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Old Aug 8, 2011, 1:27 PM   #11
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Hello there,
I can relate to the "struggling with photography" somehow as for me this goes up and down, too. Sometimes I can't fill my SD cards fast enough and then there are weeks, even months with just a couple shots.

I'd take a break if I was you. Try not to photograph but just to look. Look with your "unarmed" eye to say so. These are two different things for me - the world looks different if you use a camera, I am sure you know what i mean.

Try to do things differently from your normal approach.
- don't do flower macros, use a wider lens and try to photograph the whole meadow/grassland
- coming back with 200+ photos from a trip on a regular base? Limit yourself to like 20 shots! (warning: might be very hard / frustrating)
- try to get the "perfect" shot with using only your camera settings (i.e. get the histogram right, contrast, color etc.). Do that for b&w, too. I have separate in-camera b&w settings which differ strongly from my normal color settings

As for your images: I'll try to "bitch" about them as much/good as I can, maybe this will get you some ideas. So no hard feelings, please

#1 - I like the b&w, DOF is really the thing to discuss here. While I don't think it's really a problem in this shot I think a wider DOF (everything in focus) would increase the "structure feeling" you (probably) were after. Just a thought.

#2 - great. I'd try some minor crop adjustments if you are reallyup to experiments.

#3 - Agree with you. Try another crop, maybe a wider view. The sky and the ground are both uneasy and it's hard to find a steady/main point. Compare it to #2 - much more pleasant/easy to look at and "read" - don't you think so? The pole is placed too much at the border. I think with a wider view and some different postprocessing this could be a great image. Do you insist on b&w?

#4 - The background is distracting. Crop tighter to get rid of it or try something else.

#5 - HDR is not overdone to my mind (judging from what I see on my non-calibrated TFT monitor). It feels a bit like there were some weak halos left of the towers.

#6 - interesting... still not sure about it to give some better comments.

#7 - not my cup of tea. I probably wouldn't keep it.

#8 - colors and details look good to me, but I'd really like to see a wider DOF. I know, that it is quite cheeky to ask for it, but that is, what could make the image even better.

#9 - image is good/ok. It has lots of detail in the right blossom and the out of focus bokeh looks nice and smooth. It's a bit on the dark side for me, though. Maybe play around with some other crop variants?

I hope I could "help" a bit with my comments, good luck!

Th.
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Old Aug 8, 2011, 7:33 PM   #12
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First to re-echo Kevin's comment about just enjoying - you are (as usual) far to critical of your own (very lovely) work.

First to answer the ID question - your butterfly is a Mourning Cloak - one of the few species that survives the winter as adults, and probably the one with the longest lifespan. Usually very skittish and hard to photograph - you did a great job on this one! Here's more info:
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/s...phalis-antiopa

#1 - would love to see this with both more DOF (all in focus) and MtnMan's idea of less DOF. But this one is fine as it is, and a great B&W conversion.

#2 - am not enough of an artist to feel comfortable commenting on this one, would be interested to see how it would look shifted a little to the left.

#3 - an amazing photo - so much detail and yet so (seemingly) simple.

#4 - very interesting textures and repeating patterns.

#5 - building looks a little pale, and would agree that bluer sky might look better...

#6 - great light!

#7 - very nice habitat shot, and great smooth water. Will be interested to see how a similar shot with CP looks.

#8 - it's tough to get proper exposure on Mourning Cloak - I usually either blow out the yellow edge or underexpose the brown. Yours looks just right! (as does the focus right on the eyes...)

#9 - very nice use of DOF, and color looks great to me...
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Old Aug 8, 2011, 11:50 PM   #13
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Thanks for the feedback, especially all the details. It always gives me a better idea of how others see what I take, always a good thing even when people don't agree with each other (i.e., about the dof of the first one). I always learn so much from these discussions.

I think I'll try cropping just a bit off of the left side of #2. When I took the shot I was looking more at how the cables join the posts and the V shape of the empty space below the posts (the converging lines). I completely missed how overpowering the shape of the end posts are and the incredibly strong parallel diagonal lines of the supports (duh!). When I saw the shot on the monitor, I was rather blown away by what I had missed. I think the framing with as much of the cables as there is makes the picture too much about the cables though, distracting from the strong parallels. Not sure if that will help or hinder things.

So often when I'm shooting I'll see a couple of things that look cool. I think the problem I have with the third picture is what Th said - it's unsettled because I couldn't decide completely on my subject. It was really the sky I was looking to shoot, but I threw the post in at the last moment (it is interesting, with its charred end) and it shows that it's a sudden, last minute addition not completely thought out. I did it in b&w for two reasons - first, I like b&w and have been converting a lot of my pictures. Second, because its an HDR and the color didn't come out well at all. I also had to lighten the post quite a bit more than the rest of the picture, even on the HDR version, and it was problematic. I kept the picture mainly because I liked how the post came out (need to go back and re-take that post this weekend).

