Picture Quality Question

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Scarlett, Nov 29, 2006.

  1. Scarlett

    Scarlett TPF Noob!

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    So, I am rather new to photography. I shoot with a Nikon D50 and I'm really forward to having more time these next few months to shoot a lot. This is probably a very basic question, but I'm not sure what the cause is. How do I improve the image quality of my photos? I don't mean through editing (or maybe I do?), but it just seems like my photos turn out very dull. I come look around here and there is a certain smoothness and brilliance about a lot of the images. How do I get that?!

    I will show some examples...I did no editing to these besides for cropping them:

    [​IMG]
    There are great colors and textures that I could have used but I just found it difficult to get the whole foreground there in focus. There is no sharpness in the image. I guess I'm wondering if there is a way to make the image "pop" without Photoshop or PSP.

    [​IMG]
    Same situation here.

    [​IMG]
    I really wanted to like this picture but it's just very dull. It's missing something.

    [​IMG]
    With these last two...I have tried saturating them before but the result is not very appealing...it looks very...unrealistic.

    Basically I'm just looking for tips on picture quality. I want that smoothness and brilliance but I'm not sure how it's done!! Any suggestions would be more than appreciated. Thank you.
     
  2. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The problem from my perspective is that the images aren't sharp. I suspect you might be using a long lens and getting some camera shake. Generally we want to choose a shutter speed that is faster than 1/lens focal length when hand holding. With a tripod, of course, you can use any shutter speed for stationary subjects.

    The lighting is flat. All of these shots are made on cloudy days so the light is soft. Sunny days will create shadows and more contrast to the images. The camera is simply recording what was there. Since the subjects don't pop, neither do the images. You can add some contrast and saturation after the fact if you prefer. Light is what photography is all about. It has everything to do with the look of your images.

    It looks like the horses are in a pacing gait. Are they Paso Finos?
     
  3. rmh159

    rmh159 TPF Noob!

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    Check through the D50's settings... there's a setting (not sure the name of it... and I don't have my cam nearby) that's default to Normal. I want to say it's ... Image... something. Anyway if you look through it you'll see it as a painters pallette with an N in it. You can switch that to Vivid to pull some more color out of the D50. You can also set it up as Custom if you really want to mess with the settings. That should pull some more saturation without having the color bleeding all over.

    You can also do that in post by adjusting Levels and Curves. Do you have a program to editing or post processing work? Gimp is free if you don't and that's just a Google search away.
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum

    Here is something to think about. When most people shot photos on film...the lab would adjust the contrast/color/sharpness etc....usually without us ever knowing about it. Most small digital cameras are set to do the same...plenty of added sharpness/saturation/contrast etc.

    With a good DSLR camera like the D50, we have the opportunity to get the image in a more basic state...and then apply the corrections as we see fit. It's not necessary to be an expert in post processing, when you shoot with a DSLR...but a little knowledge goes a long way.

    I agree with Fred, in that these look like they may be suffering from a little camera shake. You have to watch your shutter speeds when shooting hand held. Also, what ISO are you using? A higher ISO will get you faster shutter speeds...but it also introduced more digital noise into the images.

    A little sharpening in Photoshop (or whatever program) might really help these images. A few other small tweaks could easily help to give them some pop. In Photoshop, I usually like to do a quick adjustment with Levels, and maybe also with Curves. A little bit of UnSharp Mask to sharpen the image and there you go. Maybe an adjustment in the saturation...depending on the image.

    Check out some of the 'Understanding Series' and tutorials on this site....they are quite informative, and usually easy to understand.

    Taking it one step further...with your camera, you have the ability to record images in RAW format. This requires a bit more work in the post processing stage...but you would be starting with a lot more image information than if you shoot in JPEG.
     
  5. Scarlett

    Scarlett TPF Noob!

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    Hey, thank you for that quick reply. That really puts it in a new perspective for me. I really appreciate it and will take use of your suggestions.

