Portraits – B&W

Black and White portraits are often the most intriguing. This however will make greater demands on composition.

Black and White photos have greater potential for contrast and with this potential, the composition can in monochrome print allow the viewer to see the colors and hues which they fancy. Several photographers I know have black and white photos I have seen and when some time later we talked about them, I described them in color. They looked at me confused and verified that we were talking about the same photo by discussing the features of the photo’s subject and elements. Seeing a black and white photo in color is not a gauge on whether the photo is properly composed, but something which viewers may experience where exposure and composition are well done.

One of my favorite fall shots is from above the subject as they are seated on a thick grassy lawn, looking up toward the camera which uses the grass and fall colored leaves as a background!

However, since we are on the topic of black and white photos, how can we capture this same stunning color composition in black and white?

First, it is important to have the best clarity possible and this is achieved with a high-end lens. If you are using a consumer level camera which cannot alternate lenses, do not worry, it should do well for you.

Second, work diligently to make sure the focus is absolutely set on the eyes. If there is one thing that must be in total focus it must be the eyes.

Third, some editing may be done to a black and white photo to add color. \"Bird-Owl This photo illustration is a perfect example; digitally signed by Chris D. Jones, this photo draws from the contrast of the black and white giving definition to the feathers, the clarity is displayed in the eye and draws your attention with the iris color.

Enjoy!

Camera Troubles – Part 6

What can I see that my camera does not?

There is not an easy way to answer this question, although I will say to say that our visual capability can not be directly and equally compared to the output of film or digital cameras.

Our sight is taken in motion whereas photographs are still images possibly showing movement by blur or subtle indications of motion. So while we may remember a certain pose, facial expression or scenery of a person or place we appreciate as if the memory were a still photograph does not mean our Eye and Brain receives these memories in just such a way.

Video recorders are truly much like cameras in this way that they capture motion or movement in 72 still frames a second or more. A video recorder more closely resembles our vision in that it records motion in so many frames.

Beyond multiple frames to give the illusion of complete motion, our vision is affected by the ability to change so quickly between seeing detail in the shadows from previously inspecting the details lit by broad daylight.

From observing myself and questioning what I see and how I see it, I believe now to better understand the difference of what I see and how I can operate my camera to photograph a scene as I see it.

I see: the bright sunlight streaming through the ceiling of tree leaves, illuminating the grass and garden floor in a brilliant array of color. As I continue to observe and breathe in the wonder of the contrast and illuminated detail, I begin to notice more detail which remained hidden until I had gotten close enough to notice for the first time.

This is done in photography in several ways. Let me begin with the best and quickest being the first.

  1. Simplicity – Photography studios will set-up the portrait studio with solid color backdrop and lighting to evenly light the subject while still allowing some shadow to remain but lighting enough to see detail in both shadowed and lit areas. This is the effect of many additional flashes.
  2. Specific detail – Scenery which cannot be reproduced or moved in-studio must be shot as is. This requires additional flashes or shooting 3 or more photos  from the same place and position of varying shutter lengths and putting them together in HDR format. (For more on HDR, please see our blog posts “High Dynamic Range” and “The Make-up Of An HDR Photo“.)

So it is not that our cameras cannot reproduce something similar to what we see, but that we have some understanding of how we can enable it to see. There are no quick and simple steps to follow for every camera to shoot fantastic photos. I wish there were! Though if this were the case I believe we would have lost some of the adventure in photography.

It can be this simple though, to know that the camera does not as quickly adjust its Lens Diaphragm and Sensor to see detail in shadow and light as do our Iris and Retina. Thus we seek to separate detail we want captured per photo by the varying amounts of light in its surroundings.

Photography truly is an amazing art. The amazement is not intrinsic to itself, but because it is base off of our visual ability which we are blessed to have received from the kind Providence who created us and the world we love to photograph.

Thank you for reading! I pray you have learned and enjoyed reading as much as I have in writing!

Camera Troubles – Part 3

The Correlation Of Physical Human Vision And Photography Camera truly makes a lot of sense when the purpose of each part is clearly explained!

As we have studied in the last two blog posts (Camera Troubles & Camera Troubles – Part 2) the camera Lens is comparable to our Cornea, Iris and Pupil. The Lens glass is designed to focus and adjust for telephoto. The camera Lens is comprised of at-least two pieces of glass (I say “at-least” because there are “Prime Focal Lenses” and “Variable Distance Lenses” which we call “Zoom lenses”.), the first being the lens we can see and should refrain from touching; the second being capable of moving microscopic distances for the purpose of focusing.

