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Thread: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

  1. #1
    Seriche's Avatar
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    First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Good morning

    These are the first non-close-up photos I've ever done with a DSLR camera. I have discovered that I don't yet have the slightest idea what makes a good photo. I sincerely hope that it can be learned and doesn't have to be inborn

    Yesterday was my first day out, but the very uninterestingly wet weather put paid to my plans to work entirely out of doors. The rising sun peeked out of the clouds for about fifteen minutes, and I managed to get the outdoors shots. I wasn't out to take pictures, only to see if I could capture what I was seeing with my eyes, but kept wondering if photos could be made of them in future.

    I learned so much on that first day out. I'd only ever used manual for close-ups, and had read some theory about landscape or indoor work, but every time I looked down the lens, a cacophony of rules sounded in my ears and got all jumbled up inside my head I ended up forgetting the most fundamental things and am now in great need of advice from anyone kind enough to enlighten me about where I was going wrong.

    I'm a beginner and can see how bad my photos are, but I don't need 'gentle' or 'kind', though 'courteous' is always welcome The kindest thing anyone can do for me is to tell me what I've done wrong and suggest how to remedy it in future. I value comments from other newcomers like me as well as from the more experienced. Truthful criticism is very hard to find on the net, but I've seen it here and am mightily impressed

    All taken with a 5D mk II, Canon 24-105 IS (first time I'd used this), and played about with in LR3 which I'm new to and haven't learned how to do any local adjustments yet. Shooting RAW since getting Lightroom.

    I took this because I liked the way the low sun was illuminating the boat. I used f/4 because I had read something about isolating the main subject of interest and tried to mute the houses in the background. I love boats but it seems a very ordinary photo to me. Could I have made it more interesting?

    ISO 200, 88mm, f4.0, 1/1000 sec. Hand held.

    First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    I'm fond of all kinds of decay and transformation. The rust patterns on this intrigued me. I used f/5.6 because the background was so busy and I was trying to keep the attention on the rudder. If I'd known how, I might have blurred it more at home. Once again, I feel that I should have been able to make this subject much more interesting.

    ISO 200, 32mm, f/5.6, 1/320 sec. Hand held.

    First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    I've never tried to photograph things indoors before, and learned a bit about long-exposure photos from taking different shots inside this church. I loved the colours of the bell ropes against the blue-painted ceiling. To get the shot I wanted I would have had to stand on the baptismal font, so I put a bean bag on it and shot blind. It hasn't worked, but I'd love to go back and try again if someone could tell me if it's possible to make something of it. Would a wider angle lens have helped here?

    ISO 200, 24mm, f/5.6, 0.8 sec. Bean bag, no flash.

    First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)


    And many thanks to everyone who advised me earlier about how to approach things on this first morning out. I put it all into practice at one stage or another and learned a great deal from it. The weather prevented me from contemplating the scene as much as I would have liked, but there will soon be another day I didn't use the tripod as I wanted to test out the IS on the new lens, but I will next time. I also posted three photos here instead of one through my beginners' reticence about sending in too many individual posts. I could talk forever about photography, and have to learn to rein in my enthusiasm. So many questions!

    Seri
    Last edited by Seriche; 7th July 2011 at 07:17 AM.

  2. #2
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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Good Morning Seri;

    First let me say your doing the right thing by being enthusiastic about photography. Second in time all things will work for the good, if you are patient and are willing to practice and really work on the basics. Basics: composition-composition and composition will produce quality images regards less of the equipment used, OK?

    Time - Time to develop and train your eye and your mind to "see" in a 2D world, not a 3D, so don't get discouraged - this is a new discipline for you to "learn".

    I'll be happy to help you along as will many others here at Cambridge. If you live close to the ocean shore line you can use that as a great starting point to develop "Seascapes".

    Now, do you want to explore the close-up world of marine life, ship/boat parts, rocks and sand shapes. Or, a wider view (a bit safer at first) of the larger overall view of the water and shore and structures.

    Don't be too concerned about a powerful critique on these first pictures, OK. Lets start with you shooting a small series of 4-5 pictures of the same subject from different points of view. (http://manfrottoschoolofxcellence.co...oot-seascapes/) and/or (http://www.nslphotographyblog.com/20...seascapes.html) (http://www.x3magazine.com/2011/06/17...y-lea-tippett/)

    Don't be concerned about how these examples are fixed in post processing, OK-that's another page to the story, for now; in a word COMPOSITION, simple and basic.

