Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Fair Entrance

I'm adding this mainly as an example to ahab of what can be done with various online imaging programs. I used Preview to desaturate this without turning it completely black and white; I considered going the other way, and really bringing the colors of the county fair way, way up, but eventually decided that I liked this very subtle, almost-black and white/almost-pastel image better than any other view of this shot I tried. To me, it looks sort of like an old hand-colored image that you might find in a vintage postcard shop.

This is also an example of how I post-process my pictures. This shot was taken in color, with lots of bright reds and yellows against a deep blue sky background. I often experiment with saturation levels, contrast, exposure, brightness, gamma, temperature, sharpness and other options before deciding on the final "face" I'm going to present to the world. On occasion, I'll create two or even three different versions of the same photograph to post at Flickr or wherever. Whatever the final outcome, though, the real fun is always in the experimenting, in seeing what the possibilities are, and where I can go in different directions with any given image. There are lots of photo manipulating programs out there, and my guess is that most of them are probably better than Preview, which is pretty basic. But even with a simple application like that, anyone can make a few manipulations with a just a couple keystrokes and turn a mediocre picture into a decent or even very good picture.

Of course, as I remember saying to Tom and his brother Steve about a year ago, all the manipulation in the world won't rescue a bad picture or put a good image in your camera. With all due humility, if you don't have an eye for framing and composition, if you don't bring something halfway decent to the table to begin with, no photo imaging program in the world will turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.

(I'm trying desperately to resist the urge to use a "you can put all the lipstick you want on Sarah Palin, but she'll still never be a viable candidate" metaphor, but obviously my will is weak. Anyway, I think you get my drift.)


Tom Hilton said...

Looks like it was taken in another decade. Nice.

ahab said...

Thanks for all the advice, Generik. I really appreciate it. I've been doing a lot of research online, mostly about hardware, but I'm getting up to speed on some software stuff too. Slowly.

There's so much new about cameras and lenses (DSLR's) from back in the day when I shot a Nikon FG and a good primary 50mm lens. (I've learned that that's what Henri Cartier-Bresson, or whatever his name is, used to do -- carry just a 50mm. So why weren't my photos like his? Maybe my favorite photo ever is one of his at NY-MOMA, the one of a big puddle and a bicycle and somebody leaping part of the puddle. In B&W. I can study that thing for like half an hour every time I go there.)

The conversion factors for lenses on budget DSLR's are disappointing to me. They lengthen the lens by 1.5 or 1.6, in most cases. Meaning that that 50mm trick of mine is not useful anymore, as a 50mm lens shoots like an 80mm, IOW in nothing like the perspective of human central vision. I guess I'll get used to it, but I'd love to have a full (FX) 1:1 DSLR. At $3000+, though, it ain't happening.

Of course I don't need a new camera at all, but I'm a patriotic American, dammit! I am, therefore I shop. There's a 90% and rising chance I'll buy myself a DSLR in the next month.

Which is silly, because the best photos (or at least the most satisfying ones) are the ones guys like us (I think you said you have a point and shoot like Tom and me in addition to your XTi, Generik) get on our sub-$300 rigs. Here's a story about a guy who recently won a worldwide photo contest on a slightly obsolete point and shoot (here's the prize-winning photo on Flickr).

But I would like more lens sharpness and flexibilty, so I'll probably waste a few bucks.

ahab said...

Here's that Cartier-Bresson image.

Generik said...

Both the tram shot and the Cartier-Bresson are outstanding, thanks for the links. I'd love to see that C-B up close and personal. I remember when MOMA here in SF ran a Henry Wessel exhibit a year or two ago, and how inspiring I found that. Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand are also faves of mine.

I love my XTi, but I still carry my PowerShot around with me. In fact, of the three images I posted to Flickr today, two of them (the two in the gwsf pool) were taken with the S50. The XTi gives me a lot more options and flexibility -- plus more megapixels and lens choices -- but I've been very happy with some of the pictures I've taken -- and continue to take -- with the point and shoot.

Not that I'm trying to talk you out of getting yourself a new toy! I think it would be great for you to invest in a new DSLR, if only because it would likely mean you posting more pictures. And I think Tom will join me in saying that that's something we'd both like to see.

Donna said...

gorgeous! I love the little bit of color. Reminds me a bit of the colorized B&W HS graduation pics.

Deb said...

It really does have that old time look and feel, until you realize how much...plumper the people in the picture are.

They are all great shots. I have a point and shoot and I thought about taking a picture of my neighbor with his dog. Alas, I thought too late and his dog has gone on to doggie heaven. Now I carry the camera everywhere and will just have to practice some creativity instead of the logic crap that usually runs my brain.

Generik said...


Donna, I take that as a big compliment, as that's exactly the look I was going for.

Deb, I feel naked any more if I don't have a camera with me when I go out the door. Maybe it's the OCD manifesting itself, but I just don't go out without one.

Deb said...

Now that's funny because I feel naked without my glasses. :)