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08-08-2014, 12:13 PM   #1
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Beginner photography help needed
Lens: Pentax SMC DA 18-135mm WR Camera: K30 

Hi. I'm new to SLR photography and would appreciate some critiques of the 3 pictures I've attached. I've been using Av mode and focusing mainly on aperture and white balance, though I recently started experimenting with exposure. I'm not at a stage where I want to start manipulating the picture on my computer, so I'd appreciate comments limited to composition or settings on my camera. I think the EXIF data should show up, but if not I can post these in separate posts and manually add the data.

A few specific questions/concerns- on the red rock landscape, I think the color of the sky is messed up. I was using a circular polarizer because of the bright sky, but perhaps I'm using it wrong?

For the llama picture, I was experimenting with depth of field but had difficulties with focusing.

I like the way the flamingo picture turned out (including the saturated colors), but is it too yellow? Would a different white balance have worked better?

Thanks!

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08-08-2014, 12:21 PM   #2
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I think the flamingo shot is the best of the series as it is. However, I would recommend cropping away the foreground in order to adjust your composition to use the rule of things. The foreground is out of focus and uninteresting anyway.

The other two photos are underexposed. In the llama photo, the DOF actually looks very nice. After you bump up the contrast and exposure and fix the vignetting, I think the picture will really come to life.

Adam
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08-08-2014, 12:48 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick response! I'll give it a try. I don't think I understand vignetting very well, can you suggest how to fix it? Or a good online resource to learn more about it?
08-08-2014, 01:05 PM   #4
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Beginning a beginner you could research something called the rule of thirds when it comes to compassion. The stork, lama's face and the depression if the mountain side are in the center of the frame. see: https://www.google.com/search?q=rule+of+thirds+photography&espv=2&tbm=isch&t...w=1680&bih=859 for the effect it has on pictures and Rule of Thirds - Digital Photography School for the explanation. It should help.

08-08-2014, 02:37 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by sd2102 Quote

on the red rock landscape, I think the color of the sky is messed up. I was using a circular polarizer because of the bright sky, but perhaps I'm using it wrong?
Makes it look dark. I don't like polarized sky as it is unnatural.

QuoteQuote:
For the llama picture, I was experimenting with depth of field but had difficulties with focusing.
There are things behind the first head which makes the shape a bit difficult to recognize.
08-12-2014, 05:57 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the feedback. I have been reading up on the rule of thirds and other composition techniques, but I went through the rest of my pictures from that trip and I definitely see too many similarities in my composition with everything being centered. I guess old habits die hard!
08-19-2014, 08:54 PM   #7
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Given the lens that you were using, I'll hazard a guess that the vignetting is the result of your lens. It looks like a kit lens, and therefore a cheap lens. Not to sound disparaging, none of my lenses have been acquired for more than $40 bucks. Lenses like that tend to have some vignetting when opened wide open. If you'd like to get rid of it, try stopping down to f/8. But keep it in mind, there can be some very creative uses of vignetting.
08-19-2014, 09:02 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jadedrakerider Quote
Given the lens that you were using, I'll hazard a guess that the vignetting is the result of your lens. It looks like a kit lens, and therefore a cheap lens. Not to sound disparaging, none of my lenses have been acquired for more than $40 bucks. Lenses like that tend to have some vignetting when opened wide open. If you'd like to get rid of it, try stopping down to f/8. But keep it in mind, there can be some very creative uses of vignetting.
He did not shoot the pics with the kit lens.

Lens: Pentax SMC DA 18-135mm WR Camera: K30

08-19-2014, 09:19 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by DominicVII Quote
He did not shoot the pics with the kit lens.

Lens: Pentax SMC DA 18-135mm WR Camera: K30
I stand corrected. A variable-aperture zoom lens. My apologies, no offense meant.
08-20-2014, 06:35 AM   #10
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No offense taken. Yes, it isn't a kit lens, though it's on the cheaper side of the Pentax lenses so could the vignetting still be the fault of the lens?

I'm getting to be better at seeing the vignetting- mainly in the corners I think? For some of my pictures it's happening when it's zoomed all the way in at 135, but occasionally it happens at other focal lengths. And I don't see it at all in my pictures I took in other parts of the country. Could it be the hood? It was extraordinarily bright down there so I used the hood fairly often in that region, along with a circular polarizing filter.

Thanks for all the feedback, it really is appreciated!
08-20-2014, 08:55 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by sd2102 Quote
No offense taken. Yes, it isn't a kit lens, though it's on the cheaper side of the Pentax lenses so could the vignetting still be the fault of the lens?
I wouldn't say it's the lens' FAULT, per se. It's a quirk of the lens, and you just have to work around it or use it. Many people love vignetting, especially in portraits. It's just a matter of how you want to use it. Usually if you close down the lens, you'll get wider depth of field, sharper images, and less vignetting.

Here's one of my examples of vignetting. I took this not to long ago.



It's not necessarily bad, especially in this photo, in my opinion. It helps frame the subject.
08-20-2014, 09:15 AM   #12
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Composition + PoV

Hello sd2102, welcome to the Forum!
Some good advice so far, I'll add a couple of points for you to consider.
In addition to always centering (a common beginner mistake) the subject within the frame, your compositional and PoV (point of view- the angle, lens focal length and position of the camera relative to the subject) skills need work.
For example, in the first photo, if you had swung your camera slightly left, you would have the two spires completely within the frame. Zooming or walking closer would remove the uninteresting mud and foreground features. It would also show the man and animal in the frame better.
In the second, you didn't check the background, so ended up with another animal directly behind the main subject. Both animals have similar-colored ear tags- See it? If you had moved either right or left slightly, up or down slightly, the subject would have a cleaner background and would 'pop' more.
Last photo, if you waited for the flamingo to move forward slightly, it would be a much cleaner reflection in the larger pool of water ahead- Not broken and missing key elements. Zoom and crop closer, set the subject slightly off-center. The general rule for moving subjects is to leave room in front, so they can move 'out' of the frame. You see this most often in photos of race cars, space 'in front'.
Overall, you have some good compositional ideas, but need practical experience to realize them properly through the medium of camera, lens, exposure and framing. There's an expression in photography that applies here; "Work the scene'. In other words, don't just walk up to a scene and click it. That's a snapshot. Move around, crouch, climb a hill, swing the camera side to side, zoom in and out to see the framing. Check the angle of light, use it to your advantage.
In any given scene there's a PoV that works best for you. Find it, by experimenting with different viewpoints.
JMO,
Good luck!
Ron
08-25-2014, 06:45 PM   #13
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I agree with the first comment. All three of t your photos seem to center the subject. You need to work on the rule of thirds overall to give your photos more leads for the eye. Really, almost everyone here said it all and they really have some good tips, so my advice, take to heart what everyone has said here and just keep at it. You seem to have a good eye for a good subject and/or scene, just make them stand out in an appealing way.
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