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Thread: Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

  1. #1

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    Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    Hi there,

    I am relatively new to the community and have not posted anything for a while. However, over the last couple of months I have been doing a lot of reading and taking lots and lots of photos, majority of them as self-learning exercise. Until 4 months ago, I was mainly using P mode but now I am trying to switch to manual mode for all my photos. However, it has not been easy as I keep making many mistakes.

    My objective is to get it as right as possible in-camera and I know that I can get close to my objective only by making mistakes and understanding what I did wrong or what I did right. So I need help from you and will sincerely appreciate feedback, critique and suggestions on a couple of photos I will be posting here over the next couple of days.

    Here is the first one

    Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    This Photo was taken with camera hand held on a cloudy evening in Sydney, Australia.
    The settings were as follows.

    Camera Model Canon EOS 40D
    Shooting Date/Time 3/07/2011 4:59:45 PM
    Shooting Mode Manual Exposure
    Tv( Shutter Speed ) 1/50
    Av( Aperture Value ) 11.0
    Metering Mode Evaluative Metering
    ISO Speed 400
    Lens EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM
    Focal Length 70.0mm
    Flash Off
    White Balance Mode Auto
    AF Mode One-Shot AF
    Picture Style Standard
    Long exposure noise reduction 1:Auto
    High ISO speed noise reduction 1:On
    Highlight tone priority 0: Disable
    Drive Mode Single shooting

    Will appreciate your feedback on the photo and suggestions you may have to improve the composition, sharpness and exposure.

    I feel I did not get the exposure right; perhaps I could have used F/8 and shutter speed of 1/60 or so. How could have I got the correct exposure in the first place? Not sure where I got the meter reading from, but perhaps I could have looked at the histogram and corrected the exposure and taken another shot. Is that the only way?

    I did try to use rule of thirds for the sky. I also tried to get a couple of people in the shot for showing the scale aspect. What else could I have done here?

    I selected just a single focal point on a part of the building. Should I have let the camera select focal points in this case as I was interested in getting the whole building as sharp as possible?

    The RAW image can be downloaded from:
    http://www.supplychainbusinesssoluti...o/_MG_6920.zip

    Many thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 14th July 2011 at 09:46 PM. Reason: edit to get rid of smilie

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    Dinesh

    One of the best ways of learning is to seek this sort of detailed comment. So, good on you.

    Quote Originally Posted by dineshscbs View Post
    Until 4 months ago, I was mainly using P mode but now I am trying to switch to manual mode for all my photos. However, it has not been easy as I keep making many mistakes.
    Well done. Stick with it. You do make mistakes to start with. But every mistake is a contribution to your learning.

    Will appreciate your feedback on the photo and suggestions you may have to improve the composition, sharpness and exposure.
    I think the fundamentals are about the things that you do in-camera. Things like learning the nuances of sharpening can come along later.

    I feel I did not get the exposure right; perhaps I could have used F/8 and shutter speed of 1/60 or so. How could have I got the correct exposure in the first place? Not sure where I got the meter reading from, but perhaps I could have looked at the histogram and corrected the exposure and taken another shot. Is that the only way
    The first thing is to say that the EXIF data shows that you were using Evaluative Metering. So, your reading came from the whole scene. The camera measures it all and gave you an indication of what you would get at the settings you used. Remember, metering works very differently when you are in Manual. All that is happening is that the camera is giving you an indication of what you will get at the settings you have dialled in. So, in effect, the camera is doing nothing to help you get the right exposure. You are doing it all yourself.

    So ..... I would guess that when you looked through the viewfinder when you took this shot, the needle at the bottom was way to the left of the centre point. If you had switched to f8 it would have moved to the right. If you had switched to f5.6 it would have moved further to the right. So, when in Manual, use that needle as an aid to help you decide what to do.

    On this one, you are right - the exposure is not correct, It is very underexposed. And you did need to adjust the shutter speed, aperture setting, or both (you already had the ISO set at 400). But you also need to become familiar and comfortable with understanding the relationship between shutter, aperture and ISO. You are right in what you say about going down the numbers to increase the size of the aperture. So, f8 lets in twice as much light as f11. But you then write about increasing the shutter from 1/50 to 1/60, which makes it faster and therefore lets in less light.

    I think the key to this is that you decide on one setting. Let's say you decide that you are going to shoot at f8. You set that and then leave it. To get the correct exposure you then work with the shutter speed and the ISO. Let's say you decide to use ISO100. Fine. Now leave that. The only variable you now have left is shutter speed. That's the one thing you're going to adjust. So, if you set your shutter speed to 1/60 and the needle in the viewfinder shows that this is going to give you a shot that is 2 stops underexposed, you need to adjust the shutter speed by those two stops (from 1/60 - to 1/30 - to 1/15 = 2 stops). So your correct exposure is 1/15@f8.

