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Sooty_1's Gallery Comments

Sooty_1 > Sooty_1 Recent Activity > Sooty_1's Gallery Comments
Bubble Drop by soft_eye

Bubble Drop

I would also suggest a larger receptacle, filled to the brim.

You have the lighting and the technique, now you need to consider the aesthetics and composition of the image. Good work in progress.


By: soft_eye

Ullswater by sco1


In addition to the comments above, I'm not a big fan of the tree obscuring half the image. It isn't the subject in itself, and as such, gets in the way. If it was entirely contained within the image, it may be different, but I find myself trying to make out details behind it.

The water behind looks like it slopes (not sure if it's just the perspective) but an anticlockwise rotation might help, though this would mean the tree leaning out of the frame instead of into it, and it all looks a bit overprocessed as it is, but it's much better than previously.


By: sco1

Balmashanner War Memorial 2 by billmyl

Balmashanner War Memorial 2

This is a better composition that your previous version, but with the light behind the tower, we expect it to be darker as the sky is so luminous. The tonal compression (shadow/highlight control, or full blown HDR treatment?) robs this of it's realism for me. It looks washed out.

The colour in the sky looks like it should be stronger, the tower should be darker and more contrasty, and I think it could be sharper. I feel it's a bit of what you wanted to see, rather than the way you actually saw it. It would be good to see the original image.


By: billmyl

Man-Monsters by iancrowson


I find the mixture of angles uncomfortable, and really I feel you needed to be more square on the the wall. It would be nice to lose the distraction above the wall - if you crop it out, there becomes a stronger interaction between the man and the left hand face.

The conversion is pretty good and suits the subject, and the settings are entirely reasonable. There is very little in street photography that separates good images from outstanding ones - usually minor details, like small changes of angle, fleeting expressions and momentary interactions. Here, I think you need to concentrate on the interaction between the figure and the artwork.


By: iancrowson

The Playing Field in Winter by Otinkyad

The Playing Field in Winter

I quite like minimalist landscapes, and this has a decent appeal. The only thing that should be contrasty and sharply defined is the near post and hoop, the rest can be shades of receding grey.
I like the idea of more space, but I know what local parks are like, and most will have undesirable elements just cropped out. My eyes are drawn to the dark lumps in the bottom left and right; I'd clone them out, and I'd increase the contrast on just the near post. It could maybe do with more sharpness in the foreground to give it bite, but they're minor tweaks.


By: Otinkyad

Ye old Sarum moat by LouiseTopp

Ye old Sarum moat

I know it well. Old Sarum, Salisbury and Boscombe Down.

It feels sombre and heavy.
You have a quandary here. Bright sky tending to overexposure, dark foreground underexposed. Which do you expose for, as the dynamic range is too great to be effectively captured in one image?

Your best bet, is to take a couple of images at different exposures and combine them as an HDR image. Most of the time, I hate them, but they can be done well. You can't use a grad filter, as it will darken the grass at the top, so what to do?

It may be possible in your software, when adjusting the image, to select the highlights only for adjustments and alter them relative to the shadows and mid tones.

There is also a distinct brown feel to it. I know it's the light, but it's like you've shot it sepia and it's not a very attractive colour balance.
Others may come along with mods, but you could change it to monochrome and make it more neutral.
You could try HDR to even the sky and ground out more.
You could try adjusting the colour balance to a more pleasing shade.
You could try adjusting the sky and ground separately for a more pleasing balance.

You could go back and shoot when the light is better. It's not a bad composition, just poor conditions. I'm sure there is a better image in there.


By: LouiseTopp

Icy Blue Reflection by MBMahoney

Icy Blue Reflection

I can see why you're aiming for a peaceful feel. I just feel there isn't enough....something.....in the picture for that. Maybe an empty horizon? Certainly you need the tussock of grass to be completely within the frame, preferably about a third of the way in from the edge, for harmony.
Technically fine, I'm left thinking something else would complete the image, but I'm not sure what.


By: MBMahoney

Flash forward by Meditator

Flash forward

Several things are not so apparent when using flash off camera.

