Some Questions about landscape photography

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Marcopolo9442, Jul 30, 2008.

  1. Marcopolo9442

    Marcopolo9442 TPF Noob!

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    I had a discussion with a friend of mine who is very critical of my photos, especially my landscapes. First, he thought I had difficulty with exposure and I tended to underexpose my shots. Now he has only used film mostly and I use digital. I find that underexposing slightly keeps the images from having blown out highlights, then I work with the raw files in photoshop to bring up the shadows and apparently he thinks my method underexposes the images and therefore they lack detail. Is this not a good strategy to avoid blown highlights? I do use a polarizer and sometimes a 2 stop graduated neutral density filter.
    Second question, on my wide angle landscapes, if I can I use a tripod and take the photo at between f16-f22 as I found this gives me the best depth of field. He thinks I should try around f5-f11 because according to him it gives better sharpness and detail in the areas that are within the depth of field, and he thought that having a large depth of field made many of my photos appear dull and boring. Basically he things a lower f-stop would make the photos sharper and more interesting. To me this seems counterintuitive and against what I have learned. What are your thoughts on this, who is right?
     
  2. Steph

    Steph No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It is true that if using a very small aperture, such as f22, the picture looses a bit of sharpness due to diffraction of light around the aperture blades. It is a compromise between depth of field and ultimate sharpness. Personally, for landscapes, I very often prefer maximum depth of field and use small apertures; I can live with the slight loss of image quality. If however, your subject does not require a small aperture, it makes sense to use something like f8-f11 for (slightly) better results.

    I'll leave the first question to somebody else as I am not familiar with exposure/post-processing with a digital camera.
     
  3. Marcopolo9442

    Marcopolo9442 TPF Noob!

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    thanks, now that I have learned how to post photos, here are some of the ones he was critical of-

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    I had some others I wanted to post to show, but apparently this is the only one it is letting me post at the moment. I used a 2stop Cokin graduated neutral density filter, as I recall it was at around f18 or f20, Nikon D300(brand new camera for me, was using a D50 before) ISO lo1, active D lighting set to high, later tweaked it further with CaptureNX(program that came with the camera) and Photoshop which I have been playing around with about 2 years now. . He thinks it lacks sharpness and detail, especially with the rocks. He also thinks a lot of my compositions are boring. Of course my mother and my girlfriend say they like them but I have not had too many serious critical critiques of my work so far.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2008
  4. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Here's a good link on aperture diffraction.

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/diffraction-photography.htm

    Personally I try to avoid going beyond f/11 with APS-C format and f/16 with 35mm format. For landscape photography with wide angle lenses this isn't very difficult. DOF with APS format, 17mm focal length, and f/5.6 focused at about 9' is approx 5' to infinity.

    Check out an online DOF calculator.

    http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

    DOF is "the area of acceptable sharpness", and of course "acceptable sharpness" is an opinion. Old school advice when using the DOF scale on lenses was to stop down once more to insure good sharpness.
     
  5. Coldow91

    Coldow91 TPF Noob!

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    I'd say that shot needs nothing changed. It helps the shot to not have every detail in the rocks showing I think. I think the composition is very good
     
  6. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'm interested in this too, and please someone correct me if I'm wrong here...

    My understanding is that you can do a larger aperature if you focus to infinity, giving most or all of the objects in the frame sharp focus (except those that are relatively close to you). I haven't tested this yet... please tell me if I'm wrong. :)

    Marco... one thing I have determined is that if you are focusing on things quite far away you may want to do the manual focus to infinity thing as the camera doesn't always nail it. It'll at least be "fine", but sometimes it will be just SLIGHTLY off, and that's all the difference in the world. This is particularly so when taking pictures of darker subjects or scenes. I had this problem with my nighttime skylines until recently.

    Also, in my personal experience, I find that you don't want to underexpose ever. It results in noise, even if you are using RAW... simply because when you underexpose you risk not getting that pixel of color here and there, and there's no way the camera is going to be able to "guess" later on and get it right. I do my very best to expose it dead on, assuming I'll have a little leeway due to the RAW capture.
     
