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13/06/2012 - 10:50 AM

Purple Sensation

Purple SensationTo distil some of the above, and add a little from me:

There is too much going on in the shot: the blooms around the edge and in the background distract from the main flower, which isn't very big in the frame.

Exposure is pretty good, and from here I would concentrate on isolating a single head, or a small group of heads and eliminating everything else from the frame. With flowers, it's often better to get low down rather than shooting from above, trying to make sure you shoot against a neutral background that doesn't attract your attention.

There is also a lot of fine detail, so make sure the aperture gives a deep enough depth of field to get all you want sharp, a low enough ISO for maximum resolution and minimum noise, and if this means a tripod for max quality, then so much the better as it leaves you free to concentrate on everything else rather than keeping still enough.

A crop of this pic will help eliminate distractions, but better initial framing will result if you slow down and consider all the variables - depth of field, framing, background, composition of elements and exposure. If it doesn't add to the composition, exclude it.

12/06/2012 - 2:14 PM

A happy walk

A happy walkIf photogenic, I don't think it's his 'best side'.

Mainly, the shot isn't very sharp. 1/125 is not fast enough for a dog running towards you, and the AF will like as not focus in the wrong place because he will have moved by the time the shutter trips (even with focus tracking, it's hard).

For head on shots, try focussing on a spot he will run past, trip just before he gets there, and use a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the motion and an aperture to give a wider DoF. With practice, you will get better quickly.
In this instance, I would be looking at upping the ISO to shoot somewhere around 1/500 or 1/1000 sec at f/8, so maybe ISO 400 or 800.

24/05/2012 - 11:17 AM

Fledgling robin

Fledgling robinYou've done almost everything right here, there are a couple of points to look at though.
1. It isn't critically sharp, which is a shame as the plumage is crying out for sharpness. It might be that at the wide open aperture you used, the lens' performance is not as good as it is stopped down a couple of stops, and the dull light (while good for revealing fine detail) has necessitated using a wider aperture to keep the shutter speed up. The other thing could be a small amount of movement of the bird lowering the absolute sharpness.
2. The double pole in the background (I presume it's a gate or some garden furniture) cutting right through the bird is a big distraction - the equivalent of having a pole growing out of a person's head.

The noise would not be a problem if the rest was sharp, though if you had Lightroom (or Noise Ninja for instance), you could get rid of a lot of the noise easily. The pic is quite low contrast as is, so could bear a little more sharpening and curves adjustment. If trying this again, a little blip of flash might help lift the detail - but dial in negative flash compensation (not overall exposure compensation) to make it act as fill-in and not the main illumination.

Rape Seed Field  - near Groombridge KentNice shot, though there are a few things that spoil it for me, being picky. It is a nice pastoral landscape, but despite having so much yellow, doesn't really have much impact, and indeed the shade has given it a generally blue cast.

Firstly, the sun will make the colour more intense, especially sun lower in the sky. The lack of it here, has muted the colours. In the same vein, using an ND grad would help balance the sky with the land, and a polariser would help intensify the colours and help define your sky better (especially at right angles to the sun), which takes me on to ...
Secondly, there appears to be a halo around the treeline suggesting you burned the sky in to give it more impact....but I don't think it is dramatic enough to have so much of it. I think the image might work better as a vertical format. This will enable you to look down slightly more, where the plants are spaced out, breaking up the wash of yellow at the bottom of the frame.

The use of thirds is ok, but I feel the rhs of frame is a bit redundant, and you could lose large chunks and not really affect the image. Definitely a place to go back to soon, before the Rape is harvested, at a better time of day.

14/05/2012 - 9:51 AM

Walferdange by night!

Walferdange by night!My first advice would be to use a tripod!
Lith pictures tend to be printed in a more ethereal way - the shadows don't block up so much and the highlights tend to be dreamy and soft. You don't usually get textureless whites, whereas here, the highlights are blown. It looks like you need to go further with the technique on this pic, as it doesn't reall say "lith" to me, just "unsharp night shot".

08/05/2012 - 10:24 AM

The Carnival

The CarnivalIt's very stark, and for me, the main problem is the intrusion of the building into the wheel.
The whole thing looks like it's leaning to the left, due to distortions with the 18mm, but not unbearably so, though a step or two to the right, if poss, would have alleviated some of this (you would have been more square on to the wheel).
I find the conversion to be quite extreme, and you are losing detail in the shadows, unfortunately most of the shadows are close to the camera.
I know it sounds funny, but a blip of flash would help light the foreground in situations like this.

