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09-08-2011, 08:31 AM   #1
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Can someone help me improve my shots?

After having my k-x for some months now, I am starting to consider myself an "advanced amateur" but definitely still an amateur nonetheless. I LOVE my k-x, probably a little too much, and I am trying to become a better photographer after every use. I have been taking the top to read up on photography theory and technique, and I am learning more everyday about the lingo and execution, but I'm curious as how to progress. I eventually intend to upgrade in 6 months to a year, but until then, I just need a little direction for how to improve my shots. I added two new posts yesterday in the "Show us your best k-x shots" thread with some pictures that I'm happy with, and I am open to constructive criticism because I want to improve.

Here is a link to my two posts: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/88994-show-us-your...ml#post1640571
One of the shots is from my very first day with the camera (the indoor shot of the blonde couple), so the exposure, focus and white balance are a little less than ideal, but other than that what do you think?
I have a Tamron 28-75 coming in the mail later today, and I probably will invest in some studio lighting at some point (also made a post about that) but independent of spending money on equipment, any suggestions for improving my shots technique-wise?

09-08-2011, 08:48 AM   #2
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I would just make a couple of quick suggestions. First off, most of your composition are too centered. Your subject shouldn't be dead-center in the frame unless the composition calls for it. Also, every shot you posted was in a horizontal orientation. Don't be afraid to turn your camera sideways and shoot vertically when needed.
09-08-2011, 08:55 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
I would just make a couple of quick suggestions. First off, most of your composition are too centered. Your subject shouldn't be dead-center in the frame unless the composition calls for it. Also, every shot you posted was in a horizontal orientation. Don't be afraid to turn your camera sideways and shoot vertically when needed.
Thanks a lot for the reply! You make some good points, I have fell into a couple traps, but please note that there are more pictures in the post directly below the linked one that are mine too. I got a little more creative with some of those later shots, and one or two are in vertical orientation (along with my avatar).
09-08-2011, 08:59 AM   #4
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I think it's very hard to just look at a few images and say, you need to do x, y, & z and you will be good. As most of your posted images deal with people, is that where you see yourself headed? Rather than getting more equipment, ask yourself, what am I trying to say with those images? When you figure that out, ask yourself again, did they convey those ideas? Some of them look technically quite good. Personally, I'd suggest that if you have access to some type of photography classes at say an adult ed or community college, take one of those or if there is a workshop or two available do a few of those. You can really improve this way. Books are good but a classroom environment can really help with a lot of things.

Edit: TaoMaas makes good points on composition. I would agree with those.


Last edited by blackcloudbrew; 09-08-2011 at 09:02 AM. Reason: had another thought
09-08-2011, 09:34 AM   #5
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I think you're doing pretty well. I only saw a couple of shots that I thought were too centered. I'm not a big believer in following rules, though. Liked the abstract fence and lights shot. I'd say just keep shooting and let your taste and style evolve on their own. A willingness to keep at it and a desire to get better are the two biggest ingredients to becoming a good photographer. You're on the right path.
09-08-2011, 10:04 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by DogLover Quote
I'm not a big believer in following rules, though. Liked the abstract fence and lights shot.
The thing that draws your eye the most in that shot (the brightest light) is pretty much dead-on a rule-of-thirds placement. Still, I agree that a person shouldn't be a slave to the rules...(more like guidelines, really). Strictly adhering to the rules doesn't automatically make a shot good, but neither does breaking them. The trick is in knowing when to use them and when to ignore them. Actually...that's not true. The trick is to be able to get to the point where you can just forget about them so that they're no longer a conscious part of your shooting, IMHO.
09-08-2011, 10:15 AM   #7
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There are some nice shots in it. But some of them are definitly not good at all.

You have a beutiful girlfriend, but the nose-shot is not the best one (if it was sharp at her lips it could be nice), infront of the mirror in bikini is what these days is seen taken from iPhone to put on Facebook or so (so this is far from advanced).

You are still forgetting about small things in your frame that don't belong to the picture. Like the shadow of the child on the beach that is not complete, toiletpaperrolls, an arm on the right, a candle growing out of a rose with your mom, having a tree in the picture but missing the elbow ofyour girlfriend. Get an eye for those things (for now after you made them and you will start to see them when you are taking pictures.

And there are also lovely pictures like profile on the beach and scream or almost good with girl looking up (here both eyes can be sharp with only a little adjustment in the picture).

Don't know about the last one, it is apealing to my eyes, but a little weird in black/white with a little freaky eyewhite.

You are good on your way.

