# Luminous Landscape Forum

## Raw & Post Processing, Printing => Digital Image Processing => Topic started by: Edalongthepacific on October 11, 2012, 04:51:39 PM

Title: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 11, 2012, 04:51:39 PM
I have been told that tonal range is from white point through three-quartertones, midtones, quartertones, highlights to white point. I have also been told that an image with superior tonal qualities has a full complement of midtone values. I believe that shadows and highlights are accents and not the main course but, I wonder, how wide a percentage of an ideal image should be occupied by midtones?
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: ErikKaffehr on October 11, 2012, 04:55:34 PM
Hi,

I don't understand your question. In addition, I don't think there is an ideal image.

Best regards
Erik

I have been told that tonal range is from white point through three-quartertones, midtones, quartertones, highlights to white point. I have also been told that an image with superior tonal qualities has a full complement of midtone values. I believe that shadows and highlights are accents and not the main course but, I wonder, how wide a percentage of an ideal image should be occupied by midtones?
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 11, 2012, 05:15:07 PM
I think a model of an ideal photograph can be achieved if only for the sake of exploring ideas regarding exposure and tonal range. If we are explaining histograms, is it unwise to discuss an ideal histogram that spans the full range of possible tones with an emphasis on midtones? Digital photography texts are filled with examples of histograms that need to be remapped. Surely these are less than ideal histograms from less than ideal exposures. If less than ideal histograms can be represented then we can come close to representing ideal histograms. My question is how much weight should be given to midtones in an image? Certaintly midtones are more important than shadows and highlights, we don't look to shadows or highlights to discern the story of a photograph. It is midtones that first capture and hold our attention.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on October 11, 2012, 07:24:00 PM
What you say may be true in many photos, but certainly not in all of them. A recent post on LuLa showed a silhouette of a sculpture on a building against the sky. There were no midtones, if I recall correclty, but the blacks and near whites definitely told the story.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Schewe on October 11, 2012, 09:31:20 PM
Certaintly midtones are more important than shadows and highlights, we don't look to shadows or highlights to discern the story of a photograph.

I think that is simply wrong...while the tonal values of the entire image may play an important role over the appearance of an image, I think it's wrong to think that there is some sort of magic "ideal". If there was, Auto in ACR/LR would be all you need...clearly, images need to be carefully adjusted to be optimal. I think trying to go down that rabbet hole is a fools errand...
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 11, 2012, 10:28:45 PM
A magic ideal? An ideal is a concept used for purposes of discussion. The notion of a magic ideal is quite an intriguing juxtaposition of usage. Can probative minds imagine an ideal digital image to serve as a guide for understanding the optimal distribution of tones throughout an image? Human perception must be more inclined toward one model of tonal distribution over others. Knowledge of that distribution could serve to construct an ideal image model. But probably not a magic ideal. I believe midtone values outweigh other tones in an image most useful for easy communication of visual information. But to what extent that may be true is the question. The extent to which nouns may or may not be magic is not germane.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Schewe on October 11, 2012, 11:19:22 PM
The extent to which nouns may or may not be magic is not germane.

Uh? You seem to be spelling the words correctly...but I have no clue what you are taking about.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Tim Lookingbill on October 12, 2012, 01:11:40 AM
Quote
I believe midtone values outweigh other tones in an image most useful for easy communication of visual information.

I take it you didn't study art appreciation or else why are you looking and deconstructing image making here. You're missing the secret ingredient of image making defined by tone as you are trying to define it and that is "juxtaposition". The juxtaposition of one tone against another in order to evoke a response from the viewer.

Tones don't communicate anything by themselves unless you're photographing or painting in the modular posterized style of Piet Mondrian. He juxtaposed tones in a simplistic manner so as to accentuate the tone and/or its arrangement with another whether it was mid, dark or light. That's how one communicates with just tone.

A photograph of a similar scene could be a textured wall lit directly by the sun juxtaposed against a rectangular shape in shadow such as a closed door or window. It may evoke a serene feeling due to its simplicity and boldness.

In advertising especially with billboards along a busy interstate one has 3 seconds to have the desired idea communicated. A white background with a photo of a close-up of a woman's boobs covered by a black brazier with the name of the brand of bra underneath both filling the entire billboard frame would be the optimum tone (black) to get the point across in that short of time. If it were rendered in mid tones it would not get as much attention or be seen as quickly.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Anders_HK on October 12, 2012, 03:04:38 AM
I have been told that tonal range is from white point through three-quartertones, midtones, quartertones, highlights to white point. I have also been told that an image with superior tonal qualities has a full complement of midtone values. I believe that shadows and highlights are accents and not the main course but, I wonder, how wide a percentage of an ideal image should be occupied by midtones?

