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Couple of simple suggestions

On the second and third photos I would rotate it so that the verticals are vertical.

In photo 2 I would crop out that stuff on the right that you don't know what it is, and just a bit of the van. I believe it's okay to crop out a bit of something, as long as you leave enough so the viewer knows what it is. I tried these mods in pshop on my computer, but you can do them thru the viewfinder when you take the shot.

However, in general, this shot could be improved if the viewer knew where to look. Is the dirt road the focal point? If so, you should have got lower, so that the road fills more of the shot. Decreasing the depth of field by opening up the aperture would literally focus more on the road and less on the buidling and cars.

If the building and cars are supposed to be the stars you should have put them more in the center of the frame, showing less road and more house roof and maybe some sky.

Also, judging by the four shots, you tend to align yourself perpendicular to the subject. Try taking a step to your right or left, to shoot at an angle. See what happens.

Cheers...
 

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Hi Bob,


Do you mean to pretty them up, and give them more 'life'?

IF so what about the attached?  This has been through Paint Shopo Pro 8 (and old version now), and has had a 'one step photo fix, then a clrify (which lightly sharpens it and also slightly ddarkens it - both adjustable), then give a light histogram adjustment, and finally compressed it down from 921KB to 49KB (also adjustable) the last is going to be very useful for instant posting now.

So after that quick set of adjusting, what do you think of the result?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Wonderful!:D

I guess I know about the vertical lines, but never seem to take the picture that way./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crazy.gif

I'll have to take these again to see what happens when I step to the right or left, but some of the suggestions can be applied to one of the photos using my photo editor.

I rotated this 2 degrees, brightened it, sharpened it a little, re-croped it.

Is this any better?



Oh, by the way, I did use the "Browse..." buttons to upload the pictures. They were all under 60K, This one is only 55K, yet I noticed that the pictures are re-compressed during the upload process and now the file size is actually LARGER than the ones I uploaded.
 

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Compare this image that i uploaded via ftp to my MLS web space. it is the same photo uploaded using the browse button.

Notice the new compression artifacts around the headlight of the vw bus and differences in the plants. File size is larger when uploading using the browse buttons.
 From FTP area:


From Browse button:


B0B
 

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Posted By peter bunce on 01/08/2008 7:03 AM
Hi Bob,

So after that quick set of adjusting, what do you think of the result?


That sure lightened up the dark tree shadow. and it does have more life to it.

By the way, I am interested in what i can do with the pictures editing wise, but I am more interested in the comments about actually taking the pictures. Angles, positioning, etc, I definitely need to make a checklist of thing to look for when taking the shots. Verticals is one of those things. Probably better to do them when I take the shot than to try to edit out the mistakes later.

Keep em coming guys, you definitely won't hurt my feelings if you tell me these pictures are just horrid as long as you tell me why./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blush.gif

So far I got the following notes on my cheat sheet:
VERTICALS
SHADOWS
WHEELS ON TRACK
LIGHTS ON
BELL STRAIGHT (not upside down)
PINE NEEDLES

Oh, If I had any sky, I'd get it in the shot. All I got is HOUSE, FENCE, GARDEN SHED, LAWN FURNITURE,SWING SET
Makes shooting at scale eye level a pain, Have to shoot down slightly or focus so it is blurred.
 

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Practice, man, practice!

Take your time with the shot.

Get down eye level with the G size people.

Watch the background.

Watch the foreground.

Watch your exposure.

Don't be afraid to use a "fill flash" outside.
 

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Ok, do you really want to go down this road...?   :)

Focus!   A critical problem in all three.   Depth of field management.  Depth of field must be consistent with the scale, ie, how things would look to your eye if you were actually in the scene, at the scale of the scene.  Things that would not be substantially out of focus if you were in the scene, should not be out of focus as an observer either (assuming you want a realistic view.

Light source:  the real world has, for scenics, a single point source light - the sun.  Its colour and softness are altered by the time of day and the clouds/dirt in the atmosphere.  Shadows cast must be consistent with the time of day, and from the universal point source (excluding discussions of local lighting in the scene).  Real world shadows across your scene from 1:1 scale things cannot be allowed to intrude.

In my view, the best of the bunch is the house with the VW in the drive.  Issues there (and something to always consider) scene is overlit (actually, as I look at it again, not so much) - don't give your scene more light than the sun would, in relation to overall brightness and shadows.  Spend time in the real world looking at contrast - relationship of shadows to brightness - cameras don't perfectly reflect what the eye sees in this, so you have to learn to compensate.  Fill flash is nearly impossible use properly outside - learn  to use small  white, silver (coloured foils will alter light colour, as will coloured paper) reflector cards to open up shadows - fill flash tends to create its own shadows, inconsistent with those from natural light.  Reflectors are much softer.  Make sure the colour of the light is consistent with the time of day (this you can fix with photoshop).  Don't forget, shadows tell you the time...

In the VW picture, the major item that gives you trouble is the scale of the dirt in the driveway (and that grass right in front) leading to the VW - because the driveway DOES lead your eye into the picture and to the bug, your brain will spend more time processing this, so its an area that has to have a lot of attention to scale.  If you can fool the eye on the major focal points of the picture, you can be less critical in the periphery without taking too much from the overall picture.

