Skip to content

CategoryPhotowalk

Long Exposure Workshop w/Craig Roberts of e6 YouTube

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography

(Dashan Sheying –大山摄影)

This is my second time with Craig for a “1:1 teaching moment”.  This time the subject is “Long Exposures” under various conditions from full sun to full rain and everything in between, i.e. this is Britan.
Raining kittens and dogs were the cards we were dealt for the day so one must have an umbrella to cover the filters as you can’t use your air bulb blower fast enough to remove the raindrops.  Take Note: Need a tripod attachment to hold an umbrella as Craig wouldn’t be there next time in the rain.
The focus of this workshop was the use of  Neutral Density (ND) Filters, i.e. Polarizer 2 Stops, Little Stopper – 6 Stops, Big Stopper – 10 Stops and Super Stopper – 15 Stops in conjunction with 0.6 / 0.9 Graduated Filters to balance the light from the sky and the ground.
Note: Interesting to see how long exposure photography brought to the surface various camera functions unseen before.  Need to study up.

Long Exposure Location – The City of Manchester (Recognize the Manchester United Stadium above?)

Given the architectural shapes, textures, leading lines… combined with the water and clouds, The Lowery area at Salford Quays was an ideal location.
Craig has great insight to understand what you should consider, no matter what your skill level.

Previous Post on Cityscapes in Birmingham          

Website: Craig Roberts Photography – e6

YouTube Channel: e6 Vlogs

Lee Filters Phone App

Experience

In short, we learn thru doing and regretfully experiencing errors, i.e. Things Gone Wrong.  We then turnaround with proper actions to mitigate errors in the future.  I look forward to my future w/o errors.

My Long Exposure Check List – Work in Progress  (Critical in Bold)

Tripod

  • Ensure the tripod is level
  • Mount your camera for the horizontal or vertical shot

Camera

  • Change to Manual focus.
  • Stay in AF in Aperture Priority for now
  • Turn off the Long Exposure Noise Reduction as it doubles your exposure time.  Can address noise later if an issue or get a better body/sensor.

Composition

  • Determine composition using a 1×1 Square format (RAW still at 3:2 and JPEG at 1:1)
  • Lock down the panning knob on tripod

Focus/Initial Exposure

  • Set lowest ISO allowed
  • Set Aperture Sweet Spot:  For me f/8, maybe f/11
  • Manually focus with Focus Peaking while zoomed in.
  • Focus 1/3 into the composition in the single point focusing mode
  • Take your base shot noting the SS, shutter speed
  • Check histogram for use of ND Grads
  • Write down the SS as you will forget once you add the ND Filter (6S-10S-15S)

ND Grads

  • Base Guideline:
    • Sun is behind you, 1 stop (polarizer is 2 stops)
    • Sun is to your left or right, 2 stops (0.6 Grad)
    • Sun is in front of you, 3 stops (0.9 Grad)
    • (Can always check exposure for SS on foreground to background (sky) to compare stops of difference)
  • Soft or Hard:  Plain unobstructed horizon = Hard, obstructed with vertical objects = Soft

Placing ND Grads in Filter Holder

  • With the filter holder off the camera, place the ND Grad on the front slot pushing 1//4 of the way down.
  • Go to the front of the camera to place the holder on the adapter.  Why to ensure proper placement and full engagement of both the fixed side and spring-loaded wedge.Will position using the live view in the camera.
  • Slide the Grad up/down watching the clouds and histogram change.  Tilt left or right for the proper horizon line
  • Carefully set aside

ND Filters (2-Stop, 6-Stop, 10-Stop and 15-Stop)

  • Base Guideline:
    • Little Stopper to blur people and movement at 1-3s
    • Big Stopper to blur water and/or clouds for 30s to 1min
    • Super Stopper to blur clouds w/o water for 2-4min
  • Use Lee Filters Little-Big-Super Stopper App setting the SS that you wrote down to determine what the long exposure time is against the 3 options.
  • Given what exposure time you desire, select the proper Stopper, i.e. 6S, 10S, or 15S.

Placing the ND & Stopper in the Filter Holder

  • First, check your composition and SS for the base exposure.  Still the same.
  • If not, will need to use the app for the long exposure time.
  • Slide the Stopper of choice in the front slot (usually a hard push) until the foam in centered for sealing against light

Placing the Holder with Filters on the Camera’s Adapter Ring

  • First, switch to the full-manual mode to avoid the Auto-Focus hunting.
  • Go to the front of the camera to place the holder on the adapter. with Grad & ND.  Why to ensure proper placement and full engagement of both the fixed side and spring-loaded wedge.
When the filter holder is partially engaged with the adapter as placed from the rear of the camera, you have a false sense of security.  When you tip the camera with the holder on, off it goes to the ground.  Not pretty.

