Ansel Adams suggested in his book „The Negative“ a plan for practice in awareness and visualization to improve skills in black and white photography (Chapter 1, p. 3). „Take nothing for granted“: Black isn’t pitch black, but consists of many dark gray values, white isn’t pure white, but consists of many light gray tones.
One of his further suggestions to improve learning visualization of a subject could be the use of Polaroid Land black-and-white films. He made this suggestion 1981, long before LCD monitor and live view. With these tools our learning curve on each subject and imaging situation is steep.
Using Slow Shutter app I’m able to compose an image in live view mode and integrate a period of time to a single image. The app tends to capture the bright whites first, and doesn’t change them very much while integrating the whole image e.g. for 8 seconds. Therefore, I start my exposure at a moment, where the bright values come close to my visualization of the composition – and then I enjoy the completion. I believe, this feeling is close to the moment, when a print came out in the darkroom.
Ansel Adams didn’t have an electronic optical system. His recommendations were aimed at having a trained eye and with a few measuring points an idea of what the distribution of gray values would be in reality, in the negative and in the print (the positive).
This distribution is nowadays given by our cameras as a histogram. Each pixel of a capture is included. Thus, the distribution of gray values is not estimated by some 3 to 10 measurement points. With each pixel of a photo included and millions of them in a single capture we get a quasi-continuous function from the lowest to the highest brightness values: a histogram.
Let’s look at the following photograph of a chessboard from a common game collection and its histogram. (The chessboard was already old and slightly bent.) The chessboard consists of mainly two gray levels: the black and the white chess fields. Each individual chess field consists of slightly differing gray levels. The two peaks in the histogram represent this inhomogeneity of the photographed „black“ and „white“ chess fields.
Departure from realism is a significant contribution to creative imagery if you know to influence your result.
Otto Flechtenmacher was a painter who lived in Austria, an uncle of Christa. I often did photography for documentary purposes, especially paintings.
This morning I listened to a workshop of portrait photography. To some extend the audience received explanations of the PhaseOne camera, which I use quite frequently. The vast dynamic range and the frame averaging feature of a PhaseOne were mentioned.
To reproduce these features I intentionally underexposed a photo of a painting of Otto. The original histogram can be seen on the left, the processed one on the right. The quality is quite surprising, when you are used to full frame sensors.
To compare the quality of a single shot image to frame average files, I did a sample of a single shot and two shots of 5 and 9 averages. Clearly, noise will be reduced. At the same time, structures come out more detailed, what might be seen from the following examples:
I never thought of using this feature for landscape photography – but it makes sense. By applying frame averaging you can get a landscape photograph with preserved highlights and well structured dark parts.
I wanted to study shadows of simple bodies again today. It all started with an egg last week. The shadow of last week’s egg photo was ring-shaped. I noticed that, but it didn’t bother me. Could the ring shape of the shadow be overcome by skillful selection of light and would the backside of the egg lie entirely in the shadow? This assignment was given to me by a school friend, who himself is a professional photographer.
The shadow looks better today, with a little help from Photoshop.
A neighbor had given me simple bodies, which I placed like an egg on the white background. First of all as a play with form and shadow, where I had to think of the X-ra image of a human hand.
The small wooden blocks were wonderfully colorful. Unfortunately, I didn’t have as many as my imagination would have liked. Arranged in concentric circles, they are delightful to the eyes. At the suggestion of a friend, I arranged, the number of blocks into Fibonacci numbers. The processing of the shadows leads to an exciting image, similar to solarization. Since it is a kind of negative, I named the picture after the impression it makes: „Flow of light“, although in reality it was the shadows of the blocks.
Everyone has an idea about infinity. Infinity always confronts us with the question of wether we can see or recognize it at all. Modern mathematics knows that infinite series of numbers may well have a finite limit. The ancient greeks had realized that Achilles will always outrun a tortoise, but they couldn’t prove it. For the solution remained hidden.
Photographing a single, well reflecting steel sphere I got on the surface pointing to my macro lens a distorted image of the surrounding. One can see the tree in our garden, the lens and the tripod of my equipment, even the photographer’s legs are visible. That’s why I think it’s sort of a selfie.
Immediately, I thought of my friend Harold, who had worked a lot on photographing water drops and who had made a book about the photography of water drops. In the juxtaposition of several water drops the environment is displayed several times side by side in the drops.
Well, this happens as well, if you place two well reflecting steel balls side by side. So far, there is nothing unexpected.
On closer inspection, the opposite sides of the spheres show further images of the surroundings slightly outside the original image, well visible on the tree. These images of the tree become smaller and smaller lying within the circular image of the first reflection.
An infinite series of images in one picture is created by the reflection on the surface of two adjacent steel spheres. As the reflected images become smaller and smaller, the total area of the image is finite. A similar effect is known with water drops as well.
It is a nice experience to walk the same path under changing light conditions at daily distance. In winter there is not much botanically happening, only the snow can be more or less – or the fog. The possibilities of imaging with a camera essentially change with the extent of the available light. A sunny day shows a maximum of available light.
