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21/08/2014 - 4:18 PM

First attempt

First attemptGood overall for a first attempt.

Looking at where I think you placed the light, move it more to the right as viewed from the camera, 45 degrees to subject; and raise it so its angled down, at the same angle, 45 degrees.

Have him look at the camera, and you will get a better light differential and shadows. Exif says flash was on, if it was, turn it off.

Shoot in Raw, not jpeg, and adjust the white balance in raw processing. Around 5500K is a good place to start; it doesnt look right here.

Lose the hood, this reminds me of an old painting of a Saint, which perhaps he is!

In manual mode, leave aperture as is, then set shutter to 1/200 and Iso to 100. If the result is too dark, you need to move the light closer, or open the aperture. If too bright, do the opposite.

Hope this helps.

Good work


16/08/2014 - 12:38 AM


JACOBS LADDERTish. I have been thinking this day would never come. This is good. Very good. Certainly THE best Ive seen from you so far.

So you didnt need VR with this focal length and shutter speed; AND as you manually focused, you did a good job of it.

NOW, I looked at the changes you made in Adobe Canera Raw. I love that manually selected white balance; if only more people would do this we could retire the Critique Team.

I have to caution you about two adjustments; first is clarity, which you set quite high, - be very gentle with clarity, it makes so many changes throughout the image its hard to keep track of them, and one thing it did, and does, is its blown out the highlights and detail in the lower window; stay away from it, or set it very conservatively; sharpening is a much moe controlable way to get where you want. Then vibrance. Unless there is a real burning need for exaggerated colours, dont touch it either. Use saturation, sparingly, while watching the histogram. Theses are the Devils tools.

Lastly a tip. You ALWAYS upload with the ProPhoto colour space; stop right now; in Photoshop, edit, convert to profile, and select sRGB; why I can hear you ask. And a few others.
Look at the thumbnail of you shot. What colour is the sky? I see magenta, not blue. Thats because you didnt assign sRGB. Its a little detail. But important.

So, after all this ( and of course I did upload a mod with those settings reset), I am presenting you with my User Award, because this shot is soooooo improved, it demands it.



PS, get a third bottle ready..
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), with morning dewYouve done well with this Sunny. Its an attractive shot; you have the water drops just right, colours look good.

The depth of field is very shallow/narrow, so anything outside of this small zone will be a little blurred, and increasingly so the further outside the zone you go. Consequently, a little of the flower is in focus, but not a lot.

This works for me, because the water drops are so good; but perhaps you wanted more of the flower in focus in addition to the drops?

To achieve this, the answer is to use a smaller aperture, - which is a smaller hole for the light to pass through from the lens to the sensor; you used f/3.5 here, - which is very shallow, so using for example f/11 would considerably increase the depth which will be in focus.

Using M mode as you did here, to maintain the same exposure, and ensure the shutter speed does not fall below where it is, which is perfect, you need to increase ISO to 1600, which may or may not be too grainy, - Im not familiar with ISO performance of this camera. But, you can reduce noise, and you would have something closer to what you wanted. Any aperture smaller than the one used is better, each step in increments over the previous.

This is a basic approach to macro, - small aperture unless you want an exceptionally narrow and soft shot (I have a few like this recently in my PF) when you use the lens wide open; fast shutter speed, according to the focal length used, - and this is good here; and in many cases, a tripod, if you are indoors, the subject is not moving, so you can afford a low ISO and a very slow shutter speed (long exposure).

I did upload a mod. The slight difference is that Ive improved contrast a little by making the darkest are of the shot closer to black; and Ive applied a small amount of sharpening.

Well done


13/08/2014 - 3:53 PM

Leading to Torc Waterfall

Leading to Torc WaterfallIt quite good crop-wise as it is. I did crop a little off the left, but its minor.

John has made the point that the foreground sharpness is a function of aperture and focal length, and where you focus, - the guide he mentioned is worthwhile to remember. The foreground water ideally should be sharp.

