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05/07/2015 - 9:28 PM


VendorYou've captured a nice piece of life that's very different to what most of us on this site experience. And in difficult lighting conditions. Considering photography is all about light, difficult and challenging lighting is one of the things that us photographers should be eager to take on.

The difference between amateur and professional is purely money - amateurs do not get paid, professionals do. There are amateurs that produce outstanding work and professionals that produce mediocre work.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't think about your shots, or look at your shots and think how you may do better next time. The fact you're posting here and asking for help shows you have the right outlook.

24/06/2015 - 8:28 PM


CatiaShooting on an overcast day is good for portraits, and you've got a very pleasing result here.
that lens is a good one and you've made good use of a wide apewrture.

In my first mod I've cropped the image slightly to remove the plant on the left. It's not a major issue and is part of the setting but the image is cleaner without it and we have the plants in the background for context in any case. Perhaps if there was anbother plant on the other side in the same plane of focus the image would look more even.

We don't go for logos in the Critique Gallery as they often detract from the image and appreciation of it. Yours is tucked away in the corner but I removed it very quickly just to show that using one is no deterrent to image theft. Used on a print for marketing purposes, that's a different thing.

The brick sticking into her arm doesn't look comfortable at all. Having her use the wall as a prop is a good idea, as some people find it awkward to do place their hands. I'm not saying Catia feels awkward, I'm just making a point to bearin mind with other subjects Smile.
If she were resting the palm of her hand on the wall or just leaning gently against it with her elbow it would look better (not uncomfortable).

It's a beautifully simple looking image with good tones and textures I couldn't resist doing a mono version, which I hope you like.

24/06/2015 - 4:53 PM

House sparrow

House sparrowGreat advice from Steve.

However, I do like the 'looking through the branches' composition you have here. It makes a change (from many shots posted here, mine included!) and looks very natural. That large out of focus leaf in the foreground is a distraction as it is lighter (lighter areas do draw the eye) and has a bright highlight on it.
If you set up your own perch for them you could arrange some foliage to shoot through, just as landscape photographers use the branch of a tree to frame their image.

The bird is very central, and is better placed to one side for a better 'balance'. In fact, all that's needed is a simple crop and that would also remove that bit of annoying foliage top right.
I see why you've sot like this as the eye is dead centre, for the focus, and full marks for getting the eye sharp.
Still, to avoid cropping, try focussing on the eye and recomposing the image, or use manual focussing. Setting up your own perch where they have limited choice to perch will help when using manual. Your lens will allow manual adjustment after AF if you keep your finger on the shutter button. I'm not saying avoid autofocusing entirely, sometimes due to the nature of the creature it's the best bet, I'm just providing some alternatives.

In my mod I'll try and reduce the 'in yer face' leaf at the bottom.

The image is very contrasty due to the light. You can try and reduce this in post processing, but it's always better to try and shoot when the light is less harsh, partial or thin cloud would still allow some shadows for modelling but retain detail in those shadows. However, I know that's not always possible!

15/06/2015 - 4:19 PM

Unstrapping the ex-champion

Unstrapping the ex-championI prefer the tighter crop of V2, it makes us more intimate with the moment between the boxer and his trainer.
The mono has more of the atmosphere than the colour, but as you were there you may consider otherwise. Often though, mono is seen as the more moody/atmospheric choice.

You have some nice light catching the boxer's face, which if it weren't there the image, colour or mono, wouldn't have the same impact or appeal.

Another thing the mono version reduces is the bright highlight from the referee. It's distracting in colour but acceptable in the mono as it's 'just another highlight'. Better if you could have avoided it but I appreciate you probably weren't able to move much!

I guess the noise is due to lightening the shadow areas as a result of your mono conversion, but it's by no means detrimental. Indeed you could accentuate it by adding noise/grain - think of classic sporting images especially those taken in low light ringside environments.

13/06/2015 - 9:35 PM

Old shed

Old shedThe camera has made a decent conversion, and I suspect a better one than a normal camera mono conversion. It's a pity you didn't try one of those for comparison.

However, with a conversion from your colour original using software you have more control over exactly how you want the image to look.
I've done a conversion using your colour original, using the image Adjustments Black and White tool. I reduced the blues and cyans, and boosted the reds and yellows. I then used a Curves adjustment to tweak the contrast. There were a few blotches in the sky, I guess from artefacts from the jpg compression, so I used the Healing Brush to remove them.

There are other pieces of software out there for mono conversion that offer other effects and controls, and some others in the Critique team have those so they'll come up with yet more different results.

