Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Analyzing and learning

So, probably no one reads this anymore... I know I don't. But I thought I would sit down with no one and analyze some pictures that were really quite noteworthy and talk about what I like about them and why, in addition to how they might have set up the shots, technically and otherwise. Let's get on with it... by the way.. these shots were taken from the website of David Copperfield's Cay in the Bahamas. Obviously catering to the high-end consumers.

This shot is about light and perspective. It says, you are sitting here looking out the window enjoying a perfectly exposed evening dinner on the dock.

I have two settings (speaking of exposure) to think about. I obviously have a strobe (flash) or two camera left aimed at the people on the dock. And I have ambient light (in the room and the water/sky combo). Actually, there may be a strobe in the room as well on a very low setting... let's forget there is one if so.

I expose for the ambient light (manual exposure) minus 1.5 stops so that the room and water/sky maintain their evening appeal and allow my subject to be correctly exposed and be the focal point. I want to use an f stop that is going to allow my foreground and my background to be in focus, so f8 possibly. Remember the smaller my aperture (bigger fstop #) the harder my flash has to output to give me the same brightness. So this is a compromise between a small fstop for flash but big enough to keep my background island, my people, and my window ledge all crisp.

can I improve on this image? Sure... try using one more flash from the right or from above the dock to eliminate some of those harsh dock shadows.
But I wouldn't have taken the flash out to the subjects, or I wouldn't have brought the viewer to the subject.

A couple of nice things are my lines in this shot. The consistent horizon lines made by the window pane and ocean line are settling. But the curtain really frames my subject well and the diagonal lines of the dock point me directly to my subjects, which are of course not smack dab in the middle of my shot, but skewed to the right and upper middle of my shot. So well established lines, great balance, and quite decent lighting.

This picture, believe it or not, could have been taken in the daytime... it's not highly likely, but possible. First, why would I want to do that when I could just wait for this perfect dusk lighting? Answer- because dusk lighting only lasts for a few minutes to an hour. That can be a very short window to get the shot set, exposed for and taken. How would I create it in the daytime? Shoot with the white balance set to Tungsten and use a warming gel on the camera. That way you get the bluish look to the ambient light while maintaining correct color on your subject.

So this is longer than I thought it would be... let's just do one more for now...

In this image we also have multiple lighting. We have the ambient light outside where our pool model is really showing off ad we have the indoor lighting including the man in gray shirt. So where is my light source? Well, one is coming from camera right (casting a shadow on gray shirt man's back and lighting front girl's hair). But we also have a light on camera left to light the statues above and front man's shirt and back of head). We again have to set our exposure for the the light we don't control (the sunlight and pool area) and then match that exposure with the lighting on the inside of the covered patio.

I like the vignetting we get from the dark back of the couch and darker parts of the ceiling. But I probably would have softened my light with an umbrella or gobo so that my subjects up front weren't so contrasty (lights and darks are quite prevalent on them).

That's all for now.

Oh, one other note: the first shot was set at a fairly long exposure... so it was probably an evening shot. Can tell this by the fire on the lanterns moving a lot. The second shot was relatively fast shutter speed because the water ripples are frozen in time. Just a thought on what the ambient manual exposures might have been on.