Camera

  • Recall the base exposure SS.  Did you write it down?
  • The Lee Filters App provide the long exposure time vs. which Stopper.  What is the long exposure time?  (Note: Can be off +- 2/3 of a Stop)
  • Install your remote control cable or mechanical shutter release
  • Change to “Bulb – B” mode for your shutter speed
  • Did you switch to full manual to avoid AF hunting?
  • Press and hold (or slide up) the remote watching the time count up in seconds… to your chosen long exposure time.
  • Release when the long exposure targeted time is reached.
  • Look at the JPEG preview’s “Histogram,
    • Any right-hand clipping of the Highlights?  If yes, a shorter time is required.
    • Is histogram pushed to the edge of the Highlights (RD Side)?  If not, a longer time is required.
    • Experiment with various times as the Lee Filters App is directional in nature and you must flavor to taste.

Removing the ND & Stopper in the Filter Holder

  • Again, go to the front of the camera and remove filter holder / filter set.
  • Pull out the filters and replace in your holder one by one.
  • Fingerprints and/or rain drops – Need to address later with a proper cleaning.

END

Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure continues in the UK and EU  Comments, Likes, … always welcomed here.

Note: Bold, Underlined Red highlighted text is an external link of interest.

My First Long Exposure Gallery

Wales: Pen-Y-Fan Mountain Day 2

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography

(Dashan Sheying –大山摄影)

Pen-Y-Fan Mountain

Day 1 Link HERE.
I went from Circle 1 up to the top Circle 3 in ~1.5 hours
A 3km ascent of 435 meters to the top.  You can see my start/stop frequency.  Used “Walk Meter” App to capture the trek.  Turned it off at the top, low battery.
2017-05-14 Sunday Day 2

The trek up was cold, wet, sunny, dry… everything yet my two coats (one for warmth, the other keeping out the wind/rain) made it bearable.  I had no idea how long the trek would last nor the degree of slope for the ascent.  I kept telling myself “never again to carry a 30 lb large format gear backpack with 4 lb Gitzo tripod/ball head”.  The Fuji X-Pro2 with one lens was fine.  Yet, as I arrived at the top; took a rest my thoughts of went elsewhere across and down the beautiful vistas.  Going down was actually harder on my knees.  Breathing, no issue.  Legs are tired – I’ll sleep well tonight.

I kept telling myself “never again to carry a 30 lb large format gear backpack with 4 lb Gitzo tripod/ball head”.  The Fuji X-Pro2 with one lens was fine.  Yet, as I arrived at the top; took a rest and my thoughts went elsewhere, i.e. across/down the beautiful vistas.  Going down was actually harder on my knees.  Breathing, no issue.  Legs are tired – I’ll sleep well tonight.

Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure continues in the UK and EU  Comments, Likes, … always welcomed here.
Note: Bold, Underlined Red highlighted text is an external link of interest.

Hipstamatic App Gallery – Sunday 5/14

Pen-Y-Fan Gallery – Sunday 5/14

Wales: Pen-Y-Fan Mountain Day 1

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography

(Dashan Sheying –大山摄影)

Pen-Y-Fan Mountain

in the Brecon Beacons National Park

Here’s a slight diversion: Brecon Steam Engine Railway Ride

Wales: My Ancestry – Mother’s Side
Dead Center via Apple Maps – Easy Drive w/90% Divided Highway.  Birmingham is off to the Northeast

Visualize Your Walk Around the RED LINE

A moderate trek covering 4 miles in 2.5 hours, red line.

Hipstamatic iPhone App Images

Shenhao 617: Getting Set Up with Lens, Composition, Focus, and Image Exposure
Shenhao 617: Image Taken Looking Up the Path to the Top Covered in Clouds
2017-05-13 Saturday Day 1

I arrived at Pen-Y-Fan ~8a after leaving Birmingham at 6a, do the math.  The forecast was for rain at Pen-Y-Fan yet knowing the weather is an hour-by-hour thing here in the UK, I went for it.  It did rain but a slow drizzle which let up for awhile for me to get a few images.  The top of the mountain was blanketed in clouds so I came home to return Sunday.

2017-05-14 Sunday Day 2

Next Post – Wales: Pen-Y-Fan Mountain Day 2

Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure continues in the UK and EU  Comments, Likes, … always welcomed here.
Note: Bold, Underlined Red highlighted text is an external link of interest.

Pen-Y-Fan Gallery – Saturday 5/13

Pen-Y-Fan Gallery – Sunday 5/14

Next Post: Wales: Pen-Y-Fan Mountain Day 1

Cityscapes Workshop – 1:1 With Craig Roberts in Birmingham

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography

(Dashan Sheying –大山摄影)

My photography checklist of things to do had a “1:1 teaching moment with a Professional Photographer”.  The list is now checked, i.e. Craig Roberts.
The focus of this workshop for me was the use of graduated / polarizer filters given the constant on and off again gray cloudy skies to sunny skies. Grads help pull out the details and balance the light to avoid blowing out the highlights.  Next, Neutral Density (ND) filters for long exposures with some Polarizing effects thrown in for fun …
Craig has great insight to understand what you should consider, no matter what your skill level.

Website: Craig Roberts Photography – e6

YouTube Channel: e6 Vlogs

My Personal Take-Aways  (Top Three in Bold)

– Get it right in-camera first, minimize the processing.

