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  • in reply to: Hobbyist seeking honest critique #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, 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.

    in reply to: Hobbyist seeking honest critique #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.

    in reply to: Hobbyist seeking honest critique #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!”

    “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!”

    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.

    in reply to: Hobbyist seeking honest critique #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, 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.

    in reply to: Fauxtogs who should end up on the main page… #19840
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