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Duck
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Re: Walk 20 Paces, Turn, and Fire

Post by Duck » Sat May 20, 2017 4:28 pm

minniev wrote:...If you have a cure, please send it quickly :) .

For me it's always been about knowing where I am (pixel-wise) and knowing where I'm going. For the most part I know I shoot at 3500 pixels wide (rounding off) and for most internet stuff I post at 1000 pixels. That gives me a LOT of room to maneuver. For commercial work (depending on final use) I go up to 2500, still leaving me wiggle room. If I need more I shoot tighter tolerances or move to a larger format of 5500 pixels. So long as I understand this I can compose using these variances without too much worry. It's still in my mind but not to the point that it dominates the workflow.

Hope I explained it well enough. :?
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Post by minniev » Sat May 20, 2017 4:51 pm

Duck wrote:
minniev wrote:...If you have a cure, please send it quickly :) .

For me it's always been about knowing where I am (pixel-wise) and knowing where I'm going. For the most part I know I shoot at 3500 pixels wide (rounding off) and for most internet stuff I post at 1000 pixels. That gives me a LOT of room to maneuver. For commercial work (depending on final use) I go up to 2500, still leaving me wiggle room. If I need more I shoot tighter tolerances or move to a larger format of 5500 pixels. So long as I understand this I can compose using these variances without too much worry. It's still in my mind but not to the point that it dominates the workflow.

Hope I explained it well enough. :?


You've explained what you do, and you speak from the voice of experience which I respect.


Some of my trouble is that, in addition to the limitations of my own knowledge and experience, I am working with several finite issues (my camera is m43 with maximum file size of 4608 x 3456), my dam bird project has physical limitations in that one cannot get closer and some cropping is necessary, and my longest lens is a 75-300 consumer grade lens. The limitations have not mattered as long as I was doing this stuff just for my own fun, and for the sales I have done using my own printing which typically didn't exceed 13x19. Now I'm looking at larger products, and have become uneasy about the cropping I took for granted before. I've had experienced people tell me I must get a full frame camera and HQ long lens (that can't happen, for financial reasons), and others tell me they've made successful large prints from fairly modest sized files. I don't have the experience to know who's right, so I'm just blundering along trying to learn as I go. I'll learn from this, I reckon, about how to prepare for such eventualities in the future, but I'm pretty anxious about the situation I'm in right now. I'm supposed to meet with a possible printer next week so that may help me sort things out. I hope!
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Post by Duck » Sat May 20, 2017 8:41 pm

I have been at this crossroad before. Client likes my work and requests something my equipment can't handle. I upgrade and continue until the next request comes along I can't meet because of some limitation. I've done it twice.

There is the old proverb, "don't put the cart before the horse."

I have been of the mindset to let the horse pull me along until I need a bigger cart. But only after I've exhausted stacking the old cart as high as it'll go.

In all situations it is always about problem solving and finding solutions that don't lead to other problems. So if I understand your problem correctly you have come to a point where you can not get close enough to your subject (lens restriction) to fill the frame (4/3rd frame) to give you a large enough image size (pixel loss) to print large enough (larger print size demand).

Possible solutions are the obvious; get a longer lens or a camera with higher resolution. Both require a significant monetary outlay and, in the case of the higher resolution, may not equate to higher image quality anyway. That can lead to additional problems as it puts a financial strain, etc.

Have you tried less expensive solutions? For example, getting closer to your subject? If your bird images are what's in demand from you and you need to fill the frame more with those subjects perhaps you going to them or them coming to you is a less expensive solution. Taking a lesson from nature videographers, they will stage a scene and use every trick in the book to attract their subject into the frame. This includes using blinds, remote camera operation, baiting and creating attractive 'sets' for them to perch on. Of course you need to put in your due diligence to find out each species' habits in order to predict where you need to be and what attracts them in order to get the desired shots, but this is part of what being a pro photographer is all about.

One thing for sure, you are on the right track in talking to a pro printer to determine what technical requirements are needed for larger prints. It's not all about pixels as there are other elements at play; viewing distance, printing substrate, print technology, etc. For example, I did a job where one of my images was to be printed 6 feet tall and however many feet wide. I used my Canon 7D (crop sensor) for that shot and the image came out great.

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In this case I photographed this gym's Zumba instructor on location just prior to one of her classes. It was shot horizontally and a lot looser than what was used. As you can see in the image above she was cut out of the image, cropped tighter and dropped onto the purple and red 'wave' background. Understanding the end use goes a long way to knowing what you need to capture.

Hope this helps a bit.

P.S. I hate this shot as it was done without any art director or layout. All I knew was that it was to be printed large on a sun shade.
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Post by Ernst-Ulrich Schafer » Sat May 20, 2017 9:54 pm

Works really well for me. I'm loving that spot.
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Post by minniev » Sat May 20, 2017 10:00 pm

Duck wrote:I have been at this crossroad before. Client likes my work and requests something my equipment can't handle. I upgrade and continue until the next request comes along I can't meet because of some limitation. I've done it twice.

