Back Modifications (5)
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By smut01  
Just in search of the silhouette here, as they were in search of the sun.

Tags: Sunset Beach Sun Silhouette Orange Cuba Landscape and travel

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dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
21 Feb 2021 6:28AM
Hi, Tony, and welcome to the Critique Gallery. You've been a site member for several years, so I hope you know what we do here: no votes, no awards, but we give you feedback.

We ask, though, that you give us something to work with: if we're going to give you the best feedback that we possibly can, we need some real input from you, including a lot more information. That way, critique that we give is far more likely to be what you are looking for, and consequently far more helpful to you.

What is your reason for requesting critique?
What inspired you to take this photo?
What were you hoping to achieve?
Do you feel that you succeeded or failed?
Are there any specific elements of your photo that you want help with?
Do you want advice on camera settings, processing, composition, or something else?
Do you have any particular questions you would like answered?

Without that data, it's only possible to offer limited comments - the composition's decent, the horizon's level, settings are generally fine, though Program mode means that you have relinquished control to the camera's brain. I'd be interested in your reasons for making that choice. If you want to lift your pictures above holiday snap level, you need to be considering depth of field, shutter speed, ISO and other settings in terms of the effects you want to achieve. There's little problem with a distant subject and bright light, but for many shots the control is essential to getting the result you want, rather than something different and less beautiful.

Over to you...

However - the fact remains that the more you tell us, the more we can help.
21 Feb 2021 6:49AM
Hi Dudler
many thanks for this!
I was on an evening walk with my family at the time. Normally I'll judge speed and aperture based on the subject matter, but if I'm out strolling, with no particular objective in mind, I'll set the camera to programme mode so that if I see something I can take a quick shot. Although you can't see from this shot, there was a storm just to the left and it was moving in very fast, I had very little time to take the shot.

The people in the shot seemed to be enjoying the few moments they has before the storm hit, so I was hoping to capture that, the light was terrible too, dark outside the shot but bright into the sun. I Thought the horizon to be either too high or low, what do you think? Without a tripod and with little time, what would you suggest for shooting into the sun, should I aim for a shorter depth of field?

I often feel that too much processing is cheating, would you think making the shot more vibrant would work?

I'm sorry I was initially so vague, and many thanks indeed!
capto Plus
9 6.8k 25 United Kingdom
21 Feb 2021 8:27AM
A photo opportunity not to be missed. I think just a simple crop of the rather plain sky to put the horizon on the third, after making sure it is level is all it needs.
21 Feb 2021 8:35AM
That's good advice. Many thanks for that, I will certainly give that a go!
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
21 Feb 2021 9:00AM
Thank you for the extra info. That gives us something to work with.

First, a 'walking around' setting - I'd never use Program, to be honest: I tend to keep my camera (full frame, with an 85mm lens on it) set to f/5.6, Aperture priority, and 200 ISO, and I dial in a bit of exposure compensation as needed, often after the first frame. Adjustments take a couple of seconds, no more.

Shooting into the sun towards sunset, it will always be dark everywhere but into the sun. The contrast range will be very large, and you have to sacrifice detail somewhere. I'd do as you've done, and let the shadows go dark.

One thing I'd have done differently, I think, is to make sure focus was on the figures - to my eye, it's on the sea in the background. Would I have aimed for greater depth of field? I think I'd either have aimed for more, or less, and a twirl of the aperture dial would have allowed me to have both within seconds. That would have let me make the choice later.

One thing that strikes me from what you've said and how you've said it is that it's worth having the understanding of your camera controls not just at your fingertips, but IN them - the same way you can change gear in your car without looking down at the gear lever, it's good to be able to adjust your aperture, exposure compensation and shutter exposure (not to mention ISO and focus spot choice) with your camera at eye level. And as digital costs a tiny amount per frame, shoot all the variations.

Horizon? I didn't particularly notice it, and it's tricky, given where the sun is. Putting it on a third (which isn't a bad thing to do, at all - I've posted a blog about that today!) is awkward, given that it would bisect the sun. Maybe the solution was a portrait format and a slightly wider zoom setting, so that the lads and the sun could be on opposite thirds.

I hope that helps a bit more.
21 Feb 2021 9:35AM
Hi again and a great many thanks for this, all excellent advice. Yes, I need to be much quicker at moving between settings and at reacting to differing situations and the portrait is a great idea, something I never even considered - at the time or after.

Your walking around setting sounds ideal, I will certainly give that a go.

Thanks again!
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
21 Feb 2021 11:23AM
I should add that I have a love of short telephoto lenses, as I take a lot of portraits and nudes, for which they are ideal. I also enjoy differential focus, for which the wider aperture of fixed focal length lenses works well. Other people I know use other focal lengths - 24mm or 35mm work well for street pictures.

The good news, for you, is that a 50mm lens gives much the same field of view on your APS-C sensor: the cheapest lens Canon make, and there's always the Chinese version from Yongnuo - I've used one, and it's an OK lens - especially for £50 brand new.
21 Feb 2021 11:38AM
A great many thanks once again! I've recently invested in a couple of lenses, but on a tight budget, it's not easy! I bought a canon 18 - 135 and a canon 10 - 18, and am looking forward to getting out and about with that one... when the world once more becomes available to us!
Thanks so much for your help, never used a fixed focal length lens before, I'll look into that too.
Take care
chase Plus
16 2.2k 578 England
21 Feb 2021 1:00PM
Hi Tony and welcome to the Critique Gallery.
Really good to hear from you, especially with that extra info, it makes all the difference.
I like your idea and I love the silhouettes, especially the contact between the two standing people.

Just watch out for the magenta/red colour fringing, usually caused when there is a stark contrast going on.

