Are My Expectations Too High?

Nobody Famous

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 1, 2007
15
0
I enjoy taking pictures with our Canon Powershot S45 4.1 MP P&S. Some shots are great, but all can use a little tweaking.
I bought Lightroom 1.1 and Kelby’s book on how to use it, consume all the internet articles I can find, watch tutorials by the dozens, and listen to Podcasts every chance I get.
My question is: why aren’t my edited shots closer, comparatively, to the great shots I see here or in the articles and books? Essentially I can white balance, crop and use red-eye reduction very well. But playing with luminance, saturation and sharpening just isn't taking the photo to where I'd like for it to go.
I’m not interested in trying to sell my pix … but are my expectations of Lightroom too high for wanting to edit/process/develop a little closer to “great”?
Suggestions would be greatly appreciated. If anyone recommends upgrading to a better camera, tell me all about it.
 

Aperture

macrumors 68000
Mar 19, 2006
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PA
Maybe you could give us an example so we can see what you mean? I'm just kind of confused as to what exactly are wrong with your pictures.

Don't get too frustrated, though. We all take bad pictures along with our good pictures. Even the professionals throw out a few of their images; it is to be expected.
 

aaron.lee2006

macrumors 65816
Feb 23, 2006
1,215
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Ontario, Canada
It is all in the lenses. Most DSLR cameras today produce the same quality of image. Lenses are what make the difference. There are a wide variety and many different prices as well. A better lens, a better photo.
 

chriscorbin

macrumors 6502
Feb 17, 2007
257
0
Vallejo, CA
It's not just the camera or the software, its you to certain extent, artists don't make great paintings because they have the best brushes, or the best clay, its an art, not a science, well kinda? You have to look at why your shots are bad, and improve that, it my be that you are using the wrong camera settings, or you might need to work on your composition. you are not going to get published in national geographic overnight:D
 

Aperture

macrumors 68000
Mar 19, 2006
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PA
It is all in the lenses. Most DSLR cameras today produce the same quality of image. Lenses are what make the difference. There are a wide variety and many different prices as well. A better lens, a better photo.
Yes... but you don't need the best glass to get good shots.

It's not just the camera or the software, its you to certain extent, artists don't make great paintings because they have the best brushes, or the best clay, its an art, not a science, well kinda? You have to look at why your shots are bad, and improve that, it my be that you are using the wrong camera settings, or you might need to work on your composition. you are not going to get published in national geographic overnight:D
Couldn't have said it better myself. :)
 

TheAnswer

macrumors 68030
Jan 25, 2002
2,520
1
Orange County, CA
It's probably not a matter of expectations. Unless you expect to get to the "great" level overnight. Keep in mind that the pressing of the shutter button and post-processing are only about a third (at most) of making a great photo. Some of it is equipment, but a lot of it is framing/composition and setting your aperture and shutter speed appropriately for the light level and the composition.
 

aaron.lee2006

macrumors 65816
Feb 23, 2006
1,215
0
Ontario, Canada
Yes... but you don't need the best glass to get good shots.
I certainly agree. But to some extent you need to have right equipment. You can't expect to buy an HP P&S and expect to become a famous photographer with it unless you find a way to take nude pictures of a celebrity ;)
 

Doylem

macrumors 68040
Dec 30, 2006
3,858
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Wherever I hang my hat...
I'm not sure why so many people think they're going to take great pictures the moment they first pick up a camera. Photography's both art and science; photographers improve in small increments as they refine their technique and their 'eye' for a picture. It really is like playing a musical instrument. Just because you buy a guitar and a book of chords, that doesn't mean you're going to sound like (**insert the great guitarist of your choice or era**).

It's frustrating to watch a virtuoso zipping up and down the fretboard while you're trying to force your fingers into simple chord shapes. But the guy was once a beginner too... he just practised, practised, practised for years and years and years, learning everything he needed to know, so that now he can make the whole thing look effortless.

So hard work and patience are what's required for anyone wanting to learn the art and craft of photography. The learning curve in almost certainly steeper with digital than it is with film, you don't really pay for all the mistakes, and the process can be a lot of fun.

As someone once said to me: "It takes 1/250th of a second - and ten years - to take a good photograph...".
 

Aperture

macrumors 68000
Mar 19, 2006
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PA
Even after your post edit, I'd still like to see some examples of your editing to see if maybe we can help. Still, it has to be a decent photograph when it comes off the camera. Editing can help make a good photograph better - not necessarily a crappy photograph good. The key is to get a good photograph right off the camera, then tweak the coloring, etc to make it superior.

"It takes 1/250th of a second - and ten years - to take a good photograph...".
That is an interesting quote.
 