I am unaware that the visual means of tones have been much documented in relation to histograms and digital.

On other hand for B&W film it was, including in relation to and in explaining photographically the tool called the zone system.

Suggest you to read the book The Negative by Ansel Adams, and/or The Practical Zone System by Chris Johnson.

And yes, The Negative was written long before digital but does that matter? Tones are its very basis and there are so many parallels to digital photography. Essentially digital capture is simply the opposing to capture for B&W negative film (exposure for highlights vs exposure for shadows). The Practical Zone System in one chapter also include digital.

Best regards,
Anders
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: NikoJorj on October 12, 2012, 03:53:08 AM
A magic ideal? An ideal is a concept used for purposes of discussion.
And then, some concepts are not as useful as others, and some are not valid at all...

There may be an ideal image, but only for one given scene and one given intent.
I didn't read Jeff's version yet (the more I think about it I the sooner it will be), but I agree that Ansel Adams' The Negative and The print may give you good hints.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: stamper on October 12, 2012, 04:22:42 AM
If midtones are the most important to someone then simply capture an image when shooting that has good midtones. Any experienced photographer will see there are some when pressing the shutter. The histogram only represents what you capture?
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 12, 2012, 05:31:34 PM
Here is a magic ideal model link that has given me some valuable insight:
http://photo.tutsplus.com/articles/theory/light-photography-exposure-and-tonal-range-considerations/
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Schewe on October 12, 2012, 08:02:01 PM
Here is a magic ideal model link that has given me some valuable insight:
http://photo.tutsplus.com/articles/theory/light-photography-exposure-and-tonal-range-considerations/

Blah, blah, blah...the main take away? From the post: "The most significant factor in taking any photo is to find the exposure that best suits the situation, and accentuates your intentions and the effect you’re after all at the same time."

Actually the section about the histogram of the bench and rocks kinda disprove your OP...without black and white tonality, the all midtones image sucks...right?
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: mouse on October 12, 2012, 08:48:25 PM
Human perception must be more inclined toward one model of tonal distribution over others.

Your entire thesis rests on that assumption, one for which I have seen no evidence.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 12, 2012, 09:57:51 PM
I absolutely agree that images benefit from black and white tones. I believe images benefit from having a black point, three-quartertones, midtones, quartertones, highlights and a white point. The inquiry is to what extent midtones may be of greater perceptual significance. A photograph could be taken having just three-quartertones and highlights and be simply breathtaking but that is beside the point. Most photographs published in magazines and newspapers are not that esoteric. In fact, perceptually, there exists an ideal (albeit not a magic ideal) formula of tonal distribution that results in a more captivating and more visually communicative photograph. This simply must be true weather there has been research in the area or not. Given a survey, with a statistically significant population, a normal distribution of responses would demonstrate a human preference for particular combination of the above tones. Stretch those neurons. I haven't seen that happen yet.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Schewe on October 12, 2012, 10:09:46 PM
In fact, perceptually, there exists an ideal (albeit not a magic ideal) formula of tonal distribution that results in a more captivating and more visually communicative photograph. This simply must be true weather there has been research in the area or not.

Again, I really think you are barking up the wrong tree...the "tonal distribution" of an image has very little to do with whether or not it is a successful image. Jam all the midtones in your image, if you want. I won't...I'll look at the overall image and decide what I want it to look like. Really bud, you need to judge images on their visual merit, not their midtones...
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 12, 2012, 10:35:14 PM
Missing the point. The issue is not how successful any individual image is. The question is what distribution of tones is most appealing to humans. In other studies, for example, humans were found to prefer a savanna landscape. This is not an opinion, tests, good scientific tests, confirm this. There also exists an ideal face based not upon magic but upon scientific study.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Schewe on October 12, 2012, 10:44:22 PM
Missing the point. The issue is not how successful any individual image is. The question is what distribution of tones is most appealing to humans.

