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18/01/2014 - 11:24 AM

World of butterflies

World of butterfliesColour temperature is the issue here, in my view.

According to the exif data, this shot was taken in strong evening sunlight in September, giving a harsh, flat image.

This an ongoing problem for all photographers and has been since the start of photography.

When faced with this sort of lighting, I always take a couple of test shots, just to get the camera setting right, before photographing in earnest.

Maybe a higher ISO would give more leeway to shutter speed and aperture settings. Exposure compensation is something else I would consider.

As the photograph stands, I have donoe a mod where I created a layer, and lightened the wing a tad.

After the layers had been flattened, I created a second layer and blurred the image so the petals on the flowers were less harsh. I masked the layer and painted out the blurring on the butterfly by varying degrees until I felt the subject was shown to its best advantage.

Hope this helps.
03/06/2013 - 8:55 AM

In the pink

In the pinkThis is a beautiful pose of a beautiful woman.

While I'm sure this is how you wanted to portray this portrait, the main problem, as I see it, is the light background.

As has been mentioned before the dark skin of the model contrasting against the light background, fools the eye into thinking that the exposure is wrong, when this isn't the case.

In the mod I have posted, I have created a gradated layer allowing me to highlight the the lighter skin tones, making, (I hope), the image 'pop'.
14/05/2013 - 10:38 AM

View From The Boat

View From The BoatLet's deal with this from the top.

A good black and white image should have a full range of tones from black through to white. The image you have posted doesn't have this, which is why we see a very bland picture.

The square format doesn't suit the subject and the prow of the boat in the lower half of the frame does nothing for the photograph at all.

That's the negatives out of the way. Now for the positives. The photo as it stands has got potential - just a bit of post processing is needed.

In the mod I have done, I have picked the natural highlights and accentuated the brightness and contrast in the trunks of the trees just to give them a bit of punch.

The foliage, left of frame: Again I have brightened the highlighted areas and added contrast to the shadows to try to make the overall grey colour pop. A quick crop, taking out the prow of the boat and some careful cloning to join up the shoreline.

I sharpened the image a tad, keeping it soft enough, (I hope), to retain that atmospheric feel the photo has.
02/04/2013 - 11:52 PM

The rock sunrise

The rock  sunriseI can't tell you much about ND filters as I haven't used them, but I can tell you where I think you might improve this image.

On my screen the rocks are out of focus, which indicates to me you focused on the horizon.

I have no idea what was outside the frame, so I might very well be talking a load of rubbish, but what I see from the rock formation in your image, I would have been inclined to have moved to the right, taken the shot from a lower viewpoint and placed the lighter rock, currently in centre frame, to the left of frame allowing the run of dark rocks to lead the eye into the picture.

I would have focused on the rocks in the foreground, stopped down the f-stop so the horizon was sharp and increased the exposure time to compensate. By having some lead in lines the need for a focal point becomes redundant as the lead in lines become the focal point.
25/03/2013 - 2:07 PM

Nant Yr Arian In The Snow

Nant Yr Arian In The SnowI understand what you are saying Richard, about getting it right in the camera, and you should be applauded for that. However, there are times when the shooting conditions are not going to allow you to do any better than you have here.

Shooting into the light is always going to give problems with stark differences between light and dark shades, especially with a Winter scene such as this. You might consider using a flash to fill in the darker parts of the trees in the foreground, so they differentiate from the trees in the mid-ground.

Alternatively, there is an argument that if you meter off the sky, then the sky and it's reflection in the water would be well exposed making the trees more of a silhouette.

What I see is a rather stark image that could be given a boost in Post processing.
Spinning the silk in SeamReap Khambodia.I use Photoshop:

Create a new layer. From the menu, Image> Adjust> Shadows and Highlights. Lighten the image so that the detail in the dark areas is visible. Create a mask. Using the paintbrush tool, selectively take out the lightening that has been created to suit your taste.

Change the opacity and flow of the paintbrush tool, if necessary, to blend the changes. Flatten the image and save.

The Mod, which took about 5 mins, demonstrates what I mean.
19/03/2013 - 9:51 AM

Man in Picadilly Circus

Man in Picadilly CircusHave you considered using a delayed flash to get motion blur. A long exposure followed by a flash to get the subject sharp. Experiment and you will be surprised at the results. Smile
27/02/2013 - 11:27 AM

A Very Obliging Chap

A Very Obliging ChapA lot of good advice has been given in the previous posts. However, my experience in shooting birds tells me that the biggest problem you experienced with this shot was the lighting. Strong Winter sunshine, with the sun in its low equinox, is just not conducive to good photography, specially when shooting a fast moving, unpredictable subject such as this Robin.

Also, given the fact that birds, such as Robins are renown for always being on the move, with their continual bobbing, a great deal of thought needs to go into the camera settings before taking the shot.

Let's firstly deal with the light. Strong Winter sunlight will always give a harsh, contrasty image. The camera needs to be set so there is at least -.5 exposure compensation. The shutter speed needs to be 500th sec minimum . The F-stop has to be set at 5.6 minimum as a starting point. ISO set at a starting point of 200.

