The concept of complementary colors refers to three pairs of colors that artists agree look good together and complement each other. They are based on the color wheel that arranges colors in such a way that the colors opposite each other represent the three pairs. They are red and cyan, green and magenta, and blue and yellow. This doesn’t mean that other colors don’t work together very well, but it suggests that if you use complementary color themes in your work, the images will be visually compelling.
The concept of color temperature is an integral part of photography, and yet many photographers are not really sure what it means. Color and temperature don’t seem to have a direct relationship with each other, but light sources are often defined in terms of their color temperature, which is allied with setting the white balance in digital photography. In addition, the measurement of color temperature is in Kelvin degrees. What does all this really mean?
Chromatic aberration is an inherent problem in the manufacture of lenses. It is the failure of the glass to bend the light in such a way that it focuses all the colors at the same point, and it occurs because lenses have a different refractive index for different wavelengths of light. It is characterized by color fringing, or unwanted colors at the edge of objects. The colors can be red, cyan, green, magenta, blue, or yellow. You usually can’t see this fringing until you magnify the image quite a bit, but at 100 percent and higher it’s quite obvious. I’ve enlarged (#1) to 300 percent, and in (#2) you can see what I’m talking about. Chromatic aberration is quite pronounced in wide angle lenses, and it’s most obvious in the corners. The picture of this famous pool in the Gellert Hotel, Budapest, Hungary was taken with a 14mm lens. The center of the lens is largely devoid of these unwanted colors. Telephotos also have chromatic aberration, but it is usually not as bad.
On The Cover
This month we are bringing you the latest image processing software updates. We are also updating you on new memory card technology as both speed and capacity are on the rise. In addition, we have a report on Ilford’s new black-and-white (silver) paper, plus lighting reports on Photoflex’s StarFire Kits and Interfit’s Super Cool-lite 455. Finally, reader Dj Boyd photographed our cover shot of a yoga session. We received her photo in response to our Picture This! assignment “From Above.” To view more readers’ submissions, see page 12.
It’s been quite some time since advancing technology finally took the teeth out of the old film-versus-digital debate, as most amateur and professional photographers have long-since switched to digital point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras. That said, there still are a few diehard silver halide devotees, and we’ve even seen some new films introduced in recent years.
Photoshop is a photographer’s best friend today. It has given us unprecedented creativity and the ability to do things to pictures that heretofore were impossible. Some people claim that the emphasis has shifted away from superior picture taking, and in its place people now think “I can fix it in Photoshop.” While it is true that many problems can be corrected after the fact, good photographic skills are still required to take great images. While a full exploration of digital darkroom techniques awaits another volume of this Guide I thought I’d give you a sense of what can be accomplished with this type of after-exposure work. And while I concentrate on Adobe Photoshop techniques here there are many more programs and plug-ins that can do the job as well.
As much as I love to capture subjects with saturated color because of the powerful visual impact they offer, I also seek out the opposite end of the spectrum. Subtle and desaturated colors create impact in a very different way. There seems to be a magical quality in nature, for example, when you shoot in fog or low clouds. This is one of the reasons I like photographing at dawn and sunrise because if there is humidity in the air, this is the best time to find these conditions. The colors are so soft and muted that they are breathtaking in a quiet and contemplative way.
If you have not been photographing at twilight or night up to now, you have an exciting adventure ahead. Because cameras have the ability to accumulate light over time, nighttime photographs can seem brighter than they do to our eyes. This means that details are revealed that are hidden from view because of the limitations of the light gathering ability of our eyes, and at the same time the dazzling colors of night add a dynamic quality to the scene. Artificial lights at night are a mixture of neon, mercury vapor, fluorescent, and tungsten, and each of these produce interesting colors. Some are cool, some are yellowish or golden, and some are super saturated, and the combination is really something.
The next time you find yourself frustrated by a difficult photo assignment, consider the challenges faced daily by Tara Miller—winner of the 2011 CNIB Eye Remember National Photographer Contest. Miller is a legally blind, professional photographer from Winnipeg, Manitoba who doesn’t let her disability stand in the way of her passion for creating beautiful imagery.
There are many situations that you will encounter in your travels domestically as well as internationally where picture taking is prohibited. It’s a constant problem. One of the things I’ve learned over many years is that permission can often be granted to allow you to take the pictures you want. It just takes time, perseverance, sometimes money, and always luck.
I learned a long time ago that I couldn’t rely on serendipity to get great shots of people when traveling. Once in a while I’d get lucky, but most of the time the background wasn’t perfect, the lighting wasn’t quite right, or the person wasn’t wearing clothes that told a story about the culture. In addition, I hesitate to point my camera at people without their permission. I can understand that they may feel I’m intruding on their space and their privacy, and I don’t want to do that. Grabbing shots of people without getting their permission also means that the chance of getting a model release is very small.
Taking pictures of a family and doing it well is challenging. There are many things you have to think about to please both you and the people you are shooting. First, you should have soft and diffused lighting. An overcast sky works great and so does shade. Second, you should avoid on-camera flash if possible. If it is hopelessly dark and you don’t have any other lighting equipment, then on-camera flash will have to do. However, this kind of lighting is the least attractive type of artificial light we use. It is flat and dimensionless. Only if you use on-camera flash as a subtle fill light to open up shadows will it look good.
On The Cover
With summer upon us, we’ve dedicated this issue to nature and outdoor photography. No one exemplifies exploring the outdoors better than Josh Miller, who shot our cover photo of Elves Chasm while he was rafting the Colorado River at the Grand Canyon. To see more of his adventurous photos, see page 132. We also take an in-depth look at the top photo backpacks and sling bags as the importance of these traveling accessories cannot be overstated. Finally, we review the latest and greatest photo gear, from software to lighting equipment.
After you buy a good camera that allows you to change lenses, it will become obvious to you that it is not the camera that enables you to be creative in photography. It is the lenses. The features on your camera, like fast auto focus, a large LCD screen, accurate Metering modes, and various custom functions are all important, but it is the lenses that have everything to do with the artistry of the images you take.
Photographing people in motion is challenging on many levels. Whether you are shooting athletes, dancers, cowboys, or workers, the same issues come into play. First, it’s hard to keep them in focus. Even with the sophisticated autofocus systems built into modern cameras, it is tough to hold focus on fast moving subjects. Second, it’s impossible to study a subject in motion and then compose the picture with deliberation and forethought. The composition constantly changes millisecond by millisecond, and that means you have to think and react quickly and hope that you captured something good. Third, exposure can change as your subject moves through areas of shade or highlights. While automatic meters do a good job in most situations, they can be fooled into over or under exposure depending on how much contrast is in the scene and how light or dark the background is relative to the subject.