There is the old proverb, "don't put the cart before the horse."

I have been of the mindset to let the horse pull me along until I need a bigger cart. But only after I've exhausted stacking the old cart as high as it'll go.

In all situations it is always about problem solving and finding solutions that don't lead to other problems. So if I understand your problem correctly you have come to a point where you can not get close enough to your subject (lens restriction) to fill the frame (4/3rd frame) to give you a large enough image size (pixel loss) to print large enough (larger print size demand).

Possible solutions are the obvious; get a longer lens or a camera with higher resolution. Both require a significant monetary outlay and, in the case of the higher resolution, may not equate to higher image quality anyway. That can lead to additional problems as it puts a financial strain, etc.

Have you tried less expensive solutions? For example, getting closer to your subject? If your bird images are what's in demand from you and you need to fill the frame more with those subjects perhaps you going to them or them coming to you is a less expensive solution. Taking a lesson from nature videographers, they will stage a scene and use every trick in the book to attract their subject into the frame. This includes using blinds, remote camera operation, baiting and creating attractive 'sets' for them to perch on. Of course you need to put in your due diligence to find out each species' habits in order to predict where you need to be and what attracts them in order to get the desired shots, but this is part of what being a pro photographer is all about.

One thing for sure, you are on the right track in talking to a pro printer to determine what technical requirements are needed for larger prints. It's not all about pixels as there are other elements at play; viewing distance, printing substrate, print technology, etc. For example, I did a job where one of my images was to be printed 6 feet tall and however many feet wide. I used my Canon 7D (crop sensor) for that shot and the image came out great.

Image
In this case I photographed this gym's Zumba instructor on location just prior to one of her classes. It was shot horizontally and a lot looser than what was used. As you can see in the image above she was cut out of the image, cropped tighter and dropped onto the purple and red 'wave' background. Understanding the end use goes a long way to knowing what you need to capture.

Hope this helps a bit.

P.S. I hate this shot as it was done without any art director or layout. All I knew was that it was to be printed large on a sun shade.


It does help, and you are the second experienced voice to say that all is not impossible with what I have. I appreciate all the help I have been so fortunate to receive from people I've never met, here and on other forums. Guy Tal, a pro whose work I admire tremendously, makes beautiful large prints from this format so I know it must be possible. But then I've been told it's hopeless, too. Since a full frame set up is not in my budget, I've gotta hope I can find other solutions. Canvas prints are rather forgiving and the dam birds are more art than science, so that's a possibility. I'd rather have a nice art-ish cotton based paper, but I'll know more about that soon I hope. Printing itself, I am learning, is its own art form.

My particular birds cannot come closer, and I can't go closer to them. (Well, they could come to me but that would negate the whole purpose of the photos, like luring a buffalo into the parking lot for a closer photo and losing the backdrop of Old Faithful.) They are in a unique environment beneath a filthy, corroded dam structure behind an exit lake that cannot be boated. This is where they fish, mate, fight and just think about being birds. An online friend I have never met has recently gifted me with a 135-400 mm lens, longer than anything I have, but quirky and I'm still learning it. So, there's hope there.

When I first started this project, I had no expectations other than the pleasure of photographing these birds in their strange world, printing them at home for my enjoyment and the little gallery wall I keep in a local business, and sharing them online. A group of online photo acquaintances believed the birds could be something more and pressed me to push this further, which to keep a long story short ended up in a Luminous Landscape endowment award. So suddenly the expectations changed. It was a huge turning point for me, and I'm still trying to catch up to it.

Any and all ideas about presentation and printing or preparation for such are all appreciated. Here is the link to the award and the portfolio it was based on, http://www.luminous-endowment.org/grants/past/17/1598. I won't plead with you to give any more of your time, you've already been more than generous, but if you ever take a notion, it's there and I"m always open to ideas.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by Duck » Sun May 21, 2017 3:04 am

minniev wrote:...But then I've been told it's hopeless, too.

STOP! Don't listen to them! In all seriousness. If there is one thing most successful photographers will adhere to is that it is about understanding the principles of photography above all else then about knowing your equipment, both its faults and its strengths. For every fault there are multiple workarounds. Some flaws can also be a boon.

minniev wrote:...My particular birds cannot come closer, and I can't go closer to them...

After seeing the gallery I understand your needs better. Let me say, I think getting closer would actually be detrimental to the overall theme you have going on. I see that the environment they are in are integral to the images. The juxtaposition of nature against a man made structure adds impact to these images. The site itself is uniquely interesting, almost alien at times and post modern in others.

minniev wrote:When I first started this project, I had no expectations other than the pleasure of photographing these birds in their strange world [...] A group of online photo acquaintances believed the birds could be something more and pressed me to push this further, which to keep a long story short ended up in a Luminous Landscape endowment award. So suddenly the expectations changed. It was a huge turning point for me, and I'm still trying to catch up to it.

