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29/07/2014 - 1:53 PM


SecureWelcome to EPZ John, and to the Critique Gallery.

You have specific questions about the shot, which means something to you. One of the very attractive things about photography, other than as a simple recording medium, its that potential to convey a message, a feeling, or a suggestion. What is conveyed can be different from viewer to viewer. There are some viewers who will always see a record shot and not sense any meaning. So you get quite a mix of reactions.

The fact thats its a mooring, solidly anchored in what looks like granite; and the rusted chain disappearing over the edge can very well tell a story. It can be security, hope, perhaps loss. It can even be interpreted as oppression, fear of change, attachment to old ideas. We dont know whats at the end of that chain, if anything. The shallow dof helps with the imagery. It can also be a simple mooring, isolated using a shallow dof. For me, with the current state of world affairs and how it affects me, its more loss.

technically its a good shot. The shutter speed was too slow for the focal length, (you would need closer to 1/400th is hand held normally) but its not suffering from any camera movement, so perhaps it was solidly mounted. Focus is right on, dof clearly visible, and no real distraction behind, other than the hint of something upper left. Perhaps it can be a little sharper, - I will upload a modification shortly, but that likely due to loss of sharpness due to file compression. When uploading, after you re-size and save as the highest quality jpeg, open the new file, check for sharpness, and adjust as needed, save and upload. This can offset and compression loss.

A nice shot overall, and enjoy the site.


Scurdie Ness Lighthouse, MontroseYou did quite well Bill.

There is some visible evidence of post processing that could be dealt with by zooming in and being very careful with brushes; the bottom of the lighthouse has that bright area as an example, perhaps you were darkening some areas? Or the opposite.

Theres some areas where you have resized or corrected perspective and left some areas in that should be cropped, - left side double wall and cloud, and the bottom left, the double out of line reflection of the lighthouse. These are easily cropped out.

I will download it and take a closer look.

26/07/2014 - 5:36 PM

Dramen reflections

Dramen reflectionsQuite spectacular, and well seen ans shot. Loaded a mod with a white balance you would expect from the sun, - it more moon as it is!

Its a great example of auto white balance making a very wrong decision.


Russian doll feeding her chickensLOts of good inforation already.

I would add that in order to reduce reflections, you have considerably underexposed the image, and its not worth that trade-off; it look a lit better exposed properly.

Some subjects are supposed to have light reflections, and look quite odd when they dont. Cars are an example. This doll is painted with a very shiny and reflective paint, and will have bright spots in most conditions.

A polariser will not do anything for these reflections. You need to do whats been suggested above, stop reflected light before you take the shot. Diffuse the light by having soft light, not direct sunlight, come through a window with sheer curtains. If this is product photography, the very best way to light it with no reflection is to buy, or make, a light tent, - its designed specifically for what you want.

I loaded a mod with exposure corrected, and removed the reflections as Moira did.



25/07/2014 - 2:17 AM

Rio water falls

Rio water fallsA couple of things I notice.

Its very bright indeed, and reducing exposure a little, - certainly pulling back highlights helps.

Next theres white balance. You are using auto, and you are best to use the actual white balance that matches the conditions, - perhaps sunny here for this one. You also used flash, and that also influenced the cameras decision for white balance. Flash really wasnt needed here, especially with a 4 second exposure.

So a combination of reduced exposure, toned down highlights, and a warmer colour balance more suited to the condition is what you see in the mod, - along with some space cropped from the right.

Let me know if it looks better to you.


22/07/2014 - 7:05 PM

Woodland Waterfall

Woodland WaterfallThis is a good image to learn from.

You have a good question. The idea behind using foreground interest in a landscape, is to place somethnig there that helps lead the eye to a focal point. So thats the basic concept.

Look at this and ask doe this do that? Its doesnt, for a couple of reasons. One is that your intended sibject is the waterfall, and it placed well away from a third or a narural focus point; and the log is not leading to the waterfall, - it is in fact acting as a barrier. Thats a very good lesson to learn, and learn by doing!

To visualise the difference, look at mod1, which has the waterfall only, no log; its better, but its not good, as the waterfall is way over to the left.

Now look at Mod2; the waterfall has a better position in the frame; the log is there, but not all of it, and theres more space on the left where the log doesnt block.

A few hours worth of lessons in one shot! Well done. One last comment, - the leaves and ferns are moving during the long exposure, so theyre a little blurred.

Hop this is helpful


21/07/2014 - 4:27 PM

Puffin Closeup.

Puffin Closeup.A faster shutter speed would have worked well to help make this sharp. At 380mm, you need at least 1/600th. which means a higher ISO.

