Totally confused about exposure


TPF Noob!
Mar 19, 2009
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Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Dear friend,
I am very new in photography. My economic condition is poor. I have managed to buy a Canon PowerShop S5IS to get my hands used to. I have also bought an old film camera (Nikon 2020 with 28-200 Sigma lens) but am really afraid of using it.
Please help me as I don't know how to start with and with what. My main problem is exposure. I just can't manage it. I am posting some of my photos. Please help me commenting on them and suggesting me how to improve exposure.
One more question, do I always have to edit my photos (not just cropping and resizing) a photo after I take a shot? I don't know photoshop. Do you always edit a photo and then upload it?

The Sparrow (One of my first photos)


The Perfect Peace

Sunset over Cemetary


Flowers in Cage

The Dull Flower
(Can anybody please explain me why the flower's color looks so dull?)

Little Island
(This is one of my worst shot for a beautiful scenary. Please tell me where am I going wrong. Why the pic has no life?)
I'm not sure I'm seeing any real exposure problems in these pictures. That first shot does look a bit noisy though, so you might want to keep an eye on your ISO settings. Other than that... I'd say just practice composition.
One tip - often a theme or subject type within a series of photos makes it a lot easier to comment constructivly - as otherwise there is a lot of ground to cover and most people just can't face all that work ;)

First off with regard to editing - you don't have to edit shots, but if your in the hobby then most people will edit shots - how much you edit will depend on the shot, what you want and if you can be bothered at the time ;). Many people on the site get into DSLRs and will shoot in RAW mode which forces them to have to edit each shot before it can be used.
So yes editing can really help take your shots from nothing to something.

First shot - exposure on this is good on the bird - you ahve the eye showing out from the rest of the dark head and the birds colours and details are well captured. Its got a strange background but that is not really something that you can correct infield with a shot like this - though shooting in the right areas can lessen this from happening. Also the shot shows quite a bit of noise in it - some noise reduction followed by some sharpening on the bird should help this shot a lot. A small saturation boost might also help those burd colours to pop

Second shot - Looks good to me - though the angle and composition ned some work I think - try shooting from a lower angle if you can to give a different persepctive - at the moment the persepctive is too common to stand out

third shot - I can't see anything wrong with this at all - you even have a bird flying away from the tree - great shot and the best of the set!

Fourth shot - like the second its composition here which is causing you damage and making the shot lack an interesting appeal to it I think - composition (for those not born with an eye for it) can be learnt, but it takes some study and time to get there (looking at others work can really help as well as reading theories of compostion like The Rule of Thirds)

Fifth shot - contrast boost and saturation boost) not too much) should help bring some life to this plant. A levels edit (more on this later) would also help a great deal I think

Sixth shot - This sort of scene I think is on of the hardest to frame to be interesting. The exposure problem you have here is a dark foreground with a very bright sky in the background - the sky has blown out (all white areas) in this shot as you have gone for exposing the gree correctly - which is what most people would have done, to counter this you can use a good quality circular polarizer - shoot 2 frames (one for sky expsure and one for tree exposure) and combine them in editing or you can try shooting later/earlier in the day when the light is softer (1 hour before and after dawn and sunset is the golden hours of photography when light is still good and yet its a lot softer.

note that levels is something that I use a lot of the time with my photography and I find it to be a great tool - give the articles on that site a read (they are good and aimed at the novice photographer so they can be easy to understand) and then come back to the shots to try levels/noise remova/sharpening out
the exposures look alright. i agree with mightygoat about composition. try experimenting with camera angles. about editing, many do, some don't. it's always helpful to know some photo editing techniques to help "spruce" up your photos.
Thanks a lot to all of you, friends. Specially thank you very very much, Overread. I just cannot believe you are giving me so much of your precious time. Thanks again. Please help me like this.
I will surely read the article on Levels.
You mention about polarization, which I heard about, but forgot. Can you please explain some more about polarization?

And, can good photos can be captured with the cameras I own?

One thing more, you have suggested to take two shots with different exposures and then combine. Now, what is combining? I think you not talking about stitching, right? Will combining 2 different shots look like a single one?
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Stitching is when you take a couple pictures and process them together to make a picture with a larger field of view (you can see more)

what he is talking about is actually called HDR (High Dynamic Range)... google it, you'll get the picture :)
now things get fun/confusing as words start having double meanings and more ;)

Right (as far as I have worked out) HDR is not specifically using more than one shot combined together to get a single shot. HDR appears to correctly be when all the parts of a shot are correctly exposed (no under or overexposed areas) and you can get that cartoony look to a shot very easily if you take things a bit too far.
Tonemapping appears to be the more common use of photo combining where you still have over and under exposed areas (normally just underexposed areas just as shadowed sections of the shot) which tends to retain a less cartoony appearance overall.

Both methods are similar in that you take 2 or more shots which cover the exposure range of the scene and then combine them to get a single shot. However HDR appears to be the common term used for both cases by the majority of people and HDR plugins are also used mostly for this. Its all rather confusing so I would worry more about the process than the lables for it at the outset.

For example - take an evening landscape - the ground is much darker than the sky and you can't get both exposed well in a single shot - expose for the land details and the sky will blowout - exposed for the sky and your ground areas will be black (underexposed).
So you use two shots = one exposed for the sky and the other exposed for the ground (making sure to use a tripod so that both shots have the same frame position). Normally one would point the camera at the sky - take a meter reading - then do the same for the ground - then go to manual mode; set the scene; dial in the first exposure and shoot and then dial in the second and shoot. (much easier than metering one at a time and trying to fiddle the camera back into the same position as before).

Beyond that its working either with layermasks or HDR plugins and I will leave that to your searching or others since I have little to no experience of this and would not be any good at explaining it further
Thank you very much again, Overread, you are such a wonderful guy. I really appreciate your way of explaining. I really miss a teacher like you. And the fact is I don't have any teacher. I only read some ebooks and have joined such a wonderful forum like TPF.
The concept of HDR is very new to me. I will definitely study about it. But the fact is I wonder how many photographers actually use HDR?
Don't worry yourself with how many use it - just research it, understand what it can produce, as well as what you are able to get from it. If that is the look you want in a shot then go for it!

If not then you don't have to use it at all.
Using more than one exposure to get a single shot is not a crime - its making up for the fact that the camera sensor cannot capture all scene in a single shot - its a limitation of the digital system (film also has this limit, but its not as bad as for digital).

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