I feel rather than trying to play catch up you dismiss all those preconceived ideas of what is expected of you and return back to creating images for your own pleasure. Honestly, these images were made to please no one else but yourself. As a byproduct of you displaying them it attracted the attention of others. Keep in mind that these people were initially attracted to your original vision, not the altered expectations you began perceiving once people started whispering in your ear.

You need to get back to your original ideas. To put it bluntly, screw everyone else.

minniev wrote:Any and all ideas about presentation and printing or preparation for such are all appreciated...

The one thing that really stands out about your images, specially in their processing, is that there is a lot of latitude for forgiveness in cropping and resizing. The rawness and graininess naturally existing in the scene will allow you to get away with a lot more than you think.
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Post by minniev » Sun May 21, 2017 2:16 pm

I feel rather than trying to play catch up you dismiss all those preconceived ideas of what is expected of you and return back to creating images for your own pleasure. Honestly, these images were made to please no one else but yourself. As a byproduct of you displaying them it attracted the attention of others. Keep in mind that these people were initially attracted to your original vision, not the altered expectations you began perceiving once people started whispering in your ear.

You need to get back to your original ideas. To put it bluntly, screw everyone else.
...
The one thing that really stands out about your images, specially in their processing, is that there is a lot of latitude for forgiveness in cropping and resizing. The rawness and graininess naturally existing in the scene will allow you to get away with a lot more than you think.


Yes!!!, you are seeing what I want a viewer to see! I always feel vindicated when that happens. (An art-director friend has named the series "The Cubist's Aviary" which is apt but would not be understood locally). It is encouraging that you think the project may have some inherent forgiveness embedded in it, I have hoped for that since I got the award and had to face the reality of bringing it to print.

What I'm doing with the birds now is no different from what I've always done with them, but exploring with this longer lens. There are millions of wonderfully detailed pictures of egrets and herons out there, but the ugly dam environment is the thing that makes the series different.

Thanks again!
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Post by Charles Haacker » Sun May 21, 2017 2:53 pm

minniev wrote:
Duck wrote:
minniev wrote:...I have nightmares about pixels.

Wrong way of thinking, my friend. It's not about the pixels, it's about the story.

For me it has always been about the story, and I've happily shot away with my less than auspicious equipment and printed at home up to 13x19 without a hitch. Only after I got this darned award last month did pixels ever become a thing I thought about. Now I have to learn how to print larger than I've ever done, suitable for display, and the pixel disease has struck me with a vengeance. If you have a cure, please send it quickly :) .

I've said it before and I'll say it again: ya ain't supposed to get your nose on a pitcher! :| I have seen Seurat's famed Sunday Afternoon in the flesh at the Chicago Art Institute. In the first place it is huge, about 7x10 feet. ImageCharles Haacker, on Flickr

It hangs alone in a room that allows you to stand 20+ feet away, but of course people go up and look closely to see Seurat's tiny points of color (I waited until someone did just that, mostly for scale). When I was in school (before the last great extinction) our mentors taught that photographs were made of silver grains, therefore grain was normal, and you could make a billboard from a 35mm Tri-X negative and no one would notice since no one gets their nose up to a billboard. That said, I don't know if the award folks make pixel-peeping part of their judging criteria, but in my opinion they should not.
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Post by Duck » Sun May 21, 2017 8:07 pm

minniev wrote:...There are millions of wonderfully detailed pictures of egrets and herons out there, but the ugly dam environment is the thing that makes the series different.

That's not how I see it. Your compositions and use of light is what really pulls it all together. The setting is unique and really grabs your interest but it would be plain and ordinary without that light.
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Post by minniev » Mon May 22, 2017 12:32 am

Duck wrote:
minniev wrote:...There are millions of wonderfully detailed pictures of egrets and herons out there, but the ugly dam environment is the thing that makes the series different.

That's not how I see it. Your compositions and use of light is what really pulls it all together. The setting is unique and really grabs your interest but it would be plain and ordinary without that light.


I agree, basically, but tend to think of the dam as all that - structure, light and water. The way the light and water and texture work on the structure drives what and how I shoot the birds. I need all the ingredients. The structure loans its geometry and the frames for the action. The water gives me the dynamic. The light, when dramatic, makes the shooting choices for me, though overcast days are often very good if the water is in a frenzy (my first dam bird image was in pouring rain, shot through the truck window but it got my attention). Without the birds, though, all it gets boring quick. In another month, the summer drought will probably set in and it'll be like Cinderella after midnight, the coach turned into a pumpkin and the horses into mice. After that, the water isn't dramatic, so the light can't pick up the waterspray, then backlighting doesn't work, and it is far less magical. As the water level drops, the birds leave for the crawfish ditches. I have to shoot like mad for about 5 months, but then I'll have enough images to keep me busy the rest of the time.
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