Using speedlights on ttl, or any kind of auto mode, they will try to expose as a mid grey, even if the camera itself is on manual. The lights don't know you want the background white, or that you want the image fairly high key, therefore you need to add a little extra power/exposure to ensure that it is.
Already pointed out, this is underexposed, which if corrected would help your immediate problem.
You can look at the histogram, but it won't tell you much in the studio. There, it's more about the quality, direction and management of the light. A good high key image will have a histogram bunched to the right, which ordinarily would indicate overexposure, but here it's more about having the light where you want it, not the overall amount.

The flashgun's guide number will give you an approximation of your settings. It's usually expressed as GN xx meters at ISO 100. Divide the guide number by the distance the flashgun is from the subject (not the camera if the flash isn't sitting on top of it), and this will give the aperture you need at the stated ISO. Eg a gun with a GN of 40m/ISO 100 will need f/8 for a subject 5m away, at full power, at ISO 100. The shutter speed will be at or just below the sync speed, usually 1/125 or 1/250. Using 1/60 or 1/125 should be fine unless you're wanting high speed sync flash, which is a whole new ball game. Otherwise, shutter speed has no effect on flash exposure, only on ambient light. Thus if the shutter speed is too slow, you will get ambient light affecting the exposure and maybe adding light where you don't want it.
Lowering the gun's power is simple maths for closer in work or when the light is too bright.

Speed lights are effectively point sources of light. They give harsh directional light unless you modify it. You've bounced the light and tried to soften it, but it's still fairly directional. You could try buying/making a softbox, or even fabricating a screen between the light and subject will soften it enough...you could try stapling some white tracing paper to a frame, or an off cut of thick net curtain or thin white fabric...you get the idea. Large clip frames are useful..you can stick white paper and foil on either side of the board, and tracing paper to the Perspex to make both a screen and a reflector. Which brings me on to....

Use reflectors to bounce light around when you need high key lighting. A decent reflector closer to the flowers would have helped bounce more light in to the front of the flowers, maybe even a moderately sized mirror (mirrored craft card is very useful, as is tinfoil).

When setting up lights, do it one at a time, ensuring correct exposure for each in turn before combining them. To get a good white background, you need to expose it 1-2 stops over, any less it will be grey, any more and you'll get "bleed round" on the subject and probably flare.
Better to use the lights fully manual if you can, then you'll know the camera/flash isn't thinking for you and changing the exposure. You can alter the light power by moving it further away as well as by adjusting the output.
Don't over complicate it. If you only need one light, use one light. Don't feel you need more because you have them, but consider reflectors and light modifiers. The bigger the softbox/screen, the softer the light, but it needs to be quite close to the subject for maximum effect.

There is a lot you can make for the studio that is free/cheap/fun to do. You don't need to spend big bucks for effective kit.

One more....if you can connect the lights wirelessly, and use commander mode ttl (nikon), you can control most of it from the camera, including exposure compensation/flash compensation. It's a brilliant system once you work out how to use it.


By: Meditator

Loreto (AN) Basilica Santa Casa di Loreto: Palazzo Apostolico by aldo43

Loreto (AN) Basilica Santa Casa di Loreto: Palazzo Apostolico

It looks like a very high structure setting in something like Silver Efex. It can be very effective, but it can also over emphasise small detail to the extent that there is almost too much to take in.

For me, though there is a lot of stonework, I think a smoother rendering would be more sympathetic and concentrate on the subject(s), which here are the figure and the doorway.
I find myself looking more at the detail on the columns.


By: aldo43

The Lone Photographer by tuss234

The Lone Photographer

It took a while to spot him!

The rocks are just fine as they are. This might take a little more colour, and being slightly brighter, but otherwise there's not much to improve.


By: tuss234

Normanton Star Trail by Stevecarr2010

Normanton Star Trail

It's a pretty good effort, more so if it were squared up as Dudler's mod.

I think slightly darker would be better, but not as much as the mod, because you want to keep the brightness of the building, and you lose the subtlety of the trail colours if you darken it too much.

The background light will always be a problem, but if you decrease the shutter speed a little on each frame, it will have less effect when you stack the images. You can also expose for the foreground on a separate frame and combine it with the stack later to help balance the darker sky with the foreground.

Keep at it, not far off nailing it.


By: Stevecarr2010

Promenade by Ciunot


To me it suggests more Jack Vettriano in style. Almost aloofness.

I'd like to have just had the two figures, for me the left one is unnecessary unless it is interacting with the others. Just looking at them would be enough.

