No "spark" in color

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by johnknotwell, Oct 5, 2006.

  1. johnknotwell

    johnknotwell TPF Noob!

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    All -

    I've been taking pictures for almost a year now with my Nikon D70. I've read lots of books on photography in that time and I've read Ken Rockwell's site on photos (maybe some of you don't like him, that's fine). At any rate, the one thing that I learned from all of it was that you really don't need to use Photoshop to adjust your pictures if you just "take" them right.

    Well, therein is my problem. I don't feel comfortable with any pictures unless I adjust the contrast, saturation or anything else in Photoshop first. The pictures have verry little color to them. Friends with the D50 and the D70 seem to get great pictures the first time shooting in the same modes as I am.

    I know you're going to ask "Can you post an example."
    Please check out my blog here and see if you can see what I mean.

    I shoot most pictures on Auto because when I mess with the Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority I can't seem to get anywhere as good as auto. I've even played with white balance... no dice.

    Maybe I need a primer again, I don't know.

    Any advice would be grateful. Is there any chance that the camera isn't calibrated correctly?
     
  2. dsp921

    dsp921 TPF Noob!

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    You can set the amount of in-camera sharpening, contrast and saturation. Check your manual for the location of these custom settings. Play with those settings a little. Practice with aperture and shutter modes, get off Auto as soon as you can.
    There was a huge thread on nikonians.org in the D70 forum about getting good images right out of the camera. It has a complete list of settings.
    http://www.nikonians.org/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi?az=read_count&om=15189&forum=DCForumID86&viewmode=threaded
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum

    There are plenty of different photos on that page...it actually would help if you picked one or two that exemplify your point.

    Most people don't realize that photo labs have been touching up their photos for years. They would take the film in and then pick up their prints later. The lab tech and/or machine would make little adjustments to make the prints look better. With digital..there is no lab tech.

    There are settings in the camera that you can use to adjust your images. You can set a higher saturation or sharpness etc. Actually, when you shoot in RAW format, these settings don't really count anyway. The idea being that you 'as a photographer' will want to take control of the processing and make any adjustments yourself with a program like Photoshop.

    IMO, image editing is part of the process. Claiming that "you really don't need to use Photoshop to adjust your pictures if you just "take" them right" is kind of a cop-out. People have been processing their photographs for 100 years...just because the tools change...does not mean that you suddenly have to get it just right.

    That being said, getting a good image in the first place is key. To do that, you have to understand how a camera's meter works and how to control the camera. Sounds like you might have to read up on that a bit. Then you can come to understand how to adjust the exposure to help you get the results that you want.
     
  4. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Nothing wrong with using Photoshop, as Mike mentions. Every pro, ad agency and publisher I know uses it. I use it. You should have seen what Ansel Adams went through to make prints from his already excellent negatives back in the 1960's. It would blow your mind. He didn't just luck out and find those amazing skies. He created them in the darkroom. Photoshop is simply the modern day darkroom. What Mike says is right.
     
  5. D-50

    D-50 TPF Noob!

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    First off stop using auto. You'll need to learn to use aperature or shutter priority as well as manual modes if you want to improve your photos. Not to say you cant get a good photo in Auto mode but if you have spent the money to buy a D70 you might as well learn to use it in a mode that gives you more control. Also Rockwell talks about getting it right in the camera but goes on to say you need to shoot when the light is best, those times being morning and dusk, midday light tends to be boring and flat. You really need to consider light when composing a shot you can just point and shoot and expect that you photos will come out great. Look for angles that take advantage of the light and create depth in a photo. I also agree with the others in terms of photoshop, its a great tool to enhance the tones in a photo.
     
  6. boclcown

    boclcown TPF Noob!

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    D-50's got a very solid point. You would be amazed at the difference a couple hours makes on lighting. Granted, you need to get to know the apature:shutter speed:iso party if you really want to get pictures that are truly above average.
     
  7. johnknotwell

    johnknotwell TPF Noob!

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    All - Thank you for your advice. I have been refreshing myself with the different settings on the camera. Do any of you have recommendations for good reading material on the basics of photography?
     
  8. ladyphotog

    ladyphotog TPF Noob!

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    One thing I noticed in all of your photos is that your light is flat. When it is not sunny out are you using fill flash? Good lighting will make saturation and color so much better. You should always make your photos better in PS, that is what it is for but you need a good image to start with, that is where your talent lies. Photography is all about light, no matter if you are shooting film or digital. The book 'Photography' by Barbara and John Upton is excellent. Hope that helps.
     
  9. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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  10. Hi John

    I provide the following image with a big friendly smile, and my tongue in cheek. Nonetheless:

    [​IMG]

    I think if there is one TPF newcomer beef that I am about to champion, then it is people not drilling down in the dSLR menus beyond th basics. It is a mind-blower just how powerful modern digital SLR cameras are, yet most of us are still treating it like a modified film camera. In digital, you must make a lot of decisions in the camera that used to be dealt with by simply putting in different film types. It is not entirely analogous - there are differences. But getting your saturation and sharpness adjusted is just a question of exploring the various menus, and reading the friggin' manual.

    ;)

    That's what rainy days are for.

    But please: don't do the full teenage move of cranking everything up to max. Ever get back into your car and find that some kid at the car wash tuned your stereo to some mega-top-pop station, and your treble-mid-bass settings are frazzling the speakers? Don't do that your pictures. Believe me, if you set sharpness to max and then take pics of your loved one, he or she will be very unhappy. Go soft for portraits, sharp for landscapes - unless of course you have a different look you're pursuing. Same with saturation. It's a little like salt in the food. A little, then you get acclimated, then a little more, and then more, and then more - and suddenly it's freaky salty. If you keep adding saturation to an image, it starts looking sick.

    Have fun. Go find your manual. It's your friend.

    Some links I found: A compilation of D70 Links

    Also, I like the Dennis Curtin books. You can find him here. Look for his D70 book.
     
  11. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    I can fully agree to the above post. The other day my friend got a Rebel XT so I was messing with my camera while he was learning his. I stumbled into the custom settings and now have mine so personalized I feel like it is a different camera. Also the manual may not be the best read you've ever had, but I find myself on numerous occasions reading the manual.

    as far as the recommendation on settings of what to turn up and down: dont mess with that stuff. Spend a day shooting in aperture priority mode (Av), preferable of flowers and things so you can get a feel for depth of field (DOF), and then another day in Shutter priority mode (Tv), preferably of water so you can understand how your shutterspeed effects the perception of motion in a picture. After you have gotten the hang of that mess with white balance shooting inside, mess with ISO and exposure comp (including flash compensation) and THEN, start messing with contrast, sharpness, and saturation. The guidlines that softer pictures (turn sharpness down a notch or two) for portraits and sharper shots for landscapes is a good one to go by.

    My recommendation is do the Av day and select a picture or two that you like but at the same time dont like. Post that picture in our "photo critique" section explaining what you dont like or what you think could be improved and ask for specific help. I have found the best way to get better is to suck.
     
  12. DeepSpring

    DeepSpring TPF Noob!

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    The great thing about digital is you can take a pic with a low f stop then take one with a high f stop and immediately see the difference between the two. Same with shutter speed and flash and all that stuff. Take a few pictures of the same thing adjusting just 1 setting. Find out how that changes the image than move on to another.


    A FANTASTIC and free resource is www.wikipedia.com you can find pages on every photography related topic and the great thing about the site key words are links to a page about them. For example if you are on the aperature pages and it talks about shutter speed, you can click shutter speed and see a page about that and get lost in the site.

    Have fun
     

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