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07/10/2015 - 6:50 PM

Let me see

Let me seeThere's a natural frame in the two vertical posts near the man: I'd probably have done a portrait-format shot using them.

As there's the extra width here, and the statues on the right are interesting, I've not cropped past square: I may have to try a second mod to frame more tightly, though still keeping the pole on the right as a natural frame-within-the-frame.

Found rim lighting is to be treasured, and shot carefully. Well done for spotting it and using it.
06/10/2015 - 5:51 PM

China Town

China TownI can help with the screen: there's a setting in the menu for switching the viewfinder from showing a nice bright colour image all the time to showing the effect of the camera settings and exposure. On a 7r (Mk I) it's the second screen of options under the cogwheel, at the bottom: on a 7 Mk II (which might be the same as your 7R Mk II), it's at the top of the third screen. The text at the left says Live View Display, and on the right, it's Setting Effect OFF/ON.

I find the Sony monochrome effects striaght from the camera are pretty good, and use both B/W and sepia effects from JPG files regularly (shocked gasps from other Critique Team members).

However, there's one proviso: where the contrast is low, colour can make up for it: a B/W version can have low contrast. You may need to tweak in Levels - all other things being equal, this will sort things.

But they're not always equal, of course.

Colours that look well-separated can prove to record as similar greys - this is why monochrome film users often use coloured filters.

Using the effects setting in your viewfinder will help, I think.

And... Again, colour sort of deadens the effect of different lighting arrangements. With B/W, you need to be more conscious of what light there is, and how it brings out shape, form, and texture. Some shots are naturals for B/W - and others aren't.
Blue twilight. Manarola ignited. LiguriaAlexander -

Part of our aim in the Critique Gallery is to equip the posters here with all the skills they need to get the technicalities right themselves...

If you are consistently getting too much blue with manual white balance, it will probably be good to alter your standard setting, rather than correcting in software every time: quicker, in the end!

Similarly, with exposure - you consistently use manual exposure, and underexpose shots, which suggests that you can improve your technique in metering. (A thought - many people posting here use manual, but then seem to follow the meter slavishly, rather than understanding exposure. It could be worth trying a handheld meter for a change, and going through a series of exercises to understand what meters tell you about the light, and the subject...)

And it is worth practicing technique on subjects that don't matter: your own garden/back yard/street will allow you to play with white balance and exposure, so that when you are looking at wonderful vistas like this, you can nail the technicalities, almost without thinking about them...
04/10/2015 - 6:19 PM

God made Symmetric

God made SymmetricBeautiful, and possibly quite lucky to get so much quality with a zoom lens at its longest focal length, and maximum aperture. Stopping down a fraction would have made certain of overall sharpness, and a higher shutter speed would have made sure of no camera shake, and limited subject movement.

That would have required a higher ISO setting, though - or more light.

Given the light level, it's worked well as a nature record shot.

For my taste, perhaps a little less saturation in the greens, and a little more contrast - done in my mod.

Nice and patient work.
04/10/2015 - 3:09 PM

Walks of life

Walks of lifeThere are lots of compositional options here: but most of them need more space at the bottom. Often, it's best to shoot slightly wide, and crop in editing, rather than risk cutoff.

Davide's mod (skram) works with what there is, and makes a cramped but worthwhile version.
Boats of the Ligurian coast. ManarolaHmmm...

I want to do something with those angles and lines - but that would need experimenting at the taking stage.

With modern exposure systems, there's a lot to be said for Aperture priority, and careful use of the histogram and exposure compensation.

I'd also consider using a polarising filter at the taking stage with colours like this. Could save time and effort with the filters in processing.
Night, street, lamp. Portovene. LiguriaI can see four issues here.

The first is the colour: too lurid for my taste, though others may like it. I've done a mod reducing saturation a bit.

Second, the camera is tilted downwards from eye level, distorting the verticals unevenly on the two sides of the frame. I've used Skew to sort them. The original gives me the feeling of reeling out of a bar after far too much red wine!

The tonality is a bit like the colour: I used Levels to open up the midtones, and darken the shadows, but others may prefer it as it was. This helped with, but didn't cure my last issue:

Finally, there's some flare in the sky on the left. This may well have come from mist and bright lights (in other words, nothing to do with the lens at all) but I really wanted to clone most of it out.
Harbor of Riomaggiore. Night. LiguriaI don't believe Tanya's sunk the ship. She's just dowsed the light

Some pictures wear a full range of colours well, and I'm not sure if this is on of them. Like one of your earlier pictures, this suggests the word 'apocalyptic' to me!

