I seem to have a preference for wide views. Hence my attraction to stitched multi-frame panorama images. They’re a great way to extend the field of view of lenses you have with you.
Keith H. and I walked around downtown Orlando for a few hours one day last week. I made a lot of photos, and after getting home and reviewing them, my favorites all turned out to be stitched panoramas. I guess I just enjoy being able to see the whole scene. Here are three examples:
Back alley break – A woman takes a work break on the back stairs. 4 frame panorama
Also, I hardly ever make selfies, but on this walk I ended up with two that I like – although they aren’t typical of the genre.
A window selfie – Looking south across Church Street from the 4th floor of the Plaza parking garage. That’s my reflection in the glass towards the middle bottom. Infra Red, Black & White, 4 frame panorama. (Click for a larger view on Flickr)
And this next one isn’t a Black & White photo – the sidewalk and wall were that color.
Cracks me up – A shadow selfie. 3 frame panorama.
You might find you like stitching panoramas too. I’ve written about them before. This article has a detailed workflow example and there are some more ideas in this post. Composition can be difficult since you can’t see the final image through your viewfinder as you capture it. Try to cover a larger area than you think you’ll need so you can crop into the assembled image to fine tune the composition. And watch out for long lines and patterns of lines. Look for any errors / mismatched lines between frames after you stitch them together and clean them up with the clone tool.
Besides downtown itself, there are several areas in Orlando with interesting photo ops: the Plaza Theatre, Leu Gardens, Lake Eola, Meade Gardens, and Greenwood Cemetery. I’ve collected photos from all of them in this set on Flickr.
Cobbler’s bench – That shoe needs a little work, probably more than just a new Safeheel.
You can find out more about still life in this Wikipedia article. Normally, one of the creative aspects of still life is choosing and arranging the subject matter. That’s already done for you in the Fort Christmas exhibits. You’ll have to be content with using your point of view, focal length, and lighting to create pleasing compositions.
A zoom lens with a wide to normal range is very useful. Many times you’ll be limited in where you can place your tripod, so the zoom will come in handy. My 24-120mm f/4 lens worked well.
The lighting here is a challenge:
It’s dim inside the rooms, so bring your tripod. And bring along a flash or two to give you some flexibility to add to the ambient illumination.
In addition to being dim, the lighting will also be mixed. There are incandescent bulbs in the rooms and sunlight coming in through the doors and windows. If you use a flash, you’ll add a third variable. You can try to gel your flash, or use the flashes to overcome one or more of the other light sources. Or you can do as I did and deal with it in post processing by using selective color balance to address any local color casts. (For more on how I do this, see this post.)
You’ll also need to watch out for dynamic range. The doors and windows will be very bright compared to the room interiors and it’s often difficult to eliminate them from compositions. I bracketed my exposures and hand merged the appropriate ones to address this. You can also try using HDR software.
I used some different post processing techniques to emphasize the subject colors and the lighting and I like the way they turned out. Still Life Photography at Fort Christmas is a fun and challenging photo-op. If you haven’t been, give it a try. You can see other photos I’ve made at Fort Christmas in this set on Flickr.
Tonality is an exceptionally complete B&W conversion program with lots of presets and sliders to play with. It also has some built-in capabilities you might not expect such as layers, gradients, and selective edits. These come in handy when you want to combine several conversions without going through layers in Photoshop. Silver Efex Pro’s control points provide some of the same selective edit capability, but for me, the Tonality controls are more flexible. Tonality also has lens blur and glow simulations and the ability to blend in texture patterns. Lots of presets, options, and control!
I noticed that the clarity control in Tonality sometimes resulted in halos that I has to tone down. But I found that overall I preferred the Tonality result over the Silver Efex version for these two photos. I don’t know if this will hold up long-term, since I’m pretty sure you can achieve very similar results with either one. I’m going to keep playing with it and see.
By the way, Tonality is Mac only, Silver Efex runs on both Mac and PC. There are free trial versions you can download, so check them out yourself and see what you think.