21/07/2014 - 3:35 PM

The Sun Voyager

The Sun VoyagerA nice piece of artwork, and a good shot. Bright Sun with the long days of summer.

Its well position by the sea with the obvious connection.

I would think that, as I almost always do, auto white balance has rendered the tone too cold. Its a Sun voyager, and Im sure the yellow/gold metal surfaces should in some way by representative of the sun colour.

I have uploaded 2 mods. Both have white balance set to Sun, and V1 does have the colour pushed, with V2 as it is, just white balance. Its rotated clock-wise a small amount.

Thanks for showing us this interesting piece.


21/07/2014 - 1:57 PM


OscarOscar is a really cute little dog. Theres very little dog, and a load of background!

The pose is lovely. Theres an odd magenta colour cast in the version you uploaded, and it will look better without it. It could be due to whatever white balance you used.

Shooting in RAW would allow you to easily correct this, - Ive done it in the mod.

Theres a mix of too much light and too little light in this; too much behind Oscar, and theres more needed on his face to brighten it; you could use a piece of white paper, foil, etc to reflect light back. I addressed it in the mod by using the shadow tool in CS.

Will look very cute as a print Im sure. Thats large area of white accentuates his small size.


20/07/2014 - 5:03 PM

A Little Help please

A Little Help pleaseSo far so good Ishan.

A couple of tips. With the original image, what you are trying to do if extract the rose from the background. You can approach this a little differently that can help, and rather than selecting the background, select the actual rose instead. Its a lot easier for the quick select tool to pick it up. Keep in mind that the tool has, at the top of the page a + and a - option, so you can add and subtract areas. You should end up with a reasonably good selection, - it doesnt have to be 100% perfect. Then you invert the selection, which now selects everything BUT the rose, and you can remove/delete, whatever you want. if you delete it, you will need to unlock the original layer (double click it) and then delete the original layer, so you have the copy, with a chequerboard background which is empty.

Now for the really good tip. The ERASER tool is the most overlooked and useful tool in Photoshop. Select it, zoom in on the image, and simply erase the bits you dont want. To work in straight sections, hold down the shift key while you click the eraser and it will erase straight lines. So what you end up with is the rose, alone, on a checkerboard background.

Make a new document, the same size as the rose document, or longer as Ive done, - file>new>.

Open the new document beside the rose document; use the move tool and drag the rose onto the new document. The new document will be the background, and you can fill it with any colour, a gradient, whatever you want.

Using the lasso tool, select the petals, together or separately in the petals image; copy them (control C) and then select the layered rose document and paste them in (control P); This will make another new layer you cam work on independently of the original layers. Again, with the petal layer selected, use that wonderful eraser tool and remove the bits of original background that came with them.

The petals cam be resized (control T) using the transform tool; and they can also have the perspective changed, so they appear to be lying on a table thats viewed from the side, as the rose is. Edit>Transform>perspective, or warp.

I placed a faint soft grey line in the black backgrond to suggest an edge, - looks better than solid balck, and I copied the petals, flipped upside down, desaturated and faded to suggest a reflection.

Try this, practice, and wonder why you never used that eraser before, - its like magic.

The original shot looks fine, sharpened it in the mod, and warmed the tone to match the petals. View large.


20/07/2014 - 12:45 AM

Bee & lavender

Bee & lavenderBetter. Trev identifies the major concern, and thats exactly what is in focus? At you settings, some small part of this needs to be identifiably sharp, and well focused, and its not.

I wonder why the aperture setting is not showing up with the exif data? Is this lens the Sigma 50mm f/2.5 DG Macro for Canon? Its should display the f stop in the exif data, and its not. Its behaving like a lens thats not being recognised by the camera. Do you know why? It could be a problem. If its the older, manual focus 50mm EX lens, I think, but Im not certain, that it should have the aperture controlled by the camera? Do you set the aperture value on the lens itself, or using the camera?

Stay away from spot metering and use the default setting; spot can be tricky.

Dont use Manual exposure for a while, try Aperture priority, set it to what you have here, and ensure the shutter speed is high enough by altering ISO.

Using manual focus is a good approach, assuming this is what you have done?

If you get back and comment, I will follow up.

Mod loaded in the interim.


17/07/2014 - 6:44 PM

X Marks the Spot

X Marks the SpotShooting a scene like this will require exposure bracketing to get both sky and land exposed well. Or, as many landscape shooters do, use a neutral density graduated filter, - this lowers the light level in the upper part of the shot and gradually fades away towards the bottom.

