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13/01/2013 - 11:36 PM


PerchingHi louise,

Great try but I feel you were a bit up against it with the light looking at the birds overexposed white breast and the dark background. I think the culprit here is the multi segment metering which has probably looked at the background and set the exposure accordingly which ultimately lead to the white breast being overexposed because the camera could not capture the entire tonal range in this scene. With shots like this you have to take the circumstances as they are because you can't change the background easily and you certainly can't ask the bird to move. With this in mind I always have my camera set to spot metering and I only use the centre point to focus. The technique I use is as follows and this is especially relevant for seabirds:

When I see a subject, I can't always select my background, lighting circumstances or the amount of time the subject will remain in position, I therefore have to grab the iniatial shot or two as quickly as possible and then try and improve it the situation allows for it. With a shot like yours the first thing I would do is fire off a couple of shots, the main priority being focus. If after the initial shots, the subject still remains I will then look for anything that is white or bright in the scene especially white feathers, I then spot meter on that area and use exposure lock to keep that exposure. I then recompose and take more shots which are probably going to be a better exposure for the highlights than the first two. You have to remember that the background isn't really of any relevance at this point and is probably going to be out of focus anyway so exposure and sharpness of the subject are the main priorities. Usually and especially if the light is bright, the rest of the image will be a little underexposed but that is okay because we can usually lighten this in post production but if we overexpose any part of the image we normally cannot get anything back in those areas because there is no detail left in overexposed areas.

Also with your composition, it is definately better to have the subject on a third with the wider part of the image for it to look into. Unfortunately, even though this bird is actually looking at you sideways, as humans we just naturally assume the the position the head is facing is the way the bird is looking.

I did a quick mod where I added space on the left, adjusted levels and sharpened to show you what I meant.

I'm happy to explain in more detail in a PM if you need it.

I hope this helps
07/01/2013 - 5:50 AM

Sea Eagle

Sea EagleFiona,

I really love this shot but i just wish its eye was a touch brighter, otherwise a very good effort indeed.

04/01/2013 - 3:35 AM


ReflectionsHi Simon,

Obviously by your description you are not happy with the results and there are a number of factors against you here with your choice of lens etc. However, before I talk about any of that, the biggest problem is that you've stuck on your signature/name right over the most interesting area of the image. Put signatures on the back of the print or in a border, don't ruin your image with it especially putting your name on an image you're not happy with.

First of all is the composition, you've taken it in portrait mode obviously to capture the reflection and there is nothing wrong with that but it restricts the scene and bear in mind the absolute majority of landscapes are taken in landscape mode. Your positioning of the windmill isn't the best either as in my opinion it is at the wrong side, i would have preferred it on the left third of the image. Also the background isn't sharp and this is largely due to the aperture used which is f/4 according to the exif data. I can see why because the shutter speed is down to 1/50th second and if you had used f/16 you'd have been down to about 1/4 second or so and that isn't hand holdable. So the first thing is, use tripod for landscapes so you can use smaller apertures and then the shutter speed doesn't matter. Also longer lenses tend to have shallower depths of field which also doesn't help with landscapes and even though you have used the lens at 70mm, this is a veritable telephoto in landscape terms.

When shooting landscapes it often doesn't pay to walk around looking for them, you have to be there when the light and sky are right so it often means finding a great spot and returning several times over. Use a tripod, a wide lens with a narrow aperture and be patient. Don't forget your elements in the shot, foreground, middle and background which you have managed okay in this shot. Set up for your shot and wait until conditions are right then take lots of images with differing settings to get the shot you want.

The shot here has come out flat and needs contrast to give it some punch, I have uploaded a quick mod where I added fill light and contrast in Camera RAW, adjusted levels in Photoshop and then added colour and sharpened.

Hope this helps

01/01/2013 - 11:27 PM

Dolgoch Falls

Dolgoch FallsHi Nick,

Pleant of advice above on the image but not much on the techniques of shooting waterfalls in the daytime. Your image here is overexposed, hence no detail in the water and it's much easier to get this right in camera than in Photoshop. I would suspect that it is because of the amount of light at the time and I noticed that your image was taken in the afternoon in August and that would more than likely mean a lot of sunlight. I also notice that your aperture is set to f/6.3 which I am suprised about.

