be all you need. You might also want to check your local camera store for a 5 in one reflector/diffuser. I got one based on recommendations here at the forum, and I like it for floral shots and still lifes. The only problem is getting it at the right angle and finding a stand or someone to hold it. . I'm working on a stand - most people I know don't want to stand around being a stand.

    This is the type of thing I am referring to. There are many brands and sizes. I have the smallest one I could find. It is roughly 26" diameter and it works great for small stills. You may want something larger for the type of shot you are doing in #1 & 2.


    http://www.warehouseexpress.com/buy-...ector/p1028149

    Another thing you might want to try is using fill flash for the shadows in shots like 1 & 2. If you have off camera flash all the better as you will have more control over it. I find on camera flash very harsh and usually don't like it, but I've been experimenting lately by turning down the flash value -1 or 2 stops and the results are much better.

    Good idea reading Collins portrait posts. I think the lighting techniques that he uses for portraits work quite well for still lifes and you will also see how the reflector is used. Stay at it, I really like your compositions, you have an artistic flair, and when you get the light under control we are all in for a treat. Looking forward to it.

    Wendy
    Last edited by ScoutR; 13th October 2010 at 09:40 PM. Reason: correct spelling

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    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Katy, I like them. It means you change anything you want, when you too. Is there a shear behind the curtins? I have seen people shoot with them drawn and it seem to work well. The time of day will make a difference also as the light will hit it at a different angle. (Though the shear)

  11. #11
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    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    HI KAty,

    Light is the key as you said but you need to understand that your eye can see around 14 stops of light of light while your digital camera records around 5 stops. You need to be able to see the difference. Below is something I read and collected from somehwere but it might help you understand the lighting range we work in. This is an extract from my lecture notes for students.

    The extremes of brightness that one encounters in the natural world are not that varied from one region to another. For this reason there is the so-called ‘Sunny f/16’ rule. This says that on the brightest day normally encountered the proper exposure is roughly the reciprocal of the film/sensor speed (the ISO) at f/16. Thus, if you are shooting at ISO 200 then the exposure will be 1/250 second @ f/16. This is the same whether you're in Auckland or Amsterdam, mid-summer or mid-winter. Only on the ski slopes or at the beach will you need to stop down one more stop beyond Sunny 16 because of reflections off the snow and sand.

    From the extremes of a sunny day outdoors down to typical indoor room lighting covers a range of about 10 stops. With the exception of seldom encountered situations like fireworks, cityscapes and moonlight scenes these 10 brightness levels represent 95% of the conditions under which we all do our shooting.

    So, that being the case, why is exposure so difficult? Most people should have no problem in recognizing 10 different light levels, should they?

    Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), the human eye and brain have a superb auto-exposure mechanism built in. This means that once your eyes have adjusted to the current lighting situation, and without clues as to what is causing the light level encountered, it is almost impossible to tell how bright things are on a relative basis. As long as the light level lies somewhere within that 10 stop range for most people it all appears the same.

    This is why light meters, whether built-in or handheld, are such vital tools. But before exploring light meters and how best to use them it's worthwhile to have in one’s mind a firm idea of what "proper" exposure settings are for the ten light levels normally encountered. This way you're not a blind slave to the meter.

    Let's assume an f-stop of f/8 and a ISO (film/sensor speed) of 400. (This does work back from Sunny f16). Here's what these 10 light levels are and a guide to shutter speed that may be needed.

    1. A Sunny day outdoors — 1/2000 sec
    2. A bright lightly hazy day — 1/1000 sec
    3. A bright cloudy day without shadows — 1/500 sec
    4. An overcast day, or open shade on a sunny day — 1/250 sec
    5. A heavily overcast day — 1/125 sec
    6. Deep shade. Rainforests on an bright overcast day — 1/60 sec
    7. Just before a thunderstorm or late on a heavily overcast day — 1/30 sec
    8. A brightly lit store interior — 1/15th sec
    9. A well lit stage or sports arena — 1/8th sec
    10. A well lit home interior — 1/4 sec

    This might give some relativity to seeing the light you wish to photograph. I hope it helps.

  12. #12

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    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Hi Peter,

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    Light is the key as you said but you need to understand that your eye can see around 14 stops of light of light while your digital camera records around 5 stops.
    Most DSLR cameras actually capture around 11 stops at base ISO ... the problem is that we can only display around 6 on most monitors and 4 in most prints. So from a photographic point of view, it's more of a "reproduction issue" than it is a "capture issue". Good example is the shadow detail that the fill light control in ACR can reveal; it couldn't be revealed if it wasn't there - it's just that normally we're only seeing the top 4 to 6 stops.

    BTW, your Nikon 300s has a DR of 12.2 ... pretty impressive

    For this reason there is the so-called ‘Sunny f/16’ rule. This says that on the brightest day normally encountered the proper exposure is roughly the reciprocal of the film/sensor speed (the ISO) at f/16.
    Don't forget though that the other part of the rule is "for a front lit subject, more than 2 hours after sunrise, and more than 2 hours before sunset"
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 14th October 2010 at 01:27 AM.

  13. #13
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    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Peter,



    Most DSLR cameras actually capture around 11 stops at base ISO ... the problem is that we can only display around 6 on most monitors and 4 in most prints. So from a photographic point of view, it's more of a "reproduction issue" than it is a "capture issue". Good example is the shadow detail that the fill light control in ACR can reveal; it couldn't be revealed if it wasn't there - it's just that normally we're only seeing the top 4 to 6 stops.

