"LR4 Challenge: How Would You Do It?" Fri 25-Jan-13 01:15 AM by JerryLoSardo
OK, I'll admit it, for all of my fancy digital photog equipment that I possess, I don't have an artistic bone in my body. Zip, zero, nada. Not one. Consequently, my composition skills stink. But, like everything else that I attempt in my life, I try hard. So as a practice exercise I thought it would be interesting if I tried creating a collection of images of sewing stuff in my wife's sewing room. The intent was to do close-ups of her equipment with additional accessories blurred in the background--hardly an original idea, but I had to start somewhere. The initial results didn't exactly wow me (no surprise there).
I'm posting 2 of the original images, plus versions of each after post processing in LR4. And since I'm not particularly happy with the results, I thought it would be even more interesting if I offered a challenge to all of you: Either (1) explain what you would have done differently to make the image more appealing, and/or (2) Download the original jpeg, process your own version and then post on this thread. I'm interested in how you would have cropped differently, how you would have post-processed, and in any other compositional ideas you may have. All comments and critiques, good bad & ugly, are welcome. If you prefer, I'll try emailing the RAW files to you, although they're rather large (10-12 mb).
So, what do you say? I could sure use the help!
Jerry LoSardo Frederick, Maryland
Here's the first original. Nikon D700 with 85mm f/1.8, 1/5sec, f/6.3, ISO 400, auto WB
Here's the processed version of the first original. Some obvious heavy cropping, adjustment of WB ten to about 2500K, application of a custom tone curve to increase contrast, and some sharpening.
Here's the processed version of the second original (original is below; sorry for these being out of order). Also taken with a D700 and 85mm. 1/50sec, f/2.5, ISO 400. Cropping, increase of tint to 36, application of a custom curve, and application of the custom brush to lighten up the black spools in the background. Also tweaked the contrast and shadow sliders.
#1. "RE: LR4 Challenge: How Would You Do It?" In response to Reply # 0
I am not terribly artistic either, so keep that in mind when reading my comments ...
first thing I noticed was that they were all photos of either the same thing or similar things, all "machines" of some kind, are there not other things?
then I noticed the spools of coloured thread (I assume that is what they are). Fantastic colours, and colours gradually morphing into other colours -- can you not do something with that? I really wanted to be able to SEE them!
same thing on the last photo -- the things hanging on the wall behind the machine? What are they?
lots of patterns to work with, why not a few photos concentrating on patterns? Put the machines out of focus? Go for a small aperture and get more depth of field? Play with it?
Not sure I would have had the nerve to try something different like that, but I like the idea!!
#2. "RE: LR4 Challenge: How Would You Do It?" In response to Reply # 0
I think those are pretty interesting and good quality images.
This is what I would have done differently:
*stage each scene a little better to start with, and get it closer to right in the camera, to avoid so much work & cropping in PP. In this case, you could have removed the scissors on the right and the brown cord in front, and zoomed in more in the original.
*I assume these are in the same room with the same lighting, and therefore would be much more in harmony if you had the final color temp adjusted to the same point. Your first image is much cooler than the second. The first is a little too cool for my taste and the second too warm; but some of that is a matter of personal taste. Try using a gray card shot to set your color temp, either in camera or in post.
*I like the thread rack colors in the background, with the merging colors. It would make an interesting subject on its own.
*The rack of "feet" would make an interesting subject, with a little arranging. Try it from different angles.
*You are doing the same thing I tend to do--always shooting from above the subject. Try these scenes again from a lower angle--more level with the machine parts you want in sharp focus. That makes the main subject much more dominant in the image. In general, get in the habit of taking pictures from several different angles, in a situation like this. It's amazing how different things look, and how you can eliminate or emphasize different parts of an image. Doing this one thing has helped me more with my photography than anything else. It's really the difference between a snapshot and a photo.
Keep up the good work! A lot of it is just practice, practice, practice. You will get some really good images and begin to figure out what you did RIGHT in those.
Composition is the hardest part of photography for many of us. You are not alone!
working on it in Middle TN Nikon D3100
35 mm 1.8 Nikkor 18-55 mm Nikkor VR 55-200 mm Nikkor VR 55-300 mm Nikkor VR 150-500 mm Sigma OS Feisol CT3471 & Markins M20 ballhead
#3. "RE: LR4 Challenge: How Would You Do It?" In response to Reply # 2
I totally agree with Diane - although there are certainly white balance issues, the main thing is the composition, which you can't really fix with LR (or any other post processing). With that said, here are my suggestions:
- I think you want to keep the eye moving, so you really want at least two things in the image. Part of the story is the sewing machine and the colorful supply of thread. So I'd emphasize the fact that they're related. Offhand I would probably move the sewing machine to the right, then have the vantage of the camera such that the sewing machine is recognizable as a sewing machine. Your crop of #1 shows the control panel, but unless one is really into sewing machines, nobody recognizes it as a sewing machine. (I do, but my wife has a similar situation upstairs next to what was my darkroom...) If you include the foot and associated mechanism in the frame, it will look a LOT more like a sewing machine to the uninitiated. That will roughly make for an "inverted U" shape - and I'd place the rows of thread behind them, filling the space of the U. It will take some adjustment of perspective and focal length to get the ratio of foreground to background right. I'm not sure what that would be; I would probably end up shooting at least a half a dozen frames experimenting with different distances and focal lengths.
