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Author Topic: Begginner- Please Advise!  (Read 3045 times)
MR.FEESH
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« on: February 25, 2009, 08:36:06 PM »
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haha typo-- beginner*
Hello all!!!
First of all, I'd like to say that this is a very informative site.  I've become interested in photography through another saltwater fish forum similar to this.  I am just starting out (be nice), and as I am a high school student, I don't have the dough for a SLR.  My camera is a simple digital point and shoot, a Nikon L18.  I've been doing a lot of reading, and I've tried to apply some of the general composition , perspective and lighting rules because I can't manipulate the many technical features an SLR provides.
Below are some of my pictures-- I'd certainly love some constructive criticism! Tell me what I should be doing better!!!







and my personal favorite:



Please help!

Elby
« Last Edit: February 25, 2009, 08:41:36 PM by MR.FEESH » Logged

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Dale_Cotton2
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2009, 05:54:39 AM »
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Quote from: MR.FEESH
I don't have the dough for a SLR.  My camera is a simple digital point and shoot, a Nikon L18.
The only limitation of your L18 you need to concern yourself about is getting a good exposure. In the first picture there are areas of the water that are pure white and without any detail. In the third picture the sky is pure white. This is known as over-exposure resulting in blown highlights. Even expensive SLRs can't be trusted not to blow highlights. This happens when taking pictures that have very bright and very dark areas in the same frame.

To a certain degree you'll be able to see blown highlights by checking the picture you just took on the camera's LCD; but it's often difficult to see the LCD clearly when working in bright light and that's just the time you need it most. So if you have any doubt whether you've got a good exposure, I suggest you bracket your exposures. If your camera has an automatic bracketing option, you can use that; but even better would be to take one picture at the camera's recommended exposure, then another at one stop lower exposure and another at two stops lower. (When you need to go to a lower exposure to keep from blowing highlights, the picture as a whole will probably be too dark. You'll need to use software to bring it back up to the over all brightness level you want.)

Quote from: MR.FEESH
I've been doing a lot of reading, and I've tried to apply some of the general composition , perspective and lighting rules because I can't manipulate the many technical features an SLR provides.
Your compositions are structurally fine. What you need to do now is develop a sense for which of your pictures are true keepers. Contrary to popular belief, you can't do this by asking other people for their opinions. If you ask ten people for their opinions on one picture, you'll get eleven different reactions - art by committee is a doomed proposition. Instead, just keep taking lots of pictures. (I'm not saying don't show your pictures to others; just don't let their judgements override your own. )

Let's say you've taken a thousand pictures up to now. At the moment you have your personal top ten. After you've taken another thousand pictures, some of them will bump some of your previous top ten off the list and your standards for what it takes for a picture to rank as a keeper will have become more stringent.

You'll also learn that pictures you really liked for the first few weeks will lose their appeal fairly quickly; this is what I call the infatuation effect, so just letting a picture sit around for a few months is a critical part of the weeding-out process.

When you have a set of pictures that have remained on your top ten or top twenty list for more than three or four years then you'll start to have a strong portfolio. In the meantime, just enjoy the ride!
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k bennett
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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2009, 10:29:14 AM »
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Elby,

You are doing very well. Keep shooting, keep reading, and spend a lot of time looking at photography. In books, on-line, in galleries -- the more good photography you see, the more it will inform your own work.

--Ken
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mike.online
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« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2009, 11:40:06 AM »
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I enjoyed your compositions, keep it up

One major point I would be careful of (and something I remind myself of constantly) is that it is very easy to push things too far (in post) in colors or contrast (anything really). its hard to know what you are pushing too hard until you come back to an image later and think... holey crap...what was I thinking? It also helps if you have a good friend who can politely remind you when you do.

I'm not saying your images are too far in general, I would just keep it in mind. Specifically the greens in your first image are a bit too vibrant for me.
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situgrrl
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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2009, 11:47:14 AM »
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Landscape isn't my thing to shoot - but I enjoy admiring other's work.  You seem to be doing well but since you posted in the critique section, I assume that's what you want.

Pic 1 - The waterfall and pool could do with being a little higher in the frame.  I like the "S" running through though - and the tree to the right so I understand why you composed as you did.  I'm learning video at the moment and the girl helping me has embedded STS in my head - shoot the s*it out of it!  

It's also really, really green!  I'm not suggesting you respray the landscape (though if you are doing it specifically for me, purple works well!)  If there were an angle that would have injected another colour into it, I would have shot that.  If it's local to you, head back in fall and post the results.  

Pic 2 - Time to learn to print big!  If I'm being really picky, there isn't enough detail in the sky and I might photoshop some more detail out of the image using a layer mask.  Really though, this is a lovely picture and deserves printing as big as you can get it, framing and sticking on a wall.  

