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25/05/2015 - 10:54 AM

Flower power

Flower powerVery powerful flowers...

Often, comments are about options: Steve's comments suggest a different picture, which may be better, but loses some of the essentials - this conjures up the Sixties very strongly.

I'd probably have gone for a slightly higher viewpoint, to get the model separated from the daisies, and moved right, to get her feet against plain green.

I like your choice of lens: for a Canon user, that seems to be the glassware to choose for this kind of picture (given that you can't get an AF Zeiss Planar to fit, he added mischievously...)
Castle in Bellinzona. SwitzerlandThis sort of texture is so appealing - no wonder you shot it.

The light is harsh, but the exposure has left some detail in the shadows.

The question is quite how to frame the shot: I'd have tilted the camera up (or, more likely, raised it, keeping it straight on to the walls, to avoid the verticals going out of true) to get all of the cloud formation in frame, and have some of the leading lines go through the corners of the frame.

I've done a mod - I know you're a bit of a purist, but my feeling is that the content and not the camera should dictate the precise format...
24/05/2015 - 12:06 PM


DandelionAt 1/2000, there's probably some precision somewhere in the seed head: but it's not anywhere obvious.

Nearly wide open, depth of field is very limited, and you need the plane of focus to be precisely where it will show well. The tiniest movement (swaying in the wind...) between focus and exposure will spoil things. Try rigging a windbreak, maybe?

As soon as you stop down, you will alter the extent to which the background is out of focus, so I suggest:

1 trying different apertures, to see what works best; and
2 taking a lot of shots at each setting, so that you have a good chance of getting the plane of sharpness where you want it.

One of the most perfect shots of a plant that I've seen is at wide aperture...

This is a good try, but (as you already know) there's more work to do.
24/05/2015 - 11:42 AM

Lobster Creels

Lobster CreelsWith so much rather dark wood, I think that a minus compensation setting would be good. This does look a little light, though the exposure is perfectly OK. The question is not only is it technically correct, but does it look right! The tonal range here is considerable, threatening to spill out of both ends of the histogram. I've done a mod darkening the midtones in Levels.

The other thing is where to crop: where the frame should end, and the angle of view.

There will always be different ways to do it, but my own inclination is usually to shoot straight on, for minimal distortion. Here, I'd have crouched, or gone down on my knees - and in terms of framing, I'd have made sure that the bottom of the pile was fully in frame, and that there aren't any major lines cut off at the frame edge (here, there's the blue-framed pots top left and mid-height on the right, both just missing a sliver.

It's definitely a good set-up to go for: it requires a little fine-tuning to make it wonderful.
Rain and wind. Lago Maggiore. ItalyMy first thought was that the colours are rather hyped - but they're well within the range i can accept as normal.

More seriously, I think this is tilted, as the horizon looks as if it's sloping down to the right - though i know that a lake can have a far shore that is not horizontal! However, I think there's a tilt, and that pointing the wideangle lens slightly downwards has given diverging verticals that have concealed this.

So I've posted a mod rotated a little, and then skewed.

Does it look 'better' in any sense?
19/05/2015 - 10:18 PM

Bridge to Giornico. Switzerland

Bridge to Giornico. SwitzerlandI have to admit that this is my least favourite of your recent pictures. There are two reasons:

1 apart from the cold cast (and I prefer your own mod, I think, to Pamela's), there's a contrasty look to the whole shot. I don't think there was direct sunlight, so I am wondering why it has such a gritty look to it: your shots in high contrast conditions have a much smoother look;

2 this is crying out to me for a vertical version, with more of the bridge above and the near buttressing below, and possibly less of the trees on the left. Of course, I don't know what was outside the frame, and there may have been elements that make that idea look silly!

Despite all of this, it's a decent shot.. I may try a mono conversion and a bit of a crop...
Lake Mergozzo - satellite Lago MaggioreFor me, the big thing is to crop: there's too much foreground (forewater?)

I can live with the tones and distortion - but this needs tightening up.

I think, ideally, I'd like you to have explored different compositions, moving the camera to the left and right (which may not have been possible, in fact). All the interest is on the left, and there may have been somewhere you could put the camera that makes the boat on the right a real counterpoint to the bigger but less bright big boat and the buildings. Only you (and anyone lucky enough to have been there) can say for sure...
15/05/2015 - 10:34 AM


ForagingHi, Marc -

I'm not sure if you've posted in the Critique Gallery before: I certainly don't recognise your username.

Anyway, welcome!

As Paul says, it's good to have full EXIF data here, and something about processing, as well as what you were aiming for. You can upload the landscape version here, as a modification, by the way.

I suspect landscape may offer benefits: my two comments on this are that it's rather centrally composed, and that the vignette you've applied (you have, haven't you?) is rather strong. There's also something odd about the background above the bird, looking like cloning to me, though I'm not sure.

1/200 at 200mm is pushing things: why not up the ISO to 400 (possibly more) to give some headroom on camera shake and focus error?

Having said that, this is better than any bird shot I've ever taken!
Aiguille du Midi (3842 m). On the way to Mont Blanc.Alexander -

A real 'wow!' shot.

Possibly, for maximum quality, you'd have stopped down less, and used a higher shutter speed.

And, in processing, maybe a little lift to those midtones on the mountainside - or even a little dodging? I think it may look better with that snow a fraction brighter: I'll try a mod.
07/05/2015 - 6:42 PM


PleasureI agree with Tanya about the legs - though I have met one or two models with that much texture...

She's wrong, though, about the gap: while one usually avoids a head-on shot (especially as most models depilate completely these days), the gap's often there if you are at this angle. In my experience...
03/05/2015 - 8:11 AM

Don't look back

Don't look backWell seen: a fun spring image.

I think that a slightly higher ISO coupled with a smaller aperture (say 500 ISO, and f/5.6) would have allowed a little more depth of field, and made focussing less critical. However, you are actually spot on with the eye pretty much the sharpest thing here. The soft areas near it are unnerving, though!

Shooting into the light combined with positive exposure compensation has made this a little lacking in shadow depth: easily corrected in Elements. I've also rotated a bit, and cloned out hte bright spot in the background on the left.

I hope you took a sequence...
02/05/2015 - 9:50 AM

Katie Anna

Katie AnnaBoudoir/glamour? I think that boudoir is really a sub-genre, aiming to do things that are generally pleasing to the models, and exude an air of expensive and sophisticated taste. Possibly as a reaction to the term glamour being applied to various shades of porn over the years, so that it covers both rather lovely and very basic images. A picture like this fits both glamour and boudoir definitions.

I prefer the eyes open image, purely on the grounds that you haven't cut a slice from Katie's arm in it. Deciding where to put the frame edges is a constant issue in all photography, but in this sort of image it's more of a challenge, as there are so many things to keep in mind at once.

I'll do a tighter crop of the other shot - it's lovely in its own right, and I think going closer will overcome the 'incomplete' feel that the arm gives.

The two images have very different moods - again, something that can change in a trice, with the flicker of an eyelash or the slight parting of lips. Both work, and my preference is purely compositional. I'd be pleased with either shot, frankly!
29/04/2015 - 7:10 PM

Katie Anna

Katie AnnaSoftbox? No. Introducing a second light source will give different colour light, and while that can look fantastic if you control it, and make it a feature, it is worrying and distracting in a natural-look shot.

The idea of using a reflector (which could even be a large sheet of white card, or (my favourite, for this situation) a sheet of expanded polystyrene, of the sort that B&Q sell as wall insulation is much better.

Exposure? Slightly under, for most purposes. With the window in the background, changes in composition will lead to changes in exposure, so it's generally best to use manual, and either meter, or have a bash and review the shot (and the histogram) on the camera screen, and use the setting that gives the result you want.

Usually, I'm a great advocate of aperture priority and compensation, but manual really does work more consistently. And, once you've got the right exposure, the lighting is stable.

I would be tempted to ask Katie to flick back her hair so that there's direct light on the left side of her face. The reflector will handle the right side (our left side, of course).

Good choice of focal length.

I'd suggest a lower viewpoint - shooting downwards (I suspect she was sitting and you were standing) tends to imply a power relationship with the subject, and one in which they are subservient/submissive.

Essentially, another excellent shot - you clearly have Katie's confidence, and she is working really well, feeling at ease.
27/04/2015 - 5:28 PM

Pine Sunset

Pine SunsetHi, Stuart, and welcome to both Ephotozine and to the Critique Gallery. Here, you can get advice on improvements and options, instead of the votes you can accumulate in the main gallery.

To answer your question, yes, it does, for me. Others may have differing opinions.

The potential reason is that flare can look a bit too full-on, and it's never entirely predictable. I think almost everyone would edit to darken the shadows and get a full range of contrast there (and one that looks good, too). However, a lighter look is perfectly valid, if that's what you want to achieve.

I've done a mod to put back some deep tones - you don't have to like it, of course - and if not, just say so! What may be worth doing is removing the secondary flare on the left...
26/04/2015 - 1:24 PM

Night over San Marino

Night over San MarinoSpot metering might - but only might, it's a tricky tool to use well - have worked if based on the castle. As it is, I suspect you've metered from the sky and land, and so this is rather overexposed.

A classic situation where bracketed exposures and HDR processing could have been ideal.

Lenswise, I might have wanted to go wider, and include more of the town below on the right.

This certainly shows the isolation of the castle on its bluff, which I reckon was the main intention.
14/04/2015 - 8:15 AM

Dont get to close!!

Dont get to close!!I tend to agree with Paul about using only the central spot, ever.

I'm not sure what arrangements there are on Canon bodies - my Alpha 900 has a wonderful button that disengages the AF - so you focus, press the button with your right thumb, and recompose. You can keep focus locked fro several frames, if you want.

If it makes it easier to use a good aperture (allowing some focus error - at least f/5.6, and possibly f/8 or f/11), don't be afraid to raise the ISO setting a bit. Grain/digital noise is better than unsharpness...
11/04/2015 - 3:54 PM

Ice cream man

Ice cream manThe EXIF data seems very odd: screamingly high IS for an outdoors shot, though the shutter speed and aperture suggest very low light levels...

I would have expected some plus compensation to work, here, to give detail in the man under the shade, but it all seems a little odd. (I'd also expect to have to do some work from a RAW file to recover highlight detail, but not to the extent that both the mono version and the colour original suggest was needed.)

So there's something funny going on, I reckon, though I have no idea what.

Was this shot in full daylight? Or was the light actually low? That may give some insight into what's gone awry.

n, as others have said, it's a well-caught moment.
Once there was a barn owl - far, far away...This sort of issue comes up regularly in the Critique Gallery, though most posters lack your realism!

I think there's little more you can do, assuming you don't want to go the very expensive route involving a top-of-the-range DSLR and super-tele lens.

However, I would say that I really like V1, as a pictorial shot, which gives me (as a total non-birder) a fine impressionistic view of a barn owl in flight, and makes a pretty image.

That may sound like faint praise - it's not meant that way. Many others have tried, and lacking your knowledge of bird behaviour, and your fine-tuned camera settings, have come nowhere near this technically, and orders of magnitude behind artistically.
31/03/2015 - 10:45 AM

Stocks Reservoir, Lancashire

Stocks Reservoir, LancashireHi, Sean -

Welcome to the Critique Gallery - this seems to be your first upload here, and I hope we provide what you ant in terms of feedback.

I suspect you found this a very encouraging start - it certainly looks a good way to begin!

There is a gritty look to the picture - is this the result of processing, and perhaps too much sharpening, I wonder?

Possibly the ISO didn't help - you might be able to experiment with longer exposures and lower settings: though obviously, too much change will give star trails instead of point sources.

The one thing that I am certain of is the need to lose the logo. They give little protection from theft (mod coming, to show what a minute in Elements can do with them), and, more importantly, they are really, really distracting - especially large and light in a dark picture.

Spectacular, and you have both a good location and a good night for shooting.

I look forward to the next picture...
30/03/2015 - 5:29 PM

lucky shot

lucky shotHi, Charles - I hope the back is improving!

I'll address the first image - as my colleagues have said, there are a lot of shots here!

The composition is rather nice - this is one bird that has flown, grabbing seed on the way.

You've got a good shutter speed for catching the action (though it's worth noting that even 1/2000 hasn't frozen all of the bird), and I wonder if the slight softness is because you were shooting in a high speed burst. From what I've read in reviews, even the best cameras will not get every frame perfect.

Focus tracking might help - that's something I've only experimented with a very little myself, though, and others will be able to tell you more. It's not an instant cure-all, I am certain: you need to understand how it works, and how to use it. Then, like your bird, it flies! (Part of it will be deciding which focus spot you use... Simply using auto-everything focus gave me some of the blurriest shots I've done in years - and I was shooting an unfeathered bird...)

More in my area of expertise is the aperture: wide open won't give much depth of field at 300mm, nor will it give optimum quality. Upping the ISO to 800 and stopping down to f/8 would probably have been better all round for quality.

Final suggestion: you used manual exposure. That works in direct sunlight, as here - your exposure is almost exactly the classic '1/ISO @ f/16' that I learned from the Ilford and Kodak packets back in 1968. If fact, you don't need a meter to work this out, ever. But in more unpredictable conditions, aperture priority can be your friend, so long as you learn when to apply exposure compensation. (Whatever method you use, there's no getting away from the need to understand exposure if you want to get it perfect!)

Keep shooting, keep improving!