BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Jill Swartout
 

How is my eye?


 
 
Hello! I am going to go to school for photography and am very excited about it. There is a local organization that might be willing to help me financially, but they would like some reassurance that there investment would not be in vain. My counselor asked that I get some reviews on some of my snapshots just to see if I have any potential before they invest in my future. Please let me know what you think. Remember I am completely new at this, so keep that in mind when commenting. I would appreciate as much response as possible.
Thanks to all,
Jill S.


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6/18/2005 7:24:00 AM

 
Kellie M. Moats   Hi Jill

I am also new to this and I think your picture's are nice! I love the flower shots! I will not say what is bad or good because I have no idea!!! I just wanted you to know I saw you gallery and thought the picture's were nice!! Good Job and Good Luck! I have a Gallery too you can check out if you would like! Love to hear your thoughts as well....
Kellie M


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6/18/2005 12:14:03 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  welcome jill,
i'll jump in on this with my opinion.overall the light in your pictures is too harsh,espically sun through trees,a lot of glare,not much detail.ben is cute,and I do drink beer so ok.the flowers are pretty,but still the light,maybe early morning with some dew still on them.turtle,not much detail,markings,shell?leaf,kinda flat.all your pictures are sharp and in focus so apparently you know your camera.
if you want to pursue photography,then you have potential.there's macro,wildlife,fashion,photojournalism,travel,landscape,commercial,wedding.any one of these sound good to you?
i'm an amateur and have only done a dozen or so gigs.so don't think my opinion is a professional one.i'm just someone who will give my opinion because that's what you asked for.
go through some of the questions on here,there was just a thread on critiquing someones gallery,it's a must read.
again welcome,sam


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6/18/2005 12:42:45 PM

 
Kellie M. Moats   Hi Sam...would you mind taking a look at my gallery too and giving me your opinion as well? Thank you!
Kellie


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6/18/2005 1:24:34 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Hi Jill and welcome to BP – this is a wonderful place for anyone who is starting out in photography – and also a great place for even more experienced shooters!

I have been taking pictures for years, but only recently began learning the difference between “taking” a picture and “making” one. You seem to still be at the “taking” stage. There is nothing at all wrong with this! One does not start out being an expert; one becomes an expert with experience. BTW: I am not an expert! However, there are some things that I have learned that may be of help to you. First and foremost, the most important lesson I think anyone starting out should learn is that good photography, the kind that makes people say “wow” is highly dependent upon right light. As Sam so accurately pointed out, your photos would be much better if the light were better. Your sense of composition, your eye if you will, is okay, your choice of time of day is not so great. I just finished a course here at BP and perhaps the most important lesson that I finally really “got” was that you need to be in the right place at the right time to make those great shots. Early morning, right around sunrise and perhaps for an hour or two after sunrise and right before and after sunset are when the light is generally at its best. Stormy or overcast days, when the sun is hiding, can also be wonderful days for shooting. Most of my favorite flower shots – many are in my gallery – were made on overcast or stormy days. Shooting just about anything during the middle of the day – the period of the harshest light – can be very problematic. Of-course, there are exceptions to this and there are times when you can only shoot during those hours, but for the most part you should try shooting early or late.

Second point: keep shooting – every type of shot your can think of. Even if you end up trashing most of your shots, you will learn as you go along. There is no substitute for experience. Take chances and push yourself to learn new techniques. On that idea, think about shooting digital. I was a late convert to digital, but I now wish I had started earlier. I find that I am more willing to take risks and to try new ideas because if the shot is bad all I have to do is to delete it – no costs of developing. Also, I recommend that you use a camera that will permit you to control everything manually. You do not want to become dependent upon the auto settings. Its okay to use auto, but you need to learn about exposure by setting it yourself, not by letting the camera make those decisions for you.

I don’t know how you can convince an organization to support your desire for training if they cannot see that no one has the right skills in the beginning. IMHO, talent is, except in rare instances, something you develop as you learn. Sure, there are people who have a natural eye for making great pictures, but most of us have to develop our eye as we develop our knowledge. You obviously have the interest and you show that you can see creatively. That’s important, but you need to develop the skills so that you can direct your creativity in the right direction.