Otherwise, a pleasant enough use of one of the mostly dreadful artistic filters.


By: Ciunot

lip by matsumner


The D610 does have an integral flash.

It might have been used as a trigger for another flash, I'm not sure how commander mode shows in the exif, but the settings don't look right. If a flash was anywhere near the camera, and at 6400 ISO, I'd expect this to be completely blown out...ie about 8-10 stops overexposed. There is more than one light lighting this, and maybe another on the background, so 6400 just isn't realistic.

The processing looks like something that falls out of "Portrait Professional" and needs to be dialled back a lot for convincing skin texture. Do the processing on a new layer, then you can adjust the opacity to retain some of the underlying detail. The lack of noise can be attributed to some severe noise reduction, which probably contributes to the model's plasticky look.

I like the simplicity and the concept, but it needs to look more 'real' and less 'Barbie' in the execution.


By: matsumner

empty chairs and deck of green by youmightlikethis

empty chairs and deck of green

Colour, definitely. Black and white version just looks over processed, while the colour version suits the treatment more. It's still over processed, but the limited colour palette doesn't overwhelm.
It could do with a clockwise rotation to level the horizon. Due to the angle of the shoreline, it might be level, but it doesn't look it, and a rotation makes the image look a whole lot better.

Willie: too much of the sauce over christmas? Btw, it's next to the vent pipe, hiding behind the rail!


By: youmightlikethis

A KIND OF EMPATHY by youmightlikethis


It isn't the darkness, it's just over processed, as most of your skies are.

If the figure, and it's connection with the landscape, is the subject, why make the sky compete? You could have had a sorrowful, contemplative, powerful image, instead you have a post-apocalyptic world, where every single part of the image screams for attention. It doesn't suggest sorrow to me, it's just .... alien.


By: youmightlikethis

Shrewsbury Square at Christmas by Fogey

Shrewsbury Square at Christmas

It looks to me like like you have a spot or two of rain on the front of your lens. That's what's causing the flare, which as mentioned, takes on the shape of the aperture.

Difficultly in exposure is less to do with the type of lights, and more to do with the brightness relative to the shadows, and their placement in the frame. You used spot metering, which is tricky in night scenes, as you need to know exactly what you are metering. It's easily fooled if you are off target by a fraction, and I would suggest using matrix metering and/or bracketing exposures either side of the suggested meter reading. That way, you get a little insurance for better exposures, or even just a different take on the scene.

I would also suggest sticking with daylight balance with different light sources. Here, most of the lights will be tungsten, with maybe a few halogens in the shop windows and sodium slighting the building on the right. I wouldn't bother with the flash either, unless you are attempting to balance it with a foreground subject that you want lit. All it does is cause atmosphere-destroying highlights on shiny objects and fluorescent jackets!

I would also suggest you shoot in RAW, mainly because you get to tweak the WB without losing information, and also that there is much more information to play with in processing.

Here, you really need to lift the shadows ever so slightly, don't just brighten it as you will lose the highlights, and crop from both sides (get rid of the figure, and get rid of the green lights left go the statue, then you will have a pretty good night shot.


By: Fogey

SITTING BY THE BY by youmightlikethis


For me, neither.

It's just a shot of a street: no story, no cohesion, no obvious reason for taking it. There are several interesting aspects in the picture that maybe you should have concentrated on (the man on the box, the man with the dogs, the umbrella woman), but that would mean perhaps not being anonymous (which is "safe"). Just snapping away in the street doesn't produce great photos.

You ask us which works better, but really you need to be asking yourself that question. If you can't answer it, you have to consider that neither do, and look at why. Then maybe go back over the comments you've had on previous uploads and see if common themes keep recurring.

If you are familiar with good street photography, you will know when it works.


By: youmightlikethis

shapescape by youmightlikethis


I would suggest that for cohesion whenever you montage images together, that you ensure uniformity. ie, make the two landscape oriented pictures the same size, make the vertical shot the same height as the other two, and the spaces between them all the same. That way, with the white key lines around the images, there is uniform amounts of black and it doesn't look lopsided.

I prefer the colour versions, but they are very blue, purely a matter of taste. The processing is severe, but with modern architecture like this, it suits it, unlike your images with older buildings, but it isn't an abstract montage, it's an architectural one.