First of all, it is very hard to take a slowish exposure of a waterfall without overexposing the water so you should ensure that you meter for the brightest part of the water especially if the sun is shining on it. Also to get the water effect you desire, whether it be cotton wool like or just frozen, you need to adjust your exposure time. The problem comes when you shut down the aperture to the smallest hole usually f/22 and the shutter speed is still too fast to capture the effect you want and slowing the shutter any further only results in overexposure. This happened to me once and stupidly I'd left the essential filters back in the car and all I had was a circular polariser. With the polariser fitted I did manage to lose a further stop of light and with the sun covered by a cloud I did grab the shot. Lesson learned what I should have done is taken and fitted my variable neutral density filter which allows the camera to use much slower shutter speeds in bright light by blocking the light entering the lens, of course a tripod is essential as well.

With regards to your shot, you need to use a smaller aperture such as f/16 and with it, a much slower shutter speed. A tripod or some way of securing the camera is also advised for shots like this. Your shot seems very saturated and it definately looks like you've oversharpened it although I may be wrong it may just be like this. Remember that you should still consider foreground interest even with shots like this, there nearly always rocks or the like at the bottom of a waterfall so use them to enhance the scene a bit like the fallen branch in this IMAGE and also in this IMAGE which helps to lead the viewers eye into the shot.

Hope this helps

31/12/2012 - 5:39 AM

I'm out of here

I'm out of hereHi Bill,

No need to apologise for the camera operation, we all have to start somewhere. Looking at the exif data before the picture i notice that your ISO is set on 3200 and that isn't a good thing at at all. Therefore even though you haven't mastered the dials yet, you need to do two things before you take any more pictures. The first is to change the dial on your camera from the green square to the 'P' mode, the only difference you will notice is that the flash will no longer annoyingly pop up. There are other differences but that is the thing you will notice. Secondly, press the ISO button on your camera and take it off 'Auto' and put it onto 100 and leave it there and only change it back to auto if you are in a dark room with hardly any light and can't use flash. The quality of an image at ISO 3200 is vastly less superior to one taken at ISO 100 especially in the darker areas.

Here your image is not sharp and this looks to me like movement in the image because the tree seems sharp at the point of focus. I would suggest that the bird was just moving enough to blur in the 320th of s econd that you took the shot.The wings being blurred is a good thing though because that shows movement and lets us know as a viewer that the bird is alive and not stuffed so to speak. i think shots like this are mastered with a little bit of practice and knowing where to focus. I would be using the centre focus point only and i would be pointing it straight at its head.

The shot itself is not bad, a little dark under the wings but at least there is no overexposed parts in the image. the subject is a little central in the image and would benefit for the right side being cropped a little. the branch in the top right corner does not need to be there as it is not adding to this image and is therefore a distraction, the crop will alleviate this.

I have done a quick mod where I have cropped the right, top and bottom of the image, added a little colour and adjusted the levels. I then dodged under the wings to get some detail in there and I then sharpened.

Hope this all helps

31/12/2012 - 12:29 AM

Family Group

Family GroupHi Kathy,

First thing I will say is 'WELL DONE' in the first place for having a go at such a shot. Many people shy away from a shot like this because of the management of all of those people but apart from one or two small children, everyone seems to be looking at the camera. The first ctiticism is that the scene is a bit cluttered and before you say anything about not having much room, you could have removed (or used) the two chairs in the foreground and removing the three white napkins from the table would also have helped, white is always a distracting element in a shot when it isn't the main subject.

The image has a colour balance issue because the faces of the people are very much the same colour as the surrounding wood and the white things aren't white, they are yellow. You can set a custom white balance before you take the shot if you are using Jpeg but if you want to adjust white balance correctly in post production you need to shoot RAW rather than Jpeg. not sure about the Panasonic Lumix but i would think that shooting RAW would be the best option because I'm not sure if cistom white balance will be available or not. The other issue is the depth of field, your shot looks reasonably sharp but if you want to shoot groups of people three or four deep like you have here then you need a greater depth of field otherwise the people in the front row (or wherever you focused) will be sharp and the others will start to go out of focus the further away from the focus point they get. I can assure you that if you'd used an DSLR with a 50mm lens for this shot, those people in the back row would be getting quite blurred at f/2.8.