I wonder if a square crop is the best thing to do - I'll give it a try..
21/09/2015 - 5:35 PM

Twilight #1

Twilight #1Compositionally, I'd like to see all of the car in frame, and sacrifice a little of the garden on the left.

If you want perfection, maybe clone out the telephone wire and one or two other add-ons: but keep them in if it's a record for posterity!

In my mod, I got rid of the aerial, the security light and some reflections on the wall next to the car, as well as skewing the right walls in a fraction. I think they were possibly perfectly vertical, but the result is that they looked as if they were tilting outwards... I recently read (in a David Kilpatrick article) that pros don't correct the verticals completely, but leave a tiny convergence, to avoid the over-centre look. I immediately stopped going for perfection, and I think my pictures look better for the change. I hope you think yours benefits, too!
11/09/2015 - 10:21 AM

Bath Time Sparkle

Bath Time SparkleHi, Charlene, and welcome both to Ephotozine, and the Critique Gallery.

This is where you can get constructive comments on your pictures, instead of votes or awards: if you've ended up here by accident, make sure that you don't tick the box marked 'Critique' when choosing the options for uploading.

My experience - now 30 years ago - is that you should concentrate, first and foremost, on getting pictures of the most wonderful children in the world, and not worry about technical and artistic perfection until you've done that. I wish I'd been more of a Dad and not worried so much about taking good pictures.

Which is not to say that you can't achieve both ends.

This is lovely, anyway - from both points of view.

Really shallow depth of field (Aperture priority is the right choice) works, although you always risk not getting the right parts perfectly sharp. (I might have upped the ISO, stopped down slightly, and increased the shutter speed a bit, but your results justify the settings!)

Compositionally, the eyes are right on the top left third, and it makes for a really engaging shot. I am completely unworried about the cut-off head, or the landscape framing. I'd have done the same (I hope!) I really see no scope for improvement.

Did you shoot in the Sony B/W mode, or convert later? And have you done any processing other than things like Levels and a little sharpening? It would be helpful to know, in case there are points there to pick up... (I find the Sony built-in mono and sepia work well, though other makes may benefit from conversion later, in editing.)

I've done a mod, which you can see by clicking the 'Modifications' tab below you shot, on the left: then click on the thumbnail. I've used Levels to brighten things even further (the histogram showed a little gap at the top end), and cropped a fraction more on the left: trivial stuff, by comparison with the innate excellence of the shot.

A final thought: back it up. Back it up now. And get prints for every doting relative you can think of.

I look forward to seeing more pictures soon!
07/09/2015 - 5:07 PM

speedlight test shot #1

speedlight test shot #1There's a lot of good advice here. I'll add something on processing (and not processing).

The issue with flash is always getting the exposure right, and the balance with any other light sources. Manufacturers offer 'auto' stuff, and that gives a false sense of security. You need to try, then adjust. Not ideal when racing the setting sun. Practice in a controlled and controllable setting, where there's no pressure.

And try things until you get the settings that give you a result that looks good with no processing at all.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't process to polish (and possibly introduce effects) - just that you should aim not to need to adjust exposure, the balance between light sources, and so on.

The advantage professionals have is that they've done everything before: setting the lights up for a shot like this is not a novelty (as it is for you and me).

So it's a question of practicing, and learning where you need to 'aim off' - I don't use any clever auto guns, and usually stick with off-camera, mains-powered units: the battery in my Metz flash dates from 1992, if I remember aright...
07/09/2015 - 1:40 PM

Foundries factory.

Foundries factory.Wimpy -

The 1DX is Canon's top model, intended for heavy professional use over many years. The 5D models are capable of higher quality (especially the latest introductions), but less robust.

Frankly, I see no point in changing camera until and unless you achieve complete mastery of the one you already have, and actually need higher quality. Unless you are producing large prints (as in over a metre wide) you will see little difference: and you will have to come to terms with yet another set of controls. You will also need a powerful computer, and massive storage, if you want to shoot with a 50-megapixel 5D.

Do you do big prints?

Do you ever take high speed bursts of frames?

If not, which camera you use is academic - not a practical issue, unless you simply want to have the latest, most expensive gear, or really love using a range of cameras (as I do).

