Some photos from a recent trip to New York.
One of the more important parts of digital photography is in the processing; the act of tweaking the photos a bit in post to help bring out colors or otherwise naturalize the shot. I've tended to stay a bit conservative in my approach to processing as I have wanted to keep my photos as true to life as possible. In the photos below I've followed my typical processing procedure: amp up the colors a bit, crisp the details, and flesh out the overall tone of the photo.
Typically when bringing images together (in what is called HDR) those images are of the same subject. Here are some examples of traditional HDR work. In the past couple of weeks, however, I've been playing around with different ways of processing and with infusing otherwise discordant images for various effects. I've found that as a result I am able to get some interesting images. Here are some of those experiments along with a charting of the various steps I took in order to get the final product.
The above photo came about through four steps. The first two steps involved processing the two original images prior to mashing them together.
Once I finished processing the two photos individually, I enfused the two together resulting in the below:
While I do like the result, I felt that it was a bit too heavy on the painting image. When I set out to create the finished shot, I had envisioned the brick wall being a bit more prominent. Even after playing around with the processing I found that I still wasn't getting the effect I wanted. The final step, then, was to layer the above photo with the processed individual shot of the brick. The end result gave me a shot that was heavy on the brick, and, with some tweaking of the contrast, allowed me to bring the painting out a bit as well.
One of the more effective tools to take advantage of in photography is an effective use of depth of field. Depth of field refers to the sharpness of an image, from foreground to background. When we refer to a shallow depth of field, we mean an image that is sharp in one section and blurry in others. On the other end of the spectrum, a deep depth of field is one in which the entire image is sharp and in focus.
Achieving a shallow or deep depth is done by adjusting the size of your camera's aperture, the hole that determines how much light reaches your camera's film or image sensor. A larger aperture setting allows more light and a smaller setting less. We measure the aperture size in f-stops (the f stands for focal length), and, in a somewhat counter-intuitive fashion, the smaller the f-number, the larger the aperture. So, an f/1.8 will be a larger opening, and an f/22 will be a very small opening.*
If used effectively a shallow depth of field does a great job of highlighting the subject and creating an almost dreamy quality to the photo. It is especially great for outdoor portraits. On the other side of things, a deep depth of field allows you to capture the entire gist of a photo. I've found this especially useful when the background is as important as the main subject.
Below is a study of my grandfather's old Polaroid camera (and trying out my homemade light box). I focused on the ring of the lens, and the images progress you'll notice the detail getting sharper throughout the image. If you look at the dial on the left, blurry in the first picture, you'll gradually make out the number "4" as the depth of field becomes deeper.
Like any photography technique, my best advice is to experiment as much as possible. You'll find that the more you work with your stops and seeing the different results, the better you'll be able to hone in on the style that best fits your needs.
*This is also why lenses with a low f-number are much better for shooting in low-light situations as they are allowing in a lot more available light.