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13/05/2013 - 7:38 PM


TwoHi Elaine, Yes, some call it colour popping. I prefer the old-fashioned name of selective colour.

Make sure you do this with a copy of the original file.
The easiest way to do it is to create a duplicate layer, then carefully select whatever it is you want in colour on the top layer (using selections - magic wands, lasso tools etc). Erase this selection, checking carefully that the edges are feathered and don't look too "cut out", allowing the lower layer to show through. You can "hide" the lower layer to see more clearly what you are doing. Now change this upper layer to black and white and adjust tonal contrast as necessary (in this I emphasised the blue and green to make the lettering more prominent). When both layers are visible, the colour should be showing through where you erased the black and white layer. Flatten the image to a single layer then you can save as whatever file type you want. If you retain the layers, you can't save as a JPG.

You can also do it the other way round - ie select your subject, inverse the selection and delete everything else but your subject on the layer, then change to the lower layer and convert it to black and white. The colour part will then effectively be "on top" of the black and white layer, as opposed to "showing through a hole in it" like above.

Either way works, you just have to be very careful about your selections - zoom in to make sure the edges are where you want them (you can add to a selection by holding "shift" and subtract from one by holding "alt" on a PC). You can also modify the edges by feathering etc to make the cut out less sharp and more natural looking.

13/05/2013 - 6:50 PM

Reach for the Sky

Reach for the SkyAs you probably know, the hand-holding has taken the edge off the sharpness, as has the limited depth of field at f/2.8. There seems to be a bit of luminance noise in the background too.

I think just cleaning up the composition would have helped - ie including the tip of the frond at the top right and not having any extraneous bits like the extra leaf at bottom left. A polariser would have helped with the colour saturation by helping to remove the highlights and intensifying the green (by eliminating the scattered light) at the expense of a couple of stops of light. You cannot replicate the effect of a polariser digitally.

This really is a tripod shot, as these little things are usually tucked away in dark corners and require longer exposures with bigger depth of fields.

I would say, lower ISO to 100, use a tripod, aperture in the f/11-f/16, use a polariser and let the shutter speed do what it wants.

13/05/2013 - 6:23 PM


Greenway!Welcome to the site.........however, I don't wish to sound negative, nor discourage you, but if you're serious about getting criticism on your photos (as you say on your profile), you need to think more about what you are trying to achieve. This just looks like a snapshot using Hipstamatic or one of those apps.

You've tagged it "beautiful place", yet you've made it look like some post-apocalyptic wasteland. There is no real focal point and the tree on the left is intrusive. The tonal range in the photo is too great for the sensor to record, giving the blown highlights, and it isn't particularly sharp due to using a phone and the subsequent processing.
What were you trying to convey? Did you achieve it, and if so, how? If not, why not? You need to ask yourself these questions right at the start.

The best thing for someone starting out is to look on here at the kind of pictures you like to take, and look at the comments and criticisms they received. Ignore the "nice shot" kind of comment, as it doesn't help, but you will soon get a feel for the constructive kind of remark, and hopefully will take note and try to avoid making the same mistakes.

The first step, is to stop using your phone and use a camera, which will at least give you a modicum of control. Phones are good for record shots, parties and messing around, however they are mostly fully automatic (giving you no control) with poor lenses and sensors (relatively speaking, compared to even cheap compacts) and are not really suitable for learning creative photography.

13/05/2013 - 5:27 PM


TwoThe Om is the right way round.

I'm not sure this wouldn't be better with the top script cropped out. To me, there is a lot of busy script attracting my attention, but the couple should really be the focal point, and as such, I'd prefer to see them not cut into the lower text, and perhaps be bigger in the frame. Maybe also slightly more off-centre. Part of the problem, I think, is that the script extends off each side of the frame and drags my attention away. I'll do a mod and see if it improves it.

23/04/2013 - 10:38 PM

On the edge

On the edgeThe horizon isn't too far off - there is some barrel distortion giving the impression of being off, but it slopes very slightly down at both ends. The picture is also slightly overexposed, which is why you've lost the sky and blown the highlight in the white water. It is easier to recover shadow detail than overdone highlights, so better to slightly underexpose than overexpose.

It would have been better to move back a little too, the chairs really should be complete in the frame, and it's all a bit claustrophobic. I'd like to have seen more space, as that's the feel you have here with the sea as a backdrop. A wider lens, if you had it, would have been better for the perspective too. I can see what you are trying to do, but it hasn't quite come off here.

20/03/2013 - 8:28 PM


PiledriverSome years ago, they did a survey of pro sports photographers. They concluded that something like 95% of all sports photogs that used a motordrive ended up using the first frame of a sequence. Virtually all the rest used the second. There is no substitute for knowledge of the game and some anticipation. When people machine-gunned, they tended to get shots either side of the crucial moment.

You can position yourself to improve your chances...eg if shooting your team, you might want to be behind the goal line at the end they are shooting into, that way, most of your players will be face on. Shooting from halfway, or along the sideline rarely gives a lot of good chances. How the game is going will affect where you stand too...if your team is on top, most of the action is likely to happen in the opponents' end, and vice versa.

