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  #1  
Old Posted May 23, 2013, 1:52 PM
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The SSP Photo Critique and Suggestion Thread

Given the extremely high level of skill so many of our SSP photographers exhibit in their photothreads here, I thought it would be a great idea to have a thread in which people could offer their photos for helpful and constructive critiquing, suggestions and the like. Let's face it, photography is an art form that takes years of practice and thousands to tens of thousands of photos to really develop true skill at, and we've all got occasions where we'd like others to help us get even better in our skills.

So with that being said, this thread is for us all to submit our photos here for others to give their critiques and suggestions on how to improve them. Just please keep comments and criticisms on a "professional" level, please.

If noone offers up any of their photos by this afternoon, I'll throw a couple in as the guinea pig. I'm really curious how much interest there will be in a thread like this!

Aaron (Glowrock)
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  #2  
Old Posted May 23, 2013, 2:54 PM
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I think it's a great idea! Let's try to all start taking Flash-quality photos, !

I'll volunteer one that represents an area I'm struggling with. Just so you know: I'm not defensive or possessive about my photography at all. Please be polite, , but don't hesitate to tear it apart.



So... I think I've got a handle on proportion, where to crop photos, how to compose them, etc. Sometimes, out of necessity (not wanting to include something ugly, wanting to include something attractive), I have to line things up a little strangely... but that's fine. I'd rather the left side of the photo look cut off a little too soon than to have half a building's blank wall in it.

Where I'm struggling most is photographing at distances during the day and, especially, during the fog. I find the photos are often far too grainy.

I've figured out that the main key seems to be leaving the shutter open as long as I possibly can and I have to process lightly, and ensure I reduce noise if I'm adding any HDR effects. Beyond that, I've no ideas what to do.

Also, I often end up with a sky that's far too white. But I just can't figure out what to do short of taking separate photos for the land and sky and blending them as a panorama, such as this one:



Any advice, tips - GREATLY appreciated.
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Old Posted May 23, 2013, 8:45 PM
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Here's one of mine I could use some suggestions on:

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Old Posted May 23, 2013, 10:26 PM
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Photo critiques are hard to do online. You'd have to be there in person to see he situation at hand.
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Old Posted May 23, 2013, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photoLith View Post
Photo critiques are hard to do online. You'd have to be there in person to see he situation at hand.
I agree it's certainly best to be there in person to see the actual situation, but still, it's a heck of a lot better than nothing.

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  #6  
Old Posted May 24, 2013, 12:24 AM
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Glowrock, the only thing I would suggest is to use the widest aperture you can when doing isolated portraits so the background won't be as detailed unless there's something back there that you would like to keep visible. What lens did you use for the pic you posted?
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Old Posted May 24, 2013, 1:08 AM
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Originally Posted by ChiTownCity View Post
Glowrock, the only thing I would suggest is to use the widest aperture you can when doing isolated portraits so the background won't be as detailed unless there's something back there that you would like to keep visible. What lens did you use for the pic you posted?
I was using the Nikkor 105mm f2.8 macro lens. The problem I had was that I was an idiot and forgot to check my ISO settings that I had used the evening before when I was getting night shots. As a result, the ISO was stuck at 1600 for the whole set of shots I took, which of course meant my aperture was entirely too high.

Moral of the story: CHECK YOUR SETTINGS BEFORE SHOOTING!!!

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  #8  
Old Posted May 27, 2013, 4:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SignalHillHiker View Post



Where I'm struggling most is photographing at distances during the day and, especially, during the fog. I find the photos are often far too grainy.

I've figured out that the main key seems to be leaving the shutter open as long as I possibly can and I have to process lightly, and ensure I reduce noise if I'm adding any HDR effects. Beyond that, I've no ideas what to do.
I'm not seeing a lot of grain or noise. If you are experiencing noisy photos make sure your ISO is as low as possible. For daytime shots this shouldn't be a problem as long as there is enough light. If you are shooting in low light, you'll need a tripod to steady the camera as the shutter speed will be too great to hand hold the camera at a low ISO. I'm not sure I answered your question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SignalHillHiker View Post
Also, I often end up with a sky that's far too white. But I just can't figure out what to do short of taking separate photos for the land and sky and blending them as a panorama, such as this one:



Any advice, tips - GREATLY appreciated.
You are describing an issue that everyone faces when shooting a high contrast scene. If the sky is bright and the buildings are dark there isn't much you can do without sacrificing quality in one area while improving another. You can take two separate photos and merge them like you mentioned. Or you can set the exposure to get the sky right and try and bring out the shadows in buildings. Keep the ISO low so the noise in the shadows will be reduced.

