critique request from a new user/amature photographer

Discussion in 'General Gallery' started by Jim Walczak, Sep 9, 2004.

  1. Jim Walczak

    Jim Walczak No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Greetings All!
    I'm new here so allow me to take a moment to introduce myself. I'm a 38 year old musician who's had a long standing interest in photography, but recently I've started taking photography a little more seriously and am considering it as a possible career venture. My primary photo interests are nature and "critters" but really just about anything else...I just like taking pictures! LOL! I'm self-taught as a photographer...never really taken any classes on the subject (except for high school some 20 odd years ago). I read books, web publishings, watch "how-to" videos, etc., but obviously this is no substitute for the opinions of and interaction with pro photographers.

    I'm not sure how to post pics on this forum yet, so I will simply refer everyone to my PhotoBucket gallery as this is the place where I've posted what I feel to be my better work. The URL for this gallery is;

    http://photobucket.com/albums/v460/lomitus1/

    I would like some honest (and yes I'm prepaired for "brutal", LOL!) critisizm and feedback on my work. ..whats good, whats bad, what could have improved the picture, etc.. I know I have issues with lighting, although I'm not really sure where my problem with this lies yet. I feel my strenths are color and composition, although this too is certainly up for debate!

    Just for the record, all pictures in my PB gallery were taken with an Olympus C-4000 digital and while there are one or two pics where I used something like a polarizing filter or a color filter, most where taken simply with a UV filter (which I leave on the camera pretty much all the time) with no add-on lenses.

    Since PhotoBucket has a size limit on pictures (the gallery automatically resizes pictures if their over the limit), I did lower the quality on most of these to smaller acceptable file sizes, but this should not affect viewing considerations too much. Also, please note, 3 of the pictures on the first page, "Happy Pup", "Phyco Pup" and "Wet Pup" aren't of the greatest quality (all needed a large amount of clean up), but I just thought they were really cute pics of my youngest mutt and I just had to post them...feel free to disregard them for critique issues :D.

    Also please note, the file names of the individual photos are the actual "titles" of the pictures, so if you reference specific pictures (i.e. any specific pics that are very bad or very good), please feel free to mention them by name :).

    I thank you all in advance for your comments and suggestions on my work and am truly grateful for your collective wisdom and experience! I look very forward to reading your reviews of my work.

    Bright Blessings & Gentle Breezes,
    Jim
     
  2. mentos_007

    mentos_007 The Freshmaker!

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    Hello! I like almost most of your pictures! Yes, there are some that need light improvement, but we all are here to learn something new. I'm sure that after some time in here you'll be a really good photographer. Welcome aboard!!!
     
  3. K8

    K8 TPF Noob!

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    Hi Jim,
    I'm not here to critique your work, just wanted you to know that I viewed your pix & I really enjoyed them, thanks for sharing.......
     
  4. mygrain

    mygrain Friend to nose goblins everywhere

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    Jim... overall the work is pretty good. The flower shots got better as you got deeper in the portfolio the purple with the bee is great- complementary colors!! I would have liked to seen all of the flower on the real close up "busybee". I thought some of the distant flower shots were bland and typical- not as dramatic as the others. I like the animal and bug shots and your landscapes are pretty damn good. I like the waterfalls, although done to death- im guilty too. Welcome aboard!!!
     
  5. Jim Walczak

    Jim Walczak No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    First and foremost, thanks for the great comments! This is actually the third forum where people have had positive comments on my landscape stuff...guess I'm doing something right! LOL!

    Mygrain..."I like the waterfalls, although done to death"...LOL!!!! Thank you for your honesty! I've been posting critique requests for about a week now on various forums and was really wondering how long it was going to take for someone to say that! I really thought it was going to be on the macro flower shots, but yea...waterfalls, flowers and sunsets....all pretty much done to death really. I figured it was a good place to start....lots of references :D. One of the problems I've been having with the a great deal of the material I read both in books and online with examples is that the pics are either macro flowers, sunsets and water falls or their some exotic location that I simply don't have access too... if I ever make it to the Grand Canyon, Monte Carlo or go on sufari in Africa, I'll be set for reference material and should be able to shoot with my eyes closed! LOL! One of the things I'm finding that I need to over come is the basic "hum drum" of my surroundings...stuff I see every day or every week (including the parks where my wife and I walk our dogs) never really hit me as photographic, so I really have to go looking for the pictures...if that makes any sense. I look around my house, my yard and my neighborhood and go "yucchhhh...nothing I want to take a picture of". At the risk of sounding arrogant, I feel if the subject matter isn't interesting to me, it probably won't be interesting to anyone else. We do have a local MetroPark system but I think a part of the problem is simply the time of year...not a wide variety of flowers blooming, not quite fall yet so "everythings sooooo green" and many areas of the local river are so toxic, I'm afraid to go near it :(. I am heading to a local Nature Center in the next week (maybe tomorrow if the weather clears up) and hopefully will be able to get some nice "critter" shots if the Goddess be willing. So far shooting pictures of deer has been more challenging then shooting pictures of my 1 year old pup...man those things move quick!

