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08-23-2013, 06:08 PM   #1
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Critique away

1st time taking photos with my new k-30, would like some feedback. I have never shot with a camera besides cheap disposables, and thought i'd give it a try. I know the shots are way underexposed but the camera told me they were just a little underexposed, also my 1st time using lightroom, so let me have it. All comments are welcome. Thanks.

PS Why don't they look the same when i upload them as they do on my computer?

The Captain Cool

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08-23-2013, 06:22 PM   #2
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Number two is my preference. I like the composition and exposure.

The files are resized by the board software if you have uploaded a large image. If you want to post directly to the board, 1024 longside is a safe size. Alternatively, many post to a hosting site such as flickr and link the photos.
08-23-2013, 06:52 PM   #3
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Ahh, I see
08-23-2013, 07:08 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by TheCaptCool Quote
1st time taking photos with my new k-30, would like some feedback. I have never shot with a camera besides cheap disposables, and thought i'd give it a try. I know the shots are way underexposed but the camera told me they were just a little underexposed, also my 1st time using lightroom, so let me have it. All comments are welcome. Thanks.

PS Why don't they look the same when i upload them as they do on my computer?

The Captain Cool
You had a pretty nice sunset going for you, but a pretty sky and water do not awesome pictures make. Kudos for keeping the horizons straight, and I like the overall almost creepy vibe I get from them, but I think most of them lack a subject that evokes emotion. I think your settings seem right (although the 4th from last seems to suffer from a bit of camera shake) and that a brighter exposure wouldn't have fully captured that twilight essence, but the composition - the elements that you chose to include or exclude, the framing of the scene, the angle you shoot it from - could use some more thought.

As far as the post-processing goes, I think you kept the right tone through most, although the last was a bit over-saturated in the yellows. I don't mind crazy post-processing at all (my sliders are at 100 more than they are at 0), but if you want a saturated look, I feel you should really own that aesthetic and really push it, if that is what you want. Also, the fill light (shadows increase) looks pushed a little far - like not what the naked eye would see. Once again, it's fine to go with that look, but really own it!

This is all subjective and just my opinion of course! Learning a new camera is never easy, especially at the same time as new software. Also if you love what you are doing and producing, don't let anyone tell you to do it differently

08-23-2013, 07:08 PM   #5
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Some are just a little crooked. Turn on horizon correction, and look for the meter in the viewfinder. It will only correct small shifts. Also, it looks like you have the camera set on the default color saturation (camera menu 1, under Custom Image). For my tastes, it's too saturated, I set min on Neutral or natural or whatever it's called. You may have even used the sunset filter for these; that's an intense color palette, and that looks great at first, but the more you do this, the less you will like that much saturation.

Agree with Flickr. Free account, upload full res files, you can use it as an online backup for your best work. You can set up LR to upload them directly with a plugin. I keep my Flickr service as the default collection, then you just need to click on the circle in the thumbnail to add it to your Flickr stream.

As far as metering, for a starting point, these are actually pretty good. Much brighter, and the highlights get clipped. I would click Auto under exposure in LR, and adjust to taste. Probably drop the highlights lower, raise the shadows, add white, and then up the exposure a little. I'd probably move the WB slider a bit to the yellow on some of these, although generally I like the AWB setting on my K-30.

There is a book called "Understanding Exposure". All newbies should read it; I did and it transformed my photography. I know why I want certain apertures, shutter speeds and ISO settings. I checked it out from the library, didn't even cost me anything, but I think it's like $15 on Amazon.
08-23-2013, 07:17 PM   #6
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After I clicked Post, I though of one more thing, find a group on Flickr to belong to, or join one of them on here. Shoot the challenges, because it will make you think about your photography, and what you want to do as an artist. Technical mastery of your camera is less important than taking a picture of something interesting. One the Flickr group I belong to, one of the guys posts every day with a point and shoot, and it's almost always better that what I post. Mine is clearer, better focus, better overall image quality, but his shots are always more interesting.
08-23-2013, 07:25 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by K McCall Quote
You had a pretty nice sunset going for you, but a pretty sky and water do not awesome pictures make. Kudos for keeping the horizons straight, and I like the overall almost creepy vibe I get from them, but I think most of them lack a subject that evokes emotion. I think your settings seem right (although the 4th from last seems to suffer from a bit of camera shake) and that a brighter exposure wouldn't have fully captured that twilight essence, but the composition - the elements that you chose to include or exclude, the framing of the scene, the angle you shoot it from - could use some more thought.

