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ErikKaffehr

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Let's talk images
« on: January 24, 2016, 03:58:32 PM »

Hi,

There were some discussions on the lack of images on the Equipment & Techniques forums. So I figured I can start a thread about images. Here is my first contribution:



I got a PM from a member on LuLa who had a Hasselblad Planar 100/3.5 CF to sell at a very decent price. I always wanted that lens for a long time. When I got the lens I of course needed to try it, so I went to NykŲping castle, sort of a comfortable place with some nice subjects. So, I took a picture of the old brewery and some trees.

Suddenly, I realised that the composition was quite OK, but the sky was interesting, too. I needed a more square format to include the sky, so I made a quick decision to take two exposures and combine in Lightroom.

Processing was Photo Merge-> Panorama in Lightroom. After that I darkened the top part using a graduated filter. This I do often and have a preset for it. After toning down the upper part, exposure was adjusted for good general brightness while holding back highlights. I moved the "blacks" slider so I had minimal clipping in some areas and compensated by lifting shadows.

Lightroom does use some kind of tone mapping when setting the highlight slider left of -50% and the same applies to the shadows slider. My understanding is that it is some kind of local contrast enhancement.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's about all to say about this image.

Raw images, etc are here: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/Articles/Shoots/LuLaForums/

Best regards
Erik
« Last Edit: January 24, 2016, 05:22:36 PM by ErikKaffehr »
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scooby70

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2016, 09:38:24 PM »

I took this shot whilst on holiday in Scotland in 2006. We were out for a morning walk and as we crested a rise this was the sight that greeted us so I took a quick snap with my Medion 85173 compact camera.



This Medion is not the worst digital camera I've ever owned (I think the worst was either a key ring camera or the camera on my first camera phone) but it's far from good by todays standards and will be thrashed by any smartphone camera. The WB and colours can be off and I used to open the JPEG's as Camera raw in PS5 and process for best effect. The final file is 1.18mb and 2304 x 1728.

I came across a print of this picture a few weeks ago. I'd actually forgotten that I'd printed it and what I'd done was crop it and print it so that it filled an A4 sheet. I was actually quite shocked at how nice it looks. Please note that it may/will look a bit worse posted here via photobucket than on my screen.

I've looked at this picture quite a few times since I rediscovered it and it's reminded me of that moment and it's made me think that I take photographs not only to play with the gear :D but also to look at either on screen or in print and if the final image is good enough I really should stop being such a gearhead. I do enjoy using cheap basic kit and I still get a lot of use out my Panasonic G1 which I often use with old Minolta Rokkor and Olympus Zuiko lenses.

Sorry if an old Medion compact and this picture are a bit low rent for this thread :D

After decades with film and then about another decade with Canon DSLR's these days I wield a Sony A7, Panasonic GX7 or G1.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2016, 09:42:13 PM by scooby70 »
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2016, 12:37:57 AM »

An asbtract for a change. ;)

This image was captured this Saturday during a casual walk in the neighborhood with my daughter. I had configured myself to look for light.

Light is plenty in winter in Japan where the air has an amazing transparency that our ancester must have experienced on a frequent basis before pollution became what it is.

It is a fascinating excercice to look for light sneaking through the densely packed buildings in Tokyo and creating shapes, playing with materials to highlight their textures.

I passed by this panel and realized a few seconds later that it was displaying an amazing amount of compositional balance and I came back a few steps and aimed my DSLR and Voigtlander 125mm f2.5 lens at it. I have spent time looking at it and cannot find the slighted flaw between the complex network of lines and shapes in terms of how they devide space. Just perfect.



Cheers,
Bernard
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torger

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2016, 04:28:18 AM »

Here's one from about a year ago. During the summer someone had forgot putting out a camp fire in a nature reservation area close to where I live, so we got a forest fire. Fortunately it didn't become that big, and in a way it's not too bad as some insects need burnt wood to thrive, and in Sweden fires are so uncommon these days that sometimes even planned forest fires are made to create burnt forests so the insects don't go extinct.