Two ways to brighten this. I used curves for mod1, and used a mask to make sure it was applied only to the lower area. Just pulled in the right side about 1/3 the way in.

The second was involves using a threshold layer to identify where the brightest part in the lower area should be. This also corrects colour casts.

Heres a link to the method:



17/07/2014 - 5:34 PM

X Marks the Spot

X Marks the SpotI have uploaded 2 mods as suggestions.

The original shot settings have a -2/3 exposure correction, which will make the sea and beach area too dark; this is because the camera is already underexposing for the sky. You still have a burned area in the sky, - this can be corrected by cloning or moving a piece of existing cloud. The lower area can have exposure corrected, - about +1 to equal the sky.

The lens has some vignetting which can also be removed if you want.

The mods have this done, and are also sharpened a little. The difference is that in mod1, the white balance is left as recorded; and mod2 is the white balance as it should have been recorded. Your pick.

Does this make enough of a difference?

Theres no obvious focal point, but the scene is nice, as is the lead in, so an attractive image for me.


16/07/2014 - 2:09 PM

Balancing a Bluebell Wood

Balancing a Bluebell WoodIts a very nice image overall.

Composition is very good, and red an excellent colour to have in the frame. Having the girl look back at the camera might have been a good shot also.

Your setting look fine. You used flash, which in this case likely didnt contribute a lot of light, assuming it was the built-in flash on the camera?

Exposure works, and for me I would like to see it a little brighter, and I have altered this, as well as saturation of red and blue in the mod. View large.

Reds are often oversaturated, - not anything you are doing wrong at the time the shot was taken, just be careful in post processing not to increase saturation too much.

Try GIMP for Mac if you only have iPhoto, - it will give you a lot of extras control and is free.

Well done.


15/07/2014 - 4:32 PM

Susie at Glendalough House

Susie at Glendalough HouseNice shot apart from underexposure. When you include the bright sky in the shot, adjust exposure to show the indicator on the + side of the centre, perhaps +2/3 in this case.

It sharpened fine for me. It may be that when the exposure is corrected, it helps sharpening?

When you re size, and save-as, using the max image quality, before you upload, open the new file, check and adjust sharpness, then save and upload.


14/07/2014 - 6:08 PM

Snake V2

Snake V2Hi Mark.

Your questions:

Does it work? It works to do exactly what you intended to do, it suggests a horizon without showing it. But you also want to know does it WORK. And that is down to individual preferences. It does WORK for me. I like this type of image. Many wont, those that believe a photo is supposed to precisely record what was there when the camera was pointed, and the shutter pressed. Nothing wrong with that. I like that it gives an impression, a suggestion, and the mod can wander a little.

Its an image that you can also re-use as a base image to build on. Other elements, or one other element could be placed in the frame if you wished.

diggeo is a member that has done a lot of experimenting with this idea, and its worth looking at what he has done.

Hope this is of some help. I think you are on a track, the right track and you can follow it to another place.


12/07/2014 - 5:08 PM

WB Experiment

WB ExperimentWelcome to the world of white balance Ishan.

Its incredibly important. Think of it as the "reference" the camera uses to set every one of the 16 million shades it captures. Thats how important it is. It affects everything on the image, including brightness, vibrance, colour tone, you name it. Thats why, in a good image editor, its the FIRST adjustment to be made; all other adjustments come after.

You ask a question that has no definitive answer; which does the viewer prefer? Each one will have a different point of view. Personal preferences. And we view the images on different monitors, in different places. All this influences preferences. For example, you mention the vibrancy of V1. I dont see that it has that quality as I understand it; its a subjective term, - what do you mean by it? The first viewer sees it as flat, - more like how I see it. Are you viewing on a good quality monitor thats NOT a laptop? Is it calibrated? Its all makes a difference.

Its also a loaded question, because you have shot both images using different metering and exposure, with different brightness levels. The more accurate of the two, from strictly an exposure perspective is V2, a much better exposure that V1. which is significantly underexposed. If I were to pick which of the two looked closer to my reality, it would be V2, - no contest at all. V2 is still a little underexposed, but not as much as V1. V1 is spot metered, V2 is centre weighted average, - much better for this shot than spot.

The question about how this Sony "Push Option" for white balance worked is again, as is everything about this camera, down to software trickery. It seems to me assuming what white actually should be using the image, and then using it as a reference. Not the right way to do it, but one way to produce an effect for you. Do you want accurate, or do you want an effect provided by software?

