The stories behind the images

The stories behind the images
chairs, rome

Friday, March 26, 2010

montepertuso, amalfi coast

The story behind the image:

It was late-afternoon in Montepertuso, a small village up in the mountains behind Positano. The tiny piazza where the bus had dropped us was busy, as many of the locals were arriving back from working in the terraced fields. We went off to explore - I made my way to the church up the hill and Dianne walked along the streets leading off the piazza.

Dianne passed one of the old women of the village and knowing her delightful face would make a wonderful shot, Dianne gestured to her camera. The woman nodded and happily posed for some shots.

Dianne's first and second shots:

The strong textured background is competing with our main subject - we want the focus to be the woman.

Dianne's third shot:

This works. The background is blurred and non-intrusive, and Dianne's captured a fantastic moment - the smile, the cheeky eyes, the wave goodbye. It was then cropped to fill the frame, although I think the original un-cropped version (which gives us more of the lady) also works.

Heading away from the piazza I also met some wonderful local women who were on their way to church. They stopped and we chatted, and then I captured this image. It's one of my personal favourites of last year's tour.

There are two approaches to shooting images of people. You can shoot discretely and not make any direct contact, or you can engage with your subjects. I often find that my approach depends on my mood and the particular circumstances, but mostly my experience has been that by directly engaging with people you not only get compelling emotive images but you also get wonderful memories.

Photoshop post-production:
Dianne used a levels layer (to increase contrast) and a filter from Alien Skin Exposure 2 filter software to warm up skin tone.

Equipment and settings used:
Camera - Canon EOS 400D
Settings - f6.3, 1/160s, ISO 200, auto white balance, landscape picture style (for rich colours), shot in JPEG
Lens - Tamron AF 18-250mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II LD Aspherical (IF) LENS
Focal length: 250mm

Happy shooting, from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

chianti grapes, tuscany

The story behind the image:

It was mid-afternoon in Chianti. Dianne and I had just visited the small village of Radda in Chianti.

(btw - if you ever make it to this delightful town, you must visit Decori nel Tempo ( - they make beautiful, tasteful chianti ceramics and other lovely homewares and paintings, perfect for gifts. Whenever I am in the Chianti region, I make a point of coming to the shop. They close for siesta, so time your visit before or after lunch.)

We were heading out of Radda when we spotted a lovely Chianti landscape, so we pulled off onto a side road.

We both then wandered off to find the vantage point that suited us. I went one way, Dianne the other, and we spent about 30 minutes waiting (there was some rain about), composing and shooting. Dianne's perspective:

My perspective:

Both of these images have definite leading lines - line is the strongest element of design, and can determine the emotional impact of an image. As a photographer you need to be aware of the subtle feelings associated with the different types of lines.

Dianne's image contains curved lines. These are the lines we expect to see in nature and they are soft and relaxing, and they also lead us gently through the image. My image contains strong diagonal lines (which is more my style), and they give the image a more directional and energetic feel. In this instance I feel Dianne's image is the more successful of the two.

When shooting a wide landscape scene, don't forget to also shoot the smaller detailed elements of that same scene. (In fact, I shot the close-up of the grapes before I even started on the lansdcape. I find that it's a nice way to ease into the expansive wide angle work.) By having the small details as well as the "big picture" your story is stronger and more interesting. I find it's also more personal, as what you notice as a small detail depends on what catches your eye.

Photoshop post-production for grapes:
None. (It was a cloudy day, and that automatically creates stronger contrasts and colours.)

Equipment and settings used for grapes:
Camera - Canon EOS 5D
Settings - f4.0, 1/200s, ISO 200, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 64mm

Happy shooting, from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

vintage red vespa, rome

The story behind the image:

It was mid-morning in Rome. I was wanting to capture some quintessential Italian images and then I saw it - a classic red vintage vespa! These old vespas are getting harder to find, and for me, nothing says vintage vespa more than red...

There was a man standing quite close to the vespa, and there was also a pole leaning on the wall next to the vespa. I decided that neither of these elements added to the scene I wanted to capture so I moved around the vespa to see if I could shoot at an angle or distance that would eliminate them from the scene. Unfortunately, given the view and perspective I wanted, it wasn't possible. I also knew that removing a man's leg and/or pole was a very quick and easy exercise in photoshop so in this case I decided it was worth shooting.

I shot three images of this scene. The first, as I find is often the way, was the best. It is the one I have chosen for the Capture Italy website gallery. It has clear diagonal lines and good context. This is it below, before photoshop post-production.

I then tried two different angles, in an attempt to include less of the unwanted background elements, but neither of them worked for me. You can see them below:

Unwanted people and items in backgrounds are a common challenge you face when shooting street scenes. You can choose to include them to add interest to the scene (in this case neither the man nor the pole added to what I was trying to achieve - if the man had been a typical old Italian man, and the pole had been his walking stick, perhaps they might have been worth including); or you can attempt to shoot so as to exclude them. This means you need to walk around your object and shoot from different angles/perspectives. Your last resort is to rely on photoshop.

Photoshop post-production:
I used the clone tool to remove the pole and leg, I applied a layers level and a filter from Alien Skin Exposure 2 filter software for the vintage yellowing effect.

Equipment and settings used:
Camera - Canon EOS 5D
Settings - f3.2, 1/200s, ISO 400, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 48mm

Happy shooting, from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy.