Photography forum image of the month – May 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.

Male RTH Hummingbird by Mike Bons

Male RTH Hum­ming­bird by Mike Bons

This month’s choice is Male RTH Hum­ming­bird Mike Bons

I chose this image for sev­eral reasons:

Com­po­si­tion — The com­po­si­tion here is very pleas­ing. The bird’s eye lines up on right near one of the lines of the thirds which is visu­ally inter­est­ing. The plant and the bird are cap­tured on a diag­o­nal which is also visu­ally inter­est­ing. Bright­ness is very well han­dled here and I find no dis­trac­tions that bother me.

Colour — What a rich pleas­ing colour palette used here. The colours of the bird and the flower even seem to match. Reds in the flower might be a hint too bright and over­sat­u­rated for me, but I can eas­ily live with it.

Sharp­ness — I love how sharp the bird is here (espe­cially the eye and the beak) ver­sus the out of focus back­ground, it totally pops.

Exposure/lighting — Again both are well han­dled. The com­bi­na­tion of flash and ambi­ent light is what is freez­ing the bird in mid-feeding here. I like how the bird is well lit with­out being ‘over-lit’ by the flash.

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 Mike Bons for cap­tur­ing this lit­tle beauty.

F-16 Isn’t Magic

I’ve been giv­ing photo courses lately and I’m com­ing across a few points that peo­ple are reg­u­larly hav­ing trou­ble with. The lim­its of depth of field (or how sharp objects should be in gen­eral) is one of the things that many pho­tog­ra­phers don’t com­pre­hend. This is often because they are aware of only one of the three fac­tors that deter­mine depth of field, namely the aper­ture. Many of us know that when we use a small aper­ture we get good sharp­ness from fore­ground to back­ground ver­sus large aper­tures. But this is true only up to a cer­tain point because two other fac­tors are miss­ing.  A small aper­ture like F-16 isn’t a magic one that will give you great sharp­ness from fore­ground to back­ground in all cases.

Take the fol­low­ing image called Rust for exam­ple. It was cre­ated by Crash­cat from our forum for our monthly assign­ment called - June 2012 — f16 or smaller– Shoot­ing with a small aper­ture. Thx Crash­cat for the use of this image.

This image was shot at ISO 1600 f/16 at 1/20 using a 105mm lens.
As we can clearly see the depth of field here is shal­low and this is because there are two other fac­tors besides the cho­sen aper­ture that influ­ence depth of field. These fac­tors include the dis­tance from the object we are pho­tograph­ing and the focal length we use.  As we  approach an object, depth of field dimin­ishes. The longer the lens we use the less depth of field we will have ver­sus using a shorter one.

The image we are look­ing at is a macro image and so the cam­era is very close to the object. Had the cam­era been far­ther way, we’d see more sharp­ness from the top of the screw to the bot­tom of the screw. Not tons more sharp­ness mind you, but more. The side effect is that the screw wouldn’t have the mag­ni­fi­ca­tion that it does and would look less ‘close-up’.

Had this lens been wider, we’d also see a small increase in sharp­ness from the top of the screw to the bot­tom of the screw, but again the screw’s per­spec­tive would seem smaller.

There is no easy answer here. It’s just a mat­ter of prac­tis­ing and know­ing what to expect.

For those that are look­ing for fab­u­lous pre­ci­sion, feel free to use a depth of field cal­cu­la­tor which will show you the depth of field you can expect under any shoot­ing condition.


107 — Photo Realistic HDR — Interview w/Royce Howland

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #107  fea­tures an Inter­view with Cana­dian Nature pho­tog­ra­pher Royce How­land. In this pod­cast we talk specif­i­cally about how to get real­is­tic colours using the HDR process. HDR (high dynamic range) is a process that allows us to cap­ture details in the high­lighs and the shad­ows of our images by shoot­ing mul­ti­ple frames of the same image at dif­fer­ent expo­sures and then blend­ing them in software.

Many HDR images that we see on the web have really wonky and unre­al­is­tic colours. We pass no judge­ment on these types of images but this pod­cast is ded­i­cated to get­ting real­is­tic colours using the HDR process. We sum­ma­rize the process from why we do this, to cap­ture, to gear,  to using the soft­ware to cre­ate the images. We also dis­cuss the dif­fer­ences between the HDR process and using grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity filters.

Old Prairie Church & Storm Front, Mundare Alberta Canada © Royce Howland


That Hal­loween Mood, Glen­more Reser­voir Cal­gary Alberta Canada © Royce Howland


Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

Royce How­land web­site
Royce Howland’s fea­ture on
Older HDR arti­cle by Royce How­land
HDR­Soft — Mak­ers of Pho­tomatix
Olo­neo — Mak­ers of Pho­to­Engine
Red Giant — Mak­ers of Magic Bul­let Pho­toLooks
HDR Labs — HDR infor­ma­tion resource
Topaz Adjust
HDR Efex Pro

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Thanks to Benny and Del­ben­son­pho­tog­ra­phy who posted  blog com­ments about our last pod­cast. Thanks as always to every­one that sent com­ments by email about our last pod­cast. Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board. Most of the links to actual the prod­ucts are affil­i­ate links that help sup­port this site. Thanks in advance if you pur­chase through those links.

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