Uh, yeah, ok...I'm missing the point...I really, only care about how successful an image is. I guess that makes me 'different". I'm ok with that...I don't give a crap about formulas...I care about neat images. I guess that's my loss, but I'm ok with that. Like what I shoot or don't, I really don't give a shyte. Know what I mean? I still think you are way off base and trying to find some sort of goofy formula which in the long run is useless. You can listen to not, your choice. I'm pretty comfortable in the relative success of my images...you?
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 12, 2012, 10:51:18 PM
Oh, yes! In fact, I make money with my photography. But I challenge conventional thinking. I accept nothing as an axiom. I continually ask myself and others questions. This is a mindset that looks for the reality behind the appearance. Good luck to you.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Schewe on October 12, 2012, 10:53:48 PM
There also exists an ideal face based not upon magic but upon scientific study.

Care to site any sources? Wanna actually put any of your image on a web site to prove your point?

Heck, I've got a website-acually several...www.schewephoto.com (http://www.schewephoto.com/) and www.thedigitalnegativebook.com (http://thedigitalnegativebook.com/wp/). Lots of images to download from the book (if you know the password). You don't seem to list any website...got any work worth looking at? Just asking'. Make/prove your point...ok?
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Schewe on October 12, 2012, 10:55:10 PM
This is a mindset that looks for the reality behind the appearance.

Uh huh...prove it. Where can we see your work? Are you worthy?
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 12, 2012, 10:59:52 PM
Again, missing the point. I am never "worthy," never finished, merely searching. One thing I am searching for is additional information about human perceptions of tonal values. By the way, very good photographs!
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Schewe on October 12, 2012, 11:02:12 PM
Again, missing the point. I am never "worthy," never finished, merely searching

Again, care to share?

Otherwise I'm inclined to think you are a troll...you make some broad statements and refuse to back them up with images...show your stuff. Or not (and that tells us a lot).
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 12, 2012, 11:10:27 PM
Wow.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Schewe on October 12, 2012, 11:34:50 PM
Wow.

Wow what?...

Got anything to share? You got "stuff"?

Or are you just flapping your gums?

Come on dooode, you got anything to contribute? Got images to show to support your concept that midtones rule?
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 12, 2012, 11:45:14 PM
See attached.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: NikoJorj on October 12, 2012, 11:50:20 PM
In other studies, for example, humans were found to prefer a savanna landscape.
Then, why would one bother to shoot anything else than savanna landscapes?
(BTW I'm interested in a source for that result)

Just for the record, my personal kind of savanna...
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 13, 2012, 12:02:14 AM
See: http://eab.sagepub.com/content/42/4/479.abstract
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Schewe on October 13, 2012, 12:49:11 AM
See attached.

Blown out highlights...(on all your images), maybe you want to pay more attention to the highlights and less to the midtones?

Just saying'

Which doesn't really have a lot to do with the concept of "support the hypothesis that humans possess an innate preference for savanna-like settings, which then is modified through experience and enculturation."

Really dooode, I think you need to shoot more and think less...
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 13, 2012, 12:56:30 AM
Only midtones. See attached.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Schewe on October 13, 2012, 01:01:08 AM
Thanks for sharing some of your work (I guess). Again, think less, shoot more...screw the midtones!

Might be nice to say what your real name is...you know, instead of hiding behind a "screen name".

Are you "John H. Falk"  or "John D. Balling" or just referencing them?

Gotta tell ya, PV 2012 will do a much better job of tone control than what you've shown...just sayin' Ya might wanna learn how to use ACR 7.x and LR 4.x to get the best end result.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 13, 2012, 01:02:35 AM
Mostly midtones see attached.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 13, 2012, 01:07:45 AM
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Schewe on October 13, 2012, 01:17:03 AM
I am neither of those persons.

So, who are you...what do you do?
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 13, 2012, 01:36:04 AM
Classified, retired.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Redcrown on October 13, 2012, 02:01:10 AM

And about the savanna thing... it's ironic, tonight I watched the premier of a TV show on the Discovery Channel called "How the Earth Made Man." The theme is how we evolved to what we are based on the earth's changing environment over millions of years.

There was a short segment where subjects were shown landscape photos and asked which place they would rather live in. They all picked a wide open, green rolling hills scene, and rejected a jungle, a desert, and a snow covered mountain. Strong echo of the Falk/Balling abstract linked above.

But the important point is they were asked where they wanted to live, not which scene appealed most to their asthetic interest, and certainly not which photograph was the "best". (All the photos were artistic and excellent quality, by the way.)

The researchers used this "experiment" to validate their theory that we humans are genetically wired to favor a location that has the least predators against us, and the most bounty for us. Unfortunately, the Falk/Balling abstract does not mention this detail.

