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Sooty_1's Gallery Comments

Sooty_1 > Sooty_1 Recent Activity > Sooty_1's Gallery Comments
Woodland Dawn by Nigeve1

Woodland Dawn

I would say, the only real way to compare the lenses is a side-by-side test, using the same settings on both.

The Zeiss is a very good lens (as is most Zeiss glass), though the Nikon 18-70 is no slouch for a "kit lens". It is possible to be overly critical when pixel peeping, and it is also eminently possible to remove chromatic aberrations in processing.

How often do you view real life pictures that closely at high magnification?

(Just asking, as I printed a severe crop from a phone pic today.....dreadfully pixelated and unsharp close up, but at arms length at A4 it was fine to hang on a wall).


By: Nigeve1

Bonita 2 by Sone

Bonita 2

A nice intimate portrait, but quite a lot of contrast. Both subjects wearing white is difficult to meter, and while it's very bright, there looks to be some detail left in the bright highlights. Not sure if it came out of the camera this contrasty, but toning it down would really help take the edge off the brightness.

You could have used slightly less exposure and a reflector to brighten the faces, which would have balanced the image somewhat, because the first thing I saw was the highlight, then your writing, whereas I should have gone straight to the couple's faces.

The material is not too bad, but a less obvious pattern would be better, and a plain background wouldn't attract any attention at all, and I can't tell what the objects are in her hand.

Your definitely on the right lines, and I'm sure the couple are happy with it, but I see bright white, then the lettering, then the faces. It should be the other way round..

In future, it might be better not to have the subjects wearing either plain black or pure white clothing, and take a meter reading from a neutral subject, this could have done with a stop or two less exposure.


By: Sone

House on the Lake by Mike43

House on the Lake

A nice restful image, in which the flat light is offset somewhat by the mist. Not much to critique, but I can't help feel something is missing on the left to balance the image. Not something large like a boat, but something small like a twig poking up out of the water, or something on the surface.
Maybe darkening the left, more than Willies mod, might help contain the image, which just wants to run gently out of frame without something there to anchor it.

Nice though.


By: Mike43

Talking with your mouth full.. by ladigit

Talking with your mouth full..

An unusual perspective, so good marks for trying it, unfortunately you lose a few for the fact the horse is so shadowed. You might be able to locally brighten it, but there looks to be a lot of darkness. A blip of flash would have worked wonders here and would have kept the sky detail as well.

I'm not a big fan of cutting off the legs either, so I think it would have been better to have included them, possibly by turning the camera vertically which would also have lost the distracting white building from the frame.

Why black and white? There's no reason to be in mono here, and it doesn't improve the photo unless there is an overriding reason and you can do some local tonal adjustment to lighten the horses face.

If you can bring back some shadow detail, you'll have a much better picture.


By: ladigit

Highly Amused! by paulbroad

Highly Amused!

Not sure why it's picked your focal length up at 105mm.

The X-E1 is excellent, and a great vehicle for older/manual lenses too, via an adapter, as well as their own marque offerings, plus the viewfinder is invaluable in bright light.
A nicely observed candid that doesn't really require any more work.


By: paulbroad

Critique please. by JackAllTog

Critique please.

You definitely need a backdrop, especially for full length shots. Half length and head shots can be worked around, but distractions like the floor and uneven backgrounds affect the picture quite a lot, and it's not an environmental portrait!

If you have softboxes, they would give you better wrap round and less harsh shadows, plus moving the model away from the wall will help too. You could double diffuse flash heads and shoot through brollies.

Comparing to K4RLs shots, his light is softer and more even, and slightly higher. You need to diffuse your lights more, and perhaps get them closer to the model, or perhaps move your model closer to them. One effect of the hardness of the light, is the prominent shadow under her rib cage, which unfortunately isn't very flattering. I'm not convinced about the sharpening either, as her look is quite stark anyway, but that's more subjective, and I find the pose a bit clichéd. However, it's often the case you need to run through the basics before the session really gets going, and there's nothing inherently bad about it. She looks a little detached, like she's saying "cheese" rather than interacting with you, but again, it might be the moment of the shot rather than the general feel of the session.

