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  • #19833

    I’m a hobbyist photographer, mostly not of people.  I think I learn at least a little something every time I go out and take pictures.  I almost always shoot in RAW.  I almost always shoot in manual.   Sometimes I  feel like my pictures come out bad because of my lack of knowledge.  Other times I feel like I’m limited by my camera/lenses.  A lot of times I’ll really like some pictures I took for a while and then realize later on looking back that they really weren’t that great.  I would never take pictures of people and charge them for it.  I may get decent pics of people sometimes, but it’s pretty hit or miss.  Not being able to guarantee a level of quality, I would never feel justified charging someone at my current skill level.  I think my weakest point in general might be my composition.

    I was very impressed by the brutal honesty and usefulness of some of the other critiques here.  People are too nice on other sites.  I even tried joining a critique group on flickr and really didn’t get much useful feedback.  So, fire away.  All my camera settings should be visible there on flickr.

    Here are a couple links in particular that I feel were some of my better pics, but I still see  a few issues with them.  I’m hoping you guys may be able to point out more.  Or feel free to point out flaws in general for my pics on flickr.

    Coronado Bridge @ Night

    Main thing I see… the boat is a little blurry from movement during the long exposure.

     

    Tempe Town Lake Bridge

    The lights and city in the background aren’t very sharp and I’m not sure if the composition is what one would consider good.

    #19844
    fautox1977
    Member

    Although a hobbyist, I believe that you are an above average landscape photographer. You are right – not so good with people.

    Going through your photo gallery, I think that you have a good sense of composition and lighting.

    Don’t ask for people to look for flaws as they will definitely find something even if there is nothing there. Ask for a critique (good or bad). This way you can keep doing what you are doing right and drop what you are doing wrong. Personally I think the right are much more than the wrong.

    #19853

    You live in, or visit, some interesting places.  If you live there, you have lots of opportunity to visit the specific locations and improve those shots you feel were a near miss.

    In another thread it was suggested the photographer do self critiques.  As a variation of that, lets try 20 questions.  Some of them are the “get to know you” variety so thoughts can be tailored.  Others are to focus your efforts.

    Let’s start with, what is it about Linux that makes you happy?

    As a Linux user, what photo editing software do you use?

    You said you almost always shoot in raw, and in manual, why?

    You seem to have a Nikon D3100, 18-55 mm, 55-200 mm, 50 mm f/1.8.  What other photography gear do you have?

    Your water drop photos are shot at 1/200th.  Flickr reports flash was off.  Why was 1/200th selected as the shutter speed?

    What is the depth of field of 102 mm at f/4.5 and a focus distance of a foot?

    What is the hyperfocal distance of 18 mm at f/8?

    Lizard appears to be your most recent upload.  Why is the tail in soft focus?

    You said there is a blur issue with Coronado Bridge @ Night, when did you discover the blur?

    What caused the blur in Coronado Bridge @ Night, and what could you have done to prevent it?

    Regarding Tempe Town Lake Bridge, I see you are familiar with Fro Knows Photo!  I also see you uploaded the large size and that the whole photo is a little soft.  There are a few things going on.  A couple may be resolved by technique, one by better glass.  Some questions:

    – list all the steps you followed to get the shot, starting with setting up, and going through to packing up.

    – what is the depth of field of 18 mm and f/4 at the focus distance you used?  EXIF data should tell you where focus was set.

    – tell us about the weather conditions: temperature, wind, humidity, etc.

    – how far are the buildings from your camera?  You can probably measure the distance with Google maps.

    Moving on, and thinking about your people photos, it seems your subjects are family.  Looking at Happy, why did you choose f/1.8 as the aperture?

    Having chosen the widest aperture, why does your subject seem to be right against the steel background?

    Why does the beam on the left of that photo seem sharper than your subject’s face?  A follow-on question might be, what does that beam add to the photo?

    What is the depth of field of 50 mm at f/1.8 and the focus distance used?

    After shooting Suegra, how did taking a step or two forward to shoot Happy, affect the photo?

    In https://www.flickr.com/photos/90822098@N07/11792819014/, where does your eye go?

