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  • This topic has 11 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 8 years ago by kdub.
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    I am an aspiring newbie!  I’m just wondering how am doing during my learning process!  Thanks for any constructive criticism!







    Well, either you’re a newbie or an aspiring photog, but an aspiring newbie? Isn’t that a little like being a fledgeling infant?  🙂

    You’re shooting and willing to let others see your work. That’s a great start.

    Some things to remember

    1. read the manual of your camera! It sounds cliche, but believe me there is a wealth of information there from which to learn.

    2. there are a plenitude of youtube videos you can watch to get the idea of “photography basics” and how to practice them. Start with the exposure triangle and move from there.

    3. Practice, practice and more practice. Know your equipment inside and out.

    4. Shoot various subject matter. You may find comfort in portraits at golden hour, but try to some still life also, or action shots, or group photos, and at varying times of day and seasons. You may find a technique that assists you in one area is less useful in another, or perhaps the reverse.


    I think P7054964.jpg worked well.  I like it best.

    Your model needs a little retouch work, but mostly wardrobe and poses.  Your first photo, P7135206.jpg, does not flatter her in any way!   The “off the shoulder” top causes her to appear as though her right shoulder is very high and her left shoulder is abnormally low.  If she is going to wear something off the shoulder, she should avoid shoulder straps.   She should point her right toe more toward you and bend her right knee toward her left side.  She should be about 10 feet from the wall if your lens opens to f/2.8.  Add a few more feet if you have slower lenses or are stopping down for some reason.

    What are you trying to say with P7135117.jpg?   If you mask out her arm and crop tightly on head and shoulders, it might make a good head shot.  That shirt is way too busy.

    I took a picture of railway tracks the other day.   Thinking about it, I have lots of photos of railway tracks.  Most of them involve trains and/or stations.  Read through the other posts here and you will see that a model waiting on the tracks, for the train, is considered a bad cliche.    Perhaps you could cut her out of P7135277.jpg and paste her into another scene?

    P7135111.jpg has good rim lighting thanks to the sun.  There’s that shirt again.  She has bumps on her forehead and something under her right eye.  There is a bright white, burned out area just to our right of her head.  There is dead grass hanging over the stones and some leaves creeping in from right of the frame.  I don’t think the pose is helping.  Her expression says “Please get this over with”.

    What are you trying to say with P7135194.jpg?  The concrete seems to curve off toward the edges.  That may really be the case judging by the stone wall.  Why do the stones have those yellow stains?  What is that blue thing on the ground half way up the left edge of your frame?  What is that other stuff on the ground just past her knee?  Why that pose?  It would be perfect for this kind of fixture:


    Yep, that’s a washroom stall in Hong Kong, at Fong Ma Po.  In 2006 it was new, and my flash turned on the tap at every sink!


    Where was I?  How about P7135290.jpg?  Another not very flattering pose.  She looks sad.  The flower looks broken.  The dead plant to her left adds that extra little touch of melancholy.   Perhaps she is lamenting having her feet chopped off.

    Summary of the constructive parts:

    Flattering clothing, suitable colours, no words — unless you are photographing sports and the team name matters, no under-garment straps, no labels, … etc.

    Watch your backgrounds, if you keep dead plants and garbage out of your frame, you don’t have to shop them out later.  A few walls are really attractive, many are not.  Get your model away from the background.  If your model is closer to you than to the background, you have reasonable hope of shooting with a wide aperture and getting a nice background blur.  An exception to blurring backgrounds is when you need context for an environmental portrait.  If you are shooting in some exotic location, you may want the background to be sharp so people can tell where your subject was.

    Shadows are your friends.  Shadows give depth.  Usually you don’t want deep and well defined shadows, though sometimes those are good too.  No shadow gives “flat” lighting.  Your photo ends up looking very two dimensional instead of three dimensional and your subject looks pasted in.  I think you need to work on seeing  light and shadow.  Pay attention to the direction of light, sometimes side light can work well.

    Fix bad skin, but don’t make it plastic.  Pores are good, usually moles are left, eye bags and pimples/acne are faded or removed.  Stray hairs may be left or removed depending.  If they are over an eye, I usually remove them.

    Try for good expressions.  Describe a scene or plant a thought to get the expression you want.

    Some subjects are natural models, they just seem to know how to stand and pose.  Others need help.  If your model is having trouble looking good while just standing there, provide something to do.  Even if you are just doing head shots, pay attention to posture and hand position as it affects the shoulders.

    Knowing how your camera works is important.  Your exposures look alright.   If you are going to do portraits, good, fast glass is helpful because you can get a shallow depth of field.  Longer focal lengths help because they compress foreground/background, so noses look shorter.  They also have shallower depth of field when your subject is close.  Both on and off camera lighting can also help, depending on conditions.

    Look through the posts here, you will see that we have seen much worse photos than yours.  Keep shooting, keep tweaking.  Think about the shot before taking it.  Look at it again later and think about what you could improve next time.



    Thank you for all the info!  It really does help and I truly appreciate it!  I know I have a long way to go but having people guide me along the way is a tremendous help!


    EyeDoc & CC are dead on!

    Many people just toss out the manual for their camera or leave it in the box where it originated.  Mine to, but hear me out.  The reason mine is still in the box is because I carry a pdf version on my phone and I printed a version and keep it in a binder for quick reference.  The manual can be cumbersome and the text can be hard to read, so I enlarged mine to the max size per page and printed it out.

