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Revisiting one of my earliest creative efforts with digital photography
Camera: Nikon Coolpix S1 ISO: 50 Shutter Speed: 1/6s Aperture: F5.6 
Posted By: BigMackCam, 04-01-2022, 01:38 PM

Like many folks, I took holiday snaps with inexpensive film cameras in my childhood and early adult life - but it wasn't until 2006 (I think) - at the ripe old age of 36 - that I bought my first "decent" auto-focus digital camera - a Nikon Coolpix S1 5MP compact (no, not the later Nikon 1 S1... but the Coolpix S1). Looking back through the images in my library, I'd credit this camera as my intro into creative photography, as that's when I started trying to create images with a specific look in mind, rather than simply taking snapshots without thinking.

The earliest photo I can find where I tried to be somewhat creative is from March 2007. In recent months I'd bought a few items - a Marathon U.S. Government-issue watch, an entirely synthetic (including the blade!) assisted-opening knife, and a compact super-bright weather-resistant flashlight, all in matte black (as a desk-bound banking employee, I think sub-consciously I must have been acting out some "Special Ops" fantasy )... and I remember thinking, these items might look good photographed together as some kind of personal equipment kit. I went to my local art supplies store and bought some black paper-card to use as a base / background, and arranged the items in a way I thought looked pretty good. I already owned a very cheap, miniature desk tripod, and used that - resting on some books for elevation - to position the camera appropriately and keep it steady. My first attempts at the photo were plagued with harsh shadows and reflections in the watch's acrylic crystal... so, without really knowing what I was doing, I made a kind of simple diffuser "light tent", using a sheet of thick tracing paper sandwiched into an arched paper-card frame that I stapled together It worked fairly well, and I was able to take a shot that - back then - I was really rather pleased with... though I recall it took several attempts, because the automatic shutter speed was so slow in this lighting (dim Spring daylight through thick tracing paper), and the second hand of the quartz-movement watch kept jumping mid-shot

Of course, looking at the original photo now, it has so many problems I don't know where to begin It's over-exposed given my original intent (though the camera's metering did a surprisingly good job, considering the sea of black ), the framing is too loose (yet I still quite like the basic setup and composition), it lacks contrast and punch, there are lots of dust spots and marks on the background, etc. etc. So... with the benefit of experience and some post-processing skills, I decided to make a few quick adjustments to see if I could come up with a better finished product, based on my rather-more-demanding standards of today.

Well, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, as the saying goes - but I think the result is OK considering what I started with. The original is more important to me as a milestone than anything else - my first truly creative photographic effort (and in product photography, of all things - an area in which I've remained keen ever since); and it's interesting, looking back, to see that I was beginning to think along the right lines regarding composition and lighting. With some post-processing, though, I actually think it has yielded a quite reasonable image that - at web size, at least - isn't wholly incomparable to some much-more-recent efforts of mine.

First, the original photo with all its flaws:

... and now, the post-processed version (with considerably fewer flaws ) - cropped, with exposure, contrast and clarity adjustments, removal of saturation except for the watch face, a couple of graduated filters to balance the brightness from top to bottom, some post-crop vignetting, and numerous spot-removal operations to clean things up a little :

It's amazing what a little post-processing can do to rescue a photo, isn't it? Whilst I don't claim this is anything special whatsoever, I'll admit I'm not entirely dissatisfied with the overall result...

Last edited by BigMackCam; 04-02-2022 at 12:51 AM.
Views: 166
04-01-2022, 02:54 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Good way to show the evolution of your skills using current post processing. Many such images could be revived.
04-01-2022, 03:11 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Very well executed capture. It does bring to mind a type of British Commando equipment. Me likey. (Especially the watch)


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