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29/05/2015 - 2:32 PM

Tired Hunter

Tired HunterHi Lily - welcome to EPZ Smile

For someone who says they're "new to this", I'd say you've done a cracking job with your first upload! Well done on catching 'the moment' here, just as the cat's yawning (I always want to put my finger in their mouths when they yawn, but that's probably not the best idea in the world Grin).

Exposure-wise, you've got nice detail across most of the fur - there's a couple of tiny bits where there's no detail (what's called 'blown out whites' or 'blowing the highlights') - mostly noticeable on the upper part of the cat's nose. As you become more experienced and familiar with your camera and its features, you'll start to recognise situations like this where brightly lit areas might possibly 'blow out', and you'll learn to adjust your camera's settings accordingly.

Compositionally, overall not too bad either Smile Things like eyes they always say to try and put on an intersection of thirds (google the 'Rule of Thirds' - it's a compositional guideline where you overlay a series of lines across your image, side to side and top to bottom). Ideally you want a point of interest in your image to sit on or near one of the intersection points of two lines. However, these are guidelines and not rules to be stuck rigidly to ... although it's a good idea to learn them first to get a good basic understanding of composition, and ways that you can place elements within your image for maximum effect.

I think the only other thing I'd suggest is to be watchful for things coming across your subject - here, the grass is coming across the cat's face which can be a distraction to your viewer, as they'll be looking at that instead of your main subject (i.e. the cat). It's not always possible to move things like that out of the way, as sometimes you miss the moment while trying to 'tidy up' the area around your subject, but just be mindful of it as you go about photographing things.

I'd best shut up now (I always talk too much!). One thing I would suggest you get yourself at some point (if you haven't already) is a good basic book on photography - one that deals with all the bits you probably want to know, or don't yet realise you need to know, and give it a good read. You'll pick up all sorts of advice, tips and inspiration from it.

All in all, a very nice first image to start your portfolio off with Grin

27/05/2015 - 2:30 PM


fiverI'll be completely upfront in saying that I didn't comment on this one at first, as I honestly didn't know what to say other than that it was a little underexposed Smile
However, reading the other comments above has given me a couple of ideas that I never thought I'd be applying to a fiver, but there you go!

The level of detail you've got is actually really very good - it's amazing how much we take for granted in our everyday lives, and how something like this image can tip it all on its head. I never realised that the texture of paper money could be so flamin' interesting ...

Still, having said that, I think the only think I'd have liked to have seen on yours is the 'F' of the words 'FIVE POUNDS' that come from the left hand side at the top. Given Moira's comment about how we read from left to right, visually, starting off with a word that's not complete isn't right in my wonderfully straight mind Wink

So I've added a little space on the left and put an 'F' back in ... not sure if it's better or not?

The other thing I did in my mod, as well as adjusting levels (like the others above) and blurring that bottom signature a little, is to go a bit arty farty with your fiver ... I initially converted it to black and white, to see whether taking colour away made the puzzle of the subject any different. Then I decided to add a soft blue to yellow pastel gradient to it instead, to mimic the original colours, but using a Soft Light blend mode.

I'm not sure what you'll make of my mod, but it was definitely an interesting one to play with and to really see, rather than just look at, so thanks! Grin

27/05/2015 - 12:38 PM


Shearwater.I love the soft, dreamy tranquil feeling you've caught here, so full marks on that score. Getting up at stupid o'clock in order to catch magic like this is well worth losing a couple of hours worth of kip for Grin Given that the image was actually taken at just after 5am, you'd have had to be in position ready and waiting well before that time - and if this is your first conscious attempt at landscape photography, I definitly think it's something you should pursue.

So just to give you another, completely different approach to try with post processing, I've done you a mod as well Smile I've cropped to square format and removed the two things I found most distracting in your original - namely, that tree stump bottom left and that tent. I don't personally find that grassy area so much of a problem, and as my mod really utilises that diagonal river bank to disect the image corner to corner, for me it now almost becomes an image of two halves.

