The first rule to apply when shooting urban images is from the great Jay Maisel . Jay aways says don’t include signs in your images if you don’t want people to read them. The eye naturally goes to the words in an image and may detract from the image’s story. Which is not to say that you should never shoot an image with a sign in it.
Just make sure that the sign is the story you are telling.
There is more than one type of landscape photographer. Natural landscapes to me are when you have a scene where nature itself has built the stage and it is up to you to find the right view to present the emotion of the landscape. Another type is Urban landscape where there the scene is built for you with function as a more prominent part. Sometimes the urban setting is gritty and worn. Architectural landscapes work with the architects forms to present buildings as art.
Then there is Manufactured landscapes which I find fascinating. In a manufactured landscape the object is to replicate a natural, urban, or architectural landscape. The resulting objects purpose is to evoke the emotions of places and things is a way that is familiar.
I like taking images of these manufactured landscapes because someone has gone to a lot of trouble to take you visually to somewhere else. Be it urban or pastoral the object is to let you feel like you are in a place. Disney’s Imagineers are masters at this.
The above image is just a look from one bridge that you can walk on to another that is just for show. But I love this image. The color, the forms and the patina of this location is just stunning. A manufactured landscape in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
This manufactured urban landscape is another example of the detail needed to pull off being some where you really are not. I haven’t a clue with the sign about the door says but looking at it I feel transported to a feudal Japan. Hint this in the Japan World Showcase at Epcot.
Manufactured Landscapes even work as a still life. While it is nice to be able to go to where the landscapes are sometimes you have to look at what is presented to you.
There is so much good to viewing other people work but there is caveats in that statement as you need some sort of filter as to what is good work to view. I’ve found one of the best places to see work that has merit is the Photo+ blog PDN Photo of the Day. I’ve just gone through a number of the past photographers of the day and got inspired.
When I look at others work I see the things that I need to focus on in my own imagery. Take for instance Nancy Baron’s Palm Springs>The Good Life Goes On. I notice her use of color and there is nothing in the images that she doesn’t want to be there. There is a wonderful sense of stillness to her image. It’s not that I want to get on the next bus for Palm Springs so I can duplicate those images. It’s the inspiration to focus on making images that have meaning and story. Time to get to work.
I went outside my comfort zone this evening and visited a fair not far from my home. Tonight I went as a photographer rather than a fair goer with a camera.
Setting up a camera on a tripod in the middle of fair was not something I was comfortable with although now that I’ve done it I don’t have any clue why.
I was using the Fujifilm X-T2 and the (I’m going to say it again) fabulous XF 16-55mm 1:28 R LM WR lens.
If you are going to be shooting the fair at night I suggest getting there before it gets dark so you can get a look around and line up possible shots while you can still see. In my case the fair opened at 5pm so I had an hour to walk around before it got dark.
For the first hour I was able to shoot aperture priority with auto iso set with a max 3200 and shutter speed of 1/125 second as my limits. This got me plenty of good images. With the fairly wide angle XF 16-55mm you can get a nice sharp image at F4 with plenty of depth.
This image shot just after sunset 17mm at F4 1/125 second ISO 2000. It holds up well.
Once the sun when down I switched to ISO 200 and set the aperture to anywhere up the F22 and let the camera set the shutter speed using matrix mode for exposure. This one F5 for 1/7 second.
Also, don’t be afraid of having people in you shots even if it gets a bit ghostly. This is one of my favorite shots. Shutter speed was 5 seconds here at F11.
So get out of your comfort zone every once in a while and enjoy what you can do with your camera.
To get better at your photography you need to shot a lot, process a lot, and analyze your images a lot. At one time I would have been proud of this wine bottle image. But as I grow and learn I find things that didn’t work out on this image. By analyzing your images you work towards making stronger images. You also learn things about how you see and teach yourself to see better.
So what is wrong with this image?
Probably the most glaring thing is the lack of light on the shoulders running up to the neck. This is due to the subject being to big for the light tent I had it in. I used at strip box on each side defused thru the sides of the light tent. The dark space is caused by the diffusion material not being tall enough. I need to get a larger diffusion panel for each side.
