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13/03/2012 - 10:35 AM

York Daffodils Again

York Daffodils AgainWith Diane's permission I am up loading a bit of our pm correspondance that may be of interest:

Quote: .... My Software is Nero Photosnap and the sharpening tool has three sliders for size, amount and threshold. I have guassian blur and median filter.
I am not at all tecnical so a lot of jargon and figures I will not grasp at the moment, not that advanced. Thankyou for your help.

Quote: Hi Diane,

I've just looked your camera up on dpreview - http://www.dpreview.com/news/2008/1/24/fujifS8100fd - which is probably the best camera review site anywhere, and your camera only handles photographs in the jpg format so don't worry about anything else. As it is the only format it handles I won't bother you with why's and wherefores of other formats excepting to say that this format tends to loose a tiny little bit of information every time you open and close a photograph (file) so its a good idea to keep any important photographs seperately and only work on copies. So, you can forget RAW - I hope that makes sense.

I strongly recommend that you keep the quality on its maximum and the colour on standard.

Other settings on your camera: The two key things to remember are that ISO - the digital equivalent of the "speed" or "sensitivity" of film - is best kept as low as possible - preferably between 64 and 400. I won't confuse you with why, but the results will be better irrespective of whether you have a 25 camera or a 2,500 camera
Stick to - A - Aperture Priority or -S- Shutter Priority until you feel you understand what is going on, then play with other options.

Aperture Priority sets the size of the hole that lets the light in in in "f/ " numbers. Ironically the smaller the number the bigger the hole The camera will then set the shutter speed. If its slower than you can hold steadily then increase the ISO from say 64 to 100.

Shutter Priority means that you set the camera speed and the camera will sort out aperture. Again only increase ISO if you have to. I used this setting for a long time until I felt confident enough to start playing with other controls and the results were jolly good.

Lastly - White Balance. Leave it on auto. The only time you really need to play with this is if you are indoors and the colours are obviously wrong. Then get a bit of white paper (keep a folded bit in your camera bag) and take a photograph of it. Then tell your camera to use that for "Custom WB" - custom white balance. Your manual will tell you how to do that.

OK I hope... Keep smiling..

Nero Photosnap - I've never used this program, however I have just had a read of the manual and it is quite basic - NOTHING wrong with that. I used Picasa (free from Google) for a long time and that is basic. When you decide you want to upgrade to something a bit more "professional" and finances are tight I would recommend GIMP, which I used for several years, or Photoshop Lightroom if your feeling flush.

Sharpening - in simple terms, the program sharpens the picture by exagerating the contrast between light areas and dark areas. So.... in your picture it has taken the sky as a light area and the roofs, church spire, etc as a dark area. The pixels (dots of light) nearest the boarder are brightened and darkened respectively.
The greater the "Amount" that you "sharpen" the whiter the light ones are made and the blacker the dark ones. If you increase this control too much it will cause the white line along the "boarder".
The greater the "Size" - the wider the boundry line. In other words: the smallest "size" is one pixel or dot on either side of the "boarder" and as you increase the "amount" you increase the number of pixels affested on either side of the boarder.
"Threshold" changes how big the contrast is that it counts as a "boarder".
A quick slide up and down to the extremes of the controls will show you what is going on.
The "Gaussian Blurr" literally blurrs the boarder and I wouldn't recommend using more of this than absolutely neccessary.

It is always best to do as little sharpening as possible and remember that in my experience "auto" adjustments are a waste of time.

I use my latest efforts as my screen saver so that I can subcontiously see whether I've got it right. Don't be frightened to start again - it often is easier than trying to put right something that has gone wrong.

I hope this helps. If you have any problems or questions do get back to me. I hope I haven't been teaching you to suck too many eggs

Keep playing! Its the best way to learn and don't forget to work on a copy of the original.

All the best,


12/03/2012 - 2:12 PM

York Daffodils Again

York Daffodils Again
Quote: Hi Diane
Must agree with Trev! if you can get near these settings! In Camera Raw I use Amount 80 to 100 normally 80, Radius 0.8, Detail 25 to 30, if you have Camera Raw there is another slider called Masking, use this so you are not sharpening the background, the best way to do this is hold down the Alt Key, all the photo goes white! Keep sliding to the right and you will see the outlines of the subject start to appear, when to background goes black! Stop, now you have only sharpened the main subject. hope this helps.
The composition of the hill creating a triangle is excellent you have a great eye for photography composition.



I've brought this quotation forward from your previous upload. There is one fundamental error in this bit of advice and that is that the Tool specifies "Sharpening (Preview Only)"

I don't know what sharpening you have applied, but it is definitely too much. It should always be the last thing you do and it is worth remembering that when you resize it can exagerate the sharpening effect. If you let me know what program you are using I will try to help you a bit more.

