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Thread: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

  1. #1
    purplehaze's Avatar
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    The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    This is really ambitious of me, given that I am still wrestling with the controls on my cameras, never mind the editing software, but there is this sculpture in a local park that I am really drawn to and would like to exploit, and I could use any help you can give me.

    This is a really bad photo of it that I took this spring, but I think it will give you an idea of the challenges, and the potential.

    The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    (Aside to fellow Canuks: Tell me this doesn't immediately put you in mind of Lawren Harris.)

    Anyhow, I was in the park today with my Canon S95 and took a few shots of it that I have been playing with in Aperture.

    This is the only one that I didn't totally blow the highlights on and it could perhaps be brightened some more, and something done to make the sky more dramatic, but still I think it's kind of cool.

    The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Same image in B&W:

    The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Another shot in B&W:

    The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Aperture isn't up to date yet with the S95 RAW and I only just bit into Canon's Digital Photo Professional tonight so these are just rough edits of the JPEGs that I thought I would run by you to give you a general idea of where I would like to go. Any tips on how to shoot shiny metal objects like this at all times of day and in all seasons (snow coming soon!), and processing ideas, would be most appreciated.

    I will also be shooting it with my Nikon D90 18-105 mm lens.

    Thanks for your indulgence.

    Janis

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Quote Originally Posted by purplehaze View Post
    [IMG](Aside to fellow Canuks: Tell me this doesn't immediately put you in mind of Lawren Harris.)
    Well, now that I've googled Lawren Harris ....

    Janis - the biggest challenge (apart from the exposure etc which you'll have already been working on) is composition (which it looks like you've already tried to tackle). Your 1st (spring) image gives us an idea of setting. One of the first questions is do you want to isolate the work and focus in on its texture and shape, excluding it from the setting in which it sits? Or do you want it place it in the context of its location? What is it you want to say, photographically, about the object?

    When you are looking at it without your camera in hand, does the location enhance it or does the sculpture needs to be viewed in isolation (mentally removing its setting)?

    If you decide that it's about the sculpture and not its location - is it time to get up-to-speed on layer masks so that you can obliterate the background from your images?

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    The first image tends to say the background may not suit the image, unless you can take it from another angles.

    I think the idea of closing in on the shapes and textures and using the light is the way to go, as you have done in the second image. Walk around, lay on the ground. Try shooting it from every angle.

    Donald's question asking what was it that made you pick up your camera and shoot this image will help formulate your approach.

    I look forward to your next shots.

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    purplehaze's Avatar
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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    [QUOTE=Donald;64805]Well, now that I've googled Lawren Harris ....
    What is it you want to say, photographically, about the object?

    All good questions, Donald. I took so long answering that the system timed out on me and I lost my response.

    So, to recap: my sample images from today were misleading. I am in fact interested in the setting as well as the shape and texture, as the sculpture is located near a cleared portion of riverbank and well-positioned to catch the rays of the setting sun from the river side. The first time I saw the sculpture was on a clear winter day with snow all around that it was reflecting and it was dazzlingly bright. I can't begin to imagine how to expose in conditions like those. Today I was spot-metering, trying to aim at what I thought were mid-tones, but bracketed below what the meter was telling me to, because of what I was seeing in the histogram. But not even knowing whether I should care if pixels were falling off the end, because what do I know? I am a total beginner.

    I know this is all terribly ambitious of me, but perhaps you will understand when I say that my first knitting project was a sweater rather than a scarf or dishcloth. It seems that I like to bite off really, really big chunks to chew.

    As far as masking layers go, I may be at a disadvantage with Aperture. I have done a wee bit of cloning to get rid of extraneous matter, but I don't think it offers me anything like a masking layer.

    Anyhow, I am wide open to ideas, and would be interested in seeing examples of what other people have done with reflective objects, especially against snow.

    Best,
    Janis
    Last edited by purplehaze; 18th October 2010 at 08:50 AM.

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    purplehaze's Avatar
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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post

    Donald's question asking what was it that made you pick up your camera and shoot this image will help formulate your approach.

    I look forward to your next shots.
    Thanks, Peter! That's encouraging.

    What made me pick up my camera? I'm not sure I know the entire answer yet and that's maybe part of the reason I want to explore it.

    Cheers,
    Janis

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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    The highlights were under control, you could have decreased the exposure by one stop and as other members have stated, the composition as it is competes with your subject by adding too many competing liines. Also, the sky on that day adds nothing to the image. You say that there is a waterway nearby, if you could lower your perspective and place the object parallel to the water, so that it appears to be floating, you might get a better composition that adds a bit mystery to your subject.

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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Hi Janis: I like what you are working on here. Wish I could help, but I am going to follow along on this thread and take some lessons myself.
    I love all the close up shots so far. The view with the sun setting on the riverbank and the colours reflecting back sounds very interesting too. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you do.

    There is lots of potential here, for so many types of shots. I think you will find that your best ones will end up being the ones you shoot after answering Donald's questions. That's not to say there cannot be more than one answer, but I'm finding the best shots usually come when your heart is in the shot too. Hope that makes sense, but don't let it stop you from just going out and shooting and analyzing the shots you've taken. Seeing as the subject is not going anywhere, there's nothing stopping you from trial and error and that sometimes helps on the evolution to the shot that's in your mind and heart.

    Wendy

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    purplehaze's Avatar
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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    You say that there is a waterway nearby, if you could lower your perspective and place the object parallel to the water, so that it appears to be floating, you might get a better composition that adds a bit mystery to your subject.
    Great idea, Shadowman. Next time I am there, I will see if this is a possibility.