A crop from the top would perhaps be a good idea to put the horizon on the upper third of the frame.
I did a drastic mod.... Blush
Cropped from the top and then used a square crop to really put the people right into view.
Corrected the slight barrel distortion here.

As John has mentioned you need a much better focus on the people rather than the water then the silhouettes would be much clearer.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2457 United Kingdom
21 Feb 2021 1:33PM
Welcome from me - I'm a bit late here.

I think John has given the advice that came into my mind immediately. Focus on the figures; and try to take control of settings, because that is how you will familiarise yourself with them so that it becomes instinctive, a matter of seconds...

I really like this, the timing is perfect for strong body language. Silhouettes can be so expressive...

There are technical issues, arising I think from the extreme light conditions. Some fringing round the figures, plus banding in the sky. I've added my own modification, which is half way between the first two. I went for a tighter crop, placing the horizon on the upper third and the tallest figure on the right third. The rule of thirds is a cliché, but it can create a very satisfying sense of order. There can also be a lot of fun to be had from breaking it... Wink

And then b&w worked in Nik Silver Efex, with a frame because I think a frame gives the sense of a special, private place.

I hope you'll enjoy the Critique Gallery and find it useful.
banehawi Plus
17 2.5k 4263 Canada
21 Feb 2021 2:06PM
Best to underexpose a little more for a silhouette I think.

Mono can work too.

I would crop to a portrait (vertical) format, mod uploaded, made all figures deep black, sharpened.

pamelajean Plus
15 1.6k 2238 United Kingdom
21 Feb 2021 4:36PM

Quote:I often feel that too much processing is cheating

I hope you won't mind me picking up on this.
Perhaps you could look at it as an extension of what you do with your camera, and as part of the creative process of a photographer.
Image manipulation or enhancement are NOT a product of the digital age. Since the beginning of photography, photos have been developed using some sort of process. The only difference was that you needed a darkroom, chemicals, filters, masks, and a plethora of other equipment in order to enhance your images.
When we took our film to a lab, they tried to make them look as good as possible by working on contrast, colour, exposure, etc. No-one called photographers frauds - or cheats!
We now have a digital darkroom, which is a modern extension of the original darkroom.

You will find that some people say they don't touch their pictures, they come right out of the camera that way. But they don't come out that way on their own. Your camera is making adjustments even before you see the photo, so don’t assume that the photo you took is completely un-adjusted.

Don't get me wrong. Getting everything right at the time of shooting is a fine ambition, but it rarely turns out that way. Most of the amazing photos you see will have begun with something quite different.

"Some people say they don’t believe in post processing.
Post processing doesn’t need to be believed, it needs to be done."

Willie (banehawi) has said, "You don’t have to believe in post processing, you need to understand it."

Overdoing processing is where problems lie. The post processing shouldn't be the first thing you notice when looking at an image.

I hope you will re-think this.

dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
21 Feb 2021 9:21PM
Sorry - I missed that one.

Is too much processing cheating? Only yourself, if you feel you have to spend hours at the computer 'constructing' pictures, when you really want to be out taking them. And I reckon a lot of people are sloppy with camerawork because they believe that they can fix anything in Photoshop. They probably can - but it's easier to not have to fix it, just to polish a little, or apply specific processing to get particular results.

I very rarely use zoom lenses: it's a completely different way of shooting, and while all lenses are 'just tools' they have very different feels to them. worth trying the other approach some time - you might find it suits you!
22 Feb 2021 6:41AM
Sorry to all to be so late in coming back... family commitments and all that!

I'm staggered at the amount of help and advice given and so grateful for the amount of time you have devoted to me. These are all excellent pieces of advice and I love the adjustments made - all of them.

Thank you once again, I will endeavour to take them on board in the future.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2457 United Kingdom
22 Feb 2021 8:08AM
Thanks for joining in the conversation, this is how the Critique Gallery works best! It's so much more productive when we get a dialogue going.

I'm going to pick up on the processing discussion. A lot of people who shoot jpegs believe that 'straight out of camera' means unprocessed. As mentioned above, with jpegs the camera does a lot of processing, for contrast, colour etc, and then records only about 30% of the total data available. So the file is massively edited.

The alternative is to shoot Raw files, where just about all data is recorded - then processing is essential. It's something that you may consider, but it does require suitable software, time, storage capacity and it's a steep learning curve.

So 'getting it right in camera' is the aim, but it does not necessarily mean that no processing is required! Processing is about ending up with what you saw in your mind's eye at the time of shooting - which may not be exactly what the camera saw.

I have read accounts of Ansel Adams's darkroom printing techniques, which make most of my processing look pretty tame by comparison...

I hope we shall see more from you. You will get a better standard of discussion in the Critique Gallery than in the main gallery, though serious discussion there is not unknown!
22 Feb 2021 8:32AM
Hi Moira
A great many thanks once again, wonderful advice. I must admit that I did a lot of processing back in the days of my old zenith when I had a darkroom ... feels like a thousand years ago now, so I'm no stranger to it to be honest. I should have been clearer really. I do use photoshop a great deal to 'alter' shots, but I see them after that as something different. I'm not making a very good job of explaining this - apologies. I've uploaded a photo today where this is the case.

I have also used the raw setting on occasion, when I was experimenting with HDR, but the processing of the images was a little too time consuming.

Thank you once again for taking the time to go through this with me, it really is appreciated!
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
22 Feb 2021 11:03AM
HDR is a whole different ballgame, and proper HDR needs multiple shots at different exposures - a useful technique when contrast in a scene is excessive.

And RAW makes sense all the time for the extra control it gives in processing.

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