The blended image you posted still looks like the shadows are underexposed and the blending between the sky and buildings is unnatural. Do you have photoshop? You can select the sky easily along the roof line and then create a mask that allows the blue sky to show through. Right now it looks like there is a gradient applied to the mask which is why there is an odd transition from white to blue near the roofs.
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  #9  
Old Posted May 27, 2013, 4:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glowrock View Post
Here's one of mine I could use some suggestions on:

I'd ask yourself what it is with this photo that you found interesting. The guy's face? His clothes? Maybe what he was doing at the time. The way the photo is presented now, it is just a snapshot without much of a focus. If you found his face interesting, a closer shot would be better. If you were intrigued by his behavior or outfit, a shot with more context with a wider angle would be more apt.

A lot of times when you find a subject you like it helps to just observe for a bit. Usually you can wait for a better background or more decisive moment to come into view.

As for the framing of the shot, the afro on the side and the green leafs in the background are too distracting. Maybe a change in position before you shot could have used the leaves to frame his head rather than pass through it.

Last edited by Okayyou; May 27, 2013 at 7:17 PM.
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  #10  
Old Posted May 27, 2013, 4:48 PM
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I concur
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Old Posted Jun 2, 2013, 8:22 PM
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Maybe we should have a thread about 'How would you edit this photo?' - where forumers post a 'straight from the camera' shot in JPG format (for god's sake, in a reasonably sized format like no more than 1000 pixels in either height or width at 80 dpi?) and then those who can, edit the photo how they think it should be? Maybe the OP can offer a few lines of "I took this photo, trying to capture _______, and here are a few points of context" and let the editing folks run with it?

That said - glowrock, consider the focus of your photos; if you're focusing on one subject, i.e. a portrait - think of it as showing a performer on a stage. If you crop in too tightly, they have no stage for the 'magic' to show - if you don't crop enough, they get lost. When it comes to portrait or single-subject shots a good rule of thumb is 75% of the shot should be allocated for the subject. I noticed in some of the shots in your Cleveland thread with the West Side Market - part of the magic of the market is the backdrop. For example, the gal with the short-cropped hair at the Cheese Shop? Waaay too tight on the cropping, especially when you consider her surroundings - polished subway tile, the 'landscape' of cheeses, etc. Give me some time and I'll go through my archives and find examples.
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  #12  
Old Posted Jun 3, 2013, 1:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Okayyou View Post
I'd ask yourself what it is with this photo that you found interesting. The guy's face? His clothes? Maybe what he was doing at the time. The way the photo is presented now, it is just a snapshot without much of a focus. If you found his face interesting, a closer shot would be better. If you were intrigued by his behavior or outfit, a shot with more context with a wider angle would be more apt.

A lot of times when you find a subject you like it helps to just observe for a bit. Usually you can wait for a better background or more decisive moment to come into view.

As for the framing of the shot, the afro on the side and the green leafs in the background are too distracting. Maybe a change in position before you shot could have used the leaves to frame his head rather than pass through it.
Okayyou, I agree with pretty much everything you said. As I believe I mentioned above, I wasn't trying to be particularly obvious when I took these, and it's really only the second time I've really taken any portraits/people shots, so obviously I have plenty to learn. As far as the background, I think I also said that I made the huge mistake of not checking my ISO, thinking it was set on auto, when in fact it was set at like 1600 from the night before's shots, meaning of course my aperture was way too narrow to get a proper portrait-worthy depth of field.

But anyhow, I'm not going to get defensive, as I really do appreciate your comments. Just wanted to explain a few background details, that's all.