Positional issues - unless you are standing on a hilltop or in a helicopter, maximum scale view above ground would typically be no more 4" above ground - eye level would be 2 1/2 to 3" - this makes the choice of focal length challenging, and again, calculations to replicate scale are necessary to hold things in proper relationship - this takes practice.  "Normal" lens for 35 mm, ie the focal lenth that in 35mm format gives a scale of view similar to that of the human eye is 46mm.  For most digitals in the 35mm world, its about 28mm.  You'll have to scale your lens choice to faithfully replicate the relationship of things.

 Keep your artificial horizon level, make sure your real horizon doesn't interfere with the artificial horizon if they're both in the same picture.  You can't fix the mismatch with the camera, you'll have to adjust the scene, or take the real horizon out of the picture.
 

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I don't think you could do any better on the second photo, I had to really look at it to make sure it wasn't real. But I do like the cropped version even better.

The first and fourth pic don't really do it for me, but I'm one of those that have a hard time explaining why, other than it looks staged, not real.

The third pic I like but something bothers me about it, but not sure what. At first I thought it was the road, but the longer I look at it the better I like it. The crossing signals don't look quite right, maybe because they are stark white, no lettering or lights.

I think the second pic, the cropped version, would win a photo contest :)
 

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Posted By jimtyp on 01/08/2008 9:36 AM
I don't think you could do any better on the second photo, I had to really look at it to make sure it wasn't real. But I do like the cropped version even better.

The first and fourth pic don't really do it for me, but I'm one of those that have a hard time explaining why, other than it looks staged, not real.

The third pic I like but something bothers me about it, but not sure what. At first I thought it was the road, but the longer I look at it the better I like it. The crossing signals don't look quite right, maybe because they are stark white, no lettering or lights.

I think the second pic, the cropped version, would win a photo contest :)



I agree with Jim here.  Although I'd like to see a bit more of the house, cropping accomplishes several things:

1) it removes the out of scale grass that hits you the moment you try to enter the picture (you could 'shop out the remaining blade easy enough).
 2) it lowers the apparent point of view - lowers it, and brings you closer to what you would see if you are standing there.

Nitpicking:  the depth of focus is almost, but not quite correct - it softens a bit too fast as you go into the background - you're talking about 1/2 stop of difference, not much.  The ground is a bit rough. but only by a bit, so you are very close.  A good shot overall.

On the crossing shot, a couple of points - there is a bit of a context issue - at least, around here, you wouldn't see gates on a road that simple, wigwags maybe, or just signs.
The problem with the gates themselves has to do with fairly flat lighting on them, and lack of texture detail - they look larger than they are because the edges and corners aren't being defined by shadows (the right side is overexposed, blocking up the highlights, washing out the little shadows).  Sometimes that has to be detailed on the item to make it stand out in a picture (compare this to stage makeup for the theatre - makeup is exaggerated because the harsh stage lighting washes out subtle shadows, so makeup is "overdone" to compensate).   It would make them look less large, and less new. Shadow angles become important and more so in scale - we visually define and recognize items by shadows (among other things).  If the shadows are wrong or absent we question what we are looking at.

Thinking on the run here - about sunlight - digital sensors, while better than film, cannot fully handle the contrast range inherent in a full sunlit scene.  Without compensation, if you expose for the highlights the shadows will be blocked out dark, conversely, if you expose for the shadows, the highlights get blocked up - that's what's happening in the crossing picture.   You compensate for this by lowering the overall contrast range of the scene.  You do this one of two main ways: select a composition that by intent, contains neither deep shadows, nor bright white highlights, or you add light to the shadows.and expose for the highlights.  This is where the reflector cards come in.  Where the shadows are deepest, you throw a bit of light into them, just a bit, so that when you expose to keep the detail in the highlights, you still have discernable detail in the shadows instead of black blobs. You've lowered the overall contrast of the scene. 

For some bench marks - in portrait photography its common to have a 2 1/2 to 3 stop difference in the ratio of light on a face lit side to shadow side.  Normal range of contrast handling for film goes like this: color film 5 stops of range from dark to light, for black and white, 7 stops.  Digital, depending on the sensor, can be 7 and 9 respectively.  If the scene contains values outside of that range, you WILL NOT be able to get the highlights and the shadows to match what your eye will see.  Full sunlight is capable of producing a contrast range of up to 15 stops, way outside the capability of the hardware without "adjustment", and so, you have to compensate.
 

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I don't believe in using formulas to compose (or crop) photos or paintings. For me it's a more intuitive process.

Here's how I would crop this one. There's nothing in the cropped out road that isn't said better in the bit I've included here. And there's enough of the crossbucks to have the mind put two and two together ( a gestalt to be technical ) so you know what it is.

I kept that birch tree in the top left. Again, a gestalt.

And since the original shot is a little too symetrical, moving in tight puts the green truck to the side, creating a little energy.

Cheers...
 

