Went out at lunch today and shot some test photos across the street at Running Fox Park.
I’ve been frustrated with the lack of clarity and “tack on” focus in my DSLR photos so my goal today was to get some sharper images by using some of the information from Scott Kelby’s “The Digital Photography Book” and combine in with some post work of my own in Aperture and Photoshop.
So, I took my old Digital Rebel 350D with the stock 18-55mm lens out and shot a few photos. I used a cheap tripod we had laying around the office to get the camera out of my hands, and I used the timer feature (which only does an annoyingly long 10 seconds) to reduce jiggle from snapping the photo.
My second goal today was to investigate any differences in shooting with different combinations of aperture/shutter speed. I set the camera to ISO 100.
It was a hazy day here in Colorado at around 2:15. Shadows were already relatively long. That said, there really wasn’t that much definition in the light, all was pretty flat. I shot mostly to the West, off-axis from the sun. All in all I shot 16 photos in 30 minutes or so. Most were utterly boring. Long (yet still wide) shots of the hazy mountains with some cattails in the foreground and trees/housetops in the middle. Nothing to write about.
The shot above was my favorite out of all of them, a closeup of a tree with a shallow depth of field which dropped out the path and trees behind it.
I was almost completely zoomed in at 53mm with the aperture at F18 and a really slow shutter at 1/15. No wind; thankfully, everything was still. Probably could have done the same thing at around 7.1 with a much faster shutter speed of 1/200 or so and had similar (if not a tad smaller) DOF with the potential of a crisper image?
Anyway, in Aperture I bumped the white balance up to 5400K from 5000K, in the “Enhance” menu I bumped the contrast to .10 and the saturation to 1.50. In the Levels I pushed the blacks up to .03. Under Color I also pushed the Saturation up some more to 32.9. I’m not sure if this would have had the same effect had I done it under the Enhance menu.
In Photoshop I then added an Unsharp Mask at around 150%/4/10. I then used the Fade Unsharp Mask dialog box to impact just the luminosity. While the Unsharp Mask really helped pop the clarity of the image, I couldn’t see much of a change from the Luminosity adjustment. Perhaps I didn’t have any colors blooming anyway? Not a lot of color pop in this image either … bark.
There were a number of aspects of this photo that intrigued me. The separation of the limbs and the little one to the right pushing up, as well as the bits of whispy cotton like fibers. I assume they came from some nearby tree but January seems an odd time for that to happen.
Anyway, they intrigued me (little alien invaders creeping along) and so I cropped the image to focus in on that part of the image to what you see above. I duplicated the layer and added some burn here and there to press the eye’s focus in a bit more.
And that’s it.
My first day of toying around like this and then writing about it. I’m not sure if I learned much about the aperture/shutter speed piece, but the tips from Kelby’s book certainly helped me get a clearer, crisper image.
And I’m happy about that.