    Why is she sitting on the side of the photo her body is facing?

    Does the greenish blob in the upper right corner add anything?

     

    All photos have flaws, and different people will perceive different flaws.  “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure” could also be expressed as “One man’s art is another man’s garbage”.  A thick skin is helpful sometimes.  All that said, I think you would have to work pretty hard to top Smile as a portrait.  You have a nice neutral background that is out of focus except for the little bit of railing she is leaning against.  Colours are good.  Her near eye is in good focus.  There is enough depth of field that her whole head is in pretty good focus.  She has a nice smile and loving expression.  The light may be slightly hard but you have detail in the shadows.  I think it is really well done.

    When shooting against that concrete wall, it might work better to shoot at f/2 or f/2.8 with your subject 5 to 10 feet in front of the wall.  Then you can have your subject nice and sharp, and the wall will go out of focus so you just see a white sheet with very out of focus texture.

     

    #19855
    Trainwreck
    Member

    Hi Happy!

    I’m not really into being very brutal but I’ll give it a shot!

    I’d have to say you seem to have a recurring focus problem. A lot of it I think may be due to working with too shallow a DoF and possibly incorrect placement of focal point. I’m also seeing this with some of your macro stuff where the DoF is inherently going to be razor thin. Now it’s hard to say looking at a body of work and with no explanation of what you your thoughts were or what you are going for. Better when looking at a single photo for comment. For all I know you wanted that purposely. Some of these shots could also be improved by proper sharpening techniques in post. The animal/bird shots come to mind with this comment. The light trail shots I really couldn’t say I care for. Not a big fan of absolutely nothing in focus. But I guess that could also be termed “abstract”.

    You are lighting your glass incorrectly, and the liquid drops could be lit a lot better as well. Glass/translucent liquids are a very difficult subject. Pick up a copy of Light: Science and Magic (Fourth Edition). It is a lighting bible.

    The liquid stream (pour) is OoF as are a lot of the higher velocity extraneous drops in some of your liquid shots. You are not stopping the motion and they are appearing as a blurred something instead of a defined drop. Again adding to the fact that they are out of the focal plane. Your still life’s could use cleaning.

    Now I’m really going to get brutal!

    You have some very nice long exposure shots. Bridge fan I see! And I like the moonlit tree as well. Tree fan myself! I don’t know if your camera has a bulb mode or not but you might try stopping down your glass and taking longer exposures. From what little I saw it looks like you are limiting to 30 sec. Bump the ISO if necessary and don’t underexpose. Tripod (naturally), mirror lock-up, remote shutter release, all the precautions and good techniques.

    With these I think your composition is really good.

    I’ll leave the people shots to the people people!

    You have some nice stuff going on Happy. All in all the biggest overall thing that I can see is that you might do some DoF/Focus research/experiments and get a handle on your focus issues. I would bet that if you have questions about what has been said here you would get some straight up, no BS answers and advice.

    And as for the lime/knife shots? A man after my own Heart!

    When Life Gives You Lemons…

    #19859

    Excellent, this is just the kind of feedback I was looking for.  I’ll try to answer this stuff the best I can.

    “Let’s start with, what is it about Linux that makes you happy?”

    Ok, I’ll clarify here.  This name was created long ago before I was even doing a lot of photography or photo editing.  I’ll probably change it eventually.

    “As a Linux user, what photo editing software do you use?”
    I’m actually using Mac currently and I use lightroom mostly, and photoshop at times.

    “You said you almost always shoot in raw, and in manual, why?”

    After shooting in auto for a while and not knowing anything about my camera, I forced myself to shoot in manual to learn more about iso, shutter speed and aperture.  Raw is far superior to work with in post production.

    “You seem to have a Nikon D3100, 18-55 mm, 55-200 mm, 50 mm f/1.8.  What other photography gear do you have?”
    You pretty much nailed it with camera/lenses.  I have a cheap tripod, a wired shutter release remote (d3100 doesn’t have wireless option built in), a set of extension tubes, a YongNuo YN-560 III flash, and a flash stand with umbrella and hotshoes for off camera flash capability.