    Simple ways to start: http://www.digital-photography-schoo...in-photography or http://www.johnharveyphoto.com/LearnComposition/

    Whew.... I guess it's time for your journey to begin... "Imitate until you can Create"
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/for...mple=1#aboutme


    paul

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Seri

    Am on a work computer at the moment that is not profiled or calibrated, so won't comment on the images until I see them on my home computer this evening. But a first reaction is that I think you're more capable of producing good images than you think you are.

    Well done for posting. The first ones are always the hardest.

  4. #4
    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Hello again, Paul, and many thanks for taking the time to help me out

    Quote Originally Posted by paulwilbur View Post
    Good Morning Seri;

    First let me say your doing the right thing by being enthusiastic about photography. Second in time all things will work for the good, if you are patient and are willing to practice and really work on the basics. Basics: composition-composition and composition will produce quality images regards less of the equipment used, OK?
    Understood, and quite a relief as it will take me seven years to pay off the loan for what I have, so no more upgrades for me until then

    Time - Time to develop and train your eye and your mind to "see" in a 2D world, not a 3D, so don't get discouraged - this is a new discipline for you to "learn".
    I'm still trying to work out how photography has managed to seize hold of my mind in a way that no other interest has ever done before. Since I got a 450D and 105mm last year I've thought of little else, and hate it if I can't get time alone to be with the camera.

    I can promise patience, and I'm longing to learn the basics. I can honestly say that there is nothing I won't do in order to improve, and will willingly do it over and over until I get it right.

    I won't be discouraged by failure as I need to learn by my mistakes. It's not surprising that I was drawn to close-ups when I got a DSLR last year. My drawings were all small-scale, and of single objects so I didn't have to think much about composition although I knew the rules in theory.

    I'll be happy to help you along as will many others here at Cambridge. If you live close to the ocean shore line you can use that as a great starting point to develop "Seascapes".
    I'm just five minutes lazy bicycle ride from the shore, and would seem closer if the lanes didn't meander so much. I'm happy to start with seascapes as I spend so much of my time beachcombing or otherwise close to the sea.

    Now, do you want to explore the close-up world of marine life, ship/boat parts, rocks and sand shapes. Or, a wider view (a bit safer at first) of the larger overall view of the water and shore and structures.
    I want to take photos of the things that create an emotional response in me. Any weather apart from sunny days, but especially storms. Parts of boats more than whole boats, old machinery, old anything, dolmens, entropy at work, broken and worn things. Rocks and sand shapes are absorbing. Trees without leaves, autumn and winter shots. Of marine life the invertebrates attract me most of all. My home is like a miniature museum with too many books and a few old things rescued from charity shops, the rest are all found things broken shells, pebbles, small bones and skulls, feathers etc. But all this can change because I can see someone's brilliant photo of something I don't like and my view of it is transformed for ever

    Donald started me off on being introspective, and I'm learning, not surprisingly, that the things I most want to photograph echo the way I've created my own life small-scale, quiet and simple for the most part, but with escapes into Wuthering Heights whenever a tempting storm approaches

    Here's an idea of the kind of weather we get around here. I'd like to have done it better. Compact camera on auto, hand-held, very close, very wet, but a brilliant day out in a force 9

    First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)


    Don't be too concerned about a powerful critique on these first pictures, OK. Lets start with you shooting a small series of 4-5 pictures of the same subject from different points of view. (http://manfrottoschoolofxcellence.co...oot-seascapes/) and/or (http://www.nslphotographyblog.com/20...seascapes.html) (http://www.x3magazine.com/2011/06/17...y-lea-tippett/)

    Don't be concerned about how these examples are fixed in post processing, OK-that's another page to the story, for now; in a word COMPOSITION, simple and basic.

    Simple ways to start: http://www.digital-photography-schoo...in-photography or http://www.johnharveyphoto.com/LearnComposition/

    Whew.... I guess it's time for your journey to begin... "Imitate until you can Create"
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/for...mple=1#aboutme
    After reading those very useful links the weather is against me for the kind of shot I'm now thinking of, but Saturday morning and the following days are looking good. I'll see what I can do and post the best later. 4 - 5 pictures of the same thing from a different viewpoint, you say? OK. Will do

    Love your Giacometti and armoured ones, by the way

    Thanks again, Paul, much appreciated.

