Monday, April 15, 2024

A Final Word about Perspective Control: Put It in a Frame

 

Blog Note: I didn't want to leave the subject of perspective control without mentioning a very important way to do it -- put the subject in a frame. I've written about this in the past, so this is a repost from early 2022.

Above are two photographs of the beautiful, old Starr's Mill, a few miles south of Fayetteville, Georgia. They were taken at different times and with different cameras, however, looking at each file at high magnification, there appears to be no difference in photographic quality.

Which one do you prefer? Can you say why?

Although the second photo is sharp and has beautiful light and color, most people prefer the first one, even though many probably could not say why. The mill looks great in the second one, but there's no feeling of depth and no place for your eye to rest. In the first one, the tree on the right, the rocks on the shore, and the dam all combine to lead the eye to the mill. They form a frame around it,  which gives the picture a a sense of depth and dimensionality.

"Framing" a photo is a very effective compositional technique, and one I use a lot. In this photograph of Short's Mill near Clarkesville, Georgia, the mill is actually only a small part of the picture, yet the stone ledge, flowing water, and autumn leaves form a frame to lead the eye to the old mill. 


There many ways to put the subject of your photograph in a frame. For instance, in this photo of a children's Sunday School class, the way the children's heads are turned direct the viewer's eye to the teacher and the child she is speaking to. 


I don't use this technique of framing for every shot, of course, but I think if you learn to look for opportunities to put a frame in your pictures it will improve your photography.

You can read more about framing here

Signed copies of my book Backroads and Byways of Georgia are available. The price is $22.95 plus $4.50 shipping. My PayPal address is djphoto@vol.com (which is also my email). Or you can mail me a check to 8943 Wesley Place, Knoxville, TN 37922. Include your address and tell me how you would like your book inscribed.

Check out the pictures at my online gallery: https://davejenkins.pixels.com/  Looking is free, and you might find something you like.

Photography and text copyright 2024 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Tags:   photography   travel   Georgia     old mills     perspective control     photographic composition

Friday, April 12, 2024

Should You Shoot RAW or Jpeg?

Les Barnett plays a homemade banjo at the Foxfire Museum. From a jpeg original.

There's a long-running debate about whether it's better to shoot RAW or jpegs in your digital camera. I would guess most knowledgeable photographers would counsel you to shoot RAW. Me? I shoot both. But most of my digital pictures that you see will be out-of-the camera jpegs. The RAW files are backups, and I only use them when a scene has an extremely wide range of tones or presents a difficult color-balancing problem. Most digital cameras allow you to shoot both simultaneously.

Slide film was probably the most difficult photographic medium to work with, yet I used it for the majority of my work for 35 years. It required a very precise metering technique, because if it were more than a stop overexposed it was unusable. It was a little more forgiving of underexposure. But I never relied on the built-in camera meters, because they read the light reflected from the subject and could easily be fooled. I almost always used an incident meter, which read the light falling on the subject, which is far more accurate.

However although the meter built into your digital camera is a reflected-light meter, it is far more sophisticated and accurate than those in my old film cameras. The meters in my Fuji cameras are right on the money most of the time, and at worst, are close enough that a simple Photoshop adjustment in Curves will make them just right. 

When I'm finished editing my photos I usually delete the RAW files to save space on my hard drive.

Here's how I set up my Fuji cameras to shoot jpegs. Your camera may be slightly different.

Image Quality: F (Fine)

Film Simulation: S (resembles Fuji Astia, my favorite film. This is a matter of personal taste. I prefer my photos to have softer, warmer tones.)

Dynamic Range: 100

White Balance: I usually use Auto

Highlight and Shadow Tones: Both 0

Color: +1

Sharpness: +1

ISO: Varies with situation, but I mostly use ISO 800. The sensors in today's digital cameras are so good there's seldom any advantage in using a lower speed. My files will easily enlarge to 24x36 inches and beyond with excellent sharpness.

The photo above is an excellent example of a straight-out-of-the-camera jpeg. There's good color and a wide range of tones with nothing extreme. Click on it for an enlarged version and you will see that there are no burned-out highlights and that there is detail even in the dark hallway behind the banjo player. The photo was made with a Fuji X-H1 camera and the  cheap but vastly underrated Fujicron XC 16-50mm lens.

