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Author Topic: Still Life  (Read 2391 times)
RSL
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« on: July 04, 2009, 09:32:47 PM »
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Here's one to ponder. Yesterday, as I waited for my pizza at lunch I made a series of shots of this arrangement on the table. I was shooting with a 50mm f/1.4 prime lens and I tried a series of apertures, letting the depth of field increase and decrease. I finally settled on this version at f/1.4. I was about a foot and a half away from the subject, so the depth of field was roughly two inches. What do you think? Would more depth of field make it better? As it is, the bokeh is good and it's quite soft at the edges, like a painting. It's not my usual kind of thing, but I sort of like it.

[attachment=15117:Still_Life.jpg]
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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2009, 09:59:46 PM »
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I'd like to see enough more DOF to get the salt shaker and all of the comment card in focus.  Aside from that, this one almost works for me as it stands.  I like the way the squared "V" in the bokeh contrasts the inverted "V" of the bottle and the top line of the comment card.   I know you're not a lover of PP, but to increase elemental contrast, I'd do the following:

1)  As mentioned, more DOF would help.  Maybe you can use one of your other shots with more DOF for the foreground and blend it with this one, if the bokeh doesn't work as well on the other image.

2)  I'd increase the brightness and saturation of the green and red of the bottle and perhaps sharpen the in focus elements a touch (or add clarity).  I think I'd also boost the saturation of the comment card to offset it from the white background.

John

Edit reason: observation I forgot to mention initially
« Last Edit: July 04, 2009, 10:42:58 PM by button » Logged
wolfnowl
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2009, 12:53:48 AM »
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At an initial glance I like it; I also like John's suggestions.

Jill in New Zealand does some interesting still life work, here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/borealnz/

Mike.
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cmi
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« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2009, 03:03:39 AM »
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When I look at it as a whole I dont notice the out of focus areas in the foreground at all so it works as it is. On the other hand a more minimal bokeh would tell more about the surroundings of these objects. I would find this interesting too.

Christian
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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2009, 06:13:44 AM »
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Russ ... I'm always the guy at thanksgiving re-arranging the center piece of the table and shooting it from 50 different angles ...

I like still life photography like this.  I once shot a whole very long series of kitchen utensils ... like, semester long series ...

If I had to criticize, I think I'd like to see one with the leading edge of the pepper shaker sharper - but not much more as I'm not so concerned about the salt.
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RSL
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2009, 05:26:33 PM »
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Quote from: button
I'd like to see enough more DOF to get the salt shaker and all of the comment card in focus.  Aside from that, this one almost works for me as it stands.  I like the way the squared "V" in the bokeh contrasts the inverted "V" of the bottle and the top line of the comment card.   I know you're not a lover of PP, but to increase elemental contrast, I'd do the following:

1)  As mentioned, more DOF would help.  Maybe you can use one of your other shots with more DOF for the foreground and blend it with this one, if the bokeh doesn't work as well on the other image.

2)  I'd increase the brightness and saturation of the green and red of the bottle and perhaps sharpen the in focus elements a touch (or add clarity).  I think I'd also boost the saturation of the comment card to offset it from the white background.

John

John, That's a fair call. One of the interesting things about shooting with a less than 2 inch DOF and close in is that you can see the exact limit of the band that's in focus and from that, deduce the angle of the camera to the subject. Yes, I like the correlation of the triangles between the bokeh and the bottle, and that's one reason not to increase the DOF. When I do that, I pick up too much detail behind the thing. There were people moving around back there, waiting to get into the restaurant, and including even a hazy image of that kills the thing. One possibility is to change the angle between the camera and the subject. I eat at that restaurant once a week, so I may do some more with this next week. It's something to do while I'm waiting for the pizza to cook.

I wish I had better control over the brightness and saturation in the image as it comes out on LLS. What I get back when I look at the posting is less bright and less saturated than the original before I uploaded it. I don't know why that is. I've gotten to the point where I raise the brightness before I upload, but it isn't enough. If I raise it too much I end up with a noisy result.

Thanks to all of you who responded. Still life is something I rarely do, and I was interested to see what kind of responses I'd get to this sort of casual shot that pleased me with I saw the result.
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« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2009, 05:35:07 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
I wish I had better control over the brightness and saturation in the image as it comes out on LLS.