    Seri

  5. #5
    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Seri

    Am on a work computer at the moment that is not profiled or calibrated, so won't comment on the images until I see them on my home computer this evening. But a first reaction is that I think you're more capable of producing good images than you think you are.

    Well done for posting. The first ones are always the hardest.
    Thank you so much for the encouragement, Donald. If hard work, patience and persistence can make me improve I believe I might just make it

    Seri

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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Hi Seri, thank you for letting us view your work. I particularly like the first one of the boat. I know you have a lot on your mind with all the fine suggestions that have been posted so far. I would like to suggest two things to look into when you feel you are comfortable with the previous suggestions. First, do a search for information about the Golden Ratio. Second, with a shot like the stranded boat, look for ways to make the reflection of the boat in the water double the view of the subject. Great shots, particularly the wave crashing on the shore!

  7. #7
    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Hi Seri, thank you for letting us view your work. I particularly like the first one of the boat. I know you have a lot on your mind with all the fine suggestions that have been posted so far. I would like to suggest two things to look into when you feel you are comfortable with the previous suggestions. First, do a search for information about the Golden Ratio. Second, with a shot like the stranded boat, look for ways to make the reflection of the boat in the water double the view of the subject. Great shots, particularly the wave crashing on the shore!

    Hi Frank, my mind is pretty full, as you say, but not to worry as I keep all advice I get here in folders, so I welcome all the help I can get at any time. Nothing goes to waste

    I know about the Golden Ratio and I wanted to apply it to the boat, but it's just outside a working harbour and there were so many other boats, rocks and distractions on the sands that I decided to go for isolating it instead. In my beginners' mind I was thinking that I could crop it to a better composition at home, but that didn't look right in the end. Another lesson learned!

    I have never heard of making the reflection of the boat in the water double the view of the subject. Thank you very much for that tip. I will try it out the next time. I've cycled home many a time with my jeans wet and sandy so I don't mind getting lower down to stretch a reflection

    Very glad you like the crashing wave shot because once I get the hang of capturing them properly there'll be a lot more on the way

    Just for fun, here's another compact camera shot for you which never had the chance to be a real photograph. I love the sea beyond words. My ancestors were boat builders and fishermen, and I was rock-pooling as soon as I could crawl. I've learned that even in the wildest storm it's usually possible to get really close to the sea if you can find a good rock to take the force of the waves. This one was much bigger than it looks in the photo, crashing to 40 foot high, and usually I dodge behind the rock when I see one of these coming, but I really wanted a photo. Looking at it now, I'm not sure why

    And I will also eventually need tips for taking photos when the winds reach hurricane force. I needed both hands to anchor me to the ground that day, and didn't get a single good shot. I also found that man strolling along the rocks very irritating - he quite spoiled that 'fury of nature' look I was going for

    Thanks again, Frank.

    Seri

    First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

  8. #8
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Okay, now back home - so can see the pictures properly.

    I would honestly and without wishing to sound patronising, say that you are producing work of a higher standard than I expected from what you had written. Ergo - you're far too critical of yourself. Being critical is good. Being far too critical is not good.

    I think we can say, on the basis of what you have posted here, that you are well beyond the 'casual snapshooter' stage in your development. There has, demonstrably, been thought put in to the creation of these images. We can even see that in that last one you posted - the panorama. I thionk that's a pretty impressive composition.

    As to your main posts; i.e. the those in the first post, let me focus on the first one. Those little buoys dotted about the scene are a nuisance, but they can easily be cloned out. I've taken photos before with these in the frame, knowing that I'd clone them out later.

    In terms of your 'errors', the 'fault' is that shadow in the bottom rigth quadrant. Such shadows = bad! But your idea was right. That boat sitting there like that in the low sun, was made for a picture. But getting into the world of landscape is about having to look at what is in the whole frame, not just what the main subject is doing. But, again, that's a skill that only comes with practice. It will happen without you even noticing it (I guarantee it) - that one day you will find yourself looking around all of the viewfinder to check that everything is in the right place and behaving in the right way, before you press the shutter.

