Still getting used to smaller sensor - how to process this photo?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by TraamisVOS, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    I've just recently bought the LX5 - absolutely love it - but I'm still not entirely used to working (or changing the way I think) with the smaller sensor, great little camera though it is.

    For example in the photo below, if I had taken the photo with my Canon 7D I would've done it with a wide aperture to increase the depth of field, with the main focus on the girl in the center of the photo with the umbrella. This way the girl is the only person in sharp focus. The smaller sensor of the LX5 doesn't allow me to do that and the girl subsequently becomes part of the larger photo.

    How do you recommend I could've have approached the taking of this photo armed with a compact if I wanted the girl to stand out from the crowd?

    [​IMG]

    In an attempt to fix this photo, I tried artificially adding a soft focus around the girl via Google's Picasa but it ain't lookin' that good:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend Subscribing Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    Real Name:
    you should be able to figure it out...
    You just can't do it the way you're thinking about with a wide aperture and large sensor. Even wide open, you're going to get a pretty wide depth of field so that type of subject isolation isn't really all that doable. You're just going to have to zoom, either with your feet or your lens, so that she's much more obviously the focal point of the photo, but the framing will obviously be different. With enough zoom and a relatively close subject and distant background, you can get some subject isolation through a blurred background, but its a lot tougher to do than with the setup you're used to. That said, I don't think your second example looks that bad - its starting to work to blur the other people in the photo. My eye is definitely more drawn to the girl with the umbrella in the second than the first. There are probably better software solutions for imparting blur than Picasa, so you may want to look into that if this type of shot is important to you.

    But my basic approach (and recommendation) is just to adapt to shooting differently with the LX5 and don't expect the same kinds of results. Its a very different camera than a 7D with very different strengths and weaknesses. I'd focus on playing to its strengths and playing to the 7D's strengths when you're shooting with that.

    -Ray
     
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  3. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    That was why I was asking how a compact shooter would approach the photo so that I can try approaching this without big sensors in mind. I've seen some really amazing photos on this forum and on Flikr from compact shooters but I can see that the approach to composition is different from users from big sensor cameras who are able to use depth of field to isolate their subjects.

    I know that this is not going to be possible on a compact but the look I was referring to with the wide open aperture is something like these which I took at a friend's wedding a couple of months ago with my 7D. There is that subtle blurring of the background (and in front of the subject in the first photo which is in close proximity to the subject tree) that makes the subject stand out in the foreground.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Thanks! I initially had my eye on Lightroom but since I recently bought the Production Premium package, it comes with Photoshop Extended so I'm trying to learn how to use that. In the meantime I've been using iPhoto and Picasa. I know they're very crude photo editing programs though.
     
  4. Wally Billingham

    Wally Billingham SC Regular

    106
    Nov 27, 2010
    Laurel, MD
    What you need to do is look for situations where more DOF is better than less. I actually think that the train station you were at would have offered you the opportunity to do so, you just need to look for different opportunities. If you look at the work of people like Henry Cartier Bresson, or Garry Winogrand they just about always would shoot with more DOF not less which is why Winogrand went with a 28mm lens with his Leica and HCB would shoot at f/8 or higher in order to establish a sense of place for the subjects.

    For example this shot (LA Sidewalk 1969) by Winogrand is one of my favorites

    [​IMG]

    notice the very deep DOF, but also notice that there are several interesting subjects in the shot. You have the guy in the Wheel Chair, the three ladies walking together and the boy on the bench looking behind him.

    Look deeper and you will see a lady in the background between the group of three ladies and the man she is with is looking at his watch.

    You need wide angle lenses and deep DOF to be able to pull off a shot like that, and it only works because everything is in focus and there is really no single character that is more important than the others.

