Fog; the Photographer’s Friend

Water in any form makes image more interesting, even if it makes the process of shooting them less comfortable. But fog is the king of image effects, and locations offering fog should be worked for the best time and effects. The first image below uses the depth of vision limitation of fog very effectively to make a shot that is usually about a beautiful ocean view speak instead about mystery and the unknown. The mix of cool and warm colors created by the incandescent lights in the otherwise cool fog scene is also an effective contrast.

Acadia Fog-1

But fog also makes for effective black and white images, with creamy grays. The image below offers a somewhat similar mood to the color shot above, but its black and white rendition creates a more classic result. Neither one are the traditional Maine Coast Postcard, they bring a bit more creativity to the table, which is often the key to catching a customer’s eye.

Acadia Fog2-1

C. David Tobie

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Image Memory and Photography

We are told that photography is a universal collective, each new iconic image informs us all, changes the way we see the world, and our own photography. I have had too many occurrences of that to doubt it. Here is one particularly uncanny example. The movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s is certainly burned into our collective culture, but I was not consciously aware of the black and white still images that had been shot to promote the movie. Yet, after a session with an Italian model, I found something nagging in the back of my mind. What was it that was familiar about these images? An on-line search turned up the Tiffany’s promotion stills, and answered that question. Here are the movie promo stills:

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 3.19.19 PM

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 3.20.01 PM

And here are sample shots from the session, nearly half a century later.

Tiffany2-1

Tiffany3-1

C. David Tobie

Off Season Photo Scouting

Part of landscape photography is the scouting of possible locations, and noting the best time of year, time of day, and weather conditions for shooting in each spot. However, this constant judging of the ideal can blind us to the beauty of the moment. The shot included with this article was taken in February, hardly the ideal month for photography in Tuscany. And it would be easy to become caught up in what the summer light, and the blooming roses, would do for this facade.

TuscanWinter-1

However there are aspects of this scouting shot that make it an interesting image in its own right. The hint of winter sky reflected in the window adds context. The Miller’s Thumb prospering by the steps, despite the season, adds life to the image, and the copper compounds sprayed on the rose bushes leaves a wonderful turquoise tint, that highlights the wintery forms of the bare rose bushes. The classic stone and brick colors of Tuscany are also different, under the cooler light. Overall this forms a palette of Tuscan Winter colors unique from the Summer colors we are accustomed to associating with Tuscany.

C. David Tobie

Comparison: How Using a Lensbaby Affects Photography

I recently had the opportunity to shoot with my long-distance friend David Saffir. We are usually thousands of miles apart, so this was a great chance to work side-by-side. One of the goals of the shoot was for David to experience Lensbaby’s lenses and macro attachments, and since the upcoming webinar Datacolor is co-sponsoring with Lensbaby is on floral photography, we went to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, as a prime location for shooting native California flowers, as well as landscapes.

When reviewing images after the shoot, I was struck by a pair of shots of the same view across Mission Canyon. David Saffir’s image was taken with the Fujifilm X-Pro1, with the 35mm f/1.4 lens. Mine was shot with the Canon 5D Mark lll, with a Lensbaby Composer lens. Comparing the two images is a good opportunity to analyze Lensbaby photography; highlighting some of its unique features.

Final Image by David Saffir

Final Image by David Saffir

Lets start with the “straight” photo, shot with the X-Pro1. David cropped this image to what he felt was the best composition. The slightly hazy air, and its effect on the shaded portion on the opposite canyon wall was part of what had drawn his attention to this scene, along with the powerful silhouetting of the foreground tree trunks, and their dramatically lit leaves. Here the eye moves around the composition, following the dark lines created by the tree trunks and limbs, and settles on the leaves, and finally on the little vignette of the trees on the far side later in the examination of the image. This is how traditional landscape photography controls the eye of the viewer to draw it to the areas of interest.

Final Lensbaby image, by CDTobie

Final Lensbaby image, by CDTobie

Now, lets compare this to the Lensbaby shot. Here the branch with the orange leaves has been placed in the center of the image, where the sharp focal zone occurs, making it a more important part of the composition. And the sun has been placed where it will shine through the trees, producing a dazzling effect. So, even standing side-by-side, the intended compositions are somewhat different. But in both images the small story of the delicate tracery of branches on the far wall of the canyon is important. However, with the Lensbaby image, further emphasis is placed on this scene, as well as on the branch of orange leaves in front of it, by the selective focus of the Lensbaby lens.

Center Detail, David Saffir's Image

Center Detail, David Saffir’s Image

Center Detail, CDTobie's Lensbaby Image

Center Detail, CDTobie’s Lensbaby Image

The outer regions of the “standard” image are as sharply focused as the central area, allowing the eye to move into and out of them at the same tempo as the center of the image, with only the content to control the eye movement. But in the Lensbaby shot, increasingly less focus, and more distortion, occurs in areas farther from the focal center. This creates an artistic blur effect that mimics the way the eye sees, making this image look “right” when the viewer is in the right range of distances from the image, and looking at the center of focus. To look elsewhere in the image is to view the blur that can’t usually be examined, as the focus of the eye moves as the viewer attempts to view these regions, bringing them into sharp focus as well. Here that does not happen, allowing the viewer to examine the peripheral regions, examining the blur and the stretching of the elements further out from the image center, which have a beauty all their own.

Off-Center Detail, David Saffir Image

Off-Center Detail, David Saffir Image

Off-Center Detail, CDTobie Lensbaby Image

Off-Center Detail, CDTobie Lensbaby Image

Both images are good compositions, and interesting images. The less literal and more poetic feel of the second image is caused almost entirely by the use of the Lensbaby lens. Not all viewers will be comfortable with this different way of seeing, but those with a more artistic view will immediately see the beauty of the Lensbaby version of the scene.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website: CDTobie.com   Return to Blog’s Main Page

Back By Special Request; More Tuscan Images

The response (mostly direct, but some on Facebook or WordPress) to yesterday’s sample of my “Through a Lens Darkly” images was gratifying; thank you all. I have processed several more today, and will add a few below. The link to see the whole collection on my photo website is here: CDTobie.com. I plan to cover a wide array of image types over time, this is just the first set to be highlighted here. Others are in process, or awaiting processing time. Buon Appetito!

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website: CDTobie.com   Return to Blog’s Main Page