Constructive criticism/Tips request for Newbie

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mfarrar, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. mfarrar macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    #1
    Hi all,

    Just noticed this forum after reading a thread about upgrading from a D40 to a D90 and it seems there are quite a few experienced photographers on here and I could use some help.

    I have read Brian Petersons book "understanding exposure" and have been using my D40 on manual modes ever since. I have been taking some photo's that to me look quite good but I am unsure how well they will stand up to the more experienced eye and would appreciate some constructive criticism.

    Here's a few pictures I took of my dog the other day at the beach:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These were all taken with D40 and kit lens. I do have the 50mm f1.8 but I haven't been using that a great deal lately as Im getting sick of missed shots with manually focusing (one reason why I have been considering the D90).
     
  2. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    May 5, 2007
    #2
    Have you post processed these? They have a huge amount of contrast and a lot of blown out (pure white) areas. Do try perhaps to go away and come back to things you're working on, to gain perspective.

    Another thing I note here is consistent central framing. I know here you're sort of taking pictures of your dog and actually it's not so bad. It works quite well in the second one.

    If you haven't pp'd these and the clipping was in the photographs, was it because you were too slow to react to changing light and meter readings? You might try aperture priority for more spontaneous shots.

    I don't have much composition advice - I don't really know what to say about these. I guess you've got to explore yourself. The others may chime in.
     
  3. mfarrar thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #3
    The first one has been processed, the original was underexposed. The light I found was tricky at midday and was unusually bright for time of year, I was metering manually. I also wanted to make it more vivid and bring out the reflection more. The contrast had been bugging me, I will go back and give the processing another shot.
     
  4. svndmvn Guest

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2007
    Location:
    Italy
    #4
    Are you shooting RAW? The PP of the first one would have been more successful,IMO, if you had been shooting RAW, which I doubt. I like the pictures, anyway.
     
  5. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    May 18, 2004
    #5
    in my opinion.......unattractive due to too much contrast and color saturation in the first two. The clouds and the white part of the dog have lost any definition. The color of the grassy area on the sand has also lost any definition or subtly and has become blotchy. The B&W could probably be improved with a bit more contrast tho
     
  6. mfarrar thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #6
    I was shooting some in raw but these were all jpegs. I went to switch it to shooting jpeg and raw at the same time but then you only get a low quality jpeg, I guess the d40 isnt fast enough to do hq jpeg and raw at same time?

    I will do some post processing on all three with your advise in mind then repost cheers.

    Edit: I went back and looked at the first one but I dont think I can improve it with it being over exposed. Shame that wasnt one of my raw pics. When I took it at the time I thought it looked ok on the screen but then when I put it on the computer thats when I found out (yet another reason why I am considering the D90). Next time I will have to get him to try and sit still so I dont have to keep changing the exposure or just shoot raw.
     
  7. sahnert macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #7
    Just an example with the 3rd image. I increased the contrast a bit. Having darker darks makes a big difference and as a result the range of grays is increased which brings out some of the details in the water, sand, and sky.

    I'm just a hobbyist, so I'm sure some pro's will have some better advice as well.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    May 5, 2007
    #8
    Don't use manual! I know everyone loves manual, but it's crazy to use it when situations are changing faster than you can turn the wheel...

    Also, it's not the camera. Stick wit the D40.
     
  9. Daremo macrumors 68000

    Daremo

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    Location:
    Chicago
    #9
    Curious for my own shooting, what mode do you suggest?
     
  10. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    Location:
    51st State of America
    #10
    A light meter solves that problem.
     
  11. mfarrar thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #11
    Yeah that does look better.

    There are quite a few reasons I have been having thinking of changing from the D40, none of which are quality I am very happy with that.

    The main reasons I have been thinking of changing are:

    - The view finder is too small and I find my eye hurts after looking through it.

    - I cannot auto focus with my prime lens and have ended up loads of blurred shots, find it difficult to manually focus with it for the reason above.

    - I find 6 Mpegs fine until I want to do cropping or large printing.

    - The LCD screen isn't great, pictures sometimes look fine even when zoomed in but then when I put them on my computer I find out they are out of focus or badly exposed.

    Also I would like to have the slightly longer reach with the D90 kit lens and the VR appeals to me because I dont have the steadiest hands and dont want to have to carry a tripod around.
     
  12. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    Sep 30, 2007
    Location:
    NSW, Australia.
    #12
    For the first shot I'd probably have crouched lower to move the dog and the reflection more towards the center of the frame - the reflection is on the bottom edge and makes the image as a whole look slightly off balance IMO.


    I really like the contrast and rich blue against the warm coloured dog, but as others have said it's a little over done.

    Before turing up the contrast, use a recovery tool for the white.
    Or play around with curves and watch the histogram for blown out highlights.

    I find aperture priority usually gets the job done fine, if your cautious you can bracket the photos - taking consecutive shots at slightly differing exposures (you can use the manual to look that one up :)) This wouldn't work as well for a moving subject such as your dog though.
     
  13. mfarrar thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #13
    What do you mean by a recovery tool for the white?