Another handy hint is to position the chairs at the front at differing angles and not all pointing straight towards the camera. This helps to avoid those crotch type shots, luckily most of yours are hidden by the kids siting on laps. It also helps to make people more engaged with each other and not look so posed. A second tip is to avoid taking shots like this from your eye level, you need to get up higher so that people have to look slightly upwards at the camera. This is to avoid double chins and everyone who has one will thank you for not showing theirs.

With regards to the overall shot, there are a few darker areas in between people. I tried to increase the light in those areas using the fill light slider in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) but there is too much digital noise which is a problem with smaller sensor type cameras in low light situations and the fact that the camera has used ISO 800. Fill flash light is the best way to avoid this but if you have used the on camera built in flash, it just isn't powerful enough to work well here. The image is also a bit top heavy where you included the windows and sky at the top at the expense of a couple of people losing their feet. I think pointing the camera down a little more would have helped with this and lit the shadows a little better as well.

I've done a little mod where I adjusted the white balance in ACR, cropped the top to lose the 'Exit' sign and a slight bit off the right side of the image. In Photoshop I then reduced the blues and reds in the background to help make the people more prominent, adjusted the levels to get the whites more white. I then roughly cloned out the chairs from the front and used the dodge tool to lighten the shadows as far as I could. Finally I straightened the crooked background using the warp tool and sharpened the image.

Hope this helps

24/12/2012 - 3:21 AM

The eastern banks of Drava

The eastern banks of DravaHi Robert,

This is a well seen image but there is something that really isn't right for my tastes and i'm not sure if it is the sky or the bright bit of the water. I think Willie's mod is a huge imrovement but I still am not sure about it. At the risk of being criticised for saying this, your logo is not adding anything and should be removed. Create a border and put your logo there. I think that the image is in the lower half with the boats, the top half doesn't really add anything to the image for me. The featureless sky is killing the shot for me and I wouldn't include it. The image also has an overall green tinge to it.

I have uploaded a mod where i have cropped right down to the boats and jetty cutting out the bright water, featureless sky and your logo. I think a central composition works okay because there is elements pointing in several directions. I have removed the green tinge and sharpened.

Hope this helps

14/11/2012 - 3:07 AM

Nice Moment

Nice MomentHi Waily,

Welcome to photography (your new found love), EPZ and more importantly the Critique Gallery. Here is where you will learn heaps on photography technique and how to go about taking pictures well.

Your first upload is a great image and well done for seeing this, the bird really looks like its ready for a cuddle up to the cow. Unfortunately we all know it's just eyeing up all of those flies on the cows nose and it is more of a mutual relationship. The image is well taken with the exposure being very good, the depth of field is good with the background starting to go out of focus nicely. So with all these nice things said, is there any improvements that can be made? Of course there is, rarely will you find an image that can't be improved.

With your shot, I notice that there is an overall colour cast to the image and it is a fact that cows don't have green faces. You might not notice until you see the image against one that has been corrected, this is normally caused by the cameras white balance being fooled and can be easily fixed in Adobe Camera RAW. Also I would think that you could crop in much closer to bring more attention to the cow and bird and not so much on the surroundings.

I've uploaded a mod with these things changed and also sharpening applied.

If you like someone's comments please give it a thumbs up by clicking 'Like', if you think it's good helpful advice, then please mark it as good critique by clicking the 'nominate as good critique' link.

Hope this helps

12/11/2012 - 7:03 AM

Autumn Memories

Autumn MemoriesHi Louise,

Sorry to start on a negative note but the first thing that hit me with the image is that it is oversharpened.

The shot itself, I like the composition with the uneven headstones coming down the small hill and the church/chapel at the bottom. unfortunately your problems start at the top of the image with the featureless sky and the fact that the image is quite flat (lacks contrast) which the shapening has sort of had a go at addressing for you. perhaps you could upload the original as a version of this image and maybe we could have a go at modding that one as this version here will be harder to try and fix.

