What am I missing

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by zxcvb, Nov 6, 2016.

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  1. zxcvb

    zxcvb TPF Noob!

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    Hi,

    I have been dabbling with my 600D for a while now. I have the 10-22 usm Canon lens which is great, as well as the kit 18-55 and 55-250 lenses. I also have the 28mm f1.8 prime, which I truly love, but it is broken at the moment.

    Recently I have been trying to shoot some portraits, i.e. been using the kit lenses a lot. But, however hard I try, the pictures always seem soft and a bit plasticky. I presume that this is due to the cheap, slow lenses, but I am not certain. It might also be due to crappy post (I do shoot in raw, and have access to Lightroom), cheap body, just a general lack of photography skills, or all of the above. Would you like to help me judge?

    In addition, I find it next to impossible to focus on anything moving towards me or away from me, both due to the 600d's sad tracking focus, and the super slow kit lenses.

    The first image attached is taken with the kit lens, a few years back (28mm, iso 100, f/4.0, 1/125). Here it seems sharp enough really. But there's no person, so it's hard to judge I guess. I can't find a portrait with that lens right now, but I also cannot remember catching something really remarkable.

    IMG_2610-small.jpg

    Here's the 10-22, again seems quite good to me, but again not a portrait (really not something you wanna do with that lens I suppose).

    IMG_9439-small.jpg

    Then there's two times the 55-250 at 100mm, 1/320, 1600 iso, f/5.6, and something similar again, and here is exactly what I was talking about. They're in focus alright, but somehow something is missing. I feel like although I am at 100mm, DoF is still lacking.
    IMG_2476-small.jpg IMG_2482-small.jpg

    So in conclusion, does the 55-250 suck? Or do I just suck? What are the next steps to up my game? Get one or two fast lenses? Learn some decent color grading in Lightroom / Darktable? Something else?

    Edit:
    so I did a google images search for "Canon rebel portrait", "Canon 70d portrait" and "Canon 6d portrait" (5d is way out of my price range). Turns out both rebel and 70d turn up a large amount of images that suffer from the same issues mine do; the 6d however not. It had many images that had the right punch and tone to it. Now of course there are a lot of factors that could play a role here: full frame, better glass going a long with the better camera, better photographers buying better cameras... what is your opinion?

    Thanks!


     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2016
  2. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    Let me edit a couple and see if you like the results.
     
  3. zxcvb

    zxcvb TPF Noob!

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    Sure. Do I need to do anything, do you want the raw files, or will you just use the small jpg?
     
  4. Trever1t

    Trever1t Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The truth is that any real good photographer could take an amazing image with a cell phone. Yes, good gear makes a hell of a difference but the gear you have could be adequate with more experience.

    I'm really not understanding what you are attempting and failing at?
     
  5. zxcvb

    zxcvb TPF Noob!

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    I know. I just fail to get anything more convincing with this, so I am asking for people's opinion what could be done. Maybe the clarity and pop I am looking for can only be achieved with a faster lens? iPhone portraits will probably never be that great, although it sure can snap some good pictures in other situations.

    I am trying to cross the line from "snapshot" to "photograph". Does that make sense?
     
  6. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    I think you're aiming at the wrong target. It's not sharpness, clarity, saturation or 'pop' that can make these great images. It's composition.

    1. It's fine, except I'd crop out the dark wall on the right. The way it is, the subject is smack dab in the middle.
    2. Which is the subject, the person and the mountains, or the sky? The image is divided right in half by the horizon, causing the image to suffer from Subjectus Unknownii.
    3. Would be much better cropping out the distracting background elements.
    4. I'd be happy with such a shot just the way it is, save for the distractions on the far left even though they're out of focus. A simple step to your left would probably have solved this.

    Change your edit preferences so we all can show you what we'd do to change them.
     
  7. Trever1t

    Trever1t Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes but that's very subjective.Honestly the second portrait isn't that bad, she's cute, the focus seems pretty good. Sure, a little compositional work, framing differently. Maybe you can look at some images you want to try to replicate and practice until you are satisfied with the improvements?

    EDIT: Sparky beat me to it!
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Clarity and POP! usually are best at base ISO; at 1,600 ISO, I would expect significantly reduced color from a Rebel 600D and slow kit lens. I do not find your work especially poor, but if you expect more POP!, I would work on shooting closer to ISO 100 than to ISO 1,600, and also on creating lighting that has more drama. Also, as you wonder about--your editing of your images might be at fault as well. or perhaps how you view your images is less than ideal?
     
    • Agree Agree x 3
  9. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    Change your profile to allow editing.
    These JPEG2000 look big enough but I won't get to it for 12 hours or so.
     
  10. zxcvb

    zxcvb TPF Noob!

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    To answer the questions of how I find them less than ideal, I looked for some examples on a search engine.

    First: although this looks wayy overprocessed (no need to soften children's skin, srsly..), it pops. The clarity of the hair and the eyes, as well as the tone is fantastic, imo.
    https://mayumiacosta.files.wordpres...retum-girl-portrait-photographer-davis-ca.jpg

    Second: Again, great clarity & pop (struggly to describe it in other words than those two..). Very clear and smooth separation from the background (something the slow kit lenses seem to struggle with, even at 100mm). Also, great expression.
    http://trash-russia.com/wp-content/...traits-of-girls-by-stanislav-puchkovsky-3.jpg
     
  11. zxcvb

    zxcvb TPF Noob!

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    I shoot outside almost always. I happen to have two flashguns with remotes that I could bring along, but then I have to bring lightstands, at least a gorilla pod, maybe an umbrella (I once had one, not sure if I still do) or the light will be too harsh, etc.. A fun day out just became a tiring event. :\
    Probably there are ways to get more out of natural light too, though.
     
  12. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    One thing that does NOT 'pop' in either of those two links is a busy background. Again, this is technique (mostly and understanding of how to USE one's gear, not merely BUY 'better' gear) and composition.

    A great pianist can make music on both a $1mil Steinway and a 6th-grade music class upright.
     

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