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02-05-2013, 10:53 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Sunset with my K-5: Day 2
Lens: DA 21mm F3.2 Camera: K-5 Photo Location: The Pacific Ocean 

Hello, I'm David, a total novice to photography, and I took pictures of the sunset over the course of three days, and I've found myself at more ease each day with the K-5, having gotten it a two weeks ago; I crave a constant increase of standard, and would love your criticisms regarding my pictures. No post processing was done. These were taken on day 2 of my shooting with the K-5:

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Last edited by BeginnerDave; 02-05-2013 at 11:13 PM.
02-06-2013, 12:19 AM   #2
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Hi, David. Good choice with the K-5.

You've got some good images here. I think #1 and #2 are pretty strong. You've got good composition with the position of the horizon and the sun--a nice symmetry, and a straight horizon. They might be a tad on the dark side to me, but I wonder what others think. Some processing here would be good to really bring out the colors and detail in the clouds.

Images #3 and #4 have some good colors, but are far too dark in my opinion. I wonder what your settings are at?

I would definitely use a tripod for these shots. You must be at least at an F/11 I think, but you might try stopping it down further or lowering the ISO to increase the shutter speed and smooth out the water? Also, have you thought about trying an HDR here? If you did a natural kind of HDR to even out the exposure of the sky to water, I bet you could get an amazing shot.

Those are my thoughts.

--Jim
02-06-2013, 06:10 AM   #3
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Congratulations on entering the world of photography, and with such an excellent kit!

One thing your series shows is that sunsets are at their most colorful some minutes after the sun has disappeared. Indeed, sometimes the best color is found well away from the sun. Having the sun in the frame can make for interesting shots but is by no means required.

As a rule, landscapes (seascapes, cityscapes) need an interesting foreground as well as background. For a beach shot that might be a boat, a silhouetted figure on the beach, palm trees. It could even be a closer perspective on the beach itself if it's an interesting rocky shoreline and/or the waves are substantial.

Speaking of rules, one often quoted is the "rule of thirds". Like all "rules" of photography it is often ignored, or honored in the breach, but there's a good reason it's so well known. If you're not already familiar with it, look it up and you'll find plenty of explanations.

As Jim points out the series gets progressively darker. Were you shooting in M mode?

The main way to improve at photography is to practice and observe, practice and observe. And have fun. Enjoy!
02-12-2013, 01:26 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jim Muckian Quote
Hi, David. Good choice with the K-5.

You've got some good images here. I think #1 and #2 are pretty strong. You've got good composition with the position of the horizon and the sun--a nice symmetry, and a straight horizon. They might be a tad on the dark side to me, but I wonder what others think. Some processing here would be good to really bring out the colors and detail in the clouds.

Images #3 and #4 have some good colors, but are far too dark in my opinion. I wonder what your settings are at?

I would definitely use a tripod for these shots. You must be at least at an F/11 I think, but you might try stopping it down further or lowering the ISO to increase the shutter speed and smooth out the water? Also, have you thought about trying an HDR here? If you did a natural kind of HDR to even out the exposure of the sky to water, I bet you could get an amazing shot.

Those are my thoughts.

--Jim
Thank you, and thank you for telling me about HDR; I didn't even know it existed, and upon initially reading about it and seeing pictures, thought it was cheating. However, I started reading "Creating HDR Photos - The Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Photography " by Harold Davis - and now I think otherwise; I also purchased and downloaded "Photomatrix Pro 4" and just started practicing that. Working with RAW's now, I didn't know how important post processing is.

Regarding the last picture's setting, it was actually quite dark with minimal light, so I used a 30 second exposure to bring it out. The second to last one, not quite sure what happened. I think it's the light on the water causing my camera to underexpose to make up for it (does that make sense? I've only recently started reading about cameras, so my logic might be off).

QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
Congratulations on entering the world of photography, and with such an excellent kit!

One thing your series shows is that sunsets are at their most colorful some minutes after the sun has disappeared. Indeed, sometimes the best color is found well away from the sun. Having the sun in the frame can make for interesting shots but is by no means required.

