Lake Photos - Why are these not better???

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by smackitsakic, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. smackitsakic

    smackitsakic TPF Noob!

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    I was at the lake this past weekend and took some night photos of the lake/reflection/sky. I'm a bit disappointed in how they turned out. I was hoping for everything to be a bit sharper and the colours to be a bit brighter.

    What can I do better when i'm back at the lake two weeks from now?

    Thanks! (all photos were metered off of the sky to the right of the sun, except for the shot of the moon which was metered off of the reflection and the 5th picture which, out of curiousity, I shot in automatic mode)

    1

    [​IMG]

    2

    [​IMG]

    3

    [​IMG]

    4

    [​IMG]

    5

    [​IMG]
     
  2. fokker

    fokker No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Shooting in auto mode is your problem. For one thing, auto mode chooses the focus point on its own. It missed the mark horribly on #1. Shots like this you should be in Av or manual mode. Choose a small aperture to ensure the whole scene is in focus, use you lowest ISO and with the camera on a tripod. Use exposure compensation to either brighten or darken the exposure to suit - #1 and #5 in particular are overexposed.
     
  3. smackitsakic

    smackitsakic TPF Noob!

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    Only photo number 5 was shot in auto mode, as my post states.
     
  4. bentcountershaft

    bentcountershaft Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I'm certainly no expert so don't take what I say to heart but here's what I think:

    1. I think the problem is with the aperture and shutter speed. f/4 is way to wide. I would try it again at f/11-f/16 range for a much longer shutter which you'll need a cable release or remote to do a bulb setting for.

    2. Similar but opposite on this one. I'd bring the aperture back a bit from f/22 to at least f/16 and again a bulb setting longer shutter speed.

    3 & 5. I don't have any filters but I think that's what's needed here. The sky is just too bright to allow a good exposure on the water. I'm running into this more and more often and I'll have to investigate my options in the near future. Sorry I can't be more specific.

    4. Exposure wise I like this one. I like things just a little dark. Compositionally I'm not digging the way the post on the right is jutting out of frame but other than that I like it.

    I hope this helps. If you don't have a cable release for your shutter I highly recommend one. Probably the best $20 you'll spend on camera equipment.
     
  5. fokker

    fokker No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Aplogies, I skimmed and only read the part that said "I shot in automatic mode"

    But the same comments still apply, you missed the focus and the aperture should be smaller to ensure good focus across the scene. Now might also be a good time to research the hyperfocal distance, which, in simple simple terms, is the ideal distance to focus at to get a whole landscape in focus.

    Were you using a tripod? Because if not, it would have helped.
     
  6. Steve01

    Steve01 TPF Noob!

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    Mostly I was thinking, what's the subject?
    There is no subject in 1,3,4, &5
    #1 could work with a better crop.
    #2 could work with a better crop and if you could draw the eye to the dock which is potentially the subject in the photo.
     
  7. EFHATCH1990

    EFHATCH1990 TPF Noob!

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    maybe try a gradient or polarizer filter? here is an edit of one where I just brightened up the water then reduced the saturation on the dock:

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Steve01

    Steve01 TPF Noob!

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    See that's what I mean.
    EFHATCH1990's post draws you to the dock as a subject, your original post doesn't.
     
  9. rickabobaloey

    rickabobaloey TPF Noob!

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    I really like the edit of the above picture. Really does draw your eyes to the dock.

    Not that I'm the original poster, but I'm climbing this steep hill of learning photography. How do you decrease/increase colors or other things on just a certain section of a photo and not the whole photo itself?
     
  10. oldmacman

    oldmacman TPF Noob!

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    If you use an ND grad, you can knock the sky back by a couple of stops. The disparity between sky and ground is too great for a camera to capture with its limited range. Eyes see about 10 stops of light and detail. Cameras see about 5. So, when you change the brightness of the sky, you camera meter doesn't need to choose an exposure that is going to blow out the sky or leave the ground in darkness.

    Last year I was obsessed with clouds. Here are a couple of shots where I used an ND Grad:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The lighter the sky, the heavier the grad you use. You can even stack the filters for really bright disparity.
     
  11. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    I do night photography reasonably often (as seen from the flickr link below) and i'll tell you what I do.

    Granted, I use better equipment but that just makes things easier, it doesn't mean its impossible on lower end gear.


    First and obvious things first:

    Make sure the moon's not up yet, or it's already set, or it's a new moon. Otherwise it looks like daylight with a couple stars in the sky.

    Tripod, At least one fully charged battery, Cable Release, bubble level if the camera doesn't have it built in, Shoot RAW, and an eyepiece shutter/cover are a must. When you're shooting at night, you've got make sure you've at least got your bases covered.

    So once you're set up, cameras locked onto the tripod, cable release plugged in, with the fully charged battery and your eyepiece shutter closed, you're ready to go.

    I use live view to focus, but with the 18-55mm that might be a little difficult since it's not very fast. So what you do is focus the lens to infinity, but then pull ever so slightly back. Since only the sigma lens has focus scales on it, this might be tricky.

    Once you've focused, compose the picture, again, i use live view, but you might have to use the viewfinder, or guess and check it. The level will help keep the camera straight. You should also set your WB to something pretty cool. I usually start off at about 2700Kish, but if you can't do direct Kelvin, just leave it on tungsten.

    OK, so you're composed, focused, locked down, have the cable release on, set your WB about right, you're ready to shoot your first picture.

    Set the ISO to the max. Not sure what the 450D does, but crank it. I do 25000 on my camera, you might be able to do 12000. It's going to look like Dog S***, but that's ok. We just want to make sure our composition and focus is good and we have a picture to gauge exposure from.

    So for example, i'll post one of mine:

    Lost Lake, ISO 25600, 4 seconds, f/2, 50mm:
    [​IMG]

    OK, cool, so the exposure at ISO 25k is 4 seconds and f/2. Perfect!

    Now we crunch the numbers down to the equivalent exposure at a lower ISO like 200 and stop the lens down a bit too, I did f/2.8 because that's more than enough DOF for this.

    So the same exposure at ISO 200 and f/2.8 would be about 32ish minutes. That's where the cable release and the eyepiece shutter comes in. For such long exposures the camera won't automatically go past 30 seconds, and the eyepiece shutter keeps light from leaking in.

    So the same thing as above, but ISO 200, 32ish minutes, f/2.8 looks about like this:

    [​IMG]

    Dynamite!


    So once you do this a couple times, within about 10 minutes of putting your tripod legs down, you'll be doing the actual exposure, and it will be dead on, everytime. It's actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

    Also, make sure the moon isn't up, because otherwise, this is what happens:

    [​IMG]

    Looks like sunrise, except the water's blurred, the exposures are much shorter, and there's only a few stars in the sky. HUGE difference.


    Hope that helps!
     
  12. LCARSx32

    LCARSx32 TPF Noob!

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    My god, that's amazing. Great tips for getting focus/composition! I've been trying night shots for a few weeks and focus has really been a pain. I'll have to try again with those tricks.
     

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