There are some overexposed bits in the water, not unusual for a shot like this, but just a few. The purist would prefer no burned out water, so a lower exosposure. Its another opportunity for exposure bracketing too.

Take a look at the mod. I made a single change, apart from the minor crop. And thats as John predicted, - white balance. It changes everything in the image.

I have stopped preaching the evils of auto white balance for a while, a lot due to negative feedback from people who simply do not understand how it works.

So, for your benefit: We, both here on the CT and in photo community at large, often encourage people to take control over the camera; to not use auto settings; determine what dof you need (as here) and understand the relationship between focal length and shutter speed, - all good advice; and this is because the camera wont always produce a decent result (it does in many cases); however, when it comes to what I believe is the single most important decision made in the photographic process after the basic exposure, - white balance, we are happy to leave it entirely up to the camera.That doesnt make a whole lot of sense to me.
AWB works be making a guess; it tries to measure the temperature (WARM OR COOL) of the light illuminating the scene (REFLECTED from) by estimating what in the scene is neutral or white, - or in effect, detecting if there is a colour bias in what it believes, according to a complex algorithm, what neutral, or white SHOULD be. Sounds like a lot of guesswork? It is.
What INVARIABLY happens, and this is a PERFECT example of how AWB works, is that in warm light, which is 90% of all shots we take, it detects the warm yellow/red actual tone, decides it shouldnt be there, and adds BLUE to correct it. Thats what you see here.
Wouldnt it make sense, - as it does in accurate exposure metering, to measure the light illuminating the scene, not reflecting off it? There are numerous gadgets out there that do this, but to be honest, its a real paint to put a Expodisc (SEE HERE on the lens, point it toward where you want to shoot from, and use that shot as a reference. I know this because Ive done it, and can tell you the result is always the same; the temperature it will measure, in daylight, is ALWAYS warmer that what AWB measures.
What I did was to remove that blue corrections, and what you see should be a lot more like what was there. If not, its someplace in between, since I didnt not have the RAW file to work with. I will ctually upload a"somewhere in between" mod shortly.

Beware that us humans believe we have a good memory for colour, and what a scene really looked like at the time. We have become, in the digital imaging age, to accept, and believe that what the camera decided was exactly what we remembered. But the real fact is that human colour memory is atrociously poor.

Light temperature is a function of physics and the wavelength of light.

So, as a rule: if you shoot in JPEG only, - set the white balance to what the actual light in the scene is. This one looks predominantly daylight.
If you shot in raw, leave it as AWB, and then is RAW post processing, correct it. It might be ok, but that very rare.

Here endeth todays sermon.


12/08/2014 - 7:12 PM

the grid

the gridJust play with it. I did the same as before, have fun and make it a painting. Quality gets hidden well when you do this much manipulation, - its like that Hummer. A western scene like this would work best long and narrow, with a wider lens, and Ive done that also. This is art!

12/08/2014 - 5:37 PM

Moody ripples

Moody ripplesNot sure about the blue sand! Looks like youve done quite a bit with this, so hard to work with.

Moody is done well with mono, so perhaps a good choice, I did upload a colour also.

So, the ND filter you have is intended to reduce light across the entire frame; they are available in "stops", or fractions of stops depending on how much you want to reduce the light across the frame; the would be used in long exposures that were of an evenly lit scene, - e.e the top and the bottom are about the same light level. They are often called stoppers.

What you need are Graduated ND filters, and they are specifically designed for landscape photography, where you want to reduce the light from the sky down to somewhat closer to the ground. Also available in different light stopping powers. I dont have a great deal of experience with them.

I would recommend that you dont use ISO 50. It can actually give you an image thats not as good as ISO 100; think if it as an emergency ISO, only if you have no choice.

