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19/04/2014 - 8:36 AM

Sketeboard lad

Sketeboard ladMorning Nigel

The expression, shoe off, holding his ankle all leads to conclude he has had enough. The abandoned and "crashed" skateboard giving the context to what looks like someone who has had an accident.

Quite an interesting processing as the soft focus effect with clear centre spot blurs the detail. For me it creates that feeling of nauseous pain for the subject. For anyone who has come off a skateboard, a bike, or just banged part of the body hard and has that feeling where everything around you goes a little blurred whilst your brain appears to focus in on the pain, will probably understand.

Overall an interesting image.

From a technical point of view I find the shaft of light cutting in the top third on the right side, is a little distracting. It was there, and in camera you could not have avoided it other than to come round to the right of your subject and shoot in at a different angle. That would of course changed the picture potentially, and perhaps brings other things into the back drop that could equally be as distracting.

In processing you could clone and/or darken this area. This would help retain the viewers eye onto the subject and the story it tells.

I hope that helps.

17/04/2014 - 8:15 AM

Red'n'gold Portrait

Red'n'gold PortraitA beautiful portrait Claudio.

The eyes are fabulous. Lovely white canoes under the pupils which is so flattering in female portraiture.

I would clone out the little triangle of gold in the bottom left of the frame. It breaks the framing for me and would be better if this red of the dress was cloned across.

Other than than this is striking and very appealing.

16/04/2014 - 10:31 PM

Come inside..

Come inside..A very vibrant and striking image.

As Kate points out the background, although de-focused it is quite vibrant and textured which detracts from the subject. At the taking stage a wider aperture would have been a more appropriate choice to blur the background with minimal depth of field. This would of enabled a faster shutter speed too which if handholding reduces the risk of any camera shake at 105mm. Even on a tripod it would help reduce further this risk and particularly when you have a breeze outside that invariably has flowers swaying in the wind.

I would also add that the top petal just going out the top of the frame does take the eye up. It is always good to avoid cutting off detail like this and give a little space around the subject.

I've uploaded a mod that has de-saturated the green channel but painted it back in on the flower stem. I've also added a vignette to further frame the flower and hold the eye to the subject.

I hope that helps.

Kind Regards
16/04/2014 - 8:40 PM

View across to Jura

View across to JuraEvening Steve

Another interesting landscape and the lines, colour and texture has been well visualised.

The EXIF data shows a balanced exposure - perhaps you could have come back to f11 and retained enough DoF. At the same time moving the shutter speed to 1/100s which would have been a little safer if handholding at 70mm. The main reason for coming back to f11 is to squeeze the best quality out of the lens. The more you close down the more the quality can deteriorate as the lens will start to diffract. The sweet spot on your lens will likely be f8 or f11 and with landscape, if it gives you enough DoF, is one to consider in your choice of ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed combination.

You have other options with the scene as cropping in tighter to the ribbons of colour and texture across the water would create an interesting abstract. As it is however you have a well composed and appealing landscape.

It is quite a grainy looking image and the saturation to pull out the colours feels a little un-natural. I am interested in what you chose to do here in processing. Did you increase overall saturation or use the individual channels to pull out the blue and green?

The ripples create a fascinating texture with the light falling to pull out the shadows and highlights on the water.

I think this also works in mono because of the texture and tone across the image.

I would like to see the original image as a variant or uploaded on the modification option as this might be easier to work on to demonstrate a different way of working it through processing. I will have a play and see what I can do with a mod.

15/04/2014 - 7:19 AM

Whitby Church. North Yorkshire

Whitby Church. North YorkshireMorning Nigel

You have a nice image of Whitby here. I like the way it is built up in layers; the sand, the houses, the cliff and then the chuch set against the deep blue evening sky.

I am only on iPad today due to being away with work so cannot look into this and upload a mod.

My points to consider would be

It appears to be on a slight lean. The houses running down to the left. An easy fix in LR or PS with a small clockwise rotation.

