Results of a very cold and very early morning photo shoot with daughter...

jedirunner

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Daughter (10 year old) and I went out this morning for an early morning shoot out by the farm lands and lake this morning. We learned several things:
  1. Dress very warm (thankfully we had that one covered (almost -- her nose got very red)
  2. Use a tripod ... it's not nearly as bright as I thought it would be. I started hand-holding shots, and I think the noise was much too high, as the iso was getting set too high to get a proper exposure.
  3. I suck as post-processing, and have no workflow down to make it easier/faster.
  4. I know absolutely nothing of how to shoot with the sunrise in the shot... any shot with the actual sunrise in it just blew out the exposure and the shot was either wasted or took so much work in lightroom to bring it back it felt like a fake photo. :)
So, I did use a tripod for the first few shots, but then I started getting shots with reasonable shutter speed and figured I could go out hand-holding. Well, that meant that the iso was too high for my liking.

Questions:
  1. If I bump down the ISO and slow down the shutter speed (on a tripod of course) will the noise level go down? It took a lot of post processing de-noising to even get the pics to this point.
  2. I'm using 2 lenses for these shots (18-135 IS, and 70-300 IS -- both are low-end lenses). If I had better lenses, would the noise be less? Or would the noise be the same until I can get technique bettered, and just a natural feel for what settings to use?
  3. What can I do to sharpen up my focus? I aim the center-focus thing at the area I want to focus on, hold shutter half-down, recompose a bit, and shoot. Yet the area I want in focus is almost always not quite in focus. :(
  4. If you look at the photos, are there certain settings you look at and they make you cringe? (i.e.: WTH did you use that ISO for? You moron, why did you use that aperture? etc.)
So, here are some of the pics from today's shoot, after running through lightroom. (Should I be posting the SOOC shots for now, to get the pictures better, rather the post-processed pics?)

I'm extremely jealous of the crazy good focus I see in so many pictures here, and really want to achieve that. So if there are particular readings or exercises to take a look at, I'm happy to do that. Or if you have any tips, I'll take those too.

CC requested, appreciated, and sorely needed. Be as brutal as necessary without telling me to actually give up. ;-) (Images shot with Canon 7D, and the lenses mentioned above).

Img 1.
IMG_2547-2_2048.jpg


Img 2.
IMG_2557-2_2048.jpg


Img 3.
IMG_2564-2_2048.jpg


Img 4.
IMG_2582-2_2048.jpg


If you need SOOC shots to critique, or if you want to see more from this shoot (to see other things that may be wrong) let me know.

Kevin
 
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Tony S

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When you are looking for help with the exposures and your settings it is better to post images that you have not processed. This way we have a base to start with as top what you may need to do to get the images better at the start, which then also leads to better images after post processing.

REal quick on what you have here...

#1 - what is the subject? If it's the fence, then more of it needs to be in focus. If there were an unusual feature in the fence you were trying to point out, then what you have here may have worked, but there's nothing there in the focused spot that would seem to be interesting.

#2 - the seed head of the grass is underexposed and soft. Looks like maybe there was some slight movement from a breeze or you just missed the focus

#3 - You may know it's your daughter, but to the rest of us we need to see a face.

#4- perhaps the strongest of the bunch. Nice early golden light, the subject if obvious, and it's placement uses the rule of thirds.


Ohh, and try to downsize the images a bit on your host site. These are quite large and took a long time to come up on the screen. This will also save you room where you host the images.
 
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jedirunner

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When you are looking for help with the exposures and your settings it is better to post images that you have not processed. This way we have a base to start with as top what you may need to do to get the images better at the start, which then also leads to better images after post processing.

REal quick on what you have here...

#1 - what is the subject? If it's the fence, then more of it needs to be in focus. If there were an unusual feature in the fence you were trying to point out, then what you have here may have worked, but there's nothing there in the focused spot that would seem to be interesting.

#2 - the seed head of the grass is underexposed and soft. Looks like maybe there was some slight movement from a breeze or you just missed the focus

#3 - You may know it's your daughter, but to the rest of us we need to see a face.

#4- perhaps the strongest of the bunch. Nice early golden light, the subject if obvious, and it's placement uses the rule of thirds.


Ohh, and try to downsize the images a bit on your host site. These are quite large and took a long time to come up on the screen. This will also save you room where you host the images.

Thanks for the comments. I've edited the original post to have much smaller versions of the files. Good call. (resized them to max 2048 in either direction).

Also, adding SOOC copies here. IMO, they're pretty bad. But I suppose you're right... without posting those, how can I ever get the advice I need?

Here are the corresponding SOOC shots:

#1: I was just playing with aperture and experimenting with DOF. You're right, it's not adding anything to this photo, and it would probably be better without the shallow DOF.
IMG_2547_2048.JPG


#2: I wish I could say there was a breeze that moved the grass. However, I didn't notice any (and it was cold enough I would have noticed something if there was a breeze.
IMG_2557_2048.JPG


#3: You're right. You need to see a face, so I'll add a #5 with her face in it. I posted this one cause I liked it. But then I'm probably letting my sentimental ties override better composition/interest.
IMG_2564_2048.JPG


#4: I like this one too, compositionally.
IMG_2582_2048.JPG


#5: The face to go with the daughter. :)
IMG_2565_2048.JPG


Thanks for any tips on these. I really appreciate anything that helps out. :)

Kevin
 

AceCo55

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Just wanted to say you have more than photographs here ... you have a shared experience with your daughter. It struck me how often we get tied up chasing the perfect shot, worrying about our post-processing etc. What a rich man you are to be able to share this wonderful hobby with your daughter - talk about quality time! This is one of the nicest posts I have read in years. Each one of those photos will be so special to you and your daughter in years to come ... "remember the day ..."
May you have many, many more memorable days together.
Thank you so much for this post - it has made my day.
 

