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Offline Jerrycan

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Creating mood in photos
« on: March 12, 2008, 11:40:57 pm »


Creating mood

So often the photo results from a trip lets one down and you scheme ‚??damn, is not what it looked like‚?Ě, and the okes you show the photos to who were not there yawn and look at their watches or check your wife‚??s bum out while she fetches the beer while you rant about the greatness of your trip realising the photos don‚??t do it justice.

I‚??m a visual conceptualiser specialising in photography, is what I get paid for in life.  I‚??m given a complicated concept/product/lifestyle and I get to translate it into pictures, a universally understandable communication medium free from language constraints.  I can even make a Beemer seem desireable.  >:D



I‚??ll share some tricks of the trade relating to travel/trip photography, it might take a while so I‚??ll do it in instalments and at the hand of examples.

Consider the main and only let down of photography-
It relates only to the visual senses.
While you stand there, camera in hand, you hear the waves of the ocean, you smell the damp salty air, you feel the sea breeze on your face, you feel the vibration of the waves smashing into the rocks, then you take the picture with the song of holiday spirit in your heart.  You get home, whip the photo out in your lounge to show your bud and faark, he only sees another shipwreck in an ocean and looks across the coffee table at your wife‚??s bum instead as she fetches beer.  Cos we ONLY have the visual senses to stimulate we have to really put some thought and work into a photo to replicate the exact feeling/mood we experienced while we were there.

The trick here is to pre-visualise what your bud is going to see when he looks at the photo in your lounge, and to do so while you stand there on the beach before you take the photo.  You could even go further, and this is where the fun begins, you could decide exactly what you want him to feel when he looks at the photo.  Desolation, adventure, sadness, anticipation, fear, insecurity, happiness, sexual lust, man, the list is never ending and the more you master of this the more you realise how you can faark with someone‚??s mind through his eyes and the only person you cannot fool is the blind oke.

How?

The first tip; begin by taking advantage of the shortcomings of photography.  And no, that R30g‚??s camera kit is not going to do it for you, if done cleverly enough it could be done with a cellphone camera.
Isolation, the most important one, when I took the pic of the ship I could see Swakop‚??s lights, I had to time my shots for all the car headlights from the road behind me and waved at all the oke‚??s that hooted.  The viewer doesn‚??t know that there was a highway behind me,  nor does he know that I was eating a take-away hamburger while I was doing the time-exposure.  He thinks I was somewhere on the ocean on a dark mysterious night, witnessing a sinister ship going past‚?¶, for faark sakes, I was timing the closure of the pub 5 kays away and photographing an over-photographed-by-tourists shipwreck practically from the pavement of a pub!  But I isolated the shipwreck, I only showed the viewer what I wanted him to see and I picked the best light to do so.  Yeah, it was a sacrifice, I saw the ship the afternoon with all the mommies and kiddies on the beach and decided to go back at sunset to get the mood right, I could have done some serious bar sitting in that time but hey, there‚??s bars in Gauteng too but not many shipwrecks‚?¶
This is what the "snapshot" would have looked like, the shot all the tourists get:



The next tip; when you get ‚??a feeling‚?Ě about a place, stop, get the coffee making tools from the pannier and scheme about it.  What about the place gives you the particular feeling?  Once you suss that, you can translate it into a picture that‚??ll give your buds goose pimples and you‚??ll get looked at in awe for having been there.  That way you enrich your own soul, by taking time to absorb a place, and taking a pic that will bring the feeling back is a bonus.  You imprint the place and the vibe in your memories and in your mental data banks and the more of this you do on a trip, the more you feel you have been on an adventure and away from home.  If you cannot relate to this in any way without smoking Durban Poison, then skip the thread and just see the place as a dot on the map, or as the ‚??faarken hot place far away from the air-conditioned hotel room‚?Ě.  That way there will always be clients for okes like me.  >:D

I'm not the most popular friend to have, simply because I'm a realist, unaffected and unimpressed by the "lifestyles/concepts" people buy into because of okes like me who created it in the first place.  I'm the most honest friend you'll ever have, if anything.  ;D

Another example of pausing for a while, this is what was seen from the road, some birds far off in the veldt, heat and thirst begged for passing to the next Quickshop, we stopped and walked closer to investigate, it was 38 celsius in the Naukluft Park but panned out to be worth the resulting shot.



