Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? My mom loves my work, but that concerns me.

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    Please take a look and let me know what you think. This may hurt, but I want to know.


    Good news is… you are not a fauxtog.  You do not have clients, you don’t shoot for others, and you are not marketing your services.  As long as you keep it this way, until your photography is of pro quality, no one can call you a fauxtog.  You’re just a girl with a camera that gets joy from photographing.  There is no shame in that.  Unlike professional photography and being a tog for hire, art is subjective.  If the person making it is fulfilled creating it, and satisfied with the end outcome, then it’s art.  If others see it as art, appreciate it,  and want to purchase it, it’s just a little extra piece of wonderfulness.  Not only has your art touched something in you, but it touched others as well, and isn’t this why we create in the first place?

    I spent the first 10 minutes just trying to figure out what it was that you wanted us to look at.  Just looked like personal snap shots to me.  So I ended up going to your zenfolio in hopes to find better organization/direction.  This is all based on your “Artists favorites” album.

    I can’t see what you are trying to convey in your shots.  There is lack of composition and direction, and no lead for my eyes.

    The color photos are over saturated.

    The black and whites seem muddy.

    Heavy vignette, does not a good photo make.

    Suggestions on how to improve

    Look up “rule of thirds” and learn how it works, before ever attempting to break it.  Centering your subject rarely if ever works.  Study good composition and constantly aim to achieve it.

    Watch your horizons.  Nothing worse than a crooked horizon that throws your shot out of whack

    Slow down and take your time when composing a shot.  Instead of “Hey pretty flower!  CLICK!” think to yourself “How can I capture this flower, in a way no one has seen before.  Study a scene, and the light.  Move about, Crouch down, shoot up, back off, come in close..ect ect  Experiment with how your distance and your POV effects what you see through the lens.  Come back to the location you want to shoot several times at different times of the day/year if possible.  Good landscape photographers will study locations for a very long time before they capture it the way they see in their minds eye.

    Hold back on the editing, until you get good straight out of the camera shots more consistently, THEN move on to learn better editing techniques.

    Study study study  Look at photography that you admire in a whole new way.  Ask yourself “Why does this work?  Why is it good?  What are all of it’s attributes?”  Study them, and learn how to take them apart and break them down.  and NO! it’s not because they have awesome equipment that you don’t have.  You have a camera, that can record light, that’s all you need to start learning good composition, the exposure triangle, and good solid photography basics.

    If photography is something you love, never stop.  Keep going!!!


    I agree with everything IHF just wrote above. Except I did see a couple of shots that has promise. The one shot with the curve road imo is one of your better shots. In addition ot everything IHF said and to expand on it.. Learn the rule of thirds and eventually you will know when to break that rule as well. To keep it simple when looking at something to photograph think about what it is you really want to see in the image. Then think about how to compose your image so a complete stranger will know what you are wanting them to see. One more thing that I think will help your landscape photos greatly is pick another time of day. It looks like you are shooting midday or in the bright sun. Try to avoid this. I think that will improve a great many shots just by being in differnt light. Look at what other people are doing. Here is an expample of one of the best landscape photographers I know.  http://www.facebook.com/#!/fuphotography/photos. He is a master of light. But like IHF said. If you love it keep doing it. That is the only way to get better.


    Hey look! Feedback! Reading.


    I spent the first 10 minutes just trying to figure out what it was that you wanted us to look at.

    Sorry about that, I looked at the page after I posted the link and realized that most of the posts are about the recent giveaway where I volunteer. Try the Autumn 2012 album:



    I use the rule of thirds, and the composition triangle. I usually love my SOC work, but then someone that I know and respect in real life as a pro photog told me that I need to add an S curve to my shots so most of what you call “oversaturated” is adding the S curve. And I do admit, I often have some minor (1-5 degree) rotating to do.

    Same location different seasons? Done. After you check out Autumn, check out “Spring in her step” which was my spring album. I was not satisfied with most of my photos from that trip so there are only a handful of photographs there. I don’t see my snow photographs in my Facebook albums, but the snowball on a branch on the Zenfolio site is one of the winter photographs… and all at Camp Pine Woods.

    Most of the editing is an attempt to reduce the size and quality for Facebook and frame and watermark so that my photos can’t be borrowed – Its already happened.


    You pointed out my biggest problem – direction. Honestly, when I go out shooting, I don’t have a plan. I take a walk in the woods and I look for whatever catches my eye. I’m usually looking for deer, but I haven’t seen any while my camera was handy this year.


    I have taken some portraits, but I have yet to be paid, so I guess that keeps me in out of Fauxtog status still. I have turned down requests to shoot 3 different weddings now – I know I’m not ready for that responsibility!!! But after discussing prices for engagement shots with one couple it was clear that they were hoping for Chase Jarvis quality for a $50 deal.


    Um this is one of my favorite portraits from my personal page but its not well composed:



    This one is well composed, but  you wont like the editing:



    It looks like you are shooting midday or in the bright sun.


