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Old Dec 12, 2010, 11:46 AM   #1
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Default What gives great photos depth?

I know this is a very ambiguous question with probably a lot of answers, but it's something I've been wondering about. I've posted around here and there on these boards asking for equipment advice, posted a few photos, etc., but one thing I've noticed is that the great photographers on this board create images that have a certain depth to them that others (specifically myself) don't seem to capture. Like you're looking at a window, not a picture.

Is it an equipment thing? I think not, as I have a T2i, and while the 18-55 IS and 50mm 1.8 aren't world-beaters, they are pretty good from what I've read, and I've also got the Tokina 11-16mm 2.8, which everything says is fantastic.

Or maybe it's an issue of knowing your camera and getting all the right settings?

Perhaps a post-production finesse?

Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly happy with my equipment, and it was a massive, massive upgrade over the ultra-portable point and shoots I used prior. I'm just wondering if there's something I can learn to kindof take it to the next level. (I'm also not expecting to become professional quality without putting in the time and effort a professional would, I know I'll always be an avid amateur, as my line of work is in academics and psychology!).

So yeah, I'd just like to hear the opinions of the experts.
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Old Dec 12, 2010, 1:19 PM   #2
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It's probably the use of depth of field, lighting and composition. Have you got any examples of shots that you've seen that you like. Please don't post a photo if it isn't your own but rather a link to it.
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Old Dec 12, 2010, 2:39 PM   #3
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I've tried to find some pictures from Ireland that are similar to mine, and here's the best on that front I could come up with. The link is a comparison via Flickr, and mine is the embedded shot. They've clearly got better lighting going on (I've pretty much always used available lighting as I have no external flash, and I typically travel pretty lightly anyway right now).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/butlers...9907/lightbox/



Also, here are a few more of mine that I think got closer to the depth I'm thinking of, as well as a couple links to threads in the landscape photos board.

Mine:




Walter_C: http://forums.steves-digicams.com/la...fter-rain.html

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/la...fter-rain.html

maggo85: (in particular 2 and 4) http://forums.steves-digicams.com/la...pressions.html
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Old Dec 12, 2010, 2:52 PM   #4
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Looking at these it is the elements I originally mentioned. The time of day/lighting is better in the comparison shot, as is the composition bringing in more interest. There is some editing going on that helps make the shots work well.
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Old Dec 13, 2010, 10:11 AM   #5
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You want the viewer to switch his focus points from the foreground (fg) to the background (bg). There are ways to encourage this. Here are my rules of thumb.

Different lighting or color of similar objects in fg and bg. In 'Seal Beach After The Rain' (seal) the close residences have distinct colors, the farther ones are mostly dark and the city in the bg is grey.

Same object in fb and bg so ones in bg look smaller. The underwater sand lines, and the distance between them in seal. Same photo, the height of the beach appears smaller in the distance.

Perspective lines and a vanishing point. The 'god beams' in the Huntington Beach (hb, aka Surf City, USA :) draw the eye into the distance.

Something in the fg intruding into the frame. No example of this in your shots. Imagine a shot from the side of a lake with tree covered slopes on the opposite shore in the bg. The fg is just water. If you add a bit of a tree branch in one of the upper corners you have a fg/bg difference

Pick up a composition book or find something online. I found one 25 years ago that showed a photo on one page and a simple pencil drawing of the composition principle distilled to it's essence, eg. the letter Z. The seal photo has a powerful parallel diagonal lines of of the water's edge and the clouds following the coast. One's eye can't help but follow the line.

And of course, depth of field, which should need no explanation.

Like the man said, it's just depth of field, lighting and composition.

As an example of my rules of thumb in action, consider the linked photo. I returned to this spot several times because I needed the right light to give the depth I wanted.

http://i470.photobucket.com/albums/r...eads1-B-s2.jpg

Applying the rules:
Three objects of same size makes the bg one look smaller.
Each head is in different light.
Depth of field chosen to draw the eye to the best lit head.
All three statues have the same gold sash which helps draw one's focus between fg, bg and middle g.
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Old Dec 13, 2010, 11:36 AM   #6
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It seems to be enough dof on your picks. P&p can help you a lot. Also shooting RAW. This was done on your resized version. On the original it should look much better. The Flickr pick has a lot of wise pp.



PS: there's some water drop or something on your lens. Look the sea water, left, down the rock.
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Old Dec 13, 2010, 11:52 AM   #7
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CJP- when yo said "depth" I immediately thought "depth of field" which is but one of many aspects as has been pointed out. However, sems what you may really be saying is "richness" also of which depth of field is one component.

I'm only just starting out so I cannot yet say what tricks tips and techniques will help you, but I can say what I observe:

Lighting, certainly. In that first, flash is not what made the Flickr pic better. They had better daylight to work with; if I had to guess, they may have planned for and spent a fair amount of time to get that shot and had the fortune of mother nature cooperating.

The composition is better, what is framed in the shot. Exposure appears to be better. As also pointed out, judicious post-processing certainly as well.

In yours, I'm not sure what you are focusing on or want the viewer to see? Is it the broad vista? Is it the waterfall? etc.
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