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Photography QnA: What's Wrong With My Photographic Technique?

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Category: What's Wrong With My Photographic Technique?

Ask about photographic techniques & portraits, landscapes, black and white, etc. These questions address problems occuring in photographic technique. Here's another informative resource to check out: Ten Tips to Improve Photographic Technique.

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Photography Question 
Heidi R. Geise
Contact Heidi
Heidi's Gallery

member since: 9/6/2010
  1 .  Camera Shake
I seem to have problems with the clarity of photos. I can't always pull out a tripod or monopod. I am working on arm strength and holding the camera properly. Any other suggestions?

6/23/2014 8:51:26 AM

  Heidi, you haven't mentioned which camera/ lenses you usually shoot with. Here are a few things that come to my mind:
1. Raise the ISO and shoot in shutter priority set at a higher value, preferably not less than 1/250s. This should take care of slight movement while shooting.
2. Also, avoid shooting in low light situations, as it usually requires low shutter speeds, which requires a steady hand or a tripod.
3. Best yet, buy yourself a point & shoot, they are very light and come in decent features/ quality these days and are easy to carry too.
Hope you regain strength in your arms.
Good light to you.

6/23/2014 9:37:25 AM

  I shoot with a Canon 7D and the typical issue is when I use the Tamron 70-200. I guess when I use it I just need to up the speed or ISO.

6/23/2014 10:56:16 AM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Heidi, to supplement what Usman said...there's a simple rule of thumb for determining the minimum shutter speed to use, to prevent camera blur. It's based on the focal length. If your focal point is 105mm, then you need 1/105th sec shutter speed. If you zoom to 200mm focal length, then you need 1/200th sec. At 400mm, it's 1/400th sec.
Most likely, you want sufficient depth of field too; e.g., F8. And the more depth of field you need, the more light you need for proper exposure -- which means a longer shutter speed and more chance for blur. That's where Usman's ISO tip comes into play; adjust ISO higher until you get shutter speed to match the focal length. But with higher ISOs come more noise...everything is a trade-off.

6/23/2014 12:52:06 PM

  Heidi, I have the same camera and very often use Tamron 28-300 mm lens. The shutter speed for this lens I determine by doubling the focal length. So if your focal length is 200 mm the shutter speed should be at least 1/400, faster is better. Adjust the ISO and aperture accordingly. I don't use a tripod very often. Hope it helps.

6/23/2014 12:53:59 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  What's your camera-holding stance that you're using? Maybe that can be improved upon.
Do you use your left arm up against your body, elbow resting on your ribs, forearm coming up to make a v.
Adding an extra battery grip might help if you need a bigger area to spread you hand out. Just use the grip without a battery in it.

6/25/2014 8:46:58 AM

  Thank you for all of the responses. I am going to try them on this week as I practice my skills.
I have the depth of field routine but I forget to check for shutter speed. I often am just trying to keep my balance and hope that I can get up when I go to get those low, unique angles of whatever I am shooting.
I think I am OK on the stance most of the time. I will see what these suggestions result in. Thanks again.

6/25/2014 10:48:09 AM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member
imagismphotos.com

member since: 2/27/2003
  Heidi,
All of the responses above give excellent advice.
That said, keep in mind that it is easy to fall into the trap of ignoring tripod/monopod use -- in general, there is no better stabilization method available.
Even a lightweight tripod is generally better than no tripod, unless subject matter dictates hand holding.
I use (among other tripods) a Benro 'MeFoto' tripod that is wonderful and is extremely compact and lightweight. One of the legs actually detaches and converts to a monopod using the center column.

6/28/2014 6:25:32 AM

  Hi Heidi,
You might also try this: Chain Pod
www.siskinphoto.com/magazine/zpdf/chain_pod.pdf. This thing will fit into a film can. You can take it with you anywhere.
Thanks!

6/29/2014 8:53:01 AM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member
imagismphotos.com

member since: 2/27/2003
  To John S. (and Heidi),
John, funny you posted this, as I was going to suggest the chain pod concept, but felt it took to long to explain it. It's great that you have a PDF with instructions.
I saw this concept demonstrated at the Texas School of Photography in Kerrville, TX, about 15 yrs. ago. It is a very handy device, cheap, compact, and light weight It really helps, especially if you can use it while leaning against a tree or building.
Great suggestion John!

