Interesting photographic problem . . . technical and creative

Discussion in 'Photography Techniques' started by Jock Elliott, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    On Sunday, my wife and I visited Poestenkill Gorge. Just a few feet from the road, it's very impressive, probably a couple of hundred feet deep, the kind of place where you peer over the edge and go "Whoa!"

    I attempted to take some pictures. The first, below, taken with the D-550, gives you a sense of the place. At the lower left you can see the concrete parapet that prevents visitors from taking the express route to the bottom.


    With the next photo, taken with the G12, I was attempting to show in some way the depth of the gorge.


    The next, taken with the FZ150, attempts to do the same thing.


    I don't think any of them deliver the emotional impact of looking over the edge. A couple of notes: the light was very flat (overcast) and you're very limited in shooting positions.

    So, I'm looking for some advice: what would you suggest to show depth in this photograph?

    Second, how does your camera handle manual focus? The D550 doesn't allow it. The G12 has a fussy control wheel on the back of the camera where it is easy to unintentionally activate other things, and the FZ150 has separate lever and spot focus button the lense barrel that makes it fairly easy. The issue is focusing on the frothing water at the bottom of the gorge and NOT the weeds in the foreground, which autofocus sometimes locks onto.
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  2. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Real Name:
    Conveying scale is very difficult without a human being in the scene for reference. Or at the very least a recognizable object with a strong scalar association, like a car. The houses in the first image give a ready reference to the depth of the gorge, but the subsequent images leave us no clues.
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  3. Adam Quek

    Adam Quek SC Regular

    Oct 5, 2012
    Reference aside, tone can also affect the perception of depth itself. If you look closely at the gorge section of the three shots (without consideration of any other referencing objects), the first gorge looks deeper as the tone change is much greater than the other two shots. Burning shadows at the gorge area of the second and third shot would immediately make the gorge look deeper and closer to reality.
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  4. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    The second two images I'm assuming that you used a longer focal length. That has given the effect of telephoto compression which doesn't convey depth so well. I think that the shorter focal length used in the first image is your friend but the foreground trees and grass obstruct the image.
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  5. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Real Name:
    Boid solved it the way I would have. But then I realized I would have blown the shot "in camera" and I'd want to fix it in post.... Adam's advice seems sound, but I'd find out by trial and error. What Nic says makes eminently good sense, but then he's just always so darn sensible.
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