Big Lunch Street Party

© 2010, Peter Marshall

The Nikon 16-35mm on the FX format D700 was pretty well an ideal lens for photographing this suburban street party, part of a nationwide neighbourhood building exercise ‘The Big Lunch’. You can see more of the pictures mainly taken with this combination on My London Diary, which also tells you more about the street and the event.

There were a few occasions when I wanted a longer lens, and the 18-105 Nikon on the DX format D300 (27-157 equiv) provided what I needed. I did find myself being slightly confused on occasion and forgetting that the physically longer lens (the 16-35mm) was actually the wide angle, and grabbing the wrong camera, although the overlap in focal lengths between the two sometimes meant it didn’t matter.

The D300 also came in useful for a few images with the 10.5mm fisheye where I thought that the red circle of the pool would really make an overhead view with the fisheye work. I had to take several images to get the framing I wanted as I was shooting with the camera held up well above my head, but this frame was just about perfect.

Framing with the fisheye is always a rather different exercise to framing with rectilinear lenses, and it is seldom really possible to locate the corners of the image with any precision – you get a 180 degree view across the image diagonal. So while normally framing is very much about where edges and corners fall, with the 10.5 its much more about placing the centres of the edges (and in this example particularly the centre top to give just a little space above the heads and the centre bottom around the edge of the pool.)

© 2010, Peter Marshall
LR3, Distortion correction at 30

Previously I’ve often made use of the  Fisheye Hemi plugin which retains these edge centres while losing some of the extended corners, and its a very useful tool. Here is the result it gives with this image, similar but with some lines noticeably straighter, and just a little more content at the two edges.

© 2010, Peter Marshall
FishEye Hemi Distortion correction

Lightroom 3 comes with a lens profile for the Nikon 10.5mm which will actually convert to rectilinear when set to 100, its default, which I think is totally useless.

© 2010, Peter Marshall
LR3 Distortion correction at 100 – Rectilinear.

© 2010, Peter Marshall
Uncorrected image

Which of these images best represents my intentions when photographing the scene is an interesting question, and for me either of the upper two versions is more acceptable. The rectilinear result clearly distorts the scene in a way that misrepresents what I saw, and the uncorrected image gives far more prominence to the corners than I intended. Technically, Lightroom’s rectilinear version produces an unusable result, having to stretch out some of the pixels unacceptably and losing sharpness in some areas.

In a week that has seen yet another highly publicised case of digital manipulation, with a caddy being removed from a golfing shot and Getty firing the photographer concerned, Mark Feldman, who claims he took out the caddy while showing him and the golfer the picture when it the caddy suggested his presence ruined the picture, and that sending this version as well as the uncorrected original to Getty was simply an unintended “fatal mistake.”

Given the poor quality of the Photoshop job and that he sent both corrected and uncorrected versions I’m convinced his story – and his own comments  on the article are a true explanation of what happened.

But if he had done it deliberately and suppressed the original it would clearly have been digital manipulation. However the kind of perspective alteration shown in the above examples is an example of the kind of digital manipulation that is fully acceptable.  It’s a subject I discussed at some length a couple of months ago in Ethics and Images.

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