Did you go for the Photographers package in the end? If so and you have PS CC you can experiment with a levels layer to try and balance the exposure between the houses and the church. The houses being too washed out and over exposed here for me.

Using a levels layer you have three sliders along the histogram. Ignore the middle one but push the left black slider in a little until the houses darken down enough. The whole image will darken of course.

Then select the paint brush from your tools palette. Adjust the size of the brush to a cover the height of the line of houses. Ensure the brush is set to white and full softness.

Press control i or command i on a Mac. This will invert the image back to its lighter state. Then brushing over the houses you will see the darker version come through from underneath.

When you are done go to the layers options and flatten image.

A little bit of rough guidance but should get you started on layers Grin

I hope that helps.

14/04/2014 - 2:50 PM

One headlight

One headlightHi Mary.

What with dilapidated houses and now trucks - I'm sure your hometown has some good bits too Wink

This is an interesting image and a bit of American history to boot. Great subject to explore different angles, close-ups of detail in the corrosion....

To answer your question re the busy background. Firstly looking at the EXIF data for the shot I assume you were on a tripod with a 3.2s exposure time. In balance to that you have your aperture set at f29 which is quite narrow. A small aperture like this will maximise the depth of field (the area in front of and behind the point of focus). To help reduce distractions in a background it is useful to open up the lens aperture as wide as you can. With your lens here I believe that is somewhere in the region of f3.5/f4.

Coming down to say f5.6 to retain enough sharpness across the truck would have helped soften the background. This in turn would have brought your shutter speed up to 1/6s or 1/8s.

Secondly, in editing, you can then also use a little bit of selective burning or a level layer to darken down the background a little to help lift the subject out of the scene.

I would want to see this a little brighter and the red more saturated. As it is, it is a little flat. Some selective sharpening too to bring up the corroded areas would help make this ping.

I'll upload a mod to demonstrate.

I hope that helps.

14/04/2014 - 2:20 PM

Avanos overwiev

Avanos overwievThis is a fantastic and spectacular landscape. I really like the framing and the crop does justice to the vastness of the scene. It really needs printing large to fully enjoy and soak up the detail.

I definitely prefer this in colour. If anything I would increase the saturation slightly to lift the blue, greens, yellows and reds. Perhaps a subtle use of the dodge and burn brushes to give some more shape to the sky and reduce the haziness on the far horizon.

I would suggest dropping the ISO to at least 400 if not 200 to improve overall IQ and looking at the shutter speed you could easily have dropped this to compensate accordingly for exposure without worrying about camera shake if you were hand held.

Otherwise this is great work Ulash.

14/04/2014 - 9:22 AM

Mallard Wing

Mallard WingVery nice and quite graphic composition. I would like to see this in colour and understand the EXIF data too. It looks like you've pulled this up from a small portion of the frame as the definition around the eye and the graininess of the sensor pixels are coming through however this could be high ISO which without the EXIF I cannot see to pass comment accurately. Could do with a tweak in levels perhaps to boost the contrast across the tonal range?

My only other comment is would this be better as a square crop with the beak fully in frame? It feels a little chopped.

Be great to see the original and set to allow mods.

Nonetheless this is an appealing image.

14/04/2014 - 8:55 AM

Sun lamp

Sun lampIan, this is another appealing image from you. Very considered in its construction and well thought out to hide the sun behind the lamp head. It softens the light from the sun reducing any strong highlight that the sun on its own in frame would give.

You are right that the horizon line running along the top of the fencing creates an oddness. For me it makes the image feel manipulated like there are two images cut and shut together. This is amplified by the lower part of the lamp post dropping behind the fence panel. It looks like you need to have moved the camera position ever so slightly to lift the horizon line above the top of the fence. I don't know if this was possible with you trying to retain the sun behind the lamp head but I am sure some subtle movement may have helped this here.

