Advice to get to the next level...

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by PhilCF, Dec 31, 2017.

  1. PhilCF

    PhilCF TPF Noob!

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    I have been plateauing for a while, and really need some advice on how I can get to the next level. I thought a forum of likeminded photo enthusiasts might be able to help.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who comments / critiques / gives advice.

    Final3-2.jpg
    Shot RAW on iPhone 7+ in Lightroom Mobile, using the basic Pro settings (auto exposure and focus etc). Tweaked it a bit in Lightroom Mobile and then added one of their Creative Presets.
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    Final3-3.jpg
    Sony A7S2 - 90MM Sony Macro Lens. F7 - 1/1250 - ISO 16000
    I wanted shallow depth of field, but I couldn't get focus as Hummingbirds are insanely fast. So I upped the Aperture, increased the shutter to freeze the birds body, continuous autofocus, and burst mode. Whenever a bird went near the water tray, I fired off a load of shots.

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    Final3-4.jpg

    Sony A7S2. 55mm lens. F20, Shutter 1/1000. ISO 100. I put it on the bracketing function, so it overexposed one, underexposed and gave one normal shot. Then I Photomerged them in LR. There was too much dynamic range in the shot for the camera to handle. If I exposed for the sky, the foreground would have been crushed and I wanted to get some detail in there. It looks like I've burned the hell out of LA, but I haven't made serious targeted adjustments - That's just how the image came out.

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    Final3-5.jpg

    Sony A7S2 - 90MM Sony Macro Lens. F6.3. ISP 200. Shutter 1/1000 - I put the boat motors in the foreground as I wanted to give another layer of depth to the shot? Not sure if this is a mistake or not??

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    Final3.jpg
    Sony A7S2 - 90MM Sony Macro Lens. F2.8. Shutter 1/200. ISO 1600 - I just got up close and snapped it and like how sharp it is.

    Once again, thanks to anyone who can help me to get better.

    Phil


     
  2. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Look at a LOT of good photos, pictures and paintings. Books, museums and art/photo exhibits.
    This gives your eye examples of GOOD compositions and images to get ideas from.
    Then go out and shoot, a lot. But think about each shot as you set it up. Imagine that each shot cost you $10. So rather than shoot a few dozen and hoping for a good shot, PLAN the single GOOD shot.
    Then critically look at your photos.
    Print, frame and display your best. And rotate as you get newer better shots.
    Compete in photo contests.
    Post in post and comment sections. And read the comments; some are garbage, but some will be very good. Keep your mind open to the comments, as some comments may clash with what you think, but will open new thoughts.

    gud luk
     
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  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    RE: the boat motors photo: Placing an out of focus foreground subject into a landscape or a portrait or a fashion shot: VERY popular in Japan and throughout much of Asia, and very un-popular and frowned upon in most of western culture like Europe and North America and South America.

    If one wants to shoot better photographs, then by all means, study the elements and principles of design. The real secret to the visual arts lies in understanding and using and leveraging both the principles of design, and the various elements of design.

    Look the topic up on-line.
     
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  4. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes, posting on here can help, but you've posted way too many for a detailed critique. I'll give you the short-hand version.

    First; learn composition. Many photographs are successful if they are simply well-chosen, and not necessarily technically correct.

    1. What happened to the color? Color all gone. Light on wrong side, tree leaves intruding, subject not doing anything in particular.

    2. Need more light, need a deeper DOF, need more patience. Bird photographers spend hours trying to get that one good shot. They don't show you all the culls. Set up a speedlight somewhere out there by the bird feeder, and mount your camera on a tripod using a fairly long lens.

    3. Colors are weird here, too. Make your photos more interesting by artfully framing a scene. The horizon right in the middle makes this shot static.

    4. Water, trees, mountain, sky. All good. Fuzzy unrecognizable shapes in foreground not good. Framing some distant scene with a foreground element will work, but you need to learn when it helps and when it doesn't.

    5. Flower pretty good, but the DOF is too thin, and you've cropped way too close.
     
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  5. BananaRepublic

    BananaRepublic No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    IF there is a certain theme you like, flowers , birds, street photography or such like try to pin that down and learn to take the best image you can. Look at books magazines or just google images of a subject you like and try to recreate them yourself, dont go to deep to fast or end up saying to hell with this. A short online basics in photography may help with to steer you with the above criticism, they are not expensive $20 to $30. With regard to posting up her
     
  6. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    First up welcome to the forums! :)
    A few thoughts:

    1) Check the link in my signature below on how to get critique on your photos. You're actually already doing a fair bit of it with your post (which is great as its showing that you're thinking about things yourself which is a big part of starting to improve).

