30 November 2011

"I'm not Black Like Barry White, no I am White Like Frank Black is." - Bloodhound Gang

If the title was confusing (blame the Bloodhound Gang), today's theme is black and white (B&W).  This seemed easy enough in theory to tackle, but as I found out, the lack of color really requires you to think a bit more about your shot.  Because of this, I relied on a bit of advice recently given to me saying "a good photo captures a moment, a great photo makes you see what the photographer saw, and the best do both simultaneously" - J.  Contrast seemed to be a key element in realizing a good B&W and I struggled to find it initially, but as time drew on I was able to snap some photos that turned out alright.  As I read about best practices for B&W, I interestingly found that shooting in RAW and color was ideal and then convert to B&W during post processing.  Since I am new to the game I stuck to JPEG, but still shot in color and used Aperture for B&W post processing.

ISO 100, 50mm, 0EV, f/2, 1/1600
ISO 100, 50mm, f/1.4, 1/1600
ISO 100, 50mm. 0EV, f/1.4, 1/4000

Lessons Learned:
  • Contrast baby!
  • Shoot in color and RAW and convert to B&W later.

    04 November 2011

    You're Shallow...You Have No Depth.

    Since I got my Canon T3i I have been obsessed with getting shots that have the subject in focus and everything else blurry.  I find the effect to be quite pleasing to the eye and it shows you what I wanted you to see.  This is known as DoF or Depth of Field and although relatively easy to achieve, it's quite hard to master the finer points.  Most of my photos where I want shallow DoF I use my Canon EF prime 50mm f/1.4 USM as it has a very low aperture value (f/1.4).  Essentially, the lower the f-stop, the more blurry everything but your subject will be, and higher f-stop means more in focus from foreground to background. I tend to run my camera in Av mode (Aperture Value) for most shots and have the propensity to stop it down to f/1.4 (wide open & fast) simply to achieve my desired shallow DoF result...bad move.  During sunny shots, WAY WAY WAY too much light is sucked in and the resulting image is overexposed and blown out.  Darker colors seem to fare well, but the lighter colors of sand or anything white look miserable.  To compensate for this (somewhat) I stopped the aperture up, made sure ISO was at 100, shutter speed was as fast as possible, and lowered my exposure compensation.  The results were hit and miss, but I did learn some valuable lessons and got some decent shots.

    ISO 100, 50mm, 0EV, f/1.4, 1/2500
    ISO 100, 50mm, 0EV, f/1.4, 1/800
    ISO 100, 50mm, -1.7EV, f/1.4, 1/4000
    ISO 100, 50mm, 0EV, f/1.4, 1/2500
    ISO 100, 50mm, 0EV, f/1.4, 1/1000

    Lessons Learned about Depth of Field:

    • The closer you are to the subject, the easier it is to achieve a shallow DoF.
    • The further your background is from your subject the easier it is to achieve blurry backgrounds.
    • Bright light is the enemy of a low f-stop, but can be managed.