Saturday, June 7, 2008

An emotionally compelling photograph (for me)

One of my favorite subjects to photographs is 'my friends at play'.

Here a shot I took yesterday of my friend Maureen windsurfing in the Columbia River Gorge.

Shot settings:
  • Canon 5D camera
  • Canon 400 f5.6 L Lens: So the windsurfer was big enough in the frame & to pull in the background.
  • ISO 200: To ensure a fast enough shutter-speed to freeze the action.
  • Shooting Mode of 'aperture priority': I wanted to specify the widest aperture the lens supported and let the camera select the correct shutter-speed.
  • Aperture f5.6: The widest aperture this lens supports--to give me a 'blurry background'. This lens (400 f5.6) is sharp 'wide-open', many lenses are not sharp 'wide-open.'
  • Exposure compensation (EC) set to 0: The camera metered it 'just right'
  • shutter-speed 1/1250th of a second: Selected by the camera. I did set ISO to 200, to ensure I got a fast shutter-speed (ISO 100 would have given me a shutter-speed of 1/600th of a second--at 1/600 I might have gotten some 'motion blur' or blur from 'camera movement'.)
  • Picture style of 'standard': This gives me a nice 'punchy' image without a whole lot of post-processing.
  • White balance set to 5900 degrees Kelvin when the RAW file was processed to JPEG: The 'sunny' white balance I used when shooting looked a little 'cold' to me back at my computer, so I set white balance via 'color temperature' when I processed the file (white balance 'color temp' is a 'slider' in Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP.)) Being able to 'tweak' white-balance in post-processing is a nice benefit to shooting in RAW.
  • Focus mode set to AI Servo: So I could 'track' my subject and release the shutter when I wanted to take a photo.
  • Tripod with ball-head: To keep the camera stable when shooting. The ball-head allows me to freely move the camera, while still having the camera stabilized by the tripod.
  • Location the photo was taken: Arlington, Oregon, USA (Columbia River Gorge)

I really love this shot. The elements that make this photo good, in my opinion, are:
  • The beautiful scene
  • The very nice colors. The contrast between the green water and the tan hills.
  • The subject in focus, with the slightly blurry background (making the sailor 'pop' a little.)
  • The hills in the background 'filling the frame'
  • An uncluttered background (remember to 'watch the background' -- it matters.)
  • The subject is in the bottom third of the photo (following the 'rule of thirds')
  • No other windsurfers in the frame to clutter the photo
For me, this is also 'emotionally compelling' photo. It reminds me of a spectacular day of windsurfing at a beautiful location with good friends. I can look at this photo and I am reminded of great day of sailing.

The use of the long 400mm focal length lens was key to:
  • Make the subject (the sailor) large enough in the frame (so she isn't a 'speck')
  • Pull in the hills in the background (with a 100mm focal length you would get lots of sky.)
Here's another photo from the day. I like the first photo better, but this one has a little more 'action' - so others may prefer this one:

(similar 'shot settings' to the previous photo.)

1 comment:


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