New here, would love some friendly constructive criticism.

mmd0422

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Hey everyone. I have a canon rebel XS, for which I just got an external flash, as I though it would be the 'answer' to all my problems. Still unsure about that thinking. I mainly want to shoot pictures of my family, specifically my children. I also like my cat! I am not too interested in outdoor or action shots, just portraits and family get-together's. Last year for Christmas, my sister in law and I got our five kiddos together and I tried to take photos that were themed for each month. What a hassle, and my pictures were crap! It was all in the lighting, and this is something I am stuck on.

Fast forward a year, and we want to try this same thing again, but with less costume changes and a green screen. Basically, I am so completely overwhelmed with the amount of settings I can manipulate, and the auto function on my rebel SUCKS! So I mainly work in manual and just flip around through settings, hoping to get a good shot. I would love to put up some pictures to get our expert advice. The first picture is from last year, when I didn't have the external flash. The second two pictures are from today, with my external flash, and are pictures that I think are MUCH better. Thanks in advance for the advice, and hopefully the answers to some of these questions: Which pictures are better than the first (from last year)? Are there any that can be considered 'good'. Any good tips for adjusting those manual settings to get good pics, even if it is just a starting point

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peeteygirl

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The bottom three are all, I think, better than the first one. I think the last one is the closest to "good" from a technical standpoint, it's got a good composition and good exposure and the look on your son's face is priceless. "Good" otherwise is quite subjective. I quite like the 3rd photo myself :mrgreen:. As for the settings, have you research the exposure triangle? That's the best place to start I think when trying to learn manual. Here's a link to an explanation of the exposure triangle.
The Exposure Triangle ? In Beginner Speak ?The End of Auto Mode? | Fletch's Photo Blog
 

ryanwaff

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You seem to be having issues with your lighting and getting to grips with your external flash. I suggest looking at Strobist (Strobist: Welcome to Strobist.) They have many great walk through and tutorials on using your external flash.

As for the posted images, it is difficult to critique them when they are so small.

Definitely learn your exposure triangle as peeteygirl suggested, it will help you alot with your settings.
 

manaheim

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Well...

If you want to learn, you're going to have to read and experiment a lot. Photography is a steep learning curve.

If you just want pictures that basically work, I can give you a few tips that will probably get you MOST of the way there MOST of the time. You won't know WHY they work, but they'll probably work.

Do this...

- Put your camera on Aperture priority and set it to F5.6.
- Put your flash on your camera and tilt the head so it is pointing behind you and to the right at about a 60 degree angle to the wall behind you and about 45 degrees from your shoulder.
- (ideally, if you have one- if not, I suggest you buy one) put the little plastic "cap" over the flash. It usually looks like this: Flash Diffuser for Canon C-550EX [CFD011C550] - $12.95 : Mennon USA, Photo accessories - Lens hoods, grey cards, white balance caps, camera grips and straps, remote controls

Line your kids up and shoot.
 
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mmd0422

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You seem to be having issues with your lighting and getting to grips with your external flash. I suggest looking at Strobist (Strobist: Welcome to Strobist.) They have many great walk through and tutorials on using your external flash.

As for the posted images, it is difficult to critique them when they are so small.

Definitely learn your exposure triangle as peeteygirl suggested, it will help you alot with your settings.


They are very small, but I was having such trouble uploading them in their original format. I had to shrink them and save them as a jpeg in order to get them on my post. Any advice here?
 
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mmd0422

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Thank you so much, I am going to read this right now. Hopefully it helps. I am going to take the kiddos to the park this morning and shoot away!
 
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mmd0422

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Thanks so much... this was actually the type of advice I was looking for. I knew photography was hard to learn, but dang... I'm finding it almost impossible! If only I had all the time in the world!
 

Calibun

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I am no expert either. A lot of the learning that needs to be done can be read about from now to next summer but it won't do you any good unless you understand the advice (so read up on the basic terms/jargon and then you'll understand when they give you advice about said functions) I really just suggest doing shoots in different settings to understand the basic elements. To ME personally the color balance is a little blue in some, and exposure is a little low in the middle two I believe, and there is something about the way the photos have been framed that could probably use some work but I can't really pinpoint it.

I am actually a digital artist and there is a saying for digital art now and days- you can buy the newest, most high tech and expensive accessories to draw with, but if you don't understand how to draw you will still just make stick people.

So consider any accessories you buy to be enhancements upon your foundation of knowledge. It took me the better part of a year to understand how to balance things like shutter speed, iso, and arpeture..and even then I am always learning. Some learn faster, some learn slower. Generally the more you use your camera, the better you will get with it, faster. Try to focus on improving one element at a time until you feel you have improved it enough to be satisfactory to you. Once you have gotten much better and understand the use of the basic camera functions, you will be good and clear to start buying accessories that will only help when you know how to use them.

The last photo seems to be the best out of the three, it is framed a bit strangely to my eyes and seems a bit unfocused but is more visually pleasing than the other two, and much better than the first.

Good luck! (Cute kid!)
 

manaheim

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Thank you so much, I am going to read this right now. Hopefully it helps. I am going to take the kiddos to the park this morning and shoot away!

What I suggested will NOT work in the park, btw.

Shooting in the park is a whoooooooooooooooooole different set of circumstances.
 
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mmd0422

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Hahaha! Took one picture at the park, then realized those settings were probably not good for outdoor/shady areas. I messed with the settings, and I think I got a good pic. I'm going to post I here in a second! I'm thinking maybe I should focus on getting better at indoor portrait pics, then move outdoors!
 

Derrel

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One thing that might really help. I believe that if you set the Rebel to Single-shot focus mode and make sure the flash has the AF assist function turned ON in the menus, that the Rebel will focus indoors much better. SLower "kit" zooms, like the 18-55mm zooms, typically do not focus with blazing speed or surety, but bringing in the AF assist light can REALLLLLY help with getting a good focus lock in lower light indoor shots. Again, on almost any camera I know of, the AF assist function REQUIRES that the autofocusing be set to single-shot mode.

Good to hear that you were able to make an on-the-spot correction to advice presented in one context!
 

robbins.photo

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If your looking for criticism to be constructive or friendly then you must be new here.. lol

Other than that I'd go with what Derrel said. :)
 

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