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Sooty_1's Gallery Comments

Sooty_1 > Sooty_1 Recent Activity > Sooty_1's Gallery Comments
The Shed by malcatch

The Shed

I think this arrangement would work much better if we could see the shed better. As it is, from here, it's mostly on the reverse slope and half hidden. There isn't the feel of mystery, so I'm left wondering exactly what the picture is saying.

We've all seen days like this. I like the natural sunlit vibrancy of the grass, countered by the brooding monochrome of the sky, but I'm not really sure about the shed. Better if it was right on top of a hill and we could see the base, perhaps also better if it was smaller (less than half the size).

I also can't see it as minimalist, as there is too much detail all over the frame. If this was covered in snow, it would be minimalist.


By: malcatch

Howth Harbour Lighthouse by ade123

Howth Harbour Lighthouse

I agree about the poor HDR treatment. It lowers the natural contrast and seems to add texture where there is none.
Nobody has mentioned the fact that it looks slightly off-vertical. The horizon appears to slope slightly (I know there is land there to affect the visual impression) and whilst nothing appears properly true due to the angles of all the surfaces, I appreciate the door and window frames are fine. I think it's due to looking slightly upwards with such a wide lens, but a tiny rotation makes it looks better.

I also think it better if the lighthouse leans slightly towards the sea rather than away from it, without exaggerating the tilt too much.
One other thing that would have improved this massively, would be to shoot it later in the day. The shadows and exif show it was not long after midday. By waiting till after 4-5 pm, the sun will move round and be much lower, which would then show much more modelling on the round tower, and bring out the brickwork detail much more. You would not need any artificial texture adding, and it would all look much more 3-dimensional.


By: ade123

Cheers by markst33


As with your previous efforts, a tricky set up, pretty well executed. Just small detail tweaks for me, for it to work fully.

The background shows traces of colour, like a cloud effect where it isn't quite blown to pure white. Selective brightening will help, but really it's attention to tiny details. All the edges are sharp and defined, so it shouldn't be hard to select the background alone to brighten it without affecting the drops and glasses.
Likewise, there are drops cut by the edge of the frame, and the effect is to draw your eye off the right side. Maybe a slightly looser crop, and/or clone out the drops disappearing out of frame, to give a more contained effect. It would be worse without the keyline, but as you have defined an edge, it's better to stay within it.
I would also think about rotating the image slightly anticlockwise, making the darker glass perfectly upright and maybe moving the glasses slightly to the left. This would eliminate the dead space on the left, where you're obviously thinking of using the thirds, and also make the droplets spray more into the corner, giving you more room for them.

One last thing, the keyline appears to be different thicknesses on different sides, but that may just be my screen.

As you can see, something so defined and clinical as this needs to be absolutely perfect for it to work properly, and there are only tiny faults that can be addressed fairly easily. Other than that, pretty good.


By: markst33

Push Bike. by paulbroad

Push Bike.

Sharpening is usually best at the end of the process.

I'm disquieted by the colour change across the frame too, it just looks odd, as if some processing has caused it, and yes, the haloes look like he's been cut out of another shot. Mono would be a better choice, I think, as it's quite a graphic image that doesn't need colour for any part of the story.

Whilst the Fujis are great cameras, they don't resolve distant fine detail very well unless everything is spot on, making them less than ideal for landscapers. There is no texture on the sand, and the details look like they've been added with a soft pencil.

Probably one of those shots that really should have something good in it, yet no matter what you do you can't bring it out. I have many.


By: paulbroad

Yellow by Relic01


You can see by the excessive edge definition that it's been heavily sharpened. The "noise" is, I believe, a crude attempt at high levels of luminance noise reduction followed by over sharpening, which is why it appears smeary, almost like it's been printed on a hairy fabric. This is classic where the individual pixels stop looking like points and start looking more like woven fibres, such as early versions of Lightroom, or freeware noise reduction.