Studio work is less about the camera and mostly about details really, and tweaking the lighting and things like untidy hair will make all the difference, as will making it a dynamic process rather than a set of static poses.


By: JackAllTog

Thundering Tower by IshanPathak

Thundering Tower

I would say that to capture good skies, you need to shoot with that in mind, rather than just converting other shots.

It's underexposed...the sky might be salvageable, but the rest is blocked up shadows. I'm guessing the sky was actually quite bright which has caused the underexposure. So, you will need to meter for it specifically.

The mast isn't really strong enough here to hold the interest. Shooting somewhere you have more sky in shot (ie not among trees) and making more of the subject will increase its impact in the frame. Here you could have got a lot closer, turned the camera upright and got rid of the trees at the same time the mast would then have dominated the shot and had a more interesting structure in silhouette. The dark in the frame here is just wasted space.

Skies, the same as any subject, usually look best when lit well. Late afternoon or early morning, when the sun is very low, is usually the best time, as the clouds are side lit, bottom lit or even backlit.. Top lighting, such as you get most of the day, is usually poor and uninteresting.
Get used to looking at the weather, learn when particular clouds are likely to form, and you will be in a better position to photograph them. Like shooting wildlife, a bit of knowledge and fieldcraft goes a long way.

Also, look for subjects that work with cloud formations...they need to be pretty dramatic to work on their own, and usually require something to anchor the composition. Get a local map and make notes on it when you see likely places, then if conditions are good, you will know where to go when the time comes.


By: IshanPathak

High Key Portrait by markst33

High Key Portrait

If he's willing to let you repeat it, I'd adjust the lighting slightly. There isn't enough light on the background, hence the grey result and the slight shadows, and slightly too much on one side of his face causing a bit of burnout. This can be partially remedied by adding a reflector to his left, which would even the lighting on his face and lessen the shadows on his shoulder.
You can use any light you like on the background if you're converting to monochrome, but it needs more to make it true white. Processing tricks are never as effective as getting it right in camera.

You're always going to get catchlights and reflections in his eyes, so I wouldn't worry about it, but you could always lessen the effect in processing later. It gives the eyes life and makes them sparkle anyway. Eyes without catchlights are soulless.

I'd crop the RHS to where his hair meets the top of the frame, which to me seems more a natural composition, and you may want to bring the light a little more to the front next time, and you could double diffuse the flashgun for softer light, but as it is, the small tweaks aside, it's a nice natural portrait.


By: markst33

The calm by Madoldie

The calm

Why shouldn't you? The sea horizon is a constant absolute reference, and if it is out of true, it makes the rest of the picture out as well.

I'm sorry to say, I think there may have been a picture here, but you haven't got it.
The horizon cutting through the centre of the picture effectively divides it into two, but in a way that is quite uninteresting, compositionally. The two halves are not exposed well enough, everything being over dark, and whilst I appreciate you wanting the sky brooding and stormy, it doesn't have any real drama to counterpoint the flat sea.

It would be interesting to see the original, but the b&w version is a bit flat and muddy, tonally. I'm not convinced you've got the most out of it in your conversion, but the lack of any subject makes the viewer search for something, shape, form, even localised contrast. Here it finds nothing.

Your camera settings are ok, though you don't need such a small aperture....most of the picture is effectively at or near infinity, but the shutter speed is high enough not to cause any major problems. I think part of the problem lies with the processing...it doesn't look like you've done much apart from convert and try to bump the contrast. To make anything out of this, more localised work is required, but really it needs drama: towering clouds, full of interesting shapes, and something small as a subject to emphasise the grandeur of a stormy sky.

The time of day is also a factor. Early or late, so the clouds are lit from the side or even underneath, will help define them, but the middle of the day is the worst time to shoot, and here the clouds just aren't lit well enough.