I'm sure you know this, but just in case you don't:  are you converting the image to sRGB before posting?  I always work in ProPhoto, and when I forget to convert for the web, the image comes out looking dull and lifeless (not saying yours is).  Looking at your image, I am guessing that you already converted it- it doesn't have that flat look that results from a non sRGB colorspace.  One other thing to consider: are you working in a color managed environment?

John
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RSL
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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2009, 08:56:06 PM »
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Quote from: button
I'm sure you know this, but just in case you don't:  are you converting the image to sRGB before posting?  I always work in ProPhoto, and when I forget to convert for the web, the image comes out looking dull and lifeless (not saying yours is).  Looking at your image, I am guessing that you already converted it- it doesn't have that flat look that results from a non sRGB colorspace.  One other thing to consider: are you working in a color managed environment?

John


John,

I think you've hit on it. I just looked at what I've been doing when I save a picture to upload. Looks as if I've let the ProPhoto profile stay imbedded. When I convert for my own web I use a process that automatically makes the conversion to sRGB, and I've bypassed and overlooked that when I prepare a single shot for upload to LLS. Yes, my whole sequence is color managed. My screen is calibrated with Spider Pro, and I make my printer/ink/paper profiles with PrintFix Pro. Next time I prepare a shot for upload to LLS I'll try running it through the process I use for my own web. Please ignore my red face.

Thanks.
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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2009, 08:59:22 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Looks as if I've let the ProPhoto profile stay imbedded.

Looked fine on Firefox 3.0 ... once you go to a color managed browser, there is no going back ...
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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2009, 09:09:30 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Please ignore my red face.
 Hey, just glad to be of service.  Would you mind reposting your shot in sRGB?  I'd like to see it.

John

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RSL
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2009, 12:00:54 PM »
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Quote from: button
Hey, just glad to be of service.  Would you mind reposting your shot in sRGB?  I'd like to see it.

John

Okay, John. Here it is again. This time it's in sRGB for sure.

[attachment=15135:Still_Life_v2.jpg]

Looks as if that's the key. I just checked it and it's very close to what I've got here on my computer. Thanks. Again, please ignore my red face. I didn't even think of that.
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2009, 12:26:21 PM »
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The background bokeh is indeed quite nice, I like the way the specular highlights are soft and diffused, and the lines are nicely blurred so that there are indistinct shapes but no hard edges in the background to distract. But I'm not sure the subjects are interesting enough to work as a still life (for me anyway). And the thin DOF has the effect of pulling my eye to the text at the bottom of the comment card.

I'm by no means an expert on still life, never really shot any myself. But it seems to me that a successful still life will have a subject(s) that is aesthetically pleasing, either due to the light, interesting shapes, or some other aspect of the object that draws your interest. I'm just not really getting that here.
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RSL
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« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2009, 02:13:19 PM »
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Quote from: JeffKohn
The background bokeh is indeed quite nice, I like the way the specular highlights are soft and diffused, and the lines are nicely blurred so that there are indistinct shapes but no hard edges in the background to distract. But I'm not sure the subjects are interesting enough to work as a still life (for me anyway). And the thin DOF has the effect of pulling my eye to the text at the bottom of the comment card.

I'm by no means an expert on still life, never really shot any myself. But it seems to me that a successful still life will have a subject(s) that is aesthetically pleasing, either due to the light, interesting shapes, or some other aspect of the object that draws your interest. I'm just not really getting that here.

You're right, Jeff. It's not on its way into one of my portfolios. I'm no expert on still life either. It just happened to be in front of me when I had a camera in my hand, as usual, and a couple minutes with nothing else to do. I agree that technically it's not bad, though I could play with the DOF a bit more. But I also agree that condiments on a table don't necessarily make the best still life. I wish more people who critique would be honest enough to say that the subject is a dud when it is. I'd call "subject" the most frequent error I see on here.
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« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2009, 03:08:02 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Okay, John. Here it is again. This time it's in sRGB for sure.

[attachment=15135:Still_Life_v2.jpg]

Looks as if that's the key. I just checked it and it's very close to what I've got here on my computer. Thanks. Again, please ignore my red face. I didn't even think of that.

Wow!  Just like magic, my saturation suggestions just appeared- the hue of the card now contrasts with the white background light, and the bottle colors jump out at the viewer.  I think I might desaturate the background wall on the right to complete the effect.

As far as subject matter, I'll echo Jeff's comments.  I don't particularly like still life as a category, but I offered suggestions based on what I thought you were trying to accomplish with the photo in terms of line, color, and contrasting structures.

John
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