    Shakespeare said

    "All the world's a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players;
    They have their exits and their entrances,
    And one man in his time plays many parts"

    As You Like It Act 2, scene 7

    See also the lyrics to the song "Lime Light" by Rush one of my all time favorite bands, I think of these words often when I am out shooting on the streets

    RUSH LYRICS - Limelight

    That idea interests me very much as a photographer, and is one of the main reasons I got my Samsung TL500/EX1. When I am out shooting the street my goal is to capture the stage and the actors on it, not just individual actors, in order to do that I need deeo DOF but also have fast lenses. With my TL500 I can shoot at f/4 or faster and have DOF measured in many feet insetad of just a few inches

    So when I look at your train station picture I see several elements on the stage that could have worked really well here, not the least of which was the steam all around the platform.

    If the girl with the umbrella interested you, you need to be patient and wait for her to do something interesting on the stage perhaps in a few seconds she would have been in the steam and that would have been interesting.

    Of course shooting this way is MUCH harder than isolating a subject with a telephoto and shooting wide open.

    I do not think that software is the answer either as doing so will always look fake.
     
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  5. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    Wow thanks Wally for giving me some insight into your thinking process, you've given me some food for thought. Will also look up Henry Cartier Bresson and Garry Winogrand.

    Re the Winogrand photo - that is a really amazing photo, I want to say though that although the photo has deep depth of field, what really draws me first and formost to the three women in the middle of the photo is the fact that they are right in the middle of the photo, and much more prominently the way the backlit sunlight shoots through them into the foreground forming a sort of a sharp triangle point, which frames the three women very well. That's what I would say is an incredibly well composed photo, thanks for showing me that. How does the rule of thirds fit into a photo like that? Would Winogrand have kept that in mind as he was making that split second decision about composition?
     
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  6. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    Forget about the rule of thirds. Seriously, I would just go out and keep on doing what you're doing, Traam. Too much thought will prevent the creative process from unfolding. I do, however, think Wally's post is wonderful as well as helpful. Go with your gut and I have no doubt that you'll find yourself becoming more at home with the little but mighty LX5!
     
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  7. Fuddlestack

    Fuddlestack SC Regular

    138
    Dec 1, 2010
    Alsace, France
    This is slightly OT, but there's more to the Winogrand photo than meets the eye. Have a look at the reflections in the shop window: it seems to me that there is actually a third person in the group behind the three women:

    [​IMG]

    We can see the shoulder of the bloke looking at his watch and we can see the woman, but it appears that to the shopfront side of her there's a third man (Harry Lime theme, please). If you look back to the real-image side you can see a spare set of leg shadows that end behind the right thigh of the middle beehive-lady: they could be caused by Mr. Lime's legs. I even wonder if Winogrand hasn't painted bits out to clarify the line of the beehive-lady's figure. There's also a bloke in shorts further back, leaning against something with his legs crossed.

    I love mining old photos in this way, and for this I completely agree with Wally - DOF is king.

    The following is a sample pic from the Wikipedia page on Kodachrome:

    [​IMG]

    When you look at it full size, the detail is frustratingly absent. Imagine how it would be to explore that street in high definition. Example: look at the Apollo theatre: you can read "Kay Hammond", "John Clements" and "Treasure Hunt". But the Wikipedia entry for the Apollo reads "Control of the theatre transferred to Prince Littler in 1944. John Clements and Kay Hammond starred in Noël Coward's Private Lives, and Margaret Rutherford starred in The Happiest Days of Your Life in 1948, followed by Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson in Treasure Hunt, directed by John Gielgud in 1949." So what was happening - were they running alternately?

    Returning to your pic, Traam:

    If you had used full frame and a big aperture to throw the little girl's surroundings out of significance, I think you'd have lost an important part of her story - they're all things that surround and dwarf her. You can practically hear them; and in the meantime, she's still picked out beautifully by the halo of steam beyond.

    You could play with different crops, though - I found that drawing the cropping frame from the LH bottom corner to just below the Refreshments/Way Out sign and about halfway along the chunk of locomotive on the right removed distractions and focused completely on the girl. I love the way she's perfectly centred in the pale area between the loco and the gent in the middle.