We had a huge one in the south though a couple of years ago, the largest fire since the 1950s so it can go real bad real quick.

Anyway the conditions this days was very inviting, easy to make nice-looking images with the frost on the black wood. I like the palette of colors it created, which is very much shown in this image.

This is shot with Linhof Techno, Leaf Aptus 75, SK47XL f/16 with some fall. In terms of composition I often like to intertwine elements of geometry and chaos, the chaotic element should be obvious and I chose a tight composition with little sky to really fill the frame with it. The main geometric elements are the two diagonals made by the burnt trunk and its crown.
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torger

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2016, 09:28:02 AM »

Ok, letís talk about images rather than equipment and techniques. I have little interest in how folk make their images, I also have little interest in single images, but I am fascinated in why they make specific series of images and why they choose their subjects.

While I do have interest in technique as I've learned lots by that, I'm also interested in the "project", why someone shoots a particular set of images.

In landscape project is often lacking, many just shoot single scenes they find beautiful. I see nothing wrong in that, and many of the old masters did like that. Ansel Adams didn't organize his photographs in projects for example, but each image was an isolated artwork. He still had his reasons to shoot particular subjects of course.

Today in the art world arranging images in projects is more a rule than an exception. As a newcomer to serious photography I'm just now putting together my first project. I'd prefer to not talk that much about that before I've actually made it public though.

However I can talk in more generic terms how I choose subjects and some of my ideals. I like it when location and weather conditions are secondary and composition primary. In fact, I can prefer a "dull" condition in order to put more focus in compositional elements. Popular landscape otherwise have a tendency to try to maximize all elements in a picture, the light, the colors, a dramatic location and composition, which to me is sort of parallel to the modern man's struggle to maximize everything in life.

Instead I like to take a step back, tone it down. Don't make images based on location or drama (although I do shoot those as well, but it's not really those I'd like to define my photography), and overcast weather is my favorite weather condition. Challenge mainstream ideas of what makes up a good image. I also focus on shooting locally, I haven't traveled abroad with my camera (although I'm thinking of Norway :) ). There's a few reasons for that. One is that there's already thousands of photographers shooting at the famous locations, while relatively few in my neighborhood, so it's simply harder to make something that doesn't look like it's been done before when going to the famous locations. I also think that I can be a better photographer if I shoot nature I have visited a lot and know well, and its an environmental message to it as well, if we love nature so much why book flights all over the world to shoot images that's already shot by local photographers? While there are spectacular locations here too, most nature is quite "basic", which makes it more challenging to make pictures, and I like that. I see my mission as "showing the non-obvious", and if I get my audience thinking along the lines to really observe and see what's around them here and now, I'm happy.

A natural sub-theme where I live is forestry which on one side enriches our lives and nation but is stressful on nature.

I guess I could rewrite all that into some sort of artist's statement at some point. After that is done there's really not so much to say, then the images will do the talk. The greatness with art is "how small a thought it takes to fill a whole life!".

I've read a few artist statements and I can say that great artistic photography and great writing is not always combined in the same person, and many understand that and simply doesn't talk much at all about their art. I think we can see it as the general rule actually, which means we can't expect to get that many contributions of that kind.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2016, 09:33:12 AM by torger »
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razrblck

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2016, 01:33:59 PM »

Taking pictures is, for me, a good way to handle depression, anxiety and in some way focus my ocd.

Last week I felt like I had to do something, so I scheduled some free time before sunset (between 5PM and 7PM), got my gear ready and hopped in the car. I knew where to go and what I wanted to do, and I hoped I could get it all with the golden-orange light of the sun just above the horizon.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) when I arrived the whole top of the mountain was covered by a thick cloud. I could barely see where I parked my car, but I noticed it was moving fast and was hoping it would dissipate enough to grab a few shots.



It was indeed moving fast, but not in the direction I was hoping, so I walked downhill to try and find a better spot out of it. The light was fading, so I decided to stop and take a picture before it was too late now that I wasn't in the cloud. I wanted to put myself in it as well as I thought to myself I could use a new banner image for my social media.