    “Your water drop photos are shot at 1/200th.  Flickr reports flash was off.  Why was 1/200th selected as the shutter speed?”
    Shutter speed was set to maximum flash sync speed.  I was using off camera flash, so it reports as if no flash was used.

    “What is the depth of field of 102 mm at f/4.5 and a focus distance of a foot?”

    I honestly don’t know how that’s calculated.

    “What is the hyperfocal distance of 18 mm at f/8?”
    I don’t know how that’s calculated either.

    “Lizard appears to be your most recent upload.  Why is the tail in soft focus?”
    The tail has a soft focus most likely because of the aperture used.  I think I had the aperture wide open because of the light.  But I probably needed to close it down a bit.

     

    “You said there is a blur issue with Coronado Bridge @ Night, when did you discover the blur?”
    When I opened it in lightroom on the computer.  It looked fine on the camera.

    “What caused the blur in Coronado Bridge @ Night, and what could you have done to prevent it?”

    I thought the blur issue was mostly with the boat.  The boat was moving slightly with the waves.  A short exposure would have prevented the boat blur, but I wanted the smooth water of a long exposure.

     

    “Regarding Tempe Town Lake Bridge, I see you are familiar with Fro Knows Photo!  I also see you uploaded the large size and that the whole photo is a little soft.  There are a few things going on.  A couple may be resolved by technique, one by better glass.  Some questions:

    – list all the steps you followed to get the shot, starting with setting up, and going through to packing up.”

    I used a tripod, timer mode, 30 sec exposure, aperture wide open, iso 100.  My camera seems to produce lots of noise in dark shots or long exposure.  I wanted to stick to 30 sec or less and iso 100 to keep the noise down.  I can see that I probably need to use a larger aperture, and higher iso.

    “- what is the depth of field of 18 mm and f/4 at the focus distance you used?  EXIF data should tell you where focus was set.”

    as mentioned before I’m not really sure how to calculate all that.

    “- tell us about the weather conditions: temperature, wind, humidity, etc.”
    about 95 degrees, no wind, low humidity.   (phoenix)

    “- how far are the buildings from your camera?  You can probably measure the distance with Google maps.”

    As close as I can tell, .2 miles.

    “Moving on, and thinking about your people photos, it seems your subjects are family.  Looking at Happy, why did you choose f/1.8 as the aperture?”
    I had just gotten this lens and I didn’t know how to use it properly.  I should have closed it down a bit.

    “Having chosen the widest aperture, why does your subject seem to be right against the steel background?”
    Good question.  Inexperience, I suppose.  I see what you’re saying though.  I should have shot with them away from the background so it blurred nicely with the wide aperture.

    “Why does the beam on the left of that photo seem sharper than your subject’s face?  A follow-on question might be, what does that beam add to the photo?”    Inexperience once again.  A single point focus mode probably would have prevented that.  I think I see your point with the beam.  It probably could have done without it.

    “What is the depth of field of 50 mm at f/1.8 and the focus distance used?”

    I’m really not sure.

    “After shooting Suegra, how did taking a step or two forward to shoot Happy, affect the photo?”
    I think it gave it a slightly better composition.

    “In https://www.flickr.com/photos/90822098@N07/11792819014/, where does your eye go?

    Why is she sitting on the side of the photo her body is facing?

    Does the greenish blob in the upper right corner add anything?”

    This is one of those pictures I looked back on and didn’t like so much.  The above questions helped me realize why.  I guess I was trying to get the waterfall background in there.  Because she’s sitting on a wall she couldn’t really have faced the other way.  The greenish blob in the corner is the sky, the corners of the building. ( i think that’s what you’re referring to).  I guess I could have cropped that down a tiny bit.  But the rest of the composition is off so it wouldn’t have mattered much anyway.

    Thanks for taking time to answer me.

    #19860

    “I’d have to say you seem to have a recurring focus problem. A lot of it I think may be due to working with too shallow a DoF and possibly incorrect placement of focal point. I’m also seeing this with some of your macro stuff where the DoF is inherently going to be razor thin. Now it’s hard to say looking at a body of work and with no explanation of what you your thoughts were or what you are going for. Better when looking at a single photo for comment. For all I know you wanted that purposely. Some of these shots could also be improved by proper sharpening techniques in post. The animal/bird shots come to mind with this comment. The light trail shots I really couldn’t say I care for. Not a big fan of absolutely nothing in focus. But I guess that could also be termed “abstract”.”