It was vultures feasting on a springbuck carcass.



Watch out for the next instalment.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2008, 01:23:23 am by Jerrycan »
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Offline BirdDog

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2008, 06:39:19 am »
Wacthing and waiting......

Offline michnus

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2008, 06:57:38 am »
Keep it coming please.

Offline Colyn

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2008, 07:07:56 am »
Great ... thank you.
Never underestimate the power of denial.
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Offline Lourens ツ

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2008, 07:55:39 am »
Not only can you like take nice pictures man, you can like write pictures also!

Very good. Notification activated!  ;D
« Last Edit: March 14, 2008, 08:10:37 am by Lourens.dL »
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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2008, 08:53:33 am »
Well written, Jerrycan!
There is nothing you can do about the past and you can't predict the future...all you have is the now...live it to the fullest.

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Offline Stofstreep

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2008, 10:16:58 am »
This I gotta watch!!
Be careful of the words you say.
And keep them soft and sweet.
For you never know from day to day.
Which ones you'll have to eat.

Offline I&horse

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2008, 02:17:42 pm »
Keep em comming, my photographical skills can't be called skills.
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Offline Maverick

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2008, 03:44:52 pm »
I can even make a Beemer seem desireable.  >:D




Beemer? What beemer  ??? ;D Good tips dude keep them coming.....
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Offline Iron Shark

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2008, 07:08:06 pm »
Jerrycan mate once again out doing yourself, So true thou at times we are a bit to quick to take a snap and not pay enough attention to the lighting, angle or place when we take the shot.
Thanks for the informative and helpful tip.  :)
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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2008, 07:09:42 pm »
Nice one Jerrycan. :thumright: Watching and learning...

Offline Ratel

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2008, 09:00:31 pm »
Thanks!

I am also very keen to improve the quality of my pictures - looking forward to your advice :)
"Stercus accidit..."

Offline Jerrycan

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2008, 03:12:08 am »
The lost dimension, powerful optical illusion.
After isolation the next big deal in photography is the loss of the third visual dimension. 
Ever tried to catch a ball with one eye closed?  The human visual tracking system faarks
out when the stereo view is lost.  The brain uses the +- 7cm offset of the second eye to
calculate distance and velocity and scale amongst other things by trigonometric calculation like we use GPS satellites to calculate position.  Yeah and? 

This little phenomenon enables me to invite the biggest Katoom on the forum over to be photographed with my Tdub and gives me the ability to make the Katoom look like a wannabee pit bike compared to my Tdub when pitched in the same photo. 

In travel photography we can use this phenomenon to create moods of wide open space, desolation, isolation, barren landscape, God forsaken country, freedom or to emphasise small isolated objects in such surroundings by making them appear moera big in relation to the rest of the landscape included in the photo.

Stripped from the third (stereo/depth) dimension, a photograph forces the brain to calculate scale or size by recognition of objects, your brain knows a lorry is bigger than a bike, so if the lorry looks smaller than the bike in the pic you‚??ll know it was much further away from the camera than the bike, but only because you know what a lorry looks like. 
Picture this, if I were to strip a photo from any recognisable objects save the lorry and the bike, like shooting on Verneukpan, I could verneuk (bullshit) with an accurate small toy replica of a lorry, photograph it a meter behind the bike and your brain will tell you the lorry was moera far away cos it‚??s much smaller than the bike in the photo.  Keep the picture, only now I put the scaled down lorry in front of the bike, now your brain‚??s going to say, ‚??faark that bike is bigger than a lorry!‚?? and only reason you might think otherwise is cause you have previously recorded the scale of a lorry and the scale of a bike in your memory.  If you have never before seen either you are faarked as for judging distance or size on a photograph which depraves you of the third dimension for size calculation. 

