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was it the bad camera or lack of photo skill?

By learnphoto
Hello friends:

wondering if someone could help me to find if I need a better camera or improve my skill. Grin

Here is a sample picture, along with the problems of the picture.

Thank you.

Camera: Nikon D7100, Lens: Nikon 1.4G

1. the color and the picture: in summary, it is very "flat".
the water and sky was blue but shows as green/greyish/yellowish

2. sharpness: the portrait and picture is not sharp . looks like one done by a cell phone, not a SLR

3. the picture look dull, does not have an sense of "jump out".

4. overrall, this is a bright sunny day on beach; however, the picture does not look "bright" but gloomy.

Tags: Portraits and people D7100


banehawi Plus
15 2.2k 4083 Canada
20 Dec 2019 5:03AM
Hi, and welcome.

This image was taken 6 years ago, so It would be good to see something more recent if you are derious aout learning.

to answer your questions: 1, yes, the image is very flat and dull; on my screen the water looks fine (remember the screen you use to view must be calibrated to display tones accurately for photos.

2. Theres nothing really bad with sharpness, - its all connected with the flat and dull exposure.

3. Same as 1 and 2, theses no "POP"

4. It is NOT the camera.

First, you are shooting from a position where there a lot of bright sky, - so you would need to use positive exposure compensation to brighten the subject, which is a lot darker than the background sky. This alone will give you a brighter image. Also, spot metering can tend to produce underexposure, - use the default matrix metering.

In post processing, you ca improve contrast, because the duality of the light is diluting black, leaving very little shadows, which when addressed also improve the image.

The subjects ace is shaded by the hat, so in post processing you can apply a little more brightness to her face,. This could be done by using the cameras flash.

Ive uploaded a modification showing these changes, and with the sea level to show the difference,



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mrswoolybill Plus
13 1.8k 2144 United Kingdom
20 Dec 2019 8:09AM
Welcome to ePHOTOzine! And thanks for stating your questions so clearly, I wish more people did that...

Willie has covered it comprehensively. I'll just add - the word photography means drawing with light, light is everything. We need to work with it, not against. Watch the angle that light is hitting the subject, watch for strong background light that will mess with the camera's brain. My first thought here was - needed a small plus exposure compensation.

I'll also add, as a Nikon user, that I avoid the Cloudy WB setting like the plague. It seems to give a slightly 'muddy' look. Better in my book to shoot Raw, use Auto WB and tweak later as necessary - auto results are much easier to tweak than a customized setting that hasn't worked out. Well that's my experience...
capto Plus
7 6.0k 15 United Kingdom
20 Dec 2019 8:14AM
Most images benefit from some processing adjustments, I have modified with a few tweaks in Photoshop.
dudler Plus
16 1.0k 1575 England
20 Dec 2019 9:50AM
And welcome from me, too.

I'll echo and summarise the advice others have given...

It's not the camera!

It's worth polishing any picture in an editing program, to correct exposure, sharpness, tilted horizons and cropping, as well as white balance and contrast. Do you use any sort of editing software?

Where the background is bright (sky, for instance), a little plus exposure compensation in auto modes can help. It doesn't affect manual exposures, though. (I'd have shot this in Aperture priority, with possibly +2/3 exposure compensation. It's easier, usually, than Manual, unless you REALLY understand exposure and yoru metering system.)

The best way to improve is to take lots of pictures, and review them carefully, analytically, and soon. Feel free to post her every time you can, and then go out and apply the feedback you get.
dark_lord Plus
15 2.4k 620 England
20 Dec 2019 12:16PM
Welcome from me tgoo.

It's a good camera and a good lens.

It's all covered above. Learn and practice the skills for capturing images.
Learn also the post processing techniques to make the small adjustments need to get that 'pop' - these are the basics and are often all you need, nothimg fancy or complicated.

As the modifications show, there's a decent image here waiting to get out.
mrswoolybill Plus
13 1.8k 2144 United Kingdom
20 Dec 2019 1:10PM
One further thing that I should have mentioned - I will second other comments about post-processing. It's not cheating, it's part of the digital package. A digital file (preferably Raw, which records all available data, not just a fraction of it as jpegs do), contains so much potential for improvement. Enhancing it, bringing out that potential, is as important as darkroom skills were in film days, and in a number of ways there are remarkably close similarities between the two!
paulbroad 12 131 1288 United Kingdom
20 Dec 2019 1:48PM
As above and definitely not te camera's fault. Looks under exposed and spot metering is likely to be the cause. You need to be able to recognise such issues yourself, preferably on the LCD so you can reshoot immediately.

I would be on aperture priority and no compensation for rhe first try wit matrix meterin. Then, if needed, a little positive correction.

pablophotographer 8 1.4k 361
31 Dec 2019 2:41AM
Hello and welcome!

I hope all the above comments give you sufficient advice. It is not necessary to repeat what has been told. The camera is a tool and along with the software they will take your photography as far as you can make good use of them.

But your photographs can get even much better if you give some thought to your subjects and the surrounding conditions BEFORE you take the picture.

For example here:
Are you shooting the portrait of a person or their fashion and their accessories? Apart from the dress is it necessary for the model to wear a hat and glasses at almost 7pm and especially when it's so cloudy? Wouldn't her face light up if she did not have the hat on? Sure! Wouldn't it be better if she was looking at you having her head turned and possibly smiling? What if the beach, not just the sea and the sky was present in your frame. Imagine her posing with one arm extended letting some sand fell off her hand...

No camera or post-production software can make the picture for you. Before you practice with the camera, focus on sharpening your Thinking.


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