Does sunlight make a picture atmospheric ? With cloudy skies or even some fog, the conditions for background and foreground change substantially and pictures without sunlight can be be very varied and gain a special depth of expression.
The above image shows: shadows during a day with a blue sky are blue, too.
The detection of expressive light situations without a tripod and without HDR technology requires a limited amount of light that the sensor can still process with out blown-out lights or drown depths.
January 6th is a holiday in our region, commemorating the three holy kings or three wise men, who had been probably astronomers. The Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas. In the United States of America, a reigning madman with his mob is degrading his country to a banana republic. Looking at this rises questions about our German history 87 years ago.
I spent the whole night absorbing the latest news. Sleeping was almost difficult if not impossible. This morning a bug in the Flickr software ? A picture of mine with so many views and favorites ? Well, that was the good surprise this morning after all: an in explore for a picture I had been thinking about for a long time and that I repeatedly failed: taking tree trunks in landscape format.
This time it worked out better than expected. Christa and I started a late walk up at Posseltslust to see some people riding sledges. We took a forest trail away from the slopes. The twilight was already advanced, the ISO high and the aperture only slightly closed. A pleasant winter light surrounded us. Between the tress it became bright, the tree trunks covered with snow below. This image got an in explore.
Not far from there, I made a second attempt of the scene, which seems a bit more delicate in my eyes. I posted it two days later.
Winter forest looks a it like a fairy tale to me. That is why color is also important, which additionally stimulates the imagination. Even a tree trunk presumably struck by lightning becomes a sight to behold. It works with the color even if there is only little light.
At the end of the forest path, a light shines like in a cathedral, in which the faithful are moving. Is there the light at the end of the tunnel ?
Thanks to the hint of a friend, I was again aware of the rare constellation of the approach of the two planets that I had observed during the summer. The 21st by December, Jupiter and Saturn were to be only 6 arc minutes apart. Unfortunately, the weather forecasts are not favorable, which is why I hardly figured out a chance to see anything about it at all.
Unexpectedly, the clouds disappeared during the day to retreat th the edge of the Rhine Rifle, where we were allowed to see them in the evening. At the beginning of our photo session we watched the Rhine Valley with our bright and long reaching optics.
First Lorenz discovered the crescent moon in the clouds. It could have sunk our courage, in fact as darkness fell conditions steadily improved.
At the time, it was still too bright to see the planets.
Finally we managed to take pictures of the crescent moon with the the planets Jupiter (the brighter and bigger one of both) and Saturn close to each other before the increasingly yellow moon disappeared in the dark clouds. There was even a little of the ashen moonlight to be seen. Wonderful.
The Old Bridge in Heidelberg has the same attraction to visitors as the Charles Bridge in Prague or th Bridge to the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. Not everyone that the connective building between the two white towers houses an apartment. You come to the bridge early in the morning, you’re almost alone. This lonelyness is especially emphasized by a single walker.
The morning calm is reinforced by the fog. Even the car traffic is not so loud as usual. Maybe the noise will decrease even more with electric cars. That would do us good. The view form the bridge downstream shows ships tied up on the shore. Only a few rowers are on the river with trainers whose voices hardly penetrate.
The castle exercises the rule over the city. The strong contrast of the castle ruins over the roofs off the Old Town on the river bank is attenuated by the morning mist.
the Heidelberg Castle is world-famous and famous for the romantic feelings it triggers. Anyone who comes to the city in spring or early summer enjoys a mild warmth and a light wind that flows through the Neckar Valley.
In autumn, the winds that hits the photographer is icy cold and the facial masks that you have recently at hand are a welcome support in taking pictures. The warm colors of the following photographs deceive one of them.
The warmth of the Neckar gives rise to considerable early mist during a cold night, which stretches over the trees to the south and west. The mists also reach the Heidelberg Castle, which subsequently appears a little more romantic and ruined.
Most of what we do see with our eyes is a reflection. Any light from a bouquet of flowers is just reflection. Looking through a bottle shows beside reflection some refraction. The only exception, where we don’t see reflected light is e.g. offered by an open fire or a light bulb. The sight of a star also shows direct light, which is usually subject to refraction due to the atmosphere.
Our eyes seem to absorb the light when we see. In fact, they can also reflect the incident light. We know this phenomenon from cat images that we have mistakenly photographed with a flash light.
Sitting in front of me my right eye is on the viewers left side and the left eye is on its right side. The instrument uses a red and a green laser at a harmless energy dose.
With different wave lengths of a laser an ophthalmologist is able to see different structures of the fundus and uses this property for diagnostic purposes. Looking at the green color only that stems from the green laser, the result is a monochrome image that shows vessels of the surface of the retina and smalls nerves joining the papilla.
Looking at the red channel displaying the reflections of the red laser light, monochrome images show deep vessels behind the retina.
Beside the medical point of view there is an aesthetic one, too. Dr. Gösele, to whom I owe these beautiful pictures, confirmed to me the impression of an astronomical night shot, which other viewers also feel. With a courageous crop you get there:
This is how the central part of my sensor looks like when creating photographs or X-rays. My wife immediately urged me not to fall into a narcissistic trap ….