The down side of the phenomenon.
You see a moera big lion 70 meters away, whip your camera out and gooi a pic on the memory card just as it walks past the biggest acacia tree in Kenya.  You gooi the pic on the dining room table 3 weeks later tuning your bud to look at the biggest lion he has ever seen.  He checks the tree, he sees a faarkin small lion under a normal sized tree and asks for another free beer.  Now, don‚??t blame him for thinking you are mistaking meerkats for lions cause he was not there to see with two eyes how big the faarkin tree was, else he would know it was the biggest lion in Africa under the biggest tree in Kenya.  If your bud knows a mother in law and you sent her to stand next to the lion back there in Kenya, his by now intoxicated-on-free-beer brain would tell him it‚??s indeed a moera big lion in your photo because it can calculate lion size by mother in law relationship.
Same goes for small things; your wife calls you and your camera over to record the smallest tortoise in history.  You klap the macro function on the camera and take the photo of the micro tort checking you out where it‚??s parked on a bed of very fine sand.  The picture on the dining room table shows a big tort on course gravel checking the photographer out, but if you were clever and photographed it next to a standard known-for-size object like a mom in law‚??s packet of Lexington plain, your bud would choke on his/your free beer and tune ‚??faark it‚??s a minute tortoise!‚?Ě

Abusing the phenomenon to create mood.
We now add optical lens characteristics to the equation for further bullshitting to our
advantage.  When you zoom OUT to wide angle, everything appears further away and thus smaller.  BUT, when you now put something VERY close to the camera it appears moera big in relation to the background and forces the viewer‚??s attention to it cause it looks more important than the rest of the far away stuff in the pic but yet the far away stuff support its story telling role in the pic.  Whallah, a mood is created.



Once you try this you will soon realise it‚??s hard work cause you have to mobilise the camera to position foreground and background to your advantage.  The ideal would be to have someone re-arrange the rocks and trees for you while you park in the shade with the camera sipping beer but alas, that only works in the studio.  The zoom ‚??to fit it in‚?Ě on its own does not arrange the foreground for you in relation to the background and thus all lazy photogs end up with snapshots instead of art works.  Same mountain lazy oke‚??s way.



Sometimes a bit of scouting is needed to find something of interest to add to the
foreground.  Same mountain, this time with interesting tree in foreground.



Now that was zooming out to wide angle, but there‚??s also bullshitting to be had by doing the opposite, zooming IN to telephoto.  Basically the opposite happens, what‚??s in the background now appears bigger to what‚??s in the foreground.  But now the job becomes even bigger cause now you have to step really far back to get everything to fit into the frame.  Cooler bag is the answer for the far walk and the tripod will have to accompany you most of the time, but this will become clear when we talk about getting things in focus.  Once you start looking out for these things you‚??ll get more clever as to where to stop the bike to save some walking, you check a nice mountain and as you ride, you look for the perfect foreground, tree, windmill, grave etc.  Me riding a slow bike will start making more sense to you now, for faarking past everything at 160 gives you no chance to spot the shots while dodging stray cows on the gravel.



This ‚??compressed‚?Ě telephoto/zoomed in visual effect works great on rows of trees, far away roads, telephone
poles in a row.



Last but not least about optical illusion, models.  Reason for this is, wide angle makes
what‚??s close look bigger, so when you do a portrait-in-the-face shot of a babe her nose,
eyes, chin looks big in proportion to her ears and neck and you end up with the "I‚??m-not-photogenic‚?Ě effect.  We are talking very subtle differences but the brain is a
precision instrument.



The buffs will tune you ‚??portrait lens‚?Ě, what they‚??re saying is zoom in, telephoto lens, and
your most basic snapshot cam is capable of doing so.  If you have to add a babe to a wide angle shot, take her away from the camera further into the shot.



Playing around with wide and telephoto will also make you realise another phenomenon, that of focus, what‚??s in focus and what‚??s out of focus.  This warrants an instalment on it‚??s own since this can be abused to isolate subjects from unwanted backgrounds.
Here are some photos done with more noticeable telephoto and wide angle, try and see if you can by now spot the difference, observe the scale relation of the foreground to the
background carefully.

















Set the scale by adding a known for size object.



And close-ups, this one was done with my cellphone cam.


Final tip;
By now you‚??ll realise that whatever is closest to the camera appears most important and
biggest in the shot, so when someone starts waving a camera around for group shots, quickly move as close to the photographer as possible, doing so unobtrusively while he fiddles around with the controls which they always do  >:D, and when he tunes you to ‚??stand back you don‚??t fit in‚?Ě tune him to "ZOOM OUT."  This especially holds true when suffering from "small bike syndrome‚?Ě and could in the long run save megabucks on expensive big bikes   ;)

Until the next instalment.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2008, 04:44:52 am by Jerrycan »
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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2008, 03:20:43 am »
cool tips, thanks.