If you have the chance, I'd revisit, try to find better conditions and some subject to attract your attention. And I'd level the horizon.


By: Madoldie

Pants are Overrated by nicholeh

Pants are Overrated

For me, the problem lies with the lighting initially. There isn't enough of it. I'm guessing the lights are quite a way from the subject, causing uneven illumination (hotspots on the child's head) and lack of wrap round (blotchy skin tones), plus a dull grey backdrop. The camera is compensating for the white background, so if you can use spot metering, it will be more accurate as long as you use a mid-toned target, eg the babygro here.

You need to get the light with the softbox much closer, and just above the child. Use the other light to blast light on the background, to make it 2 -2.5 stops brighter than the child if you can, to make it pure white. Use a reflector to bounce light back under the child's chin, though the white paper will help if you get the key light close...ie just out of shot. A good place for the softbox is directly above the camera, centrally or slightly off to one side.

Dark skin is harder to photograph, but even illumination will help, as babies skin is usually pretty smooth and takes soft light well. You might also consider giving the child something to do or hold, or change the position, as it looks uncomfortable and bored, plus a nappy bulge isn't very flattering!
A pile of white towels, or cushions, covered by a sheet gives a softer seat and potential for more interesting poses.

You're right, it is flat, and the explanation above will help, but more light is a must, otherwise you're trying to bring back an image without all the information you need, and quality will suffer as a result. Plus, more light will allow a faster shutter speed to capture fleeting moments better.


By: nicholeh

Ibiza Lighthouse by TOMMYBOY

Ibiza Lighthouse


Modern (professional) photography is about so much more than taking the picture, and even if you don't edit the final versions yourself, you need to know how to get a shot that contains the information needed to bring out the best image.
Aperture should allow you to get on the road, and it's a pretty decent package.

This shot shows an eye for composition, but the weather looks pretty flat and dull. You have to ask yourself why convert it to b&w? Just converting to monochrome won't help poor light....so many people think b&w is a fall back for lousy conditions and all you get is a dull monochrome picture instead of a dull colour one.

What you need for black and white landscapes/seascapes is good, directional light, that will bring out the textures of the rocks, give you a full range of tones and give the scene depth. The flat grey here does you no favours, and while I accept holiday shots are often taken on a limited timescale, you would have been better off coming back when the light was better, preferably with the sun fairly low in the sky.

That said, the construction is pretty good, and the brooding feel suits the mood, but I think you would have more to work with if you added a little more exposure. Some of the shadows are quite blocky on my screen, and you could increase contrast a lot if it was lighter. It's often a good idea to shoot at different exposures if you aren't going to get another opportunity, as it increases your chances later on of getting the best out of the image. Better to try differences at the time of shooting, than realise later you didn't nail that once in a lifetime shot.

The settings you used aren't bad, but at 18mm you don't need such a small aperture for front to back sharpness, especially as nothing here is critically close to the camera...f/8 would have been fine, you could have added a stop of exposure and still gone up to 1/250 sec for easier handholding, though a tripod would have been even better. Bracketing under and over the indicated exposure increases your chances, and here would have meant getting a lighter picture to play with.

Keep shooting though, you will keep learning if you pay heed to good critique (not just family and friends saying "nice picture"). The most important thing though, is to be self-critical. Learn to see your work objectively and find the faults for yourself (wonky horizons, under and over exposure, unsharpness and so on) before others find them. As you develop the skill, you will filter out mistakes and see them as you make them, allowing corrective or preventative action earlier.



Brick Lane by LouiseElizabeth

Brick Lane

I would have preferred not to see the human element at all.
The geometry is good, and I don't think it needs cropping, but you could perhaps lighten the horse slightly to bring it out of the gloom of the stable. Maybe just a levels or curves adjustment would be enough, but selective dodging would also work.