The other thing I've done, to try and counteract the oversharpening evident in your original and to capitalise on those soft dreamy colours, is to give it a bit of an Orton treatment Grin (just google the Orton Effect, if you want to try it yourself some time). You may hate it, you may not Grin Either is fine, because it's just another way of thinking about presenting the image after you've taken it.

27/05/2015 - 11:25 AM


OF SOLITUDE ANDV1 for me of the two images - although the sky does need taking down a bit, as currently it's overpowering the scene underneath it.

May I also suggest a finer inner keyline around the image? That heavy white one is too distracting and actually takes the attention away from the drama and mood of your mono conversion. I think I'd also like to see a fraction more detail in that very dark headland - at the moment, it's a very dark black lump of stuff. For me, a touch more tonal contrast and detail would allow the eye to wander through the scene towards that point, where there's still something to linger over.

But yeah, as far as drama goes - V1 has it all Smile
Saturday evening. The dweller of Santa Brigida. Gran Canaria.Well, it's not blue which is a big bonus in my eyes Smile I do like it though - he looks like a happy chap, who's just sitting enjoying a beer and a smoke in the sunshine. I think that even at that time in the afternoon, the light's quite harsh (especially on a head that is slightly lacking in the hair dept) - so you've got quite a bit of extreme contrast happening here.

I think my mod is very similar to Willie's in terms of brightening the shadow areas, although I've cropped in more from the right hand side. I don't think that dark doorway does anything for the image and is therefore a distraction instead of helping the image.

Rain and wind. Lago Maggiore. ItalyAnother nice scene, Alexandar.

I rather like the combination of the cold distant sky and hills, and the warm reds of the fallen leaves and splashes of red paint and rope in the foreground. For me, they don't clash at all or seem out of harmony with each other.

I think your horizon needs a slight anti-clockwise rotation (about 0.7 degrees) and I'd suggest either leaving the small boat on the left edge out completely, or ensuring that when you compose in-camera, you include all of it instead. Having it cut in half, the way you've got it here, makes that side of the image feel incomplete to me.

18/05/2015 - 1:25 PM


ContemplationI completely agree with Albert about the stained glass not being necessary. With it, the eye is immediately pulled upwards to that top edge and the rest of the image almost doesn't register.

Without those windows, the softness of the light, the importance of the solitary man, the book and the wonderful lines of the pews takes on a whole new meaning.

I'm tempted to think it needs a fractional CW rotation, though? Looking at the edge of the wall just below the windows, it seems a tiny bit down on the left hand side?

Lake Mergozzo - satellite Lago MaggioreThis dark blue isn't an effect that appeals to me personally, but it does give a very dramatic feeling to your image here, Alexander Smile

I really like the placement of that rope, which does indeed draw the viewer into the scene. The other thing that's quite intriguing (for me, anyway) is the position you were in to take the image? Were you standing on the jetty, or the quay? It doesn't matter in a way, as the position gives the feeling of being part of the lake.

I've done you a quick mod where I've just straightened up that little house on the left a bit. While I do like the crazy angle of it in one sense, I suppose for the sake of 'correct' verticals it really should be upright, and not be looking like it's had one too many in its own pub Grin

The other thing I did, like sawsengee and John above, is to crop out a lot of that foreground. It's so dark that it's like a black hole before the boats ... yes, there's some interesting bits of green algae in that area, and I've tried to keep some of that in my mod, but it really doesn't contribute anything to the image and I personally think it's better off removed.

Anyway, see what you think.


[Edit: Oops, just realised there's a fine white line down the right hand side of my mod from the lens correction which I forgot to remove. Please ignore that piece of rubbish editing!! Grin]
14/05/2015 - 2:04 PM

Beach near Setubal Portugal

Beach near Setubal PortugalHello again Martin Smile

There is so much potential in this image! Keith has covered above many of the reasons why it currently doesn't have that impact - but as you'll hopefully see from the mods uploaded so far, that's very easily sorted with a bit of tweaking in post process.

