First pictures, how can I make them better?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by travelerb, May 28, 2008.

  1. travelerb

    travelerb TPF Noob!

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    So I'm attempting to reintroduce myself to photography, and a week or two ago purchased my first DSLR (Nikon D60). Actually, its the first SLR I've used in about 10-15 years. I went to the mountains in North Georgia and took some fairly nice photographs, all things considered (and after a little bit of trying to figure out what I was doing).

    Now that I've returned, I'm stuck with not having any real direction or focus on making some improvements to the photos, or even knowing which are "good" and which are "bad." So I was hoping for a little critique of some of them, and am looking for any suggestions as to improving the pictures - either what I should have done better when taking them, or what I may want to try with a photo editor (i.e., brighten, sharpen, etc.). (I use GIMP, if that matters).

    Without dumping a bunch of pictures here to slow down connections, I figured I'd start with these four. These are (obviously) all pictures of the same waterfall, at various orientations, shutter speeds, apertures, etc. I'm placing them in order of my personal favorites, best to last. (oh, and these were what I think are the top 4 of this waterfall of 10 or so pictures).

    So, any help for a bit of a newbie?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Oh, and if you want links to these on my flickr page, so you can see all the camera settings, etc., for each of them, the links are (in order):

    http://flickr.com/photos/13729400@N05/2531219892/in/set-72157605309754385/
    http://flickr.com/photos/13729400@N05/2531220224/in/set-72157605309754385/
    http://flickr.com/photos/13729400@N05/2531357472/in/set-72157605309754385/
    http://flickr.com/photos/13729400@N05/2531357992/in/set-72157605309754385/
     
  2. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    For first waterfall shots these are very good, though over-saturated IMO. Framing is definitely the best in #1.
     
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  3. dadCameraGuy

    dadCameraGuy TPF Noob!

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    They're pretty good, tho I'm on a rampage today for the rule of thirds. The bottom landscapes are too centered IMHO
     
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  4. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

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    i like the composition of the first, and exposure of the third. now if you could combine them i think that would be spiffy :)
     
  5. travelerb

    travelerb TPF Noob!

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    Seems other's thoughts are along the same lines as mine. I also like the exposure of the last two, but parts of the water are certainly blown out in those, and it would be even more noticeable if that exposure was framed the same as the first two.

    As best I can tell, using a neutral density filter might help with that problem?

    Keep in mind these are all straight from the RAW files, just converted to JPEG. Anything that might be done to them, particularly the first two, to improve? Simply brighten a little, or even something more complex?
     
  6. travelerb

    travelerb TPF Noob!

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    Oh and before I forget, thanks for the comments. They are very much appreciated.
     
  7. Alfred D.

    Alfred D. TPF Noob!

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    No's. 1 and 2 already improve quite a bit, imho, from simple auto levels and a bit of USM in CS3. Doesn't the GIMP have similar tools? Didn't try the other 2.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. passerby

    passerby TPF Noob!

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    They are good scenes really, tranquilling the minds. I like no:3 especially if you can move forward few more steps. I think it would be nice if it is a bit closer.
     
  9. bahandi

    bahandi TPF Noob!

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    for purposes of critique, posting slightly larger images help too :D
     
  10. travelerb

    travelerb TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the feedback, I made the pictures in the original post a little bigger. For some reason I'm always overly concerned about posting too much for people to download, but I guess this IS a photography forum.

    Thanks Alfred, that's the kind of insight I'm looking for. I don't really know all the possible terms and tools yet, or more importantly what they do exactly. Gimp has auto level, as well as unmask. I gave photo 1 a run through it and, though I mostly liked what the auto levels did, it made parts of the falls too washed out. Tried playing around more, and it seemed the problem was in the green range that took all the detail out of the upper part of the falls. I never could decide if I liked the sharpening, but I didn't dislike it either. Only slightly more sharp though.

    And Passerby, I may try cropping I suppose, and if I make it back there again, I'll zoom in a little more. The pictures are actually on a deck that is on top of the banks of the stream and part of the stream itself. You can't really move forward without jumping over the rails, and I don't think the park service would appreciate that. Plus just to the right of the picture the stream starts to drop off again, and it'd be a nasty nasty fall if I somehow slipped or tripped in that direction.

    I'll keep playing around with some of the levels tools to see if I can improve it any. I kind of like the darkness of the first two. If you've ever been to these kinds of falls in the woods in the Appalachains, that is fairly close to what it is like. As you can probably tell, there are a lot of rhododendron and tall trees throughout blocking a lot of the light most of the time, and in the middle is a waterfall cutting right through the foliage. Even when the sun isn't behind a cloud, there isn't much direct sunlight at all on the water. These were taken a little before noon, and I don't recall it being very overcast at all.

    Thanks again, and keep the suggestions coming. I may head out tomorrow morning to another waterfall and try some new things, as soon as I can figure out what those are!
     
  11. dadCameraGuy

    dadCameraGuy TPF Noob!

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    One thing you can do is to make layers (don't know if Gimp does that) in photoshop - so you do the levels on the top layer, and erase the sections you think are over done so that the lower layer shows thru. It takes some practice / experience to get it the way you want.

    you might also look into tools like LightZone - look at their video tutorials and see how much you can bring out of an image in sections.

    ETA: here, i used LightZone on the first image and played with some selective lighting and clarity filters:

    [​IMG]
     
  12. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    (sans fluff) Very well done. I love the horizontals. They give it a sense of space. Beautiful work, I wish I were there right now. Nicely done.
     

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