I also think that this shot is a moment, you grab it, then consider how to improve it from there. If it disappears, or the various elements change, at least you will have one "in the can", but you must get the first one.

....and if you feel you must add a signature/logo, at least make it small and unobtrusive. This just draws the eye from the subject and spoils the image.


By: LouiseElizabeth

In the pinky by LouiseTopp

In the pinky

I'm guessing they're some sort of antirrhinum (commonly, snapdragon).

The picture shows you were more concerned with the subjects than with the background, unfortunately, it's an integral part of the image. Here, it's a bit messy, and the subject doesn't really stand out as such. It would have been better to concentrate one one flower head, and adjust your position to place it against a plain background...ie preferably just shade (so the sunlit flower stands out) or failing that, plain grass. You might also have used a larger aperture to try to blur the background, keeping the subject sharp. Either or both, you need to concentrate attention on just your subject, without giving the viewer distractions to look at.


By: LouiseTopp

PLEASE HELP!!!! by MyOwnWonderland


The photographer makes the picture, the camera just facilitates the capture.

Your camera should be perfectly adequate for what you want to do, you need to learn to get the best out of it. Buying new equipment won't make you a better photographer.

I thought the picture was a composite at first glance, because the model and background look like they are lit from different angles, but the main problem is that the background is fairly well defined and competes with the model. It needs to be more blurred for the model to stand out from it.
The model herself is quite nicely lit, though a few crops spring to mind to tweak the 'feel' of the image, explored by others above.

Theres some promise in images like this, when executed well.


By: MyOwnWonderland

Rotting Time by Roselyn

Rotting Time

I agree...there is no sense of context, just a shot of a bin with stuff in it.

As far as the image is concerned, I'm afraid the whites look completely textureless, the wire of the bin is distracting, and the blur vignette is pretty awful. The conversion hasn't really worked out very well and it doesn't look particularly sharp.

I'm sure there is mileage in the concept, and there could well be pictures here, but this isn't one, and why black and white? I would have thought he best way to show decaying flowers would be by their muted colours contrasting with the green grass. Perhaps there is a perception the black and white is more "artistic", or that it deals with "serious" subjects better, but I think colour would be much better, maybe giving more clue to the concept. You need to show some of the graveyard if you want it to set the bin in that context.



By: Roselyn

My Mates Dad by paddyeds

My Mates Dad

In film days, we would have used a blue filter to really bring out the contrast and weathered lines in the subject's face. I think this just needs the same thing, digitally. The subject is great, plenty sharp enough and there is no extraneous detail, it just needs tweaking as it's a little flat, tonally.

It would certainly be interesting to see the original.


By: paddyeds

Street Darkness by DiegoSuarezP

Street Darkness

I feel this ought to tell a story, but somehow it just doesn't come out. I can't even make out what is behind the fence in the recess, and that is attracting my attention more than the whole picture.
If your intention was to show a dirty, rubbish filled, run down street, the mystery of the figure detracts from that. Why are they looking at it? Why sit there? Why is it so untidy? Mild mystery perhaps, questions but no explanations.

The flat conversion could really do with some drama adding... Dramatic light and higher contrast conversion would help give it some "oomph", but I'm not sure colour wouldn't be better for this one, perhaps muted a bit to give a slightly seedy, gritty feel. As it is, nothing stands out as a definite subject.
Settings?...I'm guessing it was pretty dark....I'm also guessing you wanted it darker than this though, but it has exposed as if it was daylight, rather than the dark of the title. Everything else is just about covered above, re composition etc.

I think for this picture to succeed, you need to bring something more out of it. The figure, the hole in the wall, or the environment, one of them needs more emphasis depending on what you are trying to say, and needs giving more prominence in the frame.


By: DiegoSuarezP

Shadows. by paulbroad


I'd probably crop it just above the tyres and exclude all the grass. It's a real shame the rest of the park is there behind.


