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Thread: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

  1. #1
    Shooter Shep's Avatar
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    First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    [IMG]First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart[/IMG]

    Hello everyone, I am a complete beginner looking to get involved in the forums and would welcome any C&C's I can get. I have just started a course at college and for the duration of it I'm only allowed to use the camera on manual settings, probably a good way to go while getting to grips with the concepts of exposure.

    The image posted is the first one I've taken where I've managed to achieve the effect I was looking for. I've been out a few times playing about but nothing up to now has turned out. I'm quite happy with this picture but not particularly proud of it, I was just playing about trying to master the settings so any subject would do. I was going for a narrow depth of field, it was dark with only a lamp in the corner and the light from the TV, I wanted to capture that light (for a bit of a challenge) so no flash and I used a shutter speed of 0.8/ aperture of 3.5 (as low as my lens goes)/ and ISO was 800.

    It might have been better had I moved the pile of stuff, but I couldn't be bothered to get up and I thought it would be a good indication of if I'd managed to blur out the background successfully so I chose to leave it in. Should have turned off the TV as well so no points for composition but I was wondering if I could have got the exposure any better?

    It's a practice image and I kind of like it but I'm a total novice, I'd love to hear any opinions from a more trained eye shall we say. I won't be easily offended so please, don't hold back. I look forward to hearing from anyone.

  2. #2
    JPS's Avatar
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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    Hi Mark,
    I think the main thing here is that you got acheived what you set out to capture, well done.
    You will find you will slowly find your style as time goes on and more and more shots will be 'keepers' as we say.
    Lighting of a 'set' does take time to master and is an art in itself, keep with it, keep reading/practicing and most of all enjoying.

    Hope you don't mind, I've PP'd you picture too how I would have finshed it. If you want me to take it down just let me know and I will remove it. I'm not saying this is any better, just what I would have done.
    Overall well done mate, power to your clicking finger.

    First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

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    MilT0s's Avatar
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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    Hello Mark and welcome to CiC.

    Congratulations on blurring the background on your first image, you efficiently used a large aperture (=small aperture number). Since you are new into photography you should start by studying all the technical stuffs needed and then start developing your personal "eye". This forum is a -more than- great place to start learning with all these fantastic tutorials. There are also very good video-tutorials in youtube, check those out too.

    Here are some first advice:

    Exposure: your image is a bit dark, an even larger aperture and slower shutter speed would have solved this.

    Composition: try to keep your background simple. There are some distracting elements there which you can darken in PP (=post production). A very useful habit is to careful examine all around the frame before you press the shutter button of your camera. Keep your mind that the edges of the frame are equally important to the center.

    Hope to see more from you in the near future!

    Miltos

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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    Mark, I had no idea what was in the pile of stuff, until I saw John's processing, because it was so dark. It's possible that your monitor is very bright. Assuming the monitor is not overly bright, then it might have helped if you were to shine a light on the pile so that it stands out. It wouldn't take much light so maybe you could shine a small LED on the pile. Alternately, it is possible that using a piece of white board to reflect light from the TV or other lamps in the room would have been sufficient.

    Nice try. Keep at it and you'll succeed.

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    Shooter Shep's Avatar
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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    No don't take it down I think it's fantastic! I hadn't thought of doing any post-editing at all ut I'm a beginner with that as well so I doubt I'd have got the same results! I was just trying to get used to the settings on the camera to successfully get that shallow depth of field. Something that had eluded me on the 20 or so previous attempts. To be fair to myself, I have since found out that for the first 15 I was mistakenly turning the shutter speed the wrong way. DOH!
    I find your comment most interesting because I was thinking that the shot needs to be near perfect all of the time. I hadn't realised quite how much of an improvement could be acheived post-production. That fills me with confidence going forward and will probably have saved me from discarding future shots with hidden potential.
    Thanks for taking the time to reply and for doing the editing, I've learned a couple of valuable lessons I think. It was just a practice shot while messing with the camera but I intend to try and post a nicer image soon.

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    Shooter Shep's Avatar
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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    Thanks Militos,

    I hadn't really thought about the background, I was concentrating so much on getting the depth of field and the right exposure I didn't think of much else. I'd been struggling to get my head around it all, I'm early on in a beginners course at college so I was trying to put into practice what they'd told me. This was about the sixth attempt at this particular shot, when I thought I saw a bit of blurred background when viewing on the screen on the back of the camera I thought Eureka! Didn't think of experimenting any further.
    I know it's a far from perfect image but a good start for me to get involved in the forums and yes I have found the tutorials very helpful in helping me to understand what they've taught me in college. I don't always get it straight away but I can re-cap on here.
    Thanks for the tips and I hope to be posting a much nicer image in the near future.

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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    Quote Originally Posted by Shooter Shep View Post

    I find your comment most interesting because I was thinking that the shot needs to be near perfect all of the time. I hadn't realised quite how much of an improvement could be acheived post-production. That fills me with confidence going forward and will probably have saved me from discarding future shots with hidden potential.

    Hi Mark, the above is certainly true.....up to a point.

