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15/03/2012 - 8:31 AM

Old building

Old buildingThe cloudy day hasn't helped the lack of contrast, and it looks like the camera on your phone isn't that sharp - some bits look unsharp and other bits look oversharpened.
I don't think this is a great angle, and the blank sky adds nothing either.

I think here you might have been better to concentrate on specific bits of dilapidation, excluding the sky altogether. Look at details that show the building is old - broken windows, graffiti, open doors etc.
The phone isn't really up to capturing high contrast scenes and high levels of detail, as they are optimised for taking pictures a few metres from the camera. Anything further than that and they struggle.

I would suggest staying away from subjects that involve large depth (like landscapes), unless it's a last resort or the scene is unmissable, as anything more than a few metres away will not be very sharp. Even a cheap compact camera will be more use than a camera phone if you intend to keep shooting this kind of thing.

Nick
14/03/2012 - 9:05 AM

Top hat

Top hatIt isn't a particularly flattering portrait without softer focus, but maybe that's what you intended. I think that if you move her a few feet away from the wall, it loses importance in the frame and you look more at the face and less at the bricks. It would also make it darker and look more 3-d.
I would also lose the ring and watch, and get her to extend her fingers.
Lighting is ok and simple (always a good start!), pose is ok and eye contact is good, though models with their heads down look fatter and can suggest or show a double chin. Better for you to be higher up so they have to look up slightly extending the neck.
Her skin looks quite dark in the picture, but her hands would suggest otherwise, so lightening her face might soften the lines a little.
Not at all bad though!

Nick
10/03/2012 - 5:58 PM

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Bridge Over Troubled WaterI think it's overexposed and the colours are very muted as a result. This doesn't work in B+W for me, as the tones are all very similar in the image and you need contrast (not PS generated contrast though).
I think an upright format would work better with this composition, as it draws your eyes through the frame better when the action is arranged vertically.
The grass in the foreground is very sharp, and distracts from the out of focus background a bit.
Lots of "nearly theres" here, IMHO.

Nick
10/03/2012 - 5:49 PM

save the children

save the childrenPotentially a great shot. I think a wider pic showing the girl in her entirety and the street would have been great contextual/environmental portrait, that would have meant getting lower too. Or you could have concentrated on just the girl as in Michael's mod.
I don't have a problem with her being central in a wider shot, but here it doesn't quite work, and on balance, I think a little off-centre is better. Exposure looks fine.

Nick
09/03/2012 - 11:25 AM

FAIL

FAILUsing flash will light the bird better (if you use flash compensation to -1 stop it should fill in nicely and use rear curtain sync to freeze motion at the end of the exposure rather than the beginning), as will more exposure. Here it is under exposed due to the bright sky being rendered a mid-tone and the branches and bird are too dark. A stop or two more exposure would be better.
I see you used spot metering, so it looks like you read from a light subject to underexpose like this, so maybe matrix would be better for grab shots, or spot metering from something darker (grass, road surface, mid-toned clothing etc).
The good thing is that now there will be more birds to practice on!

Nick
07/03/2012 - 9:46 PM

Through My Window

Through My WindowI prefer it in black and white, but the contrast is very high. The brightness of the left child's face needs to be held back a little, and the white blob needs to be toned right down, but not necessarily got rid of, as it separates her head from the background shadow.
Will try a mod if I get time.

Otherwise...good composition, slightly overexposed, but a strong image.

Nick
05/03/2012 - 8:49 PM

the glens

the glensThe picture is seriously out of register, looks like you took the 3 pics from slightly different places. I can't really comment on the exposure, as they were all different, but I don't think you really need 3 exposures here. Composition is ok, and it's weird what a simple thing like flipping the image can do, but either way round is ok with me.

If you aren't shooting this in RAW, this sort of image is exactly what you should be. The extended dynamic range and the ability to combine images with different exposures from the same original RAW will enable you to get the most from high contrast images like this.
Another thing that will help here is a ND grad filter tobring the sky exposure down.