Dale is technically correct about the over-exposure - but I would point out that it is simulaneously UNDERexposed (ie the shadows are totally blocked up and lack detail.)  You may also be able to recover some of this using masks.  This has arisen due to it being a high contrast scene.  SO WHAT?!  It's still a good image!  (If what Dale says concerns you, read up about HDR if you are new school or Ansel Adam's zone system if you are a mathematical genius.)

Pic 3 - Meh.  To me, this is the weakest of the shots.  In order for it to work, it needs some strong foreground interest.  This is almost always the case when shooting wide angle.  IMO it would be better to pick out details using a longer lense.  all that said, it makes me happy because it's grey and miserable her in London at the moment!

Pic 4 - +ve - It's a technically good detail shot of a palm type tree thing.
          -ve - To me at least, it has precisely zero emotional impact on me whatsoever.  It's kind of photographic muzak - that said, it's stuff like this that is the bread and butter of the stock photography market and if you get your kicks shooting macros /patterns/abstracts, you might find a few $$ towards your Nikogucci megacam through istockphoto or the others.

Keep shooting, keep learning, keep pushing yourself.

Good luck

charly

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Chris_T
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« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2009, 12:29:26 PM »
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Quote from: MR.FEESH
I am just starting out (be nice), ...

I'd certainly love some constructive criticism! Tell me what I should be doing better!!!

You have received some nice feedback and advice already. I will add one more:

Keep finding ways to show your work for critigues. Be open minded and thick skinned. Do not accept accolades or criticisms without any reasoning behind them. They may please or annoy you, but they will not help your development. They may be subjective, and you do not need to agree with them. But ignoring them would be your loss.

My best lessons are learned from the harshest and most demanding critics. Here's an example:

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....showtopic=32062
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MR.FEESH
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« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2009, 07:57:52 PM »
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Dale_Cotton2:  Great words, thanks for helping out!!!  My camera has a little exposure meter... like 0 to +/- 2 in increments of .35.. I would've toyed around with it for the original picture, but this shot was taken about a year before I even considered getting into photography.  I went through an old album from a trip to Germany and decided I liked it. (the city and mountains were from the same album taken more than a year ago... I got lucky that the compo was okay without me even thinking about or knowing what compo is).

k bennett:  Yeah I've been lurking in this forum for some time, I've been looking at other people's work as much as possible and the critiques given to them.  This is something which has definitely inspired me, and driven me to constantly strive to improve!

mike.online:  HAHA I know exactly what you're saying.  The only pic I've edited at all is the waterfall.  I don't really know how to use the photobucket editor that well, and when I checked this thread after the posting for the first time, I realized... WAY too green 8(  Rework:





And you wanted purple for whatever reason...?:





situgrrl:  The second pic was just a result of screwing around.  This was the original:



This was the grayscale:



The shot in my original post was were I ended... which is the best...?
My thinking was:  Because the color of the original shot wasn't reeeally that thrilling AND it wasn't sunny, I'd try it in greyscale...is that logical or not....?


As for pic three-- I really don't like it.  Some one else told me it was interesting and I just wanted to get an idea of what other people thought of it.

Pic four-- Yes I see how it one can say there is a lack of emotion.  Honestly it's just a plant, I personally like it because of the texture and position...that's good enough for me.


Chris_T: That's the exact reason why I moved my beginner issues from a fish tank forum to a place that contains generous and experienced people like yourself.  I am eager to learn from all of you!!!!!!

P.S. Make sure you do ctrl+refresh before looking at the pics... the waterfall was changed....

Elby
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« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2009, 09:27:36 PM »
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Cool shots! What that waterfall image needs is me running it in my kayak. That looks like a fun river, where is that? jeff
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situgrrl
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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2009, 04:20:07 AM »
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The best of them is the one you originally posted.  If you've seen my website, you'll know I'm a sucker for black and white!  I would have processed it slightly differently - but then everyone would - it's YOUR vision and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  Opinions are good to listen to but for you to find your own style, you must choose what to listen to and what to ignore.  All I will say is try and have a reason to.

Some of the issues with the greenness will be down to profiling (I suspect most of us are on calibrated displays) colour space and photobucket which I imagine isn't quite photoshop!  If you've been lurking a while, you probably know that most of us are big fans of Lightroom for as much as possible of our work before moving into the big scary hydra that is photoshop *if I absolutely have to* - LR is now excellent for most adjustments.  Download a demo and have a play.
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MR.FEESH
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2009, 02:42:00 PM »
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lightstand:  Thanks! And unless your kayak is made for barbies, you won't be doing anything in this waterfall-- its just a creek.  It's located in southwest Germany.

situgrrl: I have seen Lightroom referenced many times since discovering this site.  I wasn't sure there was anything like a demo, so I didn't bother just on the presumption that I would think it's expensive software. I'll definitely give it a spin!!!

Elby
Edit: Oh my god lightroom is sweet!!!
« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 03:29:57 PM by MR.FEESH » Logged

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MR.FEESH
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2009, 12:08:55 AM »
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Wow- just clicking the auto buttons on tone and white balance toootally fixed the poor aspects of a p&s digital!!!  What a great program!!!