Shoot 1:1 Square aspect ratio for improved composition.  PS No need to turn the camera for those vertical compositions – right?

– One camera, one lens – get it right.

– Landscapes: Use the Fuji GF670 for 6×7 (almost 4×5 AR) to master manual exposure with metering the scene ahead of bringing out the big guns, i.e. Shenhao 6×17 view camera.

– Velvia 50:  Meter the highlights (VII) and let the shadows fall for high contrast range.

Cityscapes: As with Landscapes look for the foreground, mid-ground and background, i.e. not just a landscape thing.

– Look for the abstract with minimalist application

– Look up and back

Lee Filters Seven5 SystemGrads (Hard or Soft) : Back -1 Stop, Sides – 2 Stops and Front – 3 Stops, i.e. 0.9, 0.6. and 0.3

– Avoid G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and don’t get hooked on Olympus’ 5-axis stabilization…

– Tripods: Spikes needed for landscape, Carbon Fiber too light for the UK winds – agree…

– Zoom-In to fill the frame for 100-300mm focal lengths shooting in color and B&W

– Rules of the Road: Photography on a Public Footprint is Okay, Private Footprint is Not Okay.  Got asked at the Grand Central not to shoot on 2nd floor as considered private.  That’s okay as today I went by and got a written okay to photography on the 2nd floor.  No questions asked and nobody bothered me given me little pass.

– Watch the histogram even though it’s tiny in the Fuji during in-camera composition.  Use for placing the Grad to see the highlights drop in balancing the light.

– Sell on eBay my fun lenses: Lensbaby, Fisheye

– A G.A.S. Thought: 18-55mm Fuji lens vs changing primes

– Get my ONA sling bag from China to the UK

– Craig likes two cubes of sugar or 12 tiny sleeves of sugar in his white coffee.  No tea allowed.

– The Selfridges structure has endless compositions, that’s okay – go for it.

– Later, I dropped into the City of Birmingham’s Library.  Decided to join the Library (largest in EU so they say) and asked about what’s up with the construction area in front.  The Library Desk Man said it will be trees, fountains, lights….  An elderly lady (probably my age) let us know her take was a conspiracy theory, i.e.the City Council is reducing the large areas to avoid future protests…  hmmm.

Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure continues in the UK and EU  Comments, Likes, … always welcomed here.
Note: Bold, Underlined Red highlighted text is an external link of interest.

e6 Photowalk Gallery

(Place cursor over the image to get its Title and/or double click to view images.)

Peak District – Part I

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography

(Dashan Sheying –大山摄影)

Peak District National Park

x
After my first visit to the PeakDistrict, it became blatantly obvious that this is not a one-time visit.  In fact, like YouTuber Ben Horne who does 90% of travels to only Zion National Park for his Large Format Photography, I need to do the same with the Lake District – stick to it and deep dive it with my full arsenal of skills and gear.  Besides, the walks are great exercise.
Helpful Terms  in the Peak (and Lake) District to Know: “Fell” (hill, mountain, or high common land), “Mere” (lake), “holme” (island), “Beck” (stream), “Force” (waterfall) and “Tarn” (small mountain lake)… the list goes on from Celtic, Norse and Saxon times.
Terms: Excerpt From Jules Brown & David Leffman. “The Rough Guide to the Lake District.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-rough-guide-to-the-lake-district/id1196557080?mt=11
Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure continues in the UK and EU  Comments, Likes, … always welcomed here.
Note: Bold, Underlined Red highlighted text is an external link of interest.

Peak District Walkabout Gallery

Titles added, don’t ask me the name or location as I’m definitely in a steep learning curve here.

Happy Pinhole Photography Day 2017-04-30

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography

(Dashan Sheying –大山摄影)

2017 Pinhole Photography Day

Today is that one day of the year for all Pinhole Photographers to get out and shoot their lensless camera.  Since I did yet could not get instant images given this is still an Analog World, let me post at least some images from my 6×17 RealitySoSubtle camera using Fuji 400H Pro medium format film taken in Xi’an, China.
Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure continues in the UK and EU  Comments, Likes, … always welcomed here.
Note: Bold, Underlined Red highlighted text is an external link of interest.
Xi’an City Wall: South-side looking East.
B&W: I knew these people may be stationary or in a fluid state given my Pinhole Assist App had the exposure targeted for 2 seconds.  This is the Drum Tower north of the Bell Tower (Center of Town) and the start to the left to the Muslim Quarter.
Color: The Same image which I like better for the people movement and those stationary for 2 seconds in their life.

Fuji GF670 Film Camera: 6×17 Fujifilm 400H Pro

Xi’an City Wall:  Facing North to the Bell Tower (Green Roof).  FYI: Got an immediate Like from my better-half on this image.  I’ve arrived as she provides my balance in photography.
Mylapore, Chennai:  A quick diversion to a local Car (Cart/Chariot) Festival.  Got that look again.
Xi’an City Wall:  Didn’t plan this but after two separate shoots 180 degrees apart showing the massive, protective nature of teh City Wall – I placed them in one image.
Xi’an City Wall:  Yes that Red Lantern is really red. That’s Fuji saturation.  I decided to leave it as it was.

