Looking for Nature/Hiking Photo Advice

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Solthar, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. Solthar

    Solthar TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    British Columbia, Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Does anyone out there have any advice in the area of nature photography - primarily hiking trails, abandoned roads, and the like? How about an online photo album that illustrates a proper technique to learn from?

    Personally, it seems my biggest problem is that the trees instead of being an interesting backdrop often crowd out the subject. The next biggest being me forgetting to check my ISO before heading out - still upset about that one.

    All in all, I'm looking for general advice in the rather difficult situation of shooting in wooded areas.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Messages:
    37,414
    Likes Received:
    10,678
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Well, you've picked a topic near and deer to my heart and I see you're in my home province somewhere; what part in particular?

    As far as the ISO question, I feel your pain. I have forced myself to get into the habit of checking white balance, quality, and ISO each time I pick up the camera, and have a little label on the back which reads, "WB, QUAL, ISO???" It's saved my butt a few times.

    As far as the pictures and composition advice, could you post a couple and explain why you're not happy with them, or the problems you see and then we can go from there.

    ~John
     
  3. Solthar

    Solthar TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    British Columbia, Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Nice to see another BC'er - I'm in the lower mainland.

    Now onto the pics; Let me start with what, in my opinion are the best I've taken.

    Regular:
    [​IMG]

    HDR:
    [​IMG]


    Now, I love The look but every time I look at either one I can't help but think that somethings not right - Probably something to do with composition, but i can't place my finger on it.

    Now this shows you why you should check your ISO!
    [​IMG]
    That one's easy enough; lots of sun and lots of ISO equals a bad mix. Heh, just noticed the black dot infront of the mountain - think its a bird :p

    And now for a bad one. Just so you know I hate uploading pictures I know to be terrible, even if it's for a just cause :p
    [​IMG]

    Ignoring the *cough* ISO noise, there are quite a few problems here. First, the stump doesn't stand out from the background, at all. Second, the shadow of the canopy plays havoc with the stump. And composition is lacking. Sure, alot of it can be fixed in Gimp, but I would prefer knowing how to take the picture other than fixing it after.

    Any knowledge that you feel willing to impart would be greatly appreciated, as well as critique now that I posted a couple :mrgreen:.
     
  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Messages:
    37,414
    Likes Received:
    10,678
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Nice images. Looking at the first two, it's a bit of a toss up; personally, I prefer the top image, because while there are some dark areas in the trees, and the sky doesn't stand out quite as much, the grass and ground-cover look much more natural. In the HDR version, especially around the trail, there's an unnatural orange caste to the dried grass areas.

    My take is that it would have been better shot with a graduated neutral density (G-ND) filter to enhance the cloud/sky contrast, and perhaps, (depending on the time of day and sun's angle) a circular polarizer (CPOL) as well. This, followed by some selective levels/curves adjustments would have produced an overall more natural image.

    The image looking over the Fraser Valley toward Mt. Baker would ahve been better composed if you'd moved the camera a bit to the right to eliminate the foreground area of blackberry and dried grass. This too might well have been improved by the use of a CPOL and/or G-ND filters. A slight levels tweak will clear up some of that haze.

    The stump image is one for which there is not easy solution. Dappled light is a very, very difficult thing to work with. In this case, a CPOL would have helped to darken the sky somewhat and reduced the dynamic range of the image. Again however, I think some work in the pixel room will be required; selective levels and curves adjustments, and or a little dodging and burning.

    With respect to the issue of composition, the concern I have with #1 is that there's very little of interest to immediately grab the eye. I understand that the cyclists are the subject, but they don't stand out enough. When you're shooting people or animals, always try and have them coming toward you rather than away from you. Additionally, I suspect that the path upon which they're riding would have been a good compositional element if you had been in front of the riders and framed the shot in such a way that the eye could follow the path through the middle of the image to each cyclist.

    I actually like the composition of the stump shot very much, but the dappled light is so strong that it makes it difficult for the eye to see easily what's stump, and what's not.

    When you're dealing with areas of complex lighting (such as the stump) or wide dynamic range (the cyclists) bracketing is your friend. Shoot 1/2 or 1/3 stop on either side of the 'optimum' exposure. This will give you a great deal more to work with, and you may find that while a highlight is blown in the 0EV, in -1EV image, it's fine, and you can tweak the shadows to get a good image.

    Lastly, are you shooting RAW? If not, I would recommend it.

    Hope that helps, don't hesitate to yell if I can offer any more assistance.
     
  5. Solthar

    Solthar TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    British Columbia, Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Thanks for the help!

    And yes, I always shoot RAW now. Started out with JPG, but quickly fell in love with the inate mutability of RAW files.

    Any further advice with dappled lighting? It often seems I'm passing opportunities because the lighting. First thing I'd guess is hike in the morning or evening to avoid most of it - but any other ideas in dealing with it?

    And thanks for the critique! I finally know why the cyclist picture didn't have the impact I wanted!

    It looks to be another rainy weekend, so I guess I'll have to put off subsequent attempt until better weather.
     
  6. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Messages:
    37,414
    Likes Received:
    10,678
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    To be honest, that's my answer. It's something that always looks like it should make a great pictures, but I've never been able to get it to work really well, at least not when it's as extreme as the example in your image.
     

Share This Page