Constructive Criticism Please

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by M-5, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. M-5 macrumors 65816


    Jan 4, 2008
    I have been shooting with a Sony DSC-T50 point & shoot camera for about 2 years and have just recently discovered flickr.

    I'm pretty interested in photography, and I'm considering investing in a decent DSLR. My little Point & Shoot just isn't cutting it anymore. I'll probably purchase a Nikon D80 or D90 with a 50mm 1.8 prime lens.

    The thing is, I've never really gotten someone else's opinion on my photos. Personally, I think they are pretty amateur-ish, but I would like like your opinion even if it's just on one or two photos. I'm certainly not asking anyone to critique all of them.

    Thank you!
  2. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Well you got nice shots, but I wonder, how did you get soo many bird shots? And some of them is pretty close
  3. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    I'm going to start with some general rules. There are folks here who'll tell you to ignore rules. I'm not one of them. I feel you have to have a great grasp of and understanding of all the rules and to have mastered most of them before you start breaking them to produce truly great art....

    The panorama:

    Don't shoot in the middle of the day if you don't have to.
    If the tonal range of the scene is such that you have deep shadows and blown out highlights, shoot multiple exposures and merge them in post processing.
    Keep the sun behind you if you can, or at least off to one side.

    The Apple:

    Don't put your subject dead center.
    Closer is normally better unless there's a surrounding element that performs a specific compositional purpose.

    The first gull on its own:

    Chopping off the wing ruins it.
    The underside is underexposed, the top is overexposed.

    People dancing:

    Mid-day sun again.
    Black people need more exposure than white people, woman's face is underexposed- probably because you're shooting into the sun again. The shadows would work for an effect if you used fill-flash to bring up the female dancer's face. Also, losing the crowd in front of you would help that composition if you were going for the whole shadow thing.

    Two gulls:

    Works wonderfully. I'd probably lighten up the undersides in post-processing, but composition and exposure both work well as-is.

    Pigeon (?) tilted:

    No real subject, pigeon is very noisey but focus is on dirt- I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be looking at here- a picture of dirt? The in-focus dirt? The out of focus dirt? The noisy little pigeon who's not at the plane of focus?

    Grassy thing:

    The white wall behind the subject draws my eyes away from it. The light strands of other grassy things in the background also draw my eyes away, but in an "all over the place" manner, not a "lead me to a subject" manner.

    The grassy thing would be much, much better with a plainer and darker background.

    Tree and edge of roof:

    No subject, no symmetry.


    Big diagonal bright light at the bottom left leads my eye from the top down off the bottom of the picture- game over- you've lost my eye and you're not getting it back because there's nothing going on that'll lead my eye back into the picture.

    Brick wall and sky:

    No real subject. Dark feature lacking blob of stuff with clouds at the top that have no texture to them.

    Flock 'o birds:

    It's good.

    Ok, I can't look at more, the vignetting is just driving me crazy. Here are your keywords for the day in no particular order:

    Rule of thirds.
    Leading lines.
    Negative space.
    Subject isolation.
    Child's perspective.
    Sweet light.

    Spend some Google time figuring out how they relate to photography, then absorb them into your next pictures.
  4. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Wow again, excellent writeup compuwar. Thanks, I will google those when I got the free time, now college started so less time on photography for me :(
  5. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    Completely OT, but I thought this thread was titled "Contraceptive Criticism Please".
  6. Mr.Noisy macrumors 65816


    May 5, 2007
    ^ now thats funny, cheered up my day^ ;)

    but compuwar Just about nailed it with his comments, and when you do get a DSLR it will be worth getting a good book or two, 2 of the best ones I read were The Digital SLR Bible by Nigel Hicks and Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson, As for Your lens choice the 50mm f1.8, it's a very good lens considering how cheap it is, but another good lens i find very sharp is the 16-85mm VR, just my thoughts :)
  7. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Seriously speaking OP.

    Compuwar hit it with everything he said. Thank him for taking the time to do so since many seriously wouldn't have done so.

    I want to stress two points, one which Comp said. SCHOOLING is important. Train yourself in some way. Google is a great start, then book reading, then COLLEGE OR PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLING if you are serious. College goes along with internships and simple jobs/college paper or studio.

    Second point is going to be to skip the DSLR. Get a Canon G10 or something if you need a better P&S that has some more advance features. Maybe a D40/D60 at most. But your money will go to waste with a D80 or D90.

    The issue that you have with your images aren't the cause of the camera.
  8. M-5 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 4, 2008
    Ah, that's what I needed; thank you everyone for your honest opinions, specifically Compuwar for your excellent critique. Well, I definitely have a lot to think about, but we all start somewhere.

    And wheelhot, if you ever get a chance, you should go by the beach with some bread. You should be careful though; it's pretty intimidating when there's a flock of birds after the food you have.
  9. maestro55 macrumors 68030


    Nov 13, 2005
    Goat Farm in Meridian, TX
    I enjoyed CompuWar's write-up as well, considering that I am (hopefully) going to be getting a decent camera soon and will start (attempting) to take decent pictures.
  10. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    Interesting, as this image caught my attention first - assuming you mean this one - it has a certain comedy about it, if the wing was there I think it would have been just another picture of a gull. As it is, I like the shapes and the tonality.
  11. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    That's the one. As folks here are pretty-well aware, I'm happy to go into more depth about my opinions on just about any subject ;) Please be aware, I'm not challenging the fact that you like it, or the validity of your opinion against mine- I'm enhancing my explanation of why I don't like it and why you may- which is a different thing altogether. Art is very subjective, and appreciation is in the eye of the beholder.

