Monday, May 07, 2012

Last Iteration


As you know from  yesterday's post, I was photographing a rose. A dead one at that. It had been handed out at Indigo, by the store?, for no obvious reason, no strings attached, and it sat on our dining room table until well past it's best before date.

I happened to be reading the Sunday paper and noticed that the nearby window light was falling nicely on the flower - soft but directional - and that the rose might be worth photographing despite it's dried up appearance.

I started with my 90 ts-e lens but couldn't get close enough. I pulled the extension tube off my Lensbaby but that wasn't enough, so went in search of a longer one, and made some images. I then added the smaller tube and moved in a little closer.

Throughout this experimentation I made shots, and every 4 - 8 shots, I'd whip out the card and load the images into the computer to see what could be done with them.

I played with the height of the tripod to look down on the flower more, I rotated the vase while checking live view for the best view. I fiddled with the tilt on both the 90 and the Lensbaby and even experimented with f-stops on the 90 (though wide was best). Four times I made the trip to the computer and each time I learned from my experience and went right back to the rose to have another go.

This business of reassessing the subject and refining the composition and technique was fun and useful, informative and inspiring (to try and improve on the current best shot).

We don't often get such an opportunity to refine a photograph. We are away from the computer, the light is changing too fast, the LCD too small, or we are simply too impatient to move on to the next possible subject matter.

In the real world we can't 'grab the vase and rotate', and we can't bring up the images on 20 - 30 inch monitors to see what really looks best.

That said, we can learn from this experience. How often do we quickly assess the best position to stand, let the tripod choose the height from which to photograph (or simply standing height if we aren't using one) . We take the light we have instead of considering whether it wouldn't be better at a different time, and we don't give enough thought to whether we should attempt sharpness throughout, or a limited focus plane.

I would guess I spend almost three hours with that rose, going back and forth. I have to wonder how many of the subjects I photograph would have made better images had I spent a similar amount of time, refining and considering;  reviewing and re-envisioning.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Dry Rose

To my surprise, these wouldn't print on enhanced matte - out of gamut - and confirmed by printspace proofing. I switched papers to Harman FBAL gloss and had no troubles. Camera was Canon 5D2, lens was lensbaby Composer, wide open, with about one inch of extension tube to get close.

Liveview was invaluable. However did I manage before it came along?

Saturday, May 05, 2012


Photograph some bushes, make a print, tear the print and bend it, then lay it out, and photograph it again.




Darn Right!

The paper was Ultra Premium Epson Matte (ie. the old enhanced matte) and it tore beautifully.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Apples And Oranges

I have been following with great interest the differences between the Nikon D800 and 800e and every few days more information and or examples come out. There are some things that can be said about any comparison of photographic equipment:

1) it's never as easy as you think


2) there are many factors which will result in a less than helpful comparision - ie. apples and oranges.

For example:

Imaging Resource just posted the 800e studio image - so a chance to compare cameras with identical images, same lens, steady lighting, tripod etc. The 800e did not show a huge advantage.  Other 'identical' comparisons had shown a bigger difference. It's essential to consider whether the image is a jpeg straight from the camera or a jpeg that came from the raw file. We also need to consider the lens used. In the case of the Imaging resource comparison, it's the 24-70 mm. Nikon lens - good for a zoom but definitely not up to a good prime lens, even the relatively inexpensive nikon 1.4 G, and certainly not the chart leading Nikon 85 1.4 G.

Today, digilloyd (for a fee) has tested sharpening to see what level of sharpening could possibly result in an 800 image looking just like an 800e image.

at the Nikon forum has a lively discussion going on whether with extra sharpening the 800 images will look (and especially print) just like the 800E images.

For what it's worth, here's my observations after looking at and printing images:

You can only see the difference between the 800 and 800E if you start with a really good lens, optimal aperture and perfect technique - once you have to sharpen the 800E image significantly, it's hard to differentiate from an even more sharpened 800 image.

In prints 20X30 from a top lens I can see a difference between the 800 and 800E - but I doubt that the public could. At prints 49 inches wide (200% or 150 dpi) I think anyone could see the difference, but it's not huge even then - just less sharpening artifact.

Bottom line - you have to look for the diff. in the E, but with good glass and big prints, it is there.

To generalize to other comparisons:

minor change in the position of the sun (especially if it is glancing the subject) can affect apparent resolution and microcontrast and negate any camera differences. Less than stellar lenses won't show subtle differences in pixel count or presence/absence of an AA filter. Where the image is focusesd can make a giant difference - even minor variations can negate an otherwise useful comparison. Curvature of field can really screw up assessments. A number of lenses, many fast lenses and some others (like the 14-24 nikon) have sig. focus shift as you stop down. If focus was obtained wide open, even by live view magnified there can be errors creeping in.  As for auto focus - well there are complaints all over the net about difficulties focusing with the latest cameras. Those who shoot for pictures seem happy, those who shoot for tests not - which should tell us something. Again, focus curvature may have a lot to do with the apparent errors seen with lat. focus spots.