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Photography Question 
Nathan C. Hershley
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005
 

Technique


I own a Canon Rebel XT camera and an Canon I9900 printer. No matter what lighting or technique I use my photos still come out looking like snap shots. I read about tips and techniques but nothing seems to make an improvement. I want to start doing some pet photography but am not confident in the quality of the pictures I am taking. What am I doing wrong?


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3/5/2007 5:51:13 AM

 
W.    Please post some examples, Nathan. Without SEEING the prob it's nigh impossible to suggest improvements.

Or you could get "123di": http://www.123di.com/Affiliate.asp?affid=001.

Have fun!


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3/5/2007 6:07:50 AM

 
John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  I own the Canon 30D and the i9900; it's a hard jumpt to suggest that an image that looks like a snapshot ss the result of the camera and the inkjet printer.

Snapshots, like archiaval grade "images," are made by the photographer. Thus, as W.S. says, absent some examples of the problems you hope to correct, it's hard to provide advice.

One thing, howevr, check the resolution at which you're shooting. You need to be set for max-Res and, hopefully, RAW.

I suspect that you've already checked that. But, try it anyway.

Snapshots are the result of the photographer's failure to "make" a picture. Carelessness regarding exposure, holding the camera for maximum sharpness possible [could use a tripod,] failure to use the viewfinder to check what's "behind the subject, etc., etc. Remember Robert Capa's admonition too: "If you pictures suck, you're too far away!"

Post some shots; we'll try to offer suggestion.


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3/5/2007 6:21:01 AM

 
Nathan C. Hershley
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005
  http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/free/gallery.asp?memberID=107455

look here for samples


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3/5/2007 6:21:06 AM

 
John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  Well, you were right; most of them look like sanpshots to me.

Let's look at them last to first, as presented:

Perfect Ending. Too much black on the bottom of the image. Need to play with an editing program to se if the exposure can be imroved.

The Bridge. Who cares about this? Need to consider Rule of Thirds for better composition. Boring sky, boring waterway.

Burning Through. Oh???

Forever. Needs a touch of the Unsharp Mask.

Tree Stumps. Need to get lower to ground so that you might include some of the foliage in the background. Subject is static and boring; portions of tress cropped disturbingly.

White Flowers. Not in overall focus. Use smaller f/stop.

Leaves on Fence. See previous comment. But, boring.

Horse. Could be walking. Picture out of focus, perhaps.

Railroad Tracks. Best of the lot. I would prefer a vertical shot.

White Flower. Needs a smaller f/stop.

Insect. The bug is totally centered, but the image is poorly composed.

Orange Flowers. In my opinion, both lack definition. Further, the greens are over-saturated.

Opposum. Very good shot. Subject is "dull" however - dull meaning lacking action.

Reflections. Sky very washed out leading to feeling that colors of the water are the effect of image editing. Further, the reflection is too sharp - was the Unsharp Mask used on the reflection independently - that's the feeling I get.

PAinted Reflections. Surreal colors are disturbing.

Sunset. Love this image.

Would you make a 13X19 print and hang it on a wall in your home? Could you sell any of them other than Railroad Tracks or Sunset? Probably not.

In essence, you've taken snapshots, not potential contest winners or archival images.

But, it's not the camera or the printer - it's the maker who needs to improve his "seeing of the image," composition, adjustment of exposure, in-camera cropping, visual story-telling, etc. No camera and no printer can do that!

I hope you take the above as constructive criticism. I have no axe to grind and really am trying to help you improve you picture-taking


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3/5/2007 8:08:27 AM

 
Nathan C. Hershley
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005
  I was not blaming the camera or the printer for the problem, just informing what I have to work with. and I know the pictures are bad, that is why I asked how to make them better, you will not critique them any harsher than I. I do not mean to sound rude, but I asked for tips to improve the shots, not critiques as to how bad they were.


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3/5/2007 8:22:39 AM

 
John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  If you read my response properly, that's what I gave you.

Use you viewfinder more effectively. Adjust your exposure. Do in-camera cropping. Don't over edit [over-saturation. Etc. Etc. Etc.


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3/5/2007 8:26:34 AM

 
Nathan C. Hershley
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005
  ok, so how do I know when to adjust the exposure and how much to change it? I tend to use what the camera does for me. I tried the bracketing but it never seemed to give a satisfactory outcome no matter what setting it was on. Is it possible to get rich colors in camera instead of having to use photoshop, and for the surreal colored water picture, that was the intended outcome of it. And the railroad tracks were boring in the vertical that was why I chose to go horizontal.


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3/5/2007 8:35:06 AM

 
John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  First - buy a copy of Bryan Peterson's book on Exposure.

Bracketting. Set you camera on a specific f/stop [use f/11 or f/16 if you're looking for greater depth of field. Take a picture of you subject using a minimum bracket of +/- one stop. This is a starting point. Since you use a digital camera, you can also try +/- 1.5 or 2 stops. When you upload to your computer you can determine which image you like best.

You can always use your exposure compensation control for one or more variations from the exposure your camera selects. But, remember, the camera uses an average setting based on all its exposure points. Some images you should expose for shadows, some for light areas. Each picture will be different.

Use a polarizing filter to imrove colors in-camera. You might also use neutral density filterscolor correcting filters and, my favorite, a Tiffen enhancing Filter [for improving red and orange fall foliage.