    All good input.

    “You are lighting your glass incorrectly, and the liquid drops could be lit a lot better as well. Glass/translucent liquids are a very difficult subject. Pick up a copy of Light: Science and Magic (Fourth Edition). It is a lighting bible.”

    I actually just got that book and haven’t gotten a chance to work through it.  Thanks for the suggestion.

    “The liquid stream (pour) is OoF as are a lot of the higher velocity extraneous drops in some of your liquid shots. You are not stopping the motion and they are appearing as a blurred something instead of a defined drop. Again adding to the fact that they are out of the focal plane. Your still life’s could use cleaning.”

    I think you’re referring to some of my earlier water drop shots.  I was trying to do them with on camera flash and that really didn’t work well.  My more recent ones were with off camera flash.  I probably do need to close the lens down more and use more powerful flash.  It’s very difficult to get them in focus  with such shallow dof.  I believe i was using extension tubes as well which makes the dof even thinner.

    “Now I’m really going to get brutal!”
    perfect

    “You have some very nice long exposure shots. Bridge fan I see! And I like the moonlit tree as well. Tree fan myself! I don’t know if your camera has a bulb mode or not but you might try stopping down your glass and taking longer exposures. From what little I saw it looks like you are limiting to 30 sec. Bump the ISO if necessary and don’t underexpose. Tripod (naturally), mirror lock-up, remote shutter release, all the precautions and good techniques.”

    My camera does have bulb mode.  I was kind of afraid of getting too much noise if I do really long exposure.  I use a tripod (although I could probably use a better one), use the remote shutter release or timer mode.  My camera’s mirror lock up is only available for sensor cleaning, not to use while taking pictures.

    “With these I think your composition is really good.”
    Thank you

    “I’ll leave the people shots to the people people!”
    Makes perfect sense.

    “You have some nice stuff going on Happy. All in all the biggest overall thing that I can see is that you might do some DoF/Focus research/experiments and get a handle on your focus issues. I would bet that if you have questions about what has been said here you would get some straight up, no BS answers and advice.

    And as for the lime/knife shots? A man after my own Heart!

    https://youarenotaphotographer.com/forums/topic/when-life-gives-you-lemons/”

    I really appreciate all the time you took to look at my pics and give feedback.  Your lemon/knife shot is ridiculously good (imo).  It must have taken a lot of time and patience to get that right.

    #19861

    Also, I live in Phoenix.  I would say it’s below average as an interesting place for photography.  But I’ve been specifically looking for places nearby that could work.  The tempe town lake shots you see are only a few minutes away.  So, I can definitely go back and try to improve my shots with the advice I’m getting.  The pictures of my wife and her parents is also at basically that same location, in the day.  So I can do something similar with that for improved shots.  And yes, I’m familiar with Fro.  I’m very much in an experiment and learn mode.  His site and others like it are pretty useful for little tips and tricks as I learn.

    #19867

    You are welcome.  Thanks for responding to the questions.

    So, of the three responses you received, one was quite brief, though accurate, and the other two both highlighted depth of field issues.  Understanding the concepts and having some notion about the practical aspects can be a big help.  There is a calculator here, along with an explanation:  http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html.  I’m not convinced it is 100% accurate, but as a general overview and guide, it’s quite reasonable.  Strongly recommended reading.

    You have a flash you can fire, off camera, and you seem to like water drops, though your earlier shots look better than your recent ones.  This is one of mine:

    2014-03-03_08-56-16_322C4849

    There are more and that one is between a couple of set-up photos.

