What am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Taceas, Feb 22, 2007.

  1. Taceas

    Taceas TPF Noob!

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    I am just so unbelievably frustrated these days its just not funny. I'm just about to go back to my point and shoot, where the pictures seemed to look better than they do with the D80. It's flat out depressing.

    I've been taking pictures of everything from lichen on a tree to the wild birds frequenting my bird feeders since it snowed. In 99% of the pictures, there isn't an ounce of crispness. Everything is so pixelated, fuzzy, and just downright pitiful for what I'm looking for.

    So please tell me, is it something I'm missing camera-wise, lens-wise or do I truly need to learn how to use Photoshop and how to doctor my images better?

    Here is my latest image I'm disgusted with:

    [​IMG]

    I see pictures of birds on here and they're so crisp and clear. The moment I try to mess with things using Photoshop the worse it looks.
     
  2. PNA

    PNA TPF Noob!

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    First off, it should not be the camera....but maybe the lens or the AF mechanism. Or you may have the shakes.....

    Try shooting several different objects at various exposure settings with a tripod.

    Your photo seem out of focus where it shoud be crisp......

    Post a couple more shots....
     
  3. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

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    there are a couple of things that you could be doing
    or your camera or your lens etc etc
    from this photo to me, it looks like it was very tightly cropped
    giving that pixilated look. with Digital cameras like the D80 you can to alot of cropping but you cant expect to get crystal clear images if you crop all but 10% of the origional image.
    Second, if you are using auto mode on your D80, the camera could be giving you high ISO speeds. The general rule is, the higher the ISO, the more noise in a picture. This can be corrected by manually settting the ISO or shooting in manual mode.
    The other possibility is the lens is just not very good. The kit lens that comes with Digital cameras is usually not all that great. most of the people around here to take sweet bird shots have very nice lenses. You dont need a 6,000 dollar lens to get an awsome bird shot but it helps :)

    other things could be camera shake (reduced by having a faster shutter speed) or just missing the focus point. Lastly, it to have good looking photos you really need good light. The best time to shoot is in the morning or evening, Thats when the colors really pop. Over cast days really kill color saturation and Shooting at noon is usually bad because the light is very harsh and donesnt give shaddows
    I hope this is somewhat helpful
     
  4. loser101

    loser101 TPF Noob!

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    Its probably a high iso.
    What quality is it shot at?
     
  5. Taceas

    Taceas TPF Noob!

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    I was using Manual mode, Auto kept wanting to pop the flash up.

    As far as the settings, based on other pictures of the same bird...they were:
    - ISO 1600 (woops, forgot to reset that from the previous night's playing)
    - Shutter: 1/320s
    - F-stop: 5.6
    - Taken on Jpeg-fine, the RAW is just TOO much for my computer to handle (old non-2.0 USB, and only a 40gig HD with about 5gig left on it)

    It was taken in the early afternoon on an overcast day, generally any sunshine day pictures I get of cardinals make them look entirely too orange and washed out.

    The lens is the 18-135 one, and even then its still not as close as I'd like to get, so yes I did crop it. I'm just so in the habit of cropping to eliminate the miles of background around the subject because I can't ever seem to get it large enough to fully appreciate. =(

    When do you resize, or do you do something else? I'd like to upload and show the other poses of the bird that are unaltered, but they're like 3Mb each.

    Btw, I took this picture at the same time using the same settings and with minimal processing it came out okay (I think anyway).

    [​IMG]
     
  6. sothoth

    sothoth TPF Noob!

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    Not sure if you've solved the problem yet, but the first thing that popped into my mind is that my Canon Digital Rebel XT came pre-set to the lowest image quality, which is equivalent to only about 1.3MP. So the first pictures I took also looked horrible. If you're always shooting at high ISO that wouldn't explain things since it should be consistent from photo to photo.