    2) You've posted up several different kinds of photo, you might find that once you've moved past a stage where you're learning the basics of settings and control, and moved into where you're trying for specific effects and to improve in specific situations; that you gain more by focusing on one area of photography for a time. Trying new things and getting feedback in a niche area.
    This can often help you focus on one area and makes it easier to measure your improvement and see actual change and development. Plus what you learn will spill over into other areas of interest.

    3) Typically once you're past the "how do I control the aperture what does shutter speed do" level of photography there is a natural plateau where a lot of the improvement is in smaller steps. It can also be a gradual thing where your critical eye advances quicker than your actual skills in capturing photos. This is normal and much of the time you are improving you just don't see it as readily shot to shot


    On the photos:
    Hummingbirds.
    Several thoughts here

    1) Birds are tricky even around a feeding station or other point of interest. What you can do with many is to move the feeding station/point of interest out into a more open area. Then place a single perch or feature near to that area (or use one already there). Many times you'll find birds will perch near and then dart in and out. So if there's only one near perch that's where some will be. That helps reduce the number of variables on where the bird might be.
    You might also want to try and hide the feeding station in some way, using a natural log or other surface to put the feed into/onto so that you get a more natural looking shot (if you so wish, of course).


    2) Superfast motion requres superfast shutter speeds which means a lot of light and/or high ISO and often a wide aperture. However there's another trick to it which is to use settings that would otherwise give you a black photo, ergo a fully underexposed shot. Then position a couple of speedlite flashes off-camera. The idea being that the flash light lasts for only a tiny fraction of a second, so if its the only light contributing to the exposure then that's the only light which will be recorded. Macro photography makes extensive use of this method (esp since many times you need small apertures for the depth of field).
    Studio style flashes (the big ones that plug into the mains) tend to not be as good for this because many have a flash duration that's significantly longer than that of a typical speedlite flash. Whilst flash brings its own issue one bonus is that it means you can shoot in softer lighting conditions and thus avoid the strong contrast that brighter natural light can bring.

    Landscape over the City
    Honestly I think this is a great shot, the only thing I'd want to see improved is that a lot of the trees in the foreground appear very black rather than green. If you've a bit more exposure in one of your shots I'd try to adjust the blending, just in the foreground, to bring them out green rather than black. Also did you put a vignet on ths shot, if not consider a little corner brightening (lightroom lens profiles might also remove some of the edge darkening). Having some vignet is good, but I feel its a touch too strong

    Foreground Blur shot
    I totally see what you're after, but I have to say that I think there is an art to getting blurred areas in the foreground to look good. In your example the shapes appear random, too blurry and I think detract from the remainder of the photo. This is one of those "get it right it looks great; but its so easy to get it wrong" kind of situations.

    Flower
    Neat shot, though feels like it could do with a bit more frame around it (esp on the top). Just to leave it feeling a little less cramped in. Otherwise you might consider looking up "Photostacking". The f2.8 aperture has given you a very creamy smooth background (great) but also a very thin depth of field. I think a bit more depth would have helped and whilst one way is to vary the aperture to find a sweet spot between the sharpness/depth and blurring o the background. The other is to use photostacking.
    Essentially a series of shots with the focus point moving further into the shot so that you get a series of shots that can be loaded into softare and then all the sharp points merged to produce a single photo that has all the background blurring of a wider aperture; but all the depth of field of what would otherwise be a much smaller aperture.
     
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  7. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    It's all about the quality and the direction of the light.
     
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  8. PhilCF

    PhilCF TPF Noob!

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    thanks to you all... some really great advice here...
     
  9. Dreaminginanalogue

    Dreaminginanalogue TPF Noob!

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    Your photo's are quite good! I really like the vibes that they give off.
    The only thing that I can say is to remember to always be looking at your composition. I struggled with this a lot, and still do to this day! When composing your photo, dedicate some grey matter to always having an eye on the things 'creeping' into your frame. Sometimes it's unavoidable, and that's one of the challenges of photography.
    Over-all, just always be brushing up on composition techniques. Even if you've been into photography your whole life.

    As KmH said, light is important! Compose with your frames with the direction and quality of light in mind. If you can integrate interesting light into your photo, it will effect your photo's impact in a positive way.

    Sometimes, when I feel like I haven't focused enough on composition, I'll take a prime lens out and hit the streets for a few hours. Put it on Aperture priority or Shutter priority, and focus only on composition. It's therapeutic and gets me back into the groove of composing photo's above all else.

    Hope that helps!
     

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