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14/08/2012 - 5:52 PM

Tower of London

Tower of LondonIts is usually the HDR processing that makes it so flat by compressing the tonal range too much. You get texture and 3D information by having shadows, if you tone map the shadows out, you lose visual information.
That's what has happened here - the stonework looks like blocks of colour with little modelling. The mod helps a little, but id be interested to compare it to the original.

11/08/2012 - 5:17 PM

Female Portrait / Headshot

Female Portrait / HeadshotLooks like a pretty good shot to me - you've achieved what you set out to. Minor tweaks for individual models ( like the hair here), but the eyes engage very well.
One minor thing, the hair light won't do much if you don't include it in shot! A reflector would indeed do well held just out of shot below, and reduce the need for too many lights. Less is often more and it's easy to over complicate lighting. After a point, they start to duplicate effect and add light where you don't want it, so control becomes more difficult.

Maybe time to file the notes and try another set up, perhaps? Wink

06/08/2012 - 2:04 AM

Self Portrait

Self PortraitI think it's a pretty credible portrait. Males can usually stand harsher, more directional light, but this might just need a little lightening.
With males, you can have the key light toward the front and the fill light the same side, for a darker masculine image, or you can move the fill to the opposite side (as here) for a higher key, less stark image.

The main points....
You have a white shirt and a white background, both have texture and aren't blown out, so you can lighten the image without losing detail.
You have plenty of detail in your face, with no bright hotspots, and it shows your features with no ugly shadows.
The crop in v1 is fine! V2 can work as well

I think it's as good as many that shoot portraits professionally can achieve (look online..!).

You don't need to look so apprehensive. Lean slightly toward the camera and pull your shoulders back slightly. As you extend your neck, you will lose the lines...but that's nitpicking.

For a female, you can bring the main light further to the front for more flattering light - even above the camera - keeping the fill to one side and maybe a light on the hair from above and behind (rim lighting separates the hair from the background).

Most importantly, make notes so you can reproduce set ups that work.

02/08/2012 - 12:50 AM

When the sun goes down

When the sun goes downLovely image of the sky, and that's about it, I'm afraid. It needs a subject. Alternatively, you could shoot wider or make a panoramic of the sky. There's so much here that is just out of frame - I want to see more of the clouds, left, and a big sweep of sky can look stunning in this light.
I would aim higher too, as the land only serves to anchor this shot but contributes nothing pictorially, so doesn't need to intrude so far into he image.

02/08/2012 - 12:36 AM


CygnetsIt is quite well captured, but for me, there are a couple of things.
The dark intrusions at the sides of the frame, as mentioned above, can be cloned out.
The whole image appears dull. It looks like the light is poor, and you've had to push it to get the image, which in places is a bit dark. This is good for retaining detail in the white feathers, but some careful selective dodging and burning can bring the faces of the cygnets out more. Unfortunately, they are also sitting in a rather colourless spot.
Looking at the ground, it looks like the plane of focus is slightly ahead of the nearest chick, and so you have got nothing of any of them really sharp. With no exif to go on, it's hard to say anything about your settings, but a smaller aperture would have got all the birds in focus, yet kept the background blurred as you are quite close to them.
A tiny bit of fill-flash would have pepped this image up, and given their eyes some much-needed sparkle - (probably around 2 stops under if you can adjust it, so the flash doesn't dominate the exposure).

02/08/2012 - 12:18 AM

A moment in Candle...

A moment in Candle...Sharpening won't make it more red. Maybe you needtomovethe candle further round to the front to get a bit more definition in the face, use a slower shutter speed (to give more exposure) ans use the white balance adjustment to lessen the redness. A warm candlelit glow is nice, this is just overpowering.
If you move right away from the background, you will have no shadow at all, just blackness all around,apart from the lit part of the face. I would suggest lifting the candle a couple of inches, on books perhaps, and move away from the background by varying amounts, shooting to see the effects.
Experiment and make notes as you go is the best way to find out how to light unconventionally.

29/07/2012 - 11:02 AM

Purple Flower

Purple FlowerI would prefer to see a more diagonal composition. As for the selective colour, I'm not sure it works with such a dark colour though it is competently done. IMHO selective colour works best with a small bright detail in the picture, which maybe you wouldn't see if all in black and white. Where the coloured part is the main subject, I feel it loses some impact. This would work better if the colour was red or yellow, but this coloured flower should stand out well against green leaves.
Also, it looks a little odd that only one head is coloured when you have others in the frame.