To try and answer your question about producing a 'better' result, a lot of it comes down to personal preference and how you like to see mono images.

Converting afterwards is 'better' in that you can get what you want. Working with the colour original means you're working with more image information, whereas a mono conversion in camera has already had all the colour information discarded. When you want to do contrast and levels adjustments the in-camera converted image will be much more prone to degradation (banding, posterisation, less smooth tonal gradation).

But there's no harm in using the filter effects to give you an idea of whether mono would work and it'll give you a starting point to aim for with your own conversion.

09/06/2015 - 10:02 PM

different hay

different haySharpening is not a precise art, some images need more, some less, and some none at all. So, using the same settings won't always work.

It's a shame you binned some images, then. I always save mine unsharpened, as I don't know what they'll be used for, a small print, a large print or to upload here. All will require a different degree of sharpening.
When sharpening, whatever technique you use (Unsharp Mask, Smart Sharpen or the High Pass technique) try going too far, then pull the effect back by reducing the sliders values. you should then get a feel for what looks best.

So, only sharpen an image for it's intended purpose. To avoid spoiling an image, don't save your changes, or Save As a different version. You don't want to bin a perfectly good image.

Evening, rain, the restaurants are closed.I too was thinking of cropping the foreground. Even with a crop there is enough there to put over what you intend especially in your second version. Talking of which, a lower angle would still allow you to get all that paved area in frame but would reduce the area of the frame it occupies and so help the image balance.
V1 is the strongest in this respect. However, I would trim off the strong orange light and reflection on the left as it draws attention away from the cobbles.
The vertical shot of the church is very nice, best viewed large.
Hot Summer Evening, Berthong RoadWelcome from me too.

I've nothing to add to what's been said, though I'd echo Tanya in that this scene has numerous framing possibilities as shown by the different mods, as we all see something different. Beign able to see a number of them at the time will mean you come away with a good selection of images. Maybe you did.

With this subject it would be worth trying to create a panorama by stitching together several images for improved quality rather than cropping down a single frame.

01/06/2015 - 8:05 PM

Lake - Mont Tremblant

Lake - Mont TremblantI have to agree with all that John has said.
Even with the crop the central subject doesn't have enough interest. The background fights for attention. I too want to see more of that orange colour foliage.

I like the fact you've used a long focal length to pick out just part of the landscape. Its something not everyone does, preferring to use wide angles.

26/05/2015 - 9:49 PM

The Moon

The MoonHow did you trigger the camera? By the shutter button, a remote or self timer? If using the shutter button then that would introduce vibration even if the camera was firmly fixed to the telescope and the scope was motor driven. A remote release is the best option as you can choose exactly when to fire the camera, but using the self timer will mean all vibration has subsided by the time the picture is taken (and means you don't need to buy a remote release!).

You must raise the ISO, even ISO 200 would result in a better image. Use Aperture priority mode, not the mode that is shown in the exif - using creative slow speed is not going to result in a clear image, which you do need for this subject.

Saturday evening. The dweller of Santa Brigida. Gran Canaria.Tanya's crop is how I see this image. If the guy had been facing the other way I'd leave the doorway in as there'd be a stronger connection then between the customer and the cafe.
sheffield train station at night timeHi Mickael,
It's good to do some photography at night as a scene looks completely different.

You've chosen a strong foreground object which dominates the scene. There's nothing that says 'railway station' here, and unless you're local or have been there it's not obvious either. That isn't to detract from the image at all, just given your title I'm trying to look for it! The 'subject' for me is the sculpture, and you've done a good job with it.
you've shot when there's still some colour in the sky, which always looks more attractive than pitch black.

The interest lies in the right hand two thirds of the image, so I've made a square crop. In fact, this frames the sculpture and water very well, so don't be afraid to crop your image to a different aspect ratio if it nakes a stronger visual statement.
Normally we wouldn't put a bright area at the edge or corner of an image but I do like the placement here especially in the square crop - I tried removing it and the image was lacking.

I can see you used f/16, and I guess it's to get a slower shutter speed for the trails. However, it's not the best for ultimate image quality. If you want to use longer speeds, tryusing an ND filter. If you use a 3 stop type, you could use f/11 and 10 seconds, and you'd get more joined up trails - you have a few gaps in the white trails.

In my mod I've also adjusted the colour balance to a more natural look. Of course, with many different light sources in the image, many people prefer a warmer tone. Nothing wrong with that, my adjustment is for comparison purposes. Using Lightroom you can adjust the sliders to get the exact effect you want, and you can create two different versions easily.

