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    Ok here goes.

    i received my first camera Nov 2014 so i am fairly new to this scene.  i have been trying to learn techniques and one day i hope to put myself in business.  i am not looking to start anytime soon.  below is  a link to pictures  i have taken this year in manual mode.  before i branch over to people I wanted to get the feel for focus and dof.  i am getting ansy to work with actual people  – any CC would be greatly appreciated.  thank you for your time in advance.




    For the most part they are technically good. I think you could find compositions and angles that are a bit more compelling, but they aren’t horrible either. I would also study more about light and choosing the best times to take outdoor photos. Generally speaking, early morning and late evening light = good. mid day light = bad. Lastly, when showing your work, eliminate redundant photos. For example, two similar owl photos side by side or a color and b&w version of the same photo isn’t necessary. Only include the photos that are the best. Once you progress farther, you can also start to think about narrowing your efforts to only one or two different genres.

    Not a bad start. Keep studying and practicing. Find an experienced mentor (this is so very important. One hour with a good mentor is worth watching 1,000 youtube tutorials).

    Finally, if you continue to practice, be prepared to look back at these a year from now and feel horrified. That will be the ultimate sign that you are properly progressing.


    For a beginner just starting out in manual mode, not too bad.

    Some of your animal shots are not as sharp as they can be and I know the reason.  Your shutter speed seems to be too low for the subjects that you are shooting.  Anytime you are shooting live animals, kids and so on, you want you shutter speed to be as high as it can be to “freeze” any action or movement unless you are going for a blur effect.

    The very 1st photo of the green snake, your shutter speed is 1/15″, way too slow, even for a snake that probably doesn’t move much, but you do.  Remember, the camera captures both your subject moving as well as your movements and 1/15″ is open way too long for a clear sharp shot unless you are using a tripod.

    A quick rule to use is to keep your shutter speed at the same rate or higher than your focal length.  It’s just a rule, not a law.

    So, I see you are using a 55-200mm lens.  If you are shooting at a focal length of 150mm, then your shutter speed should be no less than 1/160″, since there is no 1/15o” or higher.  You’ll obviously have to adjust your other 2 settings according to your lighting conditions.  This will ensure that your subject appears still, even while slightly moving.

    A good example using your own photos is compare the green snake photo (the 1st on your photo-stream) to the gorilla (7th on your stream).  You shot the snake at 1/15″ at 165mm and the gorilla at 1/200″ at 200mm.  Notice how much sharper and clearer the image of the gorilla looks compared to the green snake.  They were taken with almost the same aperture 5.3 and 5.6.

    The only other thing and it takes so time to learn and get used to is using your focal points for sharper images.  You have a Nikon D5200, so learn to use the 39 focus points to help better the sharpness of your subjects (like the eyes for portraits).  The different focus drives are a big help as well, depending on your subject and shooting conditions.

    Besides that, it looks like you are doing well, Keep Shooting and never stop learning.


    These shots are aweful! I can’t even make them out as living subjects – green blows, grey mounds of feathers…

    Wait…. I see the error straight away. You’re shooting with those cryptic algorithms from Nikon.

    Just a sec while I get out my “visual Van Gogh with a touch of El Geco” simulator glasses, and….

    Voila, now all is well! Beautiful and well done, Tara!

    To the admins: could we have a radio button for posters to click alerting others of the potential hazards to viewing work in alien formats such as Nikon, Leica, Olympus, Pentax, Sony, Sigma? Thank you.



    Wow EyeDoc, sounds like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  Never seen/read a post from you really blasting somebody.

    Is this the evil side of EyeDoc?  You didn’t let Ebi’s post get to you I hope.  He has a good eye and knows his stuff, but for some, his version of truthful criticism hits a little too hard, but like I say, he knows his stuff.




    Oh, no, Bill…. you got it all wrong.

    I was TRYING to be funny… that’s the problem with not being able to see the person’s face during the reply.

    I KNEW this was going to happen… I’m not angry! I LIKE the shots.

    Was just making a joke about Canon / Nikon usage.

    I’m sorry if I insulted anyone… 🙁


    Voila, now all is well! Beautiful and well done, Tara!

    Doesn’t sound like he is blasting Tara!  The rest sounds a bit like a Canon Fan Boy on heavy duty stimulants.  I thought it was funny.

    Anyway, like the others I think the photos show pretty good effort.  In a couple Bill identified, I’m not sure slow shutter speed is the problem as much as too shallow depth of field.  He is certainly correct, however, that slow shutter speed will cause problems with motion blur if either camera or subject is moving.  Image Stabilization, Vibration Reduction, or whatever else the manufacturer names their system, will only help with camera movement.  Subject movement will still blur if the shutter speed is too slow.  And, you have been shooting with pretty slow shutter speeds!

    You may be working too hard.  Manual is a good mode for learning because you avoid the computer making subtle (or not so subtle) changes which affect the image but may be incomprehensible without all the information the computer was using.  The other modes can produce equally good, sometimes better, results most of the time.  Under computer assistance you can dial in the parameters you care about and let the computer adjust the rest the instant the shutter is released.  This works well when you are in an environment where you don’t have total control of the light, and light is changing.

    DSC_0142 may have a problem, or two.  It depends.  Were you taking the coaster, or the people?  It is a pretty fair shot if it is supposed to be showing the construction of the coaster.  Not so much if you are taking a picture of a friend riding the coaster.  It looks like you may have been trying out “Rule of Thirds” but while the cars are near the left thirds line, the eye is drawn to the bright sky at upper right, and there are lots of better photos of sky.   It’s a difficult camera only photo because of the various elements.  The people are in shade, if you meter on the people, the sky blows out.  If you meter the whole scene, the people are too dark.  If you use a flash, you need one in the hot shoe because the little pop-up is not strong enough, and the other elements — trees and coaster track — will reflect the flash back more strongly  than the people since they are further away.  This is a shot that can benefit from post processing.  Shoot it as a raw file to give maximum flexibility, then with a raw editor, brighten the people and the darkest parts of the track support structure.  Possibly darken the sky slightly too.  You can do this with a JPEG photo but you don’t get as much wiggle room once most of the data has been tossed to make the JPEG.  Also, editing in 16 bits gives better transitions than you get doing it with 8 bits.

    I really like DSC_0118.  You can see the people.  The double loop in the coaster shows, along with lots of other track convolutions to give the viewer an idea of what the riders are experiencing.


    No worries EyeDoc, I was having some adult beverages so I may have easily missed (and obviously did) the part where you said they were beautiful.

    The only other issue when reading forums like this is all the context is lost in typing.

    I did think that is was kind of strange that you would be blasting someone, just does not seem like your character, that should have been my 1st clue. ha ha jokes on me..  Now let me go into the garage and bang some sense into my head, I think 3 lumps should do.



    Thank you all for your feedback.  I’ve read your comments several times and put them in my field journal.  You have no idea how much I appreciate you breaking it down for me!  I totally see where you guys are going.  Since then I have fully moved over to raw and I’m more aware of my comp/lighting and my shudder speed with the focal length.  Eyedoc, you made my heart skip a beat there for a moment but I was smelling what you were stepping in.  🙂 I hope to come back to the table in a few months and get more feedback.



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