While I was there I spotted a trail that started below the rocks I was on, as well as trees. I followed it and found an even better composition. The light was pretty much gone, colors were turning cold and dark as it was moving into civil twilight.



Back home I wanted to give it the warm colors I desired when I went out. It is different from what I saw, but I wanted a pleasing picture and not an accurate one. I warmed up the white balance, worked a bit on contrast as I tend to shoot and develop with neutral profiles, and used light orange on the highlights and light teal on the shadows. I used for all my pictures the D7000 with the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM.

Since a friend's birthday was coming up and she recently moved into a new apartment, I printed this photo on 70x30cm canvas. When I visited her place she had a couple of empty walls and she always loved my pictures so I decided to make a more personal gift.

I know the quality of this photo isn't much, but my old phone really struggles under certain conditions.


Iím fascinated by the buildings and contents and by the process of decay. The buildings are often in a parlous state, time and earthquake damage taking its toll. I never enter such places when alone, always ensuring there is help at hand should something untoward occur. Iíve encountered vermin, dead and alive, cats and dogs, dead and alive, goats, dead and alive, scorpions, dead and alive, humans, dead and aliveÖOk, that last one was an exaggeration.

Iím not a reportage photographer as such but that said I am aware that if I donít make these images then the subjects will probably go unrecorded.

I've been to so many abandoned places as well, I have quite a few series of pictures. Here are a few examples.

This one was back in 2014, in the abandoned village of Apice Vecchio. It was abandoned after a earthquake and only recently some people are going back. Most of it has been kept intact by a few people, it's like a soft of huge and open museum. Some houses are extremely interesting but not very photogenic. This was taken with the D7000 and the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX.


This is a Saint-Gobain glass factory, closed many decades ago. Most of the area has been converted to commercial and apartments, but this warehouse still stands. I shot it on the Olympus OM-1n with a Zuiko 28mm f/3.5 on Ilford HP5 pulled 1 stop.


This is the furnace area of the same factory, this is where all the glass was fused. Most of it has crumbled and the whole area is closed off. It's a bit tricky to get inside, but it always help to be with a friend and be very careful where you step. I shot it on my crappy phone.
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elliot_n

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2016, 02:21:48 PM »


However I can talk in more generic terms how I choose subjects and some of my ideals. I like it when location and weather conditions are secondary and composition primary. In fact, I can prefer a "dull" condition in order to put more focus in compositional elements. Popular landscape otherwise have a tendency to try to maximize all elements in a picture, the light, the colors, a dramatic location and composition, which to me is sort of parallel to the modern man's struggle to maximize everything in life.


I like your pictures. If you don't already know it, check out Eliot Porter's work (he pioneered this approach). Also Lee Friedlander's desert series.
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2016, 02:07:41 PM »

Hi,

Some nice images from Anders.

Best regards
Erik
Anders, I know in the past you've been a little coy at times about posting images but I have to say I very much like 'burnt'.

ErikKaffehr

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2016, 02:23:07 PM »

Hi,

This image was taken at Hans Kruse's Dolomites East workshop in September/Oktober 2015.



The image is taken at Pragser See an early morning waiting for sunrise. We were all shooting the same subjects. In addition, I have been at the place many times, so I wanted to shoot something different.

So, I started to look at the small chapel and reflections in the lake. I also got a bit interested on that bold rock surface and figured it would be a nice point of interest.

The original image had quite an illumination range, so I needed to tame in it Lightroom.

  • First I darkened the sky with one of my presets.
  • After that I applied a higher colour temperature to the rock surface to make it look warmer
  • I also felt the chapel needed to be more prominent, so I applied some local corrections to that area.

Best regards
Erik

torger

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2016, 02:31:42 AM »

Nice image Erik, and very interesting to see how you made the post-processing.

