Becoming a better photographer and having more fun

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by wmmk, Feb 17, 2007.

  1. wmmk macrumors 68020

    wmmk

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2006
    Location:
    The Library.
    #1
    Hello, everyone. I've been shooting seriously for quite a while now and I've been essentially all digital since late October. I've taken a photo class at school. I'm developing an eye for color and composition. I have a nice starter DSLR, two lenses covering the 18-200mm range, and a strobe which I use off camera (the strobe is actually in the mail). I shoot all manual. All this is just fine.
    I think I've become a slightly better than average photographer. Granted, I'm not taking frivolous snapshots or anything of that nature, but in the arena of serious hobbyists, I'm really not all that amazing.
    Here are some of my recent photos that I sort of liked. I'm open to any constructive criticism.
    Photography has really turned into a way to escape from the pressures of taking all honors classes, being on a very competitive debate team, being Student Council Treasurer, yadda, yadda, yadda. I simply wish I were better at it. I understand that practice makes perfect, but I'd also like make make my photos better now. I've heard from quite a few people whose opinions I really respect that Photoshop is the way to good images. I have nothing against a bit of creative manipulation, but I switched from film because I wanted to spend less time post processing, not more. Other reasons that I'm not sure about Photoshop as an artistic tool is that it's simply less fun than the excitement of pulling off a perfect shot and it just feels too artificial.

    Wow, I've written a lot:eek:

    My questions are these:
    How can I get better photographs now? What are your recommendations for finding things, places, and people to take pictures of? I really think that I'd at least have more fun if I didn't just take pictures of birds in my back yard and flowers and landscapes at a Botanical Garden near me.

    Thanks,
    wmmk
     
  2. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Location:
    Bookshop!
    #2
    i reckon your shots look great! you should get a deviantART account :)

    have you had a go at long exposure shots? you can get really nice shots of water with long exposure.
     
  3. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #3
    Composition will do more for you at this point than anything. Lines leading the eye into the picture, simplifying what you're capturing, use of negative space. Those will give you more compelling images overall.


    The door shot is good, though maybe a little off vertical. The clock would be good if it weren't for the highlights from what appears to be a window. The building over the water is also nice but also looks slightly off vertical, and I think it'd look better from a slightly lower angle with the waterline leading the eye into the picture. The stones could probably also use a lower perspective and the edge of the path to lead the eye through the picture and a bit more of a repetitive look. The rest all look a bit busy to me.

    Try a lower perspective and less cluttered backgrounds in general.

    For places, try to go somewhere that you're interested in, that makes the images all that more interesting to you and you're likely to spend more time there. It'll give the images more meaning for you too, likely making it easier to critique them evenly.

    Hope this helps...
     
  4. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2005
    #4
    Find a voice. While your photos are technically faithful reproductions of what you see, what is the importance? What drew you to them? Basically, why should I care that door is open, or those leaves are there?

    I'd suggest taking a self-portrait. Take a very directorial approach. Have a reason for every object inside the frame, not just your expression or choice of clothing. Have a reason for why it's in the shot, and in theory, it should all relate back to you. This will be a good test in finding a "voice" in photography.
     
  5. Yakamoto macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Planet Earth
    #5
    I'm in the same boat as you, that I'm trying to be more creative in my photography. I've stopped trying to take pictures of everything I see, and focus on things that tell a story instead. I'm not sure if you are in Chicago anymore but, I found this link for you....
    http://www.chicagowilderness.org/explore/see/index.cfm
    You may have visited these spots already though. But if not it might be a good chance to try something new. Also try walking around maybe Downtown during the day and look for things to shoot, with the mindset that you will be selling those shots. I bet you could find a few interesting people that would'nt mind that you photograph them ie. a Cabbie, a Shoeshine, a clerk. You could also try some creative shots such as long exposure's, still life,
    smoke art, water drops, or anythig else that strikes your fancy.
    Whenever I lose creativity, I'll usualy visit the POD thread here, even though it's gone kinda downhill lately (I hope it's temporary)
    But another good site that has been recommened before is..
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/
    Find a genre and you will see some amazing photos that will get the juices flowing. As far as the Photoshop question goes, I used it before I got the Dslr, but now I try to avoid it like the plague. If I can't get a good image out the first time, then I' reshoot. But to be honest It is a nice safety net.
    Best of luck to you and I hope you get even better, I've always admired the work you've posted so far and can't wait to see you grow into it. :D
     