Mole, I'm glad you saw what I saw when I took the picture. Unfortunately the leaves (fronds?) were on the ground so there was no way to properly separate them from the brown background. I couldn't crop it out as I didn't want to lose the yellow repeating ends on the left side, I could crop some but not all. I think this falls into the "almost" category and I should probably forget it.

Mole - thanks for the ID on the butterfly. I've now managed to get a couple of decent sort-of shots of butterflies, took some pictures of a small white one on Saturday. It was not half so obliging as this one was - I managed to get fairly close to this one without it moving (other than to indicate it was very aware of my presence). The original was slightly underexposed (I had been shooting in matrix mode and there was enough lighter ground to keep the highlights from blowing out. The marine layer was in so there wasn't bright sunlight, making less dynamic range also. It was easy to adjust the exposure a bit to lighten everything up, I was pleased with it.
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Old Aug 9, 2011, 4:55 AM   #14
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I posted another photo of my trip to the Black Forest. Please have a look: http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...ml#post1247453

This one reminded me of your b&w pole shot. I included the pole on purpose here and I feel it really adds to the image. I stay away from a b&w version, though. You are welcome to try a b&w conversion if you like, though. Here you can see what I wanted to tell you about #3: while the ground has lots of details, the sky is quite unstructured/even. With some main spots (pole, valley, tree, horizon line, cloud) it makes it easier for the viewer to "enter" the image (hard to explain) and read it. With lots of small clouds in the sky that image wouldn't "work" for me. Just my opinion.

Yours,
Th.
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Old Aug 11, 2011, 4:37 PM   #15
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Harriet, I've always enjoyed your photography. I just wish I had your eye for composition. Don't be so hard on yourself!
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Old Aug 11, 2011, 11:21 PM   #16
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I see an understanding of most elements of photography from DOF to framing, contrast, color and things like that but I don't see anything that looks like an understanding and use of perspective distortion. This could be something that you could explore to give you a new way of seeing.


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Old Aug 12, 2011, 9:24 AM   #17
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Hmmm - an interesting idea. I'm always trying to avoid perspective distortion (except once in a while with wide angle or fish-eye), never thought about embracing it and exploiting it. Well, other than a series I shot a couple of days ago of some iron workers on a construction site - it was great fun to shoot them on top of the support beams with a grey sky and using different focal lengths - either showing them either close-up or as barely an orange spot. I'll have to think about how to use perspective distortion in a positive way.
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Old Aug 12, 2011, 6:37 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
Hmmm - an interesting idea. I'm always trying to avoid perspective distortion (except once in a while with wide angle or fish-eye), never thought about embracing it and exploiting it. Well, other than a series I shot a couple of days ago of some iron workers on a construction site - it was great fun to shoot them on top of the support beams with a grey sky and using different focal lengths - either showing them either close-up or as barely an orange spot. I'll have to think about how to use perspective distortion in a positive way.
Not unusual. Perspective distortion for most photographers is an under appreciated and poorly understood subject in photograph. The saying “zoom with your feet” shows a lack of understanding of the subject.


Perspective distortion is pervasive in photograph. It is in just about ever photo you have taken even thou it may not always be relevant or recognized. Most struggle with the fiction of DOF and that is a fussy subject but perspective distortion is something we learn when we first learn to see and then just ignore. I have been in photograph for more then 30 years and it took me a very long time to understand it. I have also have been looking for a single source describing perspective distortion and how it is used in photograph but to date I have not found it. What I know I have found from multiple sources and my own experimentation. It was when I truly understood what a normal lens is that I started to understand perspective distortion. Once you learn it you will see how many great photographers use it a lot.


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Old Aug 13, 2011, 9:45 AM   #19
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mtngal

Maybe off topic, but maybe take a break from the gear and go exploring with a point-and-shoot?

I've been doing that more this summer and getting really happy with what I've been experimenting / learning.

My thing this summer has included playing with the sun, shooting into the sun, playing with sun halos on the girls' hair, capturing sun rays, identifying things that glowed when backlit with the sun, and a slew of other random things.

Walking away from my dSLR reduced my fiddling with the camera and forced me to find other interesting things to play / fuss with.

That's just me, but I've been looking at ways to change what I've been doing and where I want to go next.

Maybe I got inspired by the concept of this book ( http://www.amazon.com/Best-Camera-On.../dp/0321684788 ), but I think maybe it's also my fascination with pushing cheap(er) cameras as far as I can push them as well. [I'm planning to try to see how far I can push using external flash with a point-and-shoot without a hotshoe. Just for fun.]

Maybe off topic. Maybe random. But something that I've found useful for myself.

Take care, Glen
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Old Aug 15, 2011, 5:07 PM   #20
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Fabulous job Harriet! Liked number 1 the most
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