Ethereal Effects: Shoot-Through

A shoot-through! Have you ever shot with something between the camera and subject? Sometimes even touching the front of the lens? Try it for interesting ethereal effects.

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From Out of the Mist…


Here’s the setup:

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If you’re interested, here’s one of several previous posts on shoot-throughs

For extra credit ;) read this one (from a course I taught)


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Over the top Post-processing

Going overboard with post-processing can be educational. How else do you learn what the myriad of options do? It also leads to interesting images.

I’m cleaning up my photo data base (all 254,176 files as of today). In the process, I came across this image which jumped off the screen and caught my eye.

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Hemlock Springs Overlook, Shenandoah National Park

Early spring last year

Made with a point & shoot – weather & footing forced me to ditch the D800E & tripod

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Basic post-process left-to-right:

  • As captured
  • B&W conversion using the Silver Efex Pro 2 Film Noir 1 preset; < 1 minute
  • Blend the B&W with the capture using Photoshop’s luminosity blend mode
  • Total processing time – less than 3 minutes
    • Afterwards used Color Efex Pro’s Lighten/Darken filter to remove the skyline and call more attention to the wildflower; the rest of the image is framing
    • Don’t recall how I did the cracked texture effect :(
  • Get it right in the camera and most of your work is done
    • Certainly the most important part is

The most important part – Composition:

  • Wildflower anchors image and provides foreground interest & depth perspective
  • Mid-ground – A green triangle formed by the steep sloping mountain plus a tree in the form of a dark green ball framing the left side of the image. If you think of a scene as composed of design elements such as shapes, lines & textures – and not grass & trees in this case – your visual design, i.e. composition, becomes easier.
  • Misty woods in background for a third layer – depth, atmosphere, mood
  • Avoiding overlap between the flower & tree is important.

To avoid the common problem of including too much in your image, ask yourself – what attracted me to this scene? Then do all that you can to eliminate everything that doesn’t add to your initial vision and remember – if it doesn’t add then it detracts. You’re done when the next thing you remove from the scene in your viewfinder makes the composition worse – and not before.

  • For example, the flower and tree attracted me but I decided that I didn’t need the whole tree to tell the story. Also I cropped (in camera, nothing was added/removed in post) to leave just enough of the hillside and mist shrouded trees in the background to complete the story of where my flower and tree were.

  • Think hard about what is the best camera orientation. I  recommend always doing both vertical & horizontal – even if one doesn’t seem to make sense. This scene, to my eye, screamed vertical for the composition I wanted, but I’ll bet that most would have made it a landscape oriented shot (force of habit mostly).


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A Splash of Color

After several posts emphasizing B&W it’s time for a little color – just a little

Every year my Christmas Cactus does a 2nd bloom. It’s that time again.


Hover mouse over image for a close up

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Nikon D800E, Nikkor 105 2.8 1:1 macro, tripod, circular polarizer, aperture priority

Post-processing limited to RAW-to-JPEG conversion in Lightroom

The red-to-magenta color is spot-on (an uninformed judge once said “Out; color is off!”)


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Winter Walk – A Gallery

Re-post: Scenes from a walk in a light snow. Some images were processed in an experiment to create a high-key, extreme-contrast effect – an etching-like look.

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A bit of High Key


In chronological order

A variety of post-processing experiments

Some are “extreme B&W” (think “Etching“)

Click on any image for a slide show


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Depth of Field for “Arty” Images

My favorite style|technique relies on

Selective focus which in turn relies on

Depth of Field

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Not Your Typical Botany Text Daisy

Shot edge-on; focus on tip of nearest petal; wide open aperture

105mm macro lens + 1.4X teleconverter; tripod; natural light

Like most images that "break rules"

Don't just bend the rules a little; break them in half

You want the viewer to know it's on purpose, not operator error
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A lot of viewers (& many judges) don't care for this

And that's all right

Shoot for yourself and don't worry about it

Floral images were my 1st photographic love

It’s now twelve years later and they still are

The variety is endless

I could spend hours with a single flower

And still not exhaust the possibilities


With selective focus, you have lots of options -

1. Depth of field length which depends on

  • Aperture
  • Focal Length
  • Distance from subject

2. Focal point about which DOF is centered

Here are a few examples; focal point circled in red

Click for full screen

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Echoes

High Key + Selective Focus = Soft “Echoes”

I don’t yearn to visit photo icons

Half Dome at Yosemite for example

Apart from checking the “been there, done that” box

There’s nothing new; all done millions of times

Fortunately, my tastes run to the simple side

Give me some flowers + my camera & I’m happy

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I’ve seen far fewer images like this next one than

Half Dome, Grand Tetons, NY Skyline,….

or – Yet another snow-capped mountain

reflected in a lake (they all look the same to me)

Of course, floral images aren’t everyone’s cup of tea ;-)

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LOOK at ME!! and me, and me

To attract a viewer’s attention

If one abstract flower isn’t enough

How about an echo?

If one echo’s not enough, how about another?

I started without the lower lily

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Making this image -

Exposure – increased exposure compensation

Until the white background was blown out

Then a bit more until “blinkies” appeared on the flowers

Then – backed off 1/3 stop

Result was + 1.7 EV

Focus - Shot with a macro lens & 1.4X teleconverter

This combo gave a paper-thin depth of field

Distance from nearest flower (with water drop) to the

Farthest (upper left) was several inches

Wide open aperture made the upper just a colored blob

I shot this at f/11, 22, 32 & 45

Wanted to see the effect first hand

The above is the f/45 version

Composition – the key to the result IMO; I wanted

To fill the frame (no cropping, thanks)

More or less even spacing between the

Closest parts of each flower to the next

No overlap or touching

More or less equal distance from the frame and

Water drop from side & bottom

Upper flower from top

This took a lot of “fiddling” & reshooting

 Post-processing – almost none

A very little color contrast adjustment

Using Color Efex Pro’s Contrast Color Range filter

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Shot indoors

Natural light, tripod, circular polarizer, white background

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A preference ?

First one or this one?

I like the eye movement better on the 1st one

This one is how it was shot

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The Digital Zone System – An “e-Book”

Originally posted on Photography Improvement:

The Zone System is a framework

That allows us to convert captured luminance values

To the values as we want them to be

Values that match our visualization of the subject

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The above is a paraphrase of this quote by Ansel Adams.

As long as we must be able to work from a range of subject luminances that are to be represented as we want them to be by a range of gray values (or color values) in a print, the Zone System seems certain to provide an extremely useful framework.

As you read these posts, recognize that Ansel Adams’ images -

Reflected what he felt and

Not a literal reflection of reality

Even though he is often thought of as the paragon of

Realistic, straight photography

Nothing is further from the truth

as he himself stated repeatedly

Reality vs. his images, in his words –

….creativity in photography…

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