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11-29-2012, 02:51 PM   #1
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Constructive criticism welcomed
Lens: Ricoh Rikenon 50mm f2 Camera: Pentax K30 Photo Location: Portknockie, Banffshire ISO: 100 Shutter Speed: 1s Aperture: F22 

I'd like to introduce myself with a request for advice.

I've recently bought a K30 as part of my reintroduction to and revived enthusiasm in photography, and really like the level of control it gives me compared to my old Ricoh KR10.

I'm currently constructing insulated stud walls as part of rebuilding the internals of our house. A tool I've really enjoyed the benefits of is a good quality screwdriver bit holder. I thought I'd take a photographs of this on a pine board with a few screws with my old rikenon f2 PK manual lens and a 13mm extension tube. The scene was lit with a 12 watt led lamp reflected off white paper.
For me the light colour of the wood, and the gleam of the zinc remind me of the cleanness and newness of the materials I'm using, and the dust on the bit holder of the dust I'm generating as I work. For me, the image is evocative, however I'm not sure if there are things I could do to improve the composition of the image. Should I have made more effort to sharpen the focus on the screwdriver bit? Does the dark area to the upper right distract from the image or emphasise the plank. Should the area beyond the plank be darker or larger?
Any constructive criticism will be gratefully received.

500px / Photo "Preparing for winter" by Damian Connell

Last edited by damianc; 11-29-2012 at 03:27 PM. Reason: attach image
11-29-2012, 03:45 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Working With Wood?

Hello Damian, Welcome to the Forum!
First, what I liked about the photo; The composition, lighting and depth of field.
But, photos should tell a story, or evoke an emotion, have some purpose. Otherwise, it's a snapshot.
This is much better than a snap, but I'm missing the purpose. It's, to use an overused word, static.
First off, I'd pop the contrast out, bring out the wood grain and the colors generally.
Second, I'd show a few (even one) screw already driven into the wood, with the little curly shavings nearby. The screwdriver is dusty, but why?
Now you've shown action, movement, purpose.
The wood grain is as important as the tool, but the knotholes are a distraction. Too much information in the background. Either find a section without them, or move them further OOF.
Last, after trying more contrast, convert it to B + W. See what you think.
It's a good start, keep shooting!
Finally, as a general Macro tip, keep a tripod handy. Set up a shot (for example, this one), take a few different angles, compositions, f/stops.
You had a good concept here, just work it harder.
11-29-2012, 04:48 PM - 1 Like   #3
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rbefly's comments are very keen.

Before reading your post, I thought I was looking at some sort of product shot. Since that is not your intention, it is challenging to figure out the subject of the photograph. Is it the bit holder itself, or what it empowers you to build with it that has captured your passion here? Or is it the geometry of the tool and screws?

Usually when one celebrates a product, it can be displayed in a number of ways. Lot of folks go for the idealized drama of CRAFT with fake saw dust and shavings, and a just completed fine woodworking piece or some cool framing. Or a hero shot of the drill bit holder highly polished exerting its power somewhere, golden fog in the background.

You catch my drift.

Have some fun.

11-29-2012, 06:12 PM   #4
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Hello and welcome
Macro photography I find to be interesting and challenging. You have stopped down to f22 and you can see how limited your dof is. You have softened the light so the shadows aren't too harsh. I like the light fall off at the top. I don't mind the knots in the wood as it adds some interest. As to what could be improved. The foreground is quite bright and lacking detail. Also the driver bit is the closest part to the lens and is just a bit out of the dof and a bit soft. Regardless of what you are shooting macros or landscapes your dof is 1/3 in front and 2/3s behind the actual point of focus. To increase the dof beyond what you have here would require multiple exposures and focus stacking in software. The other option would be to back off a bit and crop the photo down in pp. There are lots of options with tabletop photography. You can try light painting, moving the light around during a long exposure can lead to some interesting lighting. etc. I tried a quick edit. Burned in the foreground, tweaked the contrast and sharpness and converted it b&w as an example. Posted it here

11-30-2012, 07:21 AM   #5
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^^^ Greg, every time I read your comments about a photo I learn something new. Thank you so much.
11-30-2012, 08:31 AM   #6
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If I could describe it in one word, it will be "Flat".
Get closer ... use wider lenses and put some drama in it (composition) ... different angle maybe!?
11-30-2012, 01:24 PM   #7
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Original Poster
Thank you

I must say, I'm really grateful for the consideration that everyone has given in their replies, it's invaluable. I realise that (aside from composition, pp etc...) I was looking at the subject in a very introverted way, forgetting to consider anyone else looking at the photo, and more focussed on my own knowledge of what it represents. From this point of view it is now not so much a failure as much as an instructive lesson.
Thank you again for your input.
11-30-2012, 11:07 PM   #8
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Some great comments here.

I'd like to see this in B&W, with the contrast pushed about 20-25%. I get the same darkening effect when I use a folded envelope to reflect flash down onto macro shots with my 50mm. It's very close to the subject and the flash normally shoots over it. reflecting it downward works, but it dwindles away pretty quick. For this shot a better lighting system would be good. You can check around if you don't have any, old light bars are available at resale shops and sometimes in online auctions. Much brighter and you can eliminate the dark area at the top. Mine was 5 bucks.Most also have a tripod mount designed so you can attach the camera on top of them. I tried the halogen work lights, didn't get good results. Halogen looked smoky or hazy and yellow.

You might also put a screw about halfway into the board and have someone hold the drill on it as if in use. Get in really close, good lighting, and it might make a good shot.

I'll try almost anything B&W, you never know what will work, but I do know from years of doing it wood almost always looks good in B&W, and in a case like this shot where the foreground is almost washed out, some increase in contrast helps a lot too.

One of my attempts at a screw. A bit too dark, but not too bad..I've done better...

should have been converted to B&W but I didn't...probably would look better but I can tell without even seeing it that it would have to be lightened.


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