I'm using RawTherapee for my post-processing. Unfortunately it doesn't have local edits (yet), but there's a graduated filter tool and that together with a generic highlights/shadows control covers most cases. During my first years I struggled with finding my "post-processing style" and I've tried all sorts of methods.

Now I'm using my own camera profiles (generated by DCamProf) to get a good baseline color, and then I use graduated filter when needed, almost always a little vignetting (my start image has zero vignetting as I always apply LCC). White balance is often left at daylight, but hand-tuned when needed, and then I can use RGB curves to add a subtle "color grade". I also usually add a little contrast, using either a "perceptual curve" (a special curve I added myself to RawTherapee which keeps color appearance constant) or a pure luminance curve which gives a slightly desaturated look. I nowadays almost never increase saturation, but keep it realistic or even a bit desaturated as a "look".

I've added a "before" and "after" example here of a chaotic semi-abstract. I don't want the "after" to differ too much from realism. Digital has the advantage over film that it can be more color-correct and realistic, but you can also just by pushing sliders around do a total transformation of the image, a power which can be difficult to handle.

My goal with post-processing is to add a subtle personal look and atmosphere but at the same time retain some of the documentary quality, so it's a balance. As my photography is partly about "showing the non-obvious" I can't transform an inconspicuous scene into some conspicuous. I also find it more satisfying to shoot in those special conditions which provide special colors, such as a damp autumn forest after a rain in overcast weather, if the post-processing retains a documentary quality so those conditions actually look special in comparison to normal conditions also in my images. I have no problem with people making creative transforming post-processing though, it's also an art in its own, it's just not suiting my goals.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2016, 02:55:49 AM by torger »
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2016, 04:14:45 PM »

Hi Keith,

You have some very interesting images.

Best regards
Erik

Ok, letís talk about images rather than equipment and techniques. I have little interest in how folk make their images, I also have little interest in single images, but I am fascinated in why they make specific series of images and why they choose their subjects.

As long as I can remember Iíve always been drawn to the architecture of the sun. Iíve long had a fascination for the architecture of the Mediterranean and specifically the abandoned buildings of the Greek islands.

In the mid twentieth century the islands experienced a great deal of depopulation due to a lack of employment with many people emigrating to America and Australia. Many of the homes and contents were boarded up and abandoned, the owners never to return. Over the years the elements have penetrated the buildings and decayed the infrastructure and contents to the point of collapse. Those that are still clinging to life have become time warps.

Iím fascinated by the buildings and contents and by the process of decay. The buildings are often in a parlous state, time and earthquake damage taking its toll. I never enter such places when alone, always ensuring there is help at hand should something untoward occur. Iíve encountered vermin, dead and alive, cats and dogs, dead and alive, goats, dead and alive, scorpions, dead and alive, humans, dead and aliveÖOk, that last one was an exaggeration.

Iím not a reportage photographer as such but that said I am aware that if I donít make these images then the subjects will probably go unrecorded.

The following three images were taken a few years apart, the first and second several years ago using a big camera and the third more recently using a small one. All were single shot. The second image drew inspiration from Van Goghís Chair, the first and third more expansive shots within the same property. I will typically move objects that are within the building but will not introduce anything from without.

ErikKaffehr

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2016, 04:26:25 PM »

Hi Anders,

Thanks for comments and thanks for sharing!

I guess that we apply different amount of processing to our images. Personally, I feel that I want my pictures to look credible. So they don't need to be a good reproduction but I don't want to make way to much processing.

I have a great respect for you approach.

To give an example, this image may be overprocessed, but I feel it is a good representation of what I saw:


This image is a bit overprocessed, but there was a great drama that no stills can reproduce. The processing here was quite a bit more than what I would usually do, but I felt that it was OK as I needed to show the dramatic play of light.


Best regards
Erik

Nice image Erik, and very interesting to see how you made the post-processing.

I'm using RawTherapee for my post-processing. Unfortunately it doesn't have local edits (yet), but there's a graduated filter tool and that together with a generic highlights/shadows control covers most cases. During my first years I struggled with finding my "post-processing style" and I've tried all sorts of methods.

