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taking snapshots


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 09:58 PM

I was on vacation in Austin, TX, taking snapshots. At the LBJ Ranch Visitors Center, I was sitting at a park bench and noticed all the wildflowers surrounding the park. It's an interesting photo problem because the flowers are so tiny, so I took three photos, getting closer and closer each time to the little flowers. It's not so much that one size is better than another, and image enlargement and resolution plays into this (these are reduced to 15% of the original size), but it seems that the lower rez the format, the more it helps to emphasize things by getting close rather than have only the subtle detail.

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#2 Xavier Plaza

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 10:41 PM

peculiar thing..., it looks great David, i love the flowers colors, i just imagine this field at sunset... delightful


enjoy your vacations
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#3 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 02:34 AM

I particularly like the dramatic impact of the bottom photo. I'm often on the lookout for a low viewpoint when I'm using a wide angle lens myself.
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#4 David Regan

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 03:41 AM

Interesting how the size of the flowers impacts the photos. I really enjoy the bottom photo as well, due to the depth created by the large flowers in foreground, which quickly drop to small dots of color far away. Looks like a beautiful place.
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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 04:14 PM

Well, what interests me about these pictures are the compositions and the focal length selection in combination with the square-ish aspect ratio. They look like classic frames from a John Ford film like the "Grapes of Wrath" or "My Darling Clementine." Interesting that Gregg Toland, Joe MacDonald (or really any old school DP) would often use wide lenses for shots like #2 and #3, whereas today it would be much more common for a cinema/photo/grapher to use a longer lens (probably at the end of a zoom). I don't find any one particular shot to be more aesthetically pleasing or revealing than the other -- I think it's clear that they should be viewed in sequence for the best overall effect.

Were you using the same approximate focal length for each shot, David?
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 08:37 PM

Were you using the same approximate focal length for each shot, David?


Not sure -- it's a Canon PowerShot A620 point-and-shoot, with a 7.3-29.2mm zoom, whatever that matches in 35mm.
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#7 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 09:16 PM

This can be a quick lesson in different areas you can place your horizon for different aesthetics...even if it is just a snapshot with a point-n-shoot camera :)
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#8 Bill Totolo

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 11:26 AM

Makes me think of our favorite movie, "Tideland" ; )
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#9 Daniel Smith

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 12:38 PM

So hold on, what you're saying is, sometimes larger resolution images can sometimes distract the spectator because of the detail? And smaller resolution pictures help the spectator see the entire picture in one?

Not sure -- it's a Canon PowerShot A620 point-and-shoot, with a 7.3-29.2mm zoom, whatever that matches in 35mm.

35-140mm

Edited by Laurent Andrieux, 24 June 2007 - 06:40 PM.

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#10 Michael Nash

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 07:01 PM

So hold on, what you're saying is, sometimes larger resolution images can sometimes distract the spectator because of the detail? And smaller resolution pictures help the spectator see the entire picture in one?


Well, it worked for Monet! That's one of the basic principles behind impressionist painting...

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But what I think David was getting at was that when you use a lower resolution format, subjects with fine detail have more impact when you're up close, to compensate for the fine detail that's missing compared to a higher res format.
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#11 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 07:54 PM

I recall Phil Vigeant of Pro-8mm making a similar observation about Super-8 a long time ago, especially if there is a person in the foreground.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 11:37 PM

To put it another way, in a high resolution shooting and presentation format, you can impress people with the fine detail in the frame -- all the little details, in fact, can be the "point" of the shot.

In a low resolution format, you can't rely on subtle, fine, tiny details to hold or direct the viewer's attention, so you need bolder compositions where the main subject has a more stronger, more obvious presense in the frame.

In an IMAX movie, the second photo's impact would probably be like the third photo's impact in a Super-16 movie.
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#13 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 10:46 AM

It's also a nice example of getting good perspective, going from light to dark ( also a basic painting principle)
The sequence is also almost a tilt down revealing more in each shot.

Ever the cinematographer David.

Kieran.
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#14 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 12:24 PM

This theory reminds me of some advice that Ive read on this forum. And that advice is if you have a set of lenses for a film project and one of those lenses isn't as good optically as the others in the set, try and use that particular lens for close ups.

This is because close ups tend to look sharper than mid shots and long shots. Why that is, I don't know. Could be partly psychological I guess, or the fact that more fine details can be identified in close ups.

Edited by Laurent Andrieux, 24 June 2007 - 06:41 PM.

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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 02:07 AM

This is because close ups tend to look sharper than mid shots and long shots. Why that is, I don't know. Could be partly psychological I guess, or the fact that more fine details can be identified in close ups.


How sharp something looks is partly a factor of how sharp we need or want it to look. When we look at a close-up of a face, we want to see sharp eyes but we don't necessarily want to see every pore and pimple and nose hair. But when we look at a wide landscape shot, we want to see those objects in the frame sharply resolved, not blurred together.
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#16 Felipe Perez-Burchard

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 10:15 AM

And of course this "format" principle is why I think movies have gotten more and more "Close-UP" in aesthetic; The small TV screen doesn't compare to the cinema, and as the attention was put more and more on TV and its production values have increased, so has the need to get closer, be more "obvious".
However I think a reversal is starting to happen in US filmmaking as more and more HD TVs and large home theaters increase, we might see shooting wider.

Well, this is just a thought, what do you think?

An interesting example I observed in "Children of Men".
In my opinion it was the best film of last year for many reasons, and the photography was, among many other fantastic things, very "high-rez", one of the best DIs I've seen. The film was mostly all shot on an 18mm. Anyway, a few friends of mine that I would have thought would really like it (both the film and the photography) saw it only on the small screen (dvd screener or internet downloads) and felt it was too detatched -- the film was shot FOR the big screen I think. unfortunately today the life of the film will be in various different venues...

Good topic.
Thanks for bringing it up David.

Best,

-felipe
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#17 Matt Pacini

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 04:24 PM

That location would look great with a super-wide angle lens (like a Peleng 8mm on a 35mm camera) laying down in the grass, pointing the camera straight up, right around flower-top level.
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