As far as the post-processing goes, I think you kept the right tone through most, although the last was a bit over-saturated in the yellows. I don't mind crazy post-processing at all (my sliders are at 100 more than they are at 0), but if you want a saturated look, I feel you should really own that aesthetic and really push it, if that is what you want. Also, the fill light (shadows increase) looks pushed a little far - like not what the naked eye would see. Once again, it's fine to go with that look, but really own it!

This is all subjective and just my opinion of course! Learning a new camera is never easy, especially at the same time as new software. Also if you love what you are doing and producing, don't let anyone tell you to do it differently
Any idea how you might have composed it differently? I really don't know what i'm doing, i was just looking through the viewfinder and shot what i thought looked cool. Any good reading materials on composition? Thanks for the feedback.
08-23-2013, 07:27 PM   #8
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Problems and Solutions?

Hello TheCaptCool, Welcome to the Forum!
Cap, you're making some normal beginner errors, but they're fairly easy to correct. By 'easy' I mean myself and others can point them out, but the rest is up to you. It will require quite a bit of work, practice, research, practice, study, practice and...you guessed it! Practice. If you seriously want to improve your work, take fine photos and be proud of your newly-discovered talent and skill, read on.
First off, take control of the camera. Right now, it's making most of the decisions and in a challenging situation like the one you photographed, it made some wrong ones. Why? Not a 'fault' but you have to understand the limitations of the program and light metering in particular.
Here's a greatly over-simplified example that should explain what happened to the exposure;
The light meter in the camera tries to 'even out' the dark/light ratio to a medium value, called 18% gray. Pretend there's a brilliant white balloon and a deep black balloon floating in a clear blue sky. OK?
You would like the blue sky to be your middle light value. But you point the meter at the black balloon and the meter says "Ohhh, very dark, must lighten this up" And the exposure comes out WAY light, blue sky is off-white, black balloon is light gray and the white balloon is completely washed out.
See what happened?
Opposite side of the same scene; You point the meter at the white balloon. Yep, meter sees a too-bright object, darkens everything down to mud.
That's what you did. You focused and metered on the band of light sky in the middle. Now, you understand the rest.
Fixing it is the easy part. Somewhere near your right thumb position (when you're holding the camera normally) is a button labeled 'AE-L'. Stands for auto-exposure lock. If you're paying attention, you've guessed what's coming. Remember the balloons? Meter on the blue sky, press the button, hold it, re-compose the shot. Click. YOU control the exposure, not the camera.
Pretty simple, eh?
Same thing for focusing; Another button, labed 'AF'. Focus on the part of the scene you want to be sharpest, press the button, hold it in, re-compose the shot. Click. Most of your photos have the point of sharp focus at infinity (farthest distance) because that's where you metered and focused. Objects closer to the camera are out-of-focus (OOF).
Last suggestion; No more explanations or lectures, just advice. Google 'Composition in Art'. Find a good tutorial and study it. I don't mean watch it once, really study it, commit it to memory. Like an important exam is coming. Every time you take a photo from now on, you'll use one or more of the guidelines explained there.
Good Luck! Hope I wasn't too harsh, you seem like you want to learn, so there it is.
Ron

08-23-2013, 07:31 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
Some are just a little crooked. Turn on horizon correction, and look for the meter in the viewfinder. It will only correct small shifts. Also, it looks like you have the camera set on the default color saturation (camera menu 1, under Custom Image). For my tastes, it's too saturated, I set min on Neutral or natural or whatever it's called. You may have even used the sunset filter for these; that's an intense color palette, and that looks great at first, but the more you do this, the less you will like that much saturation.

Agree with Flickr. Free account, upload full res files, you can use it as an online backup for your best work. You can set up LR to upload them directly with a plugin. I keep my Flickr service as the default collection, then you just need to click on the circle in the thumbnail to add it to your Flickr stream.