Now I'm using my own camera profiles (generated by DCamProf) to get a good baseline color, and then I use graduated filter when needed, almost always a little vignetting (my start image has zero vignetting as I always apply LCC). White balance is often left at daylight, but hand-tuned when needed, and then I can use RGB curves to add a subtle "color grade". I also usually add a little contrast, using either a "perceptual curve" (a special curve I added myself to RawTherapee which keeps color appearance constant) or a pure luminance curve which gives a slightly desaturated look. I nowadays almost never increase saturation, but keep it realistic or even a bit desaturated as a "look".

I've added a "before" and "after" example here of a chaotic semi-abstract. I don't want the "after" to differ too much from realism. Digital has the advantage over film that it can be more color-correct and realistic, but you can also just by pushing sliders around do a total transformation of the image, a power which can be difficult to handle.

My goal with post-processing is to add a subtle personal look and atmosphere but at the same time retain some of the documentary quality, so it's a balance. As my photography is partly about "showing the non-obvious" I can't transform an inconspicuous scene into some conspicuous. I also find it more satisfying to shoot in those special conditions which provide special colors, such as a damp autumn forest after a rain in overcast weather, if the post-processing retains a documentary quality so those conditions actually look special in comparison to normal conditions also in my images. I have no problem with people making creative transforming post-processing though, it's also an art in its own, it's just not suiting my goals.

ErikKaffehr

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Re: Let's talk images (keeping the thread alive)
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2016, 01:10:39 PM »

Hi,

This is an image I made a couple of days ago. My first after work walk, as days start to get long enough for some picture taking after work.

I got interested in the two trees and the farmhouse in the background. Tried to find a good vantage point and came up with this one. I hoped I could use my Canon 24/3.5 TSE and use some shift, but I also had a 16-35/4 to fall back on.

Tried to find a spot where the flagpole was not obliterated by tree branches. I could not fit the full subject in the shifted 24 mm frame, so I turned the camera vertical and made three exposure that I could stitch into one image. I very often do this.

Stitching was quick and dirty in LR CC 2015.4.

The image was tamed using some gradients in LR, see attached screen dumps.

stamper

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2016, 04:53:55 AM »

A very interesting thread. In another thread I stated that I couldn't relate to people like Henri Cartier Bresson and his ilk with respect to learning but I preferred the modern approach. This thread provides that and is instructional. No nastiness, nitpicking or bitching yet so hopefully it can progress and I/we can learn some more? :)

Rob C

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2016, 10:31:46 AM »

Hi Anders,

Thanks for comments and thanks for sharing!

I guess that we apply different amount of processing to our images. Personally, I feel that I want my pictures to look credible. So they don't need to be a good reproduction but I don't want to make way to much processing.

I have a great respect for you approach.

To give an example, this image may be overprocessed, but I feel it is a good representation of what I saw:


This image is a bit overprocessed, but there was a great drama that no stills can reproduce. The processing here was quite a bit more than what I would usually do, but I felt that it was OK as I needed to show the dramatic play of light.


Best regards
Erik


I like the golden, cloudy peaks one very much indeed - the one I think you thought was over-processed.

I don't; I think it's absolutely right for the subject.

And there one of the problems: it's fairly clear to me that the interest in this zone of LuLa is all about technical things such as stitching etc., with huge images with maximum detail and so forth. But, many of these seem, to me, absolutely dead in the water. Yep, great 'technique' but dearth of soul.

I can't escape from the old adage about a fuzzy concept...

I appreciate that this is a purely personal take; it neither makes my observation right nor wrong - just mine.

It seems very rare to find both ends of the photographic spectrum present in any one image from anyone.

Rob C

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #15 on: March 12, 2016, 10:39:13 AM »

Hi Rob,

Your thoughts are always appreciated!

Best regards
Erik



I like the golden, cloudy peaks one very much indeed - the one I think you thought was over-processed.

I don't; I think it's absolutely right for the subject.