In cases like these, it's often better to accept some noise rather than attempt to eradicate it, and don't sharpen so much everything has a halo.

IMHO, it's better to set in camera jpg processing (sharpening, saturation, noise reduction etc) off, or as low as it will go, then you will have more control when it comes to process on the computer. Bayou don't want to have to counter-correct what the camera has done, as all it will do is reduce quality.

The under exposure won't have helped, but there should be enough there to salvage a half decent image.


By: Relic01

future skies by KatieMariePhotos

future skies

It's very rare that a sky or sunset can hold attention by itself. It usually needs something definable in the frame as a subject, and unfortunately here, there is little to stop your eyes darting around the clouds looking for something to fix on.

The formations themselves are quite attractive, and I'm sure you were struck by the grandeur at the time, but to convey the enormous sky in a small image is much harder than it appears. There are one or two quality issues too.

Firstly, it all looks a stop or two underexposed, which has the double effect of darkening the sky so it looks heavy, and darkening the foreground so much it's largely featureless, yet not enough to make it a true silhouette. I'm guessing there's a road or pathway there...?

Secondly, and allied to the above, the under exposure has caused an increase in noise(the pronounced graininess) and it's caused the image to appear blocky and ill-defined. The opposite of what you really wanted with those delicate clouds.

Thirdly, it has a real colour cast. If you really like blue sky, you need to adjust the colour balance and remove the greenness, then lighten it all to bring out the colour better. It may have been auto white balance that got it wrong. A top tip to remove colour casts is to whack the saturation all the way up, then try to get whites white, blacks black, and looking as neutral as possible, before lowering the saturation again. Then look at it and take the saturation further down, because it isn't just that that controls how good the colours look.

So, for this image, it needed to be exposed a little more, the colour corrected and something of interest to counterpoint the enormous sky included to hold the attention.
If this was taken on a basic camera, you will not have much control over some things, but most have adjustments for exposure and white balance, often for ISO as well. It might be interesting to see the original shot uploaded as a mod.


By: KatieMariePhotos

Starry night by CalebAndrews

Starry night

Welcome also.

As you can see from the mod, the aerial is quite a good subject to "anchor" the sky, and give it some visual terrestrial interest. The rest is just clutter, distracting from the wonderful sky, and is better left out.

The problem you may have is that an unlit subject against a dark sky may well be hard to distinguish. Here it's good (the black silhouette against the deep blue), but any darker sky and it may start getting lost. One idea is to "paint" light onto it during your long exposure, with a flash or a torch. This will have the effect of making it stand out against the dark. With a little playing, you can get the balance right so it doesn't dominate the sky, but adds a focal point of interest. The graphic shape and construction is great to use, as it can suggest communication, discovery, reaching out into space etc.

You have got the sky exposure spot on (or close enough for good processing) which is the key to this shot.


By: CalebAndrews

Pond in the park by Porgee

Pond in the park


As Willie says, it depends on the competition, but it's really nowhere near good enough quality for competition. Phone cameras are usually optimised for fairly close people shots and selfies (as that's what the manufacturers assume they will mostly be used for) so the distance resolution is usually poor....as you have found here.

From your description, I can see what your intention was, but there are a few details that occur to me.

The composition is a series of horizontal features that act as barriers, rather than guiding your eyes around the frame. It appears to slope slightly too, which could easily be corrected, but niggles nonetheless.
Far from distracting, the figures seem to be the main subject. When there are figures in the shot, they tend to draw the eye anyway, plus here there isn't much else in the frame to hold any attention.
The top corners of the frame are untidy as they contain distracting detail, and preferably could be cropped, cloned or minimised by blurring.

I assume it's a grab shot, but you really need a better recording method if you have any ideas of entering competitions, mainly for the extra control it gives you and the better quality of image. Even a reasonable point and shoot will be a step up from a phone.


