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Author Topic: Midtones and tonal range  (Read 7135 times)
Edalongthepacific
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« on: October 11, 2012, 03:51:39 PM »
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I have been told that tonal range is from white point through three-quartertones, midtones, quartertones, highlights to white point. I have also been told that an image with superior tonal qualities has a full complement of midtone values. I believe that shadows and highlights are accents and not the main course but, I wonder, how wide a percentage of an ideal image should be occupied by midtones?
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2012, 03:55:34 PM »
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Hi,

I don't understand your question. In addition, I don't think there is an ideal image.

Best regards
Erik

I have been told that tonal range is from white point through three-quartertones, midtones, quartertones, highlights to white point. I have also been told that an image with superior tonal qualities has a full complement of midtone values. I believe that shadows and highlights are accents and not the main course but, I wonder, how wide a percentage of an ideal image should be occupied by midtones?
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Edalongthepacific
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« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2012, 04:15:07 PM »
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I think a model of an ideal photograph can be achieved if only for the sake of exploring ideas regarding exposure and tonal range. If we are explaining histograms, is it unwise to discuss an ideal histogram that spans the full range of possible tones with an emphasis on midtones? Digital photography texts are filled with examples of histograms that need to be remapped. Surely these are less than ideal histograms from less than ideal exposures. If less than ideal histograms can be represented then we can come close to representing ideal histograms. My question is how much weight should be given to midtones in an image? Certaintly midtones are more important than shadows and highlights, we don't look to shadows or highlights to discern the story of a photograph. It is midtones that first capture and hold our attention.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2012, 06:24:00 PM »
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What you say may be true in many photos, but certainly not in all of them. A recent post on LuLa showed a silhouette of a sculpture on a building against the sky. There were no midtones, if I recall correclty, but the blacks and near whites definitely told the story.
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Schewe
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2012, 08:31:20 PM »
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Certaintly midtones are more important than shadows and highlights, we don't look to shadows or highlights to discern the story of a photograph.

I think that is simply wrong...while the tonal values of the entire image may play an important role over the appearance of an image, I think it's wrong to think that there is some sort of magic "ideal". If there was, Auto in ACR/LR would be all you need...clearly, images need to be carefully adjusted to be optimal. I think trying to go down that rabbet hole is a fools errand...
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Edalongthepacific
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« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2012, 09:28:45 PM »
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A magic ideal? An ideal is a concept used for purposes of discussion. The notion of a magic ideal is quite an intriguing juxtaposition of usage. Can probative minds imagine an ideal digital image to serve as a guide for understanding the optimal distribution of tones throughout an image? Human perception must be more inclined toward one model of tonal distribution over others. Knowledge of that distribution could serve to construct an ideal image model. But probably not a magic ideal. I believe midtone values outweigh other tones in an image most useful for easy communication of visual information. But to what extent that may be true is the question. The extent to which nouns may or may not be magic is not germane.
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Schewe
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« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2012, 10:19:22 PM »
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The extent to which nouns may or may not be magic is not germane.

Uh? You seem to be spelling the words correctly...but I have no clue what you are taking about.
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Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2012, 12:11:40 AM »
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I believe midtone values outweigh other tones in an image most useful for easy communication of visual information.

I take it you didn't study art appreciation or else why are you looking and deconstructing image making here. You're missing the secret ingredient of image making defined by tone as you are trying to define it and that is "juxtaposition". The juxtaposition of one tone against another in order to evoke a response from the viewer.

Tones don't communicate anything by themselves unless you're photographing or painting in the modular posterized style of Piet Mondrian. He juxtaposed tones in a simplistic manner so as to accentuate the tone and/or its arrangement with another whether it was mid, dark or light. That's how one communicates with just tone.

A photograph of a similar scene could be a textured wall lit directly by the sun juxtaposed against a rectangular shape in shadow such as a closed door or window. It may evoke a serene feeling due to its simplicity and boldness.

In advertising especially with billboards along a busy interstate one has 3 seconds to have the desired idea communicated. A white background with a photo of a close-up of a woman's boobs covered by a black brazier with the name of the brand of bra underneath both filling the entire billboard frame would be the optimum tone (black) to get the point across in that short of time. If it were rendered in mid tones it would not get as much attention or be seen as quickly.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 12:13:46 AM by tlooknbill » Logged
Anders_HK
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« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2012, 02:04:38 AM »
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I have been told that tonal range is from white point through three-quartertones, midtones, quartertones, highlights to white point. I have also been told that an image with superior tonal qualities has a full complement of midtone values. I believe that shadows and highlights are accents and not the main course but, I wonder, how wide a percentage of an ideal image should be occupied by midtones?

I am unaware that the visual means of tones have been much documented in relation to histograms and digital.

On other hand for B&W film it was, including in relation to and in explaining photographically the tool called the zone system.

Suggest you to read the book The Negative by Ansel Adams, and/or The Practical Zone System by Chris Johnson.