All the best,

06/03/2012 - 5:49 PM

The Actress

The ActressA lovely picture that works very well in black and white. You have asked for critique though so:
There is a very distinct white line, particularly round the face, but also elsewhere, which indicates that you have been very heavyhanded with the sharpening. This feeling is enforced by the harsh white spots of light on the face and lips and the black and white speckles over much of the material. I suspect the photograph was quite sharp enough not to need this aggressive treatment.
The framing and exposure looks great so I wouldn't change that at all. With the exception of your last upload, this appears to be a new experiment in processing, which I personally don't like. It will be interesting to see what others have to say.

Kind regards,

16/01/2012 - 10:08 AM


DadHi Beth,
I've uploaded three modifications - please ignor the first two.
My biggest concern about this portrait is that it has a strong yellow cast. My initial reaction is that the colour of the walls in the room are creating this, but I also suspect that you have boosted the saturation, which has compounded the problem.
To correct the cast I loaded your picture into Photoshop Camera Raw and let it Auto correct the White Balance. It corrected the Temperature (blue/yellow balance) to -17 (ie a very strong shift to blue from yellow) and it adjusted the Tint (green/purple) to -11 (ie a very strong shift to green from purple). With such a shift it was neccessary to adjust the contrast and increase the saturation a little as this massive temperature shift has a tendancy to desaturate - see first upload. I also tweeked the contrast. Second upload shows result of over correction of contrast and saturation - you may prefer this look. It is largely a matter of taste.
I did have an extra slight final tweek in PS CS5 to correct yellow cas, which to me still looked to be there.
Next time you have a crack at this I would recommend that yoy start by photographing a sheet of white paper - held where your dad's head is - and set your camera's white balance from that photograph. You can alternatively leave the camera's WB and bulk process your shots afterwards using the white sheet photo as the basis for correcting the WB of that batch.
I hope this helps you.
All the best,

12/01/2012 - 5:39 PM


randomI love the picture's lighting, composition and your choice of black and white. First Class GrinGrinGrin.
I beg to differ regarding the softness though - sorry - but I feel the softening is a little over done.

08/01/2012 - 11:23 AM

St David's

St David'sHi Steve,

I've uploaded 2 mods - ignor the first. I don't know what program(s) you have, but I have used Photoshop CS5. I increased the width of the canvase by 200% so that you could see the extent more clearly but I wouldn't bother under normal circumstances. In PS CS5 use the crop tool and make sure the height and width boxes at the top of the screen are cleared. I usually leave the resolution box filled with my desired resolution (I like 300 dpi, which is the recommended resolution most high street printers). Now use the tool to select the whole image. Tick the box at the top of the screen marked perspective and set the Crop Guide Overlay to grid. Pick the (in this case bottom) corners and move in 'till the grid parallels the lines you want to be vertical. When you are satisfied click the tick at the top of the screen. You will find that the building is somewhat shrunck in the verticle plane so in this case I used the marquee tool to select the whole and,making sure the perspective box is unticked, shrunk the width by 25%. Job done. I haven't cropped the image and have added some coloured lines to help show what I've done. Equally I left the excess canvase to help show how much I have adjusted the width to correct the height.

There is also a tool in Photoshop's Camera Raw program that is even easier as under the lens correction tool, manual, tthere is a set of tools for transforming the image using a slider for distortion, vertical, horizontal, rotate and scale, all of which are self explanatory.

There are other programs out there that I'm sure will do the job just as well.

I hope this helps.


ps Sorry for the time lag between posting mods and this text but got unavoidably diverted.
06/01/2012 - 12:27 PM

running water

running waterThat's much better Paul. A little tip for getting it right first time is to put a sheet of pure white paper (A4) folded up in your camera bag and take a shot of it before you start then you can then set your camera to custom white balance at the time or, when you get home, you can group correct all your images using the picture of the sheet of paper. Saves a lot of time and hassel.

20/09/2011 - 11:27 AM


ButterflyHi Alankar and welcome to epz.
In my fast run through yesterday I didn't notice that you are a new member and I apologies for my abruptness - nothing personal.
There are many professional photographers on this site, some of whom put a note in the border, such as Cherryl Surry. Others post an occasional image in the context that it was produced for such as Nevil Palmer. Yet others put their signatures in their work as part of the composition a la Andreas Stridsberg. Yet others do nothing at all. Personally I put my copywrite note in a partial border and include my initials discretely in a corner as an artist would in a painting.
At the end of the day it is up to you what you do, but in my opinion I think you should remember that it is your picture that we want to see and your copywrite information is best kept discreet so that it is seen but without interfering with the image.
The links I have inserted are to the portfolios of the people I have mentioned so that you can see what I mean.