I agree with Sam; one of the things you might want to do is to take a look at other people’s galleries on this site. Pay particular attention to shots that appeal to you – ask what it is that makes the shot so appealing and try to figure out what the photographer did to make the shot. See if you can figure out the time of day when the shot was made and the conditions at that time.

Well, I hope that this is helpful to you! Keep coming back and let us know what happens for you.

Irene


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6/18/2005 2:04:35 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  welcome kellie,
sorry it took so long.
ok here goes.flower,poor lighting and if you can get closer.flag,don't take pictures of something because someone else does unless you can do it better,it's sharp and clear but it's still a flag on a house.soccer pic,too far away but might be your cameras limit and the focus seems a little off.exploring,yeah the trash can but the light behind her is too bright ,window light should fall on her not behind her.serious,pretty good overall but a little bright,and remember the background ,can you blur it with your camera?beach,way too much contrast because of the harsh light.moments and father&daughter,the light should be shining on them not behind them.little hands,now your getting somewhere but there's no fuzz in the belly button,just kidding.don't get me wrong the light could be better but you took your [style] picture.
remember the best light is early morning or late evening for things like your flower.and if the window light is behind your subject maybe you could use a reflector to bounce some light onto the front of them.
read up on aperature and shutter speeds .with the right aperature you can blur the background.and overall your pictures are just too bright,again it may be your camera.
hth sam


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6/20/2005 4:56:33 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  welcome kellie,
sorry it took so long.
ok here goes.flower,poor lighting and if you can get closer.flag,don't take pictures of something because someone else does unless you can do it better,it's sharp and clear but it's still a flag on a house.soccer pic,too far away but might be your cameras limit and the focus seems a little off.exploring,yeah the trash can but the light behind her is too bright ,window light should fall on her not behind her.serious,pretty good overall but a little bright,and remember the background ,can you blur it with your camera?beach,way too much contrast because of the harsh light.moments and father&daughter,the light should be shining on them not behind them.little hands,now your getting somewhere but there's no fuzz in the belly button,just kidding.don't get me wrong the light could be better but you took your [style] picture.
remember the best light is early morning or late evening for things like your flower.and if the window light is behind your subject maybe you could use a reflector to bounce some light onto the front of them.
read up on aperature and shutter speeds .with the right aperature you can blur the background.and overall your pictures are just too bright,again it may be your camera.
hth sam


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6/20/2005 4:57:14 PM

 
Collette Photography
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/21/2005
  Hey Jill,
I took a look at your gallery, I did like "Ben and Mirror", I think you sould work on your lighting but we all have trouble with that when we first start off, I agree with Irene, start shooting everything you can think of this is one of the best ways to learn,
Your shot of the turtle I think should have been a bit closer, and maybe a different angle, but your still learning!!

I think you should also try aplying the rule of thirds (which they will teach you in your school).

Never be afraid to try new thing, the worst thing that can happen is waisting a roll of film!!!

I deffinatly think that you should go to the school you mentioned, there is no better and easier way to learn than directly from a professional!!
Hope this was helpfull!!

-Collette-

PS Sam I would love it if you would Take a shot at my gallery!!!


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6/21/2005 2:48:57 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  hey collette,for some reason i've visited your gallery before,don't remember why.anyway you do good work,and film.you have an eye for taking pictures,and pretty much getting it right.
a trick for your flower shots is to use a mist sprayer of water to give them a little shine or fresh glow,like rain or dew.
i actually think your a better photographer than I am,so for me to comment any further i'd be [lost]?
i have a star filter but when I get the exposure wrong,yuck.usually night shots.
i think you allready know when you get your pictures back what you could have done better,espically the lighting.and thanks for chiming in on this thread,now if you need help with your spelling??
i use 400 speed most of the time,and just bought some of the new kodak ultra color,we'll see.
thanks for the honor of asking me to look at your gallery,i wish I were better so I could help you more.
i've never been paid for any photo work i've done around my area,first I want to get my name out there,then I might consider money.my biggest thrill last year was giving every player on the 6th grade football team a free picture of them in action on the field.to me that's worth any photo contest.all were sharp and clear,and free.5 of them played on my basketball team last year.as long as we all get what we want out of photography,then we have accomplished our mission.i have two pictures on my wall,i'm happy!thanks again collette,sam


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6/21/2005 4:57:33 PM

 
Julie M. Cwik
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005
  Wow, Sam I love the fact that you are not afraid to say it the way it is. So, many people on BP sugar coat their responces. Since you are commenting on everyone elses, can you take a crack at mine! I would appreciate the honesty. Thanks!
Jules <><


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6/21/2005 9:23:53 PM

 
Collette Photography
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/21/2005
  Sorry about the spelling, that happens when I start to type to fast, I dont pay attention!!!!