    I'm all in favour of cropping the image to how you want it - why in the name of Puff the Magic Dragon's Holy Garters should camera manufacturers dictate the proportions of our works of art?

    Anyway, however you handle it, it's a great pic.
     
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  8. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Random thoughts:

    I find the rule of thirds is very useful for simple subjects. Of course, it can (and should) still be broken, but it's not a useful rule, IMO, with a shot like the one shown. So really, the OP is looking to apply portrait-like concepts (rule of third, subject isolation) to busy/street-shooting type images, so there's some disconnect as to those guidelines and the subject matter.

    The advice in this thread is great! One note, though (and I realize I may get strung up here!). There's some level of value we put into the HCB and other shots, as a historical record, as well as compositional brilliance etc. How those ladies are dressed is also fascinating to our modern eye. So, there are some transcendent qualities to the image beyond just the composition -- there's also a time/historical record in there as well. Not to say they weren't brilliant when they were made -- they were! Think back to what else was being done in photography around that time, and they were clearly leading lights. But if you did that EXACT same picture with modern folks today, while it would still be wonderful (e.g. see also the slanting light, and the placement of the figures to cut up the light, as well as other praises made here), it may not be hanging in a museum just yet!

    Actually, I rather like the OPs train shot on it's own merits, without any background blur. I actually like it better than the OPs later two samples. I do wonder if you could've gotten more empty space behind the girl, to make her feel more isolated, but it's a pretty fair shot on it's own merits, IMO. Certainly, no HCB, but as good a street shot as I've seen on many forums.
     
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  9. deirdre

    deirdre SC Top Veteran

    652
    Sep 26, 2010
    It's not the smaller sensor that makes the difference. The LX5 can shoot at f/2.0; what aperture did you use?

    Also: "with a wide aperture to increase the depth of field" should be decrease, not increase. The depth of field is the zone of acceptable sharpness; opening it up will decrease that distance.
     
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  10. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Don't live by the rule of thirds. You'll just get frustrated by the lack of dynamic energy.
    Here's the map that applies to every great image you ever loved. Check it against Gary's image above....

    [​IMG]

    By placing your subject within this map, you can easily see how the dynamic elements are arranged. Of course you make it fit your aspect ratio but the lines remain in the same dynamic location of any square or rectangle. If you look, you can see the rule of thirds lives in this map but this way, you can expand your visual thinking....

    By placing the key elements of your image on any line, you move in or outwards on the rectangle/square and that gives Visual Tension to the image.

    Shooter
     
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  11. kusch

    kusch SC Rookie

    15
    Dec 1, 2010
    LR

    This is perhaps not what you want, but I took your jpg-file, imported it in lightroom, just made the left side unsharp, and the girl comes out better. You can easy and quick do that with every part of the picture, and set your own DOF.

    Just to give an example that you can easy set the DOF in LR like you want, or put a person sharper then all the rest, you can do that with every section of the picture, and it is just a 3 click job

    [​IMG][/url][/IMG]
     
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  12. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Using this layout method, I think the OPs shot stands up well, with the main subject quite well placed.
     
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  13. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    As I have told Traam, I liked his little girl with the train picture immediately.

    kusch, tell me about those "3 clicks" in Lightroom? I'm still wet behind the ears.
     
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  14. kusch

    kusch SC Rookie

    15
    Dec 1, 2010
    BBW, I use lightroom now for 2 weeks, just playing with it, so I am not an expert, I just like to play (sometimes I am still a little kid :smile:)
    So I saw the topic starters request, saw people writing that it is not possible, and started to play with lightroom, sorry that I hijacked the TS's picture ...
    Let me try.....

    I used the graduate filter under the histogram picture, put it there in the picture where I want the blur. Position it somewhere where you want the blur (you can reposition it afterwards the way you want). Does that count for one click? :biggrin:
    I have put the sharpness (in the window that appears when you click on the graduate filter) at minus100. Click 2? :rolleyes:
    And then I play with the mouse, move it left, right, up and down till the part of the picture I want is out of focus. 3 clicks, ha ha ... .