    And that leads on to another point (that's actually been discussed in relation to one of my images that I posted from my recent holiday) - having the time and patience to wait for it all to come together before pressing the shutter. Very often, I think, we come upon a scene and think 'Wow; - get the camera set up and start shooting - without stopping to analyse it and ask ourselves, 'What are the factors that need to be in place, particularly the lighting, to make this a spectacular image?'

    Of course, it may just been that, by chance, the ideal conditions are present at that moment when you see it and, in that case, being able to work quickly is helpful. However, I would say that that situation is a rarity. The norm is that you come upon a scene and register the potential. But when you stop to think, you see that there are elements (again, primarily the light) that, if different, would make for a much stronger image. And that may lead you to sitting/standing around for quite a long time or even giving up and trying the next day or later. In landscape, you don't have control over all the factors that make a great image - nature is going to have the final say. You just have to be there when nature decides that 'now' is the moment.

    I think you are in the very fortunate position of being very close to a superb location. That allows you to spend time looking at that location, planning shots. And then it's a case of being there when the light is right.

  9. #9
    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Okay, now back home - so can see the pictures properly.

    I would honestly and without wishing to sound patronising, say that you are producing work of a higher standard than I expected from what you had written. Ergo - you're far too critical of yourself. Being critical is good. Being far too critical is not good.
    Understood, but hard to correct. I distrust my judgement because of lack of experience, which is why I value the criticism of others so much.

    I think we can say, on the basis of what you have posted here, that you are well beyond the 'casual snapshooter' stage in your development. There has, demonstrably, been thought put in to the creation of these images. We can even see that in that last one you posted - the panorama. I think that's a pretty impressive composition.
    Thank you I'm only just starting to think consciously about making an image. All the sea shots were done spontaneously with a P&S on auto so any thought involved must have been subconscious. The panorama was cropped later until it 'looked right' to me.

    As to your main posts; i.e. the those in the first post, let me focus on the first one. Those little buoys dotted about the scene are a nuisance, but they can easily be cloned out. I've taken photos before with these in the frame, knowing that I'd clone them out later.
    I agree completely about the bouys, but I don't yet know how to clone. I'm quite new to any kind of serious PP and am still learning LR3 before moving on to CS5. However, I did try content-aware fill just once and find it very impressive. I must see if it will work on those bouys.

    In terms of your 'errors', the 'fault' is that shadow in the bottom rigth quadrant. Such shadows = bad! But your idea was right. That boat sitting there like that in the low sun, was made for a picture. But getting into the world of landscape is about having to look at what is in the whole frame, not just what the main subject is doing. But, again, that's a skill that only comes with practice. It will happen without you even noticing it (I guarantee it) - that one day you will find yourself looking around all of the viewfinder to check that everything is in the right place and behaving in the right way, before you press the shutter.
    I only noticed the intrusive shadow much later; I didn't see it down the lens at all. I recently read that attention is more to do with what we don't see than with what we do. It works to screen out non-essential distractions in everyday life, but it has to be overcome when composing a photo.

    It's amazing how much we we don't notice. We seem to be as hard-wired as hunter-gatherers to concentrate on our visual target and everything else is so subdued that it can effectively become invisible unless it's brought to our attention.

    I have a love affair with the sea so I didn't see the lighthouse in the 'crashing wave' photo until someone pointed it out much later. Until I read about it I never noticed that the sky inside a rainbow is lighter than that outside, or that in a double rainbow the outer one has its colours reversed, yet I'd gazed at hundreds of them. In so many cases we see only what we expect to see. So I can imagine that learning to see what is in the whole frame is far harder than most might imagine.

    And that leads on to another point (that's actually been discussed in relation to one of my images that I posted from my recent holiday) - having the time and patience to wait for it all to come together before pressing the shutter. Very often, I think, we come upon a scene and think 'Wow; - get the camera set up and start shooting - without stopping to analyse it and ask ourselves, 'What are the factors that need to be in place, particularly the lighting, to make this a spectacular image?'
    I shall keep a notebook to remind me to come back to promising spots when weather and tides are favourable.