  6. beavo451 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2006
    #6
    I would pick a certain subject area and focus on it. This will improve your photograpy skills better than if you try to be a "general" photographer. The pictures you have linked are nice, but most seem to be lacking something. The biggest improvement would be composition. Some of the photos would benefit from using rule of thirds, such as the round ball with the pathways. In that photo, there is too much dead space to the right. My eyes are drawn up the path to the left and want to see more, but runs into the boundary of the photo.

    It might also be a good time to start learning Photoshop. It is NOT a crutch for bad shots. It is a tool to develop your digital photos, just like the darkroom was for film. A bad photo will be made worse in PS while a good photo will be made better. Just take a look at some of the spectacular images over on Fred Miranda. Nearly all involved color, contrast, and sharpening adjustments. People shots involve softening, skin smoothing, touch-ups, etc. Burning and dodging are also used on many shots to counter dynamic range issues (which were common techniques in the darkroom as well).
     
  7. jamesW135 macrumors 6502a

    jamesW135

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2005
    #7
    Try composing with shapes. I'm not talking the distorted shoe circle you usually see on myspace. Try the rule of thirds more often.

    Nice Shots
     
  8. dllavaneras macrumors 68000

    dllavaneras

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2005
    Location:
    Caracas, Venezuela
    #8
    Since my experience is mostly with macros, I have come to appreciate bokeh. I'm still getting the hang of it, but with closeups and macros, always try to get good bokeh. I'm particularly referring to this pic. It would isolate it from the background, which looks cluttered.

    All in all, you have some great shots there :)
     
  9. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #9
    Photograph what interests you. If you don't know what that is, keep looking. Be patient: while you're out taking pix... and patient with your own progress. There's a lot to learn. Don't take short-cuts. Have fun.

    Here's some of my landscape/location stuff: www.northpix.co.uk
     
  10. purelithium macrumors 6502

    purelithium

    Joined:
    May 28, 2006
    Location:
    Kingston, Canada
    #10
  11. mrkgoo macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    #11
    My suggestion is to take a look at other people's photography. In particular, focus on the images you like. Look at them and decide why you like them. Try to figure out how to achieve this aspect. Then go out and try for yourself.

    For your own stuff you have to feel the photo. Just like you can tell when someone is smiling on the phone, you can tell when there is passion in someone's photography.

    [​IMG]
    efs17-55IS, 54mm, f11.0, 1/2000s, iso100
     
  12. phuong macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2006
    #12
    your photos aren't so good as you think they are. but dont worry, i dont mean to discourage you. this is a normal feeling that all starters have when they're getting a little farther on their learning curve. later on you'll know what i mean (probably a few years from now)

    getting constructive critisism is a good way to learn, but not from some place like MR (sorry if i'm being too frank, but it's true). Joining some photography forums is a good starting point (photosig.com and dgrin.com come to mind).

    and if you're thinking you're running out of things to photograph, think again. what about looking back at what you've shot so far, and try to improve them. sometimes a little change in POV, crop, or presentation can make a huge difference.



     
  13. Mechcozmo macrumors 603

    Mechcozmo

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    #13
    1. Take more pictures
    2. Take more pictures
    3. Take mor-- eh, walk around a bit. There are photos all around you.

    In 18 months I've taken nearly 10,000 photos and I can tell that as I've taken more I've gotten better at framing, composition, etc. Once you have the basics down, (and you do, I hope) just keep taking pictures. Take 20 photos a day. Look at them, see what you wish you'd done differently, and then take 20 the next day that are better in those ways.
     