    Damned, I realise my english language is so bad to explain this :smile:
     
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  15. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    No, no, your English is fine! I think I've got it. I've never fooled with the sharpness with that graduated filter. I may just have to copy and paste your post to another thread.

    You really haven't hijacked the thread. This thread that Traam started really ought to have a different title because its evolution has taken us from being concerned about small sensors to understanding what makes an photographic image work.

    Many thanks!
     
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  16. Wally Billingham

    Wally Billingham SC Regular

    106
    Nov 27, 2010
    Laurel, MD
    When Winogrand would hit the streets and shoot, he did so very differently than most people do or would.

    He knew that these moments would only last for a second and then be gone forever. What he would do is to take a picture of something or someone that he found interesting. He did this often, in fact he is said to have shot many rolls of film a day everyday.

    He would then leave the film undeveloped for many weeks, months, or even years so that when he developed it he would not be influenced by anything other than the picture in front of him. Since he shot so much his hit/miss ratio was very high on the miss side but when he had a hit it was magic

    I do not think we need to work exactly this way today, but I do think we can learn a lot from the way he shot. When I am out shooting in the streets and I see something that interests me I shoot first and ask questions later. I am not so much worried about any rules of composition per say. If I did I would miss a lot, so I just try and shoot interesting things.

    Then I load everything in lightroom and delete most of what I shoot, I also use the crop tool to crop everything to 8x10 size and when doing so I will often improve the composition in the process.

    Truth be told while I post a lot of near hits on flickr and my blog, my hit ratio of real hits would be about 1 in 1000 and that is OK. Each time I press the shutter I learn something and if every picture I took was a hit and not a miss photography would not nearly be as fun for me
     
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  17. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    Real Name:
    olli
    Since we're all getting to play with your photo here's another quick effort in LR.


    [​IMG]
     
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  18. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    Real Name:
    olli
    On composition 'rule of thirds', 'golden ratio', etc. the best advice I have come across is from Michael Freeman in The Photographer's Eye:

    Intuitive composition is the only practical approach for the majority of photographs. The most useful approach to dividing a frame into areas is to prime your eye by becoming familiar with nuances of harmony in different proportion. If you know them well, intuitive composition will naturally become more finely tuned. (p 26)
     
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  19. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend Subscribing Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    Real Name:
    you should be able to figure it out...
    That's largely the way I shoot as well except for two things. I don't wait to look at what I've got - I sort through it all right away. But I could wait because what I THOUGHT I'd nailed when I shot it rarely tends to be the good one - the good ones find me out of the mess - I'm pretty convinced I do a lot more "seeing" when I'm sorting through images than when I'm actually taking them, at least with regards to street shooting (for landscapes and static subjects I do pretty actively compose in the field). But I do shoot a TON when I'm shooting on the street and this is one way that digital has really liberated me. In the film days, I didn't have the money to shoot the volume that a pro like Winogrand would shoot so I just didn't shoot that much - maybe a roll or two per day tops and usually a lot less than that. With digital, I can just shoot anytime I think there even MIGHT be something there. And the miss rate is VERY high. But so what - I don't keep those very long (just long enough to assure myself I'm not missing a hidden gem in there somewhere).

    Oh, and one other way I differ from that description of Winogrand - its the part about "but when he had a hit it was magic". When I have a hit, its a lot better than the misses. Its not magic!

    -Ray
     
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  20. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    When I posted the map I wasn't implying that anyone glue it on their screen.
    When you frame your image, your using that map whether you realize it or not.
    I posted it just so it would make anyone interested in finding out what they are doing naturally anyway.

    If you look at Winogrand's work, he often played with the horizon.
    It appears that he framed at crazy angles. He didn't at all.
    He was a master magician.
    There is always a reference point to the map I posted and or the frame line in his rectangles.
    He was actually a sorcerer more than a magician.
    I stand corrected.
     
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