Photography school

-D.Payne-

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Apr 9, 2007
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www.greatdrivingchallenge.com
Hi folks,

Its been a long while since I've joined TE and I've rarely given back to this community as much as it deserves. I've been asked to start a million threads on "Buying a DSLR" or "Choosing a P&S" to doing my best to further the work on LensWorth.in - Indian Photography Forum. I've sadly not done anything close to that.

So here's something for all of us.

Photography School by D.Payne

How does it work?

Each one of you is allowed to post ONE photo per week to ask my opinion/critique/feedback on the shots.

(You may also post 2-3 variations of the same shot if necessary; this can help if you're relearning)

(The photo could have been taken any time, any place. All I want is that you want to learn something new from it.)


I want to keep this simple and focused. I want each of you who will post a photograph here to seriously think about that ONE photograph to post per week.

Compulsory stuff:

- Post EXIF info: shutter/aperture/ISO/Time-of-day/flashes

- Any specific thoughts, doubts that you have for that photo

- ANY shot will do. Don't be afraid to post. :D

What will I provide?

Honest, unbiased feedback and critique about the photograph.

What does that mean? I will talk about:

- Composition

- Lighting

- Settings on your camera

- Post-processing techniques

- ...and "How would I have shot it"

- ...and I will ask you doubts. Let's all learn. :)

Then what?

Then, you go back and either recreate that image with what you've learn newly or shoot with the new principles in mind.

What I want from this thread is 2 things:

- Get better at taking better photographs consistently through thinking about the shot before shooting

- Develop your own style of shooting if possible. :)

What else will this thread be for?

I'll try to include as many small/mini tutorials as possible IF you ask that in relation to your photograph.

For example: posting a night-time shot and asking how to achieve a certain effect with it - either star trails, lighting etc.

I will also include samples from my shots or other online galleries to illustrate things as far as possible.

You can also pick ANY shot from my Flickrstream and ask me how I did any particular element in the shot. :)

Why me?

Oh just like that. :D I've been crazy with the camera for so long that I think I might be okay with critique/constructive feedback. But more importantly, because I am a 100% internet-taught photographer and I want to give my learning back to the internet as much as possible. :)

POST AWAY PEOPLE!

Cheers!

Payne

For Starters, these are the blogs I follow regularly:

David DuChemin, Chase Jarvis; For composition, and creativity

David Hobby, Joe McNally; For lighting

Bob Krist, Trey Ratcliff, Luminous Landscapes; For all kinds of inspiration
 
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FaH33m

Analog Vibes
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Apr 29, 2006
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Nice initiative dude !! Really awesome. I will be back with some snaps .:)
 

Metalspree

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Mar 1, 2006
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Real good initiative .I would like learn photography from an expert for sure .I will also be back with some shots,can i post my previous shots as well??.I am bit busy with exams coming up next week and then India trip.

I am sure the thread will be a big hit and will be filled with pics very soon.How about other experts take the same initiative and help people like us who want to learn.In case Payne doesn't have time to help us how about you guys doing the same.I know there are quite a few experts in TE.

@Payne i know its your schooool but i guess others would also love to help you iff you are busy doing photo shoots.

@Mods please make it sticky .Do not want it die any time soon.

I want to know how did u make the Taj Mahal look so beautiful :) .I guess you know which image i am talking about.Its been my wallpaper from the day u posted it in TE.I love the colors in that pic.Can u please post a high resolution image of that pic pleaseeee.
 

Metalspree

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Mar 1, 2006
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Here comes my first pic and first pic to the school.I had been to the tour of south island last months out of all the pics i clicked i just felt this is the best one.I had clicked at a farm.It was clear sky and i could see a bit of snow on the mountains at the far.



Photo 1




Camera Used: Panasonic FZ35

Time :10AM

Shutter :1/320

Aperture:2.8

ISO:80

Flash:No

I some how feel something is missing in the pic .Payne how would you have clicked it to make it look awesome :)

I have no clue about post precessing.No idea about photo shop what so ever .i have a whole lot of videos from Lynda.com to learn the same.I will start watching them once i come back from India trip which is after 2 months

I would request other members not to reply to the images as in what we do in Photography thread.Lets stick on as to how we make the images looks better.Please contribute only to what is mentioned by Payne and nothing else.

Please restrain yourself from posting ( nice pics.love the snap and all).There are lot of noobs at photography which includes me as well.We have got a good oppurtunity to learn ,lets make the full use of it.

Edit: Lets not post high resolution images.It will take hell loads of time for the image to load.How about adding only 800x450 resolution pics only.
 

logistopath

Molar Police
Super Mod
May 25, 2007
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Erode
Nice initiative.. Here is one pic from my side.



