Friday, June 4, 2010

Another What's Important In An Image?

Here’s an interesting dilemma, where do I want the viewer’s eye to go to in today’s image? The baby’s at least softly focused, enough to see that’s there’s a baby there, but certainly not sharp enough to be the primary point of the image.  Everybody has shots of babies. I shoot Nikon’s, but having the camera as the main interest would be dumb. That leaves us with “Mom”. So, what’s important about Mom? It surely isn’t her camera holding technique or the fact that her bra strap is showing. It’s the look of joy on her face that “is” the shot. Since there was only one child at the table I’m pretty sure this is the “first born”, the pride and joy of Mon and out of the shot, Grandma. The group was sitting under an umbrella, enjoying a break from walking up and down the main drag of Kent Connecticut. She probably didn’t analyze the factors that would make up the shot and she has the camera set on Auto. (You can see it in an enlargement of the image.) I’m sure her joy is the child and not the photography. That’s all right. In fact, it’s fine. Using photography to “capture the moment” is what 99% of all photography is about. I’ve known a guy who made a living shooting what he calls “invisible pictures”. Images you contact every day, but don’t spend one second thinking about. He shot industrial components, for years. Take a look at the flyer from the grocery store that came in today’s newspaper. It’s filled with photography that you don’t think twice about. It’s a can of soup, a box of cereal, a loaf of bread. All technically fine images, but I’d be willing to bet not one professional photographer taking those shots had the look that “Mom” has on her face when they snapped the shutter. We can make a living with all types of photography, but the joy is in the reason for clicking the shutter, not the act. If you’ve shot one hundred weddings, or a thousand door hinges, or hundreds of beautiful models you don’t have the joy that “Mom” has in today’s image. It might surprise you what was done to today’s image. To find out what, hit the “read more”.
The color wasn’t goosed today. The subject matter didn’t call for it. Simply zeroing out the image to remove any color cast is all that was done. The overall shot was sharpened using the High Pass Sharpening Technique talked about in past posts. The thing I’ve taken to doing with shots of people or clouds I remove the sharpening from the faces or skies. Neither need sharpening. You don’t get better focus by sharpening, you get more pronounced details. The last thing you need on a person’s face or big puffy clouds is sharp edges. On people it emphasizes freckles, moles, lines and age. With skies, have you ever seen a cloud with a sharp edge? I think not. Some photographers I know say every digital image needs to be sharpened. That’s probably true, but every part of every shot doesn’t need to be. Use Smart Filters and the masks that come with them and see how much better people look without sharpening.