What makes a good photograph?

HomerSimpson

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Do most of you go out with the intent to photograph certain objects or do you just get the camera out when you see something you think might look good? I'm more of the second one, I take my digicam everywhere with me and when I find something I like, I take a snap of it and if it looks good enough, I might be convinced to take the SLR and snap away with that.

Also, I don't know if it's only me who gets this but sometimes I see something that looks great to the human eye but when I photograph it, it comes out looking crappy, for example the moon. There is a tree outside my house and whenever the moon comes up it is always behind the tree and in the winter time it makes a great visual but whenever I photograph it, it never comes out properly, my camera won't pick up the detail, is there any way I can overcome that? A few weeks ago the moon was out behind some clouds and it looked excellent but when I took the picture, it just looked like a blob, how can I overcome that? I couldn't really use a tripod because I was hanging halfway out of my bedroom window.

This has turned into a more moon related question (this is the last one, I promise!) A few night ago the moon was right outside my bedroom window and it cast a shadow on my curtains and I wanted to take a picture of it but I couldn't capture it, with the flash off you saw all black, with the flash on all you saw was the curtain, how do you get that middle ground? I could see clearly what I wanted to snap but my camera wouldn't pick it up :sad anim:. What do you do in that situation? Admit defeat? I could have turned the ISO up I suppose but that never came to me at that time, also, wouldn't that have made it super grainy anyway? Thus getting rid of the clean lines of the shadow I got?

Anywho, more questions..

How do you decide what is a good picture? That has always stumped me :confused: Most of the time I just hit and hope.

Where do you put your point of focus? This is hard for me because I don't really focus in on one particular thing because I feel that if I do, I will get a crappy photo.

Anywho, any advice you have which I haven't asked for is appreciated :)

Thanks
 

Sideburns

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To get detail in the moon, you have to underexpose a lot compared to your camera's meter. Try f8 @ 1/250 and go from there.

Also...USUALLY you focus on the main subject of the photo. So you know like...what you're supposed to be looking at?
 
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astrostu

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You need one thing and you need to experiment with 2 other things. You need a tripod, especially for the curtain shadow moonlight thing. The two bits you need to experiment with are focus and shutter speed.

You need to take the camera off of its auto everything and do it manually. Unless you're using a 300+ mm equivalent lens, it's unlikely your camera will be able to auto-focus on the moon because it fills up too little of the image. If you use manual shutter speed but have it on auto aperture (or vice versa) then the camera will attempt to compensate with the one on auto to expose the shot as it thinks needs to be done. But the camera is wrong. So you need to do it manually on your own.

If it shows up blobby with no features (saturated), lower the shutter speed. If it's too faint, take a longer exposure. It just takes some experimenting to figure out what's right for your camera's sensor, lens, and phase of the moon.
 

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Cleavage with leading lines that make the eye travel around the frame. Like right down the middle.

But no seriously any interesting photograph is a good photograph. To make a photograph interesting it needs to grab the viewers attention and make the viewer look at the photo, that means get the eye to move around. Taking the subject off centre accomplishes this very well.
 
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Yea, when you take photos of the moon you have to underexpose it (quicker shutter speed), experiment with different shutter speeds until you're satsified with one. A tripod is really necessary, if it's not close enough to the subject, you can try using telephoto lens.

This happens to me too; sometimes when we're in a huge, beautiful surrounding, and then take a photo of it, the photo always appear worse. I don't know if it's just me but sometimes it's basically because we're in a big, nice surrounding, and the photo is just... a photo. If you look at the photo back at home it's much nicer.

:)
 

JerryPH

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lol @ cleavage.

I think a couple of things are missing like a tripod and what not, but more importantly, your questions show that you are not clear on the basics of photography or how your camera works.

First brush up on the basics, second don't be shy about spending a lot of time reading and looking around here. There is a TON of valuable info here, you just need to sift through it a little.