Nearly there, and it's good to see you trying all sorts of different subjects and techniques.

Nick
04/03/2012 - 10:35 AM

autumn colours

autumn coloursThe red tree is a little central for my liking, and it looks as if you have pushed the contrast and saturation on a poor day. Better weather will help a lot, as will the use of a polariser.
I think moving to the left and turning right, to lose the yellow tree, would have used the bank as a lead-in line drawing your eyes to the red tree, offset to the right of frame.

Going back in better light will seriously improve this shot.

Nick
04/03/2012 - 10:17 AM

Take a Rest

Take a RestSorry, it doesn't really work for me. The prow of the boat is just an intrusion as it is - I think you need to see more of it otherwise there is no real subject in the frame. The sky is not really that good, though I'm sure you could make more of it with PS.

I think you need to clear the foreground and find a simple subject and use the sky as a backdrop: the sunset isn't strong enough to be the subject as is.

Nick
23/02/2012 - 4:56 PM

qqqqqqq

qqqqqqqSome of the above comments seconded.
In terms of the picture, the lights are quite harsh for female skin, and bringing the keylight closer will effectively soften it and allow use of a smaller aperture. Softer light will not show up the blemishes so much, and a large softbox or shootthrough brolly will be more sympathetic.
If you are using flash, the shutter speed is immaterial, as is camera shake (the duration of the flash is too short), but if using continuous lighting, then a tripod will help. Focus always on the eyes (or the nearest eye) and whatever happens to the depth of field it will be right. Even if you focus on the nose and use f/8, the eyes will not be the sharpest thing in the photo.

I also find the bra strap ugly and intrusive, and the pearls add nothing. The angle and crop suggests to me that the model is quite.."large" and so this is not a very flattering portrait, and the lack of processing doesn't help. As mentioned, you should tidy up the hair, and hide the blemishes (which the harsh light has shown better!). I'll try doing a mod if I have time.

Nick
22/02/2012 - 4:43 PM

Cloudy skies

Cloudy skiesI think part of the problem with this kind of picture, is that there is nothing to really "anchor" it. Boosting contrast and adding drama to the sky is really trying to compensate for the fact there is nothing really interesting in it. The scene is "nice" without being special, so needs an interest - classically something in the foreground such as a rock/tree/tractor/haybale/cow etc etc.
You need some device to draw the attention into the picture, ruts/a pathway/a hedgerow - some reason to direct my eyes to the trees and sky.
Unfortunately, the only thing my eyes go back to is your copyright!

I don't think the proportions matter that much in this case.

Nick
08/02/2012 - 11:19 PM

Clown

ClownNice idea to play with. I like the texture of the metal, and this is quite interesting in itself.
I think next time I'd get my friend to go right to the doors at the far end, and maybe not throw some shapes, but just walk slowly toward you (somewhere near the far lockers). The silhouette would add mystery, whereas right now, it's just someone messing around. I'd try to square up the camera too, so there aren't leaning walls and lockers, unless you go the opposite way and really throw the angles out.

Nick
08/02/2012 - 11:03 PM

Unposed

UnposedThere's nothing particularly bad about this pic (though I would prefer to see all his head!), but the border/frame is overpowering the photograph.

The writing competes for attention with the photo, and it shouldn't: the photo stands or falls on it's own merits.

Nick
08/02/2012 - 12:50 PM

Veg Prep

Veg PrepNot much to moan about with this one. The sharpening looks ok on my monitor. Light wise, it looks like you have upped the saturation on a fairly colourless image, not too much of a problem, but it isn't easy to balance different light sources and this looks a little orange to me. Better to start with only one light source first and use reflectors, rather than over-complicate things.

My only real gripe is the onion bag with the label. I think it would have been better without it, and the bottle might be better upright, or not there and replaced with a carrot! Maybe lose the pestle and mortar as well, as it doesn't really fit with the theme. A work in progress again, really, but mainly a matter of opinion as to what works and what doesn't.