Perhaps this is a bit more theory than anyone would choose to know. Although I would not be writing this series of posts if I did not believe this information would benefit you as you daily take joy in photographing your life and the wonderful moments with your loved ones.

In side the camera Lens is the Diaphragm adjusted in stops which we photographers call “f/stop” or “Aperture”. The solid and flat construction of the Diaphragm is a little hard to explain, but let me tell you about its purpose; it is designed to adjust the opening in small amounts to regulate the saturation of light to reach the Sensor. This is the same purpose that our Iris serves by regulating the size of our Pupil and allowing just the right amount of light to pass onto our Retina.

The camera’s Sensor is a sensitive piece of equipment because it is made to be able to see things in relatively low lit situations. In fact I would say that the Sensor is the most delicate pieces of a camera when subjected to light. If anyone remembers the days of film photography, the Sensor in our digital cameras are the modern replacement of film. Do you remember looking for the right “film speed” and handling one film set after another? Oh the questions I had; and the answers I received were such an education! The camera Sensor and its inspiration our Retina (even the original film) are designed to be sensitive to light, leaving temporary impressions to be received into our memory.

There is a notable difference between our Eye and a camera’s Sensor system. The difference is this, Our Eye sees things in continuous motion and high rates of speed (something along the lines of video), whereas the camera is designed to see things as individual momentary pieces of halted time.

This is a lot of fun to discover new things about our camera! There is more to discover about the camera and some specifics as to how we can get the best out of them. Stay focused; we will capture some more details later this week!

Camera Troubles

I am frequently asked about how to adjust camera settings to reduce motion blur for photos. In each case I try to learn one thing; “How much light enters the camera lens?”

Let me see if I can bring technical specifics down to a lower altitude for us to work on without the fear of nose bleeds.

Taking photos is not all so different from looking at those beautiful scenes we are so blessed to wander through, savoring the grace and delicacy of the garden. However, I would not deceive you, there are some very specific differences between our Eye, Optic Nerves and Brains as compared to camera lenses, censors and processors.

Let me start this post set with a discussion on the make-up and structure of our vision.

Our Eye takes in a lot of information, filtering it through a complex network of cones, rods, blood vessel and finally to an Optic Nerve situated at the back of the Eyeball. This only begins the wondrous process we call “sight”.

As the Optic Nerve receives the information from the Eye, it begins informing the Brain through neurological pulses. The brain then both processes and stores the information.

So, to simplify that chain process down to a basic form is this: Eye to Optical nerve to Brain.

Now, please stay with me, we will be looking at some details within the eye that will later be applicable to cameras.

The Eye is very complex and since I am not an Optometrist I will not pretend to know every detail. The basics we will benefit in knowing are these:

  • The Eye Lid, protects from injury, cleans the Eye of debris and is a front line defense to direct sunlight.
  • The lens of the Eye is called the “Cornea”. It slightly changes shape, with the aid of muscles behind the Eye Lid, to form the properly curved angle for the purpose of focusing on objects near or far.
  • Underneath the Cornea are the Pupil and Iris. It is very easy to start talking about both the human Eye and cameras right now, but I choose to remain on optic…I mean, topic. The Iris is the colored “ring” and the part of the Eye from which we discern the “Eye color”. It contains at-least one muscle which constricts the inner opening of the Eye (the Pupil) when you step out-of-doors and into the sun. The muscle or muscles will also relax and the Iris opens allowing the Eye to receive more light.
  • I just made a statement about the Eye receiving more light, which in a manner of speaking is true. However, there is a part of the Eye called the “Retina” which is the specific receptacle of light. The Retina is very sensitive to light and will easily burn if not protected by the Eye Lid and Iris.
  • The Optic Nerve is next in process from the Retina, sending the neurological pulses received from the Retina to the Brain.
  • The Brain receives the neurological pulses from the Optic Nerve and catalogs those pulses in its own magnificent way.

This article is already pretty long, so I will bring it to a close and bring you “Part 2” on Friday. Before we close though I would like to bring out one last thought.

When you step into a dark area from a well-lit place, it takes your eyes a measure of time to adjust. For some people their eyes adjust faster than others while others employ methods which seem to speed the process along. One way I have heard effective is closing the Eye Lid during the transition.

Have you noticed in a low light situation, quick or faster motions do not seem as smooth or  connected? At the very least in low light situations quick or faster motions are more easily concealed.

I hope this Friday to make the mystery of the “pesky camera” plain.

Stay focused.