I've also done you 2 versions to consider - both of them are an absolute square format (600 x 600 pixels). I've cloned out the very small boat and other tiny bits on the horizon line - they're not big enough to be recognisable and as such, are just a distraction for the eye.

Mod 1 is a mono variation of your original which, although very similar to Keith's, I think puts emphasis on different parts of the water rivulets in the wet sand.
Mod 2 is a dark, moody warm-toned version of my Mod 1. I liked the warm tone of your original, but it was just a bit wishy-washy, so I 'oomphed it up' a bit Grin

There's so much good in this image and the shapes that water makes through sand is one of those endlessly fascinating subjects ... and they also look fantastic as artistic images.

14/05/2015 - 11:50 AM

Green Waves

Green WavesDon't stop, as I'm loving these Smile

With this one, I think the combination of greens, yellows and the greys in the sky are gorgeous. The tiny line of trees on the left of the brow, and the small individual ones on the right of it, are perfectly placed.

It's one of those scenes that, for me, could even go softer in appearance rather than harsher. I suppose I'm thinking softly diffused, possibly something like the Orton effect, to give a sense of dreamy timelessness? Personal choice, obviously Grin

I've done a mod (seeing as you did enable them Wink) where I've gone with a much more letterbox format. I love the foreground and the brow of the hills and for me the sky, though lovely, is only a secondary supporting act. Keeping it in does give a huge sense of space and balance, but hopefully you won't mind my alternative view of your gorgeous scene Smile

12/05/2015 - 12:48 PM


ButterflyI think that hand-holding, even at a supposedly high enough shutter speed with that focal length, has given you a touch of softness here (or that could be down to the textures?). Great in many way, as I know you're not trying to create something that's pin sharp. Using the textures has also enhanced this creative feeling too, so all good there.

I think the only thing I'd say is that you almost need to go more obvious - either with the texture side of things or with the grain side of things. As it is, it might be easy for someone to briefly look at this image and think "Well, that's not a good macro - it's not even sharp!" (Yeah, I know, but they would ... they wouldn't see past the technical in order to reach the creativity involved.)

I love the soft muted colour palette and the placement of your (two-legged?!) butterfly on the flower. But for me personally, I think it needs to be more obviously a 'creative' image ... does that make any sense? (That is only my own personal thought, of course - you may well be thinking along completely different lines!! Grin)

12/05/2015 - 12:36 PM

His Highness

His HighnessHi Mario - to be fair, apart from one or two very tiny areas, this is probably the best yet. I know you're a perfectionist though, and as you've put the image in for feedback, I've uploaded a mod where I've marked in red two very small areas on the right hand side where the background is showing through fractionally (along the edge of the coat) and another area just under the feather where there's a very tiny part of the feather that seems to be floating in mid-air. These aren't even really visible unless the file is blown up a bit (200%) but those are the bits that jumped out at me and I know that you'll want to sort them out.

I've also marked in red an area under the furthest eye and along the edge of the nose - there's no background issue here, but here your selection is almost too crisp. (I know you may be thinking that sounds contrary, but in real life humans aren't that perfect Smile). You could go along this edge with the blur tool, set to very small and very soft and using a low opacity. This will just eliminate that sharp perfection and help it to blend in with the background just a tiny bit. Feathering your selection mask a touch would also sort this one out if you want to.

As for the rest of it - it's very well photographed indeed. I love the way the light is on the guy's face ... that is just beautiful. There's no direct eye contact but I don't personally find that an issue at all. and the clarity of that hat and feather is just wow Grin (You could, if you wanted, take down the sharpness and brightness of the hat and feather a touch, just to stop it dominating the top half of the guy, but that's my own personal preference and you may well feel differently about it.)

