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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.

Nick
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.

Nick
30/01/2013 - 9:50 PM

Vintage

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.

Nick
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.

Nick
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.

Nick
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.

Nick
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.

Nick
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!

Nick
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....

Nick
05/01/2013 - 9:02 PM

High Cost

High CostI'm not big on this one, I'm afraid. It looks to me like an artificially darkened sky with haloes round the gun barrels, which makes it all look a bit unreal and overworked. I agree colour might be better, though its quite hard to bring out all those different colours of sand. And yes, I am familiar with this landscape.

Obviously taken a while after the conflict, the most dangerous thing here might be the residual DU in the shells used to destroy them. There are a lot of pictures here, but I feel the emphasis is more on the processing than on the subject, which is a shame.

Nick
09/12/2012 - 8:11 PM

Megan

MeganPhil, the shutter speed is less important with flash, but the aperture is. Outdoors, you're looking at a stop more flash needed to counteract the light "not contained". I think you could have afforded more exposure by opening the aperture a little and keeping the shutter speed at 1/160. That would have lightened the background as well, but you could have brought that back down again later. Moving the light is the obvious answer, and it wouldn't need to be much closer, only a couple of feet at most.

Also, if the light was more frontal, the effect would be lessened as the shadows wouldn't be quite so deep. A bit of on-camera flash would certainly help, used as a fill in, just to lighten the face.

Good job Megan is becoming quite a model!

Nick
07/12/2012 - 6:27 PM

Megan

MeganI think yes, slightly better if the light was on the other side, but as Willie says, not so far round to the side. Her pose is a little front-on, and having both feet together pointing at you is a little awkward. I would suggest her front leg being the bent one, with her back foot turned outwards. Tiny things, but hard to do without turning a teen pose into a glamour one.

The balance isn't bad, but again, slightly under...you have to remember outdoors there is no light bounced around by walls, therefore nothing containing any excess light from the flash, so these shots are frequently underexposed a bit.

Last thing, it isn't barrel distortion. It is distortion, but if anything it's pincushion as the horizon is above half way and the horizon bows down, not up. More likely to be complex distortion as the lens is corrected for different things at different parts of the zoom range and you are somewhere near the middle of the range.

Nick
25/11/2012 - 12:44 AM

Lucy

LucyI'm not sure shooting from so low has done you any favours, as its put her against a contrasty background and introduced a potential problem. The under exposure has kept detail in the dress, but at the expense of everything else....and her face, arm and hand are all different colours.

On the plus side, she looks happy and radiant which is well caught. You only really need to adjust exposure by 1/3 to 2/3 stop usually, then if need be, you can use a little shadow/highlight adjustment to bring back the dress. Frontal flash will kill a lot of texture on the dress anyway, so better to expose for ambient light and just use the flash to fill in as Willie says (underexpose the flash by about 1-2 stops for a more natural look, but with nice catchlights and smoother complexion). F/8 and 1/160 sec would have given better exposure and only -0.7 under exposure, which would be fine, or if using auto, just use -0.7 exposure.
Moving her slightly left improves the look slightly as per the mod.

Nick
24/11/2012 - 12:32 AM

Bellagio Fountains - Las Vegas

Bellagio Fountains - Las VegasThey're impressive close up. As some other night shots, this would be better with some detail in the sky...ie shoot at dusk when there is a lovely deep blue, rather than at night when it's black.
I prefer the construction of v1, and the only other thing is the perspective effect from looking up; I'd prefer it straight or more pronounced for effect. You've done well to not overexpose the water and blow the highlights, but you might be able to make more of the hotel with some judicious processing.

By the way, there is a great view from the Eiffel Tower over the road, where you can look down on the hotel and see the patterns in the water better.

Nick
07/11/2012 - 12:38 PM

Fallen leaf

Fallen leafNicely seen, though I think a slightly higher viewpoint looking down more would exclude the path and bushes in the background. While the differential focus is effective, the whole leaf should be in focus as it doesn't have an obvious focal point, so a slightly smaller aperture would help, while still giving the out of focus areas.
It also needs to be brighter, those colours could be much more brilliant, without over saturating it, and a polariser could really help here, reducing the reflection and intensifying the colours.

Nick
06/11/2012 - 12:22 PM

Bride and Groom 3

Bride and Groom 3It's hard to judge, but on my iPad, it still looks dark. I haven't commented on your previous submissions, but to me, the grooms suit blends with the dark background, and the impact of the brides red hair is lost. To me, it could bear more exposure in post processing. There is plenty of detail left in the dress to work with.

