Choosing Perspective and Timing

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Walking down a long series of steps in Prague I spotted this lamp on the building wall. I wanted to include the classic design of the lamp within the context of the larger scene. To arrive at the final image there were many choices to be made, from perspective and technical settings to timing and post-processing. I'll touch on each of these as I discuss the image.

Looking at the lamp from the steps it was way up in the sky. Far too separated from the scene below. Perspective to the rescue. The wonderful thing about perspective is it allows you to move fixed a building, or a lamp. I climbed up on a low wall next to the steps and the lamp was now under my control. I knew I wanted to change the position of the lamp, but didn't know exactly where I wanted it. It's all part of the process. Find the subject then figure out how you want to arrange the composition. Here are the variations I tried before settling on the composition above. You can see my considerations were where to place the lamp relative to sky and how to balance the buildings on the sides.


I focused on the lamp and shot the scene at f/4 to separate the lamp from the larger scene. With my lens at 60mm the scene retains enough detail even at a wide aperture.

The lamp is great, the buildings are great, but what about all those people walking down the steps. Ideally I wanted people who would add to the photo. I was looking for colorful clothing and separation between the people. I watched people coming down the steps and when I saw some potential I'd fire off a burst. After catching the woman in the red dress (and someone with a colorful umbrella!) I decided to quit while I was ahead. I was feeling pretty good. When I selected this frame from the sequence I had in my head that the man and the woman were holding hands. Later on I looked back at the entire sequence and realized they weren't holding hands. It was an illusion, their hands had just overlapped for a moment. Wishful thinking.

Let's wrap things up with a bit about how I processed the photo. After doing global image adjustments in Aperture, I used Intensify Pro for targeted contrast and detail enhancements. I'm impressed by Intensify Pro's adjustments for bringing out details as well as its unique contrast controls, both of which can be target highlights, midtones and shadows. First, I brought out more detail in the walls on the left and right. Then I turned to the washed out buildings on the left. They have great color but I needed to darken their tone without making them dull and flat. I also applied a bit of that enhancement to the sky. Take a look at the Intensify Pro before and after:

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