The Autopsy Of A bad Photo..

redbourn

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disaster and autopsy-1.jpg
The Autopsy Of A bad Photo..

This was just a test.

I know the picture is terrible but it's here so that I can learn about what went wrong ;-)

I put tissue paper over my softbox, to create a second layer, to try and correct harsh reflections from liquid ( I don't remember the technical term) and I pointed the softbox a little more towards the ceiling until I couldn't see any burned out reflections in the viewfinder.

I knew using cheese would be difficult and would have to photograph very fast.

The parts that are almost black were spinach, dark green.

It was a small portion of food just for practice. And I ate and enjoyed it ;-)

So please tell me what went wrong.

Michael

Super Spinach And Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

Prep time 15 min
Cook time 35 min
Total time 50 min

Ingredients

1.5 lb, 700g Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled or unpeeled and chopped into approx 1", 2.5 cm cubes
8 oz, 225g frozen spinach or optional 1.8 lb, 800g of fresh
3/4 cup grated Cheddar or Swiss cheese
3/4 cup sour cream or crème fraîche with a squeeze of lemon juice
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
1/4 tsp dried dill
Salt to taste

Heat oven to 350°F, 175°C
Cook frozen spinach according to package directions, or prepare fresh to taste.
Boil potatoes 15 minutes, or until tender, drain and mash.
In a bowl, mix the spinach, mashed potatoes, butter, sour cream, onion, salt, and dill.
Transfer to the prepared a lightly oiled casserole dish and top with Cheddar or Swiss cheese.
Bake 20 minutes until bubbly and lightly brown.
Allow to cool a little then serve and enjoy.
No burnt tongues !
 

cherylynne1

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I think the lighting is just too flat and uninteresting. Don't forget that creating shadows is one of the most important aspects of lighting.
 
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redbourn

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I agree, it's just too flat. Looks like a photo of a picture. No green either. The spinach should be green.
i do like the recipe though, sounds good.
Thanks.

But what went wrong?

My last few photos were much better.

Was adding a second diffuser to the dropbox the problem?

Was pointing the dropbox slightly upward the problem?

Michael
 
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redbourn

redbourn

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I think the lighting is just too flat and uninteresting. Don't forget that creating shadows is one of the most important aspects of lighting.

Thanks.

But what went wrong?

My last few photos were much better.

Was adding a second diffuser to the dropbox the problem?

Was pointing the dropbox slightly upward the problem?

Michael
 

The_Traveler

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View attachment 115390 The Autopsy Of A bad Photo..
I know the picture is terrible but it's here so that I can learn about what went wrong ;-)
The parts that are almost black were spinach, dark green.
So please tell me what went wrong.

Michael

The biggest obstacle for most photographers is being objective about their own work to the point where they can stop seeing the picture in their mind and actually see the picture they have taken.
Defining the point of failure allows the photographer to find a fix.
You've recognized that this picture isn't what you want, now you need to dissect that 'failure' to understand why.
Cherylynne1 was right on the button with her diagnosis but what you really need to understand is how the diagnosis is made.
Obviously there is plenty of contrast, there are real bright areas and real dark areas so that definition of 'flat' is out.
What is missing is shadows and definition. And the obvious repair for that is less balance in the lighting, more raking light that will cast the small shadows that will make the eggs look 3d.

For the future, until you can internalize the diagnosis process and just end up looking at an image and understanding where it fails, a check list can help.
  • What feelings or impressions come from the picture?
  • Are these feeling congruent with the content or subject?
  • Are there one or more centers of visual interest?
  • Is(are) the center(s) of interest - the main subject(s) - well placed within the frame and does the placement relate well to the rest of the content so that the viewer’s eye is drawn to, rather than away?
  • Is there excess space that pulls the eye away and drains any tension or drama from the picture?
  • Is there enough space so that nothing feels cramped or cut off?
  • Are there geometric issues? e.g. are the horizontals and vertical correct, and is that important?
  • Is the composition appropriate for the content?
  • Is the color or tonality appropriate for the content? Saturation or lack of it? Correct hues, white balance?
  • Does the color make the point that the photographer wants?
  • Is the sharpness or lack of sharpness appropriate?
  • Does the lighting define what it should and hide what it should?
  • Is everything that should be in focus, sharp and distinct, actually so?
  • In the reverse, is there so much depth of field, that attention is drawn away from the real object of interest?
  • Are there individual small defects - points of motion, dirt on the lens/sensor, out-of-focus spots that hurt the image, unduly bright areas that draw the eye?
 