Meter in a few areas, dont rely on a single spot; better still dont use spot at all; - use an eavauative mode, and again check readings and average. Try a lot of shots. If you dont use the filter, then expose one shot for the sky, using a tripod; do this by using negative exposure correction in apertyure priority mode, checking the result in the LCD, and keep the one(s) that have a good sky; then get a good ground shot, using positive EC in the same way. Combune the best sky with the best ground, which will be eays since you are using a tripod.

Shoot in RAW; set the white balance for both shots you use to the same value.


12/08/2014 - 4:59 PM


GrannyThis is a very good portrait Olga_June.

You have captured the womans soul, and her life experiences in this moment in time. She has experienced a lot I would say!

I remember my Grannys in a different way to my parents; they were less strict!

Whats quite impressive is when I look at your shutter speed, - so slow at 1/15th, and you still have a well detailed shot with no blur of any sort. Your Granny was absolutely still too! So IS worked well.

Although the image "works", its also underexposed quite a bit. You may well prefer it darker, - pablos mod is darker still, but its worthwhile seeing a version thats not underexposed. You can see the exposure when you look at the histogram, which reaches only half-way across the graph from the left.

I have adjusted exposure in the modification I uploaded. In addition, I have cropped it so her eyes are 1/3 from the top; this means cutting her hair a bit, so hope she wont mind! It can in many cases show a more intimate and closer connection between the subject, and the camera.

Hope this is helpful,


12/08/2014 - 2:44 PM

Waiting to show off

Waiting to show offIts a nice shot overall Neil.

You had to balance the sky with the exposure requirements of the plane and the shadows, and you close the sky.

Consequently, the important part, for me anyway, is a little underexposed, including the sky. When the sky is playing a major role in exposure, you use positive compensation in general, as the camera is already adding negative. But its easily sorted out.
A composite histogram can mislead you easily into believing an image is overexposed, when its not. You have to look at the individual r, g and b histograms and see if one channel is driving the composite high. Thats whats happening here, - the colour is overaturated, and reducing it will bring the composite histogram back in line.

The major improvement, apart from that, is the white balance; the image has quite a strong blue bias, and adjusting white balance to remove that cast makes quite a difference, not only in the overall tone, BUT in exposure.

Shiny metal planes are shiny, - theyre supposed to be!

Take a look at the mod and let me know what you think. Exposure is increased slightly, white balance and saturation reduced -10.

Hope this helps,


11/08/2014 - 7:57 PM

chevelon canyon AZ

chevelon canyon AZI would expect the AZ desert to be a little warmer, especially those rocks?

It would be nice to be able to walk out to someplace like this. Ive been in AZ twice only, quite a place.

I uploaded two mods. Both are based on an assumption about col9ur cast; the second is cropped to be 1/3 sky, 2/3 land, while the original is 50/50. Hard to make a choice as they both look good.

In situations where you have a lot of sky, you will end up with the land section being underexposed, and a little too dark, while the sky my be reasonable. If you use a tripod and do some exposure bracketing, you can end up with a good sky from one shot, and a good land exposure from another, and combine them.

The mods are sharpened; even though you applied a +81 clarity adjustment, I would expect the scene to be quite a bit sharper; your shot settings seem ok, so I cant say why its slightly soft?

Let me know what you think of the mods.


11/08/2014 - 3:50 PM

Children happyness.

Children happyness.This is a very nice shop Wimpy. Flour sacks I would guess from that dust!

Unfortunate that the Sun was behind them in one way, the kids are in shadow, and good that it makes the dust look good.

You cant do much about the direction of the Sun, but you can brighten the kids in post processing by lifting the shadows.

Ive done this in the mod, and Ive also added some space on the right, and removed some on the left just to move the boy on the right further from the edge.

I notice that you have some excellent images on Pixoto and Facebook, and some award winners. They seem to be at a level of skill thats quite a bit more advanced that a lot of the images we see here. Hopefully, the feedback we give helps.


11/08/2014 - 3:18 PM

Test upload

Test uploadHi Denny.