Fortunately, even on this version there is still some detail in the sky so the original would be even better I reckon. If I were you I would try and retake this same shot next autumn but try and get a more stormy featureful sky to compliment the image. Also maybe when there are more leaves on the trees would reduce the spaces that the sky shines through the gaps.

I have uploaded a very quick mod where I tried to get some feature into the sky, did some dodging and burning and then added a little colour etc. But like I said above, it would be better to work on the original rather than this version.

Hope this helps

26/10/2012 - 12:16 AM

Countryside Sunrise

Countryside SunriseHi Alistair,

Quote: I was still in lazy mode when I took this...Had the tripod on me and didn't use it with this one

Tut Tut Alistair, you get yourself up to catch the sunrise, take your tripod and then leave it in the car? If you'd used your tripod and a smaller aperture you would have a much better image because dropping the aperture size to say f/11 or f/16 you would have increased the DoF but also dropped the shutter speed to around a 1/10th of a second making the shot very difficult to hand hold and get sharp making the tripod essential. Don't be tempted to raise your ISO unless you absolutely have to, only as a last resort. ISO is the first thing you set on your camera and the very last thing you change.

For me the image is nice but the foreground is too busy with all of those rocks and stones scattered all over the place. Also the image is quite flat and lacks contrast which often happens if you meter off a darker area and lose your image contrast as becomes a bit washed out. I love the warm sky and the wall that leads us into the image but as Willie has said, the concrete building isn't a pleasurable object to be lead to. Also angles tend to work better travelling from bottom left to top right so flipping this image may help. unfortunately flipping the image after you've shown it around doesn't always work because it becomes a little odd to look at however, if you show both options to someone who hasn't seen the image it would be interesting to see which they like best.

I have uploaded a mod to show this but if i were taking this shot I think I would have got closer to a foreground object such as the wall and not shown as much of the field etc. Successful sunrise/sunset shots are planned out a few days earlier where the foreground, middle and backgrounds are looked at ready for a return in the right conditions. Give this a try and see how you go. Learn where you exposure lock button is and use it to meter from different tones in the scene to see what results you get. The AE Lock button is normally a right thumb button on the top right of the back of your camera body and is usually marked with a star shape. If you take your tripod, USE IT, don't leave it in your car. get there early, setup on the tripod and wait for the sunrise. The light changes dramatically as the sun comes up over the period of first light to about an hour after sunrise, experiment with all lights and exposures.

These three shots HERE were all taken from exactly the same location on the same day but around an hour apart. So you can see that the light changes dramatically over the sunset period so it is important that you get there early and leave once the light becomes too bright.

Hope this helps

24/10/2012 - 2:56 PM

Morning at Estuary 2

Morning at Estuary 2Hi Muhamad,

Nice shot, great place but I'm not sure I would have included that monstrosity of a man made eyesore in my shot. These boats are great especially the one on the right, the hull looks great. The horizon in the shot seems to be smack on level and sort of in the bottom thrid which is good. It is a shame the sky is featureless but I guess you captured what you could. but for me that factory, regardless of who owns it is just an eyesore.

There is a strange glow around the boats and the tree in the right edge, not sure what has caused that but I would just be mindful of it. Also be a bit careful of what you meter against for the exposure, I see you used spot metering but I would suspect that given the bland sky and darkish boats, the camera had metered on something that is middle grey in tonality, probably that third boat or even the hazy factory. You need to use the exposure lock button if your camera has one to meter on the area you want to be right and lock it in whilst you take the shot. If the range is too great for your camera, try taking several exposures and fusing them using the HDR procesor in PS or Photomatix etc.

Anyway, I hope this helps

24/10/2012 - 2:22 PM

Camp Smokey panorama

Camp Smokey panoramaHi Michael,

Pamela, Willie and Paul have said all that needs to be said here however, I'm intrigued, did you shoot this in landscape or portrait? I would suspect that you took it in landscape and what that has done compositionally is chop off the bottom of the trees which is really annoying because when I look at this shot all I want to do is see what's down there at the base of the trees. Perhaps its because there is no solid base to the image that makes me feel this way about it. So I would recommend shooting landscapes in portrait orientation not landscape. Yes you have to take more images to cover the same area but you get more top to bottom and don't lose too much in the crop after stitching.

