Awareness of the distortions produced by angle of view and lens choice is the beginning of using them creatively. Curiously, permission is the beginning of using distortion in post-processing creatively. Many people have been told that it’s inappropriate to do so. Why? Why accept an unintended mechanical by-product, but not a consciously intended effect? Why take such a powerful tool for expression off the table? Even the subtlest applications of distortion can produce powerful results. Once you understand what kinds of distortions are possible during post-processing, you may even find yourself changing your angle of view during exposure.
There are many reasons why you might want to distort an image. Here are four:
1. Correct optical distortion that can be produced by many things, including lens choice, angle of view, motion, panoramic stitches, etc. You can choose to make the selection of a wide-angle lens less about distortion and more about including more.
2. Modify proportion; adjust the height and/or width of objects and/or areas. Just for starters, take off the 10 pounds that the camera adds on.
3. Change proximity; reduce or increase the spaces between objects. Make things feel more or less related.
4. Enhance or change gesture; make a leaning object more tilted or straighten it out. Think of this as adding the words “very” or “less” into a sentence.
When exploring the many distortion tools in Photoshop, you’ll find that the Liquify filter is one of the most powerful. The Liquify filter is so powerful that, when in use, it offers its own toolbar and menus, somewhat like Camera Raw. To get the most of the Liquify filter, it’s worth taking the full tour …
Read all the details on Digital Photo Pro.
Photoshop’s sophisticated distortion capabilities are relatively new to photography and so is the mind-set of using them to photographers. Both are worth acquiring. Everyone can find a use for them, at one time or another, if not on every image. As every photographer uses distortion to one degree or another, ultimately what separates photographers is not whether they use distortion, but when, how and why they use it. The same tools can be used to achieve entirely different effects. There’s a world of difference between using distortion to remove process artifacts for more accurate representations, using distortion to aesthetically refine the formal qualities of images and using distortion to expressively interpret subjects. Intent is everything. Practice is a reflection of intent. Simply asking yourself how far you are and aren’t willing to go and, finally, why, will help clarify yours. Consider these questions seriously, and you’ll find your vision will grow stronger and clearer.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.
This one filter performs the function of many. Reduce the amount of light coming through your lens by 2 to 8 stops. Simply rotate the filter to increase or decrease the effect.
Frame and focus with the filter on at minimum density. Rotate the filter to intensify the effect. It can get so dark you can hardly see through it.
Because the Vari-ND is so easy to use, it encourages experimentation with a wide range of exposures and effects.
Make long exposures.
Make selective focus easier.
Enhance close-up flash control.
Exaggerate the effects of panning during exposure.
As you test your Vari-ND Filter, you’ll find the effects will vary with focal length, direction and speed of motion (your subject’s or your own or both), and of course duration of exposure.
Use the preview on your DSLR to confirm your results instantly. Monitor your histogram after exposure to confirm proper exposure.
The Vari-ND comes in 77 and 82 mm sizes. Adaptors for other sizes are available.
The Vari-ND can be used with most other Sing-Ray filters, except Polarizers. You can amplify the effect of the Vari-ND by stacking it with the Mor-Slo 5 Stop Solid ND Filter.
Singh-Ray filters are legendary for their optical quality.
The VariND filter is one of the few filters I use.
For more information visit www.singh-ray.com.
Find out more about the tools I use here.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.