- Continuing from the above, I would also try something that you don't own: a fisheye. The most extreme of the focal length / distance combinations, meaning an 8mm circular fisheye from almost under the arch of the sewing machine, probably with something actually threaded under the foot. What I have in mind is like something you've probably seen from Arches National Park - only with a sewing machine instead of rocks!
- In fact, I might try another variant: a longer focal length (70-85mm?), arranged so that the primary subject is a piece being sewn, with the thread rack in the background. Probably have to stop down some to ensure that the spools are recognizable, but definitely not in focus.
- Hmm... another variant of the variant: shoot it on a tripod, but at slow shutter speed, so that the needle is clearly blurred and in motion. But shoot it with rear sync flash to freeze the needle at the end of the blur. With the thread spools in the background. I can say with some confidence that it would take me another half a dozen or even a dozen frames to get the timing right on this. I'm a digital whimp: I know people got this right back in the film era, but I'd have never shot enough of them to succeed, knowing that every frame was going to cost me a dollar. Now we delete the ones that don't succeed, so there's pretty much no reason not to keep trying. I'll guess that this one probably works better with a macro lens...
- A different variant: go back to the static, non-action shot, but now put the focus on the spools, with the framing sewing machine structure out of focus, although perhaps still recognizable.
- The "machine in front, supplies in back" arrangement also works with the serger. In that case, the "action" shot shows even more, since most people don't know what it does - although they'd recognize the output.
- I noticed an iron in the very first shot. Irons don't generally make the most interesting subjects, but how about the steam? They seem to work differently (especially the high end ones, which I'm going to guess is in this room, given that sewing or quilting machine), but all of them can produce steam, and they can be made to "poof." A little flash, perhaps backlit from behind the iron itself might produce a fascinating pattern in front of something else.
- I am intrigued by the yellow pin heads and yellow cone in the lower right corner of the first frame. I would try focusing in on that, with a macro lens. I'd lose the white cone, but put the white box with the pins, along with the yellow cone, in front of and closer to the thread rack - with the area now occupied by the white cone in front of the yellow spools. Three different yellows, with three different textures, in the frame. Not sure of the aperture relationship; I'd start with the two things in the foreground sharp and the spools in the back mostly sharp, definitely more than recognizable but not sharp. Again, I'd have to work this to get it right. I'd definitely lose the red labels; turn the cone so that the red is facing away from the camera. There are a variety of yellows on the top row of the spools; I'd be reorganizing the rack to put several of them behind the foreground cone. (And I'd do it while my wife wasn't around to notice - but only AFTER carefully shooting some frames to be 100% sure I could get them back in the right order!!!)
- I think that a macro lens is the answer to Diane's suggestion about the row of feet.
- How about some fabric, ideally finished or half-finished, thrown over the rack of thread - with the appropriate member colors "accidentally" the ones showing next to the fabric?
- Everything that you shot and that I've suggested is more or less "from the side." What about "vertical" as in from above, or even from below?
- It might be interesting to play on the different shapes of the thread supplies. How about placing the serger's cones in front of the thread spools, again with the "right" or "interesting" colors strategically arranged in the rack? Or even in the serger? Or both?
- Still on the "rack of spools as background" idea... how about a very long, narrow image. Say, ten or twelve spools wide by only two high, with something in the foreground - and well off centered in the image?
Hey... maybe I'll try some of this over the weekend!
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
#4. "RE: LR4 Challenge: How Would You Do It?" In response to Reply # 3 Fri 25-Jan-13 10:03 AM by JerryLoSardo
Dennis, Diane, Brian,
Thank you for the comments, great stuff! Dennis, I have taken many MANY images of the thread rack, but I haven't hit on the correct white balance, so the colors look terrible at this point, so I just didn't include them yet. Diane, love the comment about getting lower, will definitely try it this weekend. I didn't do a whole lot of re-staging; it was getting late at night when this brainstorm of an idea hit me, and the wife is a bit touchy about me messing with her sewing and quilting supplies and equipment; can't blame her I guess, I would be the same way if she started touching and re-arranging my photography stuff. Brian, you've given me a whole lot to think about and to experiment with. Stay tuned, I'll try posting further results, and please keep the ideas coming.
#7. "RE: LR4 Challenge: How Would You Do It?" In response to Reply # 6 Sun 27-Jan-13 08:35 PM by JerryLoSardo
OK everyone, I tried to follow some of the sage advice that you all gave, especially trying to keep things simpler, shooting at a lower angle, and trying some interesting composition ideas (thank you's to Dan, Diane and Brian). So: (1) Am I heading in the right direction? (2) If so, which image would you prefer? The second one offers more subject isolation, and I like the curvature of the thread. Dumb question, but is it clear that this is a sewing machine? What do you think? Be honest, I can take it. Moderator: I realize I probably should have posted this under "A Picture I Took", but since I started this thread under the LR4 forum, I thought it prudent to keep it there. Feel free to move if it makes sense to do so.
#9. "RE: LR4 Challenge: How Would You Do It?" In response to Reply # 7
First a disclaimer... Composition and thinking like an artist are my weak points too.
I like #2 better with the curved thread. Perhaps add a vignette or paint in some negative exposure to bring down the brightness of the top the image and the bottom rt corner. IMO, these bright areas pull the viewers eyes away from the needle and thread.
If this was a crop, can you play with the rule of thirds to raise the curved thread a bit? Would a portrait orientation match the implied up and down motion of the needle? I also think there may be some hot spots on the thread that the negative highlight brush might fix.
If you are shooting again, would moving the dark threads behind the needle offer more isolation of the needle and thread?
One of the aspect I like about LR4's non destructive editing is that any attempt at creativity can be reversed if desired.
EYEBALLER Sterling Heights, US Registered since 08th Sep 2011
Mon 28-Jan-13 12:57 AM
#8. "RE: LR4 Challenge: How Would You Do It?" In response to Reply # 0
>OK, I'll admit it, for all of my fancy digital photog >equipment that I possess, I don't have an artistic bone in my >body. Zip, zero, nada. Not one. Consequently, my >composition skills stink. But, like everything else that I >attempt in my life, I try hard. So as a practice exercise I >thought it would be interesting if I tried creating a >collection of images of sewing stuff in my wife's sewing room. > The intent was to do close-ups of her equipment with >additional accessories blurred in the background--hardly an >original idea, but I had to start somewhere. The initial >results didn't exactly wow me (no surprise there). > >I'm posting 2 of the original images, plus versions of each >after post processing in LR4. And since I'm not particularly >happy with the results, I thought it would be even more >interesting if I offered a challenge to all of you: Either >(1) explain what you would have done differently to make the >image more appealing, and/or (2) Download the original jpeg, >process your own version and then post on this thread. I'm >interested in how you would have cropped differently, how you >would have post-processed, and in any other compositional >ideas you may have. All comments and critiques, good bad >& ugly, are welcome. If you prefer, I'll try emailing the >RAW files to you, although they're rather large (10-12 mb). > > >So, what do you say? I could sure use the help! > >Jerry LoSardo >Frederick, Maryland > >Here's the first original. Nikon D700 with 85mm f/1.8, >1/5sec, f/6.3, ISO 400, auto WB > > > > > >Here's the processed version of the first original. Some >obvious heavy cropping, adjustment of WB ten to about 2500K, >application of a custom tone curve to increase contrast, and >some sharpening. > > > > >Here's the processed version of the second original (original >is below; sorry for these being out of order). Also taken >with a D700 and 85mm. 1/50sec, f/2.5, ISO 400. Cropping, >increase of tint to 36, application of a custom curve, and >application of the custom brush to lighten up the black spools >in the background. Also tweaked the contrast and shadow >sliders. > > > > > I believe that you took pretty good shots,quality wise. (1) What I can see that really sticks out,especially if you are going to use this as a product sales promotion is that I would take everything out of the picture that has nothing to do with the product or does not compliment the product. There are plenty of objects in the background that are completely blurred which renders them unidentifiable as to what they are and therefore do not add to the picture,they instead distract from what should be the target of the picture which should be the sewing machine and sewing products. Even the foreground has racks of what might be keys or something (I don't know what they are) but I don't see where keys have anything to do with sewing. (2) As someone else commented here also; Composition is very important in a product shot. Compose the photo so as to bring more or all of the sewing machine into the photo in order to make the sewing machine more easily recognized as a sewing machine instead of maybe another electronic key pad and then place the other sewing machine accessories to fit as much as possible adjacent to the sewing machine "with out blocking the main identifiers of your main target, the sewing machine. Compose your shot from the front of the sewing machine so that the needle(very important) is clearly identifiable. (3)Also as a couple people have stated here;Use the sharpest lens you have and stop it down to at least (F16) so that the entire photo will be sharp and identifiable. (4) Since your sewing machine is white or almost white, use a backdrop color that is not light or bright to make your sewing machine stand out more,maybe a neural grey or earth tone color.You will have to experiment with the correct color to use (photoshop would be a good place to experiment with the colors during post production). Don't slide the bright/dark slider to the bright side because you don't want the backdrop to compete with the foreground or your target. It doesn't have to be black and probably black would not be a candidate because it would not allow the spool colors to stand out,especially colors like dark brown or especially black.