    Looking at Stretch, that one lone drop at upper left looks quite sharp, so, I’m thinking depth of field/focus point may be the problem, rather than motion blur.  I expect it was a flash photo.  Flash will freeze water drops as long as you have a short enough duration.  I don’t think your flash can do high speed sync, but if you get one that can, don’t use the feature for water drops, it causes blur.  Some of my water drops were shot at 150 mm and some at 100 mm.  I see the one I referenced was at 150 mm.  It was also at f/11.  Even though it was off camera, my system indicates flash fired.  Power was probably somewhere between 1/8th and 1/32nd.  The flash is only a foot or so from the splash so a lot of power is not needed.  Actually, 2 flashes with different gels.  If you need more power, put plastic wrap over it to keep the flash dry and push it closer.  A part power flash is shorter duration than a full power flash so it has better motion stopping ability.  Arrange for the drop to always land in the same place then use a knife or ruler to set focus.  Place it across the basin so it is dripped on, focus, then remove it.  Chop sticks also work.

    The blur of the boat.  Yes, boats move.  Both wind and waves are problems.  Sometimes you have control and sometimes not.  If the waves are from another boat, wait for them to settle.  If waves are from a storm, you have to wait for another night, or use a different technique, like a faster shutter speed.  An option is a slow shutter exposure to smooth the water and a fast exposure to get the boat, then put them together in Photoshop.  If the camera is locked down on a tripod, you should have no trouble aligning two photos later.

    The blur issue with the Tempe Town Lake Bridge, may be the result of inexpensive gear.  I have a couple of cheap tripods.  I paid CAN$50 for each of three of them.  I also have a carbon fibre tripod that was about CAN$400 for just the legs, the head was another $350 or so.  Actually, they are all very good in their own ways.  One of the $50 tripods is a Velbon Sherpa.  A spindly little thing that can hold a pro body and 100 to 400 zoom, if there is no wind.  In wind, it twists and wiggles.  But it does not weigh much, under 2 lbs with head.  Good for selfies when traveling.  The other two $50 tripods are pretty heavy duty, heavy aluminum things which came with heads.  One is almost 40 years old and I got an excellent deal on the other about 10 years ago when a store wanted to get rid of their last one.   They are good for the studio, or trunk of a car.  Not so great for carrying across Europe.  Carbon fibre is good when it is cold, you don’t freeze to it.  And it is relatively light while settling vibration quickly.   Blah, blah, blah.  Anyway, a good sturdy tripod that is heavy enough to withstand wind and light enough to carry to where you need it is a wonderful thing.  Sometimes instead of a tripod, I use a thing that looks like a C clamp with a ball head on it.  I have two of those, of different weights, materials, and ages.  If there is something sturdy to clamp to, they are a good option.  Sometimes I just put the camera on something sturdy and press it down.  Whatever works.

    Looking at that photo, the building lights on the left seem to blur left, while the building lights under the bridge on the right seem to blur right!  Usually when there is motion blur caused by camera movement, the whole image blurs in the same direction.  So, my thought is that your lens is providing blur.  But, in long exposure images, the sensor is read several times by the camera’s computer, so it could be the camera was pointing more in one direction when that part of the sensor was read, and more in the other direction when the other side of the sensor was read.  Some tests with the same lens, same focal length, same aperture, and a bright target that uses a short exposure may be enlightening.  A better tripod might help if it caused by motion.  A clean lens and lens hood help eliminate flare.  So will better glass, but that gets into real money.  The sensor does not have the dynamic range your eye has.  HDR is a technique to help overcome that.  By doing one exposure for the bridge and darker areas and a second for the building’s lights, then combining them in Photoshop, you can get some of the benefits of HDR without the whole process.  You could, of course, do the 3 or 7 shot HDR exercise and use the HDR tool in Photoshop to combine them.  I find I get mixed results with the few I do, so I just do what I want manually.  By not over exposing the lights, they might look sharper.  Use the DOF calculator to figure out the largest aperture that will give a hyperfocal setting that gives DOF to infinity, then try to stay smaller than that aperture.

    95°F and distance are not a good combination.  The air moves and causes distortion.  Unfortunately, if those are the conditions all you can do is live with them.  Shooting early instead of late may get you cooler temperatures, but the building lights may be off before first light.  Shooting during the blue period, after the golden hour, at night, is good.  You get the warm building lights and a deep blue sky, but where you are the heat is still present.