For still lifes, less is often more.

Nick
08/02/2012 - 9:36 AM

From the Crib.

From the Crib.Eye contact with the subject would make this a much more powerful image.
I don't mind the out of focus background too much, though the toning is a little heavy, as mentioned. Also, the ends of his moustache and his clothes appear sharper than his eyes, so I think the focus is a couple of inches out (or it appears to be on my monitor, anyway) unless he moved. A faster shutter speed would have helped anyway, as 1/30 is quite slow for hand-held portraits.

Almost there.....maybe a litle rework in PS will improve it as mentioned above.

Nick
08/02/2012 - 9:10 AM

Wooden bridge

Wooden bridgeUnfortunately, the reflections on the water are now brighter than the light they are are supposed to be mirroring, especially in the mod, so it all still looks unnatural. If you are going to add a sky, you have to make sure the details are correct - reflections being one thing, colour temperature and direction of light being others. Sometimes it just looks wrong then you realise the light on the clouds is in the opposite direction to the shadows on the ground etc....

This would be a good instance where a polariser would help reduce reflections on the water, though you can't do much about the insipid sky here.

Nick
02/02/2012 - 1:12 PM

New Father Thames

New Father ThamesIf the slide is better, maybe a better scan could be achieved?

There is an odd colour cast too, quite green, and it looks like it leans slightly, though these are easily corrected.

I would expect you to be able to read the menus....it's a Leica lens!! (which one is it?)

Good record shot, and with a fixed lens, hard to do much about the composition as you can't move back and forward from here.

Nick
08/11/2011 - 12:09 AM

Conker Day!!

Conker Day!!Good attempt at something creative. The hotspots on the conkers are very bright and don't do justice to the rich browns you can get on them. A diffuser held over the top would have cut out the brightness and allowed more colour to come out, and a polariser would have helped saturate the colours.
I would also liked to have lost the untidy leaves in the background. Willie's crop helps, but the conkers with just a couple of leaves would be better.

Home made stuff is good - make a diffuser with a frame with a stretched bit of net curtain tacked to it. You can get old but large picture frames from charity shops cheaply, and offcuts of material from haberdashers. If you are good with sewing, you can elasticate the edges and have interchangeable covers - net screens, white, gold, silver reflectors etc Imagination is the key, but these things are invaluable for improvised studio work and still life.
Why not take the bits indoors and set them up? You can control the light and background completely then
05/11/2011 - 5:14 PM

Stubble at sunset

Stubble at sunsetJust shows that an otherwise uninteresting scene can be transformed with the right light.

I do feel though, that the main interest here is the sky, and filling two thirds of the frame with stubble isn't making the most of it. The puddle is not really a strong enough anchor for the foreground and the bottom of the frame is a bit messy. If the tyre tracks had been going into the frame it would have guided your eyes up to the clouds. That said, the exposure is spot on and focus is good too.
I would love to have seen a really wide view with the horizon low down and the sky filling most of the frame. Maybe a vertical orientation would have helped as well.

In cases like this (even though I appreciate you didn't have much time) you need to decide what is the main focus of the picture and how the frame constructs to make the most of it.

Nick
Beautiful beads in my daughters handsThere is a lot to like about this shot - simplicity for one.
I see by the EXIF data that it was really dark, and the combination of high ISO and low light has resulted in a low contrast, high noise picture.

If your daughter will pose again, I suggest you shoot near a large window and set this up the same, but in brighter light. A north-facing window with net curtains is ideal, though a large diffused lamp (adjust the white balance accordingly) will work too. Use a low ISO, a slightly higher aperture (maybe f/8) for better depth of focus. The colours should come out more then, and the orange and purple especially should be more vibrant. Don't however, use on-camera flash as the shadows will be ugly on a subject like this.

Try to avoid things going out of frame - the beads at the top, here - tucking them under the hands would solve this easily if the whole string won't fit in her hands.

Nick