The only other thing for me is I would want to see a little more room at the bottom of the frame. It cuts too tightly to the silhouetted couples feet. I'l upload a mod with a bit of extra canvas to demonstrate what I mean.

All the elements other than mentioned work extremely well to create a powerful silhouette and sunset.

14/04/2014 - 7:36 AM

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Lazy Sunday AfternoonYou have captured what could be a delightful portrait of these two lambs.

Exposure is good here with all the detail in the tones. The lamb with its head lifted and looking at camera makes the shot.

It is just framed/cropped too tightly. I don't know how much was in the original frame but here it is presented with not enough space above the lambs or to the right side. It compresses the image and loses the balance. If you have more space in the original frame from the time of shooting then this just needs cropping differently. If not and you have cropped off the bottom to create this format then you need to consider your composition at the time of taking. It is better to give a little space around your subject which can always be trimmed in editing later.

The lambs here, framed so they lie on the lower horizontal third, would give greater balance. There are rules of composition in Art. Rules being a loose term and should be replaced with guidelines. Once you understand the "rules" then when you break them you can do so knowingly and because you understand when doing so makes for a stronger composition or statement for the viewer.

This is an interesting article that will give you some things to consider when shooting


This is similar...


and here this talks about the rule of thirds


These may help in understanding compositional elements to consider and I hope it is of use.

I have uploaded a mod just to demonstrate what that extra space does to balance the picture. Please ignore the rough cloning to fill the space on the canvas. Time did not allow me to paint this more accurately.

13/04/2014 - 9:14 PM

On Guard version 2

On Guard version 2You have a very colourful portrait of this little chap. I missed your initial upload of this but have taken a look. It stands stronger with the basket removed as the reddy brown in the bottom corner does pull the eye down.

The processing has returned a deep colourful image and the green being rich and saturated not dissimilar to the old Fuji Velvia film of my youth. It makes for an appealing image.

You have the dog very central although have left space to the right where he is looking into. I wonder whether cropping a little off the left side and losing the edge of the tyre might tighten things up but I wouldn't want to lose the dogs bowl which for me adds to the story here. Did you get one with the dog looking at you? I would like to have seen him eyeing you up. Grin

This is an appealing image and the saturation works well.

12/04/2014 - 7:23 AM



Nigel was clearly working on a mod at the same time as I.

I agree with Nigel around the sharpness and the orange in the corner. Nigel's mod demonstrates a fix. I have gone down a slightly different route.

I find the green is a little over saturated. A little bit neon. I have de-saturated the green channel in PS CC but took the background down a little further than the bud and stem to help the predominately green subject stand out from the green background.

The space you have to the left of the buds is fine although I have chosen a square crop to fill the frame with the subject. I have rotated anti-clockwise to get the stem coming off the diagonal corner to add a little but more dynamism.

I have then moved the black point in levels to increase the shadows and add a little more contrast in the process.

Using the lens correction filter in PS CC I have added a touch of vignette to the corners to bring the viewers eyes in central and hold the frame.

Finally sharpened using smart sharpen at around 100% and radius 0.6.

At the taking stage I would recommend closing down a little on the aperture. Just enough to give a little more Depth of Field on the subject. You are on such a shallow plane of focus with the aperture wide open it is not quite sharp enough through the main elements of the subject. To retain the background softness but increase the DoF through the subject I think f2.8 would have been a better option here.

You have a very attractive image here.

I hope that helps.

09/04/2014 - 6:56 AM

Sunrise 2

Sunrise 2Morning Ishan

Nice to see something different. You have captured a beautiful orange sky here.

The exposure of the sun to silhouette the landscape or subject can be tricky. If you overexpose you can lose the shape of the sun and have a bright central flare. If you underexpose you can end up with the surrounding sky too dark and the subject in silhouette not standing out strong. Sometimes to get the right balance it is better to make a couple of exposures and combine them in editing.

Here the Program mode of your camera has coped well to capture a good shape for the sun with the sky remaining light enough to set the silhouetted background against.