21/05/2015 - 6:49 PM

Seagull on the spot

Seagull on the spotHi Marcin, welcome to the site and to the Critique Gallery. I hope you will enjoy it and find it a good place to learn. We try to give advice that will help people to improve their photography both the taking and the editing of images.

in this gallery the more information you give us as regards your photographic aims and intentions, the better. You've been veryhelpful here giving us the exposure details and what you wanted to achieve.
It also helps us if you respond to critique and indicate which ideas you find helpful. That means we can tailor advice according to your needs.

It can be difficult to show rain. If the rain is light, it's harder to show but you can't organise the weather.
A slower shutter speed is required so that the falling drops appear as streaks. That goes against the advice of faster speeds for longer lenses, so you need to ensure the camera is firmly fixed to a tripod or well supported for example by a bean bag on a wall or post.
You used 1/400 here. With the short focal lenght used here you could have used a slower speed even unsupporte. Supported, I'd start with 1/60. The gull isn't moving so you don't have to worry about subject movement blur like you would for example with the smaller birds that always are on the move.

If you can shoot against the light, the raindrops and their streaks can be picked out more easily, especially if the background is dark. It'd be ok here. so it needs a bit of planning and thought about your viewpoint. Clearly wild creatures can't be directed, but observing their favourite perches will allow you to find a good viewpoint. And gulls can be easily tempted with food, so you can increase your chances of getting a shot. You may need a helper to administer the food while you wait and shoot.

This picture doesn't look particulalrly noisy, but often resizing an image to smaller dimensions reduced the appearance of noise. It may be more visibnle on the full size original.

However, this image is underexposed. Take a look at the histogram. Most tones are toward the left side and there are no lighter tones - the graph doesn't reach the far right of the Levels dialog.
It looks like the white bin has influenced the camera into giving less exposure. Trying to extract detail from such an image will increase the appearance of noise. I won't try and describe the maths and physics!

In my mod I've adjusted the Levels to get a full range of tones and brightened the image using Curves rather than Levels as I can then control contrast too and have finer control over how the lightening works.

Finally, I cropped the image so that there is more space for the bird to 'look into'. Such an off centre positioning provides a more balanced looking image too.

Rain and wind. Lago Maggiore. ItalyA pleasing scene Alexander.
I like the contrast between the blue far distance and the warm foreground. The richness of colour and the very deep shadows reminds me of shots taken on Fuji Velvia back in the days of film. It looked punchy as a projected slide but these days it is worth retaining that detail. Or, produce two versions!

I'm with Paul on the placement of that metal structure. A pace to the left and move the camera round so that it's nearer the edge and so less of a draw to the eye. you'd retain that distant view, but get more of the shore on the right (interesting middle distance) and avoid cutting that one boat in half.

As this iamge was taken around the same time as you other uploads it still suffers from the f/22 issue. Yes, it gives great depth of field, which is more important here than in your other images, but at this focla lenght f/11 to f/16 would have been fine. Something to remember when posting work done after the feedback you've been given.

17/05/2015 - 8:34 PM

Pier Bellagio. Lago Como

Pier Bellagio. Lago ComoI'm not sure a polariser is much help for a shot like this. There's no blue sky (the type you'd expect to be using the filter on) and hno reflections. Yes there is the water but the conditions don't look as though there would have been a lot of glare. I could be wrong of course, but without a comparison shot it's difficult to say. Put it this way, in that situation I wouldn't be upset if I realised i hadn't got one with me.
The gradient is much more useful.

I can see how you've composed this with the town visible on the left hand shore, but I'd like to have seen more of the area on the left. It's closer and so the detail would be clear. Moving the camera a little is all it needs. You'd then have an almost two thirds occupation of the frame with the near details, which would give a more balanced look too.
As it is, the left half of the image looks empty. Perhaps not a problem normally but that post exactly in the middl;e of the image stops the eye wandering across.
You could have moved a few steps to your right and got that foreground in and the far shore, as you were using a 17 mm lens. Small adjustments to position make a big difference to composition with such wide angles. Of course, I'm assuming you could move to your right, I'm assuming you were on a jetty!

16/05/2015 - 5:29 PM

Lighting attempt

Lighting attemptA simple arrangement but so many things to think about.
I'd move the glass a touch to the right so we can see the full curve of the jug. I checked the image using the Grid in Photoshop and it looked level according to that but a tilt correction still made it look better but I finished with a skew correction as the jug looked more even that way. I thought I'd mention that as it's something to look out for in general terms.