No, not every time you shoot will you get a useable shot, because the players don't always move the way you want.
Yes, other players will get in the way and spoil your composition, masking the subject suddenly, just as you shoot the killer shot.

The best way I've found, is to keep both eyes open and watch the game with your camera up. If you are familiar with it, you will know what is likely to happen - eg when a shot will come, or a tackle. Players jumping for a corner or free kick. Last ditch sliding tackle or goalkeeping saves. You should be able to anticipate the peak of the action. With your camera ready and set, you only have to concentrate on framing and shooting, which is a split second instinct thing, and practice is the best way to improve your hit rate.

The worst kind of game is a 0-0 midfield battle - it's sometimes hard to find enough 'action' shots that are interesting enough! That is not just football, but rugby, hockey, in fact almost anything you can walk round the pitch at. Just look at where the pros go at matches, and you'll get the idea.

With this shot, I wouldn't have known this was a really hard shot. All the action is hidden behind the front player. As above, you need to have the main subject as uncluttered as possible. Settings and exposure are ok, you can work with this, so keep on practising and it will come.

Trackies....never allowed in my day!

18/03/2013 - 8:46 PM

Man in Picadilly Circus

Man in Picadilly CircusI think the idea is ok, but you could have waited for him to be a little closer, and you could have edged either way to keep him in the light reflection from the white light. It also looks slightly better (darker) if you crop the 'Sports Direct' sign out, IMHO.
At the moment, the subject is a little lost in the clutter, but if he was closer, he would stand out more as the focus of attention.

I think I might have been inclined to push the ISO a couple of stops to give more leeway with the exposure, then you could choose whether to freeze or blur the movement.

16/03/2013 - 11:47 PM


NippleSorry, it does nothing for me. The composition is dull, it's not flattering the subject, the lighting is flat, and I'm afraid it's not a particularly attractive thing to look at like this.

I'm sure the subject isn't overly pleased with the way they look, and the way you've highlighted their hairs around the nipple.

There are much better ways of shooting this subject - more creative lighting for one, more thought about angles and composition, and a more flattering viewpoint.

08/03/2013 - 1:13 PM

Bins in a row

Bins in a rowI think the trees either side don't really frame the image as you might want them to, plus the dull day has given it a very blue cast.
Snow texture is very difficult to shoot, as by capturing as much as you can, you lose the brightness, as you have here-it would be better if the lighting (and it's direction) was better. Just lightening it, blows some of the highlights, so a more subtle approach is needed.
With lower sun light, raking across the snow, you would have got a really detailed image, and using the lens at it's extremity, you've probably not got the best from it. Using your feet (unless you couldn't get nearer) would have meant you could use a much shorter focal length leading to greater sharpness. As is, your shutter speed of 1/160 is quite slow to hold the equivalent of nearly 400mm, and being closer would have given you flexibility with the composition and perspective.

I wasn't too bothered about including the trees, so in the mod I cropped them and left an almost abstract picture of just the bins. A little judicious curves adjustment and adjusting the cast to a more neutral state. I think there is more in the original image to bring out, but even in the upload, there is some in the snow, albeit not very sharp.

26/02/2013 - 12:31 AM

Perch Rock Sunset

Perch Rock SunsetGood conditions and a good spot to shoot from. I agree that a minor crop improves the balance, otherwise the causeway splits the image in two and there's nothing to balance the lighthouse on the left. Off-centring the causeway negates the need for a balancing element.

As I said, the conditions are good, but I think the exposure is neither one thing nor the other. Only the clouds almost overhead show the movement. By dropping a couple of stops to f\8 or even f\5.6, you would have got twice or four times the exposure length, exaggerating the effect for the same overall exposure, and IMHO giving the shot more drama.

I'm not bothered by the distortion, it's what I expect with wide views like this, and heightens the sense of looking upwards. I would get rid of the dark blob top left though. It's probably cloud, but it looks like a huge dust spot. As for bringing out the rocks more, the best way would be to use a ND grad along with your ND, to help bring the sky exposure down a little. Remember, the difference in sky/ground exposures is still there even when using a big stopper type ND.

It's good as it is though, and it caught my eye immediately in the thumbnails...usually a good sign!

24/02/2013 - 1:30 AM


ReflectionIt's a nice idea, but there is too much in the frame, and tbh, the angle doesn't help. I'm not slavish about RoT either, but I think here you needed to be a touch closer to the bench, looking down slightly. This would eliminate the rubbish, cut out some sky by raising the horizon (occupying 50% of the shot is too much here) and move the man's head below the horizon. Cutting the horizon, as it does here, spoils the interaction between elements in the picture.
I'm not sure about the bush either, it is quite large but contributes nothing to the picture and also spoils the horizon line.
It would have been nice for the man to have had an unbroken horizon to gaze at, giving more impression of distance.

Settings-wise, I'd have stopped down, maybe to f/8 and 1/500 sec, to get more from the lens and eliminate any focussing errors.

24/02/2013 - 1:14 AM

Bee entering Cactus flower

Bee entering Cactus flowerThe star shape makes a natural frame, but you could crop a little tighter. You could also rotate the flower a little anticlockwise to improve the composition by placing the bee closer to an intersection of thirds.

