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27/06/2012 - 10:08 AM

Hair Shot

Hair ShotI think the background needs to be less cluttered to focus more attention on the hair, if that is the main subject.
A plain bit of green hedge or grass would be better if you wanted the green theme, or a darker bit of solid treeline perhaps. As is, the highlight/shadows distract from the model.
Also, this would be improved by having the model hold a reflector out of shot below, which would even out the shadows on her face and neck, plus it would get rid of the stray shadows round her nose and help lift the front of the hair (to separate it from the background a little more). A piece of white card would be fine.
Your model has lovely skin and the make up is good. I wonder if she had lifted her eyes to stare into the lens (but kept her head down), whether this would have made a really intense, and possibly uncomfortable, but more striking, photo.

ANOTHER SET of GRAVE STONES of THE HAMILTON CEMETERYAnother record shot. Unfortunately, these places are usually hard to find a cohesive composition in. This is no different, in that there is no obvious main subject, the stones are scattered all over the frame and there are many distractions around the edge of the frame.
The IR plug-in doesn't appear to have made it very IR-ish, just low-contrast.

You might be better to concentrate on one or two monuments, and compose accordingly, to convey the sense of being there. This composition is too haphazard.
Just a suggestion, but if you really wanted this view, it would have been better to move forward to lose the nearest monument from the scene. It is cut in half anyway. Or maybe widen the zoom a touch and crop carefully to exclude details cutting the edges of the frame. Those you can't tidy up, I would consider cloning out.

It might also be better to shoot early or late in the day rather than when the sun is at it's highest. You will get far better modelling and texture.

13/06/2012 - 1:16 PM

Spiral nature.

Spiral nature.To really appreciate the spiral nature of the fronds, you need to get closer and try to isolate them. As is, there is too much distraction in the frame, and I'm not sure there's a crop that will help much.
Try also to isolate the fronds against a single background - either sky or grass, but not both, as again, it distracts the viewer from the subject.
You could also do with a little more exposure to bring the subject out more. I suspect the camera has adjusted for the amount of sky in the frame and underexposed accordingly. If you can isolate against the grass, the exposure will be better, and you could also have a little blip of flash which should lift it. If against the sky, you will definitely need flash, a longer exposure, or let the camera expose for the sky and create a silhouette.

In short, find a bit of tree that is more isolated and get closer - fill the frame more with the subject - and try different lighting methods, including flash.

13/06/2012 - 11:02 AM

Why The Long Face?

Why The Long Face?In cases like this, a small blip of fill-flash will help freeze a small motion and catchlight the eyes, which otherwise look a little dead. Not full power, but -1 or -2 flash adjustment (not the usual exposure adjustment). Here you could have shot at 1/250 @f/5.6 and a -2 flash adjustment and it would have helped darken the background slightly. Though for me, the background isn't bad as it's out of focus anyway (adding a sky just gives the eye something else to look at and detracts from the horse IMHO).

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.