Current Desktop


It is about this time of the year that the beaches start opening up for the summer. Over about a month the beach slowly awakens for the summer in terms of the services and facilities getting a fresh coat of paint, the beach restaurants getting re constructed, and then the people start to use the beaches.

What I like most about this picture is it’s ‘totality’ – the way the people are engrossed in what they are doing, the way the wind sock and the waves show how strong the breeze is, and how the lack of people symbolise the beginning of summer. For me it captures the rustic simplicity of Almerimar, nothing pretentious about life here.

With the exception of a little colour enhancement I have done nothing to ‘improve’ the picture, but I would be more than happy to hear from you as to how you would improve it.

15 thoughts on “Current Desktop

  1. Gary

    Hi Chris

    Gonna have to be terse, since I should really be getting ready for work instead of on the computer. 😉

    1) Straighten the horizon.

    2) You’ve got a little vignetting going on in each upper corner. I think it’s there in the lower corners too, though it’s not quite so obvious. (I’ve noticed this in one or two of the shots you’ve posted previously.)

    3) The rail you’re leaning on as you took the shot spoils the composition a bit – it jars visually. Remember, the eye tends to “read” a photograph from the lower left to the upper right. In this case the rail interrupts that line almost immediately.

    I wonder if you had been able to compose using the rule of thirds and used the rail (and the flag pole) in that capacity if it wouldn’t have jarred so much? I suspect it would have worked. (But you’d have required a wider lens than you probably had available.)

  2. Chris Marshall Post author

    Excellent points!

    I hadn’t heard of the left to right tendancy. I actually deliberately went for the rail to show the boundary of the beach, but I will know better next time.

    I think the vignetting is caused by the lens hood? Have tried on and off with it, but think it is better off? Have never really been that sure when it is best to use one.

    Now I did think about 1/3rds but for some reason I wanted the wind sock where it was as a demonstration of the strength of the wind.

  3. Wayne LeFevre

    I thought that maybe the vignetting was something that you where trying to put in with one of the LightRoom presets, but if it’s not, I would too like to find out what causes it!

  4. Chris Marshall Post author

    Not at all planned or created – I am pretty sure it is the result of using the Lens hood when I didn’t need to!! In fact I have taken the hood off and deposited it in a drawer for now.

  5. Gary

    Hi Guys

    Yep – a lens hood can cause vignetting. If the sun is coming from behind your shooting position then you pretty much don’t require it. If, however, it’s coming from more to the front, you’re using the hood to block out the suns direct rays. They can cause flare and, um, other stuff. Reduced contrast I think. So it depends on your shooting circumstances whether you should be using it or not.

    Some hoods are rigid, while others are collapsable. See the rubber Hama hood in the lower part of this page for an example of a collapsable hood. I bought one similar to this many years ago and use it occasionally. Assuming you’re using a zoom lens (such as a standard 18-55 type of kit lens), if you’re using the lens at its telephoto end you would extend the hood. If you’re zoomed out, collapse the hood. Beware that you could have vignetting at the telephoto extremes too if your hood is too long. If a lens hood was supplied with a given lens, then you’ll probably be safe to use it throughout its zoom range. If you’ve bought a third party hood, you may have a mismatch at the extremes. This is not a big deal, as long as you remember about it.

    Vignetting can also be caused by adding too many screw-on filters to the front of your lens. Again, this would be more likely to become visible the wider you zoom.

    Diagonals, in composition
    Take a look at this image. Part of the strength of its impact comes from the lower left to upper right composition. Your eye, most likely, just glides over the image from lower left to upper right. There’s no “resistance”. Nothing to distract the path the eye naturally follows.

    Copy it into Photoshop or similar, duplicate it and then flip the duplicate so the diagonal runs the opposite way. Does it have the same strength? Perhaps you could show the two versions to someone who hasn’t been following this thread and see which they think is the better version. (Don’t tell them in advance what it’s all about.)

    I notice from this example that there is a Flickr group  which has nothing but shots using this compositional approach. Take a look at the examples at the bottom of the linked page…

    As with most photographic rules, it doesn’t always work. Also, rules are made to be broken – in certain circumstances. Sometimes you can have a secondary diagonal in an image which runs opposite to the main diagonal and allows an image to work even if the dominant diagonal is running the “wrong” way.

    Watch out for diagonals in future and play with them when you’re composing your shots. Play around with them and see what transpires… 🙂

  6. Chris Marshall Post author

    First, thanks for the detailed comment. I am finding them extremely useful!

    It will be the hood. As you can imagine it is sunny pretty much all the time here in Spain. For this picture I was facing East with the midday sun high to the south, so coming in on my left shoulder. The hood was on. It is a fixed hood that came with Nikon lens BUT I was zoomed in fully so as you say above that is very likley the cause of the vignetting. I am just going to have to get better at switching the hood on/off I guess – I am still dragging myself out of P&S mode to ‘composing’ mode.

    I don’t pocess any screw on filters.

    That is a great idea reagrds the photo – will give it a go.

    Again, many thanks!

  7. Beatrice

    The first three things I noticed were mentioned. The railing is distracting, the horizon, and the vingnette. I loved how you mentioned how people are involved in their own activities – I think it would be great if the shot was zoomed in closer to them to show more detail. The wind would be displayed by someone’s hair blowing or the sand floating across the top of a sand castle, etc. My two cents 😉

  8. Chris Marshall Post author

    Will need to buy a bigger zoom then 🙂 Good point though.

    @Gary – I tried to pick up that image off Flickr but with no joy. I will see if I can create something myself.

  9. Mac Sokulski

    Overall great picture. I am curious, when would anyone use a lens hood. What are the condition that would warrant putting one on. So far I naver used one, and haven’t found any advantages of one.

  10. Mac Sokulski

    Well the lens do look cool with the hood. All I have to do is put a hood on my monster lens and then people really turn their heads… but for some reason I don’t that is the real purpose. Anyone please explain?

  11. Chris Marshall Post author

    If you put a hood on your monster don’t you fall over??

    May not be the real purpose but surely a huge part of it!!!!!!

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  13. Gary

    [quote comment=”6933″]I tried to pick up that image off Flickr but with no joy.[/quote]

    Hi Chris

    Open the Flickr page in Safari. Select “Activity” from the Window menu (aka [cmd][opt]a ). This will open a new window which will allow you to inspect each component that goes to make up the page: HTML files, JavaScript files, CSS files, GIFs, JPGs, MP3s, etc. Everything.

    (If you have multiple Safari windows open, you may want to collapse pages in which you’re not currently interested.)

    To grab that image in this Flickr example, look down the list of components for a JPG which is in the 70kB to 120kB range. Most of the components will be pretty small – perhaps even being measured in bytes, never mind kilobytes.

    Once you have identified a likely candidate for the image, double click the line on which it appears. It should then open up in a new window on its own. From there, you can have your evil way with it… : twisted:

    Note that this technique can probably be circumvented on some servers, but I’ve yet to find it fail. It certainly works with Flickr – for now.

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