Your selection around the beardy bit, the eyebrow and the eyelashes is superb, by the way - I'm amazed you got all those tiny individual hairs in the beard!

There's something very classic about this series you're doing and I like them a lot.

08/05/2015 - 11:45 AM


BALD EAGLE   AT MONTSBERG 02I have to confess I didn't see the first upload of this gorgeous chap, and now that I have this one, unfortunately, isn't as good Sad There's some fairly obvious camera shake going on here, due no doubt to your fairly slow shutter speed at a focal length of 200mm (I'm assuming hand-held?). That is such a shame, as I definitely prefer the composition of this one over the other one. You could possibly rescue it to a degree in post-processing, but that's nowhere near as good as getting the focus bang-on in the first place. It's a great effort, but I do prefer the other one personally.
07/05/2015 - 4:14 PM


ButterflyTracy - have you thought about one of the (fairly) inexpensive lens-mounted ring flash type thingies? They're LED, so not a 'flash' as such and provide a constant light source, but it might be worth it for this kind of thing. No chance of blinding the butterflies with the flash when it goes off and (in theory) gets the flash where you need it - i.e. on the end of the lens rather than on the top of the camera.

The other thing is to get an off-camera flash cord and use between the hotshoe on the top and the bottom of the flash unit itself - then you can just hold it to one side or the other (or wherever, really) to get the benefits of flash without the problems of shadows on the subject from the close focus and the end of the lens interferring with the light from the flash Smile

07/05/2015 - 1:39 PM

Savoy Truffle

Savoy TruffleHiya Kurt - hope you don't mind, but I couldn't resist a mod to see whether I could tone down that bright blue/magenta effect from the window light. More of a technical exercise for me, than anything else.

There's nothing wrong with it, by the way - it's very colourful and does add something, in its own way, to the overall feel of the image. All I did was to use a Hue/Saturation adjustment mask and take down the saturation (and lightness) of the blue and the magenta sliders. A little bit of noise reduction and a minor crop left, right and bottom and job done Smile I may have taken the noise reduction too far and it's now too smooth, and although I did try and bring back some details it doesn't have that lovely gritty quality of your original.

Hope you don't mind.
I Wouldn't give that a second glance....
Quote: Women... It's a bloody good job we don't listen to them too much eh!!! I could sit and look at it all day!!!!

Ooooh, the cheeck of it!!! AND I just voted for you!!!!! Grin (only kidding ... the cheek bit, not the vote bit ...)

Of the three, V1 is my least favourite if I'm being super honest. Not because it's not a good photograph - it is. But I think that Vs 2 and 3 are processed in a way that draws the eye, whereas V1 is almost too monotone for a colour image. Maybe if it were processed differently, either more vibrant colouration for the foreground vegetation (such as it is) OR pure moody mono, it would stand out more.

If it weren't next to Vs 2 and 3, I think I wouldn't hesitate in saying 'stash it'. I still think it's definitely a keeper, but perhaps with just a wee tweak here and there?

07/05/2015 - 11:29 AM


PleasureAm I allowed to be blunt??

The hair's brilliant - that works really well.
That thingy behind her (whatever the heck it is!) is a fantastic addition - it adds interest and another visual achor for the main subject. I like the shadows it's casting on the girl's body.
The lighting is wonderful - yes, it's a tad harsh but it actually fits in with the overall feeling of the image.

The one bit (well, two actually) that I'm unsure about is (1) there's something odd about the tonal contrast on the legs that has nothing to do with the shadows falling on them - it's like the legs from one person with a different skin tone and texture to the upper body and (2) the ... err ... 'lady garden' area isn't quite right in my eyes. In 'someone' with that slim physique, yes you'd naturally expect to see a 'thigh gap' (or whatever the hell they call it nowadays) but in that particular position I'd maybe expect the flesh of the upper leg to just come over that area a little, especially at the top inner thigh, given the nature of gravity on flesh?

