We usually like our landscapes to be perfect. Trees to be green, skies are blue, etc. This time I try to process the photo so that the tones are cool, and there is heavy flare in the middle of the photo, giving it a little twist from the typical landscape photos.
I am actually very satisfied with the outcome. A perfect sunset in Prague.
I have always been trying to improve my photography skills, and I have reached a wall where I don’t seem to be able to further push my skills. I showed my portfolio to my instructors in OUHK, and all of them gave me very similar advice, break the rules.
All of them thinks that my technical skills are pretty much up to scratch, what can add the “x-factor” to my work is to break all the rules I have learnt, the composition rules, the white balance, the shutter speed/aperture size, the focus…. Stop being “correct” and let things happen.
This is my current challenge for myself, be wrong and shoot freely. The above shot was actually taken before my challenge, yet I guess it is a good start for myself. These types of shots only make up 0.1% of my portfolio, but I will try to shoot like this more. Somehow the above shot looks very interesting, something very unlike my usual works, yet gives a great feel to it. Wish me luck as I try to break my boundaries, and take my shooting to another level.
I just got a copy of the new Lightroom last week, and started using their new developing tools. At first I thought it is more of a renaming exercise, where the “recovery” bar is gone… yet after a while, I realise the changes made a lot of sense, and its much more intuitive to use.
The above photo was post-processed in LR only, reducing the highlights by almost -100 (this automatically did the recovery a la Lr3). Also I boosted the shadows by around 30. Added a graduated exposure filter for the sky, boosted the clarity and vibrance. This got me a slight HDR feel with high contrast and strong colours. Obviously the beautiful scenery of the New Swan Castle also helped.
Give it a go with the new Lightroom, you may actually like it over the existing version.
Whilst walking around Prague during my Europe trip last year trying to get a good landscape on the Vltara River with the bridges, I saw 3 teenagers sitting on a low wall. With a wide angle lens (24-70mm f2.8L), I quickly shot a few frames of this interesting view. I captured the bridges on Vltara River, giving the photo some background. The subjects were showing a relaxed and happy sentiment, even thought we cannot see much of their faces.
The challenge to take good street photography is not only capturing the moment of your subjects, but also to be aware of the surrounding environment, the background, the sky etc. You have to make quick decisions and execute, it all comes down to practice, practice, review and practice…
When you are learning photography, be it from a teacher or reading from books, flare is usually categorized as one of those “minimize as much as possible” type of effects. It reduces the photo’s contrasts and leaves a circular spot in your frame. You are always told to use lens hoods to avoid flares, and try not to shoot at the sun or bright lights directly. Of course there are also great expensive lenses with different coatings which can also reduce the flare…
However, to me I think flare is just part of photography, I agree that it can be distracting, but sometimes it helps to convey the light source’s strength and warmth. It also adds the theatrical or cinematic feel to a photo, maybe its not a bad thing afterall.
This maybe very cliche, but rules are there to be broken. Once you have acquired the fundamental skills, try to step outside your comfort zone. Shoot in a way that everyone says it will not work, maybe it works for you and you can come up with great results.
Another HDR attempt, this time its a more surrealistic panorama of Prague. Again I manage to get the sun beams through the clouds with this 3 photo HDR. There is also the silver lining with the chapel on the the horizon.
The composition worked is because the foreground is filled with the Prague buildings, and the small subject in the background actually stood out with the less colourful silhouette outline. The background of the clouds with the sun beam makes the total framing.
We see a lot of HDR photos on the net, and most of them have exaggerated colours. What about HDR in B/W? I am never a big fan of HDR as I am not a post-processing fanatic. I like to frame my photos during my shoot, and try to achieve the final shot almost straight out of the camera. Of course at this digital age, it is always tempting to boost the contrast here, correct some saturation there, tuning the curves and levels in PS etc. Yet I am a strong believer of pre-shot planning rather than post-shot processing.
The above photo was taken in Prague, and it is an 3 stop HDR without tripod. I manage to capture the sun beams through the clouds which in the the low exposure shot. I only used the Photoshop HDR merge function rather than Photo Matix or other plug-ins.
Never tried HDR? Go ahead and search on YouTube and there will be millions of tutorials on this topic, you may not use it all the time, but it is certainly handy to equip yourself with different techniques to make sure you have the largest chance to capture the perfect shot.