6/29/2014 9:44:32 AM

  Cool idea. I think I will try this. I adjusted the ISO this weekend and got better results. Now I just have to learn not to go too high. Thanks for all the help.

6/29/2014 1:32:01 PM

  I originally saw the chainpod at Nikon School back in the '70s. Been using one since. They're great. Here's a link to more DIY stuff at my site: http://www.siskinphoto.com/cameraeqp.php. I hope you find something you can use.
Thanks.

6/30/2014 8:03:06 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Operator-related movement is most prevalent when pressing and releasing the shutter button.
A trick I learned a long time ago (..from someone here at BP), is to set your shutter to burst mode. Shoot a burst of three or more frames. Then delete the first and last ones in the series. The ones in the middle will be sharpest.
Another tip is to sit on the ground and prop both elbows on your knees. It looks a little funny, but you can achieve great results with surprisingly slow shutter speeds from this position.

6/30/2014 7:14:57 PM

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Photography Question 


member since: 5/11/2014
  2 .  calibration software
I have a sequel calibration device, but no software - gift from photo widow. Where can I get the required software?

5/11/2014 6:15:41 AM

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Photography Question 
Usman Bajwa
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Usman
Usman's Gallery

member since: 4/11/2006
  3 .  Can't select a Fave!!!
I was browsing the new EPs, as usual, however, when I tried to click on the "red heart" to select the fave, the new page read:

"Photo Removed or Not Approved
Sorry - the photo you have requested has been removed or has not been approved for publishing. Return."

UB.

4/8/2014 2:44:52 AM

Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  Thanks Usman. This is now fixed.

Really appreciate your feedback!

Jim

4/8/2014 11:39:45 AM

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Photography Question 
Virginia Kickle
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Virginia
Virginia's Gallery

member since: 12/19/2004
  4 .  Sizing for upload to Better Photo
I have noticed that my images loaded to Better Photo do not appear sharp. What settings should I be using when I export them from Lightroom?

3/17/2014 7:04:45 PM

Christopher J. Budny
BetterPhoto Member
chrisbudny.com

member since: 10/3/2005
  Speaking from my own experience, after I make all my edits in my full-size file, I make another file just for my BP upload. In my BP file, I re-size it down to 800 pixels on the long edge (sometimes adding additional sharpening at this stage, if the image needs it.) That is the file I then use to upload (never the full-size file) and I've never encountered a perceived softening when I view the uploaded image.

3/20/2014 5:56:12 AM

Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  That is a great procedure, Chris.

I will tell you that I recommend trying it at 1600 px on the long end.

Please, if you have chance, try that out and let me know if it works well for you.

The 1600 will come in very handy in the near future.

Thanks,
Jim

3/20/2014 7:03:06 AM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Hi Jim, I do the same as Chris; always resize to 800. That's because I thought the BP process would take any uploaded image greater than 800 pixels, and downsize them to 800 for display. For example, if I upload an image at 1600 x 1066, the BP process would downsize to 800 x 533. Rather than having the BP process downsize, we just do it ourselves, sharpen, then upload.

Your comment about "1600 will come in very handy in the near future". Reading between the lines, I'm hoping you're saying that soon, BP will allow for the display of images up to 1600 pixels. That would be super! I've seen many great pano shots that lose impact, because of the 800 pixel limitation.

Thanks for chiming in on the forum. Great dialogue!

3/20/2014 7:57:30 AM

Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink... wonderful things are in the works :)

3/20/2014 8:04:06 AM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Excellent! Thanks, Jim!

3/20/2014 8:30:38 AM

  I know BP images are right click protected, but of course there is no way any site can protect against screen captures. Is a screen capture of an image that was resized to 1600 on the long side any more or less vulnerable to being "borrowed" and used without permission than one that was resized to 800 on the long side?

3/20/2014 9:07:35 AM

Christopher J. Budny
BetterPhoto Member
chrisbudny.com

member since: 10/3/2005
  You'd get a screenshot with 4x the pixels... so someone looking to use/print your images without your consent, from a screengrab, has more data to play with now.
ie, an 800x533 display today, could become a 1600 x 1066 display, if this is one of the new features coming at BP... The 800 grab would yield (at assumed 300dpi printing) 2.6" x 1.8" print. The 1600 grab would yield a 5.3" x 3.5" print. Of course, printing those on a lower-than-300 dpi printer one could end up with potentially even larger, workable print sizes.
I'd guess that if we get to an enhancement allowing say, 1600 pixel display, then many folks will probably want to expand their use of watermark signatures, and run them through the center of the image.