04/05/2012 - 1:44 PM

we are all thats left

we are all thats leftHi Billy,
First off, I think the toning is waaaay too much! The contrast is such that there are few details left in the foreground, and those that are there are oversharpened so the whole effect gets lost in the brown.
I see you were as wide as your lens goes, but the crop is a bit tight, I would have preferred it looser. Looking at the original, I see you cropped severely, so the goats (?) that are the subject are almost lost off the bottom of the screen.
I think I would have preferred a less severe treatment. It's exposed fine and it's plenty sharp enough, so not so much contrast boost and if you want to tone it, more subtle colour would suit this subject well IMHO.

02/05/2012 - 3:34 PM

The Old Homestead

The Old HomesteadI think you have gone too far with the editing, and Martin's goes even further. I prefer the idea of the ruin, weather-worn bricks and overgrown habitation. These are seldom sharp, but weathered and soft, as if they are growing back into the landscape.

I think half-way between Billy's two versions would be better. The image is already sharp enough, it doesn't need any OTT processing, and making the grass an electric green colour adds to the unreality of it all. The sky and background shows it isn't a gloriously clear sunny day. Tweaking the contrast and composition would do most of the work.

If you intended to counterpoint the old ruin with the modern buildings behind, then you have achieved that. Otherwise, it would have been nice to try to find an angle to exclude background habitation and show the building in it's environment - ie wide open space.

Looking at V2, it looks like you could have crouched down and used the rock or grass tufts as foreground interest while hiding the modern buildings behind the ruin. Maybe there was a slightly better angle moving round to the right. As it is, it looks like you have not really thought about composition at the point of taking, but only at the point of editing (as the building is smack in the middle of the original). Always walk around, trying different angles and heights (not everything has to be taken at head height). With digi, you are free to take as many as you like, and I guarantee that after a while of doing this, you will begin to see better and worse compositions, and the subtle shifts that rearranging the elements within a picture make.

01/05/2012 - 9:52 AM

The view

The viewThe composition works for me, I would just like to see the mast not so close to the edge of the frame. I see you used your zoom as wide as it will go, but I would love to see a slightly wider view, with the same essential arrangement.

The colour version works better for me, as B&W tonemapped leads to a lot of similar toned areas. The best thing about B&W is the contrast and graphic nature you can get. If you tonemap it all out, all the buildings are the same tone and become visually uninteresting.

30/04/2012 - 11:47 PM


ChrisQuirky. Interesting location too. Just the kind of shot you get in modern music mags! (Particularly the ones that try to show classical musicians as 'trendy').
The lighting works for me, would have liked the end of the trombone shadow in shot but it isn't critical. Composition is good too, though I agree about the top right triangle.

Not sure if the marks are on the dark blue wall or sensor spots.

Good to see different takes on portraiture.

25/04/2012 - 10:51 PM


Bokeh!I take it you intended everything to be out of focus?
The colour is nice, but there isn't much to critique as I can't work out what anything is. As for composition, the moon is too close to the top of the frame, and as there is nothing sharp for me to fix on, I find little of interest in the frame and my eyes just keep going to the copyright notice - probably not what you intended. Sorry.

25/04/2012 - 9:16 AM

The Heritage

The HeritageGood shot, and you have retained a lot of detail considering how bright the conditions are.
You haven't quite finished the perspective correction, as the RHS is still slightly off, and being really picky, you are just off-centre by a whisker (look at the arch in the background).
The figure makes the interest though, and it's good that he's engaging you directly.
You could maybe take the contrast down a little, but it conveys the bright sun very well.

24/04/2012 - 11:43 PM


UntitiledIt would be good if you could see what everyone else is looking at. It's a shame you cannot see any faces of the passengers, and it's a shame it's so blurred. Given that the exposure value is about right, I think opening up a stop or two and raising the shutter speed to 1/125 would have helped.
I didn't notice the open-mouthed girl at first, so I would say she needs to be more prominent in the frame.
On the plus side, you don't see too many people on here (epz) doing this kind of street shooting, so good on you and keep at it.

19/04/2012 - 9:05 AM

View from North Pier

View from North PierThe composition is ok, and the railings contain the bottom of the image, but I've done a mod to crop slightly, balancing the stormy cloud with the ferris wheel and excluding the bottom and left of the frame. I think that the sky could do with enhancing, but this computer has only got a rubbish paint program and I can only edit the whole frame.
In PS, duplicate the layer, then make a large selection of the sky (with the rectangle box) and feather the edges by a lot (say 40-60). You can make the sky more threatening by using curves or levels without affecting the ground, and there is nothing projecting into the sky that will suffer from it. You can also use a layer mask, or quick mask and use the graduate tool to make the effect more gradual across the sky. It will take too long to explain here, but look in the techniques section (or google!) where it will explain it better than me.