Before you actually start shooting the birds, take some time to take some tester shots to get the exposure right and alter the balance of the settings for each focal length, remembering its changing f-stop, to get a good exposure. I would recommend spot metering and use of the AE lock. Keep increasing the ISO, again remembering that this is the equivalent of one stop from 200 to 400; ISO 360, for example will be the equivalent to 1/2 a stop.

Keep balancing the exposure compensation to get the best exposure possible. Repeat this for faster shutter speeds. If you want to capture birds in flight, specially this size bird, a shutter speed of 2000th sec minimum will be required to freeze the movement of the wings.

Lastly, practice your panning techniques. Personally, I never use a tripod unless I am shooting at extreme range - they are just too cumbersome to capture fast moving songbirds.

One thing to understand is that slightly underexposed images can be recovered during post processing, blown images are lost forever.

Regarding your photo. I cannot for the life of me understand why the log should be blurred when the bird is sharp, as certainly the blurring is down to camera shake. I have taken your photo and done a modification on it regarding cropping. I have given an example of cropping to the Golden Ratio, removing the blurred log and still giving balance to the image.

Hope this helps.
24/02/2013 - 11:08 PM

Morning in Pangandaran

Morning in PangandaranAs has been said the noise is a major issue, especially on this resolution.

With my mod I dealt with the noise slightly differently. I inverted a high pass filter set at 2.2 pixels, altered the opacity to suit, created a mask and again with the opacity set real low painted out the craft on the horizon, just to get some crispness back.

Using Vivesa, I warmed the sky up a touch and reflected that in the water. Again, using a mask, I painted in the shadow of all the craft and finally cropped to the Golden Ratio.
21/02/2013 - 10:32 AM


AmigoThis is a cracking shot that has so much potential. There are two considerations here: The point of capture and post processing.

Point of capture: You were always going to be on the back foot in this situation. The harsh midday sun, giving such a hard light was always going to throw the subjects face into shadow. Either expose for the light background and get the subject in shadow or expose for the subject, (in shadow), and blow out the background. There is an alternative and that is to have used the flash.

I know it sounds a bit daft to use a flash in bright sunlight, but this is a prime example of a good use of flash in daylight. Expose the subject well and empathetically preserve the detail of the poverty in which this child lives.

The photograph would, I feel, be better served had it been taken from a lower viewpoint; something that is very underrated and so often overlooked. What we see here is a shy smile from a lovely child looking up. Had we viewed that shy smile from a lovely child looking down, then the empathy you have sought to achieve would have been emphasised in spades.

All is not lost however. Post processing:

Add a layer to the photograph and using levels, lighten until you can see detail in the subjects face. Make a mask and paint out the background out leaving the tone of the original image showing.

I used Vivesa to enhance the shirt and face of the subject. If you haven't got Vivesa, carefully select the shirt and face of the subject, feather that selection and tweak the brightness, contrast and vibrance, just to bring out a warm glow to make the subject stand out from the drab colours of the background.

I have had a play with this image to show you what I mean.
17/02/2013 - 12:43 PM

Bridalveil Falls

Bridalveil FallsThis is one cracking photograph, which I like enormously.

I think what makes this image is its atmospheric feel, together with the warm tones of the sky.

I think the scene would have been better served, however, in a landscape format, giving better lead-in lines by using the rocks left of frame. This together, with a lower viewpoint would, in my view, emphasise the depth of field.

I think a tilt of the camera upwards to catch more of that gorgeous sky, could very well have been considered; maybe taking two shots, one of the actual scene and an overlapping shot of the sky, enabling a vertical panorama.

Nevertheless, we have a stunning image which the author should be very proud of. Wish it was in my portfolio.
16/02/2013 - 1:58 PM

Street Worker

Street Worker
Quote: Thx Jeff / Ian / Paul / Ken - Appreciate all the feedback, some food for thought there and i must think upon the various points touched Smile I should have mentioned though that the Lady was leaning against a corner of the building and beyond that was the open street on the right with a very bright sun shining given potential blown highlights issue i opted for the frame as we see it now Smile

Had that been me taking the shot, I would have taken a second shot, exposing for the bright street and merged the two in post processing.

As for the comments on the 'so called rules', I agree rules are there to be broken. However, the rule of thirds does lead to a more aesthetically pleasing image as does following the Golden Ratio.
16/02/2013 - 10:08 AM

Street Worker

Street WorkerFirstly, I think this is an excellent 'grab' shot and while I appreciate that speed was of the essence, this has, (kindly meant), led to a failure in composition, in my view.

Having looked at both the colour and monochrome, the image is better served in black and white, as the outline of the navel beneath the dress is more apparent in the latter.

I also like the tactile feel that the B&W gives regarding the stonework, which merely emphasises the tough life this unfortunate woman is undergoing. The story is there in spades.

The biggest improvement for the overall image, in my opinion, would be to have the subject placed more to the right of the frame, so that the facial expression is reinforced by giving the subject room 'to look into', allowing the viewer to wonder at what made this woman so angry; or is it just a reflection of the tough life these women have?

A very evocative image. Well done.