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Working on Backgrounds Part Due
  
 
Dalantech
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p.1 #1 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


Still experimenting with different materials and techniques. First up is a mantis that I shot with a piece of light blue construction paper behind it. I though that since the paper had a matte finish it would make a good background, but oddly enough it looked kind of grey in some of the images that I took. Also notice that the pseudo pupil is almost missing in the critter's left eye -that effect is caused by the way the flash reflects off of the compound eyes (a mantis doesn't really have a pupil). The second flash that I was using to illuminate the background all but washed it out, and what's left is in the wrong position. In the future if I use a second flash when shooting a mantis I'll place it directly behind it.







For this next shot I used a vinyl table cloth, and shooting against a reflective surface works a lot better than shooting against one that has a texture.







There's no natural light in those first two shots, but this next one is a mix of natural light and flash. I set the shutter to 1/20 of a second to expose the reeds in the background, and then let E-TTL metering expose the subject with the flash. This is my preferred method for keeping the background from being black, especially when I can get a good mix of natural light and flash. Even though the sunlight was pretty harsh (taken at about 3PM on a cloudless day) the color and saturation in the background look good because it's out of focus and a little under exposed. A digital sensor reacts to under exposure in the same way as color positive slide film -colors saturate. The downside to this method is that there can be enough natural light to partially expose the subject which makes freezing motion difficult.







I've also noticed that when creating artificial backgrounds that smooth backgrounds do not look as good as ones that have some color or texture variation (especially if the background is not blue). The brain sort of expects vegetation to keep the background from looking smooth. Compare the dragonfly in the previous image with the bee in the next shot -this one is all flash:









Oct 19, 2013 at 08:05 AM
12monkeys
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p.1 #2 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


Dalantech wrote:
I've also noticed that when creating artificial backgrounds that smooth backgrounds do not look as good as ones that have some color or texture variation



Several years ago someone on the Nature forum posted his hummingbird setup, and apart from the frame holding five speedlights, the thing that surprised me most was the pig-ugly 1970s bed sheet used as a background, with all sorts of hideous patterns on it. But it worked perfectly giving the most beautiful, natural looking blur.

The plain backgrounds in the first couple of photos just don't do it for me. I know you say you're not looking for natural but I find the vacuum just as distracting as any hotchpotch.



Oct 19, 2013 at 06:46 PM
12monkeys
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p.1 #3 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


(and I think that both your subjects and backgrounds would benefit from you moving the contrast slider to the left)


Oct 19, 2013 at 06:47 PM
Dalantech
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p.1 #4 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


12monkeys wrote:
(and I think that both your subjects and backgrounds would benefit from you moving the contrast slider to the left)


...and then I get people complaining on other sites that I don't push the contrast enough

Edit: I really don't push the contrast much in post, but I always set a black point and that's probably what you're noticing (most people don't set a black point in their photos and it's a mistake not to).

Edited on Oct 19, 2013 at 08:18 PM · View previous versions



Oct 19, 2013 at 08:13 PM
Dalantech
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p.1 #5 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


12monkeys wrote:
...The plain backgrounds in the first couple of photos just don't do it for me. I know you say you're not looking for natural but I find the vacuum just as distracting as any hotchpotch.


Agreed -said as much in my OP.



Oct 19, 2013 at 08:14 PM
12monkeys
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p.1 #6 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


Dalantech wrote:
...and then I get people complaining on other sites that I don't push the contrast enough



Well, a lot of people are viewing on cheap, uncalibrated laptops on which everything looks wishy washy unless you push it to the extreme.

For me, the problem is that the more people post high contrast, high saturation pictures, the more that becomes the norm and what's actually normal begins to look dull by comparison.

It was interesting to see a BBC photography competition last year on which the presenter said that the number one reason why entries went straight into the bin was oversaturation.



Oct 19, 2013 at 08:31 PM
12monkeys
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p.1 #7 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


I think National Geographic said something similar to the BBC too


Oct 19, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Dalantech
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p.1 #8 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


12monkeys wrote:
It was interesting to see a BBC photography competition last year on which the presenter said that the number one reason why entries went straight into the bin was oversaturation.


Saturation is something that I don't push in post -the quality of the light I shoot with causes the colors to pop.



Oct 19, 2013 at 09:00 PM
12monkeys
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p.1 #9 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


Dalantech wrote:
Saturation is something that I don't push in post -the quality of the light I shoot with causes the colors to pop.


Then maybe you need to expose differently. Dial the flashes down and boost the ISO. And abandon the whole "black point" thing. Can you not take the fourth picture as an example and say "that looks nothing like the bee that I saw with my own eye?



Oct 19, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Dalantech
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p.1 #10 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


12monkeys wrote:
Then maybe you need to expose differently. Dial the flashes down and boost the ISO. And abandon the whole "black point" thing. Can you not take the fourth picture as an example and say "that looks nothing like the bee that I saw with my own eye?


The bee I saw with my own eye was so tiny I could barely make out that it was a bee, but the one that I saw in the view finder is mine to interpret as I wish -that's what artistic expression is all about. I'm not here to document the small world, I want to create images that people want to print and hang on the wall (and they do). Macro to me is an art form, and not just a documentary...



Oct 19, 2013 at 09:09 PM
 

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Dalantech
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p.1 #11 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


12monkeys wrote:
Then maybe you need to expose differently. Dial the flashes down and boost the ISO.


...that would only lower the flash duration -it would have no impact whatsoever on the quality of the light...



