Prairie Dog and Tower


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Jun 14, 2013
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I've really been struggling to get any decent photos out of my new setup. I expected it to a degree, being a complete newbie. I'm thinking I just need to set my images to jpeg's for awhile and just shoot the Standard style in my 7D to get some confidence. On these two, I used RAW and the Faithful picture style, then imported them into LR 5, where I'm totally lost. I adjusted a few settings, like exposure to get the shadow clipping out of his eyes. The tower was on a tripod, the prairie dog handheld. I was trying out the new Sigma 150-500 I received today. Anyhoo......... cc away. I need all the help I can get!


IMG_0044 by The Oklahoma Kid, on Flickr


IMG_0035 by The Oklahoma Kid, on Flickr
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I don't think that lens is so great wide open.
f8-11 should be your target aperture.
First impressions: Prairie Dog) This is not too bad an image. It is a bit unfortunate that colour of the background is very similar to the colour of the animal. There is probably nothing you can do about that, but it is good that the background is OOF, as this does help to set off the animal from the background.

Tower) The tower itself is okay, in focus and all that. The problem is the background. The large rocks in the background distract the viewer from the object of the photograph - the tower. Also, it probably doesn't help that they are similar in colour to the tower itself. If you take this again, perhaps you could put the tower against a different background by moving the camera left or right of the position that this one was taken from. Alternatively, throw the background out of focus by using a different aperture.

In general, you might want to pay as much attention to your background as you do to the subject of your image, as the background can make or break an image. I would also suggest that when posting multiple images, that you number them as this makes it a lot easier for a reviewer to refer to them.

I would also encourage you to continue to show RAW, as this gives you a lot more degrees of freedom when it comes to processing them. You can always try shooting both RAW and JPG as I did when I first started out, but I quickly dropped the JPG as it was not giving me the freedom I wanted in the post-processing.

Thank you both, good advice. Composition is something I try to keep in mind, but it always seems to take second place to the subject. I'll have to make a huge effort to pay more attention to it in the future. And I'll try the higher apertures (smaller opening, right?) on this lens next time!

ETA: I went and looked at #2 again and you're right........... my eyes slip leftward to the rocks!
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the ambiguous scale in #2 makes it almost like the dogies live in the tower :/
Yes, I see your point. The tower is probably 50-60 feet tall. It does look flattened down now that you mention that! I've got a few more of it from different focal lengths, I'll go have a look. Thanks!
It's just a funny juxtaposition. If the prairie dog were second, the dogie would probably look huge. I am when you have two ambiguous scales, whatever you see first will set the scale.
I prefer this much better. It gives context, which I think is more interesting than the tower itself.
I prefer this much better. It gives context, which I think is more interesting than the tower itself.
Ya know, it's probably like using the zoom too much when using a video recorder. Less is more!
I see a major noise issue... I suspect it is coming from camera settings...

First image EXIF... ISO 200.. Noise is terrible

PhotoME version: 0.79R17 (Build 856)

File type: JPEG
File size: 2,314.5 KB
Creation date: 7/10/2013 17:33
Last modification: 7/10/2013 21:47
Make: Canon (Canon Global)
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Software: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.0 (Windows)
Dimension: 2226 x 1863 px (4.1 MP)
Focal length: 500 mm
Aperture: F6.3
Exposure time: 1/800"
ISO speed rating: 200/24°
Program: Aperture priority
Metering Mode: Pattern
White Balance: Auto
Flash: Flash did not fire, compulsory flash mode

Crop of original on left, after noise reduction on right (yes.. blown up a bit so it is easily visible)

This is an edit on the original also.. increased brightness and contrast at it was underexposed. Did some minor sharpening... and noise reduction, that was all!

original on top.. edit on bottom
Which particular camera settings should I be looking at for the noise problem? I thought it mainly came from higher ISO settings?
Which particular camera settings should I be looking at for the noise problem? I thought it mainly came from higher ISO settings?

You can get noise at higher ISO's.. but I was surprised to see it this bad at ISO 200! I would turn off any automatic noise reduction in the menus, set the camera menu sharpening to +2 or +3, Don't use any of the scene modes (if it has any.. I don't know Canon). Really.. you need one of our Canon guys to speak up, and make some suggestions... they will hopefully know the Canon system well enough to make some suggestions.

I did notice that the Dimensions are 2226 x 1863 px (4.1 MP)??? Is this a really Major CROP? Because if you crop at 100% or over, it will affect image quality... this almost looks like that.
Was it a very hot day? If the camera had been sitting in a hot car or out in the sun for a few hours, theoretically that might explain high noise at ISO 200. OTOH, I am not sure if in practice this will be an issue.

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