    In the “After shooting Suegra …” question, I was really looking for “the background has more blur, DOF improved”.  But, I’ll take “composition improved”.

    Your https://www.flickr.com/photos/90822098@N07/11792819014/, has lots of things that detract.  Your eye tends to go to bright things, unless they are extremely bright causing you to look away.  The railing she is leaning on is a nice bright silver.  She has the bright white sleeve of her shirt, the reflection from her ring, and all the pale green with an orange door.  Then there are the blobs intruding at the top and down the upper right border.  Her right arm and leg tend to guide your eye out the right side of the frame, while the rail guides your eye out the left side.  And, she has that dark blob just above the edge of her head.   I pulled that photo down and painted out the black, and the orange door, darkened the rail, lightened her face.  It improves it, but you still have better photos of her, and it doesn’t fix her pose.  I think it’s one of those learning experience photos.

    This is probably getting long.  I’ll take another minute or two to say Goofball and the chess board are pretty cool.  The wine glass didn’t work.  Glass has to be extremely clean, and well lit, or you end up with a glass that looks like the before image in a Cascade commercial where the Kitchen Counselor suggests switching dishwasher detergent.  For some shots like yours, masks are cut from black card to aid killing reflections.

     

    #19868
    nesgran
    Member

    For a bit of critique from me I would like to give you some feedback on your people shots as I’m not much of a landscape guy. The landscapes look nice though but some of the sunstars are a little large and distracting. You will probably find that the hyperfocal distance at slightly larger apertures is good enough. For a calculator that is neat http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/dof-calculator.htm . Your camera has a 1.5x crop.

    Goofball: underface lighting is rarely flattering

    Cool dude: As a rule of thumb don’t shoot kids from above and don’t chop half of feet off on anyone.

    More coffee: fun concept but your shopping skills are lacking. The outline against the wall looks off.

    Concretesky, DSC_0497 and shades: whatever you were trying to achieve has failed. The texture is pretty awful and the pose isn’t flattering as it looks like her is pulling his lip up and away from the camera. The soft focus style worked in the 80’s but not anymore. The light is pretty nice but because he is wearing sunglasses I think he should have rotated 30 degrees counter clock wise to get less light on the temple highlighting the vein and more on his hair to give it a little glow. The portrait of the woman is the best of these three, I think it would look great without the editing. She has a nice expression, there is enough shadow in her face to give her three dimensions however I think a little dodging of her forehead would be nice.

    The low key portraits: Nice experiments but in general not enough of the face is lit for it to really work.

    Suegro: very nice portrait but it is badly tilted. The colour balance looks a little off.

    Suegra: A decent portrait but definitely not as good as the one before. In general with women you very rarely want to shoot them straight on. What defines the female form are curves and very few women are curvy enough for this to work straight on. Because of how her head is held she now has a very marked double chin. As a rule of thumb and starting pose you want women turned slightly away from the camera, leaning slightly forward with their torso and facing slightly away from the camera. This will enhance the shape but also minimise double chins. Just be careful so you don’t give them a hanging gut. A tighter crop would be nice on this shot, pull the left upper corner down until the top is almost touching her hair.

    The portraits of the curly haired woman: All nice but slight framing problems. By paying more attention to the negative space you could have enhanced these a fair bit I think. All nicely lit but they appear slightly soft.

    Kiddie with dummy: Both nice shots, maybe a bit too tight though.

    Dark light series: Not bad, better than the other low key. Don’t do soft focus hazy shots with low key. It generally works better with sharper shots as the contrast is already very harsh. Again, bear in mind under face light isn’t flattering.

    Wife: Why is there so much space above her head but you’ve chopped her legs off?

    Other wife: Soft, a bit too Monte Zucker for me.

    You’re doing well but it sounds like your camera body is holding you back somewhat and I suspect a light stand with a softbox or umbrella would be very handy for you to keep learning about off camera lighting.

    #19875

    Thanks Clicker, that’s a lot to digest, but very good info.
    I won’t address all your comments here because there are a lot, but I will definitely take your advice.  I didn’t know temperature would make a big difference.  Worst case, I can wait until it cools down in the fall and try again to see if temp is a big factor.  But I do think adjusting the DOF
    would improve it.  It will be easy to test since it’s very close.