Signed copies of my book Backroads and Byways of Georgia are available. The price is $22.95 plus $4.50 shipping. My PayPal address is djphoto@vol.com (which is also my email). Or you can mail me a check to 8943 Wesley Place, Knoxville, TN 37922. Include your address and tell me how you would like your book inscribed.

Check out the pictures at my online gallery: https://davejenkins.pixels.com/  Looking is free, and you might find something you like.

Photography and text copyright 2024 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Tags:   photography   travel    camera setup     Fuji X-H1 camera     Fujicron XC 16-50mm lens     Foxfire Museum     RAW     jpegs

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Georgia Small Towns: Milledgeville

The old Georgia State Capital in Milledgeville was built in 1807.

 Only two cities in the United States were established for the express purpose of being capitols. One, of course, was Washington, D.C. The other was Milledgeville, founded in 1804 to be the capitol of Georgia.

After the capitol was moved to Atlanta in 1868, Milledgeville went through many years of struggle. The establishment of Georgia Military College in 1879 and Georgia College and State University in 1889 helped the city to survive and perhaps become less provincial than most other small towns in Georgia. The current population is about 17,000.

In the 1980s and '90s, Milledgeville began to revitalize its downtown and historic district. On my visits there I greatly enjoyed browsing through downtown Milledgeville, with its many shops and restaurants and gracious, old-south lifestyle. Milledgeville has a surprisingly cosmopolitan air for a smallish, off-the-beaten-track town, perhaps because of the two colleges located here. I wanted to stay and relax with the crowds at the sidewalk tables in front of many of the restaurants.

The 1822 Orme-Sallee House is one of many historic homes in Milledgeville.

 

The 1807 O'Quinn's Mill on Town Creek is the same age as the old capitol building.

 

 Andalusia Farm, the home of writer Flannery O'Conner during her most productive years.

About the photos: The old State Capitol and the Orme-Sallee House were photographed with an Olympus E-M5 fitted with the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm lens. For O'Quinn's Mill and the Andalusia Farm house, I used a Fuji X-H1 camera and the Fujicron XC 16-50mm lens.

This post was adapted from my book Backroads and Byways of Georgia. 

Signed copies of my book Backroads and Byways of Georgia are available. The price is $22.95 plus $4.50 shipping. My PayPal address is djphoto@vol.com (which is also my email). Or you can mail me a check to 8943 Wesley Place, Knoxville, TN 37922. Include your address and tell me how you would like your book inscribed.

Check out the pictures at my online gallery: https://davejenkins.pixels.com/  Looking is free, and you might find something you like.

Photography and text copyright 2024 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Tags:   photography   travel     Georgia     Milledgeville     Flannery O'Conner     Olympus E-M5 camera     Panasonic     Lumix G Vario 12-32 lens     Fuji X-H1 camera     Fujicron XC 16-50mm lens     Andalusia Farm

Monday, April 8, 2024

How to Keep Vertical Lines in Photographs Vertical: Number Six: Go for Dramatic Effect

Fayette County Courthouse, Fayetteville, Georgia.

 So far we've discussed five techniques for achieving correct perspective, with vertical lines vertical, in our photographs. Another technique, which I didn't mention before, is finding a higher elevation from which to shoot. I've gone to second (or higher) floors of buildings across the street from my subjects on occasion, when that possibility was available.

Sometimes however, we encounter situations where none of these techniques will work. What then? Well, if converging verticals are inevitable, we might as well make the most of it!

The Fayette County courthouse, built in 1824, is Georgia's fourth oldest. I could have, and actually did, make photographs of the building from several angles with correct perspective. But this picture was made purposely from this angle and with this framing for dramatic effect. I think the square format really works here. To me, this more effectively conveys the essence of the old structure than any of the "correct" views.

Tower Place, Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia
 
There was no possibility of making an architecturally correct photo of the tower in Tower Place in Buckhead -- there was no place I could go to get a "correct" perspective of the building. It was simply too tall. So I did the only thing I could do -- I moved in close with a wide-angle lens, tilted the camera, and went for the drama.

Interestingly enough, most of the architects to whom I've shown this picture have liked it. Enough so that I've kept it in my architectural portfolio for years.

About the photos:  The Fayette County courthouse was photographed with a Yashica 124 twin-lens reflex camera and Fujichrome 100 film in 120 size. The Tower was photographed with an Olympus OM camera and (probably) the 24mm f2.8 Zuiko  lens on Kodachrome 64 film.