As a rule, landscapes (seascapes, cityscapes) need an interesting foreground as well as background. For a beach shot that might be a boat, a silhouetted figure on the beach, palm trees. It could even be a closer perspective on the beach itself if it's an interesting rocky shoreline and/or the waves are substantial.

Speaking of rules, one often quoted is the "rule of thirds". Like all "rules" of photography it is often ignored, or honored in the breach, but there's a good reason it's so well known. If you're not already familiar with it, look it up and you'll find plenty of explanations.

As Jim points out the series gets progressively darker. Were you shooting in M mode?

The main way to improve at photography is to practice and observe, practice and observe. And have fun. Enjoy!
Ah, I actually borrowed the wide angle lens from borrowlenses.com and have been stuck with the less expensive (but still very nice). I shot in manual mode with manual focusing, but, as said (in response to Jim), the last picture was taken with a very long exposure with little light, and the second to last picture may be dark because of my camera underexposing to make up for the reflection of light on the water (or I could totally be off).

Thank you for that first piece of advice, and for referencing the rule of thirds to me. The rule of thirds is one of those concepts that I actually did assuming without knowing it's name, nor that it was highly regarded; I looked it up and now have a more accurate idea of how it's supposed to work, so thank you for referencing me.

02-12-2013, 06:14 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by BeginnerDave Quote
I shot in manual mode with manual focusing, but, as said (in response to Jim), the last picture was taken with a very long exposure with little light, and the second to last picture may be dark because of my camera underexposing to make up for the reflection of light on the water (or I could totally be off).
In manual mode the camera makes no attempt at correcting the exposure, leaving it entirely up to you. It does give you a meter reading to help you decide. 30 seconds is the longest exposure the camera will do for you (you can go longer in B, bulb mode) so that is part of the problem. As Jim says, aperture and ISO adjustments are the way to make up for this unless you particularly want a very long exposure to blur water (and even clouds if they're moving quickly). Read up on metering -- the camera has three metering modes, and each is appropriate to different situations.

HDR is fun although becomes "love it or hate it" when taken to extremes. Have fun playing with it but also keep learning about getting good single exposures.
02-12-2013, 06:34 AM   #6
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Images 2, 3 and 4 would be a delightful group if framed together or displayed in separate frames (or separate, unframed mats) in a horizontal line or vertically.
If image 2 was mine, I would be tempted to try to clone out the small orange area approximately 1/3 of the way down from the top, near the white cloud.
Best wishes, and I hope to see more of your photographs.
02-12-2013, 10:04 AM   #7
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Dave,

If you need some help with exposure and metering, I highly recommend Bryan Peterson's book Understanding Exposure. I pretty much shot everything with large aperture and couldn't get my head around why certain things were coming out dark/bright until I read this book. A great resource.

Also, baro-nite points out, HDR can be fun but people either love it or hate it. This is because it is extremely easy to make bad HDR images. But, don't worry... you can expect your first HDRs to be terrible too! It's kind of the nature of the beast. That said, if you want to make fewer bad HDRs, check out Stuck In Customs. Trey Ratcliff is arguably the expert on HDR, and he's got a nice little tutorial for how to process them.
02-13-2013, 03:21 PM   #8
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Hi, Dave. Nice sunset. #2 is the strongest for me with the richest colour. I might have gone down to the shoreline, rested the camera on the sand (or a rock to keep it out of the sand) and tried to get a bit of beach foreground to balance the foreground and the distant subject. I recommend a tripod be one of your first purchases. It opens up many possibilities for longer exposures, smaller apertures and thus more depth of field. As for HDR, it is actually a misnomer - it should be called HDRD High Dynamic Range Destruction because what you are actually doing with the process is decreasing the dynamic range of the image. I like the subtle variety of HDR. To each their own.

03-07-2013, 08:45 PM   #9
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I hope you'll forgive the liberty, but the two "empty" horizons looked to me like they could be joined to make a very striking abstract piece. So I thought I'd just go ahead and put together and post it back here. Great shots to begin with; I'm envious of wherever you get to view such stunning sunsets.
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