Newbies first post - posted a shot but really trying everything out


TPF Noob!
Jun 2, 2013
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I've been shooting for a bit more than a year and I'm dissatisfied with the quality of my shots. Here's a recent show of Yosemite with a rented 12-18mm lens. 18MM, F22, .125, ISO 100.

I'm looking for criticism on color, composition, and the best info to post in the forum.

$Gates of Yosemite just prior to the storm.jpg
I'm no expert on landscapes (or photography in general), but first question is why f/22? There appears to be a fair bit of diffraction from the small aperture. Focus looks soft and it appears a little under exposed.

What brand/model of lens is that? What camera body?

Composition looks pretty good. I think if you had turned just slightly more to the right to get more of that white peak on the right would have improved it a little.
also interested to know what camera and lens that was used.
definitely dark. did you choose those camera settings? or were you shooting in some priority mode?
i find the composition to be good, but you really lose most of the detail in the darkness. not sure why this couldn't have been shot at a much larger aperture and maybe a slightly higher ISO.
There's lots of things one could critique about any image, but first, why are YOU dissatisfied with it? I think that there's a lot that could be done to improve this particular image, but as your profile indicates "Not okay to edit"... There's definitely some softness to the image, but overall, it's not too bad.
From my perspective, a noob, the clouds look darker than they should be. Due to underexposure?
I like how the river is smoothing out. Do you have access to LR or photoshop? You should try some dodging and burning on the clouds to bring out more detail where they're getting darker. Assuming this was shot in RAW, of course...
I think the darkness is intentional. It's just before a storm, and it does a pretty nice job of capturing the golden light sliding in under the storm clouds to illuminate to rock face.

The biggest problem I see with this is that the sky, land, and river are all roughly equal. One should dominate, the others support -- it hardly matters which, they're all fine subjects in this. Crop on the bottom to leave only a sliver of river at the bottom for weight and interest. Crop on the left to eliminate the larger region of sky. The land is excellent, and also quite difficult to crop out, so it's got to be pretty much a sky/land or a water/land photo, with just a touch of the third element (for context, and because you can't crop it out anyways).

I think this would also benefit from a little more contrast in the darker region of the cloud above, and in the band of evergreens.

Also it's a bit soft etc. It's probably worth sorting through those technical problems at some point, but for this particular image if the softness isn't a processing artifact you could simply embrace it and render a soft and moody landscape. The era of "landscapes are required to be sharp" is finally beginning to fade, thank goodness.
You'd get a different picture of course when it's nice and sunny compared to when the clouds are rolling in... that water looks choppy too! It just looks like your camera wasn't getting enough light with the settings used to be able to record a sharp image.

It's a nicely balanced composition - it's probably more a matter of learning to adjust according to the meter reading to get a proper exposure for each photo.
Lots of great feedback and that is why I joined this forum.

I don't do much landscape and the trip to Yosemite gave me the chance to work on it. I use a Nikon 5100, on a tripod, exposure delay with remote, and I rented a Nikon 12-24mm f/4G AF-S DX IF-ED nikon 12-24mm f/4G with a circular polarizing filter. I chose to shoot at f/22 because the water was so close and I needed the depth of field. There was also significant contrast in lighting due to the storm and I didn't want to blow out on the rock. I also used 1/8 on shutter so that the water was a bit silky. I'm not sure what else I could have done on focus to get tack sharp.

I was looking for drama in the contrast between the sky and the rock while still grounded (pun intended) by the meadow and the stream.
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