By: Porgee

Amelia - Shallow DoF by Matt_UK

Amelia - Shallow DoF

The guys above have covered some important points about focus techniques, and a (hopefully) willing subject should allow plenty of practice! The mods show a lighter feel makes a more delicate image, more suited to the subject, and black and white eliminates all the distractions away from her face.

The one important thing touched on above, is that the focus is out slightly on this one. Looking at the few hairs in front of her eye, that's where the plane of focus is, ie about a cm too close. With that in mind, enlarging will only magnify that, and the more you see it, the more it will niggle you and make you more determined to nail it next time.


By: Matt_UK

Sitting fairy by marosmitro

Sitting fairy

The problem here is one of balance.
All the 'weight' of the image is on the right side, and the large lantern draws my attention away from the girl. There are four prominent lanterns on the right, against two less so on the left side.
A pleasant image though slightly surreal, and the pastel feel makes it dream-like. I think redistributing the lanterns more evenly (maybe losing the closest one altogether) would improve it tremendously.


By: marosmitro

What happened to the view? by Canonshots

What happened to the view?

Unfortunately, all you have is a picture of some tufts of grass. I'm sure you will agree, not the most captivating of subjects unless you are an agrostologist.
It probably means more to you as a memory of the place, than as a standalone image.

With weather like this, it lends itself to other forms of photography than landscapes. The soft even light is great for still life (plants, people, small details), or as Willie says, the others in your group. There is no subject here, and the lack of drama robs the image of anything you want to fix your attention on. Even close ups of the grass or flora would have more interesting details to see.

I can see what the pro meant, but there isn't much in the weather to work with, here.


By: Canonshots

Hope! by paulbroad


Quite nice, I find my eye drawn to the red and white stones on the left.
I can't process at the moment, but maybe a slight crop from the left, and clone those two rocks out, might be something I'd try. That and reversing the image horizontally.


By: paulbroad

Low Summer Sun ! by TornadoTys

Low Summer Sun !

I don't have the facility to photoshop at the moment, but as there is the 'wrong' amount of body in the shot, I'd consider straightening as much as possible, then cropping so the free hand is on the lower third and the upper hand is on the upper third. That makes the composition more dynamic IMHO, which would counterpoint the image then being square.

If you can have another go at this, it might be worth trying to get the whole body shadow in (by jumping perhaps), and squaring up the camera, but maybe jumping at an angle for a different dynamic?


By: TornadoTys

Storm on the Vestmann by jerryiron

Storm on the Vestmann

While the image is very descriptive of the harsh conditions where the land meets the North Atlantic, there are a couple of technical things that strike me.

First, there seems to be a bit of lateral chromatic fringing, particularly on the rock edges to the left. If this is like this straight from the camera, you will need to use the lens profile, or reduce it in the RAW processing stage. If it is an artefact caused by your processing, you will again need to find a way to reduce it afterwards. If it is the Nikkor 12-24, there are profiles out there that will automatically remove known fringing issues.

Second, I'd remove the seabirds. They are too small in the frame to have any impact, and just look like imperfections at first glance. More of them, but larger, would round this shot off well.

I like the vertical elements, thrusting into the stormy sky, but I would like to see the foreground lightened a little. I find the shadows losing definition as they are quite blocky, and I think lightening it a little wouldn't detract from the dark brooding rock, but would allow more texture to show. At the same time, the darkening sky needn't lose any of its menace, so it would need to be localised dodging.

Otherwise, I think it's pretty good.


PS: how long before a black and white version appears? It would need some tonal adjustments and some more localised work, but it could be stunning.

By: jerryiron

Magnolias by EveLine1


Apart from the under exposure, the problem I have is that it's just full of distracting detail. I'm afraid that I spend as long looking at the out of focus statue and tree as I do the main subject.

Sorry, but for me, a simple plain coloured subject shouldn't have a busy and distracting background. None of it really works, IMHO, a plainer background, or one that is completely blurred (so as to be unrecognisable as anything) would be much better. Then I'd be free to concentrate on the shape and form of the subject itself.