    Of course, it may just been that, by chance, the ideal conditions are present at that moment when you see it and, in that case, being able to work quickly is helpful. However, I would say that that situation is a rarity. The norm is that you come upon a scene and register the potential. But when you stop to think, you see that there are elements (again, primarily the light) that, if different, would make for a much stronger image. And that may lead you to sitting/standing around for quite a long time or even giving up and trying the next day or later. In landscape, you don't have control over all the factors that make a great image - nature is going to have the final say. You just have to be there when nature decides that 'now' is the moment.
    I understand that concept. I've watched many sunsets hoping to see a 'green flash', but I only saw them twice, and each time when I wasn't waiting for one. And they were electric blue, not green. I wonder if any photographer has ever managed to capture one of those?

    I think you are in the very fortunate position of being very close to a superb location. That allows you to spend time looking at that location, planning shots. And then it's a case of being there when the light is right.
    This small fishing harbour is to the north west of my home. To the west are beaches both sandy and rocky, and half an hour's cycle ride to the south are several miles of stunning 300 ft cliffs. And all around the coast there are small islets, forts, dolmens, tiny moorings, standing stones, old cottages and an ancient castle. I never need to travel far in search of subjects. I left my home a long time ago and since I returned I've never stopped being thankful for living in such a wonderful place. Sometimes you have to leave in order to realise just how much of a treasure your own home really is.

    Thank you so much for the critique and all the valuable advice. I was rained off the shore for most of my first day, but tomorrow is looking more hopeful. I'll be out at 3 am again hoping to try out some long exposure shots on the beaches before the sun rises, and will promise to use my tripod as often as I can I will also take my time in framing the photographs.

    One last question. Even though it's carbon fibre, the tripod is very heavy and unwieldy. I've worked out how to strap it to the back of my bicycle with bungy cords, but it's very hard to carry it in one hand while scrambling over rocks with the other. I'd be happiest with a rucksack, but all the ones I've looked at so far seem to have very flimsy means of keeping a tripod in place. Do you have any suggestions?

    Seri

  10. #10
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Seriche View Post
    It's amazing how much we we don't notice. We seem to be as hard-wired as hunter-gatherers to concentrate on our visual target and everything else is so subdued that it can effectively become invisible unless it's brought to our attention.
    You have, in my humble opinion, just taught yourself one of the most important things about landscape (maybe any kind of) photography.

    One last question. Even though it's carbon fibre, the tripod is very heavy and unwieldy. I've worked out how to strap it to the back of my bicycle with bungy cords, but it's very hard to carry it in one hand while scrambling over rocks with the other. I'd be happiest with a rucksack, but all the ones I've looked at so far seem to have very flimsy means of keeping a tripod in place. Do you have any suggestions?
    I'll get back to you later today (when I get home) as I can't remember the exact model name of my Lowepro backpack. But my tripod is not carbon fibre (you lucky person) but I walk all over the place with it resting in its holster and starpped to teh back of the backpack. It does add a bit of weight, but if you get everything balanced and sitting properly on your back, then you can go for miles with it there.

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    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    You have, in my humble opinion, just taught yourself one of the most important things about landscape (maybe any kind of) photography
    Everyone on this site is acting as both catalyst and inspiration so I can't claim all the credit

    I'll get back to you later today (when I get home) as I can't remember the exact model name of my Lowepro backpack. But my tripod is not carbon fibre (you lucky person) but I walk all over the place with it resting in its holster and starpped to teh back of the backpack. It does add a bit of weight, but if you get everything balanced and sitting properly on your back, then you can go for miles with it there.
    You're so right in saying that balance is the key, and the places I climb, I don't need anything on my back to make any sudden movements. I'm not one for keeping to well-trodden paths

    Ironically it's because I have no money that I have a carbon fibre tripod. I saved up for the 450D and 105mm, but when I wanted to upgrade I realised it would take me many years to pay for it in cash. I don't even have a credit card, and hate debt, but not knowing what the future holds it made sense to take out a bank loan. They wouldn't give me much, but with it I bought the very best for my needs as I'd have to make it last the seven years it would take me to pay the loan back.