    Actually, I am typically not. The Autumn album was taken in the early morning and a good portion of my favorites were taken in late evening light or on cloudy days. It must be the S curve that brightened it up too much.


    Of those two portraits, I think the second is composed worse. Eyes in center of image and tilty, and the first conveys much more emotion and presence.



    I will preface my comments with the disclaimer that I am not a nature photographer by any stretch of the imagination.

    All in all, your work shows a lot of promise. You clearly have a good eye and talent for nature work. You have a lot of technical work ahead of you to really master the art, but you are off to a very good start.

    A few general pointers about photography in general.

    You will get the best results when you photograph subjects with a similar dynamic range as the medium. For example, trying to shoot the sky and the shade in the same shot will result in either dark shadows or blown out skies.

    Invest in a few filters. The biggies for nature work are the UV Haze filter, Circular polarize, and a set of ND filters. A split ND wouldn’t do you wrong either. Since you shoot a lot more wide angle, buy filters a little bigger than your lens and get a step down ring so that the edges of the filter stack won’t vignette the image. The CPL filter is probably most important for the work you do.

    When shooting landscapes, you really can’t trust the meter reading you’re getting from the camera’s meter. I’m pretty sure this is part of the problem you are having with incorrect exposures. Try to find an inexpensive light meter that will do incidence metering. Point this at the sun and you’ll get a much more accurate reading.

    Also, landscapes are an area where a little post-processing does a lot of good. Shoot raw, process out as a 16 bit image, and get to know the dodge and burn tools like the back of your hand. Be subtle, but also limit yourself to darkroom techniques, they are really all you need.

    I agree with stef about the portraits you posted (although neither is what I would consider a portrait, more of a group snapshot) the first is much better composed. I would advise that you not shy away from shooting people at church events and the like, but it is clear to me you enjoy nature photography far more, so you should cultivate the skill set used by a nature photographer. You have more talent in that area anyway, and I would be afraid that if you devoted all the time and effort it takes to master portrait photography, your nature work would suffer from the lack of attention and that would be a shame.

    Over all, great work so far, I’m sure you’ll do very well.

    Study hard!


    Invest in a few filters. The biggies for nature work are the UV Haze filter, Circular polarize, and a set of ND filters. A split ND wouldn’t do you wrong either. Since you shoot a lot more wide angle, buy filters a little bigger than your lens and get a step down ring so that the edges of the filter stack won’t vignette the image. The CPL filter is probably most important for the work you do.


    I have used filters on my lens for everything posted from Spring in her Step to present. The Autumn 2012 album utilized a circular polarizer, and the Ascension Convention album utilized a UV filter.  What are ND filters? What is a CPL filter? I always use the lens hood that came with the lens – should I take it off? (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/734700-REG/Nikon_4960_HB_53_Bayonet_Lens_Hood.html).


    I recently realized that I need to crop my photographs for 8×10 rather than “whatever looks best” so that my work will look good in print and not just on the computer.


    I learned photography 15 years ago on an SLR, using film and the darkroom. I miss that sometimes, if only because of the immersive experience – in order to be successful, I could not multitask, but rather I had to go to a location that had the proper facilities, and I would work on the photographs until they were perfect, regardless of how long it took. I could not work on other tasks there because the required light would ruin the photographs. * wistful sigh*


    Thank you ALL for the feedback – I will refer back to your suggestions when I start editing the photographs I will take tonight. I was asked to capture the baptisms at my church tonight (anabaptists = not babies, full immersion), so I first need to recalibrate my lens (see link on my FB timeline), and then I will keep your tips in mind while I capture the moments.


    How familiar are you with using a CPL filter (circular polarization)? I couldn’t tell that you were using one, which makes me suspect that you are not terribly familiar with their use, so here are some tips on using it effectively. My apologies if you already know this and I’m being redundant.

    It is not uncommon for the packaging not to explain how they work, so I run into a lot of photographers who don’t know. Remember that there are two layers in a CPL, the first is a linear polarizer, this is the workhorse, it limits the angle that light can enter the lens, reducing reflection primarily. The second layer is the circular polarization layer that circularizes the polarized light so that it will be readable by the camera’s sensors and electronics (like the metering). The linear layer rotates freely to allow you to fine tune that angle. Any time you rotate the camera, change the angle, sneeze, whatever, you have to adjust that ring to get the perfect polarization. At the wrong angle, it can actually increase the reflection and detract from the image.

    ND filters are neutral density filters. All they do is reduce the light entering the lens without changing its properties at any part of the visible spectrum. The practical upshot is that you can use lower-light settings on daylight scenes. If you get them you’ll want a 1, 2, and 4 stop filter (these can be purchased as a set). Maybe an 8 later if you need one.


    How familiar are you with using a CPL filter (circular polarization)?

