On Using Elements In Your Scene To Help Tell Your Story

By |2012-02-25T10:28:02+00:00Feb 25th, 2012|

Make no mistake when I tell you how happy I am to be back in Portland. After spending a week in Vegas for WPPI, the wet, grey weather of PDX is exactly what I need. Now, that isn’t to say that I didn’t have a blast in Sin City. The show was great and we even got a chance to shoot at Valley of Fire National Park during the first annual onOne Software/Ken Sklute Ride ‘n Shoot.

During one of the breaks that we had, I noticed this sign warning about the upcoming curving roads. Initially, I had walked right by it and set up my camera to frame up this meandering road. I got it set up exactly how I had wanted it and then just as I was about to trip the shutter, I stopped and took a few steps back so that the sign was now in my field of vision.

It took almost no time at all to realize that omitting the sign was a mistake (at least to me). Aside from giving me a nice anchor, it helped accentuate and complement the actual curve in the road. It was helping me tell my story of this scene. So, I grabbed my camera and adjusted so that the sign was exactly where I felt it would be most effective.

When you’re out shooting, it’s really important to take into consideration all of the elements that are presented to you. You need to constantly ask yourself whether this thing or that thing can help you tell your story more effectively.

In terms of processing
I took nine brackets of this scene using the Magic Lantern firmware for the Canon 5D Mark II. I ended up only using five of the brackets because there wasn’t that much of a shift in tonal range. I tone-mapped using Photomatix and stylized with +onOne Software Perfect Effects 3 using a combination of effects.

Next, I brought the image into Photoshop and created an alpha channel selecting everything except for the sign and brought it into FocalPoint 2. I did so because I wanted to create a shallow depth of field and render everything beyond the sign slightly out of focus.

Finally, I added some little touches of contrast and clarity using the develop module in Lightroom 3.

In album Pic Picks Over The Years (1 photo)

[map w=”745″ h=”130″ lat=”36.45124″ lon=”-114.51554″ marker=”yes” z=”18″ maptype=”SATELLITE” 680 /]

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  1. Shelly Gunderson February 25, 2012 at 10:16 am - Reply

    Nicely done and thanks once again for explaining how it was done.

  2. Michael Christoferson February 25, 2012 at 10:18 am - Reply

    Nice picture and I really like your explanation of the processing. Thanks!

  3. Lars Gustafson February 25, 2012 at 10:25 am - Reply

    I had a very similar experience with a curves-ahead sign in the Columbia River Gorge. I decided to include my mode of transport (a motorcycle) in the frame as well. That was years ago, though, so I may have to dig it up from the archives and have another pass at processing it.

  4. Dave Veffer February 25, 2012 at 10:37 am - Reply

    Magic Lantern ftw! Love the shot :)

  5. Elaine Bastajian February 25, 2012 at 11:08 am - Reply

    You haven't been here long enough :~)

  6. Darryl Brooks February 25, 2012 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Heading to Vegas tonight. Shooting Valley of Fire tomorrow. Will only have a few hours. Suggestions?

  7. Brian Matiash February 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    +Darryl Brooks – if I could pause time, I'd spend a lot more time shooting the beehive rocks – they were just awesome to look at. A fisheye lens would do wonders with them, too.

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