    BTW, your Nikon 300s has a DR of 12.2 ... pretty impressive



    Don't forget though that the other part of the rule is "for a front lit subject, more than 2 hours after sunrise, and more than 2 hours before sunset"
    Thanks Colin, your clarifications always teach me something. I was not aware of the the DR of the D300 but I am noticing differences compared to the D70 as I get used to it. I must admit I have not had a chance to print much from it yet but following two good markets (sold 8 framed images) I need to replace some stock. I look forward to seeing the results.

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    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    Thanks Colin, your clarifications always teach me something. I was not aware of the the DR of the D300 but I am noticing differences compared to the D70 as I get used to it. I must admit I have not had a chance to print much from it yet but following two good markets (sold 8 framed images) I need to replace some stock. I look forward to seeing the results.
    No worries Peter. The D70 came in a 10.3 by the way, so with the 300s, you're a couple of stops further away from the noise floor, which should in theory equate so a couple more stops of ISO you can crank it up for the same level of noise.

    Here's a comparison of the two if you're interested ...

    http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/en/...(brand2)/Nikon

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    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    No worries Peter. The D70 came in a 10.3 by the way, so with the 300s, you're a couple of stops further away from the noise floor, which should in theory equate so a couple more stops of ISO you can crank it up for the same level of noise.

    Here's a comparison of the two if you're interested ...

    http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/en/...(brand2)/Nikon
    Thanks Colin, I will save that site in my favourites. A major selling point of the D300 is the better quality at higher ISOs. I not carry very fast lenses so this helps a lot.

  16. #16

    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Thanks, Guys! Once again this is really helpful! Thanks especially, Peter, for being so generous! I'm starting to wrap my head around it (sort of like I'm starting to get my head wrapped around autumn leaves and daylight). There's nothing like experience to bring up the question and to learn but I'd seriously be scratching my head without you all.

    Okay, Steve, they're FE lenses and not EF lenses. I asked, but HoneyBun (aka "Cranky Bearded Man") didn't get up and disclose the location of said lenses. sigh.

    Also, I was thinking about light from windows and the fact that I, once again, can't just snap a photo of what moves me per se. A sheer on the window, light reflectors, the right time of day or just recognizing what is doable and what isn't are going to have to go into my psyche.

    Thanks, again. Still open for C&C if anyone thinks of anything else.

  17. #17
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    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Great photos - just stick to what interests you, and don't try to copy anyone else. Be VERY truthful to yourself - you know what is good and what is not. The only question is: are you brave enough to stick to your judgement?!

    If you want constructive comments, I'd say that number 1 is great apart from the window - that level of light needs dealing with. Have you tried HDR? Number 2 also needs that white light on the book and table toning down a lot. Number 4 - my eye doesn't know what to look at. The pulling power of in-focus text is very strong as always, but the eye wants to look at the pumpkins too, because they are so bright. Its un-settling.

  18. #18

    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim View Post
    Great photos - just stick to what interests you, and don't try to copy anyone else. Be VERY truthful to yourself - you know what is good and what is not. The only question is: are you brave enough to stick to your judgement?!

    If you want constructive comments, I'd say that number 1 is great apart from the window - that level of light needs dealing with. Have you tried HDR? Number 2 also needs that white light on the book and table toning down a lot. Number 4 - my eye doesn't know what to look at. The pulling power of in-focus text is very strong as always, but the eye wants to look at the pumpkins too, because they are so bright. Its un-settling.
    Thanks, Tim!!!! You're comment is completely right - all of it!

  19. #19

    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    SO! I took a good and critical look at some of the books with photos that I love - you know, the inspiring ones. The ones that give a sense of home and light slanting through windows. Almost all of them have very shadowy corners with filtered light shining on something (from leaves or soft light or window panes or lit lamps). The deal is, they are very clear with their story and composition. The light isn't glaring but the best compositions have that light and shadow. The magazines with bland (but useful) interior shots have a more even exposure so that I can see almost everything. I think that that's the difference in what makes my heart go pitter patter. I just need to control the level of light and make it clearer.

    You know, I should say that there's another style - I call it the spa style - where everything is light and fresh and crisp clear - colors, lighting, shapes, textures - everything.

    SO! (again) In regards to the photos of the desk, the one without the window is probably better - in particular, because the light from the window was just too much. It (I think) needed deeper shadows in the corner (no hedging my bets ), the light on the desk needed to be more toned down and possibly/probably the vase/jar is the place that we want to let our eye settle. A lot of times, I need to stop and look and figure out who the "main character" is. I always seem to figure it out in hindsight.

    The photo is supposed to be about a quiet place to think and express - the light was the mood in that place and was supposed to be what made the still life "sing". ah, well.....

    Well, here are some more photos. What do you see?

    Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.
    Last edited by Katy Noelle; 18th October 2010 at 05:58 PM.

  20. #20
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    Well, here are some more photos that are trying to apply this. What do you see?
    Well, the close-ups don't get me excited (but that's a purely subjective reaction and may well just be me).

    However............

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    Slight Identity Crisis AKA how to know what to shoot.
    Now that is a different story.

    It is beautifully lit. The light is extremely well managed (including the candlelight) and the composition is very, very pleasing to the eye.

    Re:
    Almost all of them have very shadowy corners with filtered light shining on something (from leaves or soft light or window panes or lit lamps). The deal is, they are very clear with their story and composition. The light isn't glaring but the best compositions have that light and shadow.
    I take your point. But I think those right at the top of this thread had just a bit too much shadow in those corners. A very slight lifting to give usjust a bit more of a hint of what the corner contained would have worked better, I think.

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