Thanks so much for the comments, And I think thats great that you shoot sports and then give them out, there's no better way to get your name out there than that. You should make sure that when you give people your photos you include a business card or some sort of way to contact you encase the parents want you to do more shots of there children.

And yes I have to say thats great that you dont sugar coat your comments, I wish more people would do that!!

-Collette-


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6/23/2005 11:21:55 AM

 
Laura E. OConnor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/12/2005
  OK...here goes. I'm thowing my hat in this critique ring. Seems to be the only thread where people are being honest, but not nasty! LOL!! Any takers on my gallery???


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6/23/2005 5:00:06 PM

 
Laura E. OConnor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/12/2005
  OH! Actually, Collette, you gave me a review on my gallery the other day! - THANKS AGAIN!


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6/23/2005 5:05:40 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  ok julie,
stairway to heaven,nice like in a dream.the color and light is great in waterpump.little pink flowers,looks like bright light and a little fuzzy-on purpose?white flowers ,wall decor-good.heidi is a keeper,with all the posing that goes on you can't recreate the everyday glimpses when you wished you had your camera.did you zoom on kellys kitten?pretty neat.max in color,look at those ears.whereas loyalty has his ears layed back,i don't think he wanted his picture taken.the framing of the arch was excellent.i saw the hidden treasure posting,i love architecture so you hid the part I wanted to see,but others liked it.i haven't tried the zooming trick yet but it does look kinda neat.i don't comment on people taking pictures of their kids espically if there posed.taboo??!ok"
for the rest of them, I think I told you once before some of your animals looked a little stuffed.too much candy?
take care sam


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6/24/2005 2:56:27 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  ill take a shot at yours later laura,don't have time right now.
aaarrgh,sam


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6/24/2005 3:03:38 PM

 
Laura E. OConnor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/12/2005
  No biggie, Sam. A lot of them are photos of my kids anyway. Is taking them taboo or commenting on them? Irene, would you mind taking a quick look at a few of my photos?


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6/24/2005 3:07:50 PM

 
Andrea W. Hedgepeth
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/18/2005
  I am also relatively new to photography and just finished taking a course here on Better Photo. I agree with Sam that the biggest problem with your images is the harsh light. Try to shoot between dawn and 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM and sunset. Also familiarize yourself with the "Top Ten Tips" and spend as much time as you can studying photo's submitted by others on this site, especially the winners and finalists. Then get out and shoot as much as you can. Good Luck!


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6/24/2005 3:49:29 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  ok laura about taboo,
people are very defensive about their kids or family.the studio posing really turns me off.but if you can catch one picture of them doing what they do,i'll look at it all day.that's how i'll remember my kids and grandkids.even though I only have a few.
like your mommy loves me and warmth,keepers!would they win a photo contest,don't know,but those kind of shots win mine.like julies heidi.
your bug pictures,great detail.i love the flower shots but I don't get the b&w or blacklight,just me.butterflies,a little closer and better color.a childs dream and mirage,photoshop?[neat]the b&w of your kids shots are just too bright,taboo huh?all your train shots are really harsh,but maybe that was the only time of day you had to shoot.now ghost train,are you sure that's not glare because of the light?i'm nit picking,or was that a booger?oh geeez.your moon pic,i shot 9 the other nite and overexposed all but one,and I knew better.phew ...
i finally bought me a scanner yesterday and because of my technical knowledge with this new cra#,after three hours I was only able to upload one image.pixels,resolution,geeez.i'm old fashioned I guess and after just learning to use the computer two years ago I just can't catch up. you know I think i'm making excuses .
the smiley faces,i'd rather pour salt on a wound.honesty is just that,words.
take care laura and good shooting,sam


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6/25/2005 8:33:47 PM

 
Laura E. OConnor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/12/2005
  Thanks, Sam. OK...NO excuses, only explanations...