    I haven't regretted that move for a moment. Every single day that equipment has given me guaranteed enjoyment and the pleasure of learning so many new things. I must admit that I now look upon photography as the greatest of all temptations. I used to think that nothing would ever make me get into debt, and I've never had much in the way of material needs, but photography! Oh, it was all too much for me

    Seri

  12. #12
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I'll get back to you later today (when I get home) as I can't remember the exact model name of my Lowepro backpack.
    Seri

    The bag I have is a Lowepro Vertex 200AW. I did start off with a small Kata backpack, having told myself that since this is just a hobby I won't be buying any fancy lenses of accessories. I then outgrew that within 6 months of getting the bug. But the Kata bag could not take the tripod on board.

    You should have a look around the re-selling sites as there often seems to be bags for sale as people are up, or down, sizing.

  13. #13
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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Thanks, Donald, I had a look on Amazon and it's down to around 119. The reviews sound great too, and my saintly daughter has offered to buy it for me as an early Christmas present

    Cheers,

    Seri

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    What a nice daughter!! Great. I think you'll like it. And it's got lots of room in it. Finding all the pockets when you first get it is part of the fun.

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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Don't get me started about my daughter - I've loved her unreservedly since the moment she was born

    Can't wait to see the rucksack. I'm a great fan of pockets and the like, so much so that my ex wrote a song for me called 'Containers' which is actually a lot better than it sounds

    Off to get another early night for that early rising tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I'll see that sun when it rises...

    Seri

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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Seriche View Post
    I also found that man strolling along the rocks very irritating - he quite spoiled that 'fury of nature' look I was going for
    Hi Seri, while shooting to capture the fury of a storm which, for me, can be a much more exciting shot, there are several things to have in mind. I won't mention but two that apply to the two shots you just posted.

    In the fifth shot, what would you define as the subject? Where does your eye get drawn to? Where in the picture does it travel? And where does your eye finally come to rest? Then ask yourself the same questions about your 4th shot. Unless the subject is clear, the eye wanders, looking for something to satisfy the mind.

    In the sixth shot, the man puts the size of the waves and rocks in perspective and adds a human touch. Your eye is drawn to him and you get a better sense of how powerful the storm is. I am still trying to learn when and how to add the human element to my shots, and that element can be a powerful story teller.

    Keep shooting! You are learning and doing very well!
    Last edited by FrankMi; 10th July 2011 at 01:10 PM.

  17. #17
    Seriche's Avatar
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    Re: First DSLR's at more than 12 inches :)

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Hi Seri, while shooting to capture the fury of a storm which, for me, can be a much more exciting shot, there are several things to have in mind. I won't mention but two that apply to the two shots you just posted.
    Hi Frank, I have to admit to loving tempestuous seas over calm waters every time. Calm is always calm in pretty much the same way, but according to wind, weather and tide, stormy seas have infinite variety. (I'll be appealing for those other unmentioned things you had in mind when the storm season starts come Autumn ).

    In the fifth shot, what would you define as the subject? Where does your eye get drawn to? Where in the picture does it travel? And where does your eye finally come to rest? Then ask yourself the same questions about your 4th shot. Unless the subject is clear, the eye wanders, looking for something to satisfy the mind.
    Those shots were taken with my compact on auto some time ago, so I was just pointing it at where the action was without thinking

    The fifth shot was just for fun to show how thick the spray was, so it wasn't meant to be a photo, and the fourth was just trained on the wave. Had I thought about it (or even noticed it for looking at the sea) I would definitely have placed the lighthouse differently. But then I wasn't even thinking about composition at all. Now I have the help of kind people such as yourself I will be thinking much more seriously about such things as focal points.

    I'm longing for some winds over force 8 but all is disappointingly breezy here.

    In the sixth shot, the man puts the size of the waves and rocks in perspective and adds a human touch. Your eye is drawn to him and you get a better sense of how powerful the storm is. I am still trying to learn when and how to add the human element to my shots, and that element can be a powerful story teller.
    I must confess that although I love social interaction on forums and with email friends, in my daily life I'm very reclusive (barring my daughter and a few close friends) so I try to keep the human element out of my photos completely! However, I can see how the important it can be, and I wouldn't have minded that walker so much if he had been struggling against the elements. Somehow his attitude suggests a stroll in the park

    I read somewhere that in terms of composition we see a single human figure as having a great deal of 'weight' so that one person can balance a large mass on the other side of the image. I'm learning that composition is obviously a complex thing and not just a matter of geometry...

    Keep shooting! You are learning and doing very well!
    Thank you

    Seri

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