Tuesday, November 3, 2009

User Interface Design

Having recently finished the book on the A330 / A380 and spending considerable time with the A550 right now, I've been living with some of the user interface design choices that the engineers have made.  I'm talking specifically about button placement.  Sony's entry-level models have been derided due to very poor placement of buttons.  If you're used to the excellent ergonomics of the Minolta 7D, or the Sony A700 and higher, where buttons were placed where your fingers naturally fall to enable you to work very quickly, you will almost certainly pick up the entry-level cameras and notice that the controls are not conveniently placed at all.  (This happens when high-end Canon users pick up their low-end cameras as well.)  What were they thinking?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Replacing Faces

Below is another group shot, also taken outdoors, also with the group in the shade.  (See previous blog post for why I say "Another".)  This time because the group was larger I used two wireless flashes; one on either side of the camera.  The same formula was used: Aperture priority at f/8 and let the flashes do their thing on auto.  But look at the two kids in the lower-left-hand-corner!!  They're looking at someone else (probably a relative holding a point-and-shoot).  

In the olden days photographers would take many shots of a group in hopes of getting just one shot where everyone looked good.  Now they still take several shots, but this time hoping to catch one shot of each person looking good.  Once you have that you can take the best of each face and merge everything in Photoshop.  BUT, this is not just a matter of copying and pasting heads from one photo to another -- that is far too arduous a task.  It turns out all you really need to copy are the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Outdoor Lighting for Group Portraits

 Have a look at the classic family portrait above.  Easy shot, right?  Just put the camera on a tripod and press the shutter release button, right?  Nope.  This portrait has a classic look to it, achieved using an unintuitive lighting technique that wedding photographers use every day.  Have a look at the ground where the people are.  That's right, they're in the shade!  It's a bright, sunny day, but group portraits should always be taken in the shade.  Why?  Because harsh sunlight wreaks havoc on people's faces.  Strong, directional sunlight casts unflattering shadows under the eyes and below the nose, and worse, it often makes people squint.