The base of the bottle was sitting on the floor of the light tent which blocked the light from hitting the bottom of the bottle. Solution is to raise the bottle above the floor with on a platform slightly smaller than the bottle. This will allow the light to wrap all the way to the bottom of the bottle giving definition to bottom edge.
The gold band around the neck of the bottle goes black in the middle. This could be corrected by using a small reflector aimed at the band from the camera position. Probably a small silver reflector would brighten the gold band.
This is the wrong bottle to use as there is a seam that is visible along the neck to the shoulder of the bottle. It’s there on the left side if you look close enough. Where it is located makes it hard to erase digitally. If your going to produce the best picture make sure you have more than one example so you can find the best one.
I do get a pat on the back for having a pretty clean subject. I cleaned off all the finger prints before shooting.
When you are practicing your skills by doing a product shot setup it pays to use a lens as subject matter. This give you a shiny/matte surface to light and shoot as well as a really good look at how clean your glass is.
This is a shot of my Fujinon XF 100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6 R LM WR OIS lens. What you think is lint and dust free isn’t really when you get in close. You will need a lint free cloth to clean your lens. I don’t suggest a paper towel as that may end up putting more dust on the lens than you started with. Cleaning your subject saved lots of time in post production.
So get in close and really look at how clean your lenses are. You may be surprised.
Product shot with my new 8″x 36″ strip box on Strobelite ISO 200 F11 1/200 second.
Saw the night time “Boo to You” parade at the Magic Kingdom during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Because it was night and dark I was thinking about not taking my camera.
Normally i set my camera for auto ISO with a max of 3200 which is good for most all round shooting I do. But when you are trying to shoot at night 3200 might be a little to low to get the shots you want, so I thought about leaving the camera behind. I was so fixated on the 3200 ISO that it wasn’t occurring to me that I could go higher. I am using the new Fujifilm X-T2 which, it turns out, does a pretty good job at 6400 ISO.
I even got Captain Jack staring at me. Yes, the images had noise, and most times noise is to be avoided, but shooting for perfection does limit you. Besides shooting is supposed to be fun, isn’t it? So I cranked the ISO to 6400 and found a place on the parade route that had some street lighting and fired off some shots.
There are no secrets to shooing images, there are no rules, just go out and get the shot. If it doesn’t work out (you think I only shot 3 images?) determine why the images failed and use that to make your next shots better. Images processed in Lightroom with a copious amount of noise reduction when needed. Oh and remember, “Beware of Hitch Hiking Ghosts”
On its own this is a totally unremarkable image but it does teach us something about light and reflectivity. Each of the placemats are exactly the same color and pattern. Because of the angle the light hits each mat differently and reflects more or less depending on the angle of the weave of the mat. Six mats, six different tones of gray. Shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 and XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens.
With the recent meteor showers those of you that could stay up late (or get up early) not only had to deal with possible clouds but with all the light pollution we live with. Thursday night I thought I would set up just in case I could try and catch a meteor or two after the moon went down. I set up my camera on a tripod with a manual focus 8mm lens and tried some default setting that I had rattling around in my head.
ISO 1600 at F2.8 with a shutter speed of 30 seconds. My first exposures captured way too much of the leaking light pollution in the sky. It was around 10:30 with the moon still in the sky. I reset for a more reasonably ISO of 800 and a shutter speed of 15 seconds. Looking at the back of the camera I was not seeing anything worth getting up at zero dark thirty for. Way to much light or so I though. So I just put it all away and gave up for the night.
When I finally got around to processing the image I was more than surprised to see how many stars I actually did capture. It did take a little fiddling in Lightroom to get the image to so itself but I was happy with the result.
It just goes to show that you need to practice, practice, practice. If I’d done this more than once or twice I would have known that it is possible to get the image and I should have stayed on it rather than giving up. Click on the image to see full sized.
This image almost didn’t happen. I alway try to get the camera shooting every day but was about to not have a shot for this day. It was a pretty unproductive Friday. In fact, I was on the way home from picking up takeout and would have probably missed the shot if the stoplight had not changed just as I was approaching. Saw these clouds out of the car window and quickly grabbed the camera.
I was drawn to the small light cloud in the center of the image. I wasn’t really sure if the shots I took would turn into anything worth while but I needed to try. Two quick shots and a bunch of post processing later and I had an image that I really liked. Sometimes the lights align so to speak.