Terms – Soft Focus

A soft focus leaves nothing in sharp focus keeping your subject partially obscured for the viewer’s imagination to fill-in.

Normally in a photo the focus would be sharpest at the point you want the viewer to look. So obviously total focus is not always desirable. Keep this in mind: the human eye will search out a point on which it can rest. The purpose for resting is not important now but to know this is huge.

A resting point for the human eye is important so keep your focal point in context.

Search for yourself and find some examples to illustrate your findings through research.

I have found that the eye is looking for the point with the most detail and least distraction. This leads me to believe that the point closest to fully focused (if properly achieved) should be a type of funnel apex. While this makes the most sense logically it may not always work out as intended because of the effects of lighting, contrast and other factors.

I was once told there were four steps to building habits that can be applied to such things as finding the right portrait locations and photographic practices. These steps are:

  1. Unknowingly ignorant
  2. Consciously ignorant
  3. Consciously implemented
  4. Unknowingly implemented

It is “Okay” to make mistakes. It is “Okay” to even repeat mistakes that you do not know are being made. This is giving you the opportunity to consider a possibility in refining your skill and work. This may be your help to see that you are halfway to being a better photographer!

If you choose to make some changes when mistakes are called to your attention and consciously fix or avoid the problem, you have made it to step 3! Keep it up because all that is necessary for step 4 (unconsciously implementing the solution) is consistent good practice!

Portraits – Perspective

In the field of Photography, the word perspective comes up every now and again, but what is it and how can it better my photos? Good questions! I will answer one at a time.

What is “Perspective”? For an example I would like to illustrate an a subject with an immovable object like a tree. For illustrative purposes say this tree is a sapling about your height with strong and well-formed branches. Now a practical explanation of “Perspective” is looking at the tree from the side, below, top or anywhere in-between. Please do not misunderstand, “Perspective” is not only speaking to the “X” or vertical axis (from top to bottom) but also the “Y” or horizontal axis (side to side).

Now a tree does not so well show good reason for taking a different perspective side to side, but what if this tree were replaced in your viewing frame with a human subject? A human is not symmetrical like a tree and because of this fact, moving to one side or another can add or subtract from the viewers interest.

This leads into the second question, “How can ‘Perspective’ better my photos?” Take as an example a simple, straight on portrait as compared to a portrait taken slightly from the side with their head turned toward you. Not that there is a problem with the straight on portrait, however the perspective change can be a useful addition to the photographer’s tool-box.

This is one of the reasons that photographers will have subjects sit at a funny angle to them and then have the subject turn their shoulders one direction and have the subject look toward them. Now perhaps the strange “contortions” or poses will make some more sense at your next portrait session. *Grin* Enjoy!

Inspiration

Thomas A. Edison, who is hailed to be a genius, we all know to be a renowned inventor in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, once said “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

So, do not be discouraged with a lacking of inspiration! I want to encourage you with a few insights into what a lot of people think are situations totally different from their own. That being said, I want to disclose we are human too, or at-least I am; so inspiration comes at the same rate and cost to me as everyone else.

Now I will tell you some things about myself in disclosure, however this is not “full disclosure” because quite frankly it is not necessary, nor is it going to aid this post. I do not apologize for anything about myself nor do I write this to offend anyone. I am inspired by a lot of things just as anyone else might be.

A specific time of inspiration is this; I sat in church singing from the hymn book. Yes I admit that I think about what I sing and sometimes during other events, like preaching. Sometimes these periods of thinking include inspiration, though being human they are “less often than not”.

“Waft it on the rolling tide: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Tell to sinners far and wide: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Sing, you islands of the sea; echo back, you ocean caves;
Earth shall keep her jubilee: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!”

“Okay, whatever. A bunch of stuff I hear at all churches. What is the inspiration” you ask?

“…Sing, you islands of the sea; echo back, ye ocean caves…” There is a lot more I can get into, but suffice it to say, the simple pictorial beauty in this written statement sets my mind to spinning.

I will let your mind spin and wander until Friday.

Camera Troubles – Part 5

There is one more part of the human Eye and camera that we have not covered. This is the process of the Data Transfer from the Sensor to the Storage media via the Processor.

The Data Transfer:

The human capability for vision is amazing because we think we understand it enough to duplicate the process, only to realize our duplication is much less efficient than our inspiration.

As soon as our Retina receives the light of our surroundings, beginning to send the neurological impulses to the Optic Nerve there is a process of Data Transfer initiated. The amazing thing about this Data Transfer is the amount of detail that can be recalled, or amounts of certain information which one can be trained to receive and recall.

Illustration of information recall: Military branches train their personnel to acquire a target and discern in an instant if it is friendly or hostile. After an operation, begin the reports from each member and with it the lists of information that is most important; number of personnel on the operation, enemy patrols encountered, branches to which the patrols are affiliated, shots fired, number of injuries…etc. There is a lot of information to take in with precious little time to do so. This information is primarily accumulated by sight and secondarily with the other 4 human senses.

The same for public servants. Police officers require the use of sight in making reports besides assessing the threat to the public and their own safety. Paramedics make reports with vital statistics of a patient from many different senses at the same time. Firemen and women are trained to take verbal queues before getting to the scene of an emergency to take their own assessment of the situation.

This is all gathering data. These mentioned public servants and military are trained not just to gather information but to recall it for the purpose of reporting the events as they happened. This Data is what I draw upon in likening it to the Data a camera receives.

When the sequence in a camera is initiated, the light received by the Sensor is converted into Data which is transferred  across thin metal conductors. However, here is where Data loss becomes a problem. The Sensor is made up of millions of little pixels which receive light. There is not adequate space to give each pixel its own dedicated metal conductor for Data Transfer, so there ends up being about 100,000 or more pixels attached to 1 metal conductor lead.

Even still it is incredible that with so much Data being Transferred there is not more Data loss in digital cameras.

In the next and last post for the “Camera Troubles” series, we will discuss the specifics of the digital camera limitations so that we can learn to capture the detail we want.