By: EveLine1

Shhhh by jhaslam4


Judging by the depth of field, I'd say a wide to middle aperture. The light is pretty good, it just needs a small reflector to bounce light back into the shaded side of the face. The shutter speed is fast enough to not display any shake, and the plane of focus is pretty much around the eye and fingers, where it should be.

Being asleep, she's not going anywhere fast, so get the banker shot and then you can try different things! Reflectors are useful for babies, as their delicate skin shows better when well lit. It can even be slightly translucent in some lighting.

Filling the frame excludes any distractions, just leaving you to concentrate on the subject. Exactly what you want with a baby picture.


By: jhaslam4

Colours of the wind by DB_Photography

Colours of the wind

Most of it's been covered above: a pleasant scene that really needs something else to lift it.

I agree the colours are worth shooting, but you need to be more proficient with your burning in. There is a tell tale halo round the treetops, which you didn't really need. The trees are silhouetted anyway, so brushing over the trees won't darken them any more, but darkening the lighter patches behind the branches will make the sky look more consistent.

The logo has drawn some comment, but you really don't need one when showing your pictures. If you wished to sell your work, and you printed it for someone, you wouldn't include it in the frame as it spoils the image. By all means include a very small or unobtrusive one on a website, but including it here smacks of someone just pretending to be a professional.


By: DB_Photography

Dinorwic quarry by lespaul

Dinorwic quarry

You have used settings that are entirely reasonable, but the light is the real problem. Shooting at midday rarely works as the light is harsh, unflattering to the landscape and fro too high a position. It means undulating landscape has no modelling, no real detail is revealed about its shape and form. It looks like the sun is pretty much above the scene in front of you, judging by the shadows on the hills, and thus a polariser will have very little effect. It will do more of the sun is lower and at right angles to you

Whilst the reflections are ok, they will be there regardless of the Suns position, so shooting at midday won't make them any better. In fact, there is a hazy feel that robs the scene of a lot of its colour and contrast, and the dark tones are a result of the shade, rather than the texture.

If possible, it would be better to shoot early or late in the day, with more side lighting, that should really bring out the texture and form of the landscape.


By: lespaul

Why doesn't this appear vertical? update: Issue fixed! by pablophotographer

Why doesn't this appear vertical? update: Issue fixed!

If you want to bring out the colour of the nontranslucent parts, ie the heads, you will need to light the front a little.
Add a silver or white reflector in front of the flowers to bounce light back into them. The danger if you add more exposure is the you will get bleed round the flowers spoiling the edges of the subject, but you do need a little more if you want to eliminate the curtain patterns.


By: pablophotographer

Lilly by eskimo


A project is a good way to stimulate creativity, as long as you don't fall into the trap of shooting everything the same way!

Flowers are a good subject, because there are a multitude of different shapes, textures and colours to show off, and even restricting yourself to monochrome you will have great choice in how to shoot various subjects.

This main image, I find a little heavy. The predominance of mid tone detracts from the varied shades of white that the original displays, and it looks a bit like an underexposed high key image. It might be better a purer colour, either white (and lit better) for a high key delicate shot, or black as a contrast to the paleness go the petals. If you shoot high key, you can expand the lighter tones digitally to achieve more detail in highlight areas, particularly useful for very light subjects.

The handy thing with digital is that you can move your light around to see the effects of different angles, and if you make notes, you can go back to successful images and avoid wasting time when you do shoot film. Then you can tailor a lighting set up to the particular subject matter.

As lilies go, this is neither a particular delicate species (muscular is a good analogy), nor in particularly good condition, but you've captured the detail in the petals and kept virtually all the highlights intact. I too prefer the mono version, but the main image, if lightened significantly, could be much better, IMHO. Compositionally, this kind of shot is a matter of taste, and will depend on what you want to show of the flower.