    The negative space is wasted, there's no value to it compared to the gull (though that changes a lot with a clockwise rotation for a Western we-write-left-to-right-and-top-to-bottom viewer.)

    You don't get the gull's eye, so in general (again that whole break the rules once you understand them) it's not a good live subject picture because you as the viewer aren't interacting with the subject eye-to-eye.

    Your eye is immediately drawn to the brightest point, then it slides down to the corner and out of the (badly vignetted) frame. All the interesting detail is on the more-properly exposed wing, where we don't even get to see the contrast of the black end-feathers on the truncated wing.

    The feet are cut off- the tail's cut off, the face is blown out, we can't look into the eye and connect- the sum of all of that is poor- each on its own isn't bad, but the combo isn't good.

    The shapes don't lead anywhere, and don't do the whole tension-release thing that the hoity-toity art crowd talks about. The tonal range of the bird's left wing is good, but we're not lead there and we have to deal with massively blown highlights in the middle and muddy chopped-off feet on the bottom.

    I think your mind is more entertained by "I didn't figure this out immediately because it's a strange angle and crop" rather than "that's a great shot!" (Please note that I'm painting you with the broader brush of the funky angle appreciation society.) I think if we had more bird and an eye, we'd have more in common in terms of "good shottedness." If the lighting drew my eye into the picture instead of starting there and drawing it away, we may also have more in common in our appreciation.

    Great birds shots are difficult, because you can't really light the bird, you can't really choose the angle, especially if they're in flight and you definitely don't get time to frame for flight shots. But in my mind, a great shot should be a great shot, no qualifiers allowed or necessary.

    So there you have it- most of how I formed my opinion with a dash of how I formed my opinion of your opinion added not to attempt to devalue or demean your opinion, just to try to resolve the differences in what we see.

    Oh- one other thing for the OP to use to evaluate things- I generally hang new pictures up at 8x10 by my door. Every time I go in and out for the first week, I try to notice the picture. Sometimes by studying it, sometimes by glancing at it. Stuff that makes it past the "should I print it test" followed by the "how is it by the door test" generally finds its way into the prints I'll sell. Occasionally, a picture makes it to that point without all the tests for various reasons- even after all that, some things just don't inspire people the way they do me. Don't sweat that- if you like it, that's the primary thing, what other people tell you should be secondary to that unless you're shooting for or selling to them, where it may "impact your artistic sensibilities."

    As an example, the Bald Eagle that's my avatar is a fully-body shot of an Eagle in what I find to be very interesting behavior. After a week by the door, I was still interested in the behavior and the feather detail, but I could see it simply didn't work as a shot to sell. I still have it as a shot on a wall, I still like the shot, I still haven't sold a copy.

    I seriously hope the folks who've found value in my comments do spend the time to Google around a bit, the two toughest things to learn to do well in photography are composition and lighting.
  12. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Haha, sure sure. Although I dun go to the beach often unless its a holiday destination or something :(

    Wow compuwar is really heating things up ;), if there is MacRumors Featured Photo Critic. I would vote for him! :cool:
  13. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    I take issue with that. There's a bunch of good reasons to invest in a dSLR. Depth of field things you can't do with a P&S, better low light performance, instant shutter release (the latter two letting you get shots you would have otherwise missed with a P&S).

    I don't consider myself a "photographer" or even an amateur photog, I'm just a guy a with a camera who takes pictures of his kid (and other stuff when the opportunity arises) and there's a ton of things that having a dSLR has done for me that I would never have been able to do with a P&S.

    My point is that I don't think any camera is "wasted" on it's user, with the exception of some of the really high end full frame or medium format stuff. The OP should look at a D40 for sure - it's not much more than a good P&S (less, in fact, than the Canon G10) and you can add different lenses beyond the basic kit lens giving you capabilities far beyond the G10 or any P&S in terms of speed and range.
  14. M-5 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 4, 2008
    Well this is what I was thinking. Obviously, a good camera does NOT make a good photographer, but I would just like that extra creative ability.
  15. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    The main difference being that you know these things. You know the differences.

    The OP hasn't been limited by his gear by my knowledge simply because he/she doesn't know these things. I have heard students of mine say, "I am limited by my D80, should I get a D200 or D300?"

    When ask what the limitation is, they usually say something that doesn't relate to the body. The lens maybe, the quality of glass definitely, their technique for sure (at times) but very seldom is it the body.

    In the OP's case. I suggest spending some more time with the P&S to learn composition and the basics. That will help you from coming back wondering what PSAM means or what lenses you should get.
  16. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    Of course I am naive - I'm a student of science, sadly not the arts. As such my impressions are little more than instinct. I didn't say the photograph was fantastic, just that it caught my attention and going back to that flickr page it still does.

    At the end of the day, it's a photograph of 7/8ths of a gull, gulls aren't that interesting generally as we see them all the time. I don't think I have ever seen a picture of a gull, even when properly exposed and composed, that has inspired me to feel much about anything. So probably, yes, it is the odd angle and inappropriate crop that makes this interesting, it's more novel and my brain likes novelty. It makes me focus on odd things I perhaps hadn't seen before. It's less a gull photo, and more shape and tone.

    *Just explaining my previous comment, I certainly don't mean to disagree with you!

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