As far as metering, for a starting point, these are actually pretty good. Much brighter, and the highlights get clipped. I would click Auto under exposure in LR, and adjust to taste. Probably drop the highlights lower, raise the shadows, add white, and then up the exposure a little. I'd probably move the WB slider a bit to the yellow on some of these, although generally I like the AWB setting on my K-30.

There is a book called "Understanding Exposure". All newbies should read it; I did and it transformed my photography. I know why I want certain apertures, shutter speeds and ISO settings. I checked it out from the library, didn't even cost me anything, but I think it's like $15 on Amazon.
Awesome i'll check out that book, thanks.
08-23-2013, 07:33 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
After I clicked Post, I though of one more thing, find a group on Flickr to belong to, or join one of them on here. Shoot the challenges, because it will make you think about your photography, and what you want to do as an artist. Technical mastery of your camera is less important than taking a picture of something interesting. One the Flickr group I belong to, one of the guys posts every day with a point and shoot, and it's almost always better that what I post. Mine is clearer, better focus, better overall image quality, but his shots are always more interesting.
That is an awesome idea. Where do i find the groups at?
08-23-2013, 07:43 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by rbefly Quote
Hello TheCaptCool, Welcome to the Forum!
Cap, you're making some normal beginner errors, but they're fairly easy to correct. By 'easy' I mean myself and others can point them out, but the rest is up to you. It will require quite a bit of work, practice, research, practice, study, practice and...you guessed it! Practice. If you seriously want to improve your work, take fine photos and be proud of your newly-discovered talent and skill, read on.
First off, take control of the camera. Right now, it's making most of the decisions and in a challenging situation like the one you photographed, it made some wrong ones. Why? Not a 'fault' but you have to understand the limitations of the program and light metering in particular.
Here's a greatly over-simplified example that should explain what happened to the exposure;
The light meter in the camera tries to 'even out' the dark/light ratio to a medium value, called 18% gray. Pretend there's a brilliant white balloon and a deep black balloon floating in a clear blue sky. OK?
You would like the blue sky to be your middle light value. But you point the meter at the black balloon and the meter says "Ohhh, very dark, must lighten this up" And the exposure comes out WAY light, blue sky is off-white, black balloon is light gray and the white balloon is completely washed out.
See what happened?
Opposite side of the same scene; You point the meter at the white balloon. Yep, meter sees a too-bright object, darkens everything down to mud.
That's what you did. You focused and metered on the band of light sky in the middle. Now, you understand the rest.
Fixing it is the easy part. Somewhere near your right thumb position (when you're holding the camera normally) is a button labeled 'AE-L'. Stands for auto-exposure lock. If you're paying attention, you've guessed what's coming. Remember the balloons? Meter on the blue sky, press the button, hold it, re-compose the shot. Click. YOU control the exposure, not the camera.
Pretty simple, eh?
Same thing for focusing; Another button, labed 'AF'. Focus on the part of the scene you want to be sharpest, press the button, hold it in, re-compose the shot. Click. Most of your photos have the point of sharp focus at infinity (farthest distance) because that's where you metered and focused. Objects closer to the camera are out-of-focus (OOF).
Last suggestion; No more explanations or lectures, just advice. Google 'Composition in Art'. Find a good tutorial and study it. I don't mean watch it once, really study it, commit it to memory. Like an important exam is coming. Every time you take a photo from now on, you'll use one or more of the guidelines explained there.
Good Luck! Hope I wasn't too harsh, you seem like you want to learn, so there it is.
Ron
I made sure all of the setting were on manual, i figured if i'm gonna learn it's gonna really be learning. Am i missing something that's still auto? Or in my noobness did i just try and make the far away things in focus and not think about the rest of the scene?
08-23-2013, 07:47 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by TheCaptCool Quote
Any idea how you might have composed it differently? I really don't know what i'm doing, i was just looking through the viewfinder and shot what i thought looked cool. Any good reading materials on composition? Thanks for the feedback.
First allow me to also say welcome to the forum and that I hope you don't mind my brazenness. I vividly remember when I first posted my photos to a different forum and they were torn to shreds. I like to think that experience helped make me a better photographer