    Anyways, I'm tired and starting to ramble... Please keep those comments a comin! Mucho thanks to all of those that have taken the time to look at my work...if nothing else it's starting to give me a good idea where my strengths and weaknesses are. I'll probably keep shooting sunsets for a while...if for no other reason then...well...I like sunsets :). I've often driven to the lake in the evening just to "watch" the sun go down and it's nice to be able to capture some relatively nice images of those moments to share with others.

    Thanks Again!
    Bright Blessings,
    Jim
     
  6. mrsid99

    mrsid99 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Welcome abaord Jim and I liked your pics, nice work!
    The only negative comment is that most of them seem a little "soft" to me, scanner maybe?
     
  7. Jim Walczak

    Jim Walczak No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hey Mrsid...
    No, not a scanner. The pictures were taken with an Olympus C-4000. I've gotten a couple of comments on the "softness" issue...nearest I can figure it's from a few things. First and foremost, I've been doing all my "editing" in PhotoShop with the files in the .jpg format and I think I'm getting a slight loss in resolution with each "resampling"...gonna play around with tif format over the next few days or so and see if that makes a difference. Another thing that I've had a problem with is the AutoFocus on the camera...in bright daylight, it kicks butt, but a number of those pics (especially the macro shots and obviously the sunset pics) were taken around dusk/sunset and as the light starts to get dimmer, the AF seems to have progressive problems "locking on". I also think that there may have been an issue with the macro mode on the camera, or more specifically, I was shooting to close to the subject (again on the macro shots)...I figured out this afternoon how to work the "super macro" mode and it looks like I got some nice shots. I've also had a couple of my earlier pics that came out grainy (aka Ducks in the Sunset) and that was due to the digital zoom...which is now premenantly turned -off-. Another thing is that I have also been using SHQ mode on the camera which is a .jpg mode instead of tif format. The main reason for this is simply that I only have two smart media cards at the moment...a 32 meg and a 64 meg. While I'm "learning" I find it easier to shoot off -a lot- of pics and really the SHQ mode isn't that bad for most of the stuff, but there does seem to be a little lose of quality versus tif format. Once I get more "comfortable" with the camera and my abilities as a photographer...and of course get a couple of extra smart media cards, I'll probably start moving progressivly towards tiff for most of my "beauty shots" (LOL).


    I also probably should have mentioned that I've only had this camera for 2 weeks. I used to shoot 35mm a few years back with an older Canon FTb, but due to the cost of film and developing, for the last couple of years I've been using a -very- basic point and shoot digital (a Polaroid PDC 700)...with very limited capabilities. In a nut shell, I've really had to re-learn how to use a camera! This Olympus C-4000 is a -great- camera with a ton of features (the full owners manual is 245 pages!). Considering it's been so long since I used a "real" camera combined with the actual learning curve of this new Oly...yea, I'm still workin the bugs out :).

    For the sake of mentioning it, I'm having an even greater loss of detail when I have these files done as prints...another issue I'm working on (actually been having all kinds of issues with prints!). I almost feel like I'm fighting a war on multiple fronts! LOL!

    Mrsid...Thanks for bringing this up...again others have mentioned the soft focus issue as well (on other forums) so clearly it's something that I need to pay more attention too. Again I'm grateful for comments like this, not only does it bring problems to my attention, but this is really the kind of stuff that I can't learn from books and vids!

    Lastly...and this goes out to everyone...I've had one or two people in other photography forums who have stated a fear of offending me. -Please- don't worry about this! I truly want honest and brutal critiques of my work as this is the best way I feel that I will learn! Don't bother "guilding the lillies"...everyone please feel free to "shoot from the hip"! LOL! As long as I'm getting honest feedback with honest suggestions, then I can take it! I'm not trying to satisfy my ego with good comments (although they are of course quite welcome!)...I honestly am trying to learn how to better myself and my work. I'm aware of some of my short comings as a photographer, but many other things that have been suggested to me over the last few days are often things I never would have thought of and I truly am quite grateful for this kind of response.

    Please keep those comments a comin!

    Thanks Again!
    Bright Blessings,
    Jim
     
  8. molested_cow

    molested_cow No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Alright, I am going to tell you something different, perhaps not what you have heard before.

    So I guess I don't need to mention good things about your portrait shots of landscapes and creatures...

    Well, after looking at your album, I feel that although they are pleasant, they are not intriguing. They all present a very static moment. Something that you pass by, take a shot and leave.