    It could also be your cropping or image processing. When you crop, how much are you cropping out and what software are you using for it? I had a batch image resizer that distorted the images pretty badly so I can imagine that other image processing software packages have at least the potential to do this as well. That's just a guess tho.

    Good luck with this, it's probably not your camera so the good news is that you will be taking awesome looking pictures once you pin down the problem.
     
  7. PNA

    PNA TPF Noob!

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    Your second shot looks much better regarding sharpness.

    As stated, increase your quality and adjust the ISO to 200, do not use auto ISO, try apature priority.

    Good luck.....
     
  8. Toast95135

    Toast95135 TPF Noob!

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    Oh wow, 1600iso?! Try and bring that down as low as possible.

    If you are going to do post processing, when you go to the "Optimize Image" menu, leave it on normal or do a custom setting. Using Vivid or More Vivid makes it look terrible after post. Also, turn on "High ISO noise exposure" to normal or high.

    If you don't set whitebalance manually, use the presets, Auto doesn't work that well to be honest.
     
  9. Taceas

    Taceas TPF Noob!

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    To crop the image I used ACDSee, its a program I've been using for a few years now and have grown accustomed to since Photoshop is largely Greek to me. I cropped off a fair portion. =(

    Here is an unaltered, unsized, uncropped image similar to the one in question:
    Link

    I have the high ISO noise reduction thing on, I've got the exposure compensation upped a bit so images don't turn out so dark after being taken.

    Thanks for the help. There's no one locally I know who to talk to since I live in a small rural area. I'd like to take a photography class or two, but I don't know if the local community college just lets you take classes without being a current student. ;)
     
  10. sothoth

    sothoth TPF Noob!

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    After looking at your full sized photo, it seems like it suffers from graininess caused by high ISO, but isn't all that bad in other respects. When you cropped out a large portion of the photo and blow up the cropped image, you will amplify the graininess problem quite a bit. That can really make a decent photo look bad.

    Personally, I'd suggest trying the photos in RAW format to see if that helps, certainly image manipulation works best when you start with the RAW. You always have the option of cropping the RAW, then converting to JPG when it's cropped.

    I think this has already been mentioned, but wildlife photos like this benefit greatly from a tele zoom lens, so you can get a closer shot to start with and not end up having to crop out most of the background.

    Someone else mentioned this as well, but I think the photo also suffers from the weather, meaning that you have low light and therefore your contrast is rather poor. But that's not your fault, all you can do as a photographer is do the best with what you have.

    Drop the ISO, crop as little as possible, and you should be happy with the improvement. Come spring, you'll be even happier due to the more "photo friendly" weather. :)
     
  11. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    you should compare an ISO 1600 image taken with a short lens and cropped with an uncropped image taken in very bright daylight (and hence low ISO, like 200) with a long lens and a good tripod which had it's colour contrast enhanced in Photoshop or another piece of software.

    Such a comparison wil always be frustrating! Some situations and setups just do not allow for the perfect image!

    My advice:
    - get closer to the subject or get a longer lens
    - shoot if there is enough light
    - learn some software skills to improve images which did not come ot that well due to circumstances beyond your control.

    BTW, I do not think those images are bad for what you did!
    The only thing they are not is bright sunshine-strong-colour-low-ISO images. I think also the first image has a nice mood and potential.
     
  12. Taceas

    Taceas TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the suggestions!

    I am just so lost with all of these settings, compared to my old Olympus, I'm just sort of numb from everything I suddenly have to know.

    So higher ISO's are useful in low light conditions, such as nighttime shots, right?

    My only problem with using a tripod and getting bird shots is they rarely ever sit in the same place twice. So I need to be able to move around rapidly and get the shot before they get their seed and fly off. And I am taking these through a living room window that sits about 8ft foot from the tree, so I'm sure that doesn't help quality matters either.

    I'm probably going to regret asking this, but are there any zoom lenses that you would recommend for the D80? If so, what prices are we talking about?
     

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