Jun 152010

Some lone image of yesterday, when I was on my way to the lake. This is not far from where I lived for many years, thus I have taken images of this church more than once. I think this is the first on the blog though.

I was not sure if I should make this part of the lens review thread, but then, what I’m writing here is one solution to a typical wide-angle problem, and to a problem, that is only multiplied, when you use something as wide as the new Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens for Nikon.

Basically that’s a fake. Even with the new Sigma 8-16 on its widest, I never could have taken this image, and if I had, it would have looked different, less natural.

There is a big sign directly at the stairs, totally ruining the view, thus I tried to take the image from between sign and stairs, basically leaning against the sign. This forced me to point the camera upwards, causing enormous distortions.

Later, in Photoshop, I used the PTLens plugin, not only to remove the linear distortions that this lens has at 8 mm, but also to correct the perspective and to slightly rotate the image. Doing so horizontally expanded the image at the top and compressed it at the bottom. I would have had to crop substantially from the sides, and the result would have looked very unnatural. Thus I decided to fake it.

The only thing that we really have an idea of how it should look like, is the tower of the church. The stairs, well, here was my lever. I selected the lower part of the image, copied it to its own layer, chose “Edit / Transform / Free Transform” and began to pull the compressed lower part to the left and to the right, careful to only pull at the lower segments of the raster, thus leaving the transition zone intact.

In the result, the stairs are similar to the original, but the church looks relatively undistorted and natural. Thus we still get the feeling of an ascent that goes steeply upward, while the church looks bigger. I think I still get away with it, and the reason is exactly, that only the background needs a correct geometry. The foreground is pliable.

The Song of the Day is “Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras” from the “German Requiem” by Johannes Brahms. My most favorite recording is that of John Eliot Gardiner, with Philippe Herreweghe not far behind.

  6 Responses to “1340 – Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras”

  1. Good stuff!
    I like how the result looks like its taken with a tilt-shift lens. Thanks for the trick, I will try it out sometimes.

    • As I said, it does not work all the time, it needs a strong distinction between foreground and background, with the “recognizable” part, most often the architecture, in the background. Thankfully that is a quite common thing in ultra-wide images. And then, it is always a good idea to leave a little space around your subject, space to work with.

  2. was hältst du davon die fotos in einer größe zu posten, dass man sie als desktophintergrund verwenden kann?

    • I do that with only a selected few images. Verticals don’t work on monitors anyway. If you look at my images, more than half are verticals. Of the horizontals, most are composed in a way that cropping them to a wide-screen monitor format would destroy the composition. Thus: no, in general I don’t do it. And if people really, really likes to have an image as wallpaper, they can always send me an email, can they? 🙂

  3. Thank you very much for your review of this lens. I just bought one yesterday to replace my aging Sigma 10-20. You’re absolutely right about having to know how to use an ultra-wide effectively, as I’ve learned from my own experience shooting land and seascapes. Even at 10mm on my old lens, at first I was blown away, but after a while I felt the itch to go even wider. It’s amazing how only 2mm makes such a huge difference. I recall my first word being “Wow!” when first looking through the viewfinder. Now that I think about it, I think I said the same thing 2 years ago when I bought the 10-20.

    I’ve done a bit of architecture to give the lens a test run, and I must say I am in love already! Just in curiosity though, what have you discovered to be the best hyperfocal length? I haven’t had a lot of time to experiment yet, but so far I got pretty good results setting the focus ring to 2 feet while shooting at f/16 at the widest end of the zoom. I guess diffraction might be a bigger issue with a lens of this type, so I’m thinking I shouldn’t go past f/11 if I can help it.

    You’ve had a few months longer to play around with the 8-16, so I was just wondering if you could pass along any tidbits that might help out a fellow photographer. Cheers!

    • Patrick,

      you may be surprised, but I don’t use this lens a lot. So far I’ve made 24 Images of the Day with it, which more or less means that I have had 24 days since I’ve bought it, where I have used it almost exclusively. Otoh, I’ve bought it, when? Must have been June 4 or 5 this year. That’s not even half a year. Well, if I look at it that way, 24 IotD are not that bad 🙂

      My main lens is the Tamron 17-50/2.8 VC. Since June the only lens wider than the Tamron, that I’ve used, was the Sigma 8-16. I have no scientific approach though. If you ask me for a hyperfocal length, honestly, I have no idea. It’s not in my style. I don’t shoot for total sharpness, yes, it’s rather the opposite. Most of the time I go into the macro range and use my lenses at distances, where complete sharpness wouldn’t even be possible. I don’t care.

      But of course if you do care, it’s easy to make the test. Just shoot a sequence of images, focused further and further away. Then see what works for you, what is an acceptable range for you.

      This is very subjective, and it depends mostly on how near a foreground you want to include (some people love the wide-angle distortion, some don’t), and whether you want everything sharp or accept (or desire) a bit of foreground blur.

      Does this sound vague? Sure, but what I try to tell you is, that there is no objective answer to such a seemingly simple question.

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