    I think it's time you move on. Try to have some kind of content that you want to tell through your photograph. Tell a story, with the help of composition, depth of field, subjects and perhaps lighting. I am not saying that you have to create a set up and then take a shot.... I mean, when you see something, you will definitely feel something strong that makes you want to take a picture of it. What is it? Identify it and present it with your photograph.

    It could be just a strong sense of dynamism, an emotion, an opportunity or simply a moment. It can also present the sense of interaction. Photography is not just about taking a picture. Photography is a very powerful tool, if you are able to convey YOUR message to people effectively through your work. That's why it takes only one picture to describe a war zone as opposed to a thousand words of article.

    You can start by photographing people at their most natural moments. I just started doing it last year and enjoys every bit of it. It's amazing how much surprises a photo can give you after you have it developed and printed or scanned.

    Technique is something that everyone can master. It's the content that only you can challenge yourself with.
     
  9. Jim Walczak

    Jim Walczak No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi MC,

    Yes, I agree this is something I do need to work on. Thus far I've been a little "shy" about shooting people really...not really comfortable with the idea -yet-. I've tried a couple of times (like with "Watching The Sunset") but I'm still having one or two technical issues with the camera...the first and foremost being the shutter lag with this digital. I takes about a second or two from when I press the shutter button to when the picture actually "snaps"...basically I've "lost the moment" by the time the camera responds. A good example was the other night on the beach...had a young couple walking past me holding hands walking into the sunset (a -very- romantic siloette) and by the time I got the shot lined up and the AF to lock on and hit the shutter button, they had turned around and looked at me and...well...the moment and the "mood" was lost when they realized I was trying to take their picture. Certainly this would have been easier with a good 35mm and say a 400mm lens where I could have been a reasonable distance from them, but the C-4000 even with the 3x optical zoom, still has a rather limited range for shots like this.

    The other big tech issue that I'm having is with the depth of field...I can get nice DOF on my macro shots, but with anything else...well....as you said, it's really not there. I just started experimenting with stuff like the "Aperature Priority" settings on the camera and "hopefully" I will be able to get this figured one out. I had never really learned to use DOF correctly when I did 35mm work so the concept is relativly new to me to begin with and when the camera won't cooperate...well...you get the idea! LOL!

    I'm also having issues with lighting...but thats a different issue altogether. Lighting has always been something of my "nemisis" as an artist, both photography and with my graphics work (drawing as well). It's kind of funny actually...again I've been a musician and have done stage work for many years now and I can setup effective stage lighting without even thinking about it, but when it comes to working with natural lighting for taking pictures, I tend to "choke". It's something that I know will come with time and I have learned some basic "rules of thumb" like keeping the sun at right angles, using diffused lighting and "bouncing" flash, but it's going to be a while before this feels "natural" and I don't have to think about it.

    Once I get a little more comfortable with the camera itself as well as my technique, I'll feel a little more "up to the challenge" of shooting people. In fact I'm going to a local "Pagan Pride Day" festival this afternoon and may even make a couple of attempts while I'm out there and will most definatly keep your suggestions in mind :). This was a very good suggestion and commentary and I thank you for it!

    Please keep those comments a comin!
    Bright Blessings & Gentle Breezes,
    Jim
     
  10. molested_cow

    molested_cow No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes, get a SLR and you won't have all those worries!

    BTW, a couple in the sunset:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Jim Walczak

    Jim Walczak No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Actually I have a rather decent older Canon FTb with a couple of good lenses...the problem is I simply can't afford it. Between the cost of film and the cost of developing, 35mm photography has really just gotten out of my reach. With the Olympus digital, I shoot pics until the memory cards are full...take it over to my laptop and download everything, then go shoot some more. When I get home, I just transer everything from the laptop onto my graphics system and "badda-bing, badda-boom" I have pictures...and then I only have the pics that I want "developed" instead of waisting a whole roll of 35mm film for 1 or 2 good shots. I figured it out the other day...with number of pic's I've taken in the two weeks that I've had the new Olympus (well over 400 now) when compaired with the cost of film and developing, the camera is almost payed for! LOL! And this doesn't even begin to count the "bad" pics that I took...looked at them on the LCD and deleted right away (I had 20-30 of those just trying to get a couple of decent shots of those beach cats alone!). The quality of the pics over all is quite comparable to 35mm (at least when it comes to 4x6 prints) and while yes, there are certainly some issues with digital that I'm still working on, I really just can not justify the cost of 35mm photography anymore. I do still use the old Canon occasionally, but for me at least, it has to be a -very- special occasion (like my wifes college graduation a couple of years back).

    Hopefully within a few years, I'll be able to step up to a digital SLR like the Canon D10's and that will solve -many- of my problems (both with regular photography and with my astrophotography efforts). I've been drooling over those for a few months now, but $1200 is just -way- out of my reach at the moment. (Hopefully) by the time I can afford such a camera, my photography will also improve enough to warrent such a purchase :).

    Bright Blessings,
    Jim
     

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