Internalizing Lytro light field photography techniques can take time and practice, but there’s an easy one that you can master in no time at all. Get a friend to hold an interesting object out in front of him or her and take a picture, holding your camera really close to the object. We call this picture “the present” (as in the verb, not the noun).
Here’s a living picture of Alex, one of Lytro’s handsome designers, presenting his friend’s band’s CD:
… and here’s a picture of me taking that shot. I’m zoomed out all the way (full wide), and the front of my camera is about 4″ away from the CD. Note that 4″ means 4″—not 6″, 8″ or 12″. I’ve had Alex tilt the CD so it takes up less of the frame.
Zoom is your friend.
In order to compose the most compelling “living pictures”, it is important to learn how to make best use of the Lytro camera’s optical zoom. The best way to understand the effects of zoom is by taking a look at some specific examples.
In this case, the zoom slider should be to the far left. This type of shot is ideal when you are either very close to the subject you’d like to have in the foreground or when you are looking to capture a wider view in the background. As you’ll see from the picture below of our subjects, Mariana and Ankit, the shot is taken with the camera rather close to Mariana’s face. This allowed the photographer to capture a wider scene.
Zoom in Everyday Mode:
You’re probably thinking to yourself that as neat as some close-up shots can be, there are many situations in which you don’t want to be so close to your main subjects. (Especially if the subject is a friend or family member.) It’s for these times that we encourage you to embrace the zoom.
Let’s take another picture of Mariana and Ankit as we did above. When no zoom was used, Mariana and Ankit could be spaced a lesser distance apart and the result was a highly re-focusable picture. This was possible because of Mariana being so close to the camera. Now, assume Mariana wants us to give her some space rather than being so close to her as we take a shot. In this case, we would stand further back from her and zoom-in to frame her in a similar manner. The big difference is that if you want to achieve another highly re-focusable “living picture”, you will need to increase the spacing between the two subjects, to compensate for the zooming in.
What does this all mean?
The main takeaway is that zoom is helpful when you want to compose a living picture, but aren’t physically close to your subject. To get the best re-focusable “living picture” when zooming, your subjects should be further apart from each other than when you are at full wide with no zoom.
Experiment. Get Creative. Happy Shooting!
One of the key pieces of information that sometimes is lost in traditional photography is a sense of depth in the captured scene. When you have taken pictures in the past, there may have been little thought put into where your subject of interest should be relative to the camera. As a result, you commonly would end up with images that made less of a distinction as to how close or how far anything was in the picture.
With the Lytro camera, we encourage you to really think about this concept of depth when taking your living pictures. Since the Lytro camera is allowing you to capture the direction of light, the result is adding this extra dimension of depth in every snap that you take.
The living picture that Eric Cheng shot above shows a herd of angry sheep. (Probably because they’re inside a department store.) There are a few interesting tips that can be learned from Eric’s shot. The first is the compelling nature of capturing a pattern. In this case, the pattern is a line of identical sheep, however this could apply to nearly any pattern we may come across on an everyday basis. This is interesting because you begin to notice different things about the scene depending on which part of the picture you look at, despite each sheep being the same. By having rows of sheep in the foreground, middle ground and background, the depth is even more clearly shown.
A second tip that can be learned from Eric’s picture was that when shooting a pattern like this, it is much more engaging to capture the image from a viewpoint (in this case from slightly above the herd) which will give different levels of depth of the sheep.
Try using these tips to compose your own patterned scene.
Experiment. Get Creative. Happy Shooting!