what next?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by LynziMarie, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. LynziMarie

    LynziMarie TPF Noob!

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    I'm getting a little bit frustrated...
    I've been trying SO hard to get better at this stuff, I'm reading tons and looking at so many different artists' work...
    but I'm getting more and more confused.

    I have my Nikon D50. PS CS2. and an SB-600 external flash, a polarizing and uv filter..... what should I get next?
    I feel slightly overwhelmed... should I get another lens? Should I invest in some lighting stuff? What about a reflector?
    These seem like silly questions I know, but if I don't ask... then I'm afraid I'll keep doing the same thing over and over expecting different results... and that is the definition of insanity... I kind of would like to not drive myself insane if I can help it haha

    I also feel like I need to kind of give you a window into my artistic eye to help you make a suggestion....
    I really like portrait photography, but I like it edgy... not dark, but not like every other portrait photographer.
    I would really like to see myself improve, but I kind of feel like I'm on the same boring road.... what should be my next step?
     
  2. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

    I'm like totally "Mr. Equipment" and I'd say you're asking the wrong questions... you're saying you want to get better and asking what kind of equipment you should buy. Totally unrelated, really. In fact, as many here would tell you, the best way to get better is to try and do X with really basic equipment.

    So, you've established a bit of what you have (though you didn't mention what lens you are working with), and what kind of photography you like... but the question is, what is it about your pictures you don't like? Post some and talk about it.

    Don't fret so much over the equipment unless it's fundamentally standing in your way.
     
  3. LynziMarie

    LynziMarie TPF Noob!

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    okay..... I've got the kit lens (18-55 mm) and a 55-200 mm

    sorry, I have problems with explaining myself... it's just something that I struggle with... I'll post an example of something I like of mine
    I don't even know what I don't like, or if I don't like them... but I know they aren't great.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I guess my question is.... how does one actually improve? is it just time? I would actually really love to get great images with what I've got.... because I'm also a believer that if you don't have the eye no matter what equipment you have you still don't have the most important part.
     
  4. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Well, they honestly seem fine to me. There are some things that could be tweaked in composition and exposure, but I wouldn't be freaking out banging your head against a wall over it. How long have you been doing this?

    So far in my experience, getting better means taking ridiculous amounts of pictures and trying to figure out why they did or did not work.

    Keep in mind, too, you are often going to be your worst critic. I've taken probably 10,000 pictures or so since I've been doing this... I can honestly say that I rarely feel that I have a shot that just nailed it, and yet every time I go back and look at pictures from a few years back I'm like "oh good lord, thank god I'm better than I was then!" It's an interesting effect, but it basically says that regardless of what I think of my shots now, I know I'm getting better.

    IMO, relax... keep trying... try as many interesting things as you can and see what they do, read up on here as you'll learn a lot, and above all be patient. It really can take a very long time.
     
  5. Bryant

    Bryant TPF Noob!

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    I agree with manaheim, but just check your exposure because #1 is over exposed, you can see it in the forehead. Another tip for portraits, focus on the eyes, i mean "the focus", not pay attention and center them. With that, you're viewers are drawn to them. Number 1 is a good example, the shirt and sweater are the ones in focus, try manually focusing because this was probably the effect of using AF, you can tell by the softness of her face.
     
  6. LynziMarie

    LynziMarie TPF Noob!

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    haha.... well..... I've had my camera for a year... hahaha
    I guess I always want to start off great... I want to "run the marathon without an ounce of training"
    I'm 18, and I think most teenagers are like this.... if something isn't amazing the first time, you kind of think you're terrible and you just give up.

    I guess I need to step back and tell myself it's okay to not be amazing.... especially right now. I bet that even the best photographers in the world had less than perfect pictures....

    another thing I struggle with, though, is the way I see things is so exponentially different than other people. I'm an artist in many different forms, and I like things that are different.... I see an out of focus picture that people are dogging on... and I see the beauty in that. I really enjoy this site, but i get so caught up on trying to impress professionals that I bring myself down trying to do it. So looking at things in the whole perspective, I think I need to just realize that I cannot please everyone. Especially on a forum that is filled with people who are so passionate about what they do. I don't think most of the population on this site are insulting anothers work for the sake of being an ass.... but to help them... It's hard to remember that sometimes.... I guess I'm just getting ahead of myself. Trying to be on the same level as alot of the people I look up to, on here and in the real world....
    Anyways, thanks for kind of getting my head back for me :D
     
  7. LynziMarie

    LynziMarie TPF Noob!

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    that's another thing I'm still learning....
    exposure... I've gotten the book "understanding exposure" and read it several times.... but... I still dont understand exposure.... haha

    oh and I actually didn't want to post that picture... oops!
    I meant to post this one
    [​IMG]

    I also wonder if I just get too dang carried away in PS..... that's something I should work on as well.... take it easy with the freakin' sliders!! but it's just so much fun!! haha
     
  8. Crimsonandwhite

    Crimsonandwhite TPF Noob!

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    Something I have learned pretty quickly in my short stent, is to take your exposure from your target's face before moving to whatever you are doing with your framing. It will avoid a lot of weird hot spots on the face, which in most pictures of people is your focal point.

    Did any of that make sense? IDK...
     
  9. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I was actually thinking about you on my way into work this morning, actually... yes, I think about you just all the time. :lol: j/k

    I was absolutely not awake last night and didn't feel like I really helped you much on specifics, though it sounds like I did help a bit on generally not killing yourself to be the goddess of photography on day 1. :)

    Anyway... the thing is that in a lot of ways I feel your pain because I'm never happy with what I get, even though in truth my stuff is probably "fine". However, in your case, I thought the shots looked like you had some sense of composition and an artistic flair (which I rarely have), and maybe just "missed it by a hair".