 

Baggie City Center (Centre) in B&W

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography

(Dashan Sheying –大山摄影)

Birmingham City Center

The best way to get acquainted with your new surroundings is to walk it.  So I have around Birmingham’s City Center and enjoy the variation of architectural styles across the years. So with this post, I’m practicing my B&W image processing using the recipe below.  Like any recipe one salt and peppers to taste.
Recipe (Photographer’s Stuff)
  1. Lightroom: Import and cataloging
  2. (Iridient Developer: Used for the Fuji RAW files for Exposure, Color (Fuji Soft), Details)
  3. Lightroom: Basics for Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks, Transform-Auto, Crop…
  4. ON1 Photo RAW 2017: Add Dynamic Contrast (30%), B&W w/Color Sliders adjusted to taste, Big Softy Vignette
  5. Photoshop: Framing and Distraction Removal.
  6. Lightroom: Watermark and Export
Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure continues in the UK and EU  Comments, Likes, … always welcomed here.
Note: Bold, Underlined Red highlighted text is an external link of interest.

B&W Gallery

Selfridges: “Touching the Sky”
Victoria Square: “Stand at Attention”
Birmingham Library: “See Me”
Bullring Mall: “Bull – It”
Grand Central Station: “Train Time”
Apple Store: “Apples Three”

Arrived in Brum

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography

(Dashan Sheying –大山摄影)

Hello Birmingham

After a 12 hour Shanghai to Paris flight followed by a 2.5-hour wait then a 1+ puddle jumper (English Channel actually) over to Birmingham, Dashan Sheying has shifted locations from India.  Stay tuned for future UK posts.  For now I’ve included some initial images from my walks around downtown Brum and my first countryside walkabout.
Photographers Only: Given the English weather (hourly forecasts from sunny to cloudy and everything in between) it keeps the scene down to 4 Stops of light for the contrast range.  So Velvia film will work fine here.  Yes, I’m sure the contrast range bumps up to 5 or even 6 every so often.
Listening to Joe Walsh’s Analog Man (stuck in a digital world) thinking of James Gang and Eagles concerts of days gone by yet looking towards this digital future we have ahead of us.
Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure continues in the UK and EU  Comments, Likes, … always welcomed here.
Note: Bold, Underlined Red highlighted text is an external link of interest.

Birmingham Gallery

“The Bull” at the Bullring shopping mall entrance.  Iconic Birmingham.  Waited until all the kids got off the bull then took my shot.  VSSR processed.
Selfridges near The Bull.  Another iconic shot yet at night the colored lights explode
The canal along the Digs.

Tardebigge Canal Circular Walk w/St Bartholomew’s Church

My favorite image with its soft lighting of the subject at sunrise and the natural vignette.
Canal Boat at rest
Canal reflections around the bend in a soft glow at sunrise.
St Bartholomew’s Church

Latest Additional to the Arsenal of Gear

The Beast.  Shenhao 6×17 view camera intended for landscapes with a 210mm f/5.6 lens attached.  This will be fun as I learn the old ways of taking images using medium format 120 film (4 images per roll at 6×17).  Stay connected as I venture out in the beautiful UK countryside for those special images.  End result, a huge fine art print, i.e. 19″ by 25″ to start.

Last Dance

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography

(Dashan Sheying –大山摄影)

Good-bye Chennai

I thought it appropriate to have my Last Dance (Photowalk) here in Chennai around Mylapore knowing that it’s a bustling city at sunrise.  We were surprised as we turned down Chitrakulam West Street to see the Sri Audikesava Perumal Peylar Temple (RED X) holding its local Car Festival, pulling the Temple Car (Chariot / Cart).
The Temple Car was being decorated for a 7:15am Pooja followed by a 7:30am towing around the block.  We waited through the hour of preparation capturing the daily lives of the locals, the way Street Photography should be.
 
The more prestigious Car Festival in Mylapore is this April 8th at the Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple with 10s of 1000s of people in attendance.  I headed for the roof last year to witness the event from up high.
Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure ends in India then over to Xi’an, China and later in April to the U.K.  Comments, Likes, … always welcomed here.
Note: Bold, Underlined Red highlighted text is an external link of interest.

Car Festival Gallery – VSSR Applied

“Three Idols on Parade”.  Here is one of the rare times during the year Idols are taken from their enclave and paraded around for all to see and worship.
“Up We Go”. The task now to load up the Idols upon the “Car”, i.e. Cart / Chariot…
“First a Pooja”.  Fire, Bells, Incense, Melons, Colors… the Priests Pray (Pooja) to their Hindu Idols.
“Loaded Up and Ready to Go”.  Everything is set, now waiting for the Auspicious Time to arrive.  Time for one last call.
“The Band Played On”.  Loud yet foot stomping music to the heart.
“Lone Trumpeter”.  South Indian Tamil Nadu people always have a smile in their hearts.  My job is to bring to the surface and document it.