    It may sound a little old school, but I know where the info is for my camera at all times.

    CC’s info is spot on too.

    You should get to know your subjects and try to find what poses are better for their look, even if they are just head shots.  I noticed in some of your poses, the girls face structure looked square.  I look at facial structure as the hairline (forehead), cheek-bones, nose and the chin.  Square looks like a lego, a slight tilt of the head or turn to one side adds perspective and depth.  Lighting can achieve some of this as well but stick to natural lighting for the time being before jumping into the that, you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.  Don’t get me wrong, lighting is good, but one should be able to work with natural and ambient lighting before adding more complexity into the mix.

    CC’s comment about the railroad being cliché is true, it’s way overdone.  BTW, on that photo, you probably didn’t even notice that you practically nailed a textbook Fibonacci spiral.  The image is okay, but not bad for a newb. [not sure why I still cannot embed a photo like CC can]???

    Another tip, if you are really game, maybe join a local group like meet-up if it’s available in your area.  Groups like that have people of all levels that are usually there to help each other out and go together on outings for photo shoots.  They are usually free or cheap, which is also good.
    Good Luck and keep shooting.


    [not sure why I still cannot embed a photo like CC can]???

    The script for this blog has some interesting features, I suspect.  A pretty reliable way to get a photo to appear is to upload it to Flickr, then view it, and copy the URL line from the browser.  It should look something like this:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/54048679@N07/14697190726/

    —- If you paste the URL into a line without leading and trailing characters or spaces like this:

    —- https://www.flickr.com/photos/54048679@N07/14697190726/

    —- It looks like a link in the editor window but once submitted it should appear as a photo instead of just a link.
    If you paste the URL into a line without leading and trailing characters or spaces like this:


    It looks like a link in the editor window but once submitted it should appear as a photo instead of just a link.


    I never even thought of joining a local photo club!  Great idea!  I’ll have to check out the one in my area.  Thank you!


    Thank you CC. I usually pretty decent with hand-coding, by no means am I a web designer or scriptor but I think I do okay.

    The funny thing is when I have done this in the past, in the editor I see the picture as I want it to be, when I select the visual tab, but when I submit it, nothing, not even the link.  Probably due to it not having the open tag and closing tag like <a href> and </a> or <img src=> and </a>.

    Usually I have been using Imgur to [try] to post images, I’ll try with Flickr.


    Test Image:



    ah, it worked.  Thank you CC!

    I thought the image was fitting, since we were talking about railroad tracks being cliché, lol


    And Kdub, the local groups are a great resource, but depending on how many are available near you, you may have to find one that fits your personality and style.  I belong to 3 local groups, but one of them, to me, is a bit stuffy and pretentious, so don’t fret if the 1st or 2nd one doesn’t fit your groove.


    You’re welcome.

    I haven’t seen the code but have observed some replies containing links just disappear completely, and others display the image until you submit — as you describe.  I suspect the object is to minimize spam.

    Railways are a part of all of our lives, even if we just use the products they bring to our town.  This is my most recent photo of tracks, all 14 of them, with 3 trains.  Union Station is covering the tracks, mid photo.


    The local “bricks & mortar” photo clubs where people come together face to face all seem to close during the summer.  Operation resumes in September.  I don’t belong to any of them due to scheduling issues.  A couple have closed recently but there are lots of on-line clubs.  Many are free to join, have members from around the world with a wide variety of expertise and interests.   A photographer and graphic artist in Spain has suggested 1x.com is a good site for aspiring photographers because of their critique quality.  If you want something dedicated to shooting models, Model Mayhem has a critique forum:  http://www.modelmayhem.com/t.php?forum_id=8   Going through the portfolios there may give you some posing ideas.  I have an account but have not spent enough time there to know if the comments are pithy, or just fluff.


    It looks like there is only one club in our area but they seem pretty laid back and helpful.  They even have a mentoring program which I think would be GREAT!  They run from September to August and the dues are really inexpensive.  I also am watching tutorials and things on the web to get all the help I can!  I’ll have to check out 1x.com and modelmayhem as well!  Thank you all for the great ideas and helpful hints!


    @Kdub.  Try Meet Up.com, not sure if I had mentioned that one before, disregard if I did.

    Model Mayhem, is okay, it’s always a good resource for if you are trying to get some models, HAMU (Hair and Make-up) and/or photographers on the cheap.  There are plenty on there that only work for pay, don’t get me wrong, but just as many that will work for free or next to nothing for the ability to add to their portfolio.  In the case of photographers, it’s not a bad resource to find other photographers near you that maybe need a apprentice or are willing to show you the ropes for “free” labor.  Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear anything back for the first few times, press on, if you can spare the time.

    Youtube is a plethora of information, just search and watch,easy.

    Lynda.com is also a good resource for the back-end when learning how to use photoshop, lightroom  or other photo apps.  This is a pay service, but very good information at a reasonable cost.

    Obviously there are about 10 billion books about photography, but if your anything like me, I can read a book and get the gist of it, but I pick things up more easily when I see and touch it.

    Good LucK!


    Yeah – I have a ton of books, but I learn better when I actually DO instead of read about it.  I’ll check out those other sites too!  Thank you!

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