Third... practice, practice practice. The first time I shoot a picture of the moon, it was just like yours, I then ran in got the tripod and started shooting and chimping and shooting until I went from overexposed pics to well under exposed pics and found the settings that worked best for me and why.

I then PPed it (where I kinda screwed it up a little, but thats part of the learning process... lol). The result was this:

1434160305_b316259a8a_m.jpg


Next chance I get to see a nice full moon, I will have a good head start as to what to do, and will do better.
 
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HomerSimpson

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To get detail in the moon, you have to underexpose a lot compared to your camera's meter. Try f8 @ 1/250 and go from there.

Also...USUALLY you focus on the main subject of the photo. So you know like...what you're supposed to be looking at?

That's what I did for a while but I wasn't getting the kinda photos I wanted so I just altered the focus to being something else.

I wasn't really trying to get moon detail, just the visual effect of the moon in it's roundness within the clouds, I just got a smudgey circle :confused:.

I know it seems like a dumb question re. what to focus on but I've been getting a lot of differing opinions from people i.e. focus on something in the background so it makes the forefront look better (i.e. the forefront being where you want the attention.



You need one thing and you need to experiment with 2 other things. You need a tripod, especially for the curtain shadow moonlight thing. The two bits you need to experiment with are focus and shutter speed.

You need to take the camera off of its auto everything and do it manually. Unless you're using a 300+ mm equivalent lens, it's unlikely your camera will be able to auto-focus on the moon because it fills up too little of the image. If you use manual shutter speed but have it on auto aperture (or vice versa) then the camera will attempt to compensate with the one on auto to expose the shot as it thinks needs to be done. But the camera is wrong. So you need to do it manually on your own.

If it shows up blobby with no features (saturated), lower the shutter speed. If it's too faint, take a longer exposure. It just takes some experimenting to figure out what's right for your camera's sensor, lens, and phase of the moon.

Um..I don't understand some of what you wrote..I get how to change the shutter speed and the aperture but that's about it, the only thing is, I'm still learning so sometimes I trip up over minor things, I'm shooting pretty much everything in manual now, I posted some shots before but they were all done in the auto mode.

Cleavage with leading lines that make the eye travel around the frame. Like right down the middle.

But no seriously any interesting photograph is a good photograph. To make a photograph interesting it needs to grab the viewers attention and make the viewer look at the photo, that means get the eye to move around. Taking the subject off centre accomplishes this very well.

:lol:@Cleavage.

Is there anything that "trained" photographers know will make a great photo as I feel I might be missing out on something as shots that should look great (i.e. do look great to the human eye) come out looking not so great on camera and vice versa.

I like the off centreness approach to the main subject, I find that works better for me as personally when I look at photographs I try and look beyond what the main focus of the photo is.

Yea, when you take photos of the moon you have to underexpose it (quicker shutter speed), experiment with different shutter speeds until you're satsified with one. A tripod is really necessary, if it's not close enough to the subject, you can try using telephoto lens.

This happens to me too; sometimes when we're in a huge, beautiful surrounding, and then take a photo of it, the photo always appear worse. I don't know if it's just me but sometimes it's basically because we're in a big, nice surrounding, and the photo is just... a photo. If you look at the photo back at home it's much nicer.

:)

I haven't taken any landscape shots yet but I intend on doing so when I go off to my winter retreat for Xmas as the scenery there is pretty nice and there is plenty of wildlife which can be photographed.

lol @ cleavage.

I think a couple of things are missing like a tripod and what not, but more importantly, your questions show that you are not clear on the basics of photography or how your camera works.

First brush up on the basics, second don't be shy about spending a lot of time reading and looking around here. There is a TON of valuable info here, you just need to sift through it a little.

Third... practice, practice practice. The first time I shoot a picture of the moon, it was just like yours, I then ran in got the tripod and started shooting and chimping and shooting until I went from overexposed pics to well under exposed pics and found the settings that worked best for me and why.