Offline Colyn

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2008, 09:25:05 am »
Thank you very much.
Never underestimate the power of denial.
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Offline Goose

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2008, 10:30:04 am »
Jerrycan - this info is great.... will do more research ...... thanks.....

comments on these...?  :o
« Last Edit: March 16, 2008, 10:34:30 am by Goose »
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Offline Jay

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2008, 11:53:30 am »
This is a really great thread thanks‚?¶‚?¶

I have a question‚?¶.. how can one illustrate the steepness / angle of a hill.  Sometimes it looks flat and with hardly any level of skill required but when riding it the angle is so steep you almost flipping the bike‚?¶.

Like in this picture it looks like no effort‚?¶‚?¶ you should see this thing 45 degrees plus
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Offline Jerrycan

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2008, 03:11:22 pm »
Goose, you battle with another serious limitation of photography, the so called "dynamic range" or "exposure latitude" limitation.  This is not only your Fuji's limitation, all cameras/film has the limitation.

In short, if you take a pic of a glowing bulb hanging in a otherwise dark room, the difference in light intensity between the bulb and the darkest corner in the room is so big that not even your eye can handle the difference, when you look at the bulb to see the glow wire there's no chance you'll see detail in the shadows at the back of the room, unless you shield the bulb from your view.  This holds true when photographing any object against a bright backlit scene.  The camera can expose to get the bright part right, or it can expose to get the dark part right, if the difference in light intensity is too great you'll lose detail in one of the two.

The fix?  You need to artificially add light to the scene to balance dark and light.  In the first shot of the laaities you fixed it by using the camera's flash to supply enough light to the foreground to balance it with the background/sunset.  We use reflectors, white sheets of board, silver collapsible gadgets or flash to do this if we must, otherwise we avoid shooting against back light by turning our backs to it.  All sunset shots throughout history always had a silhouette of something interesting in the foreground, windmills and trees usually, so if its too dark in the foreground abuse it by making sure it's something recogniseable with an interesting outline.  The oke with the mountain would have worked if you had him turn his face so you could see his outline, that way theres no need for detail on his face.
We can to a limited extent retrieve some detail from the shadows with software like I did with the example shot of yours but even that's limited.
Last solution but very technical:  We put the cam on a tripod and take three shots, one with correct highlights, one mid tones and one with correctly exposed shadows and then combine the best part of each of the three shots in one photo, is called High Dynamic Range technique or HDR if you want to searh for more info.  There's software available that does this in one go like Photomatix Pro.  Only thing is nothing must move in between the three shots else they wont line up in register in the final shot.
Your sunset tweaked to save what could be saved from the shadows:
   
« Last Edit: March 16, 2008, 09:36:55 pm by Jerrycan »
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RIDE REPORTS:
One dog and a bitch, on trip to Kommandodrift http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=13086.0
One dog and a bitch, TW's to the sea http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=13333.0

Offline Jerrycan

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2008, 03:28:31 pm »
Jay, about hazardous inclines that become level ground in photos; I nogal thought to bring it into the bit about optical illusion I wrote last night, I've seen many okes complain about it in their ride reports just as well you ask.  You came very close to cracking it in your example shot, and only so cause there were trees growing around for the brain to calculate the incline with, if it was a dune with farkall around it would have been worse. 

Only answer to this is to supply reference to the brain somewhere in the pic of what's up and what's down, pilots use a fancy spirit level to tune their brains when flying in clouds or in the dark. 

We know trees don't usually grow horizontal, nor are telephone poles horizontal so try include reference to the pic, a glass of whiskey would be a dead on reference but not always possible, or if you could have a person standing somewhere in the shot would also work for people usually stand up straight in relation to gravity.

I'm going to play on my next bike trip to see how we could use perspective and shooting angles to make up hills look even more steep than they are and will give feedback on that one.   
Have petrol will move
RIDE REPORTS:
One dog and a bitch, on trip to Kommandodrift http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=13086.0
One dog and a bitch, TW's to the sea http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=13333.0

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Re: Creating mood in photos
« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2008, 03:42:13 pm »
Thanks JC, this is really good advice, will follow this fret closely......

people usually stand up straight in relation to gravity.

depends on the amount of beers consumed..........
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