Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Photography Tip Tuesday - What the Crop!

What the Crop! - Understanding Aspect Ratios

4:3; 1:1; 1:1.5; 2:1; 3:1; 16:9 - What does all this mean????

In the past we lived in an 35mm film world.

The 35mm film frame was a 1:1.5 ratio. The exact size of the film frame was 36mmx24mm. This fits a 5x7 and 4x6 print size perfectly.

In the past our televisions were 4:3 ratio. All that has changed. Our lives are now 16:9 with widescreen televisions and computer screens, we are changing the way we look at images.

My portraits, for the most part, are still printed in standard aspect ratios. Landscapes are a different story. I prefer wider images for my landscape work. Although I will throw in a square crop every now then if it fits the scene.

Let's take a look at some examples.

This photograph of Cathedral Falls in Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, was photographed with the intention of being a 3:1 photograph. The waterfall is a tall waterfall and in order to give a feeling of its size I used a 3:1 aspect ratio. Another contributing factor to this is the fact that this is a panorama using 36 photographs to create the final photograph.

Here is Spaceship Earth at Walt Disney World's EPCOT Center. This is cropped in a square aspect ratio. The choice for this aspect ratio was based on the fact that not using a square crop would have left many elements that would likely detract from the subject of this photograph.

One final example. This was photographed the a few days ago. The Ohio River was icing over at its banks and due to the extreme cold, fog was rising off the river. I wanted to photograph a very low angle so I set my camera right on the ice. This created a blurry foreground that added nothing to the image. The ice is also very bright and draws your eye away from the center of the image.

I wanted to include as much of the rest scene as possible. When I settled on a final crop, I used a 2:1 aspect ratio.

Using aspect ratios like 1:1, 2:1 and 3:1 can still be printed on standard photographic paper by a reputable lab. Therefore having your images printed in these aspect ratios is not an issue. Framing them is a little more difficult. You can always buy a standard frame and have a custom mat cut if you don't want to have a custom frame size made.

Using different aspect ratios to crop your images allows you to remove distracting elements, bring attention to your subject, and infer scale to your subject. So next time you use your crop tool, try a different aspect ratio. The results may surprise you!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Photo Tip Tuesday - Keeping a Level Head

So what does the vestibular system of the ear have to do with photography?  Have you ever looked at the horizon at the beach, a tall building or any other straight line? With your vision they always look straight.  In a photograph, your eye is naturally drawn to things that seem "out of place".  This includes horizons or things that should be straight that aren't. Let me show you some examples and see what you think. Let's start off with something with a definite horizon.  Here is a picture of Jeanette's Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina.  When I took this photo, I was using my tripod.  I still managed to not have the photograph perfectly level.  It feels uncomfortable, almost like you could roll of the left side.  This photograph was only off 1.4 degrees.  That is not very much, yet it stands out like a sore thumb when you really look at it. Roll your mouse over the image to see the difference.  So lets take a look at a building with vertical lines.  This is Cora Mill that used to stand in Gallia County, Ohio.  Again this was shot on a tripod but I was not perfectly level.  The mill is 1.2 degrees off. The mill looks like it is tipping to the right.Roll your mouse over the image to see the difference.  Here is an example from soccer season. The goal is crooked. This one is off about 2 degrees. Again, mouse over the image to see the changes. While these are very subtle changes, it is the difference between a good photograph and a great photograph Getting this correct in camera is the best way to do this. If you are using a tripod, some tripod heads have a built in level. If not, you can get a hot shoe bubble level. Many new cameras however, have a level built in to the viewfinder. Correcting horizons or vertical lines is very easy. Most basic editing software allows you to adjust your image. Basic editors may not give you precise control. I use Adobe Lightroom and find the grid overlay when adjusting the angle very helpful. Here is a view of the crop tool in Adobe Lightroom. Adobe Lightroom and many other editors have an angle tool that you can drag along a vertical or horizontal line to correct the angle. Keeping a level head isn't limited to regular cameras. I often take pictures with my iPhone or iPad. The Apple IOS allows you to adjust your photograph's angle, but I prefer Snapseed. Here is a photograph from my iPhone. The horizon is obviously not level. Using the Straighten feature in Snapseed, I can correct the level of the horizon. Remember, keep your head level and take a few extra seconds to straighten your photographs. Enjoy, Chris

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Smoke on the River

We are experiencing very cold temperatures the last few days.  With the extremely cold air temperatures and the river water being warmer, you get a weather phenomena called "Sea Smoke".  The wind is blowing this smoke across the river today.

With sub-zero temperatures and a wind chill in the -30 degree range, be sure to bundle up and stay warm.


Friday, January 3, 2014

First Snow of 2014

Yesterday was the first snow of the 2014.  By the time enough snow had accumulated the light was gone.  Checking the forecast I knew it should be clear this morning for sunrise.  The Gallipolis City Park was decorated very nicely for the Christmas season with some new light displays.  I had not gotten lighting I had been hoping for to photograph the park after it was decorated.  So this morning I got up early to see how much snow we had gotten.  Much to my surprise we had gotten about 3 inches.  Enough to cover the grass.  It was a little before sunrise and the sky was very clear(it was very cold out too).  I grabbed the camera and tripod and headed to town to see what I could photograph.  The skies were still dark but headed to that deep blue just before daylight.  I found the angles that I liked and took a few pictures.

The first angle was standing along the sidewalk.  I wanted to capture the light post on the right along with some of the lights in the tree.  Luckily I arrived before anyone had walked on the sidewalk leading up to the Bandstand.

Next I wanted to capture the more of the lights in the trees and the large fir tree that sits in the park.  In order to do this I actually was setup with my tripod in the middle of First Avenue.  Luckily traffic was sparse.

Enjoy the snow today, take it easy on the roads.