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  • #15506
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    I’ve just added the next set, ‘Great Black and White Photos – Part 7‘ – to the list in the first post above. Merry Christmas!

    #15490
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    Thanks for the link, Peter – an interesting and thorough review of the main contenders! I noticed a few mistakes in the Luminar review, which can in fact do a number of things the reviewer thought it couldn’t. But the main conclusion is how close he judged Luminar and Lightroom to be – the only major deficit was Luminar’s lack of a ‘Digital Asset Management’ (DAM) module (i.e. a cataloguing module corresponding to ‘Library’ in LR); but Luminar’s developers are promising to have this ready during 2018 (and to make it compatible with LR catalogues).

    #15485
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    Thanks for your kind comments, Ken. If you’re interested, you can see half a dozen of my Grand Canyon pictures here (three colour; three mono). But they come with a health warning: they’re more in the style of ‘Pictures’ (what Winogrand called, somewhat disparagingly, ‘Illustrations’), rather than documentary photographs.

    This distinction is not, of course, new. Ansel Adams once made some remark to the effect that ‘dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships’. Some American chap saw a book of Adams’s pictures of Yosemite, and was so bowled over that he rushed off to see the place for himself. Bitterly disappointed, he shortly wrote Adams an irrate letter, complaining that Yosemite looked nothing like Adams’s pictures!

    With our computers, we can go much further than Adams in putting God’s mistakes right!

    #15483
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    John >>> Yes, there is a difference between low contrast / loss of detail due to mist or low cloud (particularly evident in the area around the distant rain on the right) and the low contrast and loss of detail  (presumably due to dust and diffraction?) that reduces the definition of distant features of the landscape (e.g. far left background). Similarly, there’s a difference between the colour shift towards blue of more-distant features and the colour and tonal shifts casued by dense cloud cover. I guess it’s really tricky – perhaps impossible? – to remove mist and gloom without also losing the features that create atmospheric perspective.

    But you hit the nail on the head when you said we all know (perhaps too well!) how a photograph ‘ought’ to look. This ideal of the good photograph is, of course, a total invention, a set of conventions and aesthetic choices that have accumulated over time, and that shape the look of the pictures we now see in publications, and getting accepted in and winning competitions, and that shape the beliefs and pronouncements of course tutors, well-known speakers, and competition judges. And it’s from being exposed to all this that we unconsciously learn what pictures ‘ought’ to look like.

    How can we tell that our idea of how a photograph ought to look is just a set of current conventions and aesthetic choices? Because what has been admired as a ‘good photograph’ has changed over time, and quite radically. Currently, rather extreme intensifications of definition (sharpness, clarity, high resolution) and of colour and contrast are the ‘in’ thing among pictures that do well in international and national competitions. (I’ve heard you describe them as ‘over-processed’. It seems that because pretty much everything about a digitally-recorded image can be altered with software, people can’t refrain from actually altering pretty much everything!)

    Anyway, I think we have all been fairly restrained, and the look of the poor old Grand Canyon in all our efforts has not been rendered impossibly unnatural. But maybe the things that we have chosen to ‘adjust’ do tell us something about the current conventions around how a picture ‘ought’ to look. And when we realise what those conventions are, we’re free to make different choices – if we wish.

    #15478
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    This is really interesting. I’ve been reflecting on how we have all immediately, and without consulting one another, set out to ‘improve’ the original photograph. To do this, we’ve removed the haze, pulled back the highlights, increased the rendering of detail (perhaps we would describe this as improving the ‘clarity’ / ‘sharpness’?), and warmed up the colours. These are all specifically ‘photographic’ values – part of our idea of what a good photograph should be like. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with making a pleasing photographic image; and we now have several slightly different, but variously good examples.

