Going Ultra Wide by Marcos Macedo

Since I started to develop interest in photography I remember being very intrigued by a certain type of image where the field of view was much wider than the images I took with my cellphone or my point-and-shoot camera, back then I didn't know how that was done nor I knew what a "wide angle lens" was, nevertheless those images fascinated me.

But when I started developing an interest in real estate photography and started to learn more about it, suddenly one of the tips that seemed to be in every article and every tutorial I read was how important it was to use wide angle lenses in real estate photography to be able to widen the perspective and show entire rooms in one photo, as well as to be able to photograph smaller/tighter rooms and make them seem more spacious.

In time, I started to realize that these magnificent lenses were not only used for real estate photography, but they were also heavily used in landscape as well as in street photography, all of this eventually led me to buy my first one and start shooting wide... that was the moment photography changed for me and I never went back!

Technically a "wide angle" lens is any lens that goes below a focal length 50mm, which is the conventional standard, but any lens with a focal length that goes below the sensor size of your camera is called an "ultra wide angle", in my case that is 35mm (since I usually shoot with a full-frame sensor) and you can go even wider than ultra wide by using  "fish-eye" lenses. Personally, I like to go as wide as I can without getting my images distorted and for this reason I never really ventured into the realm of fish-eye lenses, although this is merely a matter of creative choice and personal taste, since there is astonishing art being made out there with fish-eye lenses every day.

Nowadays my Canon EF 16-35mm lens is my go-to lens, it goes everywhere with me and whether I am shooting landscapes or interiors, 90% of all the shots I take are wide angle shots. Most photographers will tell you that the best "general use" lenses are the most flexible lenses with a good medium-range (like the Canon EF 24-105mm) because they will have a little zoom and at the same time go a little wide, but for me any wide angle lens is the perfect general use lens!

Guide Your Viewer by Marcos Macedo

Whenever you hold your camera and press the shutter button it's because there was something you saw that caught your eye and compelled you to take that photo, that something is your subject.

Maybe it was a shining car on a busy street or a particular person in the middle of a crowd but unless you are taking portraits in a studio and are able to totally control your setting, more often than not your photo will contain multiple potential points of interest, maybe beside your shining car there were some people walking by or a bicycle was chained to a street sign on the other side of the street.

These unintentional subjects that come into your photos sometimes "make your photo" giving it yet another dimension and making it more interesting, but other times they just become distractions that pull the attention from your intended subject, which in turn may end up ruining your shot, because an image should have a clear message, and when you introduce too many elements they just become "background noise" that stop your message from going through.

Post-processing can be a big help in these circumstances allowing you to bring your message forward by enhancing your subject and/or minimizing the unintended noise. In the images above you can see one of such cases, by using tools like the "post-crop vignette" or "radial filters" in Adobe Lightroom I was able to create "spotlights" within the photo and make the subject shine as I originally intended.

Other techniques commonly used for this effect involve the use of the "crop tool" to change the composition by cutting the distracting elements out of the image, or the use of "selective black and white" where most of the image is made black and white and the subject is left in color (or vice-versa), or even the use of "blur filters" where unwanted elements are made blurry and the subject is left sharp and in focus (which can also be accomplished in-camera by the use of small apertures, but since depth of field is it's own topic, there will be a post dedicated to it in the future).

To sum it up, uncluttering your images will not only allow you to fully express your creativity but will also help to guide your viewer so that he may see what you saw when you took the photo. If you want to create great images, nevermind the number of megapixels your camera has, an image is only as good as the quality of its message.

The Eye Of The Beholder by Marcos Macedo

An interesting experiment that shows how little an image is about its own subject and how much of it is really about how that subject is perceived by the person behind the camera.

Next time you see amazing photographs of simple things like apples or trees just remember you are looking through the eyes of someone who was able to use creativity to find an exceptional moment and escape the monotony of everyday life.

Always Shoot Raw by Marcos Macedo

This will be the first in a series of "Before & After" articles where I will show you some of my images as they came out of the camera before any editing was done. In each of the articles, I will also try to share a tip about photography in general, editing or shooting.

This is an image that I took in the Algarve, in the southern region of Portugal, and I can tell you that it was a phenomenal sunset... However if you look at the image as it came out of the camera (on the left) you will certainly think that it is anything but impressive, and you know what? You are absolutely right! The truth is, on average 1 in every 100 great photos that you see out there, came almost perfect right out of the camera, but the other 99... Well, it's because of the other 99 that the majority of photographers chooses to shoot in RAW format instead of JPEG.

When first discovering these two different file formats in the camera, and not knowing what they mean, the first thing most people tend to notice is that the images look exactly the same but the JPEG file has about 1/10 of the size of the RAW (an average JPEG is around 2,5Mb and the average RAW file is about 25Mb), and the conclusion that many reach is that shooting RAW makes absolutely no sense because your memory card will only hold 10% of the images it would if they were JPEG.

So what's the big mystery? Let me put it this way, an image file is like an onion that has many "layers of light" within itself, and just like the onion, the more layers it has the heavier it is. When you open a file in an image editing software like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom the software allows you to access all those layers of light within the file, giving you the ability to open up light in dark images, or bring out the colours in dull ones, exploring the full potential of the image.

Now, with that in mind, do you really think that it is possible for the 2,5Mb "onion" to have within itself the same potential as the 25Mb one? Of course not! And this is why you should always shot in RAW format because you should never sacrifice the quality of the RAW files for a higher quantity of JPEG's. Nevertheless, evidently this does not go without saying that you need to be reasonable, don't go on taking photos in pitch black scenarios and expect to be able to change that afterwards just because you shot RAW, if the light is not there to begin with don't expect the RAW file to perform any miracles!

Going back to the top, I can certainly tell you that the sky I saw that day looked very much like the image on the right and nothing like the image on the left, but the truth is, if I had not been shooting RAW I would have never had the opportunity to recover the colours I saw... Because the onion would had been too damn small!

Early Morning Shoot by Marcos Macedo

When you first start getting into shooting landscapes you quickly realize that a lot of times you will have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to catch your dream image, but in the end, the effort is always rewarded because that early morning light is truly unbeatable.

Almost everyone has heard time and again those clichés saying that "photography is all about the light", but what is not so often said is that light is just like any other commodity, it's worth very little in times of abundance and it's a lot more valuable when it's scarce.

So, regardless of the level of your photography, if you like landscapes my first tip to you is to just get out there before the sun does and I can promise you will come back with some great photos!

Rawfocus Photography Blog by Marcos Macedo

Welcome to the Rawfocus Blog!

Here you will find my latest work (including some that for one reason or another may not make it into the main galleries), you will also find some tips and tricks about photography in general, some longer articles and curated galleries as well as some links to works I find to be inspiring.

Above all else it is a place for me to share all things photography with you and for you (if you wish to) to leave comments, ask questions or even maybe give me some of your best tips!