And there one of the problems: it's fairly clear to me that the interest in this zone of LuLa is all about technical things such as stitching etc., with huge images with maximum detail and so forth. But, many of these seem, to me, absolutely dead in the water. Yep, great 'technique' but dearth of soul.

I can't escape from the old adage about a fuzzy concept...

I appreciate that this is a purely personal take; it neither makes my observation right nor wrong - just mine.

It seems very rare to find both ends of the photographic spectrum present in any one image from anyone.

Rob C

ErikKaffehr

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #16 on: March 12, 2016, 10:40:49 AM »

Thanks for comments on thread!

Best regards
Erik

A very interesting thread. In another thread I stated that I couldn't relate to people like Henri Cartier Bresson and his ilk with respect to learning but I preferred the modern approach. This thread provides that and is instructional. No nastiness, nitpicking or bitching yet so hopefully it can progress and I/we can learn some more? :)

Rob C

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2016, 05:55:04 AM »

To dismay the purists:



;-)

Rob C

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2016, 11:56:18 AM »

Finally shot both the waste plastics selection plant (I was scounting when I posted here), as well as the adjacent plastic bottle recycling plant.



It was quite the challenge as I never shot inside a factory before. Moving around with safety gear wasn't much of an issue as I thought it would be, and having two bodies was a huge time saver as I used only the 10-20mm and the 50mm for tighter shots.



The day was heavy overcast with light rain, so it was very bad outside with really flat lighting. It didn't help inside either, on top of the weird lamps they had with massive green cast. There was no way to add lighting without having to rent equipment that was way out of my budget, and being a one man army also meant I couldn't waste too much time setting things up. Both factories were cleaned up for a big press event from 11AM to 1PM, but they weren't ready before 9:30AM so I had to work as quickly as possible in just one hour and a half. This meant no tripod either (which would've been useless in many places anyway, as well as a big safety issue).



Because of the weird light I had to shoot mostly between ISO 400 and 800, but I knew that a good exposure and a bit of overexposure would've saved me in post noise wise. I fired off a few shots and reviewed them in a well lit place, and I liked the noise grain I was getting, so I kept on going stopping only for talking with the workers and pose a few of them.



As I said, the light was weird (but not everywhere), so I had to do a lot of masking and color correction in Photoshop to make the colors as neutral as possible. There are still some spots where it can't be helped, as the sensor just didn't pick up much else besides green, and desaturating would make it look worse. It's a subtle thing that one doesn't even notice with naked eyes, but our brain is too good at making reality look much better than it is.





Keeping the lines straight was really hard, most of all because so many things weren't straight at all. Starting from pillars and ceilings and ending to some support beams for the machines. They looked straight, but after reviewing the pictures I went back and noticed they were not. Most of the time it's not evident as I tried to make everything look as good as possible with all kinds of perspective corrections, but there were some pictures, like this one below, that required more work: the yellow line at the bottom was visibly tilted with everything else aligned, so I had to cut it and adjust it separately before extensive cloning and healing to make it all seamless.



In the end the client was extremely satisfied and I am too. It was an intense half day (I covered the press event and subsequent visit to both plants as well), but it was well worth it. Having more time and possibly a helping hand I would definitely try to use additional lights and maybe some more compositing to make both places look more alive. Maybe next time.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2016, 04:20:47 PM by razrblck »
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Let's talk images
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2016, 04:10:17 PM »

Thanks for sharing!

Some very nice images and interesting to hear more about them. Nice to hear your customer is happy!

The first two images are compelling, I would say. The other ones are OK, too.

Best regards
Erik


Finally shot both the waste plastics selection plant (I was scounting when I posted here), as well as the adjacent plastic bottle recycling plant.
...
In the end the client was extremely satisfied and I am too. It was an intense half day (I covered the press event and subsequent visit to both plants as well), but it was well worth it. Having more time and possibly a helping hand I would definitely try to use additional lights and maybe some more compositing to make both places look more alive. Maybe next time.
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