Minor points for all the shots...the couple need to be closer and actually look like they bond. Here they could be two mates standing together. Get the grooms hands out of his pockets and round the bride. Get them to face each other unless you are after a particular look. Arrange the dress so it flows onto the ground, rather than being scrunched up at the bottom. Move away from a background like this because 1. It lessens the green cast caused by the foliage. 2. It looks less sharp and doesn't attract attention. Look out for untidiness, like the brides hair and random bright items around the frame, and get the corsage in the middle.

Lots of tiny tweaks, but they all make a difference on once-only occasions.

Nick
03/11/2012 - 9:49 PM

Long road

Long roadOk, several points.
1. You are using 1600 ISO which is really not the best for contrasty landscapes. Generally, the image quality deteriorates the higher you go, so better to use the lowest you can get away with. The high ISO amplifies the signal from the sensor, resulting in more noise, compressed contrast range and usually less definition. Better here to go as low as 400 or lower. Even at this aperture, you could have used ISO 200 and 1/100 sec for the same exposure. Which leads onto...
2. It's a little underexposed, but with the problem of very bright highlights. It's optimistic to think the dynamic range of the camera will get the very brightest brights and the very darkest shadows in e same shot. You have to decide which you want detail in, and expose accordingly. Here you could shoot two exposures, one for light tones and one for dark, then combine them in post processing. If you're not sure how to, there are many tutorials online showing you. A combination of the above two points.....
3. A tripod would be very useful here, as you could have as low an ISO and shutter speed as you like without moving the camera. It would also enable you to take multiple images at different exposures to see what works best, and if you need to combine images, they will be perfectly in register.
4. The sun is really bright and has fooled the camera into under exposing. Maybe try the picture without the sun in frame, or meter from another part of the scene that excludes the sun, and use that reading for your final shot. A little more exposure here would help.

As for the aesthetics of the picture, it's hard to see on my screen as its so dark, but if you can, try it again with the above info in mind. Whatever you do, you can check the histogram on the screen when you shoot, and adjust exposure to get the graph nicely distributed rather than this one, which I expect has massive peaks at each end. If you can't, you will have to combine more than one image.
(Waits for the dreaded HDR exponents to arrive...Tongue).

The aperture you used is fine.

Nick
01/11/2012 - 12:07 AM

My little man

My little manA grey card is a technique for metering. The camera wants the scene to average out to mid-grey, so when confronted by a white scene, it will underexpose and try to make it mid-toned. The picture will then be too dark. Similarly, with very dark scenes, it will overexpose to again try to make it mid-toned, and will be too light.

If you have a grey card, you take a meter reading of the card in the same light as the subject, then use those settings regardless of what the meter tells you with the subject in place. That way, the exposure will be accurate. You don't need a grey card, just something of a mid-tone, so sunlit grass, concrete, back of your hand if you have dark skin etc. colour is not important, just darkness (or lightness).
29/10/2012 - 11:29 AM

Having fun

Having funThe conversion is fine, but the hand covering the eye spoils it for me. I also find the flash quite hard, so underexposing slightly on the flash compensation would soften the image a little - you have a little blur because of the ambient exposure being close to the flash one, so you've got sharp and blurred mixed. Just a hint, if using mixed light sources like this, better to use second curtain flash sync so the blur happens before the sharp, rather than after. That way, it suggests natural movement better.

I think the whole premise of painting fun is the colour, and the fact that the child is covered in it, so converting to black and white robs the image of a lot of information. I'm not sure a selective colour version would necessarily work...what would you choose to leave coloured, child or paint?

Nick
18/10/2012 - 12:08 AM

Twang

TwangI was being ironic.

The ISO of 12,800 is everything to do with it. The higher your ISO, the more noise you start to get. In modern cameras, it starts to become an issue over about 800 - 1600, but at 12,800 you are amplifying the signal from the sensor so much, you amplify any noise. In the same way if you amplify an audio system you also amplify background hiss, the coloured pixels are the visual equivalent.

To avoid it, use as low an ISO as you can get away with, preferably somewhere in the region of 100 - 1000 ISO. It is possible to improve it in software, but those high ISOs are really for when you absolutely need to get the shot in near darkness.

Nick