Using a Ricoh GRD III and a Nikon DSLR to photograph streets, people, architecture and anything else that catches my eye.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Ignoring what the camera tells you


I’m still revisiting my older photos taken with my Olympus C8080.  It’s interesting how at the time, I regarded the images as quite amazing, even as far as to give myself the idea that I was a good photographer.  I still did not realize all the errors which I constantly made.  Sometimes having more features on a camera just creates more ways to mess up. 

I just didn't trust the camera. I thought I knew better....
 
Seeing as the camera had aperture and shutter speed programs, I should have been able to be more creative.  The camera should have taken a properly exposed image within the parameters that I had set. There was no pure manual mode, which could have been a reasonable excuse for bad photography.  The problem was that I constantly tinkered with the exposure compensation, generally creating more over exposed results.  This was because I thought I knew best, instead of letting the camera choose the correct settings for any given shutter speed or aperture.  After taking a shot, I would look at the LCD screen image, then thinking that it seemed too dark I would raise the exposure until the screen looked good.  Silly mistake!  Those LCD screens lie, and never represent the true resulting image.  The problem is that I would spend a whole day shooting at the wrong settings.   On viewing images on a computer screen, I would wonder why there were pure white burnt out parts spoiling many of the pictures.

Of course, at the time, I had no idea what that histogram was for, and that it would have been more trustworthy for checking results while outside in the sunshine.  Nowadays I know that it is better to actually slightly under expose an image, and correct the exposure in Photoshop.  All those darker pixels contain recoverable information, which can be corrected most of the time. But all those pure white pixels will remain forever white.   Most cameras now also have the flashing screen mode which will highlight burned out areas.

Another constant error was slightly blurred images. I think that maybe I was over optimistic about getting sharp images in lower light situations by lowering the shutter speed down to 10th or 20th seconds.  Essentially they were tripod shots without a tripod.  Once again, they still looked acceptable in that deceiving little screen.  No amount of sharpening on the computer would save all of them.  I would often use lamp posts and building walls to try and hold steady shots, and I got away with it quite often. I still use this technique but I now respect the lower limits of shutter speed.  Often ‘slight blur’ is just as annoying as proper blur, and usually results in angry use of the delete button.

Anyway…   here are few images which survived.  These ones were sharp and exposed almost correctly. The good thing about photographing architecture is the simple fact that the buildings don't move.  They are very well behaved subjects. This gives the photographer lots of time to try and get it right. Actually, I often waited a long time, until there were no people in my images. I wanted a clean image of just the building.  More recently though, I have started to deliberately include people in architectural images, as humanity is an essential component in the life of a building. Sometimes architectural images are highly enhanced by addition of people,  and sometimes not.

Since I have been enjoying black and white photography much more recently, I have converted these using Photoshop.  Black and white suits architecture very well, and brings to life some old and slightly drab looking images. All these are in London using the Olympus C8080, and as you can see, they are all without added people.

 






 







8 comments:

Michael Gatton said...

These are really strong, Bill. Love the dramatic skies and the perspective. How do you get that wonderful tonality?

Bill Wellham said...

Thanks Michael. I use the 'Silver Efex Pro II' software package, which is a plug-in filter to either Photoshop, Lightroom, or Elements programs. It converts colour images to B&W with many different adjustment controls.

CC said...

Love the dramatic lines and reflections, Bill. Also love the abstract view with the close up. These are all great in B&W. Can't wait to see future posts. Gerry was correct -- you and I look at images in a similar way. Fun to see yours and get more ideas for framing the image.

Gerry's Blog said...

Wow Mike said it .... your images are really strong, you have a good sense of composition .... I enjoy looking at your images ... they bring me a lot of pleasure.

Dennis Ferrol said...

Nice strong images!

Michael Gatton said...

Silver Efex Pro II - I watched a few demo videos, looks impressive - maybe some day...

Bill Wellham said...

Thanks guys... (I know sometimes I can process images a little too far, but hey!)

Mike... it is not really cheap, but it feels worth the money. I don't use it all he time, depends on the image. Sometimes I can get better results in Adobe Lightroom.

Michael Gatton said...

"I know sometimes I can process images a little too far, but hey!"

I don't see it in these examples, but that is a whole nother blog post, I suspect :-)