29/07/2012 - 10:50 AM

Headshot - Woman

Headshot - WomanI think you need to move the key light still closer. You can also add a reflector below and left of shot which will bounce light back into the shadows. I take it as you are using a large softbox that you want smooth shadowless lighting.
I'm not bothered by the composition, it looks ok to me, and if you want a slightly darker background you can just move further away from it. For me, this is much better than your last upload, more adjustment and you are well on your way to fine tuning this set up.
If you think the sitter is a little bored, you need to engage more. Use a tripod to frame up (a little looser to give you options) and do t look through the camera - talk to the model and watch them, trip the shutter when you see the expression. It is easier to direct someone like this too as they see your face not hidden by the camera.

29/07/2012 - 12:58 AM

Who's Bad?

Who's Bad?The image is well shot and well processed, and yes, the highlight could be brought down, but they aren't too bad as is. I would prefer a different top to this black one, as it isn't in keeping with the rest of the clothing - maybe something grungy like a rock band/tour t-shirt perhaps.
Willie, looking at her eyes carefully, I think she was looking at the camera, but has a slight squint in her right eye. You can get round this by shooting at an angle or getting her to turn her head 45 deg and just look at the camera without directly facing it. If you shot at a slight angle, rather than straight front-on, it should also reduce the hotspots on the wall.

29/07/2012 - 12:40 AM

Headshot - child #2

Headshot - child #2You are using the soft box too far away. It is acting like a small light source rather than a large one, hence the uneven light on her face. Also, the second light is causing a rim effect as it is too bright relative to the main light. I think you need to move the main light closer and slightly higher, which will give you a smaller aperture that you need and make the light more even, and move the second light further away to lessen its strength (it needs to be at least one stop less bright than the key light). If you can set this up again, you can check for hair and other details too, though Willie's mod has addressed this along with the placement in the frame.
If you can, before a shoot, check the strength of each light individually and ensure the key light is the one the others are referenced to. You can also check light on the background and adjust your position relative to it for different brightnesses and effects (you can make even a white background appear black with creative light placement).
You might also want to lift the second light and use it more as a hairlight than it is now, unless you like the "standing next to a small window" effect. The main thing though, is get the big soft box closer - above the camera if need be.

23/07/2012 - 10:57 PM


derilectHi Billy.
I feel V2 is over the top by some way. As Willie says, less is usually more. Also, you've cropped to give more sky, which is rather uninteresting.
I bet you wish you could have got higher to see more of the building over the wall, which is where the main interest is! Though it's good that you are still out there looking and shooting, you have to think about the end result - what are you shooting and how do you want it to look, plus try to leave as little work to do to post processing, unless you intend to do specific processing.
I think a tighter crop like Kate's helps minimise the dull sky's impact.

22/07/2012 - 1:02 AM


Jazz.Unfortunately, there are several things to address with this image. Firstly, it isnt sharp, possibly due to using a slow shutter speed. You used ISO 80 and 1/20 sec, whereas you could have upped the ISO to say, 400 and then had a shutter speed of around 1/125 sec. As it is, it is also overexposed by a stop or two, so the whites have blown completely. Combined with the unsharpness and poor black and white conversion, it has robbed the image completely of any character Jazz has.
Pushing the ISO up to 400 and using a shutter speed such as 1/250 or 1/500 would be better, and the fast shutter speed would have frozen any movement in the dog anyway.
I appreciate you are using a bridge camera, but it is advanced enough to be able to control all the different factors.

29/06/2012 - 9:46 PM

St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's CathedralI agree entirely with Sue: the dynamic range of your device seems limited. There are plain white areas, but there are no full blacks, so maybe it is a touch overexposed. Compositionally, it is just a snapshot (your words), looking up and not really doing justice to the majesty of Wren's architechture. It is not critically sharp and looks like it might have been taken on a phone camera.

You give no indication of what you were trying to achieve, nor if you think you achieved it, so as it stands, it is JUST a snapshot.

PS: If you don't want to accept critique, then best not to post the picture in the "Critique forum"?
Just because you don't agree, does not give you the right to abuse someone who is trying to help you.

27/06/2012 - 10:08 AM

Hair Shot

Hair ShotI think the background needs to be less cluttered to focus more attention on the hair, if that is the main subject.
A plain bit of green hedge or grass would be better if you wanted the green theme, or a darker bit of solid treeline perhaps. As is, the highlight/shadows distract from the model.
Also, this would be improved by having the model hold a reflector out of shot below, which would even out the shadows on her face and neck, plus it would get rid of the stray shadows round her nose and help lift the front of the hair (to separate it from the background a little more). A piece of white card would be fine.
Your model has lovely skin and the make up is good. I wonder if she had lifted her eyes to stare into the lens (but kept her head down), whether this would have made a really intense, and possibly uncomfortable, but more striking, photo.