I then PPed it (where I kinda screwed it up a little, but thats part of the learning process... lol). The result was this:

1434160305_b316259a8a_m.jpg


Next chance I get to see a nice full moon, I will have a good head start as to what to do, and will do better.


Yeah I'm a total camera noob, I'm trying to take it step by step but haven't had much of a chance to experiment as of late as I've been busy with other stuff, as I mentioned before, I understand how to change the shutter speed and the aperture but getting it onto the RIGHT aperture and shutter speed is just trial and error for me, I've started shooting everything in manual just to get the idea of it, I'd rather have a few crappy shots which in turn teach me how to get better ones rather than have a few mediocre shots and be happy with that.
 
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astrostu

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... Um..I don't understand some of what you wrote..I get how to change the shutter speed and the aperture but that's about it, the only thing is, I'm still learning so sometimes I trip up over minor things, I'm shooting pretty much everything in manual now, I posted some shots before but they were all done in the auto mode. ...

Which part(s) don't you understand? Let me know and I'll try to clarify.
 
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HomerSimpson

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The bits in bold are the bits I don't understand


You need one thing and you need to experiment with 2 other things. You need a tripod, especially for the curtain shadow moonlight thing. The two bits you need to experiment with are focus and shutter speed.

You need to take the camera off of its auto everything and do it manually. Unless you're using a 300+ mm equivalent lens, it's unlikely your camera will be able to auto-focus on the moon because it fills up too little of the image. If you use manual shutter speed but have it on auto aperture (or vice versa) then the camera will attempt to compensate with the one on auto to expose the shot as it thinks needs to be done. But the camera is wrong. So you need to do it manually on your own.

If it shows up blobby with no features (saturated), lower the shutter speed. If it's too faint, take a longer exposure. It just takes some experimenting to figure out what's right for your camera's sensor, lens, and phase of the moon.



What is auto aperture? I've got two setting on mine and when I put it into manual mode I can change them though for most night shots I leave it on the larger aperture if I'm not taking a slow shutter speed pic (am I right in assuming that the slower the shutter speed, the smaller the aperture should be..ie the larger number as the picture stays darker?)

I also don't understand the lens thing, I've got a Sony point and shoot so..?

How would I change auto aperture if I've only got two settings?
 
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astrostu

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What is auto aperture? I've got two setting on mine and when I put it into manual mode I can change them though for most night shots I leave it on the larger aperture if I'm not taking a slow shutter speed pic (am I right in assuming that the slower the shutter speed, the smaller the aperture should be..ie the larger number as the picture stays darker?)

On most cameras, and I had assumed that this included yours, you have at least 4 different basic settings: (1) Fully automatic, where the camera does all the work for you; (2) aperture priority, meaning that you can manually set the aperture of the lens yourself, and the camera will set the shutter speed based upon how it thinks the scene should be exposed; (3) same thing as (2) but shutter priority, where you set the shutter speed and it sets the aperture; and (4) fully manual, where you manually set both the aperture and shutter.

A wide aperture (low f/number) means the image will be brighter as opposed to a small aperture. Excluding other effects aperture has, then choosing a wider aperture is equivalent to choosing a slower shutter speed (both let in more light).

Assuming your camera lets you set both the aperture and shutter speed, I recommend choosing a relatively wide aperture and then playing with the shutter speed, keeping the aperture the same.


I also don't understand the lens thing, I've got a Sony point and shoot so..?

Then my comment applies. There's no way your P&S will have a 300+ mm equivalent lens. This means that the moon will fill up too small a portion of your image to trust what the camera thinks the exposure settings will be. That's why you need to set the shutter and aperture manually.


How would I change auto aperture if I've only got two settings?

Read the manual.
 

mrodgers

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Then my comment applies. There's no way your P&S will have a 300+ mm equivalent lens. This means that the moon will fill up too small a portion of your image to trust what the camera thinks the exposure settings will be. That's why you need to set the shutter and aperture manually.
Great post. Learning more and more every day reading here.