    As you rightly said, this is a learning process. And in that, the histogram is invaluable. So, the answer to your question about using the histogram is, 'Yes'. Study it. See what it is telling you. Read what you can about using histograms to inform your photography (see, for example, the tutorial on this site). When you take your photograph, the information is shown to you on the LCD at the back for a number of seconds. How do you have that set up? Is it just the picture you see? If so, you can set that up so that the histogram is shown. When the information appears on the LCD, just press the 'Info' button on the back just below the screen. Keep pressing it and you will see the options that are available.

    That's probably enough for now. I hope this has helped your thinking.

  3. #3
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    Dinesh,

    Thanks for sharing, and hopefully we can help you fix mistakes and make all new ones you can fix... I'm going to try and get a little thorough here, but remember that everything is meant to be constructive, I in no way mean to offend by anything I say.

    First, I have to commend you for making the jump to manual mode, I remember when I took those steps too, and I'm really glad I did. So keep at it, and there's no doubt you'll get better.

    I agree with your assessment that the exposure doesn't seem right. My guess is that you're at least a whole stop under-exposed - maybe more. Since you have the RAW, you could bump it up a bit in PP RAW conversion... I sometimes cheat and do that. My honest guess is that maybe you had metered and then by the time you took the shot, the sun had ducked behind some clouds completely changing the metering for the scene. Looking at those clouds, it looks like they are broken enough and thick enough that that could have been the case. The reason I say that, is because I can't really locate anything in the scene that you could have spot metered off of to get that exposure.

    I do think you're right that checking the histogram may have saved you on this image and let you reshoot with a better exposure. Don't trust the LCD display completely when reviewing your image - because of the lighting conditions, the LCD probably appeared brighter than it really was. The histogram will never lie though.

    Now, on to composition.

    I have to be honest here and say that I cannot tell what the subject is. This problem may be compounded by the dark exposure, but I find myself scanning the scene looking for a focal point. I find the sky interesting, but it doesn't dominate the scene. The street portion of the scene is extremely busy with lots of stuff going on, but no real focal point. Additionally, you seem to have cut off the street itself, so there is no anchor point. So we're left with free-floating umbrellas and the very tops of some business store-fronts. I don't know if it is the under-exposure or just the resizing, but I also don't see any of the people you said you included for scale. Are they just that small?

    Let's say that you took this photo to show those dramatic clouds, but wanted to keep some of the building to give the scene a sense of place. First thing you need to do is to eliminate as many distractions as possible. To me, the first one is that lamp post with the banners on the right - to me, it is just in the way. Don't zoom to eliminate it, reposition yourself - personally, I would have moved and stood right at the base of it - then, since you're hand-holding this shot, you can use the lamp post as something to lean on for added shot stability thus letting you have a few more options with your exposure - lower ISO, or smaller aperture, or even a slower shutter speed if you absolutely needed it (though I wouldn't go too much lower). Then ask yourself what else needs to be in the shot - the clouds and the building are a definite, but what about the street? If it works, sure that's fine... but in this case, it feels like you're trying to cram it in, but the field of view just isn't large enough - something has to give. Given how cluttered and busy the street is, if that isn't your focal point in the shot, I'd eliminate it. Because we took a few steps forward and towards the building, we might have been able to get from the first balcony up and eliminate a lot of distraction while actually exaggerating the scale of the building because we would be looking upwards more at it. But the biggest thing is we reduced our distractions and only included those elements that we *really* wanted in the image (by the way, I selected the clouds as my main focal point, you may have selected something else, but the example should give you the idea). Another thought that comes to mind here is turning the camera to portrait mode - because you have a tall subject and then the endless sky on top of it, that may have given you much more space to work with, and also could have helped to isolate your subjects and eliminate distractions.

    I think you did well with selecting your AF point and in selecting f/11 for your aperture. Both the focus and the DoF of the shot work well for me, but as I've said the scene is busy and full of distractions. You may have been able to use a different f/# and AF point to draw attention to your main subject, but I'm not sure what it was, so can't offer suggestions there.

    Dinesh, you're definitely well on your way here, and I'm looking forward to seeing how you take the suggestions you get here (and from others) and bring us more lovely photos to look at! Keep 'em coming!

    - Bill

  4. #4
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    Re: Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    I guess if you really need to get it right in camera, there should be at a minimum five shots per subject, with varied changes to your settings.

  5. #5

    Re: Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    I guess if you really need to get it right in camera, there should be at a minimum five shots per subject, with varied changes to your settings.
    Absolutely agree with this idea, John!