Also, you need to find the exposure lock button which on Canon DSLR's is usually a blue coloured star. Using this will give you a better more even tone accross all of the images because shots can vary in brightness and spoil your pano. Be careful though because when you set the exposure in a dark area and then pan to a sunny area it will overexpose your shot there and visa versa. I would try to avoid dark and bright areas in any panorama and would tend to wait for a cloud to cover the sun for much more even lighting.

Hope this helps

23/10/2012 - 2:56 AM

B&W Pathway.

B&W Pathway.
Quote: You will know what is coming from me. Subject! It needs a subject, animal or human, towards the rear of the image on the path.

That's coming from me as well and here is why?

Australian Photographer of the year 2011, Peter Coulson came to our club to judge our monthly competition. He gave us a bit of a talk beforehand and he said 'what makes a successful photograph'. He said that if an image of his was on display amongst other images and that image stopped someone for more than ten seconds to have a better look, then that was a successful image. I think he is absolutely spot on with that statement as often in galleries or at exhibitions I walk along looking at images and hardly giving them a second glance and then you see one that you like and you stop and have a much more detailed look at it.

With your image as it is, it is very nice and is a well presented and well taken image. however, would it make someone stop and take a second look? In its current form probably not however, as Paul has said, had you had a person of interest in the shot and in this case with what Ian said about what is unknown ahead, the person could possibly be walking away and that may have made an image worth having a second look at. I would imagine a woman holding the hand of a very small child might make it even more of a mystery, "where are they going", "what's up ahead" sort of thing.

One other thing is the sky which for me is the big let down in the shot, perhaps a much lower perspective and avoiding the sky alltogether may well have improved the overall look. Also imagine what the boardwalk would have looked like if it had been wet?

Hope this helps

17/10/2012 - 3:35 AM

The Player

The PlayerHi Alexandra,

This is great attempt at picking out and isolating a player from the field but the image has several issues as mentioned by Nick above. There is an definately an overall blue cast to the image and this is probably due to the white balance not being correct. Also the image is underexposed and the image is a little flat (lacks contrast) Compositionally the subject is looking out of the image which is sort of a no no so a bit more space around them would be better so you can get them on the right hand third and looking into the image. The two people in the background and the boundary fence are also causing some distractions and probably shouldn't be there. One other thing is the top of the building right at the top of the image, this causes a distraction once you see it because it is lighter than other colours around it and attracts peoples eye to it.

I would suggest cropping in to this image and clone out the person on the left side. I have uploaded a mod where I have cropped the top and right sides off the image, altered the white balance and lightened the shadows using Adobe Camera RAW. I then opened up into Photoshop CS5 and cloned out the fence and person in the bottom left. I then added some canvas and created more image on the left using the content aware fill. I adjusted the levels to get the whites white, added a little colour and then sharpened.

If you are unsure about any of this software, send me a personal message and I'll explain it more for you.

I hope it helps you.

14/10/2012 - 12:49 PM

the fall

the fallHi Tabish,

Welcome to EPZ and the Critique Gallery Grin

And what great a new hobby you have chosen, such an opportunity to create some art and record history in the making.

With your upload, please ensure that you write as much description as you can so we have a better understanding of what you took and why you took it. With the fence it is hard to know why you took it and what your intentions were so it is hard for me to critique. The exposure is nice and the fence leads my eye further into the image but then there isn't anything there to stop we wandering off the edge of the shot. What I would suggest is that you take this shot again but get a friend wearing something red to go and sit on the fence in the distance. Focus on the same place and that way when the fence leads me eye along there is something there to stop me falling of the edge again.

Also the amount that is in focus is called Depth of Field. As a beginner You will probably have the camera set on the green square on the dial but I would suggest using the 'P' mode. The only difference you will notice at this stage is that the flash does not automatically pop up in this mode. When you retake this shot, take this image again in 'P' mode but then change the camera onto the 'Landscape' mode and then try taking the shot again just to see the difference. You can upload your first image and the other image as a 'version' so we can see the difference as well.

Then we can discuss its merits and how to then make the image better again.

