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Old Dec 29, 2013, 8:26 PM   #1
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Default Some Help and Critique

I have taken some photo's on a rare sunny winter day. I would like some help on making photos better. This was just a walk around trying to spy something interesting to shoot. I was hoping for some stunning sharp shots. This is what I ended up with. I shot these with a Pentax K-5 and the DA 18-135 zoom lens and I believe the FA 50mm 1.7. I don't know how to upload with EXIF Data.

Pic 1
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax DA 18-135
F-Stop: f/8
Exposure time: 1/250 sec
ISO speed: ISO-80
Exposure Bias: -0.3 step
Focal Length: 48mm
Metering: Pattern
35mm Focal Length: 72
Exposure Program: Shutter Priority

Pic 2
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax DA 18-135
F-Stop: f/9
Exposure time: 1/250 sec
ISO speed: ISO-80
Exposure Bias: -0.3 step
Focal Length: 21mm
Metering: Pattern
35mm Focal Length: 31
Exposure Program: Shutter Priority

Pic 3
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax DA 18-135
F-Stop: f/11
Exposure time: 1/160 sec
ISO speed: ISO-80
Exposure Bias: -0.3 step
Focal Length: 18mm
Metering: Pattern
35mm Focal Length: 27
Exposure Program: Shutter Priority

Pic 4
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax FA 50mm 1.7
F-Stop: f/8
Exposure time: 1/400 sec
ISO speed: ISO-80
Exposure Bias: -0.3 step
Focal Length: 50mm
Metering: Pattern
35mm Focal Length: 75
Exposure Program: Aperture Priority

Pic 5
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax DA 18-135
F-Stop: f/10
Exposure time: 1/160 sec
ISO speed: ISO-80
Exposure Bias: 0 step
Focal Length: 100mm
Metering: Pattern
35mm Focal Length: 150
Exposure Program: Aperture Priority
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Old Dec 29, 2013, 8:33 PM   #2
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A few more:

Pic 6
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax DA 18-135
F-Stop: f/9
Exposure time: 1/125 sec
ISO speed: ISO-80
Exposure Bias: 0 step
Focal Length: 24mm
Metering: Center Weighted Average
35mm Focal Length: 36
Exposure Program: Shutter Priority

Pic 7
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax DA 18-135
F-Stop: f/14
Exposure time: 1/125 sec
ISO speed: ISO-100
Exposure Bias: 0 step
Focal Length: 48mm
Metering: Center weighted Average
35mm Focal Length: 72
Exposure Program: Shutter Priority

Pic 8 was more for humor why would you plant a tree in the middle of a bike path repeatedly
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax DA 18-135
F-Stop: f/13
Exposure time: 1/125 sec
ISO speed: ISO-100
Exposure Bias: 0 step
Focal Length: 18mm
Metering: Center weighted Average
35mm Focal Length: 27
Exposure Program: Shutter Priority

Pic 9
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax DA 18-135
F-Stop: f/8
Exposure time: 1/100 sec
ISO speed: ISO-100
Exposure Bias: 0 step
Focal Length: 88mm
Metering: Center weighted Average
35mm Focal Length: 132
Exposure Program: Shutter Priority

Pic 10
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: Pentax DA 18-135
F-Stop: f/10
Exposure time: 1/160 sec
ISO speed: ISO-100
Exposure Bias: 0 step
Focal Length: 36mm
Metering: Center weighted Average
35mm Focal Length: 54
Exposure Program: Shutter Priority

Thanks for looking and suggestions

Mark
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Old Dec 29, 2013, 11:14 PM   #3
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What are you using to process your photos? Were these taken as jpg or raw files? You have greater latitude when shooting raw than jpg, but it isn't necessary.

A couple of things I noticed is that some of the scenes look like you had too much dynamic range, especially for jpg. If the pictures were shot in raw you can probably recover detail in the shadows easily (I usually always slightly underexposed shots when using the K5, then recovered the details in the shadows by adjusting the blacks and perhaps the shadows in Lightroom or ACR).

I really like your bike path, it's a cute shot! It looks a little soft, without seeing the original file it's difficult to guess why. Resizing down always introduces some softness - did you add a bit of some sort of sharpening after you resized it? I always use a bit of Topaz Lab's Detail after resizing, I have found my own settings as I didn't like their presets.

Another possible reason might be because you used f13, you could be getting some diffraction. I don't have the 18-135 but often the "sweet spot" for a lens is around f5.6-f8, depending on the lens. I've read places that say you shouldn't shoot using an aperture smaller than f11, but I think that's sometimes carrying the worry of diffraction too far for some lenses but not for others.

I think most of these could be improved with some post processing. Some of them look a little flat. Since you did ask for help, I'll post one that I played around with a bit. I think the results are a bit too much, but you get the idea. I straightened it a bit, adjusted the levels a bit (there was a blank space on the right side, meaning that there wasn't much for highlights). I then added a second levels layer to darken the sky a bit, adding a gradient mask to keep the bottom of the picture from getting too dark, and painted back in the lighter parts of the tower. That added contrast to your picture and used more of the histogram than had been used before. I think I overdid the last layer mask, the overall tone is a bit darker than what I would probably prefer. I also took out a distraction on the left side (a different type of light?).

If you don't like it please say so. If you want me to remove it, let me know that also and I'll delete it.
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Old Dec 30, 2013, 9:56 AM   #4
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Constructive criticism: For me the photos are just too soft. For portraits, a bit of softness is good (depending on the tone of the portrait) but for landscape/architectural work, I like crisp details.