And about the perfect face thing... There is a lot of solid research about that. Several years ago, the BBS aired a mini-series called "The Human Face" that referenced a lot of the research (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_Face).

Here's another link about the analysis of the perfect face. Unfortunately, the site is pretty messed up and not maintained.

http://www.beautyanalysis.com/index2_mba.htm
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 13, 2012, 02:13:40 AM
Sorry, I don't understand the idea of won or lost? Could you explain what you are referring to? I am merely seeking answers. Is that a contest?
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Peter_DL on October 13, 2012, 04:30:00 AM
The inquiry is to what extent midtones may be of greater perceptual significance.
... Given a survey, with a statistically significant population, a normal distribution of responses would demonstrate a human preference for particular combination of the above tones.

Here is an image we just had coincidently open in Photoshop.
The Mean value ("brightness") appears to be in the ballpark, however, the Standard Deviation is quite high. Only 40% of the pixels are in a broader midtone range. 60% are actually in the shadows of the mountains, the dark green forest and the highlight range of the sky. Maybe some more of the dark pixels need to be moved to the midtones. Anyway.

It would certainly be nice to have a database for reference, of good images and the corresponding readouts from the histogram, however, one key question might be how narrow the photographic subject would have to be defined in order to support meaningful statistics across such group of images, and to be of help with regard to possible conclusions for an individual image.

Peter

--

Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Edalongthepacific on October 13, 2012, 04:40:52 AM
Brilliant! A more comprehensive statistical analysis of such issues, I believe, can open new avenues of understanding. Thank you very much for this post.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: stamper on October 13, 2012, 05:08:24 AM
I don't think - can't be bothered to re read all of the posts - that nobody has mentioned that midtones can be re mapped in LR - or another program - from 1/4 and 3/4 tones. Also the lack of midtones could be the lack of exposure technique? To be honest I don't really see any meaning to the original post.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Randy Carone on October 13, 2012, 08:01:46 AM
Jeff, you may have won, but I'll never get back the 6 minutes it took me to read this thread. Now, back to the real world. ::)
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Anders_HK on October 13, 2012, 12:30:19 PM
Here is a magic ideal model link that has given me some valuable insight:
http://photo.tutsplus.com/articles/theory/light-photography-exposure-and-tonal-range-considerations/

Notably that article and the one on zone system on same website contain numerous errors. The zone system per Ansel Adams is not mere applying 10 zones, which was what he did for B&W photography. The scale contain a certain number of even stops, and the number of stops in the scale was dependent on the media he used (B&W, slides vs Polaroid Land Prints all were able to capture differing contrast range, or DR). He differentiated zones in the scene, the negative and the print, and applied the zone system there different depending on the media used. There are in fact many articles and books published that do not speak of the zone system correctly, and in particular in relation to digital photography. The Negative is the original source and the very best I have read on tonal values and zone system. Going into that literature though is an advanced step.

In essence, the author thus is even not quite correct on the visualization part... Notably the one thing that matters most in digital photography is where we place our highlight end, including (if there is) a transition into highlights before clipping. At same time what we have on our opposing end to make sure we capture the scene within the DR of the sensor. We can always move all rest around in post per say.

And, no... contrary to the article all digital cameras are not limited to 5 stops of DR nowadays... no. Technology has advanced over the last ten years... thereby - depending on DR of a scene vs. latitude of sensor - the need for ETTR can at times nowadays be questioned.

...just sayin' Ya might wanna learn how to use ACR 7.x and LR 4.x to get the best end result.

All respect, but I would instead highly recommend Capture One Pro. I prior used Camara RAW and found that and Photoshop made me think too much technical, as opposed to photographically when processing an image. The choice of RAW processor is of course an individual choice. Personally I do find Capture One Pro far superior, not only in because it maintain my brain photographic but because I reach far better results with my pictures.  ;)

Best regards,
Anders
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: NikoJorj on October 13, 2012, 02:10:52 PM
And, no... contrary to the article all digital cameras are not limited to 5 stops of DR nowadays... no.
That reminds me of something, but what?   ???  ::) :-\ :P ;) :-X

Quote
All respect, but I would instead highly recommend Capture One Pro. I prior used Camara RAW and found that and Photoshop made me think too much technical, as opposed to photographically when processing an image.
Matter of tastes somehow, but things are not the same since ACR7/LR4 : the basic controls act quite differently from the previous versions, and perhaps you could say more "photographically" ; you should give it a try if you hadn't already.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Anders_HK on October 13, 2012, 04:06:54 PM

I already have the tool I feel comfortable with.  ;)
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: stamper on October 14, 2012, 05:20:44 AM
Quote Anders

Notably the one thing that matters most in digital photography is where we place our highlight end, including (if there is) a transition into highlights before clipping.