By: paulbroad

beach sunset by bestefforts

beach sunset

By using HDR, you are compressing the tonal range, rather than extending it, so if your previous lacked depth, an HDR version will lack more. It allows more colours to be seen, at the expense of making them all similar brightness, and thus more flat-looking.

I think this would have looked much better half an hour later, as the suns brightness is what kills the shadow detail. Below the horizon, it would light the sky and define the clouds, without being a bright, blown highlight. On the other hand, there is no other real subject, but put your finger over the sun and see how it changes the image balance.


By: bestefforts

River Whitewater near Dreywell, England by Sulco

River Whitewater near Dreywell, England

This is the best scenario for the use of a polarising filter. It would intensify the colours and get rid of most of the reflections on the water, from this angle. It would give the image a lot more "bite".
Cutting out most of the sky is a good idea, and I might have been inclined to angle the camera down more, at a wider angle setting, which would have made the stones more prominent.

What you have, is effectively a set of radiant lines from the centre of the frame, drawing you in. The stones could be better defined....they are masked by the reflections...but without a polariser, there's not much more you could do. It might be an idea to try moving the vanishing point of the river around the frame, to see the changing effect, but otherwise, a pleasant summery rural scene.


By: Sulco

Historical Hall by hosak

Historical Hall

It's a step up from a record shot. You've obviously thought about how you are going to process it, and how you want it to appear, and the HDR is competently done, but not overdone like so many others.

Just a personal thing really, I don't like it being "just out" of square. Either square it up in post processing, or make it obviously distorted. Another way, is to get further away if possible to get the camera back vertical, but you may not have had room in there.

Here, with a classic view of the window, I think it deserves to be righted. Someone will come along with a mod before I get to it, but otherwise a pretty good shot.


By: hosak

Hatton Locks by AndS

Hatton Locks

As Paul says, a decent record shot. Not overly exciting, and while the black and white treatment removes any dating clues, I'm not sure it suits the subject particularly well here, as there isn't much hard definition, or anything else, to give it a "wow" factor.
I'm guessing the green of the trees, and the greenly/brown water would stand out better against the grey and white of the stonework (which could be enhanced somewhat).
also, the half-bollard on the left shouldn't cut the frame edge.

All in all though, pleasant enough, and timeless, without being a "wow" picture. Different light may transform this though, depending on its orientation to the sun.


By: AndS

From the old and new age of steam by LouiseTopp

From the old and new age of steam

I think you might be limited by your software.

I can see your intent, but just having a blob of colour doesn't really work for me, plus I'm sure the loco would look better in colour (green?). Making the dayglo vests bright and the rest mono, makes the vests look like the main subject my eyes are drawn to them.
Perhaps if you want to make it look aged, you could fade the colours, or make it all mono with a sepia tone.

Unfortunately, the mono conversion isn't great either, and it really needs some localised tone control to bring out the details. Not sure if you can do this with your software?

Also, it doesn't look overly sharp, but that may be your uploading/resizing/resharpening process.

It's a nicely balanced shot though, and the small figures counter the size and power of the engine, but I think there's a better shot in here.


By: LouiseTopp

Silky way by hosak

Silky way

Whatever your intentions with the sky, I'm afraid it just looks overexposed, and as a result, somewhat dull and uninteresting. The peak would look more imposing if it was exposed better, and most of this is due to the flat lighting. There is no real drama, nor majesty in it, and looking at your exif, the overexposure isn't deliberate, more a byproduct of the high dynamic range between the sky and the shadows.

This isn't 'high key'...for that you would need to lighten everything, including the shadows, making the scene predominantly pale and reducing the dynamic range. By making the grass dark and the sky white, you are effectively increasing the dynamic range, ie the opposite.

The foreground also looks so much sharper, if you wanted the peak to be the main subject, you'd be better making it the sharpest thing in the frame, unless the filter effect has affected it. I'd be wary of using effects for the sake of it, as they rarely improve an image unless you want a specific look.