  14. wmmk thread starter macrumors 68020

    wmmk

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2006
    Location:
    The Library.
    #14
    wow, thanks for all of the replies! I shot about 150 frames or so, and tried to keep everyone's advice in mind. I tried some long exposures, tried a lower perspective, attempted to have a voice and shoot things I care about, and really tired to feel my photos. Anyway, I had a few questions for some of you...
    DLavaneras, how can I get better bokeh? Is there any way to do this without getting new lenses? Anyhow, I'm going to the Art Institute and Chinatown today. What an awesome way to spend a day off school!
     
  15. phuong macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2006
    #15
    how nice the bokeh is depends on the characteristics of the aperture blades in the lens so yeah, if you want better bokeh that's the only way.
     
  16. wmmk thread starter macrumors 68020

    wmmk

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2006
    Location:
    The Library.
    #16
    dang! I hate spending money:p
    I guess I'll just have to save up...
     
  17. dllavaneras macrumors 68000

    dllavaneras

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2005
    Location:
    Caracas, Venezuela
    #17
    There are ways to get nice bokeh without shelling out an arm and a leg, but it requires some particular situations.

    Get close to your subject
    Select the widest aperture you can
    have a lot of empty space between your subject and the background.

    I've gotten pretty good shots like this with my P&S :)

    Oh, I just read you have a lens covering the 200mm range. The longer the zoom, the more bokeh you'll get since your DOF is narrower (I could be mistaken here). A large aperture (f2.8 for example) at 200mm will isolate your subject from the background and make it pop.
     
  18. smueboy macrumors 6502a

    smueboy

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Oz
    #18
    I've been meaning to say,i really like a lot of your macro shots from you gallery. Well framed and very professional.
     
  19. dllavaneras macrumors 68000

    dllavaneras

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2005
    Location:
    Caracas, Venezuela
    #19
    :eek: thanks! Not bad for a 3 MP P&S :) I can't wait to get a DSLR!
     
  20. wmmk thread starter macrumors 68020

    wmmk

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2006
    Location:
    The Library.
    #20
    cool! the maximum aperture of my telephoto zoom at 200mm is f/5.6. Is that good enough?
     
  21. smueboy macrumors 6502a

    smueboy

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Oz
    #21
    Not bad at all - i have a Canon S60, but i have trouble getting macros to look that good.
     
  22. dllavaneras macrumors 68000

    dllavaneras

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2005
    Location:
    Caracas, Venezuela
    #22
    That's a bit small, it'll have a reasonably large DOF so getting something isolated is going to be tricky, but if you have plenty of room between your subject and the background you should do fine. So a search on PBase on your lens and check it out :) I found this pic taken almost at full zoom and f5.6 to give you a sense of what you can achieve.

    and smueboy, I have a macro lens add-on for my canon (Raynox DCR-250). I bought it from Lensmateonline , but they unfortunately don't make the adaptor for the S60 you need to use it :( I'd love to see your macro shots though :) Do you have a website?
     
  23. smueboy macrumors 6502a

    smueboy

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Oz
    #23
    No - i've been too lazy to organise my pics. :eek:

    But as an example, here is one i took recently. I had trouble getting any closer than this:
     

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  24. dllavaneras macrumors 68000

    dllavaneras

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2005
    Location:
    Caracas, Venezuela
    #24
    Great shot of a Bufo granulosus :)

    In short, the general advice in this thread is practice a lot! And don't get stuck on shooting only one subject. Try many different things using many different settings and see what your equipment is capable of. And maybe take a risk or two ;)

    About the pics:
    1st one is a Tityus tenvicauda, which has a really long tail. I was maybe 10-12 cm from it, without glass or anything in between. Big adrenaline rush.
    2nd one is an Atropoides nummifer, if my memory is correct. I was maybe 50 cm from it when it lunged out and tried to bite my friend, standing next to me. BIG adrenaline rush, but the pictures in those sets were well worth it :)
     
  25. ATD macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    #25
    Once you have mastered the technical side of photography spend a good deal of time looking at the work of others (like mrkgoo suggested). Don't limit yourself to photographers, look at painters, designers or anything visual. When you see things that appeal to you start asking yourself why. Is it the subject matter, mood, color, composition, the play of light and dark, rhythm, motion, contrasts... ? Break it down as an artist would then use your technical skills to make it happen.

    Maybe start taking classes in art and design to gain a different way to look at things.

     

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