Just to me quite sure what you are after here. You want confirmation that we can see what you see, some noise in the areas indicated?

I do, barely at 100%, not terribly intrusive until I view at 200%.

But Im still not clear on what you are after. We dont know the extent to which this is cropped, which is effectively magnifying the image, so the 100% is perhaps 500% compared to the original? The noise is barely visible in the darker areas, and this is always where noise IS visible, - darker areas. In any image, from any camera, at a high ISO, darker areas will show noise before brighter areas.

So overall, we have a perfectly normal image most likely, given its probably a close crop. IF its printed, the noise will not be visible. Noise has to be extremely bad before it shows up in print.

You shot in JPEG as far as the exif says? You had no opportunity to control noise reduction in RAW in LR. Even as it is, you can reduce that noise using Noise Ninja or neat Image, or Photoshop..

The workflow is laid out in the workflow shown in Lightroom. Working on RAW or TIFF is non destructive, so its best. But starting with RAW should be the way to go.

So, still confused.


10/08/2014 - 10:38 PM

Bodnant Flower

Bodnant FlowerWhen you want to show a specimen flower, square often works well. But this is difficult as there are many points of focus in the image that can draw attention away from the main frower, and intrude on most reasonable crops. If you had been able to get closer and fill the frame with that main flower, it would have been an easier crop; often, you need to think about the crop when you are taking the shot.

I did load a mod bit its hardly a crop. I have removed any of the intrusions that didnt fit with the crop.

In general, the shot has much too high contrast, and too high saturation; this results in the petals of the main flower showing little or nor detail, being sort of waxy; the detail in the mod is better, - it hidden in the original. Over-saturation will tend to make even the centre of the flower appear soft, and poorly focused, even if its well focused, and the colours bleed and glow, destroying edges that are needed for sharpness.

Hop the mod works in showing the difference is processing techniques, though the crop is poor.


07/08/2014 - 4:58 PM


Potrait:4Check mods Ishan for the best, fastest and accurate way to add canvas. The captures are from CS6 which applies a third grid, so it wont have this in your version, but the steps are the same.

Its a nice shot, - hope you buy then a coffee sometimes.

Monsoon clouds over Painted Desert ArizonaInteresting to see a recent shot from a D1. All 2.75 megapixels of state of the art CCD technology at the time.

When I downloaded the shot, and looking at the shot settings, the exposure is very much biased towards getting the sky not to overexpose. This of course will cause the desert to be underexposed. Normally this would be cause for exposure bracketing, or using an ND grad filter, to even the light.

The histogram shows two graphs really, one for the ground, and one for the sky. I think this is a part of the issue with appearance of colour and flatness as much as anything else.

The exif here says white balance is cloudy, but the embedded exif has no white balance information, - which I think is normal for that camera. Its very clearly not a cloudy white balance to me, (too cool) though the intention certainly is for cloudy.

So if I treat the sky and ground as two images, and tweak both differently, I get the result I have uploaded. Its also been sharpened a little. Looks a little more vibrant, and hopefully something you like?

What do you think?


04/08/2014 - 6:36 PM

out on a limb

out on a limbWelcome to the Critique Gallery Peter.

Theres a very important guide you need to be aware of that has to do with focal length, and minimum hand-held shutter speed.

When hand-dolding. the minumum shotter speed you need t get a sharp shot of a STATIC subject is 1/(focal length X crop factor); So since this is a DX format camera, the crop factor 0magnification factor) is 1.5, therefore you need 1/(300 X 1.5) = 1/450th. You used 1/80th. You didnt deliberately select 1/80, but because you controlled the aperture and the ISO, thats all the camera could do.

