The most iconic images in history, even the ones that weren't taken with a Leica, were taken because of the Leica.

Hyperfocal Technique

September 25, 2014

Here is a classic technique to "maximize" depth of field (DOF) using hyperfocal. Hyperfocal works well for wide angle lenses (35mm and wider) with a DOF scale.

The image below was shot hyperfocal at f/5.6 using a 35mm Summilux ASPH lens. Notice how the image looks sharp from foreground (the subject's face) to the background (buildings behind arc).

How to focus using hyperfocal:

  • Start by focusing on the nearest object of interest (the face of the subject).
    • Since I was shy to point the camera on his face, I pointed it instead on his right shoe below. The face is actually a little further away.
    • The DOF scale on the lens barrel showed a focus point (RED) somewhere 11.5ft. That means that my nearest object of interest was 11.5ft away from the camera.
    • There is more: at f/5.6, for example, it also showed that
      • the near point (GREEN) is around 7.5ft and
      • the far point (BLUE) is a little beyond 15ft (call it 20ft)---NOT infinity 
    • Thus, had I taken the shot with this focusing, only objects 20ft away from the camera or (20 - 11.5) = 8.5ft behind the man would have been rendered sharp.

 

  • More on the DOF scale:
    • At f/2.8, when the far point (BLUE) is set to INFINITY, the near point (GREEN) is beyond 15ft.
    • At f/4.0, when the far point (BLUE) is set to INFINITY, the near point (GREEN) is around 15ft.

  • The goal of the hyperfocal technique is to find an aperture where the nearest point of interest (11.5ft in the example used here) is within the GREEN and the BLUE when the BLUE is set to INFINITY. For this shot, I determined that f/5.6 was good enough.

 

 

 


Depth of Field Technique

September 25, 2014

Here is a simple technique to "maximize" depth of field (DOF).

The image below was shot handheld and wide open at f/1.4 using a 50mm Summilux ASPH lens. Notice how the Zumba instructor (on the right) and the students (on the left) both look sharp suggesting a really "deep" DOF?

Just a Party 2014Just a Party 2014

The scene was dark and the subjects were doing a zumba. It was a no brainer that I have to shoot wide open at f/1.4 to get any usable image. I first tried 1/60s but found that insufficient so I went faster to 1/125. The final exposure used was as follows:

  • Aperture: f/1.4
  • Shutter Speed: 1/125s ==> needed to freeze motion (I found 1/60s insufficient)
  • ISO: 1250 ==> you don't really want to use higher on an M9

I then proceeded to shoot two images: one with the focus on the instructor (right); another, on the students (left). Both images were shot with the same exposure and processed exactly the same way (i.e., with the same adjustment settings). The final image is therefore a composite of these two images using masking technique (I used Perfect Mask).


Moving Subject

December 08, 2013

Here is a simple trick to put "motion" to a still picture of a moving subject:

  • tilt the camera opposite the direction of implied motion and
  • leave a "space" for your subject to move.

Compare at the two compositions below:

 

 

High-ISO Available Light Photography

September 21, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Shooting at high ISO can yield usable images if shot under the right condition. This is my favorite recipe for a successful high ISO photography using available light:

  • Shoot wide open
    • Set the camera to the largest f-stop of the lens.
    • Remove filters. They don't help in low light and can only cause flare.
  • Get an accurate exposure
    • Definitely do not underexpose. It will only aggravate the already "noisy" shooting situation.
    • Do not also overexpose. It is a waste of ISO.
    • Use a handheld meter, if possible. Unfortunately, most camera metering gives inaccurate exposure in low light scenes. 
  • Set the correct white balance
    • A wrong white balance will lead to color shifts to can affect proper exposure.
    • Use a "white balance" card and set it close to the most dominant light source for the image you want to take.
      • Note that the exposure close to the light source may be different from the proper exposure for the image.
      • To set the WB correctly, you must use the correct exposure.
  • Shoot RAW
    • Post processing is a must for optimum image.
    • You get the most latitude for post processing if you shoot RAW.
  • Manage noise
    • Noise is best managed outside the camera during post processing. I use DxO Optics Pro.
    • I like my low light images to have visible grains so I replace the digital noise with film grains.
    • To do this,
      • I use DxO noise reduction to remove as much of the noise as possible (without loosing details).
      • Then, I introduce grain into the image using film-rendering software. I use DxO Film Pack.
  • Convert to black-and-white
    • My preferred output for most low light images is black-and-white.
    • Conversion to BW instantly solves the problem of unwanted color casts on skin tones caused by artificial lights.
    • It also allows me to use "color filters" to change tones in the my image.

 

The following images were taken during a gathering at Riddhi's house in Clifton, NJ. All shots taken with a Leica M9 and a 50mm Summicron at ISO 1600 wide open at f/2. For moving subjects (people especially children), I would set the shutter speed to at least 1/45s to 1/60s. 


Summer Picnic in Cornwall, NY

September 07, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Another picnic on another nice summer day hosted by Will Waterfield and family at their residence in Cornwall, NY. All shots taken without flash or reflectors using Leica M9 and 50mm Summicron.

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