Is it a painting?

03 May

In one of the evening in Venice, 8:23pm, the sun had already set. We were walking on one of the many bridges. Far away at the end of narrow canal, I saw a man rowing a gondola. It was dark in the canal and I saw him against the brighter background. A silhouette image jumped into my mind. Without hesitating, I raised my camera, because after a few seconds, the man would have rowed away.

Since human eyes are more sensitive to light and have higher dynamic ranges than any cameras. Although it’s after sunset, my eyes told me there would be enough light to capture this picture at as slow as 1/10th of a second. I have no problem with handheld at 1/10th of a second without handshakes. The lens focal length was just at 35mm. So no worries there. However, my camera thought, or behaved, in different way. It ended up requiring 1.6 seconds before closing the shutter, trying to brighten up the scene because it was in the semi auto mode. I thought to myself immediately, “uh oh!” By the time I adjusted the settings — raised ISO, changed to Manual exposure mode, the man and the gondola were no longer in the perfect spot for a silhouette picture. So I’m stuck with what I got — a blurry picture because of handshakes.

Looking at the back of the LCD screen on the camera, my wife said she liked it. “It’s like a water painting,” she said. After loaded it up in the computer and viewing at larger size, I sort of agree the picture does seem a bit artsy, and someone would have printed it out in 8×10″ frame and hang it somewhere in the house. But in the back of my mind, it’s still like a second class product, because it was not what I wanted in the first place.

So, this is the story about the above picture, a reward for a mistake. But wait, the story is not ended yet.

Because I wanted to write a post about it and therefore wanted to show what kind of image I had in mind, I fired up Silver Efex and looked for a way to change the picture to silhouette. Maybe I used the wrong software because I couldn’t get it done with all the built-in templates. Instead, the Antique Plate II template gave me a surprised, stunning image. I like it much better. So now I have two great pictures, suited for different tastes.

Copyright © 2011. Jenson Yu. All rights reserved.

Posted by on May 3, 2011 in Photography Techniques


Tags: , , ,

2 responses to “Is it a painting?

  1. Pietro

    May 6, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Great photo, Jenson! I love the grisaille effect and soft vignette!
    Very, very well done! 😀
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. David

    May 10, 2011 at 10:05 pm



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