    What’s interesting is the way that these ‘photographic values’ subtley drift away from how real landscapes actually look. The real Grand Canyon is often very hazy, the air blueish in a way that reduces the contrast and clarity of the distant hills to an indistinct dark blue-grey. The Canyon is so immensely wide that the far side fades away with the phenomenon called ‘aeriel perspective’ or ‘atmospheric perspective’ that the Renaissance painters were the first to try to reproduce in their pictures.

    The attempt to reproduce this in painting first appears in early 15th-century paintings in the Netherlands, and was later taken up by Italian painters, including Leonardo da Vinci. Painters observed that as a landscape recedes from the viewer its colours and tones alter, reducing the clarity of objects that are further away, and shifting their tonality towards increasingly monotone shades of blue. This how our eyes perceive distance in real landscapes.

    So it’s intriguing that when we set out to make a ‘good’ photograph, we are intent on reducing all the features that convey atmospheric perspective. We’re all intent on making better photographic images, but the result is that they tend to be less natural pictures.

    I include myself in this description, so I’m not criticising anybody. Perhaps what I am wondering about is our ‘photography aesthetic’.

    #15466
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    Thanks for your comments, Ken. I must admit I chose this picture to work on precisely because it wasn’t a particlarly fine ‘in-camera’ effort; but it looked as though there were things there that could be brought out a bit better.

    Anyway, I’ve edited the post above so that you can now click on the images to see a larger version. And if you’d like to have a go at editing the original to improve on my efforts, you can download it. Indeed, it would be interesting for a few people to have a go at tweaking the picture, and uploading the results so that we can compare. Think of it as an entertaining passtime for Christmas, when there’s nothing on the telly worth watching, and you’ve nothing else to do. Bring a glass of something with you, and have a play! Merry Christmas!!!

     

    #15393
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    Today’s online Guardian has a larger selection of photographs from Hurn’s Arizona Trips. (Includes a photograph of David Hurn with 2 Olympus OM1 cameras.)

    Worth a look.

    #15337
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    I agree with you, Peter – and probably more generally it’s true that conforming to rules doesn’t make a good photograph.

    But in that case, why do we so often hear rules used when people (and not only ‘judges’) are judging or evaluating photographs?

    I’ve been wondering whether the ‘rules’ – or perhaps it would be better to call them guidelines – are really just to help beginners to start thinking about the visual organisation of their early pictures. And they are probably helpful for that: getting some order into your photographs gives you a feeling of progress in the early days.

    But once you can do that, then what? Cartier-Bresson’s picture is about the drama and singularity of that momentous announcement; and yes, there is order and organisation in Cartier-Bresson’s photograph, but all of it is integral to, and in the service of, the drama of the picture. He’s not using ‘rules’ to make the picture: the picture is organised because of his intention to describe the dramatic event with a photograph.

    But shouldn’t that also be true of any photograph that’s worth taking – that it should be organised by our intention to describe as well as possible the drama or beauty or delicacy – or whatever – of what we photograph?

    #15319
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    John said: The only thing that concerns me is the new processing standard. It will take a while to grow into that and it’ affects on your existing pictures will need keeping a look out for. They last changed in 2012.

    For anyone who’s concerned about this, it’s useful to know that when Adobe introduces a major upgrade (eg LR3>LR4>LR6) there’s often a change to, among other things, the way RAW files are processed and how the Develop Module alters files, often with new features and sliders. To make sure that pictures processed with earlier version of the software don’t get messed up, Adobe provides a ‘process version’ configuration for each major revision of LR, and allows you to decide whether you want to apply it to any older picture that you may decide to re-edit.

    You don’t have to apply the new process version to your older image files, though you can do so if you wish. Of course, you’ll almost certainly want to apply the latest process version to any new photographs that you’re importing for the first time, so that you can use all the latest editing features.

    There’s a useful summary of all the ins and outs in a recently updated article here.

    For anyone interested in how to do backups of LR, or in where it keeps its various files by default, there’s a useful summary with information and links here.

