Tag Archives: Vienna

17 – Not in Color

I had three short sessions today, one on my way to work, one at noon in a park with attached playground and one on my way home. I think I’m getting the hang of this ultra-wide business now.

Basically you can use these lenses for three purposes:

  1. getting more into the frame
  2. gaining an extra foreground
  3. creating weird perspectives

(1) is the straight-forward and somewhat naïve approach, (2) is the orthodox way and (3) can be interesting, creative or plain rubbish, whatever applies.

“14 – Yesterday is Here” was (1), “15 – Morning on the Mountain” in a way was (2) and this is definitely (3)!

This is the first B&W image here. I shot the image on my way home, the sky was not yet fully dark, the street lights had this strong orange tinge, and although orange vs blue makes for nice color depth, the color version did not work. The orange was too muddy brown, the blue too dark, thus I decided for high contrast B&W.

Technically this is the image with Photoshop’s automatic white balance, a color mixer of mostly green and blue applied, a levels adjustment layer for darkening the midtones and two curves for modelling contrast. No masks involved. Sharpening at the end.

Of course one curves layer would have sufficed, but this is my way of working. I prefer small changes, one step after the other, sometimes going back and adapting one of the curves, sometimes toning the effect of a layer down with the opacity slider, sometimes using masks or blending options to restrict the effect to certain areas.

I had no tripod, thus I rested the camera on the railing directly behind the bicycle and hoped that I could hold it steady for 2.5 seconds. A side effect of the way I held the camera was, that I could not see through the viewfinder. It took me five or six exposures to get what I was up to, mostly because I wanted some lines to finish themselves exactly in the corners.

11 – Crossing Time

It was a drab day in Vienna. Normally this does not prevent me from taking photographs, though it probably makes finding motives a bit harder. Not so today. I had no time at all, thus here we go with one from the archives. This is a door in Seidengasse, in Vienna’s 7th district, that’s where I live.

The atmosphere is a perfect match for today’s overall feeling. I have taken the image on October, 5th. I used the Sigma 30/1.4 wide open. I really love this lens as it is a “standard lens” on the D200, and it forces me to try harder on composition. Many of the images I take with this lens have somewhat strange angles and strong lines that frequently originate in corners. Actually the style I have at the moment in general, even with the Nikon 18-200 zoom, is strongly influenced by my working style with this lens. The images of the day numbers 8 and 10 are good examples.

What fascinates me in this image is the combination of Art Déco ornaments and Christian connotation. In fact it looks like a cross looming large above me, but at the same time, with the face at the center, it has a strangely heathen aspect. Along with the angle this makes for a disturbing quality.

10 – By the Hands of a Child?

That I am not an expert in botanics is a big, fat euphemism. I am completely ignorant. I can’t tell you what kind of seeds they are, but for sure they are in a most unlikely place. They look arranged, but who’s done it? A child? Probably, as this is near a playground in Vienna.

At first I didn’t even see them. It took the attentive eye of my companion who pointed them out. I have made two attempts, the first one focusing on the second seed from the front, but this one was better. It is not the seeds though, that make the image, it is the curve.

6 – Don’t Comment on This

Isn’t this great what businessmen have made of the Internet? Just yesterday I had enabled unrestricted comments for everyone, and today I had my first comment – SPAM! Something with a “job offer”. I don’t know how silly they think we are. Fascinating. Only 13 years ago I had my UNIX workstation right on the Internet. I could telnet into my machine from everywhere. Oh how I fumed when they introduced our corporate firewall! Unthinkable now, isn’t it? And all in the name of commerce. They hack your computers to install robots that spill out SPAM advertising nobody wants to see. I often wonder what these people think, yes, if they even think at all? Didn’t their mothers teach them to behave? Would they kill for money?

Sorry. This is supposed to be about photography, isn’t it? Well, I got two or three today that could be worth it, but I still cowardly take resort to one from Tuesday. This is in a park on my way from work. The sun is already quite low and I had taken a series of shots into the sunlit grass, mostly with partially defocused flowers as foreground. I like the effect and use it quite often lately, because using the right flowers you can give tremendous color to otherwise rather drab photos. This certain image made it for all its elegant lines.

5 – I am Reflecting About a Hotel

Funny, and I thought I wouldn’t have anything today. There were some images that probably would have been more spectacular, but for its simplicity and geometric quality I like this one a lot.

This is a new hotel, right opposite of where I work. While going for lunch I noticed the reflections on the facade, together with the already visible signs of weather. There was not much choice about composition, because to both sides there were traffic signs, but actually I like the juxtaposition of the group and the loner.

I have pushed contrast and color a little bit in Photoshop, but not too excessive.

4 – Tales From the Playground

Did I mention yesterday that Bryan Peterson nudged me towards color? It’s fascinating: I have to look for it, but of course it is there. Plenty of it and everywhere. The funny thing is, we seem to mostly disregard color in our everyday life. This may have been different in a time when every single day was a struggle for survival, but it seems that nowadays it is enough to be able to coarsely distinguish between red and green. And even people who can’t do that get easily away with it.

In some way this disregard for color must have strongly influenced how as beginners we take photographs. It is fairly easy and obvious to look for proportions, for lines, for tonality, but color, at least for me, was always something of an afterthought. Good if there, but hardly the reason for taking a photograph. Actually I consciously oppose this tendency now, and all these last images are a result of that.

Compositionally this image is quite OK in my book. It’s symmetric, yes, but the juxtaposition of yellow and blue keeps the eye moving. I would probably have liked to get a child in the image, but in fact I’d really be careful photographing other people’s children on a playground. It is rather easy to be taken as a child molester hunting for prey. Or is this hysteria only? Quite a sick world when I think of it.

Anyway. Technically this image is the result of half an hour of photoshopping. Not that it looks so much different from the original that came out of the camera, but the work is in the details. Mostly I have added light to the inside of the slide and drastically pushed color and contrast, while leaving alone the trees and the sky.

While being there I probably could have achieved something similar with a very soft fill flash, but of course not with the camera’s popup flash. I was too near the slide and even took a vertical. The flash would have ruined everything.

I probably can’t do too much photographing tomorrow, thus the next image may end up being one of today’s. That being said, have a nice day 🙂

3 – The House is On Parade

This is from last Thursday. I couldn’t find anything suitable today, thus I had to resort to the archives. This house entrance was so vivid in color that it reminded me of flags and parade uniforms.

Hmm … so far I really seem to fancy the color red 🙂

A week ago I finished Bryan Peterson’s book “Learning To See Creatively”. A wonderful book about photography from a man who seems to value nothing higher than rich, vivid colors. Well worth a read, because it made me hunt for colors like I never had done before.