You don't really need critique if you're only asking which version we like best. You really need to be making decisions like this for yourself by now, especially if you're not going to change anything about your processing or presentation.


By: youmightlikethis

London Bridge by Tonyc49

London Bridge

It's not as easy to capture the river as it seems at first!
The lights often fool the metering, everything on the river moves slightly unless you hike the ISO (as you have here) to get a faster shutter speed, and the cloudy sky always exhibits the orangey glow from the multitude of tungsten and sodium lights.

It is usually better to shoot when here's a trace of light in the sky, as the balance between the shadows and highlights is better, plus the artificial light doesn't dominate the colour balance so much. The exposure isn't bad, but a little lifting of the shadows will help.
When I enlarge it, it doesn't look too sharp, but then balancing on the balustrade of London Bridge (as I suspect here) allows traffic vibrations to shake the camera. Even a tripod won't help much on a road bridge, but waiting for traffic to stop may be the only way to mitigate the effect unless you have a damped tripod head. One other way is to use a lens with a wider aperture to allow a faster shutter speed, as the ISO is already high. Shooting just after sunset would mean more light in the sky, and probably a nicer colour balance.

It could do with a slight clockwise rotation and I'd clone or crop the highlight in the bottom left corner.

A couple of small points too, it might be better to call it "Tower Bridge" as that is the main subject, and the warship is HMS Belfast.


By: Tonyc49

WISTFULLY BLU[moods on the mile] by youmightlikethis

WISTFULLY BLU[moods on the mile]

To answer your question, no, not for me.
It's all too dark and over-heavy. I don't think the selective colour is selective enough, and it looks careless the way some of the sky and background has been missed. The picture is too dark, and the processing heavy and unsubtle: for me, not really suitable for this image.

Whilst it is undoubtedly street photography, ie it is taken in the street, I don't find much direction in it. It is easy to just shoot random images, but they don't all make good final versions, and this is one of them. There is no feeling of cohesion, and by emphasising the sky so much, it competes with the people for position of main subject. The only bit I find remotely interesting is the dialogue between the two women in the middle of the bustle. And they're almost lost in the darkness.

There is more to good (successful) street photography than just shooting in the streets. There has to be more of a story and fewer disparate elements.
Check out people like Gary Winogrand.


By: youmightlikethis

WHATS WRONG WITH THIS IMAGE by youmightlikethis


What's wrong with the apostrophe?

For me, it's all a bit dark and sombre. Brightening it up will make the man stand out a little more, but you might be better off with someone in lighter clothing. The background is just too busy for him to be so dark.

I'd also lose the vignette and the alarm. The figure doesn't really fit anywhere in the image, there isn't a space for him to naturally fit.
IMHO, a near miss, but you aren't going to improve it much by working this image, a better composition is really required, and tbh, a person walking past a shop/sign/wall/poster has been done so many times, it really needs to be really top notch to stand out.


By: youmightlikethis

Just a perfect day. by JeffHubbardPhotography

Just a perfect day.

I would like to see the seed head sharper, but to me the black and white conversion is not quite as sympathetic to the dandelion as it might be. The bottom of the seed head is starting to get close in tone to the graduated sky. Darkening the sky all over (adding red filtration) would allow it to stand out more, and with the added sharpness it might make the seed head pop more. I'd also clone out that bit of cloud to make the sky background cleaner.

It's just a bit...bland, for me to want to own it, but more impact would definitely help.
Any particular reason you wanted black and white for a subject that would probably have more impact in colour?


By: JeffHubbardPhotography

Book Signing with author, Robert Harris by JeffHubbardPhotography

Book Signing with author, Robert Harris

In this situation, you cannot get everyone's face unless you set the shot up, so I'm not that bothered by it, but I would say seeing what the author is doing more clearly would be better, and you would get at least a profile of him. Moving a smidge to the left would do that.

The only way to answer the question is to see the colour and mono versions side by side.
The black and white is fine, though the feel is very dark due to the flash lighting the people closest to the camera. Again, not much you can do unless there was enough light to not use flash, but as it is gives a sense of intimacy in the room. To that end, I'd suggest cropping the guy on the right out, though it does also get rid of the only other clue it's a book signing, ie the piles of books. Doing this creates more of a feel of the crush of people round the table.

The guy on the right could warrant a picture of his own!


By: JeffHubbardPhotography

Not Me! by ade_mcfade

Not Me!