By: eskimo

Economic divide by olamii97

Economic divide

A noble cause indeed, though I'm not sure the partial colour really works here. You would normally use selective colour to emphasise a subject, make it stand out from the background, but is your subject the people or the building?

I don't think the people's clothes are bright enough to stand out if the rest were monochrome, and the building doesn't appear to be particularly special, so maybe just having the whole thing in colour or mono would be better. The partial colour just looks incongruous.
Unfortunately, the person in the background is in the way too, it would be better without them there.

These sort of pictures often look better with the people larger in the frame, and the background to give context rather than be a main part of the image. Their appearance and expressions often tell you so much more than a general view.


By: olamii97

Colibri hovering [almost] by WimpyIskandar

Colibri hovering [almost]

Quote: I increase the speed at 1/1250,is it still blurry ???

1. No you didn't. It's still showing as 1/1000.
2. You have the original. Can't you tell? I can see it on my phone screen.


By: WimpyIskandar

Edmondthorpe Church by Stevecarr2010

Edmondthorpe Church

Not really sure what you intended using a tilt effect on this picture? It is split into three parts naturally, and all you're doing is blurring the foreground. Tilt really works best when you change the plane of sharp focus to make something sharp that wouldn't be (or vice versa). Here it will naturally be the church, which is on a plane parallel to the camera back already.

The whole thing is a bit heavy, and the sky just adds to that. Willie goes some way to lightening the feel of the image, but tbh it isn't really that good a conversion.
Looking at the screenshot, considering its a fairly bright day, it's underexposed by some way, and doesn't exhibit a full range of tones - hence the muddiness of the conversion. Add to that, there is a lot of similar tone in the image, and it's all pretty dark. Converting to black and white requires more thought than just desaturating....you need to think about tonal separation to make a mono image really pop. Lots of foliage, lots of grass and now a heavily burned in sky gives an image almost entirely composed of dark mid-tones. Perhaps revisit this and try changing the tonal relationships using "channel mixer", or even a preset, depending on your chosen software. You should be able to make the church stand out much more, and the sky might be more dramatic without the heaviness.

Perhaps upload the original image to see where you've worked from?

I say this a lot too: when it's bright, the light at midday is poor for landscapes and architecture due to harsh shadows and a lack of modelling. Early on or late in the day are better - when the sun is lower in the sky you get much better sculpting light to show detail and texture, and it brings stonework to life. You can get away with more when the light is overcast, as it operates like a giant softbox, but the you don't get the drama of directional light, which is what most people prefer in this kind of shot.


By: Stevecarr2010

general by shydallah


I'm afraid it's the same old portrait, with the same old faults.

You've made no attempt to modify the lighting (the main problem with your flash portraits), the composition and pose are the same, it's just a different person.

All you're doing is letting the camera make the decisions, without thinking about how to improve things, despite repeated advice in this forum. You will never improve if you don't take control, because you shoot the same way, the camera makes the same decisions, your pictures all come out the same.



By: shydallah

Dinner by paulbroad


I think it matters less about the second bird being sharp as it does it being completely within the frame. However, I think as a small cameo, it would be better if the DoF was a little deeper. As is, the falloff is such that it looks more like an added ps tilt effect than a genuine shallow DoF.

If it's part of the shot, and it's look at the front bird is definitely part of the story, it needs to be fully in.

Not sure whether it's something to do with the lens or processing, but there is an odd striped effect, particularly between the birds.


By: paulbroad

Parts by olamii97


It's very hard to really critique this kind of shot. It's very subjective, and owes more to the philosophy or psychology behind it than to the mechanical process of recording it.

If I had to criticise one thing, I'd prefer the floor tiles to be more symmetrical and square-on, or to be radiating out from the feet. I see Willie's second mod as more my kind of symmetry.

Nice to see something different, or should I say, something entirely familiar, from a different place.


By: olamii97

Roger Shard Over and Out! by WendyEhoff

Roger Shard Over and Out!

