A quest for the ultimate, beautiful, meaningful picture

Work and pleasure

Last week I was out of the country, presenting my (and my colleagues’) work at two conferences. Not a minute for serious photography, only the joy of having morning coffee in a medieval Italian monastery, now the Faculty of Economics of the University of Pavia–in dire need of restauration (it’s Italy, after all), but still: that is the original environment for European universities!

The joy of photogaphy came with the occasion to experiment with the A700’s highest sensitivity settings: ISO 6400 and 3200, respectively (reduced jpegs of the otherwise unchanged RAW photo’s). Especially ISO 6400 is close to useless; ISO 3200 is not bad for the purpose of documenting a late-evening tour of a vinyard.

And then there was the visit to the Certosa di Pavia. “ABC” in kids’ jargon: Another Beautiful Church. Very beautiful, but not a place for very interesting photos. What can you add to all the beauty of the craftsmen of the 14th-16th centuries? I was reasonably satisfied with only two photos, and that for technical reasons mostly: I more or less mastered some challenges–next time I want to make some real nice pictures with that technical knowledge…

In the first, I wanted to make the craftsmen’s beauty visible in a picture of a detail of a pillar plus the painted vault. To show both, I used the built-in flash of the camera with slow sync (otherwise the vault would have remained dark). The amount of light in the background satisfied me quite a lot. Of course, as a tourist on a conference, I did not come with a tripod, so the result is not quite sharp, but for a 0.7″ picture it’s not bad. And Lightroom 2 (great new options in this version–a must-have!) helped to sharpen it a little.
The other one, the church’s facade, needed Photoshop to readjust the falling lines of the 16-mm perspective: I wanted to capture a lot of clouds above the church so in the fleeting moment when the light was right, I just had to shoot a bit upwards. When that was done, Lightroom 2 was used to make up for my lack of a gradual neutral-density filter; one of Lr2’s new options is the ‘graduated filter’ and that helped to bring the picture back to the impression that the situation had made in reality.

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