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mtngal Jan 10, 2006 11:41 AM

As I've stated in a couple of threads, I haven't been totally satisfied with my personal pictures with my camera. I love almost all of the photos others post, so I'm trying to decide what it is that I'm unhappy with. I've been thinking about this for a couple of weeks, and that's too long - now I've totally lost perspective. I figure that the following are all possible problems:

1. My personal photo techniques (if this is the problem, please give me some suggestions to improve them!)

2. Some setting on the camera I've got wrong (let me know if you think this is what I'm doing wrong)

3. There's nothing wrong with the pictures, I'm too critical of my own stuff or my monitor needs to be calibrated

4. My camera has a problem

Specifically, it seems like my pictures don't pick up enough detail -many lose the texture of what I'm taking (does this make sense?). I've put some of the ones I like in an album on photobucket and would love someone to look at them. These are some of the ones I liked - I have tons of other ones that are far worse. All these have had some pp done in photoshop (even if it is only resizing). I know that some of these have errors in framing, could be cropped better etc., but they are pretty representative of the kinds of things I usually take.

Please take a look at them and let me know what you think. I really do want to make the most of this camera. Thanks!

genece Jan 10, 2006 2:29 PM

Most of those photos are very nice IMHO

If anything I wonder about your resizing style?

How do they look before you do that?

Stump1000 Jan 10, 2006 2:56 PM

mtngal, I think your pictures look awesome.What kind of pp do you do in photoshop? I would like to see your full res pics before any pp or resizing is done. Do you use the USM filter? I've found ways to make my pictures look better with pp in photoshop. Do you have aim?

fmoore Jan 10, 2006 4:42 PM

Mtngal - We can rule out your camera having a problem and we can rule in your being too critical, but that's good. You have a good eye and some excellent scenery. Your foregrounds are a little weak.For example,theblurred rock in the otherwisebeautiful tree trunk/bark shot. Your horizons are a little askew - beach shot. Both of those shots have wonderful color, the composition is just a little off. The pink flower would probably be better if it were all in focus - the blurred background is good and offsets the flower nicely. It's basically up to you to decide what is good and what isn't. If you're unhappy with a shot, makea subtle change here and see what happens. Go back to the same location with the same lighting and try to get it right. You have a good camera and a good eye and fantastic opportunities. You'll figure it out.


rduve Jan 10, 2006 5:42 PM

mtngal, the correct answer is.....

3. There's nothing wrong with the pictures, I'm too critical of my own stuff or my monitor needs to be calibrated

I don't know what you are used to or what you are expecting. What was your previous camera?

Telecorder Jan 10, 2006 6:27 PM

rduve wrote:

mtngal, the correct answer is.....

3. There's nothing wrong with the pictures, I'm too critical of my own stuff or my monitor needs to be calibrated

I second rduve's opinion!

mtngal, you're off to a GREAT start :-)!!

All of your photos have some great aspects to them in one way or another. You have a good eye for a photo op.While, like you, I hope every photo I take is worthy enough to print and frame, I doubt there are many that can make that claim...

Your photo - Botanicalp632v3 really struck me as a great photo with the way you captured the focus on the edges of the flower and the softpistils inside. I believe thou doth protesth too much. (Admit it, that's what you were aiming for...!)

I'd venture your self critique, at this stage, is overly harsh. If anything, I think you'll eventually come back to these initial photos and do some PP with them to realize just how good they are! Of course, the PP is a learning curve unto itself...

Corpsy Jan 10, 2006 6:53 PM

Mtngal, most of these look very nice. Sometimes our own stuff just doesn't seem as nice as other people's stuff. If you've ever gone to art school, you probably went there feeling like everyone can draw better than you, and were then baffled when one of them complimented your work.

Your shots appear well exposed and the colors look good. They're a bit small so I can't say much else about the quality. As for composition, you should try to make your shots more interesting by arranging the objects of interest differently in the frame. Search the "rule of thirds" on Google. Keep in mind that when you see one really nice shot from a professional photographer, that was likely the best of a 100 shots that you didn't get to see. You've got a digicam, so don't feel silly about taking dozens of shots of the same thing from slightly different angles.

tiger98 Jan 10, 2006 9:22 PM

Mtngal, I can't remember seeing any bad photos that you have posted ! I think your being too hard on yourself. Relax and keep shooting the quality of pictures you have posted and I don't think you'll hear any complaints about your work with the camera ! Jim

mtngal Jan 10, 2006 9:29 PM

Thanks everyone for the re-assurance - I really did need it. About the only one I was really pleased with was the yellow flowers (I think it was the last one) and it had the stick at the bottom of it. I tried a different crop and it seemed out of balance, so I gave up on it. Also I normally straightened the horizons (I'm actually better than I was, but still not there yet) but again, I wasn't sure I liked any of them enough so didn't bother.