Photobucket:

Lightroom:

Elby
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2009, 07:55:34 AM »
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Thanks for the info, it still looks fun from the photo & the ratio between the size of the trees by the water, the size of the underwater cave makes it look runnable maybe at higher water.

Only my humble suggestion on photographic advice, post processing is fun and can make an image pop, however I would recommend you spend time experimenting with creating new & different compositions push it beyond the comfortable. A great book is John Berger's "Ways of Seeing"  Leave Lightroom magic for your golfing years.

jeff
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MR.FEESH
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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2009, 09:00:36 AM »
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jeff:  I know exactly what you mean.  The first time I asked someone about post processing, I was under the impression it was cheating.  Then I had it put in such a way that made sense; some times you have to post processes not necessarily to make your picture look better than it can be, but in order to get it to look like it happened in real life.  I plan on only using my Lightroom demo to try to correct the the automated assumptions my p&s camera makes on things like white balance and color.  In essence I'm just trying to get my pictures to look like what my eye saw at the time of the shot because of how a p&s can distort an image.  Very important suggestion-- thanks!!!  

Elby
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situgrrl
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« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2009, 03:46:58 PM »
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Post-processing is a funny one - I hate photographers and film makers who say "fix it in post" routinely - to me it smacks of laziness - and a stupid laziness at that - "fixing it in post" takes a lot longer than getting it "right" in camera and inevitably has inferior results.  That's not to say that post has no place for more extreme image manipulation - sometimes (though less these days) the technical limitations of equipment made it impossible to get "right" without extensive pp.  This is what you are finding with a compact.  Think of post as "image optimization" rather than a magic bullet and you will be on the right track.  At a minimum, all images need optimal sharpening and there is nothing wrong with tonal manipulation - just be careful not to overcook it.  At first, you will - but by you learn by your mistakes - and you must remember that making lots of mistakes is good - because it gives you much to learn from.  I guess this is what Jeff has said above.  

I guess what is important is to recognize a bad image when you see it - and can it rather than spend hours trying to make it look good.  That said, there are times when you have a bad day with the camera and some serous LR/PS skills can save the day.  When this happens (and it did recently to me) I felt crap about it - like I'd cheated - but I'd rather cheat than fail.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2009, 07:42:38 PM »
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Quote from: situgrrl
Post-processing is a funny one - I hate photographers and film makers who say "fix it in post" routinely - to me it smacks of laziness - and a stupid laziness at that - "fixing it in post" takes a lot longer than getting it "right" in camera and inevitably has inferior results.  That's not to say that post has no place for more extreme image manipulation - sometimes (though less these days) the technical limitations of equipment made it impossible to get "right" without extensive pp.  This is what you are finding with a compact.  Think of post as "image optimization" rather than a magic bullet and you will be on the right track.  At a minimum, all images need optimal sharpening and there is nothing wrong with tonal manipulation - just be careful not to overcook it.  At first, you will - but by you learn by your mistakes - and you must remember that making lots of mistakes is good - because it gives you much to learn from.  I guess this is what Jeff has said above.  

I guess what is important is to recognize a bad image when you see it - and can it rather than spend hours trying to make it look good.  That said, there are times when you have a bad day with the camera and some serous LR/PS skills can save the day.  When this happens (and it did recently to me) I felt crap about it - like I'd cheated - but I'd rather cheat than fail.

There's another way the casual shooter can look at it, heh.  Like, OMG, if I were using a top-end DSLR, the responsibility I would feel to get it exactly right, either in the take or the PP - otherwise I'd look like a dummy with an overpriced camera.  So, using a P&S alleviates a lot of that burden, kinda.  Cynical, I know.
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MR.FEESH
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« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2009, 12:32:11 PM »
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Yeah I know what you're saying.  Some times I definitely feel like I have a disadvantage.  Something tells me using a DSLR is a little more fun than a p&s too...damn I wish I had a spare $700!

Elby
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dalethorn
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« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2009, 03:27:06 PM »
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Quote from: MR.FEESH
Yeah I know what you're saying.  Some times I definitely feel like I have a disadvantage.  Something tells me using a DSLR is a little more fun than a p&s too...damn I wish I had a spare $700!
Elby

New technology is rapidly advancing in personal cameras, so much so that if you shop carefully, you'll get something a lot better than what you got with your previous purchase, for little or no more than what you spent last time.  This Spring's releases, circa April, will be like a candy shop for kiddies.
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Billwaa
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« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2009, 04:55:38 PM »
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hey Elby, I really like you grayscale mountain one. I think the clouds in the second one you put up is a bit too much. Maybe edit it so that it hold back a little. It's sort of distracting, since I would assume that the main theme of the picture is the intersection between the mountain and the water. At least that's what I think  
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