I don't get defensive about my kids's shots, you're commenting on the photo and technique, not my kids! I took a few shots of them and wanted to try the "Dreamy" and "High Key" effects in PS, I just learned them and saw tons of them on BP that I loved, so I tried it. I think it worked, but don't want ALL of my kids shots to be that way. That's all I have so far, though. That look isn't everyone's taste, like my husband's but mommy's tend to like it. I really appreciate your honest opinion.

Thank you for your kind remarks on "Warmth" and "Mommy Loves Me". I prefer candids, and in fact none of my kid shots were posed. I just put them in front of the backdrop and they did what they did and I was snapping away. The looks my son has are because I told him "no ice cream for dinner" (I'm SO mean!) while we were shooting, those are his genuine sad faces. "My Boy" was taken just before the big disappointment...his sister came in and made him smile for me.

Thank you again on your comments on my bugs and flowers. The blacklight was a wild idea I got, I wasn't too disappointed with the result, but not overly thrilled, either. The butterflies were my first attempt at Macro. I agree, the color could be more saturated.

Thanks for your comments on "Mirage" and "A Child's Dream". Here's the rundown on how they were done:

"Mirage" was as-is...no PS except to deepen the blue of the water a little. It was simply a reflection of the sky, clounds, waterfall and Mexican Fan Palm in my swimming pool. No PS effects at all.

"A Child's Dream" was done in-camera using a zoom technique. I used a slower shutter speed and zoomed out slowly before it closed again. No PS here, either.

The train shots, yes, we were there for my son, not for a "formal" shoot, and it was high noon on a VERY bright day. I want to go back alone and shoot in the morning or evening. There's also a war birds flight museum, Moody Gardens and an aquarium down there, not to mention the beaches,so I think I may go down for a weekend (it's only 45 minutes away, though). Yes, I'm pretty sure that my Ghost Train was glare...I don't think I was using my new polarizer correctly. A learning experience, but I kind of liked the effect.

The moon was a luck shot. It was just as the sun was setting, and I saw it and shot with my zoom. I used the night portrait mode and metered. I didn't think much of the shot, the sky was a midnight blue and the sun had a little detail, but not much. I went back to delete some "throw aways" and decided to play. I just increased the contrast and that's what happened...black sky, blue ring on the moon and lots of detail. Beginner's luck?

Good luck with your scanner! My dad just learned how to do a lot of things with his PC and printer, and even got a cheap digital camera...if he can do that.... (I know...*OUCH!* Sorry, that probably hurt worse than a smiley face!)

Thanks again, Sam, I appreciate your taking the time to give honest opinions.

Take care yourself,

Laura


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6/26/2005 6:57:01 AM

 
Kitty  Cross   Hey Jill!

Haven't had time to read the rest of this thread but I do have a couple of comments to make. Keep in mind this is without looking at your photos.

Thing about photography and any other career decision is one part talent, 5 parts salesmanship and 10 parts luck. Of course to be a photographer you need to know the technical end of your art.

Your funding organization might be interested in knowing if you have the passion and the drive to stick with it beyond the course (would you be taking photos if there WAS no class?)Otherwise they're training you for a hobby and you might lose interest. If I were trying to sell them on a grant application, I'd include this and place more importance on it.

As a few of the other commenters mentioned--I did read some of it--a lot of what you don't know now, you'll get in school. A South African photojournalist won the Pulitzer prize for a photo of a kid fallen over in the street in Sudan apparently from hunger and a buzzard closing in on him (Google search a book called "The Bang Bang Club")

Moral of that story? Its a question of being in the right place at the right time. Could anyone tell if he had "the gift" before that? Dunno--he sold a few photos but so did the rest of the guys shooting in South Africa


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6/30/2005 4:13:00 AM

 
Kitty  Cross   Sorry that was so long Jill. The bit that got cut off is best of luck with your school and the grant application. I had a look at your photos and will definitely look again as you add more. You have my attention.

Wow! What a brilliant site you guys have here. Really helpful and supportive and practical. Glad I joined. I have a lot to learn from you lot!

cheers!
Kit


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6/30/2005 4:37:40 AM

 
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