Second, when you ask for critique, it's best to post just one photo to ask people to look at. Critiquing is its own art, and to do it well requires someone's attention and time, so pick the one you thought was best and then submit it. That said, the third from the bottom was my favorite of your series. I like the tones of the image itself and the way the light serves as a beacon for the scene - almost like a lighthouse in miniature. What I don't like it how the twin motors seem to dominate the foreground and the boat to the left if cut off mid-bow (or is it mid-stern?). The light dominates the scene only because it is the brightest element. Ideally it would have been to the right (or left) and probably the bottom third of the picture (keeping with the "rule-of-thirds"). Perhaps some sky - even if it were only dark, monotonous sky - would have been included. If your message is a desolate, empty pier, show the whole thing! If it's the lamp-post in the middle of nowhere, get closer to the light and really make it sing! Don't be scared of negative space, where nothing happens. That will only serve to bring attention to the thing you want to bring attention to.

As for books, I'm afraid I don't have any advice. I've browsed through the book selections at bookstores, but overall I haven't found anything super-useful. I'd take the advice of a previous poster and join a flickr group and get ideas and feedback that way. Study photos that appeal to you and ask yourself WHY they appeal to you. Learn how your camera works - ISO, aperture, and shutter speed - and worry about post-processing later. Otherwise you'll spend more time on post trying to fix what you could have gotten right in the shoot. And then just shoot! Take tons of photos and post some of them here and ask for advice and then take some of that advice and discard the rest and just do want you like
08-23-2013, 08:01 PM   #13
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Too Manual?

Hi Cap,
Well, I'd save the full manual setting until you have a better hang of the metering limitations. For now, your best bet is Aperture Priority (AV on mode dial), which meant the rear thumb dial controls aperture and the meter matches a shutter speed to the middle value. Then, try to meter on a part of the scene that's 'medium' or about 'light' enough for an overall brightness level. Lock that setting with the AE-L button, shoot a frame.
The above only applies if you have a "Auto' or 'A" lens. Auto aperture, not necessarily auto focus.
Next, check the camera manual for 'Exposure Compensation'. Between AV, checking the LCD after the first shot and what you'll learn from the manual, you'll soon understand exposures.
Ron
08-23-2013, 08:12 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by rbefly Quote
Hi Cap,
Well, I'd save the full manual setting until you have a better hang of the metering limitations. For now, your best bet is Aperture Priority (AV on mode dial), which meant the rear thumb dial controls aperture and the meter matches a shutter speed to the middle value. Then, try to meter on a part of the scene that's 'medium' or about 'light' enough for an overall brightness level. Lock that setting with the AE-L button, shoot a frame.
The above only applies if you have a "Auto' or 'A" lens. Auto aperture, not necessarily auto focus.
Next, check the camera manual for 'Exposure Compensation'. Between AV, checking the LCD after the first shot and what you'll learn from the manual, you'll soon understand exposures.
Ron
Got it, thanks so much everyone.
08-24-2013, 04:52 AM   #15
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For me #1 is the best of these. (Would be even better with the horizon level!) A good photo is as much (or more) about what is excluded and/or implied as what is clearly seen. The others have too much extraneous stuff in the foreground. #1 actually looks like a composed image. It has a perspective that draws the eye into the frame (the receding dock), a simpler and cleaner arrangement of relatively strong visual elements (dock, light, skyline), an intriguing contrast between the cool blues of the evening against the orange artificial light, and an obvious focal point (the light).

The best ways to learn and improve are to practice, study, practice, study... Study great images (whether photographic or otherwise) that you like and try to figure out what you like about them and how they work (perspective/composition, lighting, color, etc.). See if you can copy these things in some of your own photos. Study the basics of exposure and how to use your camera. Practice.

There are several reasons a photo can change appearance when posted to the web. One has been mentioned -- automatic resizing and sharpening. Another has to do with color -- big subject; short answer is to use the sRGB color profile for web copies of your photos.

Another great learning resource is AdoramaTV, in particular the clips by Mark Wallace.
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