    Janis

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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    My wife and some of her shiny metal friends in the Bejing Airport

    The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

  10. #10
    purplehaze's Avatar
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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    Seeing as the subject is not going anywhere, there's nothing stopping you from trial and error and that sometimes helps on the evolution to the shot that's in your mind and heart.

    Wendy
    Thanks for the encouragement, Wendy. I expect there will be lots of error! While pondering Donald's and Peter's questions last night, I was thinking that maybe my attraction to this thing has something to do with the warmth of silver and the contrast that made with the day on which I first saw it (cold of winter). The warmth, needless to say, is physical as well as visual, and people flock to it partly for that reason.

    I wonder whether that contrast came be made manifest in a photograph?

    Here's an example of cold that I think is well photographed, taken in the same park.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bryanscott/2256347556/

    Which makes me think I'll have to check out my surrogate mountain forms during a blizzard. Something makes me think they won't look so warm then.

    Janis

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    purplehaze's Avatar
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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    My wife and some of her shiny metal friends in the Bejing Airport

    The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects
    What a delightful sculpture! Was it difficult to get a good exposure?

    I see there is a new Exposure tutorial. Very timely for my purposes.

    Janis

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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    My wife and some of her shiny metal friends in the Bejing Airport

    The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects
    Those are great looking objects, they look alien but I am sure there is a more earthly mystical theme surrounding their meaning.

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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Do you have any off-camera-flashes? Return in the dark with some colored gels over the flashes. Opposing warm and cool gels maybe?. Lots of possibilities
    Last edited by didymus; 18th October 2010 at 11:52 PM. Reason: Added a sentence

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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Here's my shiny oblect:

    The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

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    purplehaze's Avatar
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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Quote Originally Posted by didymus View Post
    Here's my shiny oblect:

    The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects
    I can see the allure, but what is it? (Pardon my ignorance.)

    I love your ideas about flash. Don't know the first thing about it though so any guidance you can give about learning resources and equipment would be welcome.

    Janis

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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Quote Originally Posted by purplehaze View Post
    I can see the allure, but what is it? (Pardon my ignorance.)

    I love your ideas about flash. Don't know the first thing about it though so any guidance you can give about learning resources and equipment would be welcome.

    Janis
    It is a 3 1/2" drill bit that has been chromed and given as a sort of reward to my mother for telling her boss, (after she had interpretted some siesmic reports), to drill for oil at a specific spot, and striking oil. So it is a momento of my mother...

    As for OCF... go here: David Hobby's blog - Strobist.com an absolute wealth of off-camera-flash information.

    It would not be right for me to explain it as I am only beginning to learn all this myself!

    With the knowledgeable folks here and via Strobist.com, there is enough help and information to overload our minds!

    Have fun!

  17. #17
    purplehaze's Avatar
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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Quote Originally Posted by didymus View Post
    It is a 3 1/2" drill bit...
    What an interesting story. The site looks awesome and I have bookmarked it. Thanks!

    Janis

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    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Janis:

    As soon as you mentioned Lawren Harris, I could see one of his paintings in my mind; our art gallery featured the Group's work a few years back, and included were pieces by LH of the Rockies that looked strikingly like the monument you shot.

    Back on topic: Shiny objects are very hard to capture without specular highlights that are blown in three channels (RGB) - meaning there's nothing left - no detail at all.

    Looking at the drill bit submitted by Gary, most of it is silver coloured, and scratches are visible - but there are a few spots that are white - these areas are blown and no detail (scratches) is visible in these areas. Drill bits have been to hell and back (almost literally), grinding their way through rock, so generally have scratches all over them.

    If I had to attempt the monument, I'd likely try evening and more likely after sunset (the warmer light couldn't hurt) would be more successful. But even then, I would be resigned to some small areas that were blown out (and most likely there would be blacks that were at 0/0/0 - again no detail).

    It's almost axiomatic that to photograph a shiny object with no blown highlights requires that there be no shine at all - which means it isn't a shiny object.

    Glenn

  19. #19
    purplehaze's Avatar
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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Yes, I figured blown highlights were inevitable and my question has been how much is acceptable? I am starting to think though that, to some extent, it comes down to a personal aesthetic and the photographic intent. This week's tutorial on exposure has been very helpful and I am learning a lot from seeing other people's work.

    I frankly don't know what to make of the Harris connection as I am rather indifferent to his work. Hopefully I can shake the influence and find my own vision.

    How is autumn looking in Victoria?

    Janis

  20. #20
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    Re: The Lure of Shiny Metal Objects

    Quote Originally Posted by purplehaze View Post
    Yes, I figured blown highlights were inevitable and my question has been how much is acceptable? I am starting to think though that, to some extent, it comes down to a personal aesthetic and the photographic intent. This week's tutorial on exposure has been very helpful and I am learning a lot from seeing other people's work.

    I frankly don't know what to make of the Harris connection as I am rather indifferent to his work. Hopefully I can shake the influence and find my own vision.

    How is autumn looking in Victoria?

    Janis
    Blown highlights maybe something we worry about too much. Whenever we see the reflections of sunlight bouncing off water we can't see the detail in the can we? Then why are we upset when the camera can't "see them"?

    Well frankly the Harris mountains were very stark and to me unattractive.

    Autumn in Victoria is a mixed bag. It never gets cold enough to produce striking fall colours - the leaves just hang there, die, turn brown and eventually fall off. On the other hand, I'm still shooting roses that are outdoors - they aren't prospering, but there are enough to work with.

    http://www.box.net/shared/cbjvmbrld6

    Glenn

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