Depth or Flat?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Unmanedpilot, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. Unmanedpilot

    Unmanedpilot TPF Noob!

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    So I've been taking photos for a couple years now, actually trying to take photos instead of snapshots. So far I've understood what I'm doing and can relatively grasp the concept behind things however something that I have read on here that I just don't get is how to add depth to something. Such as make someone pop out of a photo. I generally don't have this issue (just luck I suppose) but would like to understand why images seem flat or have something to them so I can avoid it in the future. Is it all just depth-of-field, or is there something I'm missing to it?
     
  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Depends how you mean flat - are you looking for a 3D like effect or are you looking for colours that stand out.
    Getting colours to standout is very much reliant on lighting and shooting in the right sort of light - good goldenhours light should work well - is 1 hour before and after dawn/sunset. Also shooting with a polarizer can help colours popout (though you do lose 1 stop of light so for the brighter parts of the day)

    For a 3D effect its going to be your depth of field - also I find such is easier to achive if you have a plain background with few/no distractions or other things. This is by far a much harder facter to get right since its reliant not only on the aperture your shooting with, but also reletive distances involved. I have had some shots come out 3D like but its very much experimentation with me - I have no hard fast formular to work with save to say try stopping down the aperture (shooting with a bigger f number) and see what you get.
    The risk is that you stop down too much and get too much in focus and lose the standout effect
     
  3. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Focal length is also an influence.

    If your subject is close to background you can get close with a wide angle and it will make the foreground separated from the background.

    If the subject is far away from the background you can move further away and it can drop the background out.
     
  4. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    You get flat images by having the sun at your back creating flat lighting, by using a wide angle lens on a scenic with nothing in the foreground, by using a camera angle that is 90 degrees to your subject, by shooting multiple subjects on the same horizontal or vertical plane, by using diffuse even lighting, by using direct flash at a short distance, by uniformly under-exposing or over-exposing any large section of the photo, etc. I am sure there are more ways, but this gives you the idea.

    skieur
     
  5. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Composition, the lighting, DOF, even post processing... it is a combination of some or all of these elements.
     
  6. Neuner

    Neuner TPF Noob!

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    Wow, thanks for the detailed information. So if I point the camera at something, adjust the ISO, aperture, shutter, light, focus, click the button and make random adjustments in photoshop I will have a photo that 'Pops'?
     
  7. pm63

    pm63 TPF Noob!

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    I am not sure what you mean... could you post some examples of photos where you consider the subject to 'pop' and some where you consider them to be flat?

    Like others have pointed out, it could be anything really. Most common way to make a subject stand out is to give them great lighting. Shallow DOF could help too. Sometimes, I like to select just the subject in PS and increase exposure just on the subjetct slightly, to bring them out of the background. Here are two examples of that technique:

    http://flickr.com/photos/ozga/3071512657/

    http://flickr.com/photos/ozga/3029893991/

    A vingette could also work, if you're into that sort of stuff.
     
  8. abraxas

    abraxas No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Mehbe, ... Mehbe not.

    Jerry unwittingly blows off composition as simply an element in an equation;

    1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = Desired Results

    You've shortened the equation to eliminate what I feel is the most important "1"--Composition.

    In my opinion it is ALL about composition. The mechanical/mathematical items such as you've mentioned are part of exposure, and exposure is part of composition.

    Composition is about intent.

    Intent is about vision, and vision is about emotion.

    Learn to express your emotions through all of the above and you will have photos that "pop."

    Study photos that "pop" and develop your own method of achieving the effect wth your compositions.

    There is no simple equation--That just shows inexperience.
     
  9. ANDS!

    ANDS! No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm willing to bet what the OP is referring to as "pop", is actually a decidedly lack of contrast and "smart" color saturation in their photographs (by smart saturation, I mean kicking up the colors in a way that does not affect the base contrast of a photograph).

    Perhaps an example of these "flat" images you have your hands on?
     
  10. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Where is that rolling eyes icon.
    Where does the word "random" appear in my post?
    It is a BIG part of it, yes. Composition, which you fail to mention and is my FIRST point, is also part of it.

    If you need more precise schooling, post a pic in the beginners section and ask for CC on what you did wrong.

    Ask a general question, get a general answer.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2008
  11. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    "Mehbe, ... Mehbe not." :)

    You cannot teach someone something as abstract as proper composition when they don't even have a grasp on the basics. ;) Sure a couple simple rules (rule of third, and so on...) but not REAL composition... something that speaks to you and evokes emotion when you look at a picture, and be able to do it CONSISTENTLY too.
    Composition is the blending of all the elements in a picture into one cohesive harmonious vision, and that includes all that technical "stuff". I do not dismiss it at all, but I will place it at the same level as trying someone to "feel" emotion when playing music on an instrument. All the rules are there, yet so few can REALLY make an audience feel emotion when "performing".

    I also just feel that one cannot run before they have learned to walk. I will be the first to say that all the technical stuff for me is a helluva lot easier to get a grasp on than composition. My biggest challenge in this all is just that, and I work on it almost every time I raise the camera to my eye. I have a long way to go in many areas, composition being on of them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2008
  12. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    More than likely, but also could be other things. One would think that someone who has been taking pics for several years would know this... however that is no guarantee.

    Examples are the best idea to see exactly what the OP is referring about. Then once direction is achieved, advancement can proceed.
     

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