Cannonball Tree – Update

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography

(Dashan Sheying –大山摄影)

My earlier post revealed one of the most beautiful, intricate flowers I’ve seen here in India from the Cannonball Tree, i.e. Couroupita guianensis.  I first ran across the beauty of the tree’s flower on a photowalk two years ago at a Shiva Temple. I’ve had my eyes out ever since without success.  Well after finding one last Sunday, today I found a great specimen only 100 m from my office on campus.  How did I miss this one under my nose?
I’ve shared images of the flower yet let me share images of the tree and it’s “Cannonballs“.
Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure ends in India then over to China and later in the U.K.  Comments, Likes, … always welcomed here.
Note: Bold, Underlined Red highlighted text is an external link of interest.

Update from Last Post

Lefthand Image: RAW Image Without Processing

Upper-Right Image: VSSR Processed Image

Lower-Right Image: Fotopassion Cyprus (FB) Best Photographer Award

Cannonball Tree Gallery – VSSR Applied

The Cannonball Tree in all its glory
Cannonballs, lots of Cannonballs
Lingam Flower
Cannonballs
Lingam Flower

 

Cannonball

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography

(Dashan Sheying –大山摄影)

Happy Holi Everyone.  It’s colored-powder time with a splash of water – enjoy.

This post reveals one of the most beautiful, intricate flowers I’ve seen here in India.  It’s from the Couroupita guianensis, i.e. Cannonball Tree.
Get the Wikipedia rundown here
Often you see this tree in the temples as sometimes its striking flower is referred to as the Lingam Flower given its resemblance to the Snake of Shiva with its yellow teeth and Lingam as its tongue.
VSSR Applied.
Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure ends in India then over to China and later in the U.K.  Comments, Likes, Dislikes… always welcomed here.

Gallery – VSSR AppliedDaShanSheYing-2756

 

Wrapping it Up in India

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography

(Dashan Sheying –大山摄影)

It’s been three years in Chennai and I’ve only seen the tip of the “Indian Iceberg” (Paradoxical to relate the coldness of an iceberg to the three-season scenario enjoyed in South India, i.e. Hot, Hotter and Hottest.) relative to what India has to offer, especially for photographers and travel enthusiasts.
Yet, over this time I’ve journeyed from the technical side of photography by fine tuning my techniques and now discovering the elusive craft and art beyond snapshots.
As you get older, you begin to have thoughts that would have never percolated in your youth, e.g. I know so little and now in the Fall of my Life, I have so much to learn.  This has been the driving factor in my photographic journey which has expanded my technical left brain with improved techniques and now challenges my artistic right brain.  A humongous challenge yet like learning Photoshop it’s one tool at a time, one step at a time…
Let me share my recent VSSR images of late in no particular order.
The good news is I have 4 rolls of exposed 120 film ready to head to the US for development and scanning.  It’s like an opening an X-mas present every time the scans arrive (~2-week turnaround).
PS Debating if I should attend the Holi Festival in Sowcarpet, Chennai on Monday 3/13 as the images can be very colorful.

Note: Value-Shape-Separate-Relate is the artistic image processing approach by John R. Tuttle.  I highly suggest you follow John on Instagram or Facebook to get an appreciation for his wonderful fine art images and available archival prints. VSSR is explained here in an earlier post which provides the thinking and image processing approach.

Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure ends in India then over to China and later in the U.K.  Comments, Likes, Dislikes… always welcomed here.

Gallery – VSSR Applied

“Pink Ladies”  Shoot at the Georgetown Flower Market in Chennai, India
“Orange Welcome”   A Besant Nagar, Chennai Photowalk image.
“Red Fingers”   A Besant Nagar, Chennai Photowalk image.
“House of Colors”   A Besant Nagar, Chennai Photowalk image.
“Mellow Yellow”  A Besant Nagar, Chennai Photowalk image.
“Temple Guardian”   A Besant Nagar, Chennai Photowalk image.
“Rust Bucket”   A Besant Nagar, Chennai Photowalk image.
“Purple Morning Haze”   A Besant Nagar, Chennai Photowalk image.
“Temple Tank Float”   A walkabout at the Arulmigu Parthasarathyswamy Temple in Triplicane, Chennai.
“Look Away”  Photowalk at Georgetown, Chennai.
“Pointer-Outer”  Photowalk at Georgetown, Chennai.
“Opposites”  Photowalk at Georgetown, Chennai.
“Morning Read”  Photowalk at Georgetown, Chennai.
“Three Amigos”  Photowalk at Georgetown, Chennai.
“Just for Fun”  Photowalk at Georgetown, Chennai.

VSSR Image Processing Continues

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography (Dashan Sheying –大山摄影) and Happy  Chinese “Lunar” New Year  – Year of the Rooster.  

I continue down the VSSR journey with digital / film images from Varanasi, India and Xi’an, China today.  VSSR is explained here in an earlier post which provides the thinking and image processing approach.