Now to the lighting.
The ratio between your two lights is 4:1, hich is a good starting point. However, due to using a light tent all the light has spread (which is what a light tent is for) so the shot looks more evenly lit than that ratio would suggest. The almost similar highlights on the jug say this also.
Try a ratio of 8:1, either reducing the one flash to 1/64 or the main flash to 1/4.
Alternatively, try a reflector inside the light tent with just the one flash to the right, then you would replicate very closely the classic window light set-up.

Of course, this depends on how much room you have in your light tent, and the size also has implications for your background. This, I think, hasn't helped with th eblack becoming a very daek grey. The light has bounced around in the tent, as indeed it's supposed to, but that can be fixed somewhat as Willie has shown.

I've shot in a light tent with undiffused flash and flash fitted with softboxes, the latter giving a really soft light due to double diffusion. the softbox was near the sixe of the light tent walls which clearly helped.

So there is some experimentation to be done. Each will yield different results, none of them necessarily 'better'. for example, the above shot is quite evenly lit so it's fine for say a product shot, while using one flash would be more moody and 'artistic' if you like.

I aplaud your use of real wine, but as you found, you may need to dilute it so that the red shows up as we'd 'expect' to see. Nothing wrong with using coloured water if that gives the intended look. (You can always have a glass of the real stuff to hand for when you've finished shooting!).

I know you're only after lighting help, bit a third element in the image would finish it off well (they always say odd numbers work better). A handful of grapes or maybe a piece of cheese. Must go and get something to eat now!

Silence, just  the boat swaying. Lake Mergozzo. italyWell your title does reference the movement of the boat, and the boat is what the eye is drawn to.

Quote: but your version I also like. It was better to make a vertical shot as a separate shot

And that's something we should all remember, try other compositions, framing and orientation. There may be one you prefer and a different one someone else prefers. Make the most of the picture opportunites as you can at the time.

16/05/2015 - 12:52 PM


ForagingHi Marc,

It's really interesting to sit on a bench and watch the birds at close range as they have some toleration of people.
While a landscape format is often more appropriate, there's nothing wrong with trying a vertical format. It depends on what you want the image for, and what you want to portray which you've explained. That always helps when posting in the Critique Gallery as it helps us in turn with feedback.

This looks a touch soft and I'd second upping the ISO to 400. Your camera should be fine at that setting. Of course, softness could be due to compression for upload or not applying sharpening to the resized image before upload. A couple of points to remember.

I'd say that was a small seed or crumb it's eating, as these birds don't eat worms and aren't insectivorous (though they may have a go if they're foraging around I suppose!).
The egg you mention may be from his brood's nest but not actually his as this is an adult male (nice specimen too) so at least a year old. Still, worth a shot, and if it is a chaffinch egg it could tell a story.
I hope you don't mind me mentioning this as it's not technically about the image but it's important to get the biological details as accurate as you can with natural history subjects. It's a fascinating subject and there's always something to learn.

I'll look out for your next image Smile

14/05/2015 - 12:04 PM

Beach near Setubal Portugal

Beach near Setubal PortugalThe pattern of sand and water is an attractive feature. Together with a brooding sky there is the potential for a dramatic image.

Unfortunately, the result here lacks impact.
However, all is not lost, it's down to the processing.
In my mod I made this black and white rather than sepia, as toning can reduce contrast which is a cornerstone of monochrome.

Although there is a full range of tones, most of them are bunched into the middle of the histogram, so the image lacks 'punch'.

I boosted contrast in the foreground and sky separately, and darkened the clouds for that brooding look.
I cropped the top of the image as a light area at the top of the frame is a distraction and reduces the impact of the dark clouds.
This has made the image into a squre, or almost square, with the horizon fairly central which isn't ideal so I've addressed that in my second mod. A landscape format works well here. That's not to say a portrait format wouldn't - it just needs the camera to be pointed down for less sky and some more of the channels in the sand.

14/05/2015 - 11:12 AM

thin kin

thin kinThis is a very nice image with attractive light.

It looks as though you've done some post processing here. It looks like you've used a cross-processing type effect.

You have lost detail in the white dress, and it is quite a large area so it draws the eye. The same is true of the skin, noticeably on the cheek. Applying some negative exposure compensation, around one stop, would have avoided this.

There is a dark area on the wall immediately behind her head which blends in and makes it look like a strange hairstyle. Moving the model, or simply just lowering your viewpoint a few centimetres would avoid this.

There's also a white halo around the back of her head which looks like aggressive sharpening, and likely exacerbated by your processing. you don't need to sharpen this area of the image, the face and importantly the eyes are the areas that you should concentrate on when applying sharpening.