Exif Info:
Make - Panasonic
Model - DMC-FZ8
ExposureTime - 1/3.2 seconds
FNumber - 5.00
ExposureProgram - Manual control
ISOSpeedRatings - 100
ExifVersion - 0221
MaxApertureValue - F 2.83
MeteringMode - Multi-segment
LightSource - Flash
ExposureMode - Manual
White Balance - Auto
My doubts: How do you shoot flowers indoors when natural light is little or none at all? THis pic was taken at around 8.00 p.m. I did a little post processing (just adjusted the curves a little, that is all I know in PS). Yet the flower doesn't look right.
 

-D.Payne-

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Apr 9, 2007
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www.greatdrivingchallenge.com
PLEASE NUMBER YOUR PHOTOS SEQUENTIALLY FROM THE BEGINNING.
Now #1 from Metalspree

- As soon as I saw the shot, I went "nice". So that's good. You've got a great setting, perfect blue skies, a hint of snow in the background and some interesting elements in the shot. Let's get to business now.

1. Composition: Straightaway I see 1 negative point and 2 points of interest. Before we get to them, the basic composition is good with the Rule Of Thirds being employed well. The house is at the right place, the mountains are shown well...etc etc.

BUT, let's break it down.

- There's no clearly defined foreground and background in this shot. "Depth" is not shown here.
- The bushes in the front could have been avoided by simply stepping forward.
- The sky is almost 50% of the top of the shot, you could have made it either 33% of the shot or 66% of the shot - make it more interesting.

2. Lighting: Nothing much you could do.

3. Settings on your camera: Nothing much you could do. You exposed it well at a low ISO. Good job.

4. Post-processing: I know this photo is straight-out-of-camera, but it still looks beautiful and conveys the mood well.

5. How would I have shot this?: Now this is interesting.


- I would have stepped forward and removed the bushes (#1).
- I would have created DEPTH by making either the house (#2) or the clothes-line (#3) my foreground.
Creating depth: I would have moved closer to the house or clothes-line, OR moved around till I got no distraction around my subject (foreground).
The snowy mountains in the back are of interest, so I would have gotten them in the background.
After moving closer and composing my shot, I would have then sat down on the ground and gone lower to decrease the amount of sky in the shot.

Summary
- I would have made 2-3 shots here. One with the flowers/bushes in the foreground and house+mountains in the background, one with the clothes-line as foreground and one with the house as foreground with the mountains behind.
- I have moved closer and lower to my subject or farther away. Aiming to ISOLATE any interesting points.

Hope this helps. :)
Payne
 

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Metalspree

Well-Known Member
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Mar 1, 2006
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@Payne that was a nice lesson from you.I would keep your tips in mind when clicking landscapes here after wards.
 

Switch

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Jan 13, 2005
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Nice shot metalspree. And nice initiative payne. Its great that i can finally learn some tricks :)
 

-D.Payne-

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Apr 9, 2007
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www.greatdrivingchallenge.com
logistopath said:
Nice initiative.. Here is one pic from my side.



My doubts: How do you shoot flowers indoors when natural light is little or none at all? THis pic was taken at around 8.00 p.m. I did a little post processing (just adjusted the curves a little, that is all I know in PS). Yet the flower doesn't look right.
Composition: Unless you are shooting for the "Encyclopedia of Flowers", you don't have to FILL the frame with the flower. :)

I'd suggest backing off a bit to get some visual relief on all sides of your subject (the flower).
I'd also suggest you try these 3 angles to shoot flower initially:

a. Straight down of the flower's centre. Stand tall, point camera downwards and click.
b. Take the profile (side) of the flower against a suitable background - leaves, another flower, a wall etc.
c. Go low and frame the flower against the sky - when possible.

These are all basic compositions which will help.
Lighting: Now THIS is critical here. Since you've shot this indoors I'll talk only about that specific situation.

- The flower looks boring because you've simply flashed it head on. It is no better than a forensic report of a dead body - forgive my honesty. :)
- Try to introduce some ambient light by increasing the ISO to around 400-800 and keeping shutter at the 1/5-1/10s of a second
- If there's still NO light coming in, your only choice is to DIFFUSE your light (the flash)
- The best light sources are DIFFUSED and slightly directional; which means sunlight at sunrise or sunset. This creates for beautifully soft shadows and controlled highlights in the shot.