Note: Value-Shape-Separate-Relate is the artistic image processing approach by John R. Tuttle.  I highly suggest you follow John on Instagram or Facebook to get an appreciation for his wonderful fine art images and available archival prints.

Disclaimer:  By no means do I claim to possess the mastery of an Artist Eye nor have highly skilled touch in Photoshop so I push myself to improve the images I create.

Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure in India, later China and maybe UK continues.

Varanasi, India Gallery – Medium Format Film w/6×17 Pinhole and Fuji GF670

Varanasi, India Gallery – Fuji X-Pro2 Digital

Xi’an, China Gallery – Fuji X-Pro2 Digital

Value-Shape-Separate-Relate (VSSR)

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography (Dashan Sheying –大山摄影).

Happy “Calendar” New Year 2017.  Why would I say this?  Well, we have another two pending New Year celebrations in the form of the Chinese “Lunar” New Year on 1/28, followed in April by the Tamil “Solar” New Year.  Which to follow?  All of course.

It’s been awhile since my last post as I took a holiday break combined with some deep learnings from John R. Tuttle. I highly suggest you follow John on Instagram or Facebook to get an appreciation for his wonderful fine art images and available archival prints.  VSSR is the artistic image processing approach by John R. Tuttle.

I’d like to share my experience in developing my artistic eye and shifting to my RH-brain when processing a photograph.  In particular,  the use of Photoshop just as a painter envisions and creates his image on canvas.

Disclaimer:  By no means do I claim to possess the mastery of an Artist Eye nor have highly skilled touch in Photoshop, rather I push myself with a strong desire and embedded curiosity to improve the images I create.

Patronage: Please “Follow” along as our adventure in India and later China continues.

I pulled out an old PDF File on Art that I acquire from Les Saucier as my first Master in The Arcanum.

VSSR in a Nut Shell
  • Determine Tonal “Values”
  • Find the Big “Shapes”, Not Details
  • “Separate” the Shapes by Contrast Range
  • “Relate” the Shapes to Each Other
1. The Simple Secret to Better Painting by Greg Albert

I dusted off an old PDF File on understanding the golden rule(s) of Art that I acquired from Les Saucier , my first Master in The Arcanum.  I would suggest you take a brief read yet stop and read Chapter 5 two times on Tonal Value and Contrast.

The Simple Secret to Better Painting

2. Key Highlights of Chapter 5 on Tonal Value and Contrast

Values

  • Lights and dark contribute more to the success of a photography than any other factor, including color.
  • Value contrasts attract and entertain the viewer making any part of the photograph an eye magnet.
  • Points of contrast provide touchstones for the eye as it scans the photograph.
  • Lights and Darks in your photograph must be at least consciously considered if not deliberately planned.
  • Think of Value Scale as a series of grays from black to white, i.e. Zone System.

Shapes

  • Seeing your scene as a simplified pattern of lights and darks.
  • See the subject as a pattern made up of value shapes.
  • Look at your subject, not as a group of things that can be named, but as a pattern.
  • Think Dark or Light Shapes.
  • What an object is is not as important as its shape and value.

Patterns

  • Reduce your subject to a few big shapes.
  • Simplify the subject into a pattern of shapes then turn the pattern of shapes into a pattern of values.
  • Reduce the subject to three values: Black, Gray, and White.  Most subjects reduce themselves to three values.
  • Maybe to five values adding Light Gray and Dark Gray thus adding distinctions to make the identity of your subject matter clearer.
  • Once you start thinking about your photograph as a pattern of value areas, you can check to see if that pattern format an effective composition.

Graduation

  • Value Contrast is a great technique for attracting the viewer’s attention, Gradation of a Value is a great technique for retaining it.
  • Graduation is the gradual change of tonal value from light to dark over distance.
  • The Gradual Change in Tonal Value in the foreground pulls the eye into the photograph.
  • A Value Area having both Contrast and Graduation attracts and retains the viewer’s attention, creates depth in the photograph and helps focus the eye on the center of interest.
  • Value Changes Within Shapes: Graduations of each Shape go back and forth between light and dark.