Can you now define point and shoot? I think this is a poor description for a camera. Point and shoot to me is simply a marketing term. I think of cameras more as body styles, ultra-compact, compact, not sure what mine would be called, SLR like, and SLR.

I have a brand new Fuji S5700. It has full automatic mode along with a couple of scene modes, same as the majority of the "point and shoot" cameras. I assume DSLRs also have automatic modes as well. My Fuji also has all the different manual modes as well, P, A, S, and M. I have seen some of the ultra-compacts with manual settings as well. My Fuji also has an equivalent 380mm zoom. I've seen some "Point and shoots" (ultra compacts to my definitions) that have up to 180 mm zoom.

Note, thanks to all who respond to these threads as I'm learning more and more as the days go on about all these functions, features, and settings. Now if I could only get the 4 year old to STOP long enough to try some stuff...... LOL. Photographing my 4 year old is like trying to photograph a bullet flying past you :D. If you have kids and saw the movie Over the Hedge, Hammie, the character who zipped around a million miles an hour, is my daughter, hehehe.
 
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HomerSimpson

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On most cameras, and I had assumed that this included yours, you have at least 4 different basic settings: (1) Fully automatic, where the camera does all the work for you; (2) aperture priority, meaning that you can manually set the aperture of the lens yourself, and the camera will set the shutter speed based upon how it thinks the scene should be exposed; (3) same thing as (2) but shutter priority, where you set the shutter speed and it sets the aperture; and (4) fully manual, where you manually set both the aperture and shutter.

A wide aperture (low f/number) means the image will be brighter as opposed to a small aperture. Excluding other effects aperture has, then choosing a wider aperture is equivalent to choosing a slower shutter speed (both let in more light).

Assuming your camera lets you set both the aperture and shutter speed, I recommend choosing a relatively wide aperture and then playing with the shutter speed, keeping the aperture the same.




Then my comment applies. There's no way your P&S will have a 300+ mm equivalent lens. This means that the moon will fill up too small a portion of your image to trust what the camera thinks the exposure settings will be. That's why you need to set the shutter and aperture manually.




Read the manual.

I understand how to use the manual controls, when I get the chance to go out and shoot again I'm going to use the manual side as I'm learning which works best.

Re. the moon, I don't want to really pick up detail, I just want to photograph a moon that looks like an actual moon, not a smudgey blob in the sky.

Also, about the aperture, I know how to change it, the point I was confused on was what is the auto aperture? I have only two that it can be on my camera, 2 something and 5 something, which of these is the auto one? :confused:.

The manual is kinda shabby for explanations.
 
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astrostu

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Can you now define point and shoot? I think this is a poor description for a camera. Point and shoot to me is simply a marketing term. I think of cameras more as body styles, ultra-compact, compact, not sure what mine would be called, SLR like, and SLR.

... My Fuji also has an equivalent 380mm zoom. I've seen some "Point and shoots" (ultra compacts to my definitions) that have up to 180 mm zoom.

"Point and shoot" is the general term on these boards for something that's not an SLR. In other words, you can't change the lens, you're stuck with what's built into the camera, which is how I use the term. It's not meant as derogatory, just as an easy hardware differentiation.

Also, is that 380 mm zoom optical or digital? Digital zoom (in my opinion) is fairly worthless because it's not the optics doing the zooming, but the software blowing up the center of the image and interpolating - not actually adding any new information, so it's like cropping and then blowing up a small section in PhotoShop.


lso, about the aperture, I know how to change it, the point I was confused on was what is the auto aperture? I have only two that it can be on my camera, 2 something and 5 something, which of these is the auto one? :confused:.

Sorry, but no one is going to be able to help you with that explanation of your camera. You need to look in the manual. Or, if you really can't find it, you can post the model number and someone here may be able to help you.
 

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