    I just saw what you mean about the water drops and DOF and being out of focus.  I would have to agree with you.  My aperature was at 4.5 and I’m pretty sure I was using an extension tube, so that makes it worse.  I probably need to use a higher aperture,  higher iso and just move the flash in a lot closer.

    (I’m not sure why my camera doesn’t know a flash fired when off camera.  It’s full manual.)

    Nesgran, thanks for the input on the people pics.  All the advice you gave is very useful.

    “Goofball: underface lighting is rarely flattering”
    I know this pic isn’t flattering.  It was kind of interesting to see how extreme shadows change the look.  Definitely not a serious picture.

    “Cool dude: As a rule of thumb don’t shoot kids from above and don’t chop half of feet off on anyone.”
    Thank you.  I’ll have to look at the original pic again.  I probably composed it poorly in camera, as far as the foot goes.

    “More coffee: fun concept but your shopping skills are lacking. The outline against the wall looks off.”
    I won’t argue with that.  I’m lacking in PS skills.  The original pic wasn’t great to start with.  I’m not sure what you mean by the outline.  You mean of me and the coffee machine?  I really needed a better background to shoot against, but space was limited.  With a good background the only thing that would have been edited was the coffee stream.

    “Concretesky, DSC_0497 and shades”
    I was probably just trying to salvage unsalvagable pics.  But I could probably re-edit to improve it slightly.  Probably not worth the time.

    “The low key portraits: Nice experiments but in general not enough of the face is lit for it to really work.”
    The original low key portraits I did were done only with a lamp.  I could probably improve those now.

    “Suegro: very nice portrait but it is badly tilted. The colour balance looks a little off.”
    It’s probably the fault of composition.  The wall is actually not at a 90 degree angle and he is leaning against it.  It looks more tilted because of that?  I could easily adjust color balance.  It did seem a little warm or something, as shot.  Is that what you mean?

    “Suegra:”  (left your comment off so it doesn’t get super long here
    Thank you for the great tips.  People photography is something I haven’t done a lot of and tips like these really help.

    “The portraits of the curly haired woman: All nice but slight framing problems. By paying more attention to the negative space you could have enhanced these a fair bit I think. All nicely lit but they appear slightly soft.”
    The slightly soft issue might be caused by my processing, although as pointed out I have focus issues in some.

    “Kiddie with dummy: Both nice shots, maybe a bit too tight though.”
    I’ll have to look at the originals again.  I’m pretty sure the one with the green pillow was done that way because I needed to remove some distracting elements.  It was just a snapshot, really.  I’m not sure about the other one.

    “Dark light series: Not bad, better than the other low key. Don’t do soft focus hazy shots with low key. It generally works better with sharper shots as the contrast is already very harsh. Again, bear in mind under face light isn’t flattering.”
    That was probably my editing as well.  I’ll have to look at the originals and see.  They were done with a single lamp, as well.

    “Wife: Why is there so much space above her head but you’ve chopped her legs off?”
    I probably composed poorly in camera.  I’ll have to look and see.

    “Other wife: Soft, a bit too Monte Zucker for me.”
    Probably one part editing, and one part not quite focused.  That was taken with a fully manual 50mm and I found it difficult to get focused sharply.  I have a new 50  now with all the electronics. (if you’re referring to the same picture I’m looking at,  by the tracks)

    “You’re doing well but it sounds like your camera body is holding you back somewhat and I suspect a light stand with a softbox or umbrella would be very handy for you to keep learning about off camera lighting.”

    I do think a better camera body and lenses would serve me well.  But it seems like there are also plenty of things I could improve on with the advice I’m getting here and with the book I recently received, before I invest in more equipment.  I do have a light stand and umbrella and remote flash trigger now.  I haven’t really had the chance to use them much yet.  I got them because of http://strobist.blogspot.com/, and intend to also go through their lighting 101 and 102 excercises.

    I really appreciate the feedback.  It’s much more and better advice than I anticipated and I think it will help me improve a great deal.

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