Notan

  • Harmony With Value Contrast: The Japanese word “Notan” by Arthur Dow expresses the beauty and harmony of darks and lights balanced together or interacting in what Japanese called Visual Music.
  • The concept of Notan includes figure-ground relationships formed by dark shapes against light or light shapes against dark.
  • Notan combines all that makes shape and value contrast interesting: variety dimension, concavity and convexity, interlocking figure-ground ambiguity and dramatic opposition
  • All the shapes both positive and negative must be interesting shapes in themselves with varying intervals.  Their interaction should create harmony and balance.
  • Values Help Define the Subject: Soft and hard, smooth and rough, light and dark can all contrast to make a seemingly simple picture one of subtle mystery.
3.  VSSR Workflow in Lightroom / Photoshop
In Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw):
1) Basic Tone and Color Adjustments
2) Distraction Removal (or in Photoshop)
In Photoshop:
3a)  Visual determine the Large Shapes.  Usually 2-3.
3b) Using Selection and Masking tools, create a separate layer mask for each of the 2-3 large shapes to which we will adjust tonal values to separate the shapes.
3c) For each layer selection, add adjustment layers that as a Clipping Mask for Curves at a minimum. Other adjustment layers to consider adding are Hue/Saturation, Brightness, Vibrance, Gradient…  Suggest not to use Levels as Curves is the superior tool.  Here we are Separating the 2-3 Shapes using contrast with varying Tonal Values.
3d) Then add a Curves Adjustment Layer for the entire image thus getting the Shapes to Relate.
4. Example 1
screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-10-18-38-am
Raw File Before Processing in LR – Not a pretty sight but wait as I work the magic of VSSR.
screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-9-56-53-am
Here I envisioned two Big Shapes; all the people as one big shape and the inverse as the 2nd big shape.  So I zoomed in with a small brush to select all people one at a time ensuring a proper edge selection. This was my first layer mask which I added a Curves and Hue/Saturation adjustment layers.  Then, copying and inverting the layer mask I have my 2nd big shape of the everything else which again I added a Curves and Hue/Saturation adjustment layers.  
screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-6-16-54-am
The Curves and Hue/Saturation adjustment tools were tweaked to taste with first sliding to the extremes then backing off.  Here you see a Curves being applied to the 2nd inverse big shape.
dashansheying-2655
The final image with a border having a thin black band, thick white band and chop.
5. Example 2
screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-5-58-32-pm
RAW File Ahead of LR Processing – A So-S0 Look
screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-12-00-15-pm
After Lightroom basic adjustments plus conversion to B&W in Photoshop, I selected three Big Shapes, i.e. 1) the water, 2) the photographers plus camera and three the shoreline background.  See the three layer masks where the “White” on Black is what is selected.  For B&W, I just added one adjustment layer, i.e. Curves – the most powerful of all tools.
screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-6-17-20-am
Here’s a close-up of the Curve Adjustment Tool being applied to the Photographers with the standard S-Curve.
screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-12-02-13-pm
To finish off the image and “Relate” the three Big Shapes, I applied a Curves Adjustment Layer to the entire image.
screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-6-17-31-am
A close -up of the Curves Adjustment Tool.  I could have applied the Brightness – Contrast Tool yet held it in reserve.
dashansheying-2640
The final image with a two-band border with texture applied in Photoshop.

You-Tube has plenty of videos explaining the Selection and Masking Tool Set available in Photoshop.

Here are a few to get started:

VSSR Gallery  (Let Me State the Big Shapes That I Adjusted Tonal Contrast and Color)

dashansheying-2626
Big Shapes to Adjust Tonal Values for Separation Then Related Together: 1) The butterfly 2) The flower/bush and 3) The background
dashansheying-2652
Big Shapes to Adjust Tonal Values for Separation Then Related Together: 1) The young priests walking in file 2) The background sky 3) The background Steps and 4) All the rest.
dashansheying-2650
Big Shapes to Adjust Tonal Values for Separation Then Related Together: 1) All 5-6 towers 2) The 3 firewood stacks, 3) The water and 4) All the rest.
dashansheying-2646
Big Shapes to Adjust Tonal Values for Separation Then Related Together: 1) The water 2) The 6 boats 3) The sky and 4) The shoreline with buildings.
dashansheying-2648
Big Shapes to Adjust Tonal Values for Separation Then Related Together: 1) The water, 2) The two girls, 3) The upper RH wall and 4) All the rest.
dashansheying-2644
Big Shapes to Adjust Tonal Values for Separation Then Related Together: 1) The man, 2) The structure he is sitting on, 3) The RH vertical wall and 4) All the rest.
dashansheying-2628
Big Shapes to Adjust Tonal Values for Separation Then Related Together: 1) The center structure plus its reflection, 2) the water, 3) The back wall and ground and 4) All the rest.
dashansheying-2637
Big Shapes to Adjust Tonal Values for Separation Then Related Together: 1) The man, 2) The RH painting, 3) RH vertical wall and 4) All the rest.

Here John provided some great feedback on his take of the image by filling the frame with the subject, i.e. the man.  I was going for the diagonal glance of the god down on the man yet this is a better composition.  Never stop learning.

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-4-49-57-pm
Being able to bounce ideas off each other which in turns helps to level me up, is the rewarding experience for me.  Thanks John.

Hodge-Podge

Welcome to Big Mountain Photography with a Hodge-Podge collection of recent film and digital images.  Effective 2016-12-09, I stopped posting my images on Facebook as this is my homepage. FOLLOW if you like.

Lensbaby Composer Pro II with Edge 50 Optic

Last Sunday morning, I took a brief photowalk around the local Mylapore Temple with a Lensbaby lens on my Fuji X-Pro2 to experiment with its Tilt and Swing features in moving the plane of focus.  It’s a creative lens, i.e. miniature effect, selective focus…

Surprisingly the most difficult focus was to bring the lens back to its neutral position with a full focus plane.  Shooting in manual mode with a mirrorless allows using “focus peaking” was a breeze as one clearly understands where the slice of focus is moving.