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Peeb

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Food is not impossible to photograph but it often seems like it is to me!
 

dennybeall

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In your post you talk about completely removing any reflections, and that's OK. Unfortunately you also removed shadows and shadings that give the shot depth.
 
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redbourn

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View attachment 115390 The Autopsy Of A bad Photo..
I know the picture is terrible but it's here so that I can learn about what went wrong ;-)
The parts that are almost black were spinach, dark green.
So please tell me what went wrong.

Michael

The biggest obstacle for most photographers is being objective about their own work to the point where they can stop seeing the picture in their mind and actually see the picture they have taken.
Defining the point of failure allows the photographer to find a fix.
You've recognized that this picture isn't what you want, now you need to dissect that 'failure' to understand why.
Cherylynne1 was right on the button with her diagnosis but what you really need to understand is how the diagnosis is made.
Obviously there is plenty of contrast, there are real bright areas and real dark areas so that definition of 'flat' is out.
What is missing is shadows and definition. And the obvious repair for that is less balance in the lighting, more raking light that will cast the small shadows that will make the eggs look 3d.

For the future, until you can internalize the diagnosis process and just end up looking at an image and understanding where it fails, a check list can help.
  • What feelings or impressions come from the picture?
  • Are these feeling congruent with the content or subject?
  • Are there one or more centers of visual interest?
  • Is(are) the center(s) of interest - the main subject(s) - well placed within the frame and does the placement relate well to the rest of the content so that the viewer’s eye is drawn to, rather than away?
  • Is there excess space that pulls the eye away and drains any tension or drama from the picture?
  • Is there enough space so that nothing feels cramped or cut off?
  • Are there geometric issues? e.g. are the horizontals and vertical correct, and is that important?
  • Is the composition appropriate for the content?
  • Is the color or tonality appropriate for the content? Saturation or lack of it? Correct hues, white balance?
  • Does the color make the point that the photographer wants?
  • Is the sharpness or lack of sharpness appropriate?
  • Does the lighting define what it should and hide what it should?
  • Is everything that should be in focus, sharp and distinct, actually so?
  • In the reverse, is there so much depth of field, that attention is drawn away from the real object of interest?
  • Are there individual small defects - points of motion, dirt on the lens/sensor, out-of-focus spots that hurt the image, unduly bright areas that draw the eye?

Thank you.
 
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redbourn

redbourn

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Thanks for all the comments.

I now understand what happened.

I was so concerned about specular highlights that I went overboard and ended up with a totally flat image.
 

cherylynne1

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Did you bounce the softbox off the ceiling? I'm having trouble understanding your setup. The food was on the table, but the softbox was pointing at the ceiling rather than the food?
 

Taveuni

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Redbourn, I think a food shot of a bowl from above has very limited creative potential.
I'd probably rather see a textured skice on a plate with backlit steam rising in swirls for example (shot from a low angle. You need to be able to smell the food and want to eat it.
While I'm on the negative (constructive I hope), why on earth would you use dry dill not fresh, frozen spinach not fresh and why mash the potatoes not slice them and saute to retain their texture?
Sounds like an American recipe.
 
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redbourn

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Did you bounce the softbox off the ceiling? I'm having trouble understanding your setup. The food was on the table, but the softbox was pointing at the ceiling rather than the food?


Your analysis was pretty much right on the money.

I was so concerned about getting specular lighting again that I made a real beginner mistake.

I kept looking through the viewfinder at an empty plate and seeing reflections I kept moving the softbox further and further away and pointing it higher and higher.

Until there were no reflections.

It wasn't pointing at the ceiling but it was pointing very upward.

I just read here that I should have been doing the opposite.

WEEKLY LIGHTING THEME: Controlling Specular Highlights............ - Photo.net Lighting Equipment and Techniques Forum

It's fairly counter intuitive to move have the softbox so close.

Anyway, I learned stuff and thank you for your reply.
 

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