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Old December 11th, 2006, 12:04 AM
Ken Tanaka Ken Tanaka is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: USA
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Before proceeding I want to thank Steven Teitelbaum for offering us the opportunity to get a good look at some M8 raw files and to process them for ourselves. I found the files to be a very high quality, the equivalent of my Canon 5D and 1-body files. Each image was quite sharp, owing certainly to the quality of Leica M lenses. I applied no sharpening to any of the images below. The only sharpening applied, indirectly, was when downsizing them and applying a bicubic sharpening algorithm.

General Remarks: Please note that my remarks are by no means intended as criticisms of Steven's work. I do not know his intentions for any of the images and simply treat them, and narrate the processing, as if I had captured them.

Autumn foliage scenes can be as seductive to one's lens as Homer's sirens. They seductively attract the lens with each turn of the head. It isn't until you find yourself poring through the images that you discover that many of your images are often visually tedious. When you consider why you pressed the button you may discover that you were trying to capture more than a camera can capture. The sounds and scents of the scene. The crisp breeze. It's like returning from Maui with only a souvenir t-shirt. So as I repeat such photography I look for opportunities to make the foliage an interesting background for a more specific subject.

The general theme of such scenes in urban parks, particularly New York's Central Park, is the environment's relationship to people. People, after all, are the only reason for these parks to exist. So it was with this principle in mind that I began work on Steven's images. With regard to general tonality adjustments my goal was, and always is, to make such adjustments sparingly. It's very easy to go far overboard with such scenes, slipping out of photography and into artistic fantasy. I avoid that. Since it was a dreary, overcast day with flat lighting I primarily used slight saturation, color temperature, exposure, and black level adjustments to enhance the actual scenes rather than to create scenes that didn't exist. I made most such adjustments in Adobe's Lightroom Beta 4.1 and a very few adjustments, as noted below, in Photoshop.

This first image created the biggest compositional challenge. The original image established a nearly perfect "H" with the buildings forming the uprights and the edge of the park forming the horizon. I felt that a choice had to be made with regard to the image's subject. I chose to crop the bright sky and tops of the towers. This encouraged the eye to dwell on the tranquility of the pond, and the general luminance of its surroundings, with its reflections clearly revealing the urbanities cropped from above. In cropping, however, I left enough of the buildings to reveal that this scene could be no place other than New York's Central Park. No other city has so many stepped-back building elevations (due to some unique building codes).





This next image was, to my eye, an example of those sirens calling the lens. I'm sure that the trees were beautiful. But the subjects of the scene are the people enjoying a leisurely moment in their midst. The trees' presence is everywhere in the scene, so it was unnecessary to show their trunks and branches. You know they're there and what their coloration is. Cropping also created a more interesting composition, with the pavement of the path leading the eye from the girl in the foreground to the people on the next bench, to the man walking towards the camera. I added a very subtle vignetting to help further contain the eye.





I wasn't planning to work on this fountain but it kept calling my name. By cropping I tried to establish the fountain's bowl as the primary subject and also a relationship between it and the nearby bench -- suggesting a spot of peaceful rest and contemplation. I used subtle dodge and burn to bring out the patina of the wonderful old bronze bowl and also to make it seem more like an organic extension of the leaf litter. Again I added a slight vignette, this time to give a heightened sense of specialness to the fountain.




Thanks again, Steven, for use of your files in this exercise. I hope my interpretations have not offended you, but rather provided you with some entertainment. Enjoy that M8!
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- Ken Tanaka -

Last edited by Ray West; December 11th, 2006 at 02:10 PM.
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