     

     

    #15314
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    Peter >>> Properly speaking, it’s LR 6.x that won’t be updated beyond 6.7  (‘Lightroom Classic’ is the name that Adobe has given to its successor, which is in effect LR 7.0). But I take your point, and I’ve been looking round for a replacement for the inevitable day when an OS update causes LR6 to stop working.

    The most promising alternative I’ve come across is Luminar 2018. It appears to have all the editing capabilities of Lightroom and more (where ‘more’ includes, for example, Layers, Masks and Blending Modes); it runs on PC or Mac; and in the New Year it will get a Digital Asset Management module that will be able to work with Lightroom Catalogues. It looks seriously worth considering.

     

    #15312
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    [Following a phone conversation with Paul, I remembered that when LR upgrades your catalogue, it does not over-write your existing one, but creates a new upgraded copy with a different name. I’ve edited this post to take note of this.]

    Hi Paul

    There are now two versions of LR, both of them ‘subscription only’. Lightroom CC is an entirely internet-based ‘software as a service’ application that runs on Adobe’s servers while you’re using it. Lightroom Classic is an update to the old standalone LR that runs on your computer; but it now only keeps running if you’re putting money in the Adobe meter every month; and it is, in effect, Version 7 of the old LR. (Version 6 will get a couple of updates – LR 6.6 and LR 6.7 – but will then not be updated, and will eventually stop working when an operating system update changes Windows or Mac in some way that no longer supports LR 6.)

    Anyway, it sounds like you’re using Lightroom Classic (or ‘LR 7’, as we might call it). And it also sounds like the software has been updated so that it has a slightly different way of handling the catalogue, which is why it wants to update your old catalogue.LR usually asks to update the catalogue for each major upgrade of LR from LR4 to LR5 to LR6, so there’s nothing odd about this. (I’ve normally said ‘Yes’ to the ‘Upgrade your existing catalogue’ request.)

    There’s no need to be concerned about this – let it go ahead: it leaves your old catalogue in place, and creates an updated version of it with a new name. It even lets you adjust this name to one that suits you better than the default offer, which is simply to add something like ‘-1’ to your existing catalogue name. (I suggest you use something like LR7-catalogue.lrcat, for example.)

    Hope this helps.

    #15302
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    Here’s one I scanned this afternoon, with leading lines created by pattern:

     

    (Click picture to view large on black)

     

    Technical details:

    Olympus OM1, with Zuiko 50mm f/1.8
    Ilford FP4 Plus pushed to ASA 400
    Rodinal 1+24 20min 20ºC
    Scanned with an Epson V750

     

    #15295
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    Mmm… But does it still feel like the alpine sky above is clear, bright and intensely blue, and that the sun is shining outside the frame to the left?

     

    #15293
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    I’ve just posted the following comment on the Monthly Theme forum, where our discussion here seems to have leaked. But my comment needs to be here, too, for completeness…

    The blue in Ralph’s picture could possibly be a bit more intense than the blue shade you’d actually see (perhaps because he has toned down the highlights to reduce some ‘glare’ from the snow on the mountain in the background? Such adjustments tend to shift hue values, too.)

    But it is certainly the case that shadows on snow on a bright day actually do look blue-ish, because of the colour reflected faintly from a blue sky. So ‘fixing’ that blueness with white balance or other tonal adjustments actually makes such shaded areas look less natural (though it may, of course, create a picture that’s warmer, if that’s the look you want to fabricate).

    That was the whole point of the original post here: natural light isn’t white.

     

    #15292
    Profile photo of Ian McNab
    Ian McNab
    Keymaster

    Blueness in Ralph’s photo… Well, it could possibly be a bit stronger than the blue shade you’d actually see, but it is certainly the case that shadows on snow on a bright day actually do look blue-ish, because of the colour reflected faintly from a blue sky. So ‘fixing’ that blueness with white balance or other tonal adjustments actually makes them less natural (though it may, of course, create a picture that’s warmer, if that’s the look you want to fabricate). That was the whole point of the post, ‘Natural light isn’t white’.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 1,393 total)