Next: How do you diffuse a FZ8/FZ35/Superzoom P&S's flash??
You don't need a lot of fancy off-camera flash to make your pics look better. Here we go:

- Get a piece of A4-sized paper, cut it in half and place one edge of it under your pop-up flash.
- Try the shot again with the flash ON. What this would do is: it'll diffuse the direct flash falling on the flower and reduce its power as well, AND it will bounce the flash's light off the paper and onto surrounding walls thus illuminating the ambient as well. Slightly.
- If it's too dark initially, increase your flash's intensity - it can be controlled in the FZ8 and similar cameras and try again.

Btw, this technique works fine even for indoor portraits - especially when there are lots of close walls around. You can even use a simple business card to bounce the flash to the ceiling/walls. :)

Try it!

Settings on your camera: Highest ISO without ugly noise, Manual mode to get the fastest aperture and slowest shutter speed possible, Tungsten/Flouroscent White Balance since you're shooting indoors. Get a tripod if possible.

Post-processing: Noise reduction software is a must if you're using high ISO with a P&S.

How would I have shot this: Simple. I wouldn't have. :D
Unless and only if there was an interesting light source - candle-light, diyas, decoration lights - to either slightly light that rose or provide as a backdrop I wouldn't have shot it at all!

But, I have shot a fake rose recently at night...so here's the shot of it:

:)
 

logistopath

Molar Police
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May 25, 2007
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^^ :) Thanks for that critical analysis. I had two reasons to try and fill the frame with the flower..
1. Wanted to try and focus on the water droplets.
2. Just to try a close-up shot of a flower.. :p

I have tried to diffuse the flash using A4 papers a couple of times earlier.. I realize now that I should have done it for this pic as well. Thanks for reminding me about it.

One more doubt that I have: How do I create a bokeh effect using an ultrazoom cam like mine?
 

Gaurish

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Apr 7, 2006
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www.gaurishsharma.com
payne, you doing good work. keep it up. i really like this gesture of yours. kudos to you, keep going. even photography noob like me might learn something from you.

reps added:hap2:
 

Krow

Active Member
Disciple
May 11, 2009
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Photograph #1



Exif Info:

Make - Sony

Model - DSC-H50

ExposureTime - 1/640 seconds

FNumber - 8

ISOSpeedRatings - 80

MaxApertureValue - F 2.875

No Flash

White Balance - Auto

Focal Length 5mm (Auto focus)

Location: Some mountain about 20-30km from Leh in the Zanskar mountain range, Ladakh, J&K, India.

Time: 11.52.20 AM, 19.12.09.
 

-D.Payne-

Well-Known Member
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Apr 9, 2007
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www.greatdrivingchallenge.com
logistopath said:
^^ :) Thanks for that critical analysis. I had two reasons to try and fill the frame with the flower..
1. Wanted to try and focus on the water droplets.
2. Just to try a close-up shot of a flower.. :p

One more doubt that I have: How do I create a bokeh effect using an ultrazoom cam like mine?
Its best if you try this with some favorable lighting, complete darkness ain't the best place to start with flowers - especially with a P&S. :)

Bokeh/background blur/DOF can only be achieved if you use the longest end of your zoom while being as close as possible to your subject with your background being as far as possible. Get it?

1. Longest end of your zoom
2. Closest to the foreground/subject as possible
3. Background as far as possible

An image from a superzoom with bokeh (Sony H50):

Source: My bokeh world on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

@Gaurish: Thank you! :D
 

rravikantt

www.fb.com/ravikanthphotography
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May 27, 2009
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www.ravikanthkurma.com
Wow this is a beautiful initiative Payne. Thankyou very much.

Here goes my numerous doubts:

Original pic:


Camera Model: Panasonic DMC-FZ35
ISO: ISO 400
Focal Length: 4.8mm
Focal Length (35mm): 27.0mm
Exposure Bias: 0 ev
Aperture: f/3.6
Shutter Speed: 1/13
Flash: Flash did not fire
White Balance: Auto White Balance
Exposure Program: Aperture Priority
Metering Mode: Pattern
Depth: 8
Exposure Mode: Auto Exposure
Date: 20/02/10 8:41:25am

PS: I just copy pasted the entire EXIF info, i dont know which values are more important :p. Why there are two Focal lengths :huh:

After Post Processing:



My actual though was to capture the rays and its reflections in the water. I think my original pic was too bad and over exposed, i tried some 10 shots and i couldn't figure out the right settings. So i cropped out the overexposed top and lengthy water...tilted the pic a bit straight, used the auto enchance preset in aperture 3, and increased saturation to make it green and increased the black point to get better reflections in water. I think i have done a better job in PP atleast. Finally the pic looked better and lively than the original one. But my actual thought was to have the rays and its reflections highlighted and the rest on a bit darker side.

Please tell me how i could have made this a better pic.