    The better you get the shot in camera, the better the end result will be...always. No amount of PP can compensate for a 'lazy shot' and relying on PP to fix problems with the original will always deliver less than you could have achieved by taking a moment to check your settings and compose your shot in the first place. It really is worth the time.
    Last edited by Donald; 14th October 2012 at 06:56 PM. Reason: Inserted 'close quote'

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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    Hi Mark,
    I glad you like the PP version. I try not to adjust over members pictures, but sometimes it's easier than trying to write an explanation of my thoughts.
    What I would say is I believe all pictures need some sort of PP; this in itself is controversial as many other members will disagree with this statement, but even in the 20’s & 30’s Hollywood studio’s used to get artists to remove blemishes / spots & other unwanted marks from the film negatives, before developing; this was their version of PP. There is however a ‘BUT’: it is always better to try and get everything right when taking the shot. If possible check everything before pressing the button and then check again. The joy for most of us is understanding how we want to shot a particular scene; getting the composition right, setting up the lighting and model, whether that be a person or an innominate object.
    Sorry, I’m waffling now, what I’m trying to say is don’t rely on PP try and get things right in camera, then used PP to assist in giving your shot the ‘Finish’ it deserves.
    Regards
    John

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    Shooter Shep's Avatar
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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    Thanks Ken,

    I think possibly I just got the exposure wrong, it was on the largest aperture my lens will allow but maybe a slower shutter speed like Militos said and some proper consideration to the lighting as you suggest. It looks very dark on my monitor also next to John's edit, but I'm happy I got the blurred background. Thanks for the advice, I need all I can get at this very early stage.

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    Shooter Shep's Avatar
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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    Thanks John,
    That's a good point, once I'm more comfortable with my camera I think I'll probably tend to try and get the shot as right as possible, I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist when I know what I'm doing but alas a complete beginner right now. I might have written off shots that weren't all that bad.
    I think I'm going to take all the advice given above and attempt to take a better shot of the same image, with some consideration to composition, lighting and improved exposure. Will post it soon and see if I've learned anything.
    Thanks again
    Mark

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    MilT0s's Avatar
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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    Mark as Sharon already mentioned you always need to shoot at the correct exposure.

    Why?

    If you examine carefully the processed image John provided you will identify some noise, lack of contrast and a "there is something wrong with that" feeling. When you shot your initial underexposed image your camera recorded less data than it should. These data can't be totally recovered in PP so noise become prominent.

    If you apply noise reduction and sharpening techniques you will always get lower quality compared to a shot correctly image.

    In few words: ALWAYS shoot the best exposure (and composition) you can and then enhance the image in PP.

    Hope to see more of your images soon!

  12. #12
    Shooter Shep's Avatar
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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    Thanks Sharon,
    I hadn't meant to give the impression I'd be wanting to rely heavily on PP, but I am impressed with the difference John achieved with a little editing. I'd probably be inclined to get the shot as right as possible once I have the necessary skills but sadly I'm a complete beginner at this moment in time. Still trying to grasp the whole concept of exposure and getting to grips with my camera's settings and when to apply them.

    I'm gonna give it another go and see if I can apply some of the advice I've been given here, thanks again all for the tips!

  13. #13
    Shooter Shep's Avatar
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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    Thanks again Militos,

    Point taken about getting the right exposure, I'm gonna try this shot again and see if I can get a better shot using the tips I've gleaned here!

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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    Quote Originally Posted by Shooter Shep View Post
    I find your comment most interesting because I was thinking that the shot needs to be near perfect all of the time. I hadn't realised quite how much of an improvement could be acheived post-production. That fills me with confidence going forward and will probably have saved me from discarding future shots with hidden potential.
    Hi Mark, reliably getting a good picture every time is usually not doable at one extreme or the other, that is all in-camera or all in post-processing. As Daisy Mae points out, no amount of post processing can make up for a poor image so you really need to get the image both technically and compositionally as good as possible before you press the shutter if you want to get a good final result.

    There are those that feel that post processing is an excuse for not getting it right in-camera but there are too many situations where getting it completely right in-camera is virtually impossible.

    Smart photographers learn to use all of the image producing tools at their disposal, including being just as skilled at post processing the final result as they are at capturing the image in the first place. I NEVER publish an image that has not been checked for post processing improvements unless I am using the image to show the before and after differences as I did here: Project 52 by Frank Miller.

    Here are some thoughts to ponder: You need to be able to get all the basic settings right in-camera including, but not limited to exposure, focus, and perhaps most importantly, composition.

    You will need to do post processing to eliminate distracting objects from the image that would otherwise ruin the result such as telephone wires, lens flair, distortion, off-level buildings or horizon, etc. Primarily, these are things that you may have no way of controlling due to the constraints under which you are shooting.

    Other situations that may require post processing are to improve that once-in-a-lifetime image and those all-important shots where there is no possibility of ever being able to reshoot.

    I will generally check all of my images in post processing for noise, capture and output sharpening, blown highlights and shadows, contrast, brightness, recovery, fill light, white point, black point, white balance, color tone, chromatic apparitions, halos, cropping, the basic rules of composition and anything else that looks like it may need to be addressed.

    Do you need to do this with every image? Absolutely not, but over time you will learn where and when each of these things will make a difference in your results.

    Hope this helps.

  15. #15
    Shooter Shep's Avatar
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    Re: First post from a beginner - Please feel free to rip apart

    Thanks Frank,

    That helps a lot, when I say I'm a total beginner I mean it completely. I have 4hrs of college under my belt covering rule of thirds and the exposure triangle, which I didn't understand at the time and have been using the tutorials here to help me digest it. I've been out once with my camera to no avail and had a go at this image in our house one night. However I'm finding it more interesting than I imagined and with all this great advice I'm sure I'll be up to speed in a short while. I have to admit I don't understand some of the terminology in the latter part of your comment to do with post-processing but I'm sure it will come in useful when I try my hand at editing. I'm a complete beginner in that department also.

    Thanks for the tips.

    Mark

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