    For example, the new shot you added above...

    Frankly, I think it's a neat shot. It may be a little cliche in a way (girls in a field of flowers), but I think it's a nice representation of it. Good luck avoiding cliche, btw... too many people with cameras to avoid taking a shot someone else took once. It does happen, but maaaaaaaaaaaan is it rare. :)

    I also might have considered moving the crop a bit so the girls were maybe further down in the frame, and I might have tried getting down to their level so it was less of a "I'm watching over the girls" thing and maybe more of a personal moment... like as if you were the third unseen girl playing in the flowers? Would have brought in more of their faces as well, which might have been a good thing.

    So a couple tweaks and it might have been dead-on and exactly what you were looking for. Regardless, still cute.

    I do think you over-did the photoshop a bit- looks like too much contrast, perhaps. This is always tough because a lot of what people do in photoshop is a style choice... I often get dragged into "what is going to be the best technical representation of this scene", when in reality, that fuzziness may have been pretty cool.

    As you say it's VERY much about interpretation, and you can't make everyone happy. What I do is I listen to feedback and try very hard to understand how the person was interpreting the picture, and then try to incorporate that as an idea in how I might be able to take future ones... not necessarily to pan the one I have so much as learn something additional to try.

    Just for fun I took one of your images this morning and took a whack at making some changes to it... the first thing I did is what I consider "not cheating too much". I think your exposure was off a tiny bit (too dark), and because of that I think you lost a bit of skin tone. I also think the natural softness of the camera is visible and it needed a bit of sharpening. So I sharpened the whole pic and boosted the saturation just a hair... +5.

    Oh I also did a VERY delicate shadow/highlight and just boosted the light on her face by like 5%. That tool is very destructive so you can only do it a little.

    I also did what I call "cheating a little". This pic is really about her eyes, so I selected them and boosted the saturation on just her pupils but about 20 or so.

    Overall I think this makes your existing image pop a bit more.

    [​IMG]

    Now on composition for this shot... consider for a moment that this was a posed shot (or I assume it was). In the case of a posed shot, if you position the people so their face (in this case HER face) is more directly illuminated you will get better colors in her face and avoid the washed out background. This would give you more of a blue sky thing, which might be good... esp if you have some nice clouds of some kind. This would have probably addressed your brightness and saturation problems.

    Also consider that maybe you don't want a brick building back there, so maybe reposition them so you get trees or something... or just sky even.

    Now if you want to get silly, you can also do some more creative things in photoshop like vignetting the picture and stuff. I have very little practice in this but I did it just for fun to see what I got. Some people do this pretty effectively, but I usually think it's somewhat cheesy. Here is what I got (sorry it blurred your watermark).

    [​IMG]

    By the way, her pupils are NOT saturated on that one, so you can see the differences there too.

    Anyway, just some more thoughts.

    Sorry if the thoughts are a little disconnected. I've been doing too much this week and my brain is starting to shut down on me. :)
     
  10. GermanyBert

    GermanyBert TPF Noob!

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    You don't NEED to get anything else.

    Why don't you just start taking photos? Are you expecting every photo you take to be a masterpiece?

    Many professional photographers take thousands of photos every week (or maybe even every day) and most of the photos are deleted.

    If I gave you a Ferrari would you expect to be able to drive it like Michael Schumacher?? Of course not. so why do you expect all of your expensive and fancy equipment to make to a good photographer.

    Get out an take some photos using the basics that you know and over time you will improve as you learn what works and what does not work.

    You have to start somewhere and even the best in any profession make mistakes and can still learn.

    Michael Jordan said it the best. Everyone makes a big deal of all the NBA records he broke but he said,

    "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.


    So get out and fail and then you will succeed!
     
  11. Resin42

    Resin42 TPF Noob!

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    If I can offer something from a fellow noob (albeit I'm some what longer in the tooth). I was going on another photography forum for a couple of weeks before I found this one, it was mainly made up of pros who could offer all kinds of tech advice but seemed fixated on technical perfection and seemed to have lost the joy of taking pictures. As much as some of the advice was useful I quickly got sickened by their approach.

    I'm new to photography but I've been playing in bands for over ten years now and you quickly discover that everyone has an opinion on what you're doing and what you should be doing. Listen to any and all criticism and why it is being made, decide what is relevent or useful and discard the rest. If you make an artistic decision to have something a certain way then let no one tell you you're wrong.

    Technical expertise is essential and an artist of any media should be striving to improve theirs but it will only carry you so far, your vision is what will hopefully set you apart.

    And as the rest of the guys have said, there's no reason go upgrading your kit until you hit the ceiling of what your present gear can achieve.
     
  12. bigalbest

    bigalbest TPF Noob!

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    I would agree with most of what is being said, but in my opinion you should be upgrading your lenses every chance you get. Quality lenses will improve anyone's photography, and that's a fact. You do seem to have "the eye", your photos have nice composition and use of available light. Keep working on that for a while and the rest will come a piece at a time. Find other photographers work you like and start to think about how they did it (reverse engineer). What are your goals? Make money? Become a better artist? School and seminars can help focus these goals and streamline your learning. I myself sometimes have a hard time learning difficult concepts from a book. Keep working on Photoshop, the knowledge will come in handy later and your use of the tool will become more subtle as your understanding grows. I know how hard it is to separate the technical and artistic sides but both are equally important in my opinion so while your skills improve always remember to work on the art. And don't give up because the main thing is desire and dedication.
     

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