Two things for me -

It isn't absolutely crisp and sharp on the silhouette. It really has to be. To get the sharp lines pin sharp your focus has to be on the building. This may just need a little more sharpening in editing and I will upload a mod to demonstrate. You have to be careful though with sharpening any image but particularly where you have dark edges against a brighter background as it will show up over sharpening very quickly. You will see the edges start to bleed or halo.

My second point would be there is too much black foreground and I would want to crop this out to focus on the shape of the building, the bird in flight and the sun against that deep orange sky.

Good project however is to take silhouettes. Hone your technique, play around with exposure and understand shapes and how they silhouette. The world can look very different when we lose the detail and reduce an image to colour and shape only.

07/04/2014 - 9:46 PM

In the Mood

In the MoodI find this quite striking and appealing. Great action portrait that is sensual and quite powerful.

I like the framing with the extra space to the right as if they are about to move into it.

Lighting is a little flat but works as a main light. I think perhaps some additional lighting in there to shape the couple such as a soft rim light that should give a bit more bite. If you look at the female hand coming round the back of the males head it looks disjointed due to the wrist in shadow - disconnected even. A little backlight to frame them would lift this detail.

The subdued colours work well for the style of the image although I would warm up the skin tones a little more but perhaps thats just personal preference.

Overall this grabbed my attention and is a little different. Creative and captivating.

07/04/2014 - 9:31 PM

In Samuel Johnson's house

In Samuel Johnson's houseAnother alternative if the natural lighting is not important to you and this is just trying to get an accurate record shot of the visit -

Use bounced flash. Reduce ISO to 200 and 1//125s @ f8 with the flash on Auto and f8. It can be hit and miss for the bounced flash angle to ensure no flare off the glass but the bounced flash will give a softer light. I would try flash off the ceiling if white and low enough (flash pointing straight up). If a coloured ceiling (will throw a colour cast on the light) or too high then bounce the flash 45 degrees up and behind you onto a reflector. A small foldable Lastolite style that fits in your camera bag or a piece of white card (I carry an A4 piece as well as a tiny foldable reflector in the laptop slot of my camera case).

This does work and the shorter exposure to the sensor cuts out the ambient light reflections from recording.

One to try.

06/04/2014 - 10:13 PM

Brightest Smile ever

Brightest Smile everHi Tasha and welcome to EPZ and the Critique Gallery.

This is certainly a happy smiley picture of your friend and quite a fun portrait grabbed in the moment.

Your question is around you want to improve your portrait photography and ask for tips/advice on this. Using this portrait as an example there are some things to consider.

Firstly a portrait like this has its place. Its a fun almost abstract image that has bags of appeal and can be quite captivating. It is however very common in the social media world we live of the type of grab portraits people upload to social media sites of their friends and family. As a commercial portrait it is perhaps not very flattering for the subject.

The angle of view is quite wide which is due to your camera having its built in zoom set at the wider end of its range. A wide angle perspective will distort the subject as it has done here giving her a big nose and tiny forehead. To get a better and more natural perspective for portraits you are better at a narrower perspective. I believe this camera has a lens range number on the barrel so as it zooms out you can see its equivalent focal length. You want to have it set at the 80 to 105 range to get a more natural perspective for head and shoulders and half length portraits. For full length around 50 to 80 is where it should be.

Watch what is in the frame too. Here you have captured the environment you and your friend were in. This again can be a good thing but watch that things in the background do not become a distraction from the subject. Watch for clutter, busy-ness, highlights that pull the eye away from the subject.

Lighting is always key in photography. Built-in flash has its place too but is very direct and quite harsh. Picks out all those imperfections we all try to hide Grin. Try using softer light such as window light. Shape that light with card to shade or reflect light onto your subject. Worth reading up on lighting for portraiture. You don't need expensive studio flash as learning how to use natural light to its best first will hone your photography skills. Using simple angle poise lamps to create your own indoor lighting set up is also a great starting point in understanding light and shade.