Aaron (Glowrock)

edit: As to MayDay's comments above, I definitely do think I cropped a bit too tightly in some of my post-processing. Honestly, it's mainly because of the ISO issue/my own stupidity I mentioned above, leading to a far too constricted aperture, leading to backgrounds that are in far too great a focus and nowhere near as blurred as I would have liked them to be. Ah well, the learning process, eh?
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  #13  
Old Posted Jun 3, 2013, 1:52 AM
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"Ah well, the learning process, eh?"

Yep, and it never stops and that's half the fun
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Old Posted Jun 3, 2013, 11:22 AM
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So, who's next in line in front of the SSP photography firing squad? Come on, don't be shy! Show us your photo(s) you want to have critiqued!

Aaron (Glowrock)
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  #15  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2013, 2:59 PM
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Thanks, OkayYou! I think I will invest in Photoshop.

Right now I just use Sagelight for colour tweaks, and Windows Live Gallery or Hugin for merging panoramas.

And I keep forgetting to monitor ISO. I'm not really in control of my camera's settings yet. I basically shoot in Auto No Flash during the day, and Manual (trying to achieve the slowest shutter speed while keeping the amount of light just left of centre on the little scale) at night.
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Old Posted Jul 3, 2013, 2:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SignalHillHiker View Post
I think it's a great idea! Let's try to all start taking Flash-quality photos, !

I'll volunteer one that represents an area I'm struggling with. Just so you know: I'm not defensive or possessive about my photography at all. Please be polite, , but don't hesitate to tear it apart.



So... I think I've got a handle on proportion, where to crop photos, how to compose them, etc. Sometimes, out of necessity (not wanting to include something ugly, wanting to include something attractive), I have to line things up a little strangely... but that's fine. I'd rather the left side of the photo look cut off a little too soon than to have half a building's blank wall in it.

Where I'm struggling most is photographing at distances during the day and, especially, during the fog. I find the photos are often far too grainy.

I've figured out that the main key seems to be leaving the shutter open as long as I possibly can and I have to process lightly, and ensure I reduce noise if I'm adding any HDR effects. Beyond that, I've no ideas what to do.

Also, I often end up with a sky that's far too white. But I just can't figure out what to do short of taking separate photos for the land and sky and blending them as a panorama, such as this one:



Any advice, tips - GREATLY appreciated.
Its better to underexpose the ground level then to blow out the sky. You can always add some fill light to better expose the ground but once the sky is blown out there is not much you can do.
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  #17  
Old Posted Jul 3, 2013, 2:03 AM
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Originally Posted by SignalHillHiker View Post
Thanks, OkayYou! I think I will invest in Photoshop.

Right now I just use Sagelight for colour tweaks, and Windows Live Gallery or Hugin for merging panoramas.

And I keep forgetting to monitor ISO. I'm not really in control of my camera's settings yet. I basically shoot in Auto No Flash during the day, and Manual (trying to achieve the slowest shutter speed while keeping the amount of light just left of centre on the little scale) at night.
DUDE, you dont have photoshop? Thats your problem. Photoshop is a must for excellent photgrapy.
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Old Posted Jul 3, 2013, 3:40 AM
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Originally Posted by glowrock View Post
Here's one of mine I could use some suggestions on:

I think this photo is very unbalanced. Everything is tilted the left (the horizon is not straight). Also, the guy's eyes on the left side of the photo, and he's looking to the left side of the photo, so the viewer's eye's will also be directed to the left side of photo, but there is no where else to look. The only thing pulling the viewer's eyes to the right is that distracting 'fro.
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Old Posted Jul 12, 2013, 11:59 PM
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Originally Posted by glowrock View Post
Here's one of mine I could use some suggestions on:

Its a bit overexposed, he looks very pale. Colors could use a bit of a punch to be more vibrant. There is a bit of fro in the corner. You chopped off one of his hands too. Try not to clip people at appendages, it just looks odd.

But what throws this off the most is the open mouth dumb look he has. Not really showing dude in his best light.

This is an example of a similar shot that is framed just a bit better.


Pirate with Sword by DiskoJoe, on Flickr

See how I cut in between the wrist and the elbow?
This could have been better though had I centered him more.
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  #20  
Old Posted Feb 28, 2014, 6:20 AM
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I like the click how sweet the guy smile
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