Friday, September 9, 2011

Why I Never Shoot in Soft Focus

A photographers ability to take great pictures has never been easier than it is with the technology available today. From many of the point and shoot digital cameras to the high end DSLR's, you have many filters readily available for you to use. Today I want to review the use of the soft focus filter when taking pictures.

Keep in mind that my history and experience has been primarily with film cameras. Over the years I have used soft focus filters for weddings and children photography. So one of my filters in my camera bag was the soft focus filter.

Even though I had a soft focus filter I really didn't need one. I could have had any soft focusing effects I desired applied at the photo lab.

Now today's cameras bring photographers these abilities to soft focus with built in digital filters. That is a kewl feature but there are options we should consider before we choose to take pictures in the soft focus mode of our camera.

Here are some of the questions we should consider asking ...

1) Can the camera apply the soft focus effect after taking the original picture?

2) Can the soft focus effect be applied with computer software?

3) Have you ever taken a soft focus picture you wish was a regular focus picture?

4) What soft photo options are available?

Now I currently shoot with a Pentax K7 and I am very pleased with it. Some of the filters allow me to take a photo and set the image to base parameter, then I can save it and/or apply a different type of filter. The soft focus filter does not allow me this option.

So here is an image I shot some time ago without any filters applied.

Now using the soft focus filter built into the camera I used the same image and applied it to create the image below.

Now this was the maximum soft focus I could apply with the cameras soft focus post production capability.

The image below was created using the original image and applying a photoshop filter.

The photoshop filter allows for more of a soft focus effect than the camera filter and can be tuned per your specific liking.

Personally, I would never use the soft focus capability of the camera to take pictures at all. In my case, once a picture is taken in soft focus there is no recourse in post production to return to the crispness of a picture taken without the filter.

As you know the topic today was about the soft focus filter function of a camera. As with most digital cameras that offer filter capabilities, it is important for you, the photographer, to understand the abilities of the filter effects. Take time to learn these abilities. Take pictures with different effects and tinker with the capabilities of your camera. It helped me learn more, I hope it helps you learn more also.

Enjoy Life! Take Pictures!

BTW ... On Twitter I am @TMSphotos ... I am always willing to connect with photographers.  You are also welcome to follow my Blog here. I try to share knowledge, information and experience of my photography.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Framing Subjects in Your Photo

Scanning Negatives Project - from Roll 3

From my third roll of film, here is an example of a common mistake made by many beginning photographers. Yup, I am even guilty of it. By looking at this image I can tell where the center of my lens is focused and instead of moving around to get the subjects to fill the frame, I took the picture you see here. Look at all that useless space around the two subjects! I certainly new nothing about composing a picture when I started. 

Since I was using a fixed 50mm lens what I should have done was moved in closer to the subjects, focused on the edge of their faces and then moved the camera so that the subjects filled the frame of the camera better. 

Using Photoshop I have created an example of what a better image would have been. See below.

From a typical photographers point of view this is a better photo of the two subjects. This is a more pleasant photo to be shared with others and for printed memories. Notice that the focus is on the subjects and filling the frame with the two subjects.

With the digital cameras available today they make it so much easier to frame your subjects better in the display or viewfinder. But there are still things to take into consideration in regards to framing your subjects for digital display and for prints. That is a subject I will discuss further in a another article.

For now though, the next time you go to take a picture take a look around your subjects and ask yourself, do I really want that in the final picture? If not, take the picture anyway and then try to look for a better shot and take that too. It’s digital, you don’t need to care anymore if you take a picture you don’t like!

For DSLR users many of them have a cropping function built into the camera, I know mine does and I use it often. There are limitations to zooming and cropping and you need to make yourself aware of them. I suggest taking test shots and playing around with it, learn the limitations especially with the high ISO ranges.

Tip for Compact Digital Cameras - before making your purchase make sure that you test the zoom feature of the camera. I have noticed some of them have almost fixed points when it comes to zoom which means that once you have it where you want it it makes an adjustment to a fixed point determined by the camera. You don’t want that (at least I don’t want that), you want to zoom in on your subjects and have the lens stop in that position so you get the picture you want.

My next request is that you share what you learn about taking better pictures. If someone can learn from my mistakes and help a friend or relative take better pictures go for it! 

Enjoy Life! Take Pictures!

BTW ... On Twitter I am @TMSphotos ... I am always willing to connect with photographers. You are also welcome to follow my Blog here. I try to share knowledge, information and experience of my photography.