ANOTHER SET of GRAVE STONES of THE HAMILTON CEMETERYAnother record shot. Unfortunately, these places are usually hard to find a cohesive composition in. This is no different, in that there is no obvious main subject, the stones are scattered all over the frame and there are many distractions around the edge of the frame.
The IR plug-in doesn't appear to have made it very IR-ish, just low-contrast.

You might be better to concentrate on one or two monuments, and compose accordingly, to convey the sense of being there. This composition is too haphazard.
Just a suggestion, but if you really wanted this view, it would have been better to move forward to lose the nearest monument from the scene. It is cut in half anyway. Or maybe widen the zoom a touch and crop carefully to exclude details cutting the edges of the frame. Those you can't tidy up, I would consider cloning out.

It might also be better to shoot early or late in the day rather than when the sun is at it's highest. You will get far better modelling and texture.

13/06/2012 - 1:16 PM

Spiral nature.

Spiral nature.To really appreciate the spiral nature of the fronds, you need to get closer and try to isolate them. As is, there is too much distraction in the frame, and I'm not sure there's a crop that will help much.
Try also to isolate the fronds against a single background - either sky or grass, but not both, as again, it distracts the viewer from the subject.
You could also do with a little more exposure to bring the subject out more. I suspect the camera has adjusted for the amount of sky in the frame and underexposed accordingly. If you can isolate against the grass, the exposure will be better, and you could also have a little blip of flash which should lift it. If against the sky, you will definitely need flash, a longer exposure, or let the camera expose for the sky and create a silhouette.

In short, find a bit of tree that is more isolated and get closer - fill the frame more with the subject - and try different lighting methods, including flash.

13/06/2012 - 11:02 AM

Why The Long Face?

Why The Long Face?In cases like this, a small blip of fill-flash will help freeze a small motion and catchlight the eyes, which otherwise look a little dead. Not full power, but -1 or -2 flash adjustment (not the usual exposure adjustment). Here you could have shot at 1/250 @f/5.6 and a -2 flash adjustment and it would have helped darken the background slightly. Though for me, the background isn't bad as it's out of focus anyway (adding a sky just gives the eye something else to look at and detracts from the horse IMHO).

13/06/2012 - 10:50 AM

Purple Sensation

Purple SensationTo distil some of the above, and add a little from me:

There is too much going on in the shot: the blooms around the edge and in the background distract from the main flower, which isn't very big in the frame.

Exposure is pretty good, and from here I would concentrate on isolating a single head, or a small group of heads and eliminating everything else from the frame. With flowers, it's often better to get low down rather than shooting from above, trying to make sure you shoot against a neutral background that doesn't attract your attention.

There is also a lot of fine detail, so make sure the aperture gives a deep enough depth of field to get all you want sharp, a low enough ISO for maximum resolution and minimum noise, and if this means a tripod for max quality, then so much the better as it leaves you free to concentrate on everything else rather than keeping still enough.

A crop of this pic will help eliminate distractions, but better initial framing will result if you slow down and consider all the variables - depth of field, framing, background, composition of elements and exposure. If it doesn't add to the composition, exclude it.

12/06/2012 - 2:14 PM

A happy walk

A happy walkIf photogenic, I don't think it's his 'best side'.

Mainly, the shot isn't very sharp. 1/125 is not fast enough for a dog running towards you, and the AF will like as not focus in the wrong place because he will have moved by the time the shutter trips (even with focus tracking, it's hard).

For head on shots, try focussing on a spot he will run past, trip just before he gets there, and use a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the motion and an aperture to give a wider DoF. With practice, you will get better quickly.
In this instance, I would be looking at upping the ISO to shoot somewhere around 1/500 or 1/1000 sec at f/8, so maybe ISO 400 or 800.

24/05/2012 - 11:17 AM

Fledgling robin

Fledgling robinYou've done almost everything right here, there are a couple of points to look at though.
1. It isn't critically sharp, which is a shame as the plumage is crying out for sharpness. It might be that at the wide open aperture you used, the lens' performance is not as good as it is stopped down a couple of stops, and the dull light (while good for revealing fine detail) has necessitated using a wider aperture to keep the shutter speed up. The other thing could be a small amount of movement of the bird lowering the absolute sharpness.
2. The double pole in the background (I presume it's a gate or some garden furniture) cutting right through the bird is a big distraction - the equivalent of having a pole growing out of a person's head.

The noise would not be a problem if the rest was sharp, though if you had Lightroom (or Noise Ninja for instance), you could get rid of a lot of the noise easily. The pic is quite low contrast as is, so could bear a little more sharpening and curves adjustment. If trying this again, a little blip of flash might help lift the detail - but dial in negative flash compensation (not overall exposure compensation) to make it act as fill-in and not the main illumination.