What you have posted to date is interesting and I shall keep an eye out to see what else you have to offer. Most of all, don't be put off by a few peoples' (myself included) opening outburst. Keep posting and enjoy what is actually a very friendly and helpful community.

All the best,

08/09/2011 - 7:40 PM


***I like your composition and colours - the thumbnail caught my eye and I'm not disappointed. It makes a very pleasing change to see a backgroung that isn't black or blurred out. I take Adam's point regarding the flower that isn't completely in the picture, but it doesn't offend me and the contrast of colour and lighter tones help balance out the strong yellows that would otherwise be over powering in their position - if you blank out that flower with your thumb you will see what I mean. It is also an important cool contrast to the flame colours that would otherwise look very flat and uninteresting.
Keep up the good work and keep playing with your ideas. They are good and deserve further exploration.

Pin Mill, Bodnant Gardens, North WalesThey look lovely and you have a nice photograph. The fact that it is ratrher dark is not a problem as your whites in the clouds are not blown out. I have done a mod, in which I used GIMP for all the mods. The work flow was as follows:
Colour select (set at 15) on the whitest part of the clouds.
Curves - reduced the high end from 255:255 to 255:200 then select none
Levels - lightened to 1.45
Curves - adjusted curve to 0:0 113:149 255:249
Levels again - lightened to 1.07
Curves - to 0:0 50:37 205:215 255:254
As the colours had become a bit weak I used Hue and Saturation to tweek them - +4 on Master and -4 on Cyan
Quick sharpen - +8
Check over and final tweek of curves - 0:0 58:46 209:209 255:253

Sorry - first mod uploaded by mistake as forgot to saveSad Second mod is the right one Smile

I hope you like it.

26/04/2011 - 8:45 PM


MosesIn my opinion the picturec has been thoroughly over sharpened - the white halo round the lettering is caused by this. I have uploaded a modification, which is your picture with gauzian blurr applied at factor 2 and then a slight resharpening using unsharp mask set at 0.7 radius and and 0.13 amount. All editting in GIMP and done very quickly to illustrate the point (as I'm very short of time).

All the best,

16/03/2011 - 2:09 PM

Wallace Monument

Wallace MonumentHi Amanda,
First of all - you can still make this modifyable by going to Edit - Options - Tick Modifications.
The sharpness of the tree is going to be a problem as the auto focus will almost certainly choose the nearest vertical line near the centre of the frame to focus on. In this case it has chosen the branches on the far side of the tree. If you can't manually focus with this camera then you will have to trick it. Firstly, I would adjust the aperture to the smallest (highest f/ No.) that you can and see how fast the exposure will be. If you can still hold it steady - fine, if not - increase the ISO to 200. You should be able to now. The change to aperture will increase your depth of field. Next I would move back from the tree a bit and aim the camera at the lhs of the tree trunk and half depress the shutter. The camera will then focus on the tree trunk - so now, with the shutter still half depressed, swing round for your shot and fully depress the shutter. You can then crop the resulting photograph to the required frame. This should solve your problem.
Regarding the branch. I think your stuck with that unless you can find a more co-operative tree. The sunspots you might be able to cure by shielding the lenss with your hand - 'though be careful not to include your hand in the picture.
With regard to the overall composition, I would be tempted, if possible, to shoot from the other side of the tree so that it protects the camera from the unwantedflare from the sun. Alternetively try shooting at a different time of day so that the sun isn't causing a problem - not ideal if you are after the light that occures at the current time of day.
]Lastly Join up and get proffessional advice from the Critique Team.

All the best

12/03/2011 - 7:17 AM

Red Macaw Landing

Red Macaw LandingHi James,

It's a good photograph in terms of sharpness, framimng and detail, but you have a predominantly dark image, which consequently isn't very exciting. The main problem is that the background has similar tones to the subject - ie the bird. I am quite sure that if you have a play withe the values in curves you could significantly improve this. If you go back into edit tab for this upload, choose options, and allow modifications, I could illustrate my point for you.

Best regards,

31/10/2010 - 10:46 AM

water and reflections

water and reflectionsHi Malc. thanks for the pm. I can see what you wree trying to do now. I think you will find that Contrast is a very crude tool that can have undesireable effects on other parts of the picture. In my opinion it is usually best to use curves for this purpose as you have much greater control. I've uploaded a modification were I have just used curves to bring out the reflections. (I haven't sorted the shaddow, which should be done). I think from this you can see what I mean.
Hope you find my commments helpful.