Now I can hear you say, BUT I have a VR lens! So thats the next important thing you need to be aware of. lets say you have the worlds best and finest VR lens at 300mm. It will give you 2, or three at the most additional "stops" to play around with. So with two stops, youre at 1/250th sec; and with three, youre are 1/125th. 1/125th is pushing it for handheld. BUT, VR only adjusts for the camera and lens, and your movement; it does NOT do anything for that squirrel at all. Its movement, wind blowing fur, movement of paws and face, all cause blur. So, in this case, VR really doesn help. You need that fast shutter speed. The you would have a really first rate shot here. Nicely framed as Ishan mentions. You can see also that at 1/80, the branches have movement blur, so youre way outside the range where VR helps.

So, what you needed to do, to maintain the Aperture which is good, is increase ISO to 1600. This would multiply your shutter speed by 4, upping it to over 1/300th, and an award winning shot. A slightly noisy sharp shot beats a blurred less noisy shot 100% of the time.


03/08/2014 - 7:27 PM

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock ButterflyWhat I can tell from the exif data is that the camera focused 32 inches in front of the lens; at f/4, your total depth of field is 1 inch. That includes an area in front of, and behind the subject.

As mentioned above, f/4 wont get enough of the Butterfly into the area of sharpness. Using f/8, and that same distance to the subject, you would double the depth to 2 inches; and another option, if you have moved 6 inches further back, the dof would be 50% deeper in both cases, so 1.5 inches for f/4, and 3 inches for f/8.

You will find that most butterfly shooters shoot from the side with the wings up, so the butterfly is quite flat, or straight down, when the wings are fully open (flat) for this very reason, - there very little depth to try to get sharp.


02/08/2014 - 4:41 PM

High (key) bee

High (key) beeWelcome Isabel. I see you have some really nice shots uploaded that I will take a closer look at later.

No exif data here, - make sure you upload it in the future.

High Key. One of the most misunderstood terms in photography. To start, here are a number of tutorial from EPZ: http://www.ephotozine.com/site-search/high-key

High key can be in colour. It does not have to be in mono. It can be used for both. The basic concept is t produce an image with mostly high tones, and have only the main, or important areas with any real contrast (black ot darker tones). I would disagree that the linked shot is even a high key shot at all, - its a diffuse shot, not quite the same.

Its important to start with a good colour shot, and as John says that yellows are over-saturated. This is nothing to do with your shooting, its a common occurrence is bright light with the colour yellow, and also red. So I will take an approach that I will upload a "corrected" colour; a high key colour a high key mono; and I will show how you can tell that Yellow is oversaturated. In the "corrected" colour, an important point is to sharpen the Bee; this inreases its contrast which is important for the final result.

I will include comments in the mods (scroll up, click the modifications tab, and view large).


01/08/2014 - 8:32 PM

Come Closer, Closer

Come Closer, CloserKurt, the original shot is very flat, with no real contrast. When this is addressed, the image starts to show its real potential, as well as the texture in the wall behind, which will convert to a nice noisy bacjground, which then gives you a great place to start with mono.

Take a look at the mod of the original, its really pullin in the levels sliders to meet the graph, and sharpening.

31/07/2014 - 3:47 PM

Great Tit

Great TitHi Phil.

Really nice shot, and impressive performance at 600mm and 1/250th (tripod I assume.)

I would re frame it as uploaded in the mod; reduce saturation overall, but more so in the background so it competes less with the bird; selective sharpening on the bird; tweak white balance to be a touch warmer (seems low K for 8AM).

A fine shot that many birders would kill for!


31/07/2014 - 3:29 PM


DentchasersThe entire image is perfectly sharp.

You need to understand the relationship between focal length, and aperture, and how that affetcs depth of field.

Using the 28mm lens at f/2.8, of a full frame camera, and guessing the car is roughly 15 feet away, you have a depth of field that starts 5 feet in front of the car, and goes to 15 feet behind it until it starts to fall off. So its fine.

I am attaching a link where you can plug in your own camera, focal length, apertures etc and see how shorter focal length gives greater dof than long under the same conditions, and how distance to subject is critical, - closer is a shallower dof for any focal length. This tool is available as an APP for a smartphone, - well worth downloading.