CS178 Assignment 6 - Landscape and Nature
Bryce Canyon at Dawn. Photo by Andrew Adams.
We explored the man-made environment in assignment 4
and then arranged scenes contrived especially for the
photograph in assignment 5. It's time to return to one of
the richest sources of beauty for photography: nature, and
particularly the natural landscape.
The difference between a mundane landscape and a
great landscape is often composition. Pay attention to
lines, framing, suggestive forms, diagonals, s-curves,
balance, rhythm and texture. Lighting will also play a
large role in your photographs this week. You will find
that morning and evening lighting brings out rich colors
and delicate shadows in your photographic subjects,
whereas mid-day lighting is generally harsh and direct.
For a more dramatic photograph try positioning yourself
so that the sun provides side-lighting, or even
back-lighting. Getting the correct exposure is more
challenging in these situations, but the results are
well worth it!
You might use this assignment as a reason to head up
into the hills that run along the peninsula. Skyline
Drive is dotted with nature reserves where great
landscape photos can be taken. If you're feeling really
adventurous, the Mecca of landscape photography is only
a five hour drive away (Yosemite).
As usual, there are five requirements that you will
meet by taking 5-10 photographs. Below each one justify
your choice of camera settings and comment on
compositional elements of your scene.
Before you begin, you'll find it helpful to read
through the landscape examples in the Ansel Adams
chapter of your course reader: "Examples: The Making of
- Requirement 1: Use an S-Curve
can be used in photographs for a variety of
purposes. They can lead the viewer's eye to the
subject, convey a sense of depth (eg a road winding
into the distance), or they can be flat compositional
elements that create a balanced scene. At least one of
your photos this week should use an S-Curve for one of
these purposes. Describe in the comments what purpose
the S-curve serves compositionally. Note that the
S-curve we refer to here is not the same thing as an
S-curve you might use in a curves layer in Photoshop
to enhance contrast.
- Requirement 2: Improve on Nature with
For at least one of the landscape
photos you take this week, touch it up in Photoshop
and make it even better. Make at least one local edit,
like dehazing a region with a judiciously painted on
curves layer, or removing an eyesore with the healing
brush. Additionally, make at least one global edit,
like color-correcting or recropping and straightening
the entire image. Post the before and after photos to
Picasa. The difference can and probably should be
subtle, but there should be a clear improvement.
- Requirement 3: Panorama
In assignment 4
you took an interior panorama, and had to be very
careful to rotate the camera about the center of the
lens to avoid artifacts. This week take an exterior
panorama of a landscape. You'll find that landscape
panoramas are far more forgiving, as the scene is
mostly far away so small movements of the photographer
do not materially change the point of view. It's easy
to make a boring landscape panorama that simply
compresses multiple elements into the frame. Find a
subject wide enough to justify the use of this
technique. Also, we would like you to stitch the
panorama yourself, so don't use the "panorama" mode
on your camera (if it has one) to fulfill this
- Requirement 4: Texture
Take at least one
shot in which the main, or even sole compositional
element is a natural texture. Use a small aperture
(large F-number) to get everything in
focus. Interesting natural textures include grass,
rock, sand, and clouds. Use Photoshop to take
advantage of the full tonal range available to you,
from black to white. You'll find that textures under
grazing light appear richer, which leads us to the
- Requirement 5: The Golden Hour
photography is best done in the golden hour. This is
the hour after dawn or the hour before sunset when the
light is a rich golden color and strikes the earth at
a grazing angle, emphasizing details. At least one of
your photographs this week must be of a landscape
taken during the golden hour. Dawn is definitely
preferable, as the air is much clearer, but if your
sleep schedule makes dawn either too late or too
early, sunset is also acceptable. Sunset is currently
approximately 8pm, and dawn is approximately 6am. You
should thus be planning to take photos from 7-8pm, or
Upload your photos and add comments. Upload your photos
using the Picasa account you created in the first week to a public
Picasa album titled "CS178 Assignment 6 - Landscape and Nature"
and submit your assignment on Vela.
As a reminder, we will penalize photographs with insufficient
comments, and you should in your peer reviews.
You should write at least two paragraphs below each of your photos
explaining how you arranged the
scene, how you took the photo, what relevant camera settings you used
and why, any image processing done to the photograph afterwards.
As usual, we've posted an
solution to this assignment to let you know what we expect. For
additional inspiration, you may want to peruse the best CS178
photographs (as selected by the TA's and instructor)
However, you do not need to meet the assignment requirements in the same way
as these solutions do - in fact, you should challenge yourself to
come up with creative, unique compositions. There are plenty of
possibilities out there. Surprise us!
Please remember that the photographs that you submit for each
assignment must be taken by you specifically for this course. Do not
reuse old photographs that you may have laying around, even if they
perfectly meet one of the requirements!
If you have questions or comments about the photos we used in the
example solution, feel free to add them as comments below the
corresponding photograph in Picasa Web, or to email us.
You should follow the same rubric as the previous assignments.
We're back with practice problems this week! The topic this week is Color Theory, so have fun with the following few problems:
Note: answers have now been marked in bold
- Problem 1 True or False? For a camera to record color correctly, two spectral power distributions that are metamers to a camera should also be metamers to a human.
answer is True. Otherwise, patterns a camera sees might be invisible to humans, or patterns a human sees might be invisible to a camera. Both would lead to incorrect renditions to scenes. In practice, the color filters in cameras are not quite the same as the tristimulus sensitivity functions of humans.
- Problem 2 In a cylindrical color space, such as HSV, consider the set of colors that have the same nonzero saturation, S, and the same value, V. These colors form a ________ in the HSV coordinate system. Circle the best answer.
- a) cylinder
- b) plane
- c) half-plane
- d) cylindrical shell
- e) straight line
- f) ray
- g) circle
- Problem 3 If you are taking a picture of an infinite blue wall lit by the sun on a clear day, which one of these white balance settings is your camera most likely to pick, if you leave it on Auto White Balance (AWB)?
- a) incandescent (3000K)
- b) fluorescent (4000K)
- c) daylight (5200K)
- d) shade (6500K)
- e) ultra rainbow pearlescent sparkle glow (123456789K)
- Problem 4 Suppose you superimpose a white light and a red light, of equal radiance, on a white piece of paper. What color will you get where they overlap?
- a) red
- b) pink
- c) white
- d) not enough information to answer
Assignment Deadline: 11:59PM, Sunday, May 19, 2013
Late Deadline: 11:59PM, Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Review Deadline: 11:59PM, Sunday, May 26, 2013
Assignments are generally due on Sunday at midnight at
the end of the week in which they're assigned. This leaves
you free to start thinking about the next assignment
during your next section. Sometimes lateness is
unavoidable. In such circumstances, be sure to read the
lateness policy from
Marc Levoy, Andrew Adams, and Jesse Levinson