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    A couple of months ago I came here for some help and good some pretty good advise. Now I would like to get some new criticism on my work. Although I usually go for landscapes since I’m quite awkward when taking shots of people, I’ve been practicing more over the last couple of months by volunteering at some events in my university and such. Starting in September I will also be a commissioned photographer for the university’s newspaper, so I might come back again for some extra advise later in the year!

    Without further more, here’s the link to some of my photos  http://www.flickr.com/photos/garcijo/sets/72157643350580455/

    Thanks in advance and be as critical as you can! 🙂


    Since it seems you will be doing more portraits than anything else I’ll concentrate on those (especially since I’m not very good at landscapes)

    The two photos with the frames held, they aren’t really doing it for me. The frame holding is a bit clichéd and the guy just looks a bit awkward. Neither of the two photos are particularly sharp either, the photo of the two girls in particular so. In that shot the stiching on their chest is reasonably sharp but their eyes aren’t at all. What kind of light are you using in these photos? I see two round catchlights with a third tiny in the middle (two brollies over your shoulders and poop up flash for triggering?) but you still had to bump ISO to 400 at f2 which suggests to me there wasn’t a whole lot of light being thrown out from your light setup. To make these two better I’d ditch the frames and get them to stand a bit more naturally, get them to take a step or two forwards, close the aperture down to f2.8-4 to get a little more of them in focus and to allow for more mistakes on your behalf when it comes to focussing. If at all possible, a light for the background would be good as the background is now darker and the yellow walls look quite dirty.

    Girl looking out of the window: not bad but there is still room for some improvement. First off I’d use a slightly longer focal length as her left cheek now looks bigger and her face goes a little chubby. Focus could probably be slightly more back (in a perfect world) to get the whole facing eye in focus. There are quite a lot of chromatic aberrations around her far eye which would be fairly easy to get rid of in lightroom for example. Main problem though is the yellow roof in the background that seems to grow out of her far cheek.

    The colour run ones, there isn’t much to do about harsh sunlight unless you can get them under some kind of shade. Be careful with the colour stuff though as it will get into your lenses and it won’t ever come out again.

    The fashion show ones: Girl with turquoise/brown dress, her face is too soft to be usable (again boob seeking af), girl with flowers in her hair you could have probably pulled back the highlights a little as the light is good for darker skin. The pose looks awkward and you’ve cut her arms off in a weird way, same with the shot before. The backgrounds for all these have lots and lots of single pixels of bright colours, I’d just get of them with some aggressive noise reduction in the background. Focus needs to be on their eyes in general rather than the middle of them as in these shots, it is less of a problem for guys but the better endowed ladies don’t get sharp eyes. Because you are sitting below them the plane of focus is going to be slicing them at an angle so make sure you get the important parts in focus.

    Bunny girl should have been shot so you got the whole of her hands in the picture with less space above the ears

    Girl by apple trees, this just looks awkward, get rid of it completely. There is also sensor dust showing

    You’re doing well but you need to practice a bit more, especially when it comes to keeping the right parts of the people in focus. A shot doesn’t have to be super sharp in 100% view but when you can see it from the fairly small flickr thumbnails it is too soft (generally). As nice as it is to stare at a chest it shouldn’t be what your eyes are drawn to 🙂


    Lets start with a couple of general comments.  I see your D7100 handles noise quite well at ISO 1600.  That seems to give you good shutter speeds with ambient light and fast prime lenses.   DX format cuts the angle of view, but a 35 mm lens is still a 35 mm lens and a 50 mm lens is still a 50 mm lens.   There has been some discussion about suitability of 50 mm for portraits.  There is even less support for using 35 mm as a portrait lens.  The exceptions being environmental portraits where a good portion of the photo is background and your subject is well back from the camera.  When I was your age, there was only film.  The standard portrait lens was 135 mm because it flattened the face a little and made the nose less prominent.    If you are sticking with prime lenses, on a crop body, 85 mm will give you about the same subject to camera distance as 135 on a full frame body, with similar framing.

    Nesgran commented on sensor dust.  Typically you will not see dust if you shoot wide open.  If you stop down, then you see all the dirt!  Like in this photo:


    See the dot in the middle of your waterfall?   Dust seems to get in when changing lenses.  Then when shooting the mirror moving causes the air to swirl and the shutter opens to let floating stuff blow into the sensor area where a static charge may attract it to the sensor.   The sensor itself is covered by a wafer containing several filters.  The number varies by make and model, not all cameras have a low pass filter in the wafer.

