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07-15-2009, 08:00 PM   #1
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Photo advice

So I have had my K20D for a couple weeks now and I am getting pretty comfortable taking shots in the macho "M" mode. Like it has been said by many others on these forums that the angle and approach of the shot is just as important as ISO,etc. Having said that I was wondering if I could get some input as to which shot is preferred of the 3 I will attach. Any other input as far as any aspect of the photo would be greatly appreciated as well. These are all the same flower just from different angles with different composures.

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07-15-2009, 09:50 PM   #2
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The second one works the best for me IN THIS CONTEXT. At other times, a different angle would be necessary to make the picture interesting.

If I'm trying to improve on the second picture, I'll try shooting at a longer focal length so that background variation can be minimized (more compressed background) and the attention is given more to the flower. Right now the flower is competing for attention with the background.
07-16-2009, 03:09 AM   #3
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I'm going to go with the first. I would have said the second, but do you see how the flower behind has its stalk going (seemingly) right into the flower that's the subject? It makes it look like the flower that's the subject has two stalks. And also the driveway, being as bright as it is, distracts from the flower.

The first one could have been improved by shooting either earlier in the day or later in the afternoon and using a wider aperture to make the background more blurry.

Still, this approach - shooting more than one and then asking for feedback based on those - is a PERFECT way to learn! Kudos for taking this approach!
07-16-2009, 08:23 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by MoparFreak69 Quote
...Any other input as far as any aspect of the photo would be greatly appreciated as well.
Congrats on your new camera. A few hints regarding your photos:

You don't need to shoot in MANUAL mode, unless your particular lens cannot use AUTO or gives some sort of exposure errors; your Pentax has a neat feature that allows you to adjust the aperture or the shutter speed to serve the purpose of an image: the P mode (hyperprogram) - I like it!

For instance, in your first photo, as the previous members had pointed out, ideally you want the background to be blurred, (Bokeh); by other words, you want to remove detail, highlights and such distractions, in a way that the foreground (the flower in this case), becomes more distinct and preeminent, thanks to the blurriness, diffusion of the background. Look at those images that you probably observed in high school related to Gestalt psychology: a white (active) form on a black (passive) background. Psychology of Perception can teach us a lot about photography, in what concerns to vision, of course. If you donīt remember what I'm talking about, or your teachers have passed by, you may look here:
Gestalt psychology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

So, how do you blur the background? As K McCall has pointed out, you have to use a wide aperture. You could shoot from a longer Focal Length as McCall and Andi Lo also noted; the problem here is that you want to "fill the frame" and from a distance that may be impossible, unless you are using a telephoto lens. Itīs here that the P mode comes handy. You measure the exposure and shutter speed automatically by means of half pressing the shutter release button and, because you want the blurred background, you only have to decrease the f/stop number to a lower value on the e-dial; a word of warning: because you are shooting wide open, you may easily end with blurred images; to overcome this, (ideally) you shoot on a tripod; shooting handheld itīs possible but be very steady and put SR on; alternatively you may use a monopod with excellent results. Give it a try; take a series of photos of the same subject from the same distance, decreasing, progressively, the f/stop value and look at the results.

Of course if you want the opposite, as in a landscape photo, that is, everything in focus, you could use a higher f/stop. If you want to freeze action, as in sports photography, you increase shutter speed, and so on; again, all this adjustments are pretty easy in P mode. You could access all this settings in the mode dial but, again, it's much easier in P mode.

As to do with Composition, as a rule of thumb, you don't want to put your "form", subject, in the middle of the frame - "dead-center" - because it becomes too static, leading to saturation, thus making it less interesting. Preferably, you should align the subject with reference to some lines that form the dynamic force field of the image as a whole. These lines are known as the "rule of thirds" or the "golden rule" and it's so ancient as Art itself, although the Greeks have turn it to a "rule" properly speaking. If you Google about this principle you will find plenty of information. You may look here for a start:
Rule of thirds - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Photography is also very dependable on light. Choosing the right light is an essential aspect of photography. As McCall noted, shooting early in the morning or at dawn can vastly improve the quality of an outdoor/nature photo, mainly because you avoid the harshness of the mid-day light and take benefit from the beautiful warm soft tone of the light available at this periods of the day. The exception goes for overcast days, which are also great, contrarily to the common belief, if you don't need the blue sky.