Unquote

That is correct but has nothing to do with the zone system imo. My understanding is that you pick out the area of interest  - usually the focal point - and make a judgement as to the light falling on it and use the EV up or down to make it a new midtone. It could be 1,2 or 3 steps. What you are saying is you spot meter for the highlight. lock exposure and usually dial in +2 - or maybe +3 if you are feeling brave - and this means the whole scene is lightened by two or three stops. Two different ideas. :)
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: ErikKaffehr on October 14, 2012, 09:59:06 AM
Hi,

The way I see it you would try to reach maximum exposure without clipping (that is saturating any channel of the sensor). Having maximum exposure reduces shot noise. If you call ETTR or not doesn't really matter.

Best regards
Erik

Quote Anders

Notably the one thing that matters most in digital photography is where we place our highlight end, including (if there is) a transition into highlights before clipping.

Unquote

That is correct but has nothing to do with the zone system imo. My understanding is that you pick out the area of interest  - usually the focal point - and make a judgement as to the light falling on it and use the EV up or down to make it a new midtone. It could be 1,2 or 3 steps. What you are saying is you spot meter for the highlight. lock exposure and usually dial in +2 - or maybe +3 if you are feeling brave - and this means the whole scene is lightened by two or three stops. Two different ideas. :)
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Anders_HK on October 14, 2012, 05:28:01 PM
Quote Anders

Notably the one thing that matters most in digital photography is where we place our highlight end, including (if there is) a transition into highlights before clipping.

Unquote

That is correct but has nothing to do with the zone system imo. My understanding is that you pick out the area of interest  - usually the focal point - and make a judgement as to the light falling on it and use the EV up or down to make it a new midtone. It could be 1,2 or 3 steps. What you are saying is you spot meter for the highlight. lock exposure and usually dial in +2 - or maybe +3 if you are feeling brave - and this means the whole scene is lightened by two or three stops. Two different ideas. :)

The zone system can be used to precise explain what you quoted from me. With zone system you can of course pick any shade in the scene to base the exposure upon, but similar to that you base metering for B&W on the shadows you should base metering for digital on the highlight region, which may or may not mean ETTR. That also depends on the DR of the scene.

The way I see it you would try to reach maximum exposure without clipping (that is saturating any channel of the sensor). Having maximum exposure reduces shot noise. If you call ETTR or not doesn't really matter.

Depends on if you want saturated white in any part of the image, and/or if you want to capture part of the highlight transition by recovery of one or two channels.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: ErikKaffehr on October 14, 2012, 05:50:45 PM
Hi,

I would add avoid clipping nonspecular highlights.

I very seldom see an advantage in having blown out white, but that is just me. Highlight recovery is pretty good in LR 4 with the new processing pipeline, but I still feel that reconstructing highlights from a clipped channel is a necessary evil at best.

The way I see it we have ample DR in todays cameras so I seldom found any issue with adjusting shadows without clipping highlights.

Specular highlights is something else.

The way to have maximum DR is of course to use base ISO.

Best regards
Erik

Depends on if you want saturated white in any part of the image, and/or if you want to capture part of the highlight transition by recovery of one or two channels.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Anders_HK on October 14, 2012, 05:59:00 PM
I very seldom see an advantage in having blown out white

Studio portrait, if want complete white background.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Alan Klein on October 14, 2012, 08:18:30 PM
If it looks good to your eye and looks good in the viewfinder, snap it.  Who cares how many pixels fit into mid-range?  Even if you could arrive at some formula for best number of pixels in mid-range, there are too many other elements that go into a good shot such as composition, compelling subject, framing, etc.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: ErikKaffehr on October 15, 2012, 01:28:31 AM
Hi,

I don't think rules make for a compelling image. On the other hand, rules may help in achieving a compelling image.

The way I see it, it is a very good idea to maximize DR in capture. Than you can remap tones essentially at vill in raw processing.

I don't think there is a golden standard for tonal rendition. Different pictures demand different tonal renditions and different photographers see things differently. Color and tonality arises in the brain.