Like mentioned before, it's hard to tell why the photos are so soft. Personally, I would shoot in aperture priority over shutter for this kind of work. You don't have moving subjects so as long as the shutter stays high enough for your focal length, the shutter speed isn't really the limiting factor. Some of the softness may be attributed to the small shutter.

Photo 1: Could be an interesting subject but not an interesting composition to me. A crop would likely be better. Better yet would have been zooming closer or moving closer when you took the photo.

Photo 2: I like the photo. Like the perspective. Needs straightened and centered. I would try to crop or clone out the handrail on the left. Editing for levels and saturation would go a long way too. To me, this is a photo that is 75% finished. I look at photography as 25% equipment, 25% post productions and 50% composition and photographer's eye. Many people will say that you don't need post production if you're a good photographer but I think of photography as an art and not necessarily a recreation. I want my photo to tell the story I want it to tell, if that means upping or lowering saturation or lightening or darkening shadows, then I do it.

Photo 3: Decent composition but again it's soft overall. Needs PP work to finish it off.

Photo 4: There's not alot that's "interesting" to me here. The light pole gets in the way of a clean composition. The interesting aspects are the boat itself and personally, I'd rather see 5 photographs really close to the boat (the rust on the hull, the tires hanging by the rusty white section, the ropes attaching to the boat, etc) than 1 photo from this distance that doesn't really give me a good view of what makes the boat cool, IMHO. This is another that's soft overall. I can't tell what the focal point is.

Photo 5: Possibly the best composition. Some post production might make this a stellar photo.

Photo 6: Just a building to me. As a person who doesn't know where this is or what's unique about it (if anything), I get no additional information from the photo. Find something interesting about your subject (the building in this case) and photograph it, instead of the object as a whole which may be remarkably uninteresting.

Photo 7: Soft and probably the worst composition. A pile of dirt and rooftops.

Photo 8: This could also be a winner with some post. Needs a bit of straightening and some level work but I think it could one of your better ones from this set.

Photo 9: Not alot going on here either. While not as bad as #7, it's not a whole lot better and still VERY soft. Doesn't seem like anything is in focus.

Photo 10: This is exactly what I would have liked to have seen with the other boat. You can't see the whole boat in the photo and that's perfectly fine. You can see enough evidence to know that it's a boat and the more interesting thing about the boat (the chipped paint) is the focus of the photograph. I personally might have gone even closer but I think that was one of your better ones in this set as well.

From worst to best (IMHO):
7
9
6
4
3
1
2
10
5
8
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Old Dec 30, 2013, 10:28 AM   #5
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This may be helpful for you. http://www.adorama.com/alc/0014315/a...her-Get-Closer

It's a bit smaller scale than I was talking about with the boat, but the idea is there.

Also, this one: http://www.adorama.com/alc/0014071/a...to-Composition

Last edited by sumx4182; Dec 30, 2013 at 11:01 AM.
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Old Dec 30, 2013, 4:44 PM   #6
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Mntngal

I shoot JPG. My photo software is Photoshop Elements 10. I don't mind criticism as long as there is something to learn from it. I am really not very good with making adjustments in elements, sometimes it is not bad. I was really hoping to get sharper shots from the camera itself.

Sumix4182 thanks for the links I will look at them after I finish this response. I don't know why the photos are soft but this has been my problem for a while I cannot seem to get my photos sharp enough. I realize my compositions are not that great but I have to start somewhere. I also appreciate your response. You can practice and practice but if you do not know what to change your results will be the same. That is why I put myself and my shots out there, to get some helpful tips.

Not that this is an excuse, but I have a hard time telling how sharp a shot is looking at the little screen on the back of the camera in the bright sunlight.

Thanks All
I hope to post more.
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Old Dec 30, 2013, 5:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popellis View Post
Mntngal

I shoot JPG. My photo software is Photoshop Elements 10. I don't mind criticism as long as there is something to learn from it. I am really not very good with making adjustments in elements, sometimes it is not bad. I was really hoping to get sharper shots from the camera itself.

Sumix4182 thanks for the links I will look at them after I finish this response. I don't know why the photos are soft but this has been my problem for a while I cannot seem to get my photos sharp enough. I realize my compositions are not that great but I have to start somewhere. I also appreciate your response. You can practice and practice but if you do not know what to change your results will be the same. That is why I put myself and my shots out there, to get some helpful tips.

Not that this is an excuse, but I have a hard time telling how sharp a shot is looking at the little screen on the back of the camera in the bright sunlight.

Thanks All
I hope to post more.
I almost feel like your camera is missing focus or something. I can't find a reasonable excuse for those photos being so soft. I mean, assuming you're using autofocus, the camera should get SOMETHING in focus. To be soft across the frame is strange to me.
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Old Dec 30, 2013, 6:48 PM   #8
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Sumx4182
Generally I use center auto focus, I also have a Tiffen Ultra clear filter on most lenses for protection.
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Old Dec 30, 2013, 8:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popellis View Post
Sumx4182
Generally I use center auto focus, I also have a Tiffen Ultra clear filter on most lenses for protection.
Have you taken any without the filter? Possible that it's affecting IQ.
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Old Dec 30, 2013, 8:18 PM   #10
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First thing to do is to take some comparison shots with the filter on and off. I've not been all that thrilled with the 2 Tiffen filters I tried, but yours might be better quality than mine were. Way too often filters will degrade your picture.

Second, check your settings when you resize, that can make a difference. Try shooting with the camera on a tripod or a table and turn SR off. See if that makes a difference. Do you have a different lens you can try out?
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