I'm also an amateur.
09-08-2011, 10:16 AM   #8
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i understand what all of you guys are saying and you all make some good points. I'm always looking to improve and challenge myself by practice. For example, I think I'll challenge myself to take 50 shots or 100 shots all using rule of thirds, the next day I might challenge myself to take shots all in portrait orientation as opposed to landscape, maybe next time I'll try all black and white. Its important to me to just have fun with it and try to become more versatile. Also, switching it up, landscapes, portraits, street photography, wildlife, candids and even some macro can keep it fun and interesting. Thank you for your feedback. If theres anything that helped you when you were first starting out, please let me know, I am 100% open. My Tamron just got here seconds ago, so its like Christmas for me right now, so excuse me while I go out and play haha.

09-08-2011, 10:20 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Hi, I've looked at your pictures.
The ones I like are the boy at the surf, the girl with sunglasses and the yawn.
The others are, well, too much as if taken from the point where you usally approach a subject.
Try changing your composition and more also try to change the angle you take a photo.

What I like is some mistery.

I'm not a pro and not the best photographer around, but this is what I mean:

The darkness and the light in a diagonal makes it different.

Or this one:

I could have stand right in front of the temple, which I also did when we were there, but this picture has more character.

Or here:

The blade in front gives the picture a different dimension. It would have been better if I were less in front of the boat.

Pictures at sunset or dawn are better than any other moment of the day:
Sunset:


Dawn:


Jsut before the sun came up:


No straight lines:


In many occassions it is better to move down.
Get the camera low, you'll create more depth.
Imagine this photo taken a 6 feet high, it would not have any depth:


The most valuable advise I can tell you is; experiment. Experiment *a lot*!
Find different angles, take a flower from the ground up instead top down, look for an angle you would not normally approach the subject.

Have fun, you are doing great!
Play more and enjoy yourself.
Don't worry, the delete button is right there...

Bert
09-08-2011, 10:24 AM   #10
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hey brandon, i generally don't offer critique since everyone's art is their personal thing and I cannot possibly know what you may have intended yadda yadda, but since you asked I will offer what i can.

first off, i am very impressed with your subject matter and creative points of view - i think you definitely have an eye for an artistic photo and it shows. What jumps out at me in a few photos is distracting elements in the compositions...with quick grabs it isn't always possible to clean up the composition but i would pay attention to detracting details such as the concrete line through the dogs head, the toilet paper rolls on the bathroom vanity which wipes away some of the impact of an otherwise interesting portrait of your girlfriend. also that amazing portrait of your nephew in a tux has a stray arm and some legs that could've been placed differently - that one would work well in portrait orientation since either side of the image are unnecessary. You get the idea. Other than this, i am stunned by the g-friend portrait with the bokeh lights behind her and her expressions are great. And just a random tip when shooting people or pets i use is to shoot a burst of three shots and keep the one with the best facial expression. You are well on your way and i hope you can use something i've said. good luck!
09-08-2011, 10:26 AM   #11
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would agree with the above suggestion - I see most of your photo POV is taken while you standing tall, you are pretty tall as well I would guess. So some shots looks like P&S shooter with a dSLR camera...
Try to change the POV (point of view), as you did in few shots.

But overall I would say very good for a starter. ^^

Lee
09-08-2011, 10:37 AM   #12
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One efficient exercise is to take some photos wider than usual, then use a crop tool afterwards to recompose; save a few different compositions from the same photo and review them later. Better yet, have someone else review them too.

It might be good to use a lens about 2/3 the focal length you'd usually use - that'd let you move the center to the fit the rule of thirds in all directions I think.
09-08-2011, 02:50 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bymy141 Quote
In many occassions it is better to move down.
Get the camera low, you'll create more depth.
Imagine this photo taken a 6 feet high, it would not have any depth:
This!

You'd be amazed how either dropping low or going high will alter the feel of a picture. Even things you normally wouldn't associate with this technique can be helped by it. I was at the harness races at a local fair a few weeks back and was snapping the horses from over the fence. They were nice shots, but they all seemed to be kind of generic.

Then I had the bright idea of finding a spot where I could lay down on my side and shoot from about 6 inches off the ground. The difference in height made the shots from there.

Both of these shots would have come out a lot different had I shot them from eye level.






Also, and this sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes you can get the best shots when you don't think about composition and rules of thirds and all that stuff. If you snap shots before your brain tries to go in and edit, you can sometimes come away with a gem. One of my favorite shots was one I snapped out a car window while playing with the toy camera and cross process filters on my K-x. I wasn't thinking of composition at all, and snapped a shot that I like despite it having more than a couple glaring 'flaws' to it.

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