Camera, lens, post-processing or all three?

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by luka_horvat, Nov 23, 2015.

  1. Hi All,
    I want to create - or capture, or express - a certain feel and tone in images. There is a tone and colour that I like in some images, and in other images of same or similar location the tone and colour gets completely different.

    I am trying to find out why is that. I like gentle but clear tones and colours, with no strong blacks and balanced contrasts. Some of the images I like are here on the links below, and I would be extremely happy if you could help me to find out what equipment has been used to get those? Is it film or slide film? is it mobile phone camera? DSLR? GoPro Hero? Is it the natural light of northern latitudes? Post-processing? I imagine all those factors influence the end result, but what is the crucial, the main element, which gets you closest to such results?

    I hope the 12 images below will help to explain what tone, colour and style I am after.
    I do not think it is the post-processing only as no matter what you do in Lightroom, if you do not have something to begin with, one will always end up with results far from desired.

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/10/a9/50/10a950b75f6208e079a8ed097eaeb45d.jpg
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/64/84/83/648483f4335604790c759df472cc445b.jpg
    http://41.media.tumblr.com/5552e37b14ce971f767bf55fa999d1b4/tumblr_nj8wa8Eax01qza249o1_500.jpg
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/6d/5c/4e/6d5c4e3020e950c47e9795dbd466b312.jpg
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a8/ba/b4/a8bab484d35202c32f8399b65b550ada.jpg
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/0b/47/fc/0b47fc11a3d3ce68a94ed54169414eec.jpg
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/23/fb/d1/23fbd1ce3fb6b1a662ce8f82460a7cee.jpg
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/44/67/c8/4467c89421b232d106027af6fb7212bc.jpg
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/43/1f/84/431f84ef96ac45b007279896607cf982.jpg
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/4e/5e/22/4e5e22b9409a4e0f0019124b3aab8a4f.jpg
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/e4/5c/fb/e45cfb0796f1ea254c435f77c41bc9a3.jpg
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/24/bc/66/24bc665e309b12e8f59a496af4af53b9.jpg

    Many many thanks for your kind help!! :)
    p.s. since I am a beginner and I believe many beginners might have similar questions, I put it here.
    Luka
     
  2. Unfortunately, none of the images has any EXIF data, which would have helped a lot determining which equipment would be used.
    Nonetheless, the usefulness of knowing the equipment is limited. All factors you mention (light, lens, camera, post-processing) can be partially or fully responsible for the look you mean. So, there isn't one single recipe here. Frankly, out of these photos a fair number look like post-processing to me, to get this slight veiled washed-out look; possibly done on a cellphone.
    The crucial element - hard to say; for a large part, this look is doable in post-processing and probably available as a filter already somewhere. So, that is the easy way. But it is also a look that fits specific photos (i.e. not the look you'd use for a beach-party photo), which is largely determined by the light and the overall colour palette in the scene. Light is always the crucial element to a photo, no way around that. So, in learning, that's where I'd start, as it will enable you to shoot the photos that are usable and applicable to apply this look to.
    The rest of the gear is very secondary; it's not what I'd focus on. Yes, there are lenses that do this look better than others (veiling flare, and/or reduced contrast with front lit, or front-side lit scenes), but it's very specific and if you're a beginner, very counter-productive to search lenses that do this trick well.
    Either way, as a beginner, I think it's also good to remember that this look/style is a tool, a way to present an image so that it better conveys what you want to say. The look/style should not be a means to itself. Some images lend themselves very well to it (and you collected some really nice examples, I think), but some will not. It's equally important to learn when to use as it is how to use it.
     
  3. This one looks like it was taken with Kodacolor 200 or maybe Fujicolor 200:
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a8/ba/b4/a8bab484d35202c32f8399b65b550ada.jpg
    This one could have been taken with a low contrast filter over the lens:
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/6d/5c/4e/6d5c4e3020e950c47e9795dbd466b312.jpg
    You could use plugins in your RAW converter that add a film-like look. They're not bad but go easy with them. If they're too strong they look yucky. And sometimes the weather and atmospheric conditions play a part in how a photo looks.
     
  4. Gup

    Gup Gup

    Is it film or slide film? is it mobile phone camera? DSLR? GoPro Hero? Is it the natural light of northern latitudes? Post-processing? I imagine all those factors influence the end result, but what is the crucial, the main element, which gets you closest to such results?​
    I looked at each link briefly, and I'm not an expert in such things, but I have some experience. I didn't feel all these shots were created the same way. In other words, some were created in post using different software techniques, probably by applying pre-existing digital filter plug-ins available for specific programs. Others look like poor film to digital scans, in my opinion ;) Some appeared to me to be overexposed, intentionally or otherwise, and a few were just digital shots taken in poor light (like the last link in your original post).
    Sorry, I'm not a fan of the technique you seek! :)
     
  5. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

  6. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    The majority look as if they have been underexposed. Not having rich blacks but dark grays instead is an indication of underexposure.
     
  7. I agree with Wouter but would state it more strongly: equipment has very little to do with this. I'm not saying that equipment doesn't matter. Most of what I do with my SLRs I could not do well, if at all, with my iPhone. However, for the most part, these differences don't create the kinds of look you are writing about. They mostly affect things like level of detail, the amount of noise in the image, and so on. For the most part, the 'look' of an image reflects the skill of the photographer, the lighting, and the postprocessing. You could give a skilled photographer any current DSLR, for example, and they could produce images that to your eye, shown online, would look essentially identical.
    You wrote:
    I do not think it is the post-processing only as no matter what you do in Lightroom, if you do not have something to begin with, one will always end up with results far from desired.​
    It's true that processing can't make up for everything that is wrong with an initial image. However, processing--even if you don't go beyond the editing capabilities in Lightroom--can create dramatically different appearances from one capture.
     
  8. Interest. Generally, these all have lower Contrast and some even look as if they were shot with film and then the film was not properly stored or processed. With some experimentation, you can do all this in post. What Raw conversion software are you using?
     
  9. Mostly they have the look of faded color prints, and I bet many of them are the result of some sort of Instagram-type "old look" software filter.
     
  10. Looks like fogged paper. You can easily recreate this effect by sliding the bottom left corner of the tone curve vertically up slightly, and then pulling the middle of the curve slightly down. You can do this in pretty much any software. I personally want to avoid this look and would not think of doing it intentionally, but to each their own.
     
  11. Just an overview. If you are a beginner, you need to realize camera, camera controls, lense, lighting, composition, post processing are all tools used to create your vision. Ansel said there is nothing worse that a sharp image of a fuzzy idea. First have a reason to take the photo, then utilize the tools to express it. You don't sit at the keyboard and hit random keys, you hit the ones that convey your message. When you have mastered those tools knowing what they do, you are able to make your image. So master each of those tools, it will take time. Just shooting isn't enough, shoot with a purpose. As golfers know practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.
     
  12. Thank you All for your comments and help! I also agree with Wouter Willemse and I think that light and atmospheric conditions play major role in the tone and feel of these images. David Stephens, I use only Lightroom. Do you suggest something else? If yes, please let me know! :) And yes, some of those images look like scanned film. Jeff Spirer, how do you know!? :) :)
     

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