    As for the horses, I'm not sure exactly what kind they are. We stayed in a hacienda on the base of Cotopaxi in Ecuador and one of the hands who worked there took us up and around on horses. As for the lone horse in the last picture, it is a wild horse roaming around the foothills on the base of the mountain as we were coming down. The fence you see is actually on a roadside, protecting anyone or anything from falling quite a high distance. Sorry, wish I knew more about horses!

    rmh- The only editing software I have is PSP7. I'm not sure how "good" that is, but it's what I've got. I'm trying to hassle that brother of mine to get Photoshop on my computer...so that is coming eventually! I will try to futz around with the settings on my camera...I suppose the only real way to learn is by experience!

    Mike-I'm really not sure what ISO I was using. At the time, I had just recieved the camera as a 17th birthday present from someone who no longer needed it. I suppose it was a bit unwise of me to travel to Ecuador right away with little knowledge! I have gained some information on the more technical side of photography now (though not as much as I should!) and am more aware of these things! I will definitely check out those tutorials. I've heard about RAW, not much though. I guess that's another thing to look at. Oh, and I have finally invested in a tripod.

    I appreciate the tips, guys! More things for me to watch out for. Thank you!
     
  6. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm guessing you had a great time. You will treasure the images the rest of your life. I'm almost certain those are Peruvian Paso Finos. They are the right size and look like they are in a Paso gait.

    Post a shot of Cotopaxi if you get a chance. It is one of the giants of the Andes.
     
  7. rmh159

    rmh159 TPF Noob!

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    I'm not familiar with that program but I believe Levels, Curves and Unsharp Mask are generic terms and would be in whatever program you'd use. They're not Photoshop specific. If your program doesn't have them you can download Gimp for free which is pretty strong. I know Gimp has Levels and Unsharp and I THINK it has Curves too but not 100% sure. If you get that far you PM me if you need help with those adjustments.

    On the D50 there's a button on the left side that says "ISO". If you push that in the LCD up top will show what ISO it is set to.
     
  8. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think your pics look a bit noisey too late I'm sure to fix the pics you are displaying but check to see what your ISO is set at and also check your compression is it set to fine??
     
  9. Big Mike

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

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    It looks like you captured many images that will forever be a reminder of your trip. Don't worry too much about the technical aspects of the photos. I have plenty of photos from before I took an interest in learning about photography...and they are still special to me...and it's fun to look back and see how much I have improved. I'm sure you will find the same.

    On a side note, Ecuador reminds me a lot of Costa Rica.
     
  10. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Levels look good in the ones I looked at, but a contrast boots using levels can really liven them up. Mind if I post an edit?
     
  11. Scarlett

    Scarlett TPF Noob!

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    Mark, please do post an edit! I'd love to see what could be done with them. I actually salvaged one that I think turned out pretty good. I posted it in the general gallary if anyone is interested.

    Unfortunately I did not get any *great* shots of Cotopaxi as it was really cloudy up there and for the better part of our stay. One day we were in Quito and driving, the clouds shifted just right to get a fantastic look at it, but of course by the time I grabbed my camera is was gone. I will post what I did get. The doctor we were travelling with was so disappointed that we did not get to see a better view of it. This was taken actually right after it hailed on us!

    [​IMG]

    You see we were in Quito, below Quito around places such as Mindo and on the Galapagos for the majority of our stay. We only went up into the mountains on Easter Sunday and returned to Quito on Monday. We were there during the rainy season as well so it was all clouds and no breathtaking mountainous views.

    I've heard that Ecuador and Costa Rica are very similar. Never been to Costa Rica, but I hope to make it there.

    rmh-I looked and yes a lot of those are in PSP. I will definitely make use of them and figure my D50 out (eventually!).

    Thanks for all of the help and encouragement, you guys. It's extremely appreciated.
     
  12. ericande

    ericande TPF Noob!

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    I played with the picture of the horses a bit.

    [​IMG]

    I actually may have taken the corrections a bit too far but I wanted to show you what can be done. Most of the pictures you see that "pop" have been played with in PS or whatever people want to use. In PS, auto-levels will take care of 90% of the problems you are having and it takes 2 seconds.

    For this edit, I played with the levels and color balance, added a little contrast and added an unsharp filter.
     

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