Converging verticals – what, how and fixes

Converging Verticals Eiffel Tower with guide linesWhen we look up at a tall building its sides slope inwards to form an inverted V shape. We are so used to seeing in this way that we hardly notice the effect while we are enjoying the view. When we take in the same scene in 2 dimensions, as we do when looking at a photograph, the experience is quite different and we do notice the convergence of the vertical aspects of the building.

If the effect is exaggerated, or at least very obvious, it lends a sense of height and drama to the picture, and we can appreciate a a split second just how tall that building is. However, if the effect is only moderate the building might look as though it is tilting backwards and in danger of falling over.

As with many photographic visual effects moderate applications simply look like mistakes, so we should avoid them at the shooting stage, or learn to correct them afterwards.

The way to avoid the problem is to hold the camera completely level when taking the picture, as it is the looking up angle of the camera that creates the effect. Unfortunately, keeping the camera level usually means that the top of the subject will be cut off. You can move backwards to alter your perspective, but in the majority of cases this is not an option as space is usually limited in architectural locations. In any case you’d have to move a long way for even a moderately tall structure

To see more of my pictures visit my galleries at www.damiendemolder.com

To see more of my pictures
visit my photo galleries site
at www.damiendemolder.com


See a map of where this picture was taken

Converging Verticals Eiffel Tower

Converging verticals – fix by cropping

Converging Verticals Arc De Triomphe A method of avoiding converging verticals that is open to everybody is shooting wide and cropping the result. In short the camera is fitted with a wide angle lens and is held in the upright orientation. Keeping the camera absolutely level you will see that once you have all the building in the shot there will be an excess of foreground that is probably not needed. Don’t worry about that though, just shoot the picture and crop the unwanted space off the final picture. Set the cropping proportions to 5×4 for a professional look, or pick between 6×7 or any other format simulation that suits the picture. You may end up with a horizontal shot from your vertical original, and you will have lost a lot of pixels, but at least the sides of the building will appear straight and completely upright.

This isn’t an ideal solution, but it is quick, easy and it does not require any additional specialist equipment.

Converging Verticals Arc de Triomphe croppedThis picture was made by cropping to 5×4 proportions to give the feel it was taken using a large format camera. As you can see the crop is a little too close and it all looks a bit uncomfortable. I used the full width of the original image to get the final picture size to 2912×2330 pixels, which would still deliver a 10x8in print at 300ppi.

Converging verticals Arc de Triomphe cropped squareFor this picture I cropped square. Again using the full width I was able to produce a final image that measures 2912×2912 pixels, and which prints to 10x10in at 300ppi. The extra space at the bottom makes a more comfortable composition, and a more successful final image.

Shot with a Canon EOS 1Ds, with EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS – exposure 1/5sec at f/22. ISO 400

The original file for these images measures 2912×4368 pixels and comes from an 11 million pixel camera. As the file is large to begin with there are plenty of cropping options to be had. Try different cropping proportions, such a 6×7, 6×8, to get different effects and to make the most of the file size you had to start with. Cropping to a landscape orientation will always leave you with the smallest final image, so using upright crops

To see more of my pictures visit my galleries at www.damiendemolder.com

To see more of my pictures
visit my photo galleries site
at www.damiendemolder.com

B&W conversion – Green Channel

Colour images converted to black and white using the green channel have quite a distinctive look that is great for creating the feel of all classic images. In the days before panochromatic emulsions black and white films had no sensitivity to red (they could even be developed with a red light on in the darkroom).

Film was mostly sensitive to green light, and pinky reds recorded as black, and greens as bright tones. In most normal scenes though pictures record with a moderate contrast that makes a nice change from the over blown black and white work that is widely popular among enthusiasts.

There are two principle ways of creating a conversion using just the green channel – you either isolate it by deleting the red and blue channels, or go into a channel mixer tool to effectively turn off all but the green. Either method delivers much the same result.

Green channel conversions are great for all sorts of subject types, but I especially use it for portraits and city scenes when I want pictures to appear older than they really are.

As digital cameras has twice the number of green pixels as either red or blue you will find that green channel conversions present the absolute best you will get from your camera. Resolution and image detail is optimised, and image noise will be at its lowest.

Filters V channels

If your camera has a black and white mode you may have wondered whether it is better to shoot using this mode and coloured filters over the lens, or whether to shoot in colour and convert using a colour channel mixer or selector in software. You may find that most people will tell you that essentially the two methods add up to the sdame thing, but that one involves putting a piece of glass or plastic over your expensive lens which might degrafe your image quality. Actually there is a difference, though it is quite a subtle one.

If we compare digital processes to the days of film shooting with filters is just like when we shot with black and white film and filters, but when we use channel mixer tools it is like changing the characteristics of the film. Digital sensors are panochromatic – that is, they are sensitive to red, green and blue light. When we use a single channel by itself we are effectively altering the sesnitivity of the sensor. Using only the green channel makes the sensor behave as orthochromatic film, and using only the blue makes the sensor xyxy. When you put a filter over the lens you are still using a panochromatic sensor but you promote one colour and hold back another. The effect is quite different, as is the principle. Using a filter over the lens with a panochromic sensor will always produce a more extreme result, that can only be matched in magnitude in software by extensive manipulation that degrades the image.

This picture was taken using the Olympus E-3.

To see more of my pictures visit my galleries at www.damiendemolder.com

To see more of my pictures
visit my photo galleries site
at www.damiendemolder.com

Capturing movement – Blue Bamboo

These are not my bamboo plants – they belong to my wife. But I’m the one who chats to them, waters them and feeds them. They’ve grown really tall, and when the wind blows across the garden they lean right over and sway around. I love listening to the sound of their dry leaves brushing together – it sounds like the sea – and watching the sun sparkle as the canes and leaves alternately block it and then let it through.

For this shot I wanted to capture the movement of the leaves and the canes on a windy day. It doesn’t take much wind to make them move, but as they are quite rigid, and they block the wind as well as dance in it, some parts of the plant move more than others. It seemed silly to shot on a tripod when capturing movement like this, so I shot hand-held and made the most of the freedom to try lots of different angles.

As it was a bright day, I needed a small aperture to get a shutter speed long enough to show the movement. In the end I settled on f/16 and shutter speeds of around 1/15sec. The shutter opening was enough to show the movement in some areas and a degree of sharpness in others, which then allows the picture to explain more clearly what was going on. The leaves, which were fluttering very quickly, have become very blurred, but the gently swaying canes are quite well defined.

I shot in colour, but knowing that I would convert to black and white afterwards. I wanted to use a green filter to lighten the leaves and to create contrast with the darker canes, but a physical glass filter would have created too much flare – I was shooting into the light.

The same shot in colourI converted the picture to black and white via channel mixer – using just the green channel – and then toned it with this china blue colour. To do this I converted the RGB file to greyscale, and then made it a duotone. I’m not too bothered what colour I choose in Duotone mode, as I always adjust the colour and saturation once the file is converted back to RGB.

Once it was done I went into Levels and moved the highlight output levels to 252 from 255. That just takes the edge off the white background and reduces the contrast a touch

It’s pointless to add sharpening to such a soft image – so I didn’t.

Shot with a Canon EOS 1Ds III, with EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS – exposure 1/10sec at f/29. ISO 100

If you want to use this same grey/blue for a duotone click the selected colour in the ‘Ink 2’ box and then type bdc6cb into the hex colour box that sits at the bottom of the ‘Color Picker’ window. The hex color box is the one with a # (hash symbol) next to it.

To see more of my pictures visit my galleries at www.damiendemolder.com

To see more of my pictures
visit my photo galleries site
at www.damiendemolder.com