Hope this helps

05/10/2012 - 5:16 AM


WetaHi Brian,

Nice shot, this is a new one on me. Don't think these things are ever found in Australia but i might be wrong. This is a good well balanced image with a nice dark background but just a little too far away from the camera for my liking. I think that you have tried to capture its antenae in the shot which are very long but the depth of field has killed it a little. Also with having such a high bright light coming from the right side, the left side is a little too dark and could do with a little more lighting on it. Otherwise this is a pretty reasonable shot, well done.

I have done a quick mod where I used Levels to add some light to the left side and I also cropped to get closer. that meant that the antenae were chopped off but i'm not sure if that is better or not, I'll let you decide. I then allowed the background and foreground through the levels mask and sharpened.

Oh, I also cloned out your logo, please don't use logos in the critique area, we're all photographers and don't need to se them, save them for your clients.

I hope this helps

01/10/2012 - 6:03 AM

Marathon Pit Stop

Marathon Pit StopHi Stephanie,

I'm afraid rotation won't work here and as in Nick's mod, (sorry Nick) the towers still aren't vertical. the towers both need to be off vertical in the same plane for rotation to work so what you need is the Photoshop Warp tool which allow you to move selected areas around. Unfortunately using the rotate tool means that you will probably lose some of the image at the corners, give it a try. However, using the warp tool will allow you to move things around and even though you may lose a little bit of information, you won't have to fill in empty spaces. I know it isn't always possible but if you can I would suggest taking shots like this just after dusk when there is still some light in the sky so you don't get a featureless sky like you have here.

I've uploaded a mod where I have used the warp tool to straighten the towers using the warp tool, cropped the left side and top a little just to get tower bridge in your face more after all, that's what you want us to look at not the dark areas. I then added a little bit of colour and sharpened slightly.

Hope this helps

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30/09/2012 - 7:34 AM

On The Lake

On The LakeHello Muhamad,

Please accept my apologies but I'm going to be a bit straight to the point here.

I've read the comments above and they are very valid however, your point about the leaves not being sharp, well I think you are just asking a little too much. I think the problem here is one of composition and thinking about the shot before you press the shutter. I have a problem deciding whether you were shooting the ripples in the bottom left and the boat happened to passing by or whether you were shooting the boat and didn't quite frame it right?

There is nothing in the bottom 2 thirds of the image that needs to actually be there (unless of course you were shooting the ripples) and I would rather have seen more of the trees in the background than all of that water in the foreground. What I also find a bit confusing is why you took this at 17mm when according to the tech specs you could have gone to 90mm in your lens range and closer to the boat would have been a lot better I think. I would suggest that you plan your shots a little bit further in advance where possible and think about composition and what is in the background before you hit that shutter release. I know at times this isn't easy but practice makes perfect and looking ahead will give you a little more time to react.

I've uploaded a mod which has been cropped, lightened and sharpened a little but it is a small file already so there isn't much that can be done with it.

Hope this helps

28/09/2012 - 1:50 PM

Duck Reflections

Duck ReflectionsHi Martha,

I'm afraid that I have to agree with Paul here, the idea is definately there but this isn't one of your best images. I just had a look in your portfolio and you have some great images there. With this one I would suggest that you needed to find a better angle to take this from, the water doesn't do the image any justice at all. As a beginner, you need to get used to looking for different angles and positions to take shots from. The direction of the light is crucial to getting really great shots as is getting in close. As Paul had rightly pointed out, you were probably at the fullest extent of your lens so getting closer may not have been an option.

I would have another go at a shot like this but look to where the light is coming from and try and get the ducks lit by it and the water not lit by it. Later afternoon sunlight will give you better results. Also I think you have an ISO problem with a few of your images, I have sent you a private message with some help in this area, I hope you don't mind and find it useful.

27/09/2012 - 10:51 AM


Just..mountainsHi Daniela,

In my opinion this works because it is in portrait orientation rather than landscape and I'm not sure what you mean by the rule of thirds not being obeyed? I really love the inclusion of the rock in the bottom right only to be spoiled by the fact that you've plastered your name all over it. Create a border and put your name in there instead.

I think if there is anything you could do to improve the shot it is to darken the sky a little and brighten the valley to get some more colours into the shadows. I would also consider cloning out the blade of grass bottm left but apart from that it is well done and a great shot.