A competent environmental portrait. The shop tells us more about him than he does, as his face is largely covered, it's a shame the shutter speed has cut half the pictures off on the TV screens.
Not sure what the white protrusion is at the bottom, but it could go as it cuts the clean line of the frame edge.

Getting market vendors and shopkeepers onside in places like this makes it quite hard to take a bad picture, as long as the technical side is ok, as there is always so much interest and animation. I'm not sure whether a colour version would work better, but it don't feel the b&w is very sympathetic to the subject here. It falls between two stools for me....on the one hand, the pure portrait doesn't give you enough information about his character, yet environmentally there is barely enough detail to make the picture either.

I think maybe you could crop it tighter, making him fill the frame, for more impact, and a slight clockwise rotation to square the shelves up slightly.


By: ade_mcfade

Flight. by revilo


Revilo, I just wanted to ask a few questions...

1. Why did you post this image in the critique gallery, instead of the main gallery?
2. What is it you want help with, regarding this image?
3. Why did you not upload the later version of the image, with the corrections included?


By: revilo

Christmas in Chester by Danny1970

Christmas in Chester

The images are indeed all slightly underexposed, due to the bright lights fooling the meter.
The good news, is that you can check each exposure as you take it and adjust accordingly.

With a tripod, you are less bound by having a faster shutter speed, and in these lighting conditions you are unlikely to have a fast enough speed to freeze motion in passers by unless you hike your ISO right up. The downside of that is the quality decreases and noise increases as the ISO goes up, and here, you'd need it to be at least ISO 800 to have any chance of sharp people. You can either accept it or avoid it when shooting in busy places, or try shooting when it's not busy.

I'd also suggest (if using a tripod) shooting in aperture priority mode, and dial in some exposure compensation to adjust the exposure, based on what you get on the screen. Perhaps even bracket exposures one and two stops either side of the meter reading. On a tripod, slower speeds are fine, and with night shots, noise in the shadows is the main problem, so I'd aim for the best quality and use a low ISO. Plus, shoot RAW, as it records the most information, and it's possible to drag out shadows and highlights that would be lost using jpg.


By: Danny1970

Canoeing Diablo Lake by Meganbf

Canoeing Diablo Lake

I'm afraid I'm not really a fan of this selective colour, and I feel the image lacks the balancing effect of colours in other parts of the spectrum.

I'd like to have seen a shot a few seconds later, as the canoe moved into the space between the headland and the dark trees on the left, which would have had the added bonus of putting the canoe in the only space where there's no real detail. It would also have been closer to the bottom left third, which may have balanced the image a little.

I'd be interested to see the original, with colour on the right.


By: Meganbf

Star Trails by Nigeve1

Star Trails

Not quicker, but better, look at photo stacking software online. The inclusion of dark frames and flats increases the signal to noise ratio and cuts pretty much all sensor generated noise. I use Deep Sky Stacker (free) and there are lots of tutorials out there about its use and processing. Other stacking programs are available.

For me, the trails just need to be longer here.


By: Nigeve1

Thank you Critique Team!! by ladigit

Thank you Critique Team!!


Anything that gives you an excuse to take photographs is a good thing.

On to the next challenge!


By: ladigit

Warhorse House by withakat

Warhorse House

Quote: where the NEX-6 doesnt do well at all above ISO 800. Other camera models using precisely the same Sony sensor perform much better, - the Fuji XE-1 being the most notable. Its output will look smeared/smudged, quite like you have here.

Not quite, the Fuji uses a CMOS x-trans sensor, developed for the x-pro 1, which differs in some detail to the standard CMOS Sony sensor. I would have confidence in using the Fuji up to 1600/3200, with a good noise reducer. I've even used it much higher and got decent results. Though the "smearing" has been documented, you are unlikely to have to worry about it too much (google Sony nex landscape images and you'll see what can be achieved). You will however get better results with a lower ISO, wherever you can use it, and the image will be easier to work with later.

This image does appear to have a flattening of the tones, but I think it's more to do with the poor light. Some post production work can boost this image, mainly a separation of tone between the sky and the stonework. For now though, you're better off trying to get as good an image as you can at the taking stage.

The composition is not at all bad and, with the advice you will get here, and some practice at the various camera settings, you'll soon get the hang of good exposure in most situations.


By: withakat