Some other considerations.

Good to get catchlights in the subjects eyes. Gives life and sparkle to the subject.
Think about composition/framing. You can shoot portrait as well as landscape but consider how the person is framed.
Leave space for the subject to look in to if they are not looking directly at the camera.

Best advice I can give is to read up about portraiture. Look at as much portraiture as you can and try to emulate what you like. This shooting practise will help you develop your technique and understand technique. Above all understand your subject. Converse with them. Make them relaxed. Remember portraiture is at least a two way street for both the sitter(s) and the photographer.

I hope that helps.

Please enjoy the site and keep uploading your pics - you can learn lots on here.

06/04/2014 - 1:13 PM

You are in the way

You are in the wayWithout a tripod here my advice would be to leave the IS on. Aim for the fastest shutter speed you can get away with without having to wind the ISO up which will reduce image quality beyond 400 ISO and certainly at 800 ISO and above. With the lighting conditions in your example image you could comfortably stay at ISO 100. This would then give you an aperture of f5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/320s for the same exposure. Rest your shoulder against a wall or lean on the balcony top for support. Hold the camera in your right hand to access the shutter easily and hold the lens barrel with your left hand. If you can, tuck your left arm into your chest. Press and release the shutter slowly.

All of this cocktail of technique will minimise the risk of camera shake.

06/04/2014 - 12:18 PM

Demise of a Peacock

Demise of a PeacockAfternoon Geoff

To try and answer your question first. Direct flash is a harsh light source and unless it is either softened and shaped, just like sunlight, it tends to not add anything other than to illuminate and give little more than a record of the scene. Good photography is governed by the light and shade to create a feel, an emotion, a visual stimulus for the viewer.

Direct flash has its place. Photography as a recording medium equally has its place. Which leads me to my question for you; what did you want to achieve from the scene you had presented in front of you? Does the end result meet the vision? If the answer is you wanted a simple record shot of the demised butterfly amongst the formation and shape of stones and that was what you saw in your minds eye then this has served its purpose.

Trying to create something more artistic, moody, abstract..... whatever, would require some additional thought to the lighting and composition.

I believe your camera has a built in flash so hard to create flash effects such as tilting the flash to bounce off a reflector and soften the light. You can however reduce the harshness by covering with some tissue, varying the layers to reduce the flash output. That coupled with balancing the exposure for the ambient light in the shed. Alternatively using a table lamp (angle poise are good) to introduce your own lighting and shaping with card to shape and reflect light where you want it to fall.

For me this is no more than a record shot of the scene. I think the interest may be in the colour of the butterfly and perhaps a tighter crop may give something more interesting. The key however is using the light and finding a way to create interest. I'll have a play in mods to see if I can get something a little different.

I hope that gives you something to reflect on and helps in some way.

06/04/2014 - 11:32 AM


MateAn interesting and well seen street image.

It would benefit I feel from a tweak with the levels sliders just to lift the tonal range and give it some more punch. It is a bit flat as is. For me I would also crop in on the right side to lose the Haagen-Daz sign. It does tend to pull the eye from the real action.

Nonetheless it's a great scene

06/04/2014 - 7:02 AM

Thales at the sea 2

Thales at the sea 2Quite a fun action portrait of your dog. He looks ready to pounce on something in the water. Grin

The mono conversion is interesting. Reducing this down to black and white almost camouflages the dog against the swirl of the water. It does work in that it makes you pause and look and then see the story and is different to the standard colour image you might expect.

I would crop this however. The framing is quite loose and despite it sets a scene in the vastness of the sea I feel a stronger portrait is there by pulling this right in. I would come in to the left side to place the dog on the left vertical third leaving space on the right for him to pounce into. I'd crop down from the top a little as well a lift the lower edge of the frame up too. Again just a little and place the dog on the intersection of the lower and left third. I hope that makes sense as without the mod option I cannot demonstrate.

Nonetheless I think this is an appealing image.