WhiskeyTango

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Daughter (10 year old) and I went out this morning for an early morning shoot out by the farm lands and lake this morning. We learned several things:

< SNIP >

Questions:
  1. If I bump down the ISO and slow down the shutter speed (on a tripod of course) will the noise level go down? It took a lot of post processing de-noising to even get the pics to this point.
  2. I'm using 2 lenses for these shots (18-135 IS, and 70-300 IS -- both are low-end lenses). If I had better lenses, would the noise be less? Or would the noise be the same until I can get technique bettered, and just a natural feel for what settings to use?
  3. What can I do to sharpen up my focus? I aim the center-focus thing at the area I want to focus on, hold shutter half-down, recompose a bit, and shoot. Yet the area I want in focus is almost always not quite in focus. :(
  4. If you look at the photos, are there certain settings you look at and they make you cringe? (i.e.: WTH did you use that ISO for? You moron, why did you use that aperture? etc.)
< SNIP >

1. ISO is tied to noise. Anything you do to lower ISO will reduce noise, so yes, lowering shutter speed and ISO will help. I'll add a follow up, though: If no combination if shutter speed and aperture will get you a noise free ISO, you're better off exposing properly than under-exposing and raising it in post. In other words, if your choices are a) properly exposed at ISO 3200, or b) underexposed at ISO 1600 but with less noise, go for the ISO 3200 shot. LR will do a much better job of noise reduction on the properly exposed shot and your end result will be better.

2. Yes, better lenses would help. Both of those are variable aperture lenses. Getting better (faster) glass will give you at least a couple of stops more light.

3. Focus is all about technique. What you're trying to do sounds right. You may just need more practice. The problem may also not be focus. You could be seeing camera shake and/or motion blur because shutter speeds are too low. You could also simply be getting softness due to the noise reduction.

4. I just realized I'm about to be late for my own photo shoot, lol. I'll leave this for others :)


I second what AceCo55 said: This isn't just a photo shoot. It's an awesome way to spend some time with your daughter! Hopefully the advice you get here points you on the right path, but in the meantime, keep enjoying the process!
 
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jedirunner

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Just wanted to say you have more than photographs here ... you have a shared experience with your daughter. It struck me how often we get tied up chasing the perfect shot, worrying about our post-processing etc. What a rich man you are to be able to share this wonderful hobby with your daughter - talk about quality time! This is one of the nicest posts I have read in years. Each one of those photos will be so special to you and your daughter in years to come ... "remember the day ..."
May you have many, many more memorable days together.
Thank you so much for this post - it has made my day.

Ace, Thanks so much for the comments. I was almost in tears, because you reminded me of how much of a good time I've had with my daughter doing photography. (And she even has some shots good enough for use as computer wallpaper now!).

We are a family (4 kids from 6 to 15) which heavily relies on memories. My wife takes digital snaps (she's taken over 20,000 of them over the years, and the rate goes up as the years go by), and I upload them to a TV-based screen saver we have running all the time, and we all find several times a week when we're laughing at one of the kids' funny pics. We have lots of those "remember that! that was so much fun!" or "that was so funny!" times. And all from horribly exposed snapshots which only have value in our family. :)

I am happy to be pursuing this hobby where I will eventually have more than snapshots, but have great printable-and-frameable shots.

Kevin
 
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jedirunner

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Daughter (10 year old) and I went out this morning for an early morning shoot out by the farm lands and lake this morning. We learned several things:

< SNIP >

Questions:
  1. If I bump down the ISO and slow down the shutter speed (on a tripod of course) will the noise level go down? It took a lot of post processing de-noising to even get the pics to this point.
  2. I'm using 2 lenses for these shots (18-135 IS, and 70-300 IS -- both are low-end lenses). If I had better lenses, would the noise be less? Or would the noise be the same until I can get technique bettered, and just a natural feel for what settings to use?
  3. What can I do to sharpen up my focus? I aim the center-focus thing at the area I want to focus on, hold shutter half-down, recompose a bit, and shoot. Yet the area I want in focus is almost always not quite in focus. :(
  4. If you look at the photos, are there certain settings you look at and they make you cringe? (i.e.: WTH did you use that ISO for? You moron, why did you use that aperture? etc.)
< SNIP >

1. ISO is tied to noise. Anything you do to lower ISO will reduce noise, so yes, lowering shutter speed and ISO will help. I'll add a follow up, though: If no combination if shutter speed and aperture will get you a noise free ISO, you're better off exposing properly than under-exposing and raising it in post. In other words, if your choices are a) properly exposed at ISO 3200, or b) underexposed at ISO 1600 but with less noise, go for the ISO 3200 shot. LR will do a much better job of noise reduction on the properly exposed shot and your end result will be better.

2. Yes, better lenses would help. Both of those are variable aperture lenses. Getting better (faster) glass will give you at least a couple of stops more light.

3. Focus is all about technique. What you're trying to do sounds right. You may just need more practice. The problem may also not be focus. You could be seeing camera shake and/or motion blur because shutter speeds are too low. You could also simply be getting softness due to the noise reduction.

4. I just realized I'm about to be late for my own photo shoot, lol. I'll leave this for others :)


I second what AceCo55 said: This isn't just a photo shoot. It's an awesome way to spend some time with your daughter! Hopefully the advice you get here points you on the right path, but in the meantime, keep enjoying the process!

Thanks for the excellent suggestions.

I'm going out with her again next weekend (hopefully a few degrees warmer!) to the same spot and we'll be using tripods, lower ISO, lower shutter speeds, and some better compositions. :)

Kevin
 

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