  7. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Manaheim: What you're referring to (I believe) is selective focusing using the apeture scale. If you look at this picture:

    [​IMG]

    You can see that it has aperture graduation below the focusing ring. To get the maximum DoF for a given lens, set the desired apeture, and then manually focus your lens so that the focusing index (in the image set to infinity) is resting at or just slightly past the aperture you have set on the scale. ie: If you set your aperture to f11, then you would manually focus the lens so that the the focusing index was in line with the "11" on the scale below the focusing ring.

    The problem is, a lot of modern lenses (including some high end stuff) no long has this scale. Then it becomes a case of figuring it out on your own. Some people who use this a lot will actually make their own scales out of tape and put them right on the lens.

    With respect to the exposure question, with film the rule was "Expose for the shadow, develop for the highlight", but with digital you should expose for the highlights and process for the shadows. Manaheim's correct in that you should avoid under (or over) exposing if at all possible, but if you must, then under-exposure is usually better.
     
  8. Marcopolo9442

    Marcopolo9442 TPF Noob!

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    Here is another one he criticized, he said that it was compositionally boring and that I don't know how to handle light in bright daylight situations very well. He also said it was a shame I didn't capture the scene better because he thought they were nice flowers-

    [​IMG]
     
  9. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Are you happy with it?
     
  10. Marcopolo9442

    Marcopolo9442 TPF Noob!

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    well, I seem to have different tastes in photography than some other people do. I want other people to enjoy and admire my work too, and frankly I would also like to eventually sell some of my prints. If everyone thinks my stuff it terrible that is a problem, especially if I want to sell anything.
    Here is another one, he thought that it was underexposed and lacked detail, and that made it a bad photo. He said that professional photographers don't make these mistakes-
    [​IMG]

    Basically even if I am happy with it, or sorta happy with it, but everyone else thinks I suck, doesn't do me much good. I know I am not exactly Galen Rowell, I have room for improvement, but if my work is terrible and there is not much chance of me improving maybe I should reconsider some of my plans. I think I am in the same position as that guy in the other post who said he aspired to sell his work but everyone was telling him he was terrible.
     
  11. Marcopolo9442

    Marcopolo9442 TPF Noob!

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    Okay, here is why I come in here discouraged. I have not gotten too much critical review of my photos yet. My parents of course say they like my photos, that is a given they would say that. Women I have dated since I started this have all said they liked my work, but that is also a given since they are/were dating me or want to of course they are going to tell me my work is good.
    However, recently I put up a website at smugmug, I want to get it set up for possibly selling prints of my work, and I showed a former coworker who I have stayed in contact with, showed him the site. I consider him an unbiased source. He basically said I needed a lot of work, that most of my photos were both technically bad as well as compositionally boring to him. I don't think he is being mean, he is just an older French guy and that is how he is. He basically says things how he sees it. He doesn't know everything about photography, he knows how to use a film SLR but has yet to seriously shoot digital. Still I felt really awful, and still feel really awful, after showing him my website. It is still under construction but here is a link to it- http://www.rasmussenimages.com

    If you guys could give me specific technical advice on how to improve that would be appreciated. Can any of these photos be saved through post processing? I have tried to get good at both the photo taking and post processing since I started but apparently I am still not good enough yet. If they are compositionally off or boring I suppose that means I don't have the talent to be good enough at this to ever sell my work:(
     
  12. Solthar

    Solthar TPF Noob!

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    Damn, I'm seriously impressed by what you've done there- in my opinion, you've got nothing to worry about. After seeing your photographs, though, I'd start asking some questions about your friends critiques instead of your photos.

    One major question is if he is critiquing the photos before or after post-processing. If it's after, the underexposing should of been fixed in post proccessing.

    Another question is if he offers suggestions for improvement while critiquing your photography. You said he didn't like the daffodil picture - did he also offer advice on what he would of done in that instance, or did he only critisize? I'd say this is one of the more important questions as in one instance he is trying to help you grow as a photographer, but otherwise comes across as a "film is better than digital" guy.

    Mind you, I really don't want to get into a film vs digital argument! I personally believe both mediums offer their own unique advantages. It's just that some people have very strong viewpoints regarding one or the other, and that your friend comes across as one of those people to me.
     

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