3/20/2014 9:24:59 AM

  My rule of thumb has been to upload photos at 900 on the long side (and about half that on Facebook) simply because should they be "stolen" the best anybody could get would be a 4 x 6 print, if that. Just for grins I just captured a friend's photo from today (which I've already deleted, of course) that shows at 875 x 579. I resized it to twice that and I'm able to get a decent-sized print. Imagine how good it would be if I'd been able to download it at 1600. Think I'll stick with smaller sizing here just to be on the safe side.

3/20/2014 9:41:58 AM

  I also do the same as Chris and Ken explained above, Virginia. I have a question .... will be actual size we see on our monitors will be any different than what we see now? If the size doubles, lets just assume, does it mean we have to scroll each entry to see the complete image, which sometimes is tedious to do and takes the fun out of seeing the image as a whole!

UB.

3/20/2014 9:09:08 PM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Usman, when I first joined BP in 2005, we could display images in their full resolution. Or at least up to 2000 pixels, because I have some that large in my gallery. But the thumbnail was the same size as today, 210 pixels on the large side. So, I don't think BP will change the default size of the thumbnails.

3/21/2014 3:51:04 AM

  Sorry for not being very clear, Ken. But my query was actually relating to the full blown image itself and not the thumbnail.

UB.

3/21/2014 3:58:26 AM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Usman, I don't know. I guess we'll just have to see, if/when BP makes the size change. I don't recall it being a big deal when I first joined.

3/21/2014 6:32:12 AM

  I haven't seen resolution mentioned. Should it be 72 ppi?

3/21/2014 7:45:27 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Usman, if the display size is 1600, if you have a wide format monitor than it should fit.

3/21/2014 5:07:59 PM

Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  Hi awesome BetterPhoto members,

The largest images on display will likely be around 1000 px on the long end.

The decision as to how much you do to protect images is up to you. I can only tell you want I do... I size my images to 1600px in case we ever develop the functionality that would allow me to print my images (on paper or in books or on coffee mugs, etc)... or sell such images. I doubt BetterPhoto will do the latter but it may do the former.

If you are concerned about image sizes being so big that thieves will steal your photos, you may opt to downsize the image to 800px on the long end before uploading (or whatever size you want).

The choice is totally up to you.

And yes, Virginia, I still change my image resolution to 72ppi before rechecking the resize checkbox and then set the width or height to what I prefer. In Photoshop, you can use the Fit Image automation (or a few other methods) to get this done while you're making yourself a cup of tea.

Usman, I'm thinking about making the image thumbnails on the gallery index pages a little bigger. I'm talking about pages like: http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=296&cn=Cute-Babies-and-Baby-Pictures

The overall width is now something like 940px and it might get to be around 1240px.

However, the wonderful news is that, with modern programming, the images will automatically downsize to fit the width of your display.

Ken, for you this means that you'll want to use the highest resolution display and have it full screen, if you want to see as much of those amazing panorama photos as you can.

You will use the scroll to move down a page but not to the right.

The other nice thing about this is that the site is going to look and function much better on iPads, mobile devices, your new Apple watch :) etc.

Thanks!
Jim

3/22/2014 2:03:39 PM

  Thank you for all the information. My questions were answered! Virginia

3/22/2014 3:42:28 PM

  Thanks Jim for the notes. Much appreciated ;)

UB.

3/22/2014 10:36:37 PM

  I, too, use the 800 on the long side for my uploads, in the Tiff format. I know they will change to Jpg, but they just look better in Tiff, to me. Maybe Jim could weigh in on the Tiff/Jpg thing?

3/27/2014 5:06:13 AM

Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  I would actually love to hear from each of you on this. I myself upload high-quality JPEGs and am very satisfied with the quality and the upload speed is good. But TIFF has worked well for me too.

Reader, what do you do? :)

Any other tips for optimal image quality, anyone?