    I haven't tried playing around with the curves yet so I will give that a go tonight.

    I will also post the orignal unaltered photo when I get back so you can see what im working with.

    When your using aperature mode what type of metering are you using? matrix?
     
  14. Vogue Harper macrumors 6502

    Vogue Harper

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    #14
    One tip on composition here is to keep an open mind with your photography. I appreciate that you went out with your dog with the intention of taking photographs of your dog and that is what you went and did and what you got. But there is a certain serendipity about photography which makes it fun and you should always remember to look beyond your immediate subject.

    With these photographs, you missed an opportunity because when I look at them, in particular the last one of the beach, the waves and the clouds look beautiful. I can't help but think what I could have done in terms of a landscape photograph with that type of scenery in front of me.

    Some of my favourite photographs have been unintentional - I went to Central Park in New York thinking I would take pictures of the park and the scenery - instead my favourite photos were of a girl wearing an enormous faux mink hat who kindly agreed to pose for some portrait shots.
     
  15. smkmn13 macrumors member

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    Aug 10, 2006
    #15
    I too am starting out (with a D60) and am still learning the ropes, and found this to be a concern. However, I'd say don't upgrade for the AF yet, especially considering:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=648796
     
  16. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    May 5, 2007
    #16
    How? Putting the camera in something other than 'M' solves the problem, you've still got to turn the control wheel. If you're new to it and you're trying to compose and get shots you're hardly going to have time to get everything right.

    Most people aren't guess metering in manual - they're following whatever the TTL meter says. At which point they may as well shoot 'A'. Though of course, manual can help you think and learn.
     
  17. mfarrar thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #17
    Yes you are right there, I dont really like taking landscapes without a subject but I should however have looked for some other subjects. My partner was already complaining I was spending too much time with the camera though, and it was supposed to be a valentines day walk!

    The conditions were fantastic, with the bright sunshine blue sky and clear white clouds but then also the contrasting rainclouds and the reflections from the wet sand. It may be a long time before its like that again!


    I noticed there is now an AF-S 50mm f1.8 but there are quite a few other reasons other than this im a considering changing. Though I have also noticed you can get a Nikon 70-300mm lens for the D90 for less than £100 where as for the D40 to autofocus I would have to get the £400 70-300mm VR and I dont think I would use it that much to warrant spending that. I think if im going to spend quite a lot on a lens then I should probably go for the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 or the Nikon 80-200mm AF D.
     
  18. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #18
    Shooting raw helps here because it allows for flexibility. Meter for the hand, make the adjustments and shoot, the sun is going to shine at the same intensity until clouds cover it, then meter again, change controls to suit, it isn't rocket science.

    Turning it to aperture priority or shutter is fine, i'm not saying there is anything wrong with them, i'm pointing that shooting with manual isn't hard.

    My god how did photographers cope only 50 years ago!
     
  19. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    May 5, 2007
    #19
    It's not rocket science, no, nor is brain surgery, gene induction, the Swiss Re building or the Mona Lisa. Your point? Matrix metering specifically tries to avoid blowing out the highlights. Metering for the scene without the highlights might give a more correct exposure than metering for the scene with bright areas, but you'll have clipped highlights.

    I do use manual film cameras, admittedly with CW metering and I have shot in manual with no meter at all, guessing. In about 1960 people were using all kinds of things but it would have been mostly black and white, though of course there was kodachrome. Black and white is more forgiving, potentially, and doesn't look so ugly when you blow bits out like that. Also, a lot of the results of casual snappers were simply pants.

    Manual isn't 'hard', no, my point, which you seem so keen to bash, was that it is counterproductive to try to deal with:

    - composure
    - focus
    - aperture
    - shutter speed

    all on the fly, as a beginner when the camera will do 3/4 and to an extent 2 for you leaving 1 for you to deal with. It's not as if you can't set exposure compensation.

    Cameras nowadays meter pretty well, you could leave them on auto, mostly, and, especially if you shoot RAW you can get a usable exposure out. If you've screwed up the composition, you're done. This is where effort should be focused.

    Oh, and OT and to the OP - how were you metering? I see you had your camera set to spot...
     
  20. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    NSW, Australia.
    #20
    Apple's Apperture has a recovery tool that darkens whites and attempts to recover blown out areas. Photoshop should have one as well (or a way to get the same results).

    I'm using the standard multi segment metering. I've never really worried about changing it.

    I read that the only current lens not compatible with Nikon's matrix metering is the 50mm f1.8 AF, try switching to the standard metering.
     
  21. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    All of nikon's AF lenses work with the matrix metering in the D40.
     
  22. mfarrar thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #22
    I use photoshop but haven't found a way of recovering it.

    Unfortunately I seem to have saved over the original picture with a modified version doh!
     
  23. CTYankee macrumors 6502

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    Jul 18, 2002
    #23
    agreed, blown out highlights. If you subject is white (dog) you better nail the exposure. SOme shots you can get away with it (clouds) but not textured white.

    Keep practicing, you'll get it.
     

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