Don't know what you'll think of those thoughts, but you also know I'll always be honest with you about the renders Smile I know you're working with something that isn't real, but even so my eyes want to see something as close to reality as possible, even in those circumstances. Your skill with this stuff is amazing and I know you also go for perfection in what you create, so ... I'm just sayin' Tongue

05/05/2015 - 2:10 PM

Round the Bend

Round the BendThis is one of those scenes that has huge potential and is definitely worth going back to a few times, once you decide on your final composition, to see how the light changes the feel of things. I think that both of your versions have merit, they're just different. And, of course, it all depends on what you want to convey.

Building on what EllyNelly said above, about the gate subconsciously blocking the viewer's progress through it and into the scene beyond, I've done a quick (okay, not so quick ...) mod where I've kind of opened the gate a bit, to give more of an invitation feeling. Just to see, really, how the gate being opened instead changed the feeling overall.

I did try moving the pump up closer to the branches, as you said in your description, but with this angle of view it kind of didn't really work well so I changed it back in the end Smile

I like the tree on the right hand side, as I think that it feels like a book-end kind of container for the view, and also helps to steer that view through the gate. Likewise, the dense left hand side does the same thing, although I have cropped a bit off it in my mod (also from the top down - don't ask me why as I honestly don't know. It just looked better that way to my eye with the other things I'd done Grin).

Anyway, have a look and see what you think of the open gate idea. It's not the best clone job in the world, so excuse that. The toning is done using a ColorLookup layer, set to the preset TealOrangeplusContrast.3DL (this is a Photoshop CS6 specific thing, by the way, which you may or may not have). It's just another idea to give a slightly forbidding feel to the image which, combined with the open inviting gate, might give a feeling of a little tension in the image?

04/05/2015 - 3:10 PM

Controlled by their mistakes

Controlled by their mistakesI know this is a serious image to all intents and purposes, but like Moira I can't quite stop smiling at the Nora Batty moments and being discovered in the woods wrapping a young lady in blue wool ... Grin

Still, I love it. It's quirky but with a very sinister feeling to it. However, the warmth of the tones in your version above, for me, are a touch too warm and almost jolly. So I've done a mod for you - not because I needed to in order to correct anything (other than the fractional tilt Willie mentioned) but just to see how a different feel would affect the image. I used Nik's Analogue Effex Pro, the Classic Camera 9 preset, and played with the film type a bit (the hue side of things).

I added a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer too, to take back the red of the nails (I set the Reds to -80 Saturation and -40 Lightness - this has affected some of the red in the vegetation, but for my eyes that's not a bad thing Smile

You do come up with some interesting stuff!

30/04/2015 - 4:46 PM


TrialsOkay, so in theory (good ol' theory Grin) ... your base layer (i.e. the background layer with the litle lock icon next to it) is the flowerhead, yes?

I think what she means by Step 3 is to duplicate the background, apply the USM to that duplicated layer and then go to Layer/Layer Mask/Hide All - that should give you a black layer mask next to the layer you've added the USM to ... the black layer mask will hide the effect of the USM until you paint on it with a white brush, to 'reveal' what's underneath (see mod1). Remember the layer mask mantra ... 'Black conceals; White reveals' with layer masks - if it's black, you won't see the effect, if it's white, you will.

So, then you've got your texture(s) layers above that one and you've done your blending and stuff that you want?

I think Step 7 is the same principle as Step 3, although I can't be sure whether she means to do the gaussian blur on one of the texture layers or a 'stamped' complete image. You could try creating a stamped version of the whole thing (Shift+Ctrl+E) - this should appear at the very top of your layer stack. Duplicate that stamped layer, and apply the diffuse glow or gaussian blur to it. It should go all blurry and you'll be wondering what the hell you've done! Smile But then do the same thing as you did before, with adding a black layer mask to the duplicate and 'painting in' on the layer mask itself with white, in order to reveal the effects of the gaussian blur effect where you want it.

Does that make any sense, or have I confused things even more?