3/27/2014 4:12:31 PM

  I have been fine with mine. I convert tiffs to jpgs when I resize. I resize to 800 on the long side, 72 dpi, in FastStone Image Viewer (free download). Then I sharpen slightly (FS, too). And finally I save as jpg. So as far as I know, the BP software does nothing to my images when I upload.

3/27/2014 4:15:57 PM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Jim, I remember the tips BP gave several years ago...resize to 800 on long side, sharpen, saturate a tad, and convert to TIF.

But I have done experiments comparing images uploaded as TIF and JPG, and can't discern a difference. But years ago, I could. Or maybe it was my imagination.

And I've done experiments uploading an image at 800 pixels and comparing to another image uploaded at 1600 pixels (arbitrary size), and downsized to 800 by BP process. The downsized image was a little degraded visually which I think was the main reason someone at BP recommended that we resize to 800 and sharpen before uploading.

I do look forward to the option of viewing images at a larger pixel count.

3/27/2014 5:16:57 PM

Christopher J. Budny
BetterPhoto Member
chrisbudny.com

member since: 10/3/2005
  800px TIF upload here; although I've never once paid any mind to whatever the DPI setting is. It has no real bearing on web-displayed files; whether you save as 800 pixels wide (at 300dpi), or 800 pixels wide (at 72dpi) or 800 pixels wide (at 10,000dpi), your file still has just 800 pixels across, and that is what will display online. (Try opening a file, resize it to 800 however you normally would, and save it as a TIF. Then go change just the DPI value to a totally different value (with "resample = off") and save it as a differently-named TIF again... the 2 files are both 800 pixels wide, and the same MB in size.)

3/27/2014 5:45:23 PM

Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  Yeah, Ken... JPEGs have become much better than they were in the old days. That's why they might be just as good as TIFF now. Worth a try for anyone who likes testing things out.

And you are totally right, Chris. I just change that ppi to 72 out of mindless habit. :)

It's not really necessary if you are always looking at your image dimensions in the units of pixels (which I always do because I rarely print anymore).

We have such a wonderful BP right around the corner. I am going to see how much the team can get done on it this weekend.

Cra-crack (the sound of whipping).

Have a great weekend.

3/28/2014 8:49:53 AM

  Ignorance speaking here and I probably should be embarrassed to be asking, but doesn't reducing to 72 dpi make it harder to get a good or larger print from a screen shot should one be inclined to do that?

3/28/2014 9:02:36 AM

Christopher J. Budny
BetterPhoto Member
chrisbudny.com

member since: 10/3/2005
  Nope. The DPI value within your file is completely ignored by all web browsers displaying your file. Assuming your gallery had 800 pixel-wide images on display, any screen grab will always produce an 800 pixel-wide result. The screen grab has no 'knowledge' of what you put into the file (DPI setting) when you first uploaded it to BP.

3/28/2014 9:07:38 AM

  I hope one of the changes being implemented will be elimination of whatever saturation changes the upload process currently applies. Today I often detect stronger yellows after upload. I attempt to reduce the saturation of yellows in my image before upload, but it's hard to get a good color match this way.

:)

4/12/2014 9:33:00 AM

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Photography Question 
Christi D. Northam
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/25/2014
  5 .  Edit a photo?
I uploaded a photo for the contest in portrait view but when I view it, it is landscape. How can I turn it?

1/25/2014 8:28:19 AM

  Are you submitting the image to BetterPhoto website through a browser direct from your mobile phone? This might have caused the change in orientation. If so, then try uploading the image from your pc/mac/laptop.

Or, just send email to support@betterphoto.com.

Hope this helps.

Usman

1/25/2014 10:36:11 PM

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Photography Question 
Nevia Cashwell
Contact Nevia
Nevia's Gallery
imagesbynevia.com

member since: 12/9/2004
  6 .  Server Problems Today?
anyone else having problems uploading images today? I have been receiving server error messages since early this morning.

1/1/2014 9:43:07 AM

  The most recent image uploaded to the contest is dated 12/31/2013, so it seems we're all having the same problem.

1/1/2014 10:14:49 AM

  thanks, Martha. at least I now know it's not just on my end. Happy New Year!

1/1/2014 10:19:31 AM

  I haven't been able to upload anything, either. I was wondering if there had been any changes with the uploading process starting this new year.