0-lensbaby-composer-pro-ii-with-edge-50-optic
Lensbaby Composer Pro II with Edge 50 Optic
images
View Camera Movements: Lensbaby Left<=> Right is like “Swing” in a View Camera Lensbaby Up<=> Down is like “Tilt” in a View Camera
dashansheying-2585
1) Focused on Fiat: Used a left horizon swing to move the focus plan to the rear of the Fiat 1000 as a Selective Focus technique.
dashansheying-2583
2) Temple Tank in Focus: The pink water lilies in full bloom provides the color balance against the green grass (weeds too).
dashansheying-2593
3) Temple Tower Sliced:  This slice of life begins to show the multitude of stories on the Temple’s Tower.

Fuji GF670 Medium Format Film, 6×7

dashansheying-2595
4) Hyderabad Scarecrow: A repeat of digital work.  After passing this cotton field for 15+ times it appears he’s keeping it secure.
dashansheying-2581
5) At Rest in Dock: The faded green color of this fishing vessel is a true representation of its real visual appeal.

Fuji X-Pro2 with Iridient Developer RAW Processing

dashansheying-2594
6) Looking Down: At the entrance to the Mylapore Temple Tower, I found this scene of Hindu Gods watching over the many visitors as I turned around to look up.
dashansheying-2587
7) Quiet Sunday Morning Read: My walk around Mylapore Temple found this gentleman enjoying his newspaper in solitude.

 

Kailasanathar Temple at Sunrise in Kanchipuram 2016-11-20

Welcome back to Big Mountain Photography where my photographic journey continues with a sunrise visit to Kailasanathar Temple in Kanchpuram.

Note: Red-colored, underlined text is a link for more information, i.e. Wikipedia, YouTube, Map…

I’d appreciate your patronage in following via email alerts, i.e. FOLLOW button RH side as “I no longer post images in Facebook“.  Note: You can right-click to “open the image in another tab” to view in a larger size / resolution, right-click to download if you heart desires…  your call.

As I listen to Petula Clark – Who? Yes, Ms. Downtown herself; I thought I’d finish off this post given I’ve been waiting for my film scans from The FIND Lab in UT, US.

It’s a 3-week turnaround from mailing to downloading the TIFF files at 98Mb each, i.e. that’s medium format at 4x the size of a 35mm.   The FIND Lab does an excellent job film processing and delivering scans with helpful guidance for correcting errors and/or enhancing images.

For my Image Gallery, I’ve combined both analog film (something special about that non-random grain) and digital mirrorless images for your viewing pleasure.

Note: (1) I’m driving standardized workflow with the using titles for each image as a prelude to Photographic Salon Competition and (2) At the bottom of the page, I’ve included an Opinion POLL.  Feedback appreciated.

Image Gallery

dashansheying-2579
1) Guardian Lions – Analog Film (Kodak Porta 400H): Applied a Sepia tone from
dashansheying-2572
2) Guarded Dancers – Analog Film (Kodak Porta 400H): FIND Lab mentioned to shoot this ISO 400 film at ISO 100 (2 stops of extra light) as this film is “light hungry”.
dashansheying-2575
3) Walled Off – First Analog B&W Film (Ilford HP5):  Found out from my friend John that due to the shallow slope of the toe of the Stop-curve for this film (looks like an S-Curve) that Zones 8-10 has little tonal separation in the darks.  Suggested Ilford HP4 or Delta instead, i.e. on my list.  Have a look at John’s FB images – spectacular images as he sculptured with strong tonal separations.
dashansheying-2454
4) Guardians at Attention – Digital Fujifilm Trans-X Image: If it’s old, a Sepia-look may be appropriate.  I like here.

Side Bar: I used Iridient Developer for the Fuji RAW files.  Iridient is a new RAW processor I started using in place of Lightroom to stop, minimize the muddy look of the details with LR. Fuji RAW files are X-Trans in design unlike all other sensors using a non-random Bayer design

Bayer Sensor Design (R-G-B)                                         Fuji X-Trans Sensor Design

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-1-49-25-pm

dashansheying-2458
5) Blue Hour Walls – Digital Fujifilm Trans-X Image: At the “Blue Hour” of sunrise, looking opposite the sunrise reveals a powerful sky.
dashansheying-2461
6) Weaver – Digital Fujifilm Trans-X Image: Stopped to cruise the streets of a small village and as one would expect there’s a story around every corner.  Here many of the streets were lined with weavers at work.
dashansheying-2459
7) Moonlit Temple Tower – Digital Fujifilm Trans-X Image: As the sun rises the moon sets.  On 12/14 there is a “Super Moon” and I’ll be there capturing it this time.  Missed shooting the last full moon.

POLL on the Use of Borders

I’m still shifting my LH logic side of the brain over to the RH artistic side with the addition of frames.  Ever see an old master’s image without a frame?  No, the frame is part of the total presentation.

%d bloggers like this: