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27/01/2015 - 6:34 PM

First time at sea - 1/1 in B&W

First time at sea - 1/1 in B&WThe clouds are lovely, but so much part of a different picture that they have to go, I think. I was then torn between cropping below the horizon (perfectly straight: good!) and leaving that enigmatic boat in. I went for the latter.

I wish you'd aimed slightly lower: maybe there's no more reflection lower down - but if there was, i wish it was in the frame!
Maurice cleaning up "dead fall"Jack - you have the finest camera available, and an excellent lens. However, your EXIF data suggests that you are not setting them to get optimum quality. Here, ISO 100 and f/8 mean that you have used a shutter speed likely to give camera shake. Raising the setting to 400 would have given higher overall quality.

Did you consciously choose all the settings - or are they partly accidental?

And, importantly, have you got the results you want?
24/01/2015 - 8:08 AM

Me and my shadow

Me and my shadowIt's a battle between busyness and compelteness... For a calm image like this, I'll come down on the side of completeness. A resolved composition...
23/01/2015 - 10:38 PM


BleakV1 is more real than the others: it has a gritty feel to it that I like, and relate to.

And the colour: in those conditions, the light is more than a touch blue, and as Pamela says, it conveys the cold well. While it's possibly more technically accurate, Willie's warmer version makes the snow look friendly, and it's not. Not if you're out in it, and can't find a warm fire to settle next to...

The grass is all there is...
21/01/2015 - 7:29 PM

Deutschland's Sunset

Deutschland's SunsetActually, this works for me. Very atmospheric: I can almost feel the chill of the evening!

There seems to be a very slight tilt - half a degree anticlockwise sorts it.

There is a definite blue tinge to the shadows, which seems wrong to me - easily fixed by using Levels to darken the midtones.

There isn't a subject, other than the colours, and the tree and ground framing the sky. That's fine, in a minimalist composition.

Certainly, there's digital noise in there, and it's not wonderfully sharp. But that isn't spoiling my enjoyment of the picture.

Though i would always advocate stopping, and getting out of the car - windscreens aren't great for shooting through, and can in themselves cause loss of contrast and definition, especially if they are a little dirty.
19/01/2015 - 10:30 PM

Street Portrait

Street PortraitI used the dodge tool set to 9% and highlights all over the eyes.

Sometimes, I also use the burn tool set to shadows, but it wasn't necessary in this case. And I do confine that to the pupil, given the way I prize light irises. I often also use it on eye bakeup on lashes and eyebrows.

And for male portraits, I might use it overall, to emphasise the creases.
19/01/2015 - 2:07 PM

Street Portrait

Street PortraitYes, there's a little reserve in her eyes, compared with the smile on her lips - but you've done her justice, and conveyed a very beautiful person who may be a tiny bit shy...

Just about nailed the focus: although some parts look as if they may be sharper than her eyes, I think they're all in the same plane, and only seem sharper because they have more contrast. The eyelashes are pretty damn crisp!

Very wide apertures, soft focus lenses, and gentle processing are all flattering for women (and sometimes for men...), and there's nothing to suggest to improve this shot.

(Gratuitous tip for female portraits... For many pictures, it's worth sliding the clarity thingy to the left a bit, rather than the right (which is where most people push it!) A few points can soften skin textures nicely, without giving the false and plastic look of an overprocessed portrait. But that is absolutely not needed here.)

Lightening the eyes is always a good option to explore: adds sparkle. I've done a bit more of that in my mod. It's particularly attractive when you get midtones rather than shadowy ones in the irises - I prize models with light irises, because they look so wonderful in pictures.

Finally, there's a little scope to tighten the crop, as on one of your previous street portraits. Here, it also has the advantage of removing a lot of sharp detail that competes with the woman's face.
19/01/2015 - 1:57 PM


LouA very creditable first shoot. I hope that there will be more pictures, as Paul suggests. However, it's important not to rush - you don't want to end up with a dozen frames of each pose, each with the same little flaw that you should have spotted, but didn't. It is hard to get the balance right, especially if you've hired both model and studio!

A lovely model. Nicely styled, with the rose giving Lou something to concentrate on. And a good move to go for a dark background, which can be burned in at the edges to conceal a multitude of background clutter...

A couple of thoughts, though.

There's a lot of light on Lou's face, and on her calves: I'd aim to light them less - the same sort of level as her thighs and bottom, perhaps.

The folded hand are concealing what are, judging from her thumb, lovely nails on the end of elegant fingers - one of the arts of posing is to make sure that fingers and toes are displayed well, and not bunched up. Keep a lookout for this with less experienced models, and be prepared to demonstrate with a few gestures that would be the envy of a Regency dandy. 'Deed you should, Sir!

I think you've processed her face quite a lot. She's beautiful - and while there's a school of thought that every woman needs to be put through portrait software, my own feeling is that most women need lighting well, a tweak downwards on the clarity slider in processing from RAW, and some reduced-opacity cloning to deal with temporary marks on the skin. And, importantly, a little dodging of the eyes, to bring out the whiteness of the eyeball, and the colour of the iris. (The light on Lou's eyes is perfect: from the side, it reflects around inside the cornea - the clear cover over the front of the eye - and brings an extra sparkly to the picture. A wise tog told me, around 1980, that you should always focus on the sparkle in the model's eyes, and that's pretty much right!)

You've used your zoom set to a 'standard lens' focal length - working close up to Lou (possibly in a restricted space) has meant that the perspective is pretty aggressive, and her feet are small in relation to her face. If you have room, use 55mm, and move backwards for better perspective.

My mod crops away some of the excess space on either side: just because the camera's sensor is 3x2 doesn't mean that you pictures have to be that way...

Nice work - and I hope to see some really lovely further results form the shoot (and possibly the next few sessions, as well?)
17/01/2015 - 2:38 PM

Flying High

Flying HighThis one's going to divide opinion, Clementine!

So, in the downside, the exposure's a bit low, most of the subject (including, crucially, the eye) is blurred, and the bird's already flown out of the frame.

And if that was all you thought about it, you wouldn't have posted it, I think.

So on the good side, it's a wonderfully fleeting glimpse of a bird in flight. Flashing past, almost unseen: and the picture grasps that completely.

I'll be honest - I'd still like the eye as the sharpest part (which I can't alter), and the whole thing lighter: shooting a light bird against the sky, you needed at least one stop of plus compensation. Mod coming.

Unconventional, but (for me, at least) it works pretty well.
13/01/2015 - 5:51 PM

new snow new dog

new snow new dogWelcome back, Charles! I hope the back injury is mending well.

As Willie and Paul say, this needs brightening. Plus compensation is good for snow, and upping the ISO in poor light makes killing camera shake and focus errors a doddle.

I'm not a doggie person myself, but this one looks cute!
11/01/2015 - 12:20 PM

Waiting for sunrise

Waiting for sunriseWelcome to the Critique Gallery, Peggy!

You've been a member of Ephotozine for a while, but this seems to be your first post here. I hope the comments and advice are proving helpful.

Though your other pictures have the EXIF data showing, this one is missing all the techie detail that we love on the Critique Team. It's useful, because it helps us work out the causes of problems.

Here, I think the main thing is that the light level was low, and that's meant a slow shutter speed (I think - without the EXIF data, I don't know), and some camera shake. Certainly, the shot isn't very sharp.

I've cropped it and rotated it, so that it's a composition about the lamp post, the reflection in the water - and the bird. It's one of the few shots where I might have been tempted to switch on a flash, to brighten the bird (nothing else is close enough and light enough to reflect very much, so it could possibly spotlight it a little... Or scare it off!)
10/01/2015 - 5:57 PM

Old Walnut stump tastes good

Old Walnut stump tastes goodThe problem that Pamela has addressed here is to do with exposure: even the very best metering system isn't perfect.

You need to do two things, I suggest.

First, assess the scene: if there are bright but irrelevant areas (here, the grass and the background) you need to compensate with plus exposure. And negative compensation, if there are big dark areas.

Second, look at the image after you've taken it, and check the histogram view on your camera's screen. Does it look right? Is the histogram all over on one side of the graph? If it is skewed to one side, retake the shot, and alter the compensation.

Automatic cameras are wonderful, but in the end, there's no substitute for understanding exposure, and how to manage it. Take charge of your camera - it's a clever beastie, and if you don't, it will take charge of you.
Waiting for the right compositionI would add: don't worry about the background... It was there!

It isn't perfect, but not much in life ever is. There are two approaches to eidting - one is to make the best of the situation, and the other is to alter it completely. This is fine, if you want to do it, but my personal view is that it's using hte photo as a basis for digital art. In wildlife, landscape and press photogrpahy competitions, it woudln't be allowed.

So there's a choice, and you can make different choices for different pictures. And it is alwyas your own choice, nto nayone else's!
Waiting for the right compositionWelcome the Ephotozine, Guy, and also to the Critique Gallery.

And your spelling is excellent! (You spell the word I write as "colour" the way our American friends do, and that's fine. It's not wrong! The one slip is in the title - for this meaning, it's "right".) Beautiful light, which makes or breaks almost every picture.

The Critique Gallery provides feedback on your images, and on specific questions: and you have asked one.

To my eye, the colours are fine: gentle and neutral, giving a clam and peaceful atmosphere. Given that you shot with auto white balance, there may be some luck in this, or you have made good choices in processing.

The pose of the two horses is perfect, and your viewpoint, framing and square format are wonderful. In the main galleries, this would get a lot of votes (including mine!)

I think the colours make a positive contribution to this, although a B/W version that has plenty of detail should be possible.

I look forward to seeing more of your work!
09/01/2015 - 5:42 PM

Flat Cap

Flat CapI have to say that I really like the colour palette here: I don't want to correct it at all! However, I have to comment that you were incredibly lucky, using AWB, to get it this way - auto white balance is behind an awful lot of nasty-looking colours!

That's part of what gives it the Old Master look - almost Rembrandt, but that implies very specific lighting, not just strong sidelight (From Wikipedia: "The key in Rembrandt lighting is creating the triangle or diamond shape of light underneath the eye. One side of the face is lit well from the main light source while the other side of the face uses the interaction of shadows and light, also known as chiaroscuro, to create this geometric form on the face.
The triangle should be no longer than the nose and no wider than the eye. This technique may be achieved subtly or very dramatically by altering the distance between subject and lights and relative strengths of main and fill lights." Which is about right from what I recall!)

I think the level of fill is just precisely between enough to give a satisfying image, and real darkness: it doesn't really work for me at this level. My mod brightens it a good deal - I just used Nik's full dynamic range filter, and there it was.

The pose and composition are formal and relaxed: precisely right.

Good work!
08/01/2015 - 10:18 PM


fudgeTwo very simple problems here, and both correctable.

First, even without the EXIF data, this has the grey look of a picture shot on fully auto exposure without exposure compensation. Snow is bright, but cameras tend to try to make everything mid grey. You needed plus one stop of possibly more here. Easily corrected in Elements.

The other thing is that at the taking stage, a slight move closer and to the left would have removed the dark band from the background. Simpler is usually better. No matter - 90 seconds of cloning got rid of it.

I then cropped fractionally at the right and bottom for a lovely soulful portrait of your beautiful dog.
04/01/2015 - 2:35 PM

St Michel and Devil

St Michel and DevilNow, I know that statue quite well: the Cathedral was on the route from the office I worked in for 16 years to the swimming pool, and I usually went that way - either down the steps between the old and new buildings, or past on the road in front.

There seems to be some distortion of at least some of these shots: V1 is strateched out sideways, for instance.

It's an amazing statue (on an amazing building: everyone should go there at least once, just to experience the place, and see how beauty and unity have risen from conflict and destruction. The other unmisable artwork is the reconciliation statue in the ruins of the old building, marking Coventry's twinning with Hiroshima).

Thank you for reminding me - it's always worth thinking back on that sort of thing!
04/01/2015 - 2:28 PM


LoveLovely moment!

I think I'd strighten the verticals (they're strong in the building behind the couple) and crop to the dark verticals of the uprights (well - vaguely verticals) of the sturcture they're in. It provides a natural frame...
03/01/2015 - 10:49 AM

Sunset at the Beach

Sunset at the BeachWelcome to the Critique Gallery, Luciano!

You've been a member of the site for a while, but it looks as if you're starting a burst of activity here.

The Critique Gallery, you may well already know, is where you trade in getting votes for getting constructive comments on your pictures, and (we hope) solutions to specific problems.

You're obviously quite an advanced worker - the processing you describe is definitely beyond my technical ability, though not that of the other members of the Critique Team. And the result is definitely a sophisticated and subtle seascape, which will remind most viewers of a happy seaside holiday somewhere...

I understand what you were trying to do with the colours - I wonder if my square crop version, coming shortly as a modification, loses that, or whether it just tightens up the composition? Square often suits tranquil.

Beyond my technical firm knowledge, I wonder if the digital noise I can see in the foreground is controllable, either in camera, or in processing? I know it probably results from the long exposure, but i don't know how to reduce or prevent it.

Overall, a highly competent shot, with lovely colour echoes.
The Scotsman Out of His KitchenAnd welcome from me, too.

There was some discussion about megapixels and quality on another picture in the Critique Gallery today, concluding that they make not quality on their own.

But there's a real quality issue here: the picture's distinctly soft, and to a degree that isn't recoverable, outside the CSI lab on TV. Laughter is a likely candidate: as is the inherently iffy quality of some older digital compacts.

Steadying technique: stand with feet a little apart. Hold the camera firmly but gently, in both hands, elbows tucked into your sides, and the camera body resting on your forehead. Breathe out slowly, then squeeze the shutter release gently.

Singing in the glans. Moira will never get her housework done now that's in her head...