1/1/2014 11:02:03 AM

  It is possible to enter a previously uploaded image (also those that have been in the contest some time ago).

1/1/2014 1:54:16 PM

  Good point, Tiia! Let's all enter a previously uploaded favorite since I doubt anyone will be in the office to fix this before tomorrow.

1/1/2014 2:01:16 PM

  Might just do that. No luck on my end, either.

1/1/2014 2:53:41 PM

  Now the system seems to be working.

1/1/2014 11:17:59 PM

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Photography Question 
Nicholas Semo
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Nicholas
Nicholas's Gallery

member since: 6/27/2008
  7 .  Photos look soft after uploading.
Does anyone else think their photos look soft and lose detail after uploading to BP. When I look at my originals and then the same image I've uploaded to BP there is a big difference. Am I doing something wrong?

12/21/2013 7:00:10 AM

  What size images are you uploading at BP, Nicholas? I make it a point to upload 800 ppi on the wider side and sharpening is my last step in post processing before saving it as a Tif file. This way the images look the same on my hard drive as on BP site. Hope this helps.

UB.

12/22/2013 3:58:18 AM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  To add onto Usman's comment…several years ago BP made a statement in the forum about the 800 pixel restriction. I think their upload instructions still mention 1600 pixels, but their process will reduce it to 800 pixels on the long side, for display. Rather than letting the BP process downsize the image, they recommended BP members resize to 800 pixels and sharpen…as Usman has said. I tried to search thru the forum for this thread on the resizing, but couldn't find it.

In the same BP forum thread, BP had also suggested uploading as TIF, because they would appear slightly better than JPG. But over the years, I don't think this is as applicable, although I still upload as TIF.

You can do some easy experiments. Upload an image at 2500 pixels, then another at 1600 pixels, and finally at 800 pixels (and be sure to sharpen the 800 version). Do one as JPG and another as TIF, then open them up in browser tabs and compare side-by-side.

12/22/2013 6:15:12 AM

Jessica Davis

member since: 3/18/2014
  I was having this problem too. I definitely will try that.

4/15/2014 10:03:48 PM

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Photography Question 
Sharon 
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Sharon
Sharon's Gallery

member since: 4/23/2007
  8 .  Mini Photo
I can't seem to add my mini photo that goes beside my comments. I can click on one of the ones they offer and it shows up on that page but not in my gallery. Also I can't upload one from my computer. The one that is 75 x 75 pixels. Anyone else having this problem? Help please.

12/13/2013 9:15:38 PM

  I had the same problem..it involved just refreshing the page. I don't know if this would apply to yours, but try it and see.

12/14/2013 4:08:25 AM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Sharon, the same thing happened to me and I think Carolyn was the one that told me to refresh..and it worked.

12/14/2013 5:59:15 AM

  Thank you Carolyn & Ken.

So simple a solution but do you think I could figure it out? You rescued me from a night of frustration. LOL

Wishing you & yours a Merry Christmas Full of God's Blessings!

12/14/2013 9:38:23 PM

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Photography Question 
Merna L. Nobile
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Merna
Merna's Gallery

member since: 12/31/2003
  9 .  replace mini photo
I have resized it, making it smaller but it still will not download. Thanks Merna

10/19/2013 2:04:30 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  For the Q&A pic, when you upload it at the member center, when the page with the provided avatars comes back up after uploading yours, hit the page refresh button before you leave that page if you are still seeing your old avatar.

10/19/2013 11:13:37 PM

  Yeah, you have to refresh the page. I had oodles of troubles with mine a few years ago until somebody (probably Greg) told me to refresh.

10/20/2013 3:20:40 PM

  Thanks for the advice on refresh. I think on my mac it is reload. I have also had trouble when I upload a new mini pic. Thanks for the tip!

10/20/2013 4:59:41 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Was talking about your breath. But everything worked out anyway.

10/21/2013 11:39:08 AM

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Photography Question 
freddy kietzmann
BetterPhoto Member
Contact freddy
freddy's Gallery

member since: 3/18/2008
  10 .  adobe bridge problem
I am no longer able to retrieve my keywords in adobe bridge (CS3 Photoshop). The find and search no longer works. Can anyone provide some help or a link where I get some tech support?

Freddy Kietzmann

10/19/2013 5:07:34 AM

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