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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.

08/02/2012 - 11:19 PM


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.

08/02/2012 - 11:03 PM


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

01/11/2011 - 10:41 AM

Venice Moonlight

Venice MoonlightA nice idea, but for me, all the angles and perspetives are wrong. The moon is too obviously comped in and is way out of scale for the wide angle of the rest of the shot. As a result, the lighting looks wrong too, from a moon that size.

A little crop would help the shape of the image, but it's too cluttered really. With more thought about the final image, more could have been made of this location.

19/10/2011 - 9:44 AM

the nile river

the nile riverIt's all a bit central and a bit static. I've cropped a bit in the mod (this is one case where the rule of thirds will help composition). Sadly, it isn't very sharp - it looks like it was taken from a moving boat (though the shutter speed is quite high due to the sun, so it shouldn't be). Also, your lens looks like it has a dirty front element as there are flare spots lowering the contrast of the image.

17/10/2011 - 4:10 PM

The Mannequin

The MannequinUsing flash would kill the mood lighting stone dead. If you want subtle lighting adjustment, you could use a reflector to bounce a little light back into areas you need it. If you want really small areas, you can use a hand mirror, like a make up compact, or for less impact, a piece of white paper, scrunched up tin foil etc.

For people wanting to do studio lighting, using a mannekin is a great way to experiment with set-ups. You can make notes and know what to expect when you have a real live model.

With this shot, a strip of white paper, held out of shot just below model's eye level would have lightened the sockets enough.

12/10/2011 - 10:57 AM


carnivalAs above. The flash will add nothing to the picture in cases like this, except to highlight the hi-viz. I wouldn't worry about the burn out of lights, as there are so many of different brightness.

I would prefer to see the float further to the right, which would also show more of the faces looking at the float and less of the untidy rhs. I would also crop out the arrow on the road.

10/10/2011 - 1:31 PM

Mexico sunset

Mexico sunsetHow much more sky do you want?? There is plenty here to work with.
More of a concern for me, is the untidy silhouette foreground. I think it would have been better to find a view with a less cluttered and simpler foreground. A single tree would be ideal, or a pair of trees to frame the sky perhaps? The picture is in the colours, and more sky on show would have been better for me.

05/10/2011 - 10:23 AM

Having a rest

Having a restGood character study. I also like it better without the frame and slightly lighter, but the composition is not a problem.
I would have loved to have seen a close-up head shot with that characterful face.

05/10/2011 - 10:03 AM

Groundhog Day

Groundhog DayGood light, though maybe a fraction overexposed.
I might have been tempted (if possible) to move to the left and put the bushes lower right and the end of the pier top left. That would have exaggerated the curve of the shore and the white thing rhs would have made a strong triangle. At the moment the sea is a bit of "dead space", and although I can see the horizon is level, the picture looks like it has a lean to the right due to the angles of the components.

A pleasant, peaceful image though. Nice when there are no people around.

28/09/2011 - 2:23 PM

Ruffled feathers

Ruffled feathersNot a bad effort, but limited by the equipment in use.

The date is horrible and needs to go. You could crop a little to tighten the composition, and up the contrast curve a little to give it more punch, but other than that, there is not much else you can do to improve it: there are better angles to shoot birds from.

28/09/2011 - 8:57 AM

Hobo cafe

Hobo cafeYes, the stonework is a little flat, but the best way to bring out the texture is to shoot when the light is more side-on, grazing across the surface will be better than frontal lighting.
Also not keen on the right side - it's too messy and distracts from your subject. Crop it out or change your viewpoint to exclude it.

13/09/2011 - 3:06 PM

level crossing

level crossingIf you are on foot, try to have the train coming towards you rather than away. The rest is a pretty good effort at something that is not as easy as it looks.