    Remember that there are two layers in a CPL…

    Hmm, my CPL is a Rocketfish 67mm Circular Polarizer, and it does spin on the ring, but I don’t see multiple layers? Link: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Rocketfish%26%23153%3B+-+67mm+Circular+Polarizer/1048476.p?id=1218213534593&skuId=1048476&st=rocketfish%20circular&cp=1&lp=3

    My UV filter is also from Rocketfish and included a ring to allow it to step down to 62mm. Not sure what that’s for, since my lens is 67mm: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Rocketfish%26%23153%3B+-+67mm+UV+Lens+Filter/1048591.p?id=1218213533601&skuId=1048591&st=lens%20filters&cp=1&lp=2

    Back to the CPL. I know it does rotate on the ring but I never considered studying how the angle of the filter changes how the picture looks. I’ll work on that! The filters I used previously were for my traditional SLR, where I primarily used b&w film, so I had the various shades of red, yellow, and blue filters, to change the tones of the light that hit the film. I don’t know ANYTHING about DSLR/color filters.

    When it comes to “portraits,” I prefer the look of candids over posted pictures. I’ve never been satisfied with the expressions of people when they pose, but the natural expressions captured in candid shots are much better. When I know someone is taking my picture, the “spark” of personality they are trying to capture disappears, and I see that when I am the photographer too. I am always impressed when other photographers capture images that do not lose that “spark.”

    I will look into ND filters. I already know they will be very useful to me, based on your description. Any tips on using the UV filter or any other lens filters I should consider?


    Ahh, I didn’t explain that well, the two layers are not independent, they are usually on one piece of glass. The stepdown ring is because they don’t make a 62mm version, so they include a stepdown ring for those who are using a 62mm lens. The UV haze filter actually has very little affect on most photos. All it really does is prevent the UV light from hitting the sensor, which will affect your colors slightly if it does.

    I leave a UV filter on all of my lenses at all times. More than once, I’ve been out shooting on location and either my camera has slipped, or something has hit the front of the lens. That extra layer of glass will protect the actual lens elements from damage. On average, I break a UV filter shooting on location about once every 3 years or so, usually when I’m shooting somewhere where things might end up flying in my direction, like a sporting event or when I’m shooting climbers and little rocks get knocked off and hit the lens. So over 30 years, that would be 10 damaged lenses, since a UV filter usually runs about $10, my investment in the UV filters has definitely payed for itself a hundred times over. (Once I had an assistant trip over the corner of a tripod and knock the camera with it’s $3000 lens right onto its face. but the rock it landed on only broke the UV filter and the lens was fine.) The main time this will be a problem is when you are shooting at or around sunset, the flat glass on the front of the lens will increase lens flare under certain conditions, if you’re getting weird flares, check the UV filter first.

    Most of the massive numbers of filters you needed for film are no longer necessary thanks to the ability for the camera to white balance. The ones I have listed are about the only ones you’ll really need, anything else can be done with more accuracy in post production anyway. When you’re shooting digital for black and white, don’t use the black and white adjustment in Photoshop or the converter in camera raw or Lightroom. They suck. Use the channel mixer. In addition to the presets for various color filters. Here are a couple of presets I use for shooting people. (RGB sliders with monochrome checked. I don’t adjust the constant) These are starting points, and almost always can use a little adjustment, they won’t work at all on some images.

    Portraiture and most candids: 60, 90, -40
    If the person is wearing yellow: 30, 90, -10

    Use ad adjustment layer and then dodge and burn on the underlying layer and you’ll get great detail out of the highlights as well.


    Is this better? http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151119205519087&l=a4a0e73b96

    Also, I really need to get the autofocus in my camera to autofocus properly. Most of the photographs I took tonight are focused on someone/thing in the background, instead of what appeared to be the focus when I previewed the focal point before clicking the shutter. *sigh*


    Yes, better in terms of composition. You could have cropped down to just the two guys sitting at the table, the out of focus person doesn’t add anything to the shot.

    Concerning the focusing issue check your diopter, it’s easy to jog it and that will throw off your focus. It won’t affect your autofocus, but depending on how you’re setting up to fine-tune your autofocus it could affect how you’re determining your settings. Also, double check that your positive and negative adjustments aren’t backwards. Center it, then crank it all the way to one side or another to double check that you don’t have the positive and negative adjustments go the way you think they do. The first time I adjusted my AF, the directions I used didn’t specify which way was positive or negative, and my first guess was wrong.


    @MBC – that brings up a question – is there any way to “lock down” the diopter once you have it right?  It drives me crazy sometimes . . . .

    @MLP – how is your autofocus set up, single center select point, or multi select point?


    …Diopter… um, yes… gonna research what that is. I don’t know how to fine tune my autofocus yet. I read the meat of that article too late to do the steps I should have done to fix the autofocus. In fact, I could not find where I adjust my autofocus in the camera at all. Thankfully, my manual is in my camera bag, so I can read for that solution.

    Single center point or multi select point… yes… again I have no idea. It’s probably set to multi select point since a half-click will show a scattering of focal points, but it typically will reduce down to 1 focal point before I finish the click. However, I am often frustrated by the autofocus but I cannot trust myself to manual-focus because I am severely near sighted.

    Here is another example of my autofocus frustrations: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151088022194087&l=29147f9cea

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