The main problem is that you have used a decent aperture, but the focus is deep in the flower, so the depth of field extends behind it but only part way in front. That's why the background is well defined and the bee isn't. You needed to focus on the front of the flower which would have kept the bee and petals sharp and allowed the background to blur more (the depth of field extends roughly 1/3 in front of, and 2/3 behind, the plane of sharp focus).

As above, bright light is hard for shooting white (or any colour really) flowers, as you get high contrast and deep shadows. Diffused lighting or even light cloud is much better, though you can hold a diffuser over the top of what you're shooting, and/or hold a reflector in front to bounce light into the shadows.

If you are deliberately shooting flowers, you could even use a neutral coloured card behind them to get rid of ugly background intrusions.

17/02/2013 - 4:03 PM

The Local....

The Local....As a selective colour shot, I think the colours are too muted to make any kind of statement.

IMHO, selective colour is to make the subject of a small and perhaps unimportant part of the frame, or to draw attention to something specific within the scene that wouldn't ordinarily be obvious. Here, the pub is already the subject, so the weak coloration does very little.

The colour version is a competent record shot of a night street scene, but it needs something else to take it up a level, sorry.

30/01/2013 - 9:50 PM


VintageThere's potentially a lot of interest in this image, but it's spoiled by the processing. The tones are blocked up, which suggests excessive use of the highlight/shadow adjustment. Some of the light looks like it's grazing the surfaces, so there should be loads of lovely texture in the stone and those beams, but there is just the hint of it.
I'm guessing handheld again? If so, you can do worse than use a tripod, or at the least find something to rest your camera on, so you can take a long exposure without worrying about shake. If you could have used one here, you could have afforded to have used f/11 and a shutter speed of around a second, which would have utilised probably the best aperture for the lens, making everything beautifully sharp and bringing out that texture.

I'm with Willie here, I don't think this will run far in a competition.

Black & White life of a toy seller.For me, a few things.
First, the colours should be more punchy, the whole image looks washed out and lacking in contrast. You can fix this in processing.
Second, I'd prefer the man heading towards the camera rather than away, and eye contact would be great.
Third, I'm not a big fan of logos on pictures, but this is neither contrasting to stand out, nor subtle enough to not take your attention away from the subject.
There's a lot of plastic reflections too, but you can't do too much about that, apart from change position. Good try, but engaging with subjects like this will give better results. They usually have good faces for portraiture too, having spent a lot of time outdoors.

26/01/2013 - 1:39 AM

Yet another Sunset

Yet another SunsetV1for me too.

Composition wise, you have limited resources...sky, sea and a bit of beach. If they're not in the right place, there's not much you can do about it. The central horizon is not a problem here, as sea and sky get equal billing. This is the kind of shot you "take", rather than one you "make", and you've caught a good one. The tiny figures give scale and help anchor the composition as it is. And the birds are fine where they are.

Nice one.

26/01/2013 - 1:32 AM

shawls in the wind

shawls in the windYou might want to consider cropping the people out, at least the green carrier bag.

It's well seen, just a shame the colours are muted and not vibrant, though this isn't the best angle for the light, and maybe a more front on shot would give you more frame-filling colour. You've caught more of the shadow side than the lit side by standing where you shot from.
Settings look fine though, just the position hasn't helped.

23/01/2013 - 11:09 PM

The Stubborn Mule

The Stubborn MuleI agree...the shot should include the main players, ie the handler and the rider, complete. Without them, you don't get the whole story of the donkey refusenik, just one with odd-looking legs.

The tonemapping, rather than give the shot 'punch', actually robs it of it. All you do with tonemapping like this is to reduce the range of tones, sometimes so they are all the same tonality, and makes it look a very low-contrast image. There are nice vibrant colours here, which are now muted, and I'm not sure what's happened to the out of focus areas, or even if you've done something to them, but it looks like the shot's taken through the bottom of a bottle (If you're familiar with the rendering of a Leica Summar, this is very much like it).

The camera settings look fine, and it isn't camera shake or incorrect focus, but it looks selectively defocussed, in an odd way, sorry.

22/01/2013 - 1:44 AM

Into the dawn

Into the dawnExposure is about right to suggest a miserable evening in London! I like the shot, but feel the figure needed to be bigger in the frame, and facing you. You can get round half this by some slight cropping, though keeping the square means the elements aren't quite in the right place.
Personally, I think shooting a Rollei is at least as much fun as the results you get from it (I've had 3, and the gf has one too), and seeing in square through a WLF is different to any other way of shooting.

I'd suggest a yellow filter and some nice B&W film is maybe the best way to use one, as the lenses are sharp as hell and contrasty, plus you have a f/2.8 rather than the f/3.5 which draw beautifully.

Happy shooting!

12/01/2013 - 8:19 PM

Look through my eyes..........

Look through my eyes..........This is day one basic error. Unintentional head growth.

I appreciate it was a grab shot, but with a couple of steps you could have made it look like he was looking at the tree. The flare adds to the hazy evening feel in this case, and though you could add some contrast, its quite a nice lazy day shot. If only he was looking at something definite on the horizon....