All the best,

27/10/2010 - 1:19 PM


DawnNice one Jeremy. I'm not worried about the slope but I am concerned that the sky is blown out so I've uploaded a version tweeked in curves to correct this. For fun I have also uploaded a version where I converted to sepia and heavily desaturated and tweeked the hue a little. I've also put up a version where I've adjusted the hue over to the green sector and again desaturated. The last one is with the hue tweeked over to the blue sector and heavily desaturated. I quite like the blue one.
11/10/2010 - 8:21 AM

Rose Shadow

Rose ShadowLovely image. The cloned version V2 is the better. I find that the best way to deal with this type of problem is:
Free select the area to be cloned, but a bit larger.
Move the selected area to the area adjacent - in this case just bellow.
Undo move layer.
Use Curves to tweek the tones to match the surrounding area.
Anchor the layer.
I then selected a slightly larger area and Gauzian Blurred at the default level.
Applied RGB Noise with the Correlated box ticked and the amount set at 0.02.
Go to Edit and select Fade and adjust.
Job done.

Sometimes one needs to patch in the area to be cloned with sveral smaller pieces before applying blurr and noise and sometimes you won't need to apply blurr and noise. Experiment and you will find out what works best in each instance.

I hope this helps.

09/10/2010 - 8:36 AM

Backstreet Bins

Backstreet BinsGood morning Niel and welcome to epz,

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." - so they say. Well, I rather like your photograph and I totally disagree with frz67 Francesco. The scene that you have photographed is dark and uninviting. It is the nature of this type of place and your picture captures it very well. The bins, which are the subject of your picture, are on the upper third line and about a third in from the edge, which by any reconning is a good position. Take a look at the Editor's Choice Gallery with the Architecture and Landscape/Travel filter applied and you will see plenty of examples of pictures with their "horizon" neither in the upper third nor central. The natural lines within this scene - the run of the curb, the edge of the nearer building, the run of the puddle, even the metal plate in the foreground - bring the eye in to the subject.

I agree with Focus_Man Frank that the grey units are an integral part of the scene and compositionally are important as they help balance the ovreall composition. Also, without them the toneal balance is lopsided. I don't agree that the chequer plate would be better off out of the picture. It's state is typical of where it is and it forms a relevant part of the overall composition. If anything I would just tone it down a little. I do agree that it would be worth cropping out the overhead cable.

I have posted a version with the cable removed, with the curves very slightly tweeked to raise the attention on the bins and to slighly tone down the foreground. I have also marginally sharpened it before reuploading. The only other thing I would do is modify the title to read "Red Bin".

I hope this is helpful.

Enjoy your time with epz. I've found the group very friendly and helpful.

All the best,

01/09/2010 - 8:04 PM

Piel castle: isolated

Piel castle: isolatedYes it is - but I'd rather change the name. For the island, castle and boats to work they would need to be the size that Nickscape has stretched them to in order to have meaning. The part of the picture above the horizon in the original looks wrong to me because it seems like a rather thin panorama tacked onto the top of the picture. The strong horizon line that runs along the bottom of the island acts like a divide and works to seperate the top part from the rest - nothing cuts through to creat a link.
I agree It would be better if the horizon was lower, but it needs a boat or something in the middle distance or a person sitting on the end of the jetty to break that line.
Don't forget the old addage that rules are made for breaking. They are a useful guide but should not be treated as sacrosanct.

01/09/2010 - 6:28 PM

Piel castle: isolated

Piel castle: isolatedInteresting.
In my opinion I feel that the castle on its island and the various boats anchored off are too small and fussy to warrant being included in this otherwise simple but strong composition. You have achieved your objective of the smooth water and the weed on the jetty supplies sufficient interest for the picture. As a consequence I would crop the image on the horizon and keep the buoy - ideally the buoy would be a little lower in the picture. The buoy in my opinion is important - the fact that it is slighly off centre seems to work and the spot of colour lifts the image.

I have uploaded a version, in which I have copied a section of the water from lower down and pasted it over the island and sky. In the second version I have straightened the image to the planking.

I hope you don't mind my ramblings.

26/08/2010 - 11:06 AM


ReflectionsVery effective picture. I like the point of view - it produces a well balanced picture.To be able to comment fully on the fogging it would be useful if you posted the original. In principle, I feel that the slightly dreamy quality of this picture - with its slight haziness round the edges - suggests that trying to edit out the fog may not have been neccessary. It could even be interesting to add fogg on the lhs to balance out that on the right. The only things I would have been tempted to edit out are the 4 white specs on the far side of the water and the line running across it.
I shall be interested to see what other people think.