Both images will look different with exposure corrected ( I loaded mods of both); the question I have is what was the light actuall like at the time you took the shot? Was it cloudy? If so, then V2 is likely the most accurate shot. When I look at it, the WB appears quite close to what I see with my checks of black points; the V1 doesnt look at all right.

Its very easy to check and use a reliable reference for white balance Ishan. In most photo shops you can buy a grey card; a piece of 18% grey cardboard or plastic. You place it in the light you are using (in the garden here) and take a shot using auto wb; then use this shot as the reference white balcme for all others taken in the same light. if you shot RAW, you would open that grey shot first, click the white balance tool on the grey, read the white balance that results, and apply it to all other shots taken at that time. Its not rocket science. It just seems to be!


12/07/2014 - 4:14 PM

Small blue flower

Small blue flowerIts a nice effort, but very much underexposed.

This may be what you wanted, but it does also introduce that problem Diane mentions with the colours.

White balance doesnt look right to me, - you manually set it I know, but it still appears too cool, - also causing an issue with green. It probably intentional the blue tone I imagine?

You used the effect from earlier shots on this, - its not terribly obvious and does work ok for me.

Mod uploaded, exposure and white balance.


11/07/2014 - 2:55 PM

Wear and tear

Wear and tearHi Tracy.

Tanya is right, and to take it further, not just simple bracketing. You may need to take 5 or 6 exposures to get a good range of detail.

1. Shoot in RAW

2. Use ISO 100 only.

3. Tripod. With remote release ideally.

4. Manual focus.

5. Set aperture to be constant throughout all shots.

6. Either use your Exposure comp dial, taking a shot at each 1/3 stop; or if you use a manual setting, change your shutter speed by no more than 1/2 stop at a time and take a minimum of 5 shots; one at 0 EV and two at +, two at -.

You can either combine these manually, taking the best from each, or, as suggested, use Photoshop to import the raw images and produce an HDR image.

If you do HDR, you will need a tone mapping software like Photomatix which converts the range of tones in the 32bit original HDR file into tones an 8 bit monitor can display. This scene is ideal for HDR, but you do need a bit of practice to get the result to look right.

If you use a very wide aperture like here, you can probably get away with bracketing, but a smaller aperture of course will provide a lot more detail of the stairway.

Evey place I lived in Dublin was haunted Tracy, - man times by bill collectors and the ESB!

Loaded a mod that extracts some detail and reduces blows highlights.


10/07/2014 - 4:03 PM

Toadstools on windblown Ash

Toadstools on windblown AshWelcome to EPZ Andrew. The Critique Gallery is a good place to learn, and get honest feedback.

You ask a question that has some strings attached. Is it a good shot for someone who has only had 4 months with a DSLR and is still getting to grips with settings.

Lets ask, "is it a good shot", and the answer is no, not really, and I will get into detail about why in a minute.

If Im asked, "Is this a decent effort by someone that is learning and getting used to the camera" then the answer is yes, it is. You have done a lot right. You got down to the right level for the shot and you found a good subject. You made sure the camera was solid and steady, with no camera shake.
This is a difficult shot for experienced shooters.

Lets look at HOW you can make this a great shot. Things you need to know when taking this, and almost any shot.

First, the EXIF data does not have you cameras MODE, whether than Auto, P, A, S or M? I will assume its A or P, both auto modes.

The single, most significant issue with the shot that could be improved is the point where you focused. Look very closely at the small plants in front of the toadstools, and you will see they are quite sharp, showing that the camera focused in front of the toadstools. You can control this, especially in close shots, by using manual focus, not auto focus. Its pretty difficult to do this down this low, but it can be done.

Next is exposure, - the amount of light the camera captured for this image. Its underexposed, meaning that the shutter could have been open longer. After you take any shot, ply it back on the LCD and look at the histogram, - the graph; if its not extending towards the right, its underexposed; if it bunches up at the right edge, ts overexposed. Then you can take the shot again, and use Exposure Compensation, - check you manual, - its easy to do.

Thats mainly it. Good that you selected white balance yourself, - though I wounder if shade would be a better choice?

I uploaded a modification, scroll up, click the tab, and view the mod large, - mine is the second one. I have increased exposure and tweaked white balance. cant do anything about the toadstools not being in focus, but hopefully, when its brighter like this its easier to see where you did focus.

One final point. To get that area of sharpness to be deeper that it is, i.e to extend further towards the toadstools you use a smaller aperture. Thats the f number, and smaller means a larger number, so f/5.6 is bigger than f/11 as an example.

If you are inclined, check out my blog, theres a lot of useful information there for beginners from the critique team.

Enjoy the site.