J'aime

macrumors member
Jun 9, 2007
56
0
As the others said, pictures would help us help you. Otherwise it kinda sounds like you're trying to post-process things that should be done before you press the shutter button. Since you're using a p&s it may be that your camera just doesn't have the capability to easily change settings. If you want to stay with p&s, you might want to consider upgrading to canon powershot s5 is, or getting an entry level dSLR like the XT so that you can take advantage of better lenses.
 

Nobody Famous

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 1, 2007
15
0
Even after your post edit, I'd still like to see some examples of your editing to see if maybe we can help. Still, it has to be a decent photograph when it comes off the camera. Editing can help make a good photograph better - not necessarily a crappy photograph good. The key is to get a good photograph right off the camera, then tweak the coloring, etc to make it superior.
"Before" taken with a Nikon D200 in jpeg format. "After" was after I threw in the towel with Lightroom and knocked it out in minutes with iPhoto.
Thanks for all who've replied, sorry I didn't clarify better in my original post.
 

Attachments

M@lew

macrumors 68000
Nov 18, 2006
1,582
0
Melbourne, Australia
Well for the picture you just posted, processing isn't really going to make it better or worse. For the type of picture that it is, it's fine the way it was taken. Whether or not processing will make a photo better will depend on what the photo is and how it was taken.
 

J'aime

macrumors member
Jun 9, 2007
56
0
Well for the picture you just posted, processing isn't really going to make it better or worse. For the type of picture that it is, it's fine the way it was taken. Whether or not processing will make a photo better will depend on what the photo is and how it was taken.
Seconded, to the OP: you may want to read up on some composition techniques like the rule of thirds. It doesn't seem to me like your photo has a problem with luminance, saturation, or sharpening.
 

Aperture

macrumors 68000
Mar 19, 2006
1,877
0
PA
Well for the picture you just posted, processing isn't really going to make it better or worse. For the type of picture that it is, it's fine the way it was taken. Whether or not processing will make a photo better will depend on what the photo is and how it was taken.
Exactly. With that type of photo (like a family scrapbook-y photo) it is fine. I'd have done a few of things you did to the first one as well (if I was to edit it) such as a little exposure boost and maybe a little saturation & contrast. Maybe it just isn't my style but I'd stay away from such an extreme vignette.

Are those kind of photos the majority of what you are taking?

Btw, the baby's face is hilarious.
 

kcross

macrumors member
Jun 8, 2007
64
0
in short. yes.

you're simplifying photography too far. if you're looking for those crisp portraits without distracting backgrounds you so often see here and in magazines the number one thing you are disregarding is aperture. aperture. aperture. aperture. and all that aperture costs a lot of money.
 

Nobody Famous

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 1, 2007
15
0
Exactly. With that type of photo (like a family scrapbook-y photo) it is fine. I'd have done a few of things you did to the first one as well (if I was to edit it) such as a little exposure boost and maybe a little saturation & contrast ... Are those kind of photos the majority of what you are taking?
Yes. Tons of family/scrapbooky photos.
I'm beginning to appreciate the significance of the replies and help posted here.
I have some learning to do.
I've ordered Peterson's Understanding Exposure, recommended by Lovesong in a different thread. After reading the reviews I figure it's a good place to start. Any other suggestions: take a class, shadow a pro, find a club ... ?
 

swiftaw

macrumors 603
Jan 31, 2005
6,309
20
Omaha, NE, USA
Yes. Tons of family/scrapbooky photos.
I'm beginning to appreciate the significance of the replies and help posted here.
I have some learning to do.
I've ordered Peterson's Understanding Exposure, recommended by Lovesong in a different thread. After reading the reviews I figure it's a good place to start. Any other suggestions: take a class, shadow a pro, find a club ... ?
Understanding Exposure is a great book, it explains alot of the key ideas in a straightforward way. Other than that, just keep shooting, as they say "practice makes perfect"
 

compuwar

macrumors 601
Oct 5, 2006
4,717
2
Northern/Central VA
Yes. Tons of family/scrapbooky photos.
I'm beginning to appreciate the significance of the replies and help posted here.
I have some learning to do.
I've ordered Peterson's Understanding Exposure, recommended by Lovesong in a different thread. After reading the reviews I figure it's a good place to start. Any other suggestions: take a class, shadow a pro, find a club ... ?
Good Google terms:

Rule of thirds
Leading lines
Negative space
Fill flash
Dragging the shutter

Good concepts:

Get low
Get close
Simplify the background
If you can't afford fast glass, increase the subject to background distance

Useful sites:

http://super.nova.org/toc/index.html
http://strobist.blogspot.com/



"I only shoot natural light" is generally a euphemism for "I can't light to save my life, I don't understand it and I'm not sure how to learn it" disguised as "purism" by the person doing the talking. Good lighting can save a bad location, and understanding the light in a location can help you with positioning subjects. If you're shooting people and you're not at least using fill flash, you're not likely to be getting optimal results.