Sorry, but I can't think of many occasions when a featureless white sky would look good in a landscape, and the person's shadow looks more like a mistake than deliberate. As above, a more recognisable shape would be better , but this scene would look so much better in more dramatic light.


By: hosak

Colours of the rainbow by k2

Colours of the rainbow

The colours are caused by the stresses in the perspex material of the window, and slight polarisation of the light. You can exaggerate it by using a polariser, but I don't think it was caused by one here. You can see the effects much more clearly by using cross-polarisation with clear plastic objects, and by flexing them which causes the patterns to change.

Unfortunately, there are millions of pictures taken like this, it's not a special effect, nor unusual, and it really doesn't have a subject or anything very interesting to keep the attention. More a memory for you of the flight than anything else, it's really hard to get good pictures from an aircraft window. You need something to grab the attention....


By: k2

Sunset over Strathmore by billmyl

Sunset over Strathmore

While it's a lovely scene and well worth shooting, the problem for me is the sharpness. There's too much of it.
While we usually strive to keep everything as sharp as possible, the grasses and foreground are so razor sharp, they suggest they are the main subject, whereas my eyes want to see the hills and sky. The road is just a device to draw me to the colour and grandeur...so much so that if you crop the bottom 1/4 or 1/3 off, the image doesn't change it's emphasis, but becomes more viewable.
Crop the top 1/4, and the road becomes the subject and the sky recedes despite the colour.

f/11 is perfectly ok for this. There is plenty of dof to cater for the lens at 18mm....even if you focussed 10' in front of you, the dof goes from about 3' to infinity.

I'd like to see a slightly less sharpened version.....


By: billmyl

fungi 03 by wizcon

fungi 03

Quote: funghiphiles


By: wizcon

Gems in the sky by Niic1989

Gems in the sky

A pretty good effort considering the modest equipment. It looks like you're starting to get ambient light interfering with your darkness, and maybe you've changed the colour balance to counter it, hence the slightly odd purple colour.

The key to night sky shots, is increasing the signal to noise ratio. You've already upped the ISO, which helps, though the noise level obviously increases. Another thing you can do, is use a lens with a wider aperture to shorten the exposure time even more. The best thing with digital though, is to use a stacking program to superimpose many shorter exposures together (I use Deep Sky Stacker, there's lots of tutorials on youtube, and it's free!). It also uses dark frames and blank frames to filter out hot pixels and sensor generated noise.
The best way is to use a motorised mount, which will increase the time you can expose before star trails occur, but (even though you can make a simple scotch mount), it can be expensive and specialised. It still doesn't get rid of stray light though, and the longer the exposure, the more effect it has.

Increasing the contrast can help a little, with this picture a gradient effect layer (if you have the software) will work. Also, having something in the frame that connects it to the ground can be effective, perhaps buildings, trees, mountains....anything that can counterpoint the vastness of the sky.

These pictures become addictive, the more so for the few really good clear nights we get. A really dark location is obviously best, as is a cool night with no haze or heat shimmer from hot objects. Later (or earlier in the morning!) is better as the heat is more evenly distributed and things have had a chance to cool in the dark, eg. Concrete, buildings roofs, etc.


By: Niic1989

Branches Catch the Clouds by gerainte1

Branches Catch the Clouds

A couple of Lightroom pointers:
1. You can split tone in lr5, there is an option in the develop module.
2. Selecting the small circle in the left of the hue/saturation/luminance panel, you can move the pointer over a colour/tone in your image, then by holding down the left mouse button, you can drag that colour/tone lighter/darker etc, rather than selecting a particular colour slider. Useful for black and white, you can change the tonal relationship between parts of the picture easily.


By: gerainte1

Chip time. by paulbroad

Chip time.

And here's the problem with hip shooting. A decent enough candid photo spoiled by poor framing.

I'm not sure that any crop will significantly improve this, as there is too much overlap with the people...ie you can't crop without still having half a person in the frame.

Not one of your best, I'm afraid.


By: paulbroad