14/04/2012 - 10:19 PM


PoiseIt's nicely seen, just a couple of things for me.
The girl looks oversharpened, there is a halo, which at first sight looks like rimlight from the sun, but it's in shadow areas too.
She is smack bang in the middle of the frame, which compositionally looks awkward. I would have cropped from the left to place the girl offset to the left side of the frame, and maybe added a little space on the right - allowing the composition to "breathe". A little off the top would help for the same reason, moving the head onto the upper left third.
She has a nice expression, but a lot of featureless shadow - hard sunlight is not easy to manipulate, and this is a bit "soot and whitewash". Lower contrast would add detail to the dark areas. Good effort though - these are quite small nit-picks.

12/04/2012 - 9:48 PM


IF WISHES WERE FISHESI like both for different reasons. V2 looks like an old albumen print, whereas V1 is more like newsprint, ie Tri-X push processed and printed hard.

I also like the fact that they break most of the rules. The horizon is almost central, there is no defined foreground interest, the leading lines lead away from the subject, the shot is way too contrasty and sharpened for a landscape shot and the "grain" almost overpowers the rest.

On the other hand, the shot is moody, atmospheric and....different. You usual treatment of sky and contrast works in this case, adding to the effect rather than destroying it.

04/04/2012 - 9:33 AM

First sign of Spring

First sign of SpringNice image, but a slightly distracting background. For me, either a bed of crocus with just the one very sharp, or just one flower against a bed of leaves. Maybe crop to a square which IMHO will improve the compositin slightly, cutting the rh bloom out. Will do a mod.

The narrow focus works fine, but bokeh quality itself is a function of the lens design rather than just stuff being out of focus.

04/04/2012 - 9:28 AM

Llyn Gwynant

Llyn GwynantI think you'll find that the haze is mostly lens flare from having the sun just out of shot. The natural haze is also there (cf "aerial perspective"), but it is the sun that is destroying the contrast, which unfortunately, you have had to push to "sharpen" the background. In doing this, you have over-contrasted the foreground and Willie's mod has overdone it even more.

The first thing to note, is that yes, a polariser is very useful for saturating colours by cutting scattered light (not just for landscapes), but it will do nothing to emphasise a flat cloud or hazy cloud background. It will help with haze, but then so will a plain UV filter. What it won't do, is change the relative exposure between land and sky.

The next thing to ensure with shots like this is that your lens and filters are scrupulously clean. Any dust/dirt will add to the flare when shooting into or close to the light. Also, use a lens hood - as deep a one as you can get away with, to shield the front element from grazing sunlight. If necessary, with the camera on a tripod, shield the lens with your hand.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the initial image, it looks like what it is, a landscape bathed in mid-afternoon light. If you shoot the same scene in the morning, the sun will be behind your left shoulder, and you may well get more texture to the land without the harsh shadows. Unfortunately, this kind of shot is more to do with being there at the right time, in the right conditions, than how you process the shot afterwards (you would need to do far less work!).

Composition as it is, is fine for me. A place to go back to if you can, at different times of the day.

04/04/2012 - 8:38 AM

On The Prowl

On The ProwlI like it too, Willie's done the mod I would have done, but the catchlights are in the wrong place for the light. As with a lot of things, it is the subtle that can make the difference, but it has to look real, otherwise your brain tells you something isn't right (such as replacing skies that are lit differently to the ground, or adding a moon to a picture against the shadows etc).

I would also love to see a pic like this with eye contact, as cats have such an intense look sometimes.

02/04/2012 - 11:41 AM


loughsideWhilst it is a very competent reflection picture, my main problem (as with all these you've posted) is the lack of defined point of interest. I find my eyes rove all over the image without finding anything to fix on, and so I lose interest in it quickly.

I can't help but feel there should be something else in the shot to hold my attention. With shots like these, you need to look hard and think about how you see (and read) the image, not the memory it evokes in you.
We westerners look the same way we read script (left to right, then downwards), unless there is a lead in/geometric shape/natural frame/point of interest or someother visual device to attract us. In the same way a long paragraph with no breaks is visually uninteresting, so we tend to break them up to make them easier to read. Reading a photograph is not the same as just looking at it, but subconsciously we still do both.