Signed copies of my book Backroads and Byways of Georgia are available. The price is $22.95 plus $4.50 shipping. My PayPal address is djphoto@vol.com (which is also my email). Or you can mail me a check to 8943 Wesley Place, Knoxville, TN 37922. Include your address and tell me how you would like your book inscribed.

Check out the pictures at my online gallery: https://davejenkins.pixels.com/  Looking is free, and you might find something you like.

Photography and text copyright 2024 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Tags:   photography   architectural photography   film photography     Georgia     Fayette County courthouses     Tower Place, Buckhead     Yashica 124    twin-lens-reflex camera   Olympus OM camera     Zuiko 24mm f2.8 lens     Fujichrome 100 film     Kodachrome 64 film    

Friday, April 5, 2024

How to Keep Vertical Lines in Photographs Vertical: Number Five: Use a Shift Lens

What's wrong with this picture?

This is my neighbor's house. I'm using it as an example because my own house is only one story and I needed a taller one to illustrate my point.

The camera is on a tripod. The lens is a 35mm full-frame equivalent. The setup is perfectly level, with all the vertical lines vertical, but the highest part of the roof is cut off. I could have tilted the camera to include the roof, but then, the vertical lines would no longer be vertical. 

This photograph was taken at the same time and from the same position. Notice that all the vertical lines are still vertical, but now the entire roof is in the picture. What did I do? I used a shift lens, a very important tool for architectural photography.

During the years when I was doing a good bit of architectural photography I had a Canon TS-E 24mm shift lens, a very fine piece of equipment. However, I changed to Fuji cameras and lenses because they were smaller and lighter, and since Fuji did not offer shift lenses I bought a shift adapter to fit my cameras.

The photo above shows my Fuji X-T20 camera fitted with a shift adapter, which is the odd-looking bit of equipment between the camera and the lens.The lens, by the way, is an Olympus 24mm from my Olympus film camera set. On the adapter, it functions as a 35mm lens.

This photo shows the shift adapter at full rise, which is what enabled me to make the photo of my neighbor's house with all the roof included and all the vertical lines still vertical.

I photographed many old homes, churches, courthouses, and other historic buildings for my books by using the techniques previously discussed in this series and seldom needed to use a shift lens. But when you need one, you need one.

I miss my days doing architectural photography. Above is a picture of the Chattanooga Public Library that I did for the architects with my Canon shift lens.

Of course, the very best way to do architectural photography is with a view camera. But if you know how to use a view camera, you don't need any help from me! 

About the photos: The top two photos were made with a Fuji X-H1 camera with a Fotodiox shift adapter and an Olympus Zuiko 24mm f2.8 lens. The close-ups of the adapter were made with the Fuji X-H1 and a Fujicron 16-80mm f4 lens. The library was photographed with a Canon 5D Classic and the Canon TS-E 24mm f2.8 shift lens.

Signed copies of my book Backroads and Byways of Georgia are available. The price is $22.95 plus $4.50 shipping. My PayPal address is djphoto@vol.com (which is also my email). Or you can mail me a check to 8943 Wesley Place, Knoxville, TN 37922. Include your address and tell me how you would like your book inscribed.

Check out the pictures at my online gallery: https://davejenkins.pixels.com/  Looking is free, and you might find something you like.

Photography and text copyright 2024 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Tags:   photography   architectural photography    shift lenses    Canon EOS 5D Classic camera     Canon TS-E 24mm f2.8 shift lens     Fuji X-H1 camera     Fuji X-T20 camera     Fotodiox shift adapter     Fujicron 16-80mm f4 lens     Olympus Zuiko 24mm f2.8 lens

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

How to Keep Vertical Lines in Photographs Vertical: Number Four: Use a Longer Lens

The Rock City "Birdhouse" barn in its original location.

Another good technique for keeping the vertical lines vertical in your photographs is to back off and use a longer lens -- if you have room to do it. These aren't great examples of the technique, but are the best I could find without some deep digging in my files.

Above is the Rock City "birdhouse" barn in it's original location beside Interstate 75 in Dalton, Georgia. It was painted by Clark Byers, the original barn painter, and his son Freddie in 1967. In 2001/02 it was dismantled and put back together in a field at the foot of Lookout Mountain below Rock City. When all the other Rock City barns are gone, as they inevitably will be at some time in the future, people will still be able to see this one.