Oct 19, 2013 at 09:12 PM
12monkeys
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p.1 #12 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


Dalantech wrote:
The bee I saw with my own eye was so tiny I could barely make out that it was a bee, but the one that I saw in the view finder is mine to interpret as I wish -that's what artistic expression is all about. I'm not here to document the small world, I want to create images that people want to print and hang on the wall (and they do). Macro to me is an art form, and not just a documentary...


This is what I find so hard with you: when I agree with you, I somehow find myself disagreeing and when I disagree, I kind of agree.

I think this is because your principles are sound but you apply them a little wonkily. I noticed in some of your discussions with Jack and your historical arguments with Brian that you tend to flip-flop, and it's very difficult to argue with you.

If I comment, it's because I think you're worth bothering with (one or two others can just wallow in their shitness).



Oct 19, 2013 at 09:21 PM
Dalantech
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p.1 #13 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


12monkeys wrote:
I think this is because your principles are sound but you apply them a little wonkily. I noticed in some of your discussions with Jack and your historical arguments with Brian that you tend to flip-flop, and it's very difficult to argue with you.


Nowhere in this thread, or in any of the blow ups that I've had with Brian, have I ever changed my position on anything. People do have a tendency to either read too much into what I write, or attempt to twist my words to win arguments. A lot of people simply don't like me because I don't adhere to their norms -I don't focus stack, don't use a tripod, etc. If I listened to all the zealots out there when I first got into macro I wouldn't have half of the images that are in my gallery...



Oct 19, 2013 at 09:31 PM
12monkeys
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p.1 #14 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


Dalantech wrote:
Nowhere in this thread, or in any of the blow ups that I've had with Brian, have I ever changed my position on anything. People do have a tendency to either read too much into what I write, or attempt to twist my words to win arguments. A lot of people simply don't like me because I don't adhere to their norms -I don't focus stack, don't use a tripod, etc. If I listened to all the zealots out there when I first got into macro I wouldn't have half of the images that are in my gallery...


I don't focus stack and I don't use a tripod. You come across very well in your youtube videos and, as I suggested above, if I didn't like you, I wouldn't comment.

BUT... you are very disingenuous and not just with me. As you know, this whole artistic vs. documentary thing is something that I've been advocating a lot recently. Your photos kind of remind me of a bunch of rookie French journalists I used to edit about 15 years ago. Their texts were riddled with poor grammar and syntax and the excuse that every single one of them used was that it was just their style. Bollocks. Your style, your art, does not lie in cooked highlights and oversaturated blacks and yellows. It lies in the composition and the original lighting of the photo, the subject and it's expression. You do so much right but your lighting and post-processing really are awful. Sorry but they are. And I don't understand why you bother posting your background work if you know it's bad. I did post a moderately interesting/useful comment at the beginning but you didn't pick up on that. You went straight into argumentative mode.

I'd rather not send PMs, this should be an open discussion. But if you were published in National Geographic Young Explorers or whatever it was, then it may have been the worst thing that could have happened for your photography.



Oct 19, 2013 at 09:57 PM
Charles Roy
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p.1 #15 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


# 2 and 4 are stunning!


Oct 19, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Dalantech
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p.1 #16 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


12monkeys wrote:
BUT... you are very disingenuous and not just with me. As you know, this whole artistic vs. documentary thing is something that I've been advocating a lot recently. Your photos kind of remind me of a bunch of rookie French journalists I used to edit about 15 years ago. Their texts were riddled with poor grammar and syntax and the excuse that every single one of them used was that it was just their style. Bollocks. Your style, your art, does not lie in cooked highlights and oversaturated blacks and yellows. It lies in the composition and the original lighting
...Show more

I'm in a constant cycle of working on composition, post processing, and lighting. Are my images perfect -not by a long shot. But I'm constantly improving despite a lac of genuine feedback because I know how to pick my images apart.

12monkeys wrote:
I'd rather not send PMs, this should be an open discussion.


I sent you that PM due to your comment about saturation and National Geographic -I didn't want to sound as if I was bragging, and that's why I sent you a Private Message (that's what PM means).

12monkeys wrote:
But if you were published in National Geographic Young Explorers or whatever it was, then it may have been the worst thing that could have happened for your photography.


Just wow...

Edit to say that I even post my failures and explain what went wrong so other people can learn from it -sounds pretty genuine to me...

Edited on Oct 20, 2013 at 06:18 AM · View previous versions



Oct 20, 2013 at 06:15 AM
Dalantech
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p.1 #17 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


Charles Roy wrote:
# 2 and 4 are stunning!


Thanks Charles -of the four images I think that those are the best of the group. I had more control over the lighting, and I'm more comfortable with the way that I shot them and it shows in the final images.



Oct 20, 2013 at 06:17 AM
12monkeys
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p.1 #18 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


I spent the last night questioning my monitor, my calibration, my eyesight and even my sanity. If you're happy and can critique your own images then great, I'll stop posting in your threads.


Oct 20, 2013 at 06:42 AM
Dalantech
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p.1 #19 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


12monkeys wrote:
I spent the last night questioning my monitor, my calibration, my eyesight and even my sanity. If you're happy and can critique your own images then great, I'll stop posting in your threads.


You're free to post anywhere that you want -and it's OK if you don't like my photos.



Oct 20, 2013 at 10:18 AM
michael kilner
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p.1 #20 · Working on Backgrounds Part Due


Dalantech wrote:
...that would only lower the flash duration -it would have no impact whatsoever on the quality of the light...


It would also let in a lot more ambient, which if you wished it to, would lighten your backgrounds.Also in shot 2 your use of a reflective background has resulted in blue spill on the bees eye



Oct 20, 2013 at 11:22 AM
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