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I wouldn't have cropped it as tight as pdk.  In fact, I pretty much like it the way it is, except... :)

losing the foreground focus is problematic.  Having that space grounds the viewer to the scene - its what he would more or less see standing there - but - losing the focus in the front is a contradiction to the eye. This is where depth of field control becomes critical.  I might trim a bit of the left side off because it gets a little trashy, yet I like how it give a bit of airyness to the scene. 

Ya gotta lose the fence... LOL!

The lighting tells me this is a lazy muggy summer day in Fla - hazy sky, lots of humidity in it - there's an atmospheric brightness which sets the mood.   Just needs a couple o' good ole boys in the back of the p/u with a case of beer...:D

This is about as far as I would crop - maybe pull the bottom up just a smidgen - then try to see if I can fix the focus in p'shop.   I also rotated the image 2 deg to the right - your horizon wasn't level.

Again, I would lower the camera position about another 1/2 to an inch.



You also have to remember that what I would do, or anybody else, is not necessarily right - it may more about making the image to suit me, not necessarily you.   You also need to learn when to say "I respect your opinion, you're full of crap, but hey, that makes us different.  I like it the way I did it".  :D
 

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I like the original better than PDK's play.

1. The exposure and focus are great. Shadows are present, but don't hide detail. No "blowouts" where detail is lost in bright places.
2. The trees "frame" the shot.
3. The trucks are about 1/3 from the right edge.

Think of a tic-tac-toe grid drawn on the photo. You want the main features on the cross points or along the lines as that's where the viewer's eye is drawn. Of course, this is a generalization, and great photos are sometimes arranged differently, but for us amatures, the rule helps. Notice your eye is drawn to the tailgate on the closest truck. See where it is in the photo? (The more complex way to explain this is "fibonnachi," but the tic-tac-toe grid is a reasonable approximation.)

I might take out the out-of-focus foreground, but then, it's just asphalt, so maybe I'd leave it.

The whole picture still seems tilted to the left.
 

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Posted By Torby on 01/08/2008 2:58 PM

The whole picture still seems tilted to the left.


That's partly context - roads are normally crowned, so the truck should lean slightly right - again, the head is re-interpreting what it expects to see - doesn't quite jive with what it does see.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I hate it when people accuse me of leaning to the left!/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue.gif

But you are right, it does, just a little, Like I said, I know about that rule, just have a hard time remembering it when I snap the shot.

Funny, the truck makes it look worse than it is. When I built that road, it had a crown in it, but little feet over the last two years (grandkids) have made it sink in the middle.

Gees, I spent an hour painting and lettering the crossing gates, and nobody mentioned them./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blink.gif

There is a case of beer in the back of the pickup. Ya don't expect Willy to have it in plain sight! The tracks is the county line. An Willy's county is still dry.

And, Stupid me, I cropped out the deer....


all except the tip of his nose, which became part of that "trashy" bit Skip hacked off. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue.gif

Now, to complete this scene I got to find Willy's hunting dog. That old flea bag of Willie's would have raised cane over that deer.
...And the guns in the pickups back window.
...And fix the crown in the road.
 

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Hey Torby and Skip. No fair! /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/pinch.gif I started with a different shot than the one you guys are talking about. Look carefully. I didn't play with it  /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/shocked.gif

If I had done that the to version 2 of the shot, I would agree with you. :D
 

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Bob,

On the crossing scene.

One thing I would do is to use fewer vehicles in the scene. I've seen a lot of instances where the photo composer tries to tell too much in a photo. Crowded streets are all right in a city scene or Saturday night in a small town but the very nature of a rural road is its sense of loneliness. While it's possible of course that several cars could be there it would be more typical for there to be but one. Typical is what you want. A photo needs more than focus and composition, it also needs "mood".

I would use just the pickup truck. Imagine the scene with one door open and the driver standing beside the truck as if to wonder what the holdup was. Maybe a dog in the back of the pickup watching the "boss". Many times you will discover that less is more. Too much clutter can make the scene too busy. I think I would be inclined to remove the crossing gate also at this particular location and perhaps use it at a more appropriate location. It's a nice gate especially painted as you have it but it just doesn't look right to my eye in this scene.

BTW I did notice your lettering on the crossbucks. Looks good and I like your road as well. :)
 

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All in all, I like the shot.  Crooked horizons are not so serious on digital, they really suck on 4x5 colour film and 8x10 sheet /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/w00t.gif.  Sometimes no amount of rotating ( a metaphor for life if there ever was one) will fix 'em either.  Particularly irksome when that neg was the only bankable shot of the day...

Roads on model railways are troublesome, IMHO.  The tendency is use something that is charcoal gray as a road base, without a gravel shoulder,  and yet many layout roads would be gravel, not paved.  I haven't yet seen a good product to create a believable light tan gravel road - caredfully chosen fine sand maybe, hard to maintain.    Partly tho, I recognize this is local influence - many places do pave right up to the weeds, just not around here.  

You might give some thought to creating a "horizon board"  - a panel of whitish hazy sky to put at the end of a scene in the visual line where the model world departs to the real one.  It has to be placed where no shadows fall on it, preferable some distance from the scene, or be evenly lit on its own to eliminate shadows. 
 
Actually did notice the sign work - wasn't sure if they were the same signs.
 
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