"Shotgun" houses on Georgia Highway 208 in Harris County.

This second example is from my limited edition book Georgia: A Backroads Portrait. They are called "shotgun" houses because the rooms are all in a row from front to back. Theoretically, one could fire a gun in the front door and the bullet would go straight through and out the back door with no obstruction. I found these three on an obscure road in west central Georgia while looking for "lost" Rock City barns. 

About the photos: Both were made with a Canon EOS A2 camera, probably with the Canon EF 28-105mm lens. The film, as usual, was Fujichrome 100.

Signed copies of my book Backroads and Byways of Georgia are available. The price is $22.95 plus $4.50 shipping. My PayPal address is djphoto@vol.com (which is also my email). Or you can mail me a check to 8943 Wesley Place, Knoxville, TN 37922. Include your address and tell me how you would like your book inscribed.

Check out the pictures at my online gallery: https://davejenkins.pixels.com/  Looking is free, and you might find something you like.

Photography and text copyright 2024 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Tags:   photography    travel    Harris County, Georgia    shotgun house     Rock City    barns      film photography     Canon EOS A2 camera     Canon EF 28-105mm lens     Fujichrome film

Monday, April 1, 2024

The Photo-Fossil

 Musicians at the Cultural Village, Lusaka, Zambia.

Olympus OM2n, 100-300mm f4 Tokina lens, Fujichrome 100 film

(Click to enlarge)

Blog Note: As I said in my previous post, sometimes life gets in the way. Unfortunately, it's still in the way, so I'm re-posting a blog from about three years ago. I hope to get back on track soon and continue the series about perspective control.

I've been a photographer for nearly 56 years now. From 1968 to 2003 all my photographs were made on film, but in the summer of '03 I switched to digital photography. Not because I wanted to, but because it was necessary to remain competitive in my photography business. So -- 35 years with film, and 20 so far with digital, although I have exposed a few rolls of film in those years.

Several years ago I began a project to choose my 100 best photographs, with the idea that I would have them printed in a book by one of the online publishers. I haven't spent a lot of time on this, and it may turn out to be one of those projects that never get finished. I should probably pick several hundred and take the whole pile to my longtime friend, client, and ace graphic designer, Michael Largent, and let him pick.

In any case, at this point I'm only up to about 70 photos, and only seven of them were made with a digital camera. Two-thirds of my photographic life was spent working with film and only the last third working with digital. Twenty years worth of work, years when I'm supposedly a mature photographer, and yet the overwhelming majority of photos that I consider to be among my best were made on film.

"Why is that?" you might ask.

I can think of at least two reasons. One is that life brought me more interesting assignments in the days when I was shooting film. All my overseas documentary assignments and the Rock City Barns book were done on film. My limited edition book Georgia: A Backroads Portrait is a combination of film and digital photography.

The second reason is that digital can be just too easy. And that makes it too easy, for me, at least, to be careless or too easily satisfied when the little screen on the back of my camera tells me I have an okay shot. Maybe not great, but okay. Besides, "I can always fix it in Photoshop!"

In this digital era, cameras can select the proper exposure and focus themselves. All the photographer has to do is frame the shot and choose the instant to press the shutter button. And ways have now been invented to capture the proper instant even if the photographer misses it. The only skill left to the photographer is composition.

By the end of the film era, cameras were pretty good at choosing exposures, but smart photographers learned to fine-tune the settings. Autofocus was also in wide use. But photographers still had to master timing and composition. I believe film helped us be much more careful with focus, exposure, timing, and composition because there was always a little meter in the back of our heads, keeping a running account of costs. In short, I believe shooting film made me a better photographer.

Or maybe I'm just a photo-fossil.

Signed copies of my book Backroads and Byways of Georgia are available. The price is $22.95 plus $4.50 shipping. My PayPal address is djphoto@vol.com (which is also my email). Or you can mail me a check to 8943 Wesley Place, Knoxville, TN 37922. Include your address and tell me how you would like your book inscribed.

Check out the pictures at my online gallery: https://davejenkins.pixels.com/  Looking is free, and you might find something you like.

Photography and text copyright 2024 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Tags:   photography    travel     film photography     Olympus OM2n camera    Tokina 100-300mm f4 lens Fujichrome 100 film    Zambia