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Photography forum image of the month – July 2012

Every month on our pho­tog­ra­phy forum mem­bers nom­i­nate images that they like. Then at the end of the month I choose an excel­lent image and talk about why it rocks. The photo I choose is not nec­es­sar­ily the best one of the month. I’ve come to real­ize it’s not really log­i­cal to pit images from totally dif­fer­ent gen­res against each other. That’s why there are cat­e­gories in photo con­tests. I just choose a photo that has extremely strong ele­ments that we can learn from.

Pink by Barefoot

Pink by Barefoot

This month’s choice is Pink by Barefoot

I chose this image for sev­eral reasons:

1 — Com­po­si­tion — The is a very inter­est­ing and unusual com­po­si­tion of a gor­geous bird sleep­ing. I really like the curve all around the bird’s body and where the eye falls in the image. The fram­ing is also inter­est­ing here and Bare­foot has clearly ‘made this his own’. The pure black back­ground also cre­ates inter­est­ing neg­a­tive space here.

2 — Light­ing — The lovely light­ing here is soft over­all and reveals lovely detail in most of the bird’s plumage. That said, cer­tain areas of the pho­to­graph are quite dark but not too dark for my eye. I really like the dra­matic aspect of the light in those selec­tive zones.

3 — Post pro­cess­ing — The post pro­cess­ing here is lovely. Mak­ing the back­ground go to pure black doesn’t always work but it works very well here to com­pli­ment the form of the bird. I dare say that some of the darker areas in the bird’s plumage actu­ally match the back­ground and this works for me. The bird is ren­dered in desat­u­rated tones that I find very strik­ing and suit­able to the sub­ject and mood of the image.

For all these rea­sons, this is my choice for image of the month. Since we all have opin­ions, some mem­bers may dis­agree with my choice. That’s cool but THIS thread is not the place for debate over my pick, NOR is it the place to fur­ther cri­tique the image. The pur­pose here is to sug­gest strong ele­ments in the photo that we may learn from.

Con­grats again Barefoot!

Essential and Advanced Filters for Creative and Outdoor Photography — E-book Review

A few months ago Dar­win Wiggett and Saman­tha Crysan­thou Pub­lished an e-book called Essen­tial and Advanced Fil­ters for Cre­ative and Out­door Pho­tog­ra­phy.  You may think that with dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy the need for fil­ters is over and you would be mis­taken in think­ing this.

Cer­tain fil­ters like the polar­iz­ing fil­ter are essen­tial and at the time of this writ­ing, the effect of this fil­ter (which stays on my lens 95% of the time that I shoot out­doors in the day) is best achieved with an actual fil­ter on the lens. Although I have seen digital-effect polar­iz­ing fil­ters that you apply when post-processing an image, they suck when com­pared to the real thing. Dar­win and Saman­tha pro­vide awe­somely clear images and expla­na­tions as to why this fil­ter is essen­tial, how and when to use it cre­atively and when not to use it. This fil­ter is so impor­tant that a good 20% of the book is devoted to it. This sec­tion alone is worth the 10 dol­lars that they are charg­ing for the e-book.

Two other kinds of essen­tial fil­ters that Dar­win and Saman­tha talk about a great deal are grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity fil­ters and neu­tral den­sity fil­ters. The pur­pose of grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity fil­ters is to reduce the con­trast in a scene (like a clipped sky) because when a scene is too con­trasty the cam­era can not record all the tones even though our eye may see them. The fil­ters are nor­mally made of glass or plas­tic and are usu­ally shaded at one end and clear at the other end. Neu­tral den­sity fil­ters are solid coloured and are mainly used to make shut­ter speeds longer to achieve cre­ative blur­ring effects. This sec­tion of the book also has awe­some (fil­tered and non-filtered for com­par­i­son) images and crys­tal clear expla­na­tions on how to use these filters.

The final sec­tion of the book is ded­i­cated to addi­tional fil­ters that can add pop to your images as well as talk­ing about tech­ni­cal con­sid­er­a­tions like colour casts and noise reduction.

This e-book is fab and well worth the ten dol­lars. The only thing I might debate in this book is call­ing the neu­tral grad fil­ters essen­tial. I feel they are essen­tial only in cer­tain very impor­tant  cases. They are essen­tial if you want to spend less time in front of your com­puter post-processing your images, because your images will already have the con­trast con­trol built into the expo­sure. If you are already excel­lent at the HDR tech­nique, (tak­ing mul­ti­ple frames of the iden­ti­cal image with dif­fer­ent expo­sures and then blend­ing them in soft­ware) then these fil­ters are not essen­tial because you can achieve a sim­i­lar goal using HDR. That said, even if you know the HDR tech­nique well, grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity fil­ters are still use­ful (per­haps even essen­tial) when the scene is con­trasty and involves movement.

It may come as no sur­prise that I highly rec­om­mend this 65 page e-book. Dar­win and Saman­tha are vet­eran pho­tog­ra­phers and teach­ers, write super-clearly and their pics really illus­trate the cre­ative effect these fil­ters have. This is an easy read with an easy on the eyes design. It’s a great e-book to have with you on your smart­phone or tablet for cre­ative inspi­ra­tion while in the field. It’s also a fab resource when you are think­ing about which of these fil­ters to buy.

This book can be pur­chased directly from Dar­win and Sam’s site.