I would add - some of the best pictures I've seen here recently come from a 12-megapixel EOS, with two or three lenses, but used by someone who has mastered them completely, and approaches every shot with care.

So my strong advice is to spend the money on a course, and apply what you learn.

You have some magnificent shooting opportunities, and brilliant gear. Your downfall usually seems to be in setting up carelessly, or picking the wrong camera mode.

As far as exposure in this picture goes, it seems pretty much spot on - we can see the surroundings, and the molten metal looks fine.
06/09/2015 - 2:34 PM

Walk to the tree

Walk to the treeI'm ever so glad that you (sometimes?) take Dad's advice, because if you hadn't, I would not have seen this lovely shot.

You've constructed it beautifully, and I love the velvety blacks here. It's not a problem that there's no detail in some of them (others may tell you otherwise, but it's fine, if that is how you want to portray the trees).

The stones along the side of the path are beautiful in their own right, and are a perfect leading line, curving gently away at the far end.

There's an overall impression of deep, shady calm: almost as if you've slipped into an alternative reality on a sunny day. This appeals to me a lot!

My only reservation is that there seems to be a slight tilt to the right - so my mod rotates a couple of degrees anticlockwise, and then, necessarily, crops a little. I also tried a fractionally lighter version, to see how it looked. This isn't supposed to be better, just offering an option, with the texture of the bark more visible.

Please post more, if the rest of your current work is as lovely!
03/09/2015 - 1:09 PM

New Forest Resident

New Forest ResidentThe focus error is interesting - are you letting the camera choose the focus point, or are you selecting the one you want to use? This takes a bit more time and hard work, but is the only way for really controlled pictures...
03/09/2015 - 1:02 PM


Arnisee_SwitzerlandThe reflections on the lake in your pictures are casting a new light on things, for me.

Of course the reason for the reflections of the trees at the sides not being directly below the actual trees is that the camera is pointing down, and you have diverging verticals... Correcting these with the Transform/Perspective tool makes the water feel so close you need a noseclip!

And, yet again, a small rotation (clockwise, one degree) seems to me to make this look more right. Do you sue any sort of spirit level on the camera when shooting?

I feel there are a lot of potentially lovely crops of this scene: I might have been very happy shooting details with an 85mm lens (surprisingly effective for landscapes, and for many other things!)
02/09/2015 - 8:41 PM


Arnisee_SwitzerlandThere's nothing wrong with stones in the foreground: it's how you use them, compositionally, that matters.

Here, I'd actually like to see a fraction more of that little stone right at the bottom!

As with the last picture, it feels to me that there's a very slight tilt - a degree clockwise sorts things.

Again, a less-oblong format seems to me to work better - all of the interest is still there, and it concentrates things better.
02/09/2015 - 2:18 PM


NightescapeThis is ambitious: showing the artificially-lit promenade and the moonlit sea...

You've taken care with the verticals (post on the left: perfect!), and have frozen a good moment with the people.

Some work work on the tones (first with Adobe Camera Raw, then the Dodge tool) will, I hope, bring out the sea more clearly, making the waves brighter and more noticeable.
02/09/2015 - 2:09 PM


Arnisee_SwitzerlandLow light is rarely anything but an asset for pictures - and the sun wasn't high in the sky here.

What else is needed? Opinions may differ on this - I'd say a slight rotation (the reflections seem misleading: those of the building under the cloud suggest a considerable rotation clockwise, and I am sure that's wrong!) I've rotated a degree to the left.

A bit of a crop, too, maybe? The main interest is in the clouds, the buildings and the rocks, towards the top left part of the frame. A matter of opinion, certainly - but I go for losing some of the foreground, and a good deal on the right.

It'll be interesting to see what others think.
02/09/2015 - 1:49 PM

Stay away...

Stay away...Stay away can mean two things here - an instruction from the subject, or advice on the waves...

As Paul says, this needs to be brighter. This poses a conundrum, as the tonal range is full - the problem is that the foam and spray are very bright compared with everything else. You need to do some work to alter some of the tones a bit. I've had a try, increasing exposure in Adobe Camera Raw, and holding back highlights - I didn't want to blow the spray, but the people and seafront needed to be brighter...
01/09/2015 - 2:19 PM


HawkLesson 1 should be carved into the back of every camera. I back up every shot I take, let alone keeping the originals as well as the edits!

Ansel Adams left his negatives to a university, to be used by students. Given that photography is about freezing moments in time, we should all, always, think in terms of archiving, I feel.