As to intended surreal colored water, before you go surreal you should try to reproduce "natural!" This is the real problem with image-editing - it's to easy to ruin a "natural" by over-saturation. And, with the water so surreal, the washed out sky ruins the image.

If I were to design a camera, the normal image produce would be in vertical [portrait] orientation. We all see things in the landscape orientation because we have our two eyes giving that view. But the effect you seemed to seek in the railroad tracks picture was the vanishing point of the tracks. All the "stuff" outside the rails, themselves, distracts from the subject.


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3/5/2007 8:58:13 AM

 
W.   
"Is it possible to get rich colors in camera instead of having to use photoshop"

Yes. Check the manual.

Some people can run 100 meters in 10 seconds.
Most can't.
However hard they try.
They simply haven't got that particular talent.

Some people have "the eye"and "see" things.
Most don't.
However hard they try.
They simply haven't got that particular talent.

That's life.
Sometimes it sucks.


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3/5/2007 9:06:00 AM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Hi Nathan - I see that you are new to BP, so welcome! I’m going to take a second to explain something to you that you will learn if you stick around here – which I hope you will. Lots of people post their images on this website asking for critique. Too often those same people become really defensive and sometimes even nasty when someone actually delivers a real and honest critique. As a result, people like John – who is very knowledgeable and generally helpful – sometimes can be less than diplomatic when delivering criticism. I think it is a reaction to being hammered for being honest. I am not saying that this is what you are doing, but, it may help you to understand why John may sound too critical. Personally, I believe that in order to improve you have to be more critical of your work than anyone else will be.

Now to your images: John has offered you some very insightful information. One thing that I notice in many of your images is that you have centered your main subject. This is a sure mark of the snapshot shooter. Another issue that I notice is that many of your images have been shot in mid-day harsh light. Flowers, for example, photograph much better in early morning light. The best time of day to make outdoor images is generally early morning or late afternoon, early evening. This is when the sun is lower in the sky lending a nice light to your subjects.

Another thought that may or may not apply (only you can judge on this one): you may be trying to hard to capture the perfect image. This is pretty common, IMHO, when just starting to get serious about photography. There is a lot written on the issue of whether or not “seeing” is inborn or can be trained. We could probably all go on about that argument for weeks! IMHO, you can train yourself to “see” an image better. Start paying attention to light and how the interaction of natural light with subjects shifts throughout the day and according to season. Relax and let it come to you naturally – it will, at least it has for me. Try photographing the same scene in various types of light and at various times of day until you begin to understand how the light affects that type subject.

Personally, I did not really begin to truly learn how to use my camera until I stopped using auto mode. It is so easy to let the camera think for us; however, even the best camera will not see or think as well as we can. These days I shoot almost exclusively in manual mode using RAW format. This has improved my images because I must now think before pushing the shutter. Also, if you are not currently using a tripod – GET ONE and use it! This one simple tip can greatly improve your images, not just because of camera shake, but because using a tripod makes you stop and think before firing.

One final suggestion; if you can possibly afford to, I highly recommend many of the classes here at BP. I’ve taken 6 and learned a great deal in each one.

I hope that some of this is helpful. Keep coming back and posting your images so that we can see your improvement.

Irene


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3/5/2007 10:08:22 AM

 
Nathan C. Hershley
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005
  Thank you for the advice Irene. I already shoot in RAW & manual, to an extent it has improved my photos. The sunset with the river picture is more typical of the results I am getting now, the other pics are a little older. As for the oppossum, not sure what activity they are supposed to do for a picture (earlier comment) but whatever, I have seen articles of people getting noticed for bus taillight pictures so I have to question photography as a whole. Besides, I am thinking about stopping it all together anyway, too much money invested and nothing to show for it. Thanks anyhow though


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3/5/2007 11:05:23 AM

 
W.   
It takes character to admit that, Nathan.

I tip my hat to you.

Who knows, there may yet lurk a future Olympic medallist, or a Nobel prize-winning scientist, or a Formula 1 driver inside of you.

Just don't jump in with both feet and spend thousands before you even got a vague idea whether you like it or not.

Good luck!


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3/5/2007 12:05:42 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  seems a bit rude to me.the photos in nathans gallery are better than the ones in your gallery W.
could be something as simple as monitor calibration or just a few simple post processing skills.
sam


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3/5/2007 12:15:43 PM

 
Nathan C. Hershley
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005
  W.
If you have nothing better to do then I think your situation is alot sadder than mine. Now please have a good day


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3/5/2007 1:14:59 PM

 
W.   
Keep your shirt on, Nathan!
Relax your gluteus maximus.


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3/5/2007 4:44:33 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  well ...when I offend with my tactless attributes I apologize.
to offend a member?yes I have,and at times on purpose.just me.
my intent wasn't to be curse and abrasive,but to inspire a glimpse of knowledge,or a pure sense of offensive nature where the offended says,oh yeah,i can do that.
the nature of your photographic skills is still unclear W.i can't contest your knowledge,but are they scabs and parasites that you sometimes insinuate.if knowledge isn't shared it becomes a tumor.only in a few cases diagnosed.
i apologize,kinda,to irene.but yet maybe too many words to understand,not sure.sam


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3/5/2007 5:59:28 PM

 
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