It's a pleasing panorama, and full credit for envisioning it in black and white, where most would go for colour. It has the advantage that the murky orangey colour of street lights don't spoil the colour, but the disadvantage that the other wonderful mix of coloured light isn't there.

Shot as a single image, you might struggle for sharpness at very large sizes, as this version doesn't look that sharp, but that might be to do with resizing as much as the original image. Even on a tripod, the bridges vibrate (particularly the Millenium Bridge) robbing you of critical sharpness, unless you can really minimise the traffic.

Planning to split the image, you need to plan carefully to avoid cutting through important parts (like Tower Bridge), and with that in mind, a looser crop would have given you more options. Another part of that, is that I'd like to see a little more space either side of the two "bookends", as you want them to be a part of the image and 'contain' it, rather than be right at the edge and 'frame' it. It would also be nice to have a little more space above the Shard, as it looks a little cramped at the top. It looks like you need a small anticlockwise rotation too.
One other small thing, it looks like you've angled the camera up, as the buildings at the edges aren't quite true. Added to the other sloping buildings, everything leans in slightly at the top. A little perspective adjustment will sort that out easily, and the two main buildings will look more natural.

Overall, it might have been better to take a series of vertical shots and combine them for a panorama, as you would have had much more information to play with and more flex with your crop, but if the sharpness holds up and the divisions fall in the right place, I'm sure it'll look fine on the wall. Good for you to not just go for the obvious shot.


By: WendyEhoff

An Cuilthionn light by Skeet1Away

An Cuilthionn light

Good scene, good light, good camera settings, good composition. Great shot.

There might be a case for a colour burn grad, or local adjustment from the bottom, to strengthen the colour of the foreground. The paler colours emphasise the stark, cold nature of the landscape.

There might be a case for cropping the sky slightly, to improve the ratio between the sky and land, but the higher sky here gives a sense of the grandeur and the openness of the scene.

The use of the grad has helped keep lots of dynamic texture in the clouds, and emphasises the windswept upland.

I'd be interested to see a version with slightly warmer light and more colour, but it like this version too. Very Colin Prior.


By: Skeet1Away

Little Egret by continuum

Little Egret

Quote: I think you have it just about spot on. A first class **** of the bird

You know him?

Pretty good effort. There is detail in all the highlights without making the rest of it look muddy, the bird is natural, and is going about its business. You won't always be able to get down to water level, and doing so may well have spooked it. As good a shot as you're likely to get. Don't worry about dated equipment, it never hampered people like Eric Hosking and Stephen Dalton!


By: continuum

Delicate by shinds57


I find it less delicate, and more heavy handed, I'm afraid.

The pose is ok, pretty standard stuff, but the lighting is very heavy, and isn't sympathetic. Luckily the model has helped pull it off, though I find her facial expression incongruous. Staring into space, or at the floor, looking thoughtful or peaceful would be better.
The highlights on her face are much harder than on the rest of her, suggesting its a bit of an effort holding that pose!
It would be nice to see a little separation between her hair and the background, unless you go for a harder, more spotlight effect. I think the light is just too soft to work like this, unless you wanted to make her look more delicate, in which case you needed a much lighter image.
Whilst it's hard to eradicate skin folds when holding this sort of pose, the waist area looks ugly with the deep shadowed creases, maybe reducing them a little, or cloning out all but one, and the jury's out on whether the tattoo helps or hinders. While it's uniquely hers, it affects the appearance of the smoothness of her form, which I'm guessing was the prime driver in this shot.

The vignette you've created isn't symmetrical in the frame, and the hard left edge contrasts with the soft right side, and it looks like the chair leans slightly to the right. I hadn't even mentioned the logo!

All that said, it's quite a hard subject to light well, and for me at least, isn't so far away from what I envisage you were after. I often say it, particularly about studio work, that it's the small details and tweaks that often separate a decent image from a great one.


By: shinds57