Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Gallery Part 2, And The "Clouds" Confession

Now that everyone has finished putting their stuff up, here's a look at the layout that gives you an idea of the shabby room and low-tech lighting that's within any group's budget.
I used my phone's camera because it has an ultra-wide-angle lens and my main camera doesn't.

Since I was playing with my phone's camera, I kept at it.
I also played around with Photoshop, stretching and distorting the image.

Anyone who cruises around looking at pictures on Flickr will have seen the photographers who upload photos of clouds. No main subject that benefits from a pretty sky as a background, no planes or birds or lightning or water towers or people or even a sunset....just clouds.
I never understood it, especially since these photos are usually bland and pretty lame instead of just pretty.
My recent cloud photo was intended as a joke or a dig at their expense, but it didn't work out that way. As the screen-grab below shows, my clouds are now the third most popular photo I have put on my Flickr pages, and in record time.

The popularity of my katydid picture still confuses me--it's good but it's still just a bug. "Waiting To Cross Over" makes sense. I'm happy that the waterwheel photo climbed rapidly to #6--I really like it. The sunset is striking and unusual.
But clouds at #3? Sure, I Photoshopped the hell out of it to get a wide range of tones that makes them just about the prettiest clouds I've ever seen, but it's still only clouds.
I may not 'get it', but whatever the people want I'll be sure to give them.
Expect more clouds from me, but to really tip the scales I think I'll add cats.
With funny misspelled captions.

Part 2: Sept. 5 Confession
Here's what my clouds actually looked like straight from the camera--I only re-sized it to be the same as the posted version so you can save them both and compare details. I recognized a nice formation in bad light, and tried a few camera techniques that didn't help at all under prevailing conditions then gave up until I got bored at home while Photoshop was running.
I thought the result was funny until people started loving it.

Anyone can do this with Photoshop when only clouds and sky are in the frame, just like anyone who has a crappy point and shoot camera can capture a beautiful sky when the light is just exactly right.
Here, the light wasn't 'right' at all--I just knew what to do with it after I got home. The narrow dynamic range of the original lends itself well to dramatic processing. By expanding what's there I can push the highs and lows further without anything blowing-out or blocking-up--the detail is all there in the original even though it looks like crap. This is also why IR shooters like me can get some awesome B&W results.
Under- and over-exposing by just 1/3rd stop didn't help the Photoshop work, it made it worse. There's a tip you can use. Trust your camera's exposure meter when capturing bland clouds.
Also, I was shooting through a dirty car windshield with an inexpensive polarizing filter on my lens--two more huge sins according to the multitude of "photographers" who spend way more time on the internet bragging about their expensive camera equipment (and slagging whomever admits to owning anything but their choice) than they do taking and processing actual pictures that don't suck.


Matthew Robertson said...

SHAME! ... but it's OK.

Good stuff with the show.

KeithAlanK said...

The clouds are now at #2 in popularity. And people are telling me in-person how much they kick ass. Who am I to argue? I'm shooting clouds and only clouds all the time now.

Matthew Robertson said...

You know, photos of any single subject becomes a significant series when you beat it to death. If you're ever looking for inspiration, you might want to find the book about bicycles locked to posts.