    I just want to make a comment about this, on the side, please. When I first came to cic, I was coming from a place where people used the phrase 'SOOC' (Straight Out Of Camera) with pride. I didn't realize how important post processing was - BUT I wasn't opposed to it - I just didn't know much about it. However, I really, really needed to learn, first, how to get it right sooc. It sounded like I was resisting the idea of pp but, in reality, I just needed help with the basics, first. I didn't have words to quite express that correctly, back then; so, it's just cathartic to spout it out, now.

    Dinesh, when you come and get feedback, here, at CiC, look at what you get back. It's a super place! Reading is great but we need to train our eyes and we need to learn from practical experience - live feedback is so helpful and I don't think that we can grow without it.

  6. #6

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    Re: Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    While I concur with Donald's assessment, one thing you always have to have lurking in the back of your head when playing with f:/stops concerns depth of field. Opening up a stop is fine if you can afford to lose some focal distance. If you cannot afford that focus issue, then you must either raise the ISO or lower the shutter speed. The thing I like most about buildings is they rarely move so shutter speeds aren't a big issue...then of course, there are all those other pesky things like cars, clouds, flags that do move, so in some cases you are back to square one...it really comes down to finding that combination you can live with and get the image you have in your head as to a fine art interpretation of what's really there. I'll generally give up ISO before I give up focal distance because it is so often that specific focus I am trying to set in stone.

  7. #7

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    Re: Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    Thank you everyone for your posts ... I am certainly learning a lot already but please keep them coming. I can take any criticism that will help me improve my photography skills. I am at work now and will respond with more specific things in our evening time.

    Dinesh

  8. #8

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    Re: Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    Hello Donald,

    Very sincerely appreciate your comments and suggestions. Thank you indeed for taking the time to write very detailed comments.

    Having used P mode for so long, I think I often forget to check the Meter Needle.. I need to check it frequently particularly when the light is fading or changing rapidly like what it was at the time.

    I am becoming comfortable with understanding the relationship between shutter, aperture and ISO.

    "You are right in what you say about going down the numbers to increase the size of the aperture. So, f8 lets in twice as much light as f11. But you then write about increasing the shutter from 1/50 to 1/60, which makes it faster and therefore lets in less light."
    I was basing this on less than 1 stop increase in exposure.

    I have been looking at histograms etc, but not actually using them to adjust the exposure. Should the objective be to adjust the exposure so that the histogram is cantered?

    Regards,


    Dinesh

  9. #9

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    Re: Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    Hello Bill,

    Very sincerely appreciate your detailed comments and suggestions. Thank you indeed for taking the time to write very detailed comments.

    I am not at all offended by any constructive criticism.. I want to significantly improve my photography skills and know I have long way to go. I sincerely welcome honest feedback.

    I commented about exposure and histogram in my reply to Donald.

    Your comments and suggestions on the composition are brilliant .. I don't think I put any thinking into it but in future I will pay much more attention to distractions, identifying the main subject and more.

    Regards,


    Dinesh

  10. #10

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    Re: Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    Hi John,

    I would like to get as right as possible in-camera and be able to reduce (but not completely eliminate) post processing.

    I have already concluded that some degree of post processing will be required most of the times.

    Regards,


    Dinesh

  11. #11

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    Re: Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    Hello Katy,

    I absolutely agree with your comments and I am trying to do exactly the same thing as you have stated here. Many thanks.


    Regards,



    Dinesh

  12. #12

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    Re: Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    Quote Originally Posted by MiniChris View Post
    While I concur with Donald's assessment, one thing you always have to have lurking in the back of your head when playing with f:/stops concerns depth of field. Opening up a stop is fine if you can afford to lose some focal distance. If you cannot afford that focus issue, then you must either raise the ISO or lower the shutter speed. The thing I like most about buildings is they rarely move so shutter speeds aren't a big issue...then of course, there are all those other pesky things like cars, clouds, flags that do move, so in some cases you are back to square one...it really comes down to finding that combination you can live with and get the image you have in your head as to a fine art interpretation of what's really there. I'll generally give up ISO before I give up focal distance because it is so often that specific focus I am trying to set in stone.
    Hello Chris,

    Appreciate your comments; you have precisely identified my dilemma - I am new to manual focus and trying to learn which part of the exposure triangle to stretch when.

    Regards,

    Dinesh

  13. #13

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    Re: Feedback, Critique and suggestions please

    You can stretch any or all of it at any time you choose, but like almost anything else, you must do so understanding that the light giveth and the light taketh and not always so kindly. In my own case, it is often tantamount to being robbed at gunpoint; the light gods taketh it all. But, like you and most everyone else on this forum, I perservere and live to shoot another day.

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