First real nature photography: Zhangjiajie China, and Questions

Discussion in 'Nature & Wildlife' started by ChrisOquist, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. ChrisOquist

    ChrisOquist TPF Noob!

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    In August I spent two weeks travelling through China. While most of it was spent in small villages, I did have the chance to spend two days at the Wulingyuan Scenic Zone, which was amazing. I posted a few of my favorite photographs from that outing here.

    I haven't had too much experience in shooting nature or wildlife, so I would really like some comments, even brutal critiques. Most of the shots are untouched except for some light basic edits (crop, saturation, contrast, some spot sharpening and burning/dodging).

    Some specific questions:

    1. I had a very hard time capturing the right colors while taking a lot of the pictures of the greens around Zhangjiajie. I tried different color balance settings and even tried to adjust my own on the spot but couldn't get true matches, and I was running out of space so I didn't shoot RAW. Does anyone know of anywhere (link, book, etc) to learn about white balance and color accuracy? Explanations of color temperature, etc. seem a bit daunting, so I'm looking for something that will at least give me a basic grasp of how color balance works and how to set my camera up to accurately capture the color in scenes I'm photographing.

    2. The fourth photograph is a picture of a path we were walking on, and I stopped down the aperture quite a bit to get sharpness into the distance, but it feels like with all the leaves, stems, trees, etc, the focus of the photograph is a bit lost. Tips on taking a picture like that but stressing the subject (the trail itself)?

    3. There's almost zero sky in any of these pictures. To be fair, it was very bright and hazy and I didn't have an ND grad. My circular polarizer didn't seem to bring out as much detail as I thought it would. Is bracketing/HDR the best way to ensure that I'll have a sky for the final image? I feel like the picture of the stream close to the bottom of the post might have especially benefited from a dramatic sky.

    Look forward to the responses!

    Chris
     
  2. ChrisOquist

    ChrisOquist TPF Noob!

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    hmmm.. maybe if I post some of the pictures here I'll get a better response?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Picture of the trail in question:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Thanks!
     
  3. lextalionis

    lextalionis TPF Noob!

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    Humm...first I would be curious as to what camera and lens you are using?

    1. The easy way I tackle WB/Color is shoot RAW and AWB for non-flash and Flash W/B for Flash photography. Then in post RAW editor tweak from there.

    2. Landscape you want to shoot ~f/8-f/16, depending on lens, and you need a relative fast shutter speed for hand-held shots, but I prefer tripod for good landscape shots.

    3. Your camera is metering where it's pointed and if it's metering off the dark ground then your sky is going to be blown out. Look up in google using Neutral Density Grad Filters.

    Cheers,
    Roy
     
  4. BoblyBill

    BoblyBill TPF Noob!

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    1. Color correcting can be done to JPEG's rather easily with some of the more expensive programs like CS3. But I would recommend carrying a gray card with you and taking a picture of it in the conditions that you are in to get a good WB. I have an excample of your picture if you would allow me to post it. I edited it before I saw your N.O.T.E. sign, sorry.

    2. Lextalionis hit this one on the head.

    3. graduated ND filters is the way to go. If you don't have one (I don't), you can take multiple shots and blend them (not by HDR). Expose one for your main subject and one for the clouds. Usually you can get the whole sceen in one exposure and in the case I would almost blow out the clouds and bring them down in post and underexpose the ground and bring that up in post.
     
  5. BoblyBill

    BoblyBill TPF Noob!

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    BTW... #1 and #4 are AWESOME PICTURES!!!!!
     
  6. ChrisOquist

    ChrisOquist TPF Noob!

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    Hey Guys,

    Thanks for the comments. To answer your questions, I'm shooting on a Rebel XT, and all the shots but the monkey were taken using a Sigma 10-20mm ultra wide angle, the monkey photograph was using a Canon 70-200mm f/4.0 L-series.

    The trail and the stream (obviously, given the slow shutter speed) were shot using a tripod.

    Bill, you can post the edit you did of the shot. One question I would have for both of you is that it seems like tweaking for color accuracy in post wouldn't work that well because you aren't looking at the actual scene at the time, so how do you know just from looking at the photograph what the real colors were? How do you set up the camera's custom white balance settings to more realistically record accurate colors at the time?
     
  7. lextalionis

    lextalionis TPF Noob!

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    Chris,

    You really need to understand and shoot RAW...just use AWB (auto white balance) in your camera...post to jpg to what looks good to you on the montior...if you have a really bad monitior the end result will show.

    I know that some pros actually hardset their custom kelvin to 5000 ALL THE TIME (aka no AWB) because in RAW you can change up/down from there to get the correct temp.

    -Roy
     
  8. BoblyBill

    BoblyBill TPF Noob!

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    Here are the edits...

    1.
    [​IMG]

    2.
    [​IMG]

    3.
    [​IMG]

    In post, what you can do is train your eye to know what a the normal green leaf looks like then color correct the shot to make the green leaves look that color. Then I usually look something white in the picture and see if it looks white.
     
  9. ChrisOquist

    ChrisOquist TPF Noob!

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    Thanks, the edits definitely give me a sense of what you're explaining. I'll try to find some resources to learn about color temperature as well..

    Chris
     
  10. Dmitri

    Dmitri No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Possibly :lol:

    I like the pics. and Monkey!!!!! :) :)
     
  11. Markw

    Markw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That monkeys a mama! and with the trail, I think a horizon shift would help, but Im not sure.

    Mark
     

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