I recall a discussion between Andy Biggs and Michael Reichmann, they shot the same animal in the same savanna the same day about the same time but came home with two very different renditions, one was deep saturated green the other yellowish green. The guys were really astonished when comparing images. (I don't know how many retakes it took for Chris ;-)

Best regards
Erik

If it looks good to your eye and looks good in the viewfinder, snap it.  Who cares how many pixels fit into mid-range?  Even if you could arrive at some formula for best number of pixels in mid-range, there are too many other elements that go into a good shot such as composition, compelling subject, framing, etc.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Alan Klein on October 18, 2012, 10:30:38 PM
Erik:  I looked at your portfolio and I really like it.  Your pictures seem to have nice contrast and good color.  They also have good composition but may main point about contrast and lighting is I doubt that the mid-range pixels match among the various shots.   I think we all have to shoot a picture that looks compelling to us first.  Then damn where the pixels wind up.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: ErikKaffehr on October 19, 2012, 01:30:53 AM
Alan,

I don't disagree with you. On the contrary.

What I try to say is that we have often to much discussion about "rules". I don't think that a picture is better if it follows as many rules as possible. I see the rules as a help to achieve good pictures.

Regarding composition I think that we develop a way of seeing.

On where the pixels fall, I see it like that is determined in postprocessing. When you shoot raw you try to optimize capture.

The picture I enclose is carefully composed, which doesn't necessarily mean it is well composed. I tried to position my tripod where I wanted. Moved around 10-20cm to have what I regarded the best composition. I didn't really want the vegetation at lower right, but decided I can probably remove it in post if it is disturbing.

Than I just waited for light, for two hours. I don't do that often. By the way, light never really came. There were a lot of wildfires in the region and there was a constant smog.

Later I took another picture with the Grand Teton rising above the smog.

Best regards
Erik

Erik:  I looked at your portfolio and I really like it.  Your pictures seem to have nice contrast and good color.  They also have good composition but may main point about contrast and lighting is I doubt that the mid-range pixels match among the various shots.   I think we all have to shoot a picture that looks compelling to us first.  Then damn where the pixels wind up.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Alan Klein on October 19, 2012, 05:12:58 PM
Nice shots.  The composition does follow the rules of thirds- naturally.  This rule just follows what our brain considers pleasant design.  It's really a statement of how our brain operates not really a rule.  The same with focus, contrast, mid tones, highlights, etc.  If it looks good to the brain, we can write a rule about it.  "People's faces look better in focus than out"  "Provide higher contrast pictures - low contrast flat pictures are boring to our brain"  etc.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: ErikKaffehr on October 19, 2012, 05:41:53 PM
Hi,

When I composed the picture I didn't really think about rule of thirds or diagonals. I went to place the evening before and checked out the reflections of threes and the mountains. On earlier occasions i was shooting almost standing in the river, but this time I wanted something different. So I decided where to put my tripod the evening before. The idea was to get reflections of the trees and the mountains. I also looked to find some crop so I would not clip any mountain peak.

So the composition was given by the spot I choose. There were some variations. I enclose three pictures with 50, 100, and 160 mm, the longer two taken without moving the camera.

Obviously, I applied some processing on the raw file. This is one of the nice things shooting raw. You can do an awful lot of manipulation to everything. Another photographer, or myself another night, may arrive at an entirely different picture an other night of processing.

Best regards
Erik

Nice shots.  The composition does follow the rules of thirds- naturally.  This rule just follows what our brain considers pleasant design.  It's really a statement of how our brain operates not really a rule.  The same with focus, contrast, mid tones, highlights, etc.  If it looks good to the brain, we can write a rule about it.  "People's faces look better in focus than out"  "Provide higher contrast pictures - low contrast flat pictures are boring to our brain"  etc.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: Alan Klein on October 19, 2012, 10:05:51 PM
All three shots have balanced elements to one another.  That's your brain selecting the best arrangement. It comes naturally for you. You don't need to be told a rule or how to apply it.  Your brain is doing it naturally.  Like I said, the rules only reflect what our brain already know the best way to arrange it.  Some people like you do it innately.  Other don't see it so easily so the "rule" helps them to "see" better.

I could nevunderstandtnd why in most other things we do, there are rules and suggestions and practices we follow to improve what we do.  But when it comes to [photography, photographers think these things are just plain silly.  Oh well.
Title: Re: Midtones and tonal range
Post by: ErikKaffehr on October 20, 2012, 03:59:28 AM
Alan,