Last edited by Manel Brand; 07-16-2009 at 11:00 AM.
07-16-2009, 02:40 PM   #5
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I to am new to photography. thanks for the lesson and thanks for the comments. would like to know if a closer shot in the second picture would have made a difference? more texture to the flower.
07-16-2009, 11:30 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by psuloth Quote
...would like to know if a closer shot in the second picture would have made a difference? more texture to the flower.
Sure, getting closer is a great way to improve your photos, generally speaking; sometimes one or two steps closer makes a lot of difference; of course, you could buy an expensive telephoto lens, so you don't need to walk to get closer. However, in this kind of shots (the two first shots), if you want to shoot closer, you should use a Macro lens to be able to capture the fine and the complex texture/detail of the flower; a Macro lens lets you capture the subject really closer; for instance, with the SMC Pentax 50mm FA Macro lens, you could focus at a minimal distance of 0.195m!
07-17-2009, 09:55 AM   #7
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I like the second one but would have rotated counter-clockwise to get the driveway out of the picture and have aimed a little higher to remove the ugly section of stalk just below the flower or picked a different flower.
07-17-2009, 11:13 AM   #8
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I personally don't think you should be looking to anyone else's opinions on which photo is "best". Photography is a creative, artistic endeavor..... best to rely on your own instincts & tastes, no matter what anybody else thinks. The only experience this approach requires is the experience of trusting your own judgements.

07-17-2009, 12:01 PM   #9
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I'm gonna cheat and say a combination of 2 and 3. If you look at 3, there is a flower in the upper right that is almost perfect for the same treatment that you used it #2. Like some of the other posters have said, open up the aperture a bit more to get a blurrier background. Experience will tell you how much you can open up and hand hold without overpowering the SR. (you can also practice hand holding, elbows in, holding your breath, steady pressure on the shutter, if you've ever shot a gun the priciple is exactly the same) The reason I said the upper right flower is the darkish monochromatic background of the shadowed garage door. It will make a very nice background and also clip off or bend away the dead bloom right next to your subject. One of the nice things about day lilies is that have great profiles, interesting curls to the petals. If you can walk around your subject with an eye to the background, try to pick as uniform a texture as possible and something dark or contrasting color. Here is a shot I took the other day of a similar day lily. I wanted to capture the lighe coming thru the flower and also the shape of the petals. I had a wide angle of choices and picked the one that gave the darkest and most uniform background that still left me with some light coming thru the flower. I then started stopping down the lens until I got to a point where I knew the backgound would be sufficient blurred but the shutter speed was still fast enough to hand hold. I used AV priority to do this.


NaCl(attention to background is as important as your subject)H2O
07-17-2009, 05:25 PM   #10
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I see the one you are talking about. I will have to try out a few more shots if it comes out this weekend. I believe I shot most of these photos at an f11 aperture so I will try going down to an 8, maybe 6ish and see if I cant blur up the background a little more. I have read reviews where my lens isnt the greatest for obtaining "bokah?" but it seems to do pretty good if I get the settings just right.
07-17-2009, 06:24 PM   #11
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If you go down even more on f-stop the background blur or bokeh (some people tell me they're different... I'm still grasping for understanding ) should be more prominent.
07-17-2009, 06:48 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by MoparFreak69 Quote
I see the one you are talking about. I will have to try out a few more shots if it comes out this weekend. I believe I shot most of these photos at an f11 aperture so I will try going down to an 8, maybe 6ish and see if I cant blur up the background a little more. I have read reviews where my lens isnt the greatest for obtaining "bokah?" but it seems to do pretty good if I get the settings just right.
No the kit lens doesn't have the best, no zoom really does (IMHO anyway) but it's good enough, and it's a great lens to practice with. It's also an nice close focusing lens and that is another way to get a blurred background, generally speaking the closer you are the more blurred the background will be. Keep shooting, keep asking questions. To a large extent photography is a craft and like any craft it takes practice to get a good grasp of the fundamentals. In the beginning I went to where I liked to shoot, and clicked away to my hearts content. One of the beauties of digital is that the camera remembers pretty much everything you did and saves it in something called an "exif" file. So you can take a photo you like and see what you did right (you can also see what you did wrong, but it's more fun to see what you did right) remember that and try to use it the next time you have a similar shot.

NaCl(some of the other beauties of digital are that it's almost instant and the shots are free)H2O
07-17-2009, 08:19 PM   #13
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Thanks for all your thoughts and ideas. I went outside earlier and snapped off quite a few shots of a couple things around the house. I waited until it was starting to become dusk so that the lighting would be more even like was suggested earlier in the post. I also played around with some different framing / centering ideas and would like to see if my changes are overall liked or am I moving in the wrong direction? The rose I kinda wanted to keep the bush slightly blurred but visible enough to tell that it was the rose bush hopefully without detracting attention away from the yellow rose itself.
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07-17-2009, 08:24 PM   #14
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In this case I don't think the bush detracts attention all that much sicne the rose has such a vibrant color. I like the results this time! The second picture is a tad underexposed, and can do witha bit more contrast in postproduction.

Right now you're following our advice but as some other poster said, you should in the end develop your own style Keep shooting!
07-17-2009, 08:29 PM   #15
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I tried to take another photo like the second one but exposed a half stop longer and the highlights on the edges of the petals blew out which I thought detracted from the look of the flower itself.
I am definately working on my own style, but I also need to make sure I make photos that are not only appealing to myself but others as well. To me that makes the difference between a "good" photographer and a "successful" photographer.
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