    I have never used compressed air and this site is not now recommending compressed air from a cartridge.  I do use Eclipse fluid sometimes.  When I got my 30D, I was plagued by sensor dirt.  I think vacuuming out my camera bag was the biggest help!  Still, sometimes I still have to clean the sensor.  I use Eclipse fluid and special lint free wipes, called Pec Pads, wrapped around a kitchen spatula cut down to the height of my sensor, instead of the products shown at this page:  http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/sensor-cleaning.shtml.  See method 7D on this page: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/camera-sensor-cleaning.htm.

    Arctic Butterfly (http://www.visibledust.com/products3.php?pid=3) has put more dust on my sensor than it ever removed.  I don’t use it.



    Hi nesgran, here’s a bit of extra info on the shots:

    The photos of the people holding the frames were in a Photo Booth I shot at a school dance. For my setup, I had two LED panels pointing at the booth while I was shooting in the middle; I also had a strobe I borrowed from a friend at the back pointing to the background and was commanding it with my pop-up flash. As for the ambient lightning, since it was a dance there was indeed very little light so I kept the ISO in 400. Overall it was quite challenging to start getting some results since I had never used external lightning before, so it probably took me around an hour before the dance to set everything up haha. The LED panels were at minimum intensity since it was really hard for the people to keep their eyes open otherwise (I had the panels fairly close to myself since there wasn’t too much space either). If you have any suggestions on how to arrange my lightning set better, I would much appreciate that since that has been the only chance I’ve had to play with external lights; hopefully next time I’ll be able to arrange something a bit better 🙂


    Girl looking out the window, I should have closed my aperture another stop and lower the shutter speed; that was totally my bad. For the roof in the background, I had not realized about it until you pointed it out, now I think I won’t be able to unsee it haha. Same with the chromatic aberration, I didn’t realize before, but I just went back to Lightroom and fixed it


    For the color run I was indeed quite worried about all that paint flying around. What I ended up doing was covering my lens with a plastig bag which I sealed with an adaptor ring at the front of the lens and with a rubber band at the back, then I covered the body with another plastic bag. Overall the camera stayed quite clean that day.


    The fashion show was probably the hardest thing I’ve done so far, it was my first time doing something like that so I was quite nervous haha. Overall I guess I have to work on the poses I shoot, I still need to train my eyes better haha. For the focus, I tried to keep my focus point on the models eyes, but I might have still messed it up in a couple of shots.


    As for the sensor dust that you and camera clicker mention, I did notice it in another of my photos but I haven’t cleaned it since I don’t owe any cleaning accessories yet. I guess I’ll try to get some on my next trip to the camera store.

    For my focal length, which both of you mention in some of the shots, I do have realized that 35mm is not the best lens for portraits. Unfortunately that and a very old Nikkor-H 50mm f2. I do want to get my hands on an 85mm f1.8G, but that won’t probably happen until September once I’ve saved enough money.

    Thanks a lot to both of you guys for your time and help! I will  try to direct some more portraits at least with my friends along the next couple of months to start getting a better hang out of it, and I’ll definitely see into cleaning that sensor soon( thanks a lot for the links, cameraclicker)!




    I’m guessing money is short (it certainly was for me at that age) but you need flashes rather than continuous light. LED panels are great for things like product photography or video, portraits not so much for the simple reason you noted with either they melt your face or they aren’t bright enough. My suggestion would be to get two yongnuo yn-560III flashes and a single rf-603 transmitter. This is my standard recommendation unless you have money to step up to canons RT system which really isn’t much of an option given that you are part of the dark side 🙂

    You can pick up a YN-560 III for about $70 off ebay, the transceiver maybe $15 and four sets of sanyo eneloop batteries for about $50 with a charger. Basically $200 for that lot. Cheap light stands and umbrellas won’t cont very much either, probably a bit over $100 if you buy the cheap stuff. If $300 is too much in one go, get one set of flash, light stand etc and it’ll be $160. One umbrella is enough to light lots of things and an excellent place to learn how to use light creatively. The bare flash will work quite well outdoors as well, I often stick one in a tree for example and it provides a bit of fill for more interesting light.

    Go and read strobist.com lighting 101 for some inspiration. Once you know how to use off camera light and when to use it you can really make your photos stand out and will be vital for you if you want to continue with a career in photography.

    As for cleaning the camera, first step should be to get a rocket blower. Turn the camera with sensor facing down and open it up with the manual cleaning mode and blow a number of times on the sensor from a safe distance. Wet cleans aren’t that difficult but you have the potential to screw up badly if something goes wrong, hence try to blow it out first.


    Indeed, money is a big limitation right now haha, nevertheless your suggestion does sound tempting so I’ll start saving for that. Hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll have some extra money and will be able to buy that system and a new prime. Meanwhile I’ll take a look at the Strobist’s guide. There is a studio with quite some equipment in my school that I can ask about getting access to so I can get some practice.

    Thanks again for the help and I’ll probably be back for advise once I start experimenting more with lightning! 🙂

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