I was a little surprised by the size of them. I had re-sized them to use as a screen saver at work (1152x864), and just uploaded them. Photobucket resized them down from there. I'm not sure where I could get the full sized photos hosted, other than imagestation.

Stump - I do use unsharp mask most of the time, but try to use as little as possible - are they over or undersharpened? What is aim - since I don't know what it is, I would guess I don't have it.

The botanical632v3 probably had the most pp done on it. It was a small flower that was in the shade and head high, which meant that I had to use ISO 200 in order to handhold the camera (I think shutter was 1/60 even at 200, and f2.8). I had just downloaded the full version of Neat Image and this was my test case. I lost some of the detail because of it, made the too small DOF too noticable.

Thanks for reminding me about the rule of thirds. How can I change where the focus/exposure square is? I haven't figured out how to move it away from the center of the viewfinder, and Ioftenforget to re-compose after using the half shutter to lock everything up,I gettoo focused on what I'm looking at and trying to get the focus and exposure right.

I've never taken an art or photo class (it shows, I know) and this is the first time I've asked help to how to be a better photographer (reading books will only take you so far). Most of what I've taken up to now have ended up on my screensaver at work. Some day when I can retire I'll take a photography course.

Right after I posted this I took both my old camera, a Sony F717 and the Panasonic back over to the Botanical Gardens for lunch and took a few flowers with both cameras. I haven't looked at them yet (thought I would check in here first). I think some of my problems come from some of the things I like about the Panasonic. The Sony is a forgiving camera, it doesn't seem to be as capable of having a small DOF as the Panasonic (advantage, Panasonic) and the zoom is more limited, so it's faster lens at full zoom makes it much easier to avoid camera shake and avoid DOF/other focus problems (all have plagued me!). I've gotten careless. Thanks for the encouragement, I'll keep working at mastering this camera.

Telecorder Jan 10, 2006 9:48 PM

mtngal wrote:

How can I change where the focus/exposure square is?

Go into Menuto change both the metering area and the focus areas...

Grant2 Jan 10, 2006 10:13 PM

I think you have a good eye and take some lovely photos. The misty Beach really speaks to me. It's all about individual preference I think.

I can't offer you any advice though sorry as you are already a much better photographer than I. Keep up the great work.

trooplewis Jan 10, 2006 10:33 PM

I like them all except #19, which needed a larger area in-focus I think.

I'm one of those guys who does not like or do much PP, and so I like to shoot in autobracketing mode, more choices with fewer blown highights

Overall I really like your choice of pictures and how you framed them, lovely country!

mtngal Jan 10, 2006 11:27 PM

Thanks for the suggestions, especially about bracketing. I think I'll try that for a while - most (but not all) of those I posted were taken using raw because it seemed like I could control it better. However, today when I was out shooting with both cameras (posted a separate topic with a link to crops of the 2 cameras) I used jpg and the only ones that didn't come out well were either taken by the Sony or ones that I just didn't think worked. I've been switching between -1/3 and -2/3, or going to 0 if the subject is in shade. I'm getting better at anticipating which one will work, but auto bracketing is much easier - I had forgotten about that! And it will help because I often like high contrast pictures (I've been just accepting that some parts will blow out, but I shouldn't do that, should I? Come to think of it, the "texture" I'm looking for could be missing because I'm blowing out too much?

I can't tell you how much you guys have helped me - thanks so much!

trooplewis Jan 10, 2006 11:34 PM

Do you use the histogram? Just remember that if anything stacks up against the right side, you will probably have blown highlights in the photo. ANd I always start with -1/3 and then I use autobracket, at least outdoors in any sort of bright conditions.

rduve Jan 11, 2006 12:54 AM

Telecorder wrote:

mtngal wrote:

How can I change where the focus/exposure square is?

Go into Menuto change both the metering area and the focus areas...

For the "focus square" you actually press the Focus button to the left of the lens, keep it pressed while you can toggle and choose one of nine squares to focus on. You must be in 1-point AF mode to use this feature. As far as exposure is concerned, I don;t think you can choose an area other than by using spot focusing and pointing at the area you would like to use for you autoexposure. Then you can press the AE lock button and change the composition of your image. Remember you want to always point at a median lit area to get correct autoexposure, not points that are very bright or very dark, otherwise you'll have to use the exposure compensation feature to get it right.

Telecorder Jan 11, 2006 8:14 AM

Ooops... my bad; Rduve is correct, as usual.

I was referencing focus on my FZ5.:OI'm still working up to the FZ30 budget

msantos Jan 11, 2006 8:53 AM

Hey!!, your picts look great.

As mentioned, Rule of Thirds could help you a lot. Same happens to me, often I'm to focused fon exposure and focusing that I forget to frame correctly. I suggest you to use a tripod, view the image on the LCD (not viwfinder) and imagine you are looking at a postcard, how can you frame it to make it look the best?. Once you have found the "perfect" framing, then set the exposure, focus, and shoot!!

It takes more time, but it has worked for me.

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