And yes, The Negative was written long before digital but does that matter? Tones are its very basis and there are so many parallels to digital photography. Essentially digital capture is simply the opposing to capture for B&W negative film (exposure for highlights vs exposure for shadows). The Practical Zone System in one chapter also include digital.

Best regards,
Anders
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NikoJorj
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« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2012, 02:53:08 AM »
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A magic ideal? An ideal is a concept used for purposes of discussion.
And then, some concepts are not as useful as others, and some are not valid at all...

There may be an ideal image, but only for one given scene and one given intent.
I didn't read Jeff's version yet (the more I think about it I the sooner it will be), but I agree that Ansel Adams' The Negative and The print may give you good hints.
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2012, 03:22:42 AM »
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If midtones are the most important to someone then simply capture an image when shooting that has good midtones. Any experienced photographer will see there are some when pressing the shutter. The histogram only represents what you capture?
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Edalongthepacific
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« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2012, 04:31:34 PM »
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Here is a magic ideal model link that has given me some valuable insight:
http://photo.tutsplus.com/articles/theory/light-photography-exposure-and-tonal-range-considerations/
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Schewe
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« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2012, 07:02:01 PM »
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Here is a magic ideal model link that has given me some valuable insight:
http://photo.tutsplus.com/articles/theory/light-photography-exposure-and-tonal-range-considerations/

Blah, blah, blah...the main take away? From the post: "The most significant factor in taking any photo is to find the exposure that best suits the situation, and accentuates your intentions and the effect you’re after all at the same time."

Actually the section about the histogram of the bench and rocks kinda disprove your OP...without black and white tonality, the all midtones image sucks...right?
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mouse
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« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2012, 07:48:25 PM »
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Human perception must be more inclined toward one model of tonal distribution over others.

Your entire thesis rests on that assumption, one for which I have seen no evidence.
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Edalongthepacific
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« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2012, 08:57:51 PM »
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I absolutely agree that images benefit from black and white tones. I believe images benefit from having a black point, three-quartertones, midtones, quartertones, highlights and a white point. The inquiry is to what extent midtones may be of greater perceptual significance. A photograph could be taken having just three-quartertones and highlights and be simply breathtaking but that is beside the point. Most photographs published in magazines and newspapers are not that esoteric. In fact, perceptually, there exists an ideal (albeit not a magic ideal) formula of tonal distribution that results in a more captivating and more visually communicative photograph. This simply must be true weather there has been research in the area or not. Given a survey, with a statistically significant population, a normal distribution of responses would demonstrate a human preference for particular combination of the above tones. Stretch those neurons. I haven't seen that happen yet.
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Schewe
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« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2012, 09:09:46 PM »
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In fact, perceptually, there exists an ideal (albeit not a magic ideal) formula of tonal distribution that results in a more captivating and more visually communicative photograph. This simply must be true weather there has been research in the area or not.

Again, I really think you are barking up the wrong tree...the "tonal distribution" of an image has very little to do with whether or not it is a successful image. Jam all the midtones in your image, if you want. I won't...I'll look at the overall image and decide what I want it to look like. Really bud, you need to judge images on their visual merit, not their midtones...
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Edalongthepacific
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« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2012, 09:35:14 PM »
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Missing the point. The issue is not how successful any individual image is. The question is what distribution of tones is most appealing to humans. In other studies, for example, humans were found to prefer a savanna landscape. This is not an opinion, tests, good scientific tests, confirm this. There also exists an ideal face based not upon magic but upon scientific study.   
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Schewe
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« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2012, 09:44:22 PM »
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Missing the point. The issue is not how successful any individual image is. The question is what distribution of tones is most appealing to humans.

Uh, yeah, ok...I'm missing the point...I really, only care about how successful an image is. I guess that makes me 'different". I'm ok with that...I don't give a crap about formulas...I care about neat images. I guess that's my loss, but I'm ok with that. Like what I shoot or don't, I really don't give a shyte. Know what I mean? I still think you are way off base and trying to find some sort of goofy formula which in the long run is useless. You can listen to not, your choice. I'm pretty comfortable in the relative success of my images...you?
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Edalongthepacific
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« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2012, 09:51:18 PM »
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Oh, yes! In fact, I make money with my photography. But I challenge conventional thinking. I accept nothing as an axiom. I continually ask myself and others questions. This is a mindset that looks for the reality behind the appearance. Good luck to you.
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Schewe
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« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2012, 09:53:48 PM »
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There also exists an ideal face based not upon magic but upon scientific study.   

Care to site any sources? Wanna actually put any of your image on a web site to prove your point?

Heck, I've got a website-acually several...www.schewephoto.com and www.thedigitalnegativebook.com. Lots of images to download from the book (if you know the password). You don't seem to list any website...got any work worth looking at? Just asking'. Make/prove your point...ok?
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