Originally Posted by hyogen
leftnose, I appreciate that you are a very educated and experienced photographer. Trust me, I still have lots to learn and much I can and should practice! I like the shadows and highlights sliders as well, and could never figure out what the recovery slider really did before. There seems to be one other slider I used to use in LR3 that isn't there in LR4 anymore...I'll have to look again to see what it was. Maybe it was brightness? Regarding the 2nd to last photo above with the sky and wife's cut off arm...hmm, I remember cropping it like that in order to put the cats eyes right in the bottom and left third of the photo. This was my point about the rule of 1/3rds earlier. Here you followed it to the letter of the law and you created a problem with the composition. Don't treat it like a rule that will magically make a better photo. Always look at the whole composition. Just because your subject is at a 1/3rds intersection doesn't mean the photo is composed correctly. I know I did some sharpening, which I understand now was not the best idea for a JPEG. I think it would have been a better angle if less of my wife's face was in it, since I was trying to not shoot it anyway.. What else did you have to say about it that you were waiting for a response from me for? Be careful taking close-ups with an UWA. You'll get distorted features. Here your wife's arm looks bigger than it really is. In the other, your cats head looks humongous. The last photo, I wonder how you could tell the white balance was off. Just by looking at it. It looks yellow. I haven't looked deeply into the actual definition yet, but is it the fact that there is is nothing purely white in the photo? No Her shirt is off-white, her skin tone is pretty close, and I'm pretty sure I tuned it to have a slightly bluer sky. Look at the photo of just your wife vs. the photo of the cat blocking out her face just above it. Look at the skin tones. In the photo of just your wife, her skin is very yellow, almost like she has jaundice. Her skin tone looks much more natural in the one with the cat. I don't have the energy to comment on the first two pics. You were right about the cat being scared though because she hadn't been outside in a long while. They were the best of the bunch in sharpness since I was shooting handheld at like 200-300mm with a $160 new ($110 used) zoom lens. In the distant future I'll upgrade a canon 70-200 of some sort perhaps. I can't help the gear head in me, unfortunately, but I'm poor and I only pay for toys with a little portion of the money I made on the side. As far as the sigma 50mm 1.4, 30mm 1.4, and 10-20mm 1.4 lenses I have absolutely no regrets. I think the quality of the pics speak for themselves in that regard. Sure, if I mastered every aspect of my camera and skill then I'm sure the kit lens could put my photos to shame in terms of composition/vision/etc.. Anyway, I don't really see why you're belaboring a point about buying lenses when I already started exchanging lenses over a month ago and announced that I would do so. I've been satisfied/set for 2 years as of a few weeks ago--in my case, I wish I had gotten them sooner..! A different lens (bought used) can be a huge spark to motivate an amateur to get better. Right now I have very little time...but yet I sit here like a zombie and write this -_- As I said, do whatever you like but the more you concentrate on your gear, the less you'll concentrate on and master the basics. I'm not alone in this opinion.
I'd like to relate this to tennis, which I used to play very actively and was very active on tennis forums several years ago. Tennis is clearly a sport with a steep learning curve. It's hard for people of different skill levels to play with each other. Someone who is of higher skill level can actually get worse by playing against someone who is more of a beginner, with no rhythm, control, and strategy. Then there are "ball pushers" who can play at a higher level (even professional level :P) who simply get the ball back, no matter how "ugly" or "cheap" they play. It's especially frustrating at a non-professional competitive level... Anyway, I used to obsess about tennis racquets and specs. Stiffness, head balance, materials used, "paintjobbed" tennis rackets that pro's use to make it look like they're using the leading companies' latest model with latest technologies.. I've owned some of the racquets that many pros have grown up with and some still use under paintjobs, i.e. Pro Tour 630, PT280, Prestige 600, etc etc.. Well, after so many years of playing and passionately obsessing about racquets, I actually did find my ideal racquet. As I played more and more I got a sense of what qualities of a racquet would complement my style of play. I never had a membership to a club, but played as much as I could and at every open men's night possible. Went off on a little tangent there, but basically because tennis has a steep learning curve, many players quit the sport and/or get stuck in a level of play with no real improvement. Beginner rackets are made with huge oversized heads and very stiff construction. While this may be the only type of racquet children or seniors can hit with, it is not the most ideal for a lot of young or adult players. Not everyone can afford private instruction and tennis club memberships are super expensive, so unfortunately a lot of kids/teens/beginning adults develop bad form and learn bad timing, footwork, technique. A double whammy is that these stiffer frames are really harsh on the wrist and elbow. A smaller head, less stiff frame/neck/tighter string patterns, head-light balance which is what most pros/serious players at any competitive level play with. If people who have played for a few weeks and have decent hand-eye coordination, I think many many beginners would do better to go with a more "pro" spec'd set-up. This forces them to hit the ball correctly with the small head, generate their own power with correct mechanics, timing, and footwork, and not rely on the racquet/strings/string pattern for topspin/slice, etc. While I'm sure it's not true for everyone, some people just need to learn from a bumpy ride with the real thing with a crash suit on.
Sort of have to disagree with you here. There are certain basics to photography that you can learn on any camera, especially composition. And while good camera gear will allow you to be more versatile, you can get distracted by features you really don't need. There certainly is a floor, though. But for general photography (not including sports, low light, studio work, and other niches), I bet I could do just about as much with a PowerShot S100 as with my 5D2.
In post, I went for a little more warm look - I have a really hard time finding a place in the picture with the eye dropper where each color is within a few % of each other... I usually first start adjusting the temperature. From the point it looks slightly blue, I go a little warmer...and for these I went a tiny bit more. Also, to get the blue sky (do I need to use a polarizing filter? I had to turn down the highlights for the blue to show up this much I believe...also played a little with blue levels. Saturation was usually around -2 to +2, vibrance between -2 to +2, Clarity between -15 but usually more at 0 or +2. I turned up contrast a little bit for most and whites turned down maybe -5 (left), blacks turned down -5. I can't remember what I did with shadows, but I'm pretty sure it was up maybe +5. Sharpened a little and reduced noise just a little bit and selectively sharpened faces on a couple that looked a little soft in the face that I wanted to keep. I tinkered with almost all of these, but it was definitely easier saving presets as I went and micro-adjusted the presets for pics that were taken in similar situations.
This is my point about buying a book on Lightroom. You realize that if you adjust the color temperature using the slider and then use the eye dropper to select a neutral, you'll undo all the work you did with the slider? They're two different tools to accomplish very much the same task.
The pics below are some of my best ones as well as a couple of my worst possibly (not counting the ones I immediately erase). These were shot at the same location as my last entry minus the cat. Shot wide open at 1.4 on the 50mm, (next time I'll try stopping down and moving a little closer to the subject), AWB, Center dot focus + recompose mostly, AE Lock/AF for the backfocus button, Center weighted average metering. I'd be happy to upload all my raw files onto dropbox if anyone has the time/desire to edit any. I think I'm doing pretty well for the week or so I've been editing in RAW, the little joyous moments I get to do this away from my studies -_- Time FLIES when I take pics AND work in lightroom.... If I were independently wealthy I would do this for free for people...hehe. Again, thanks for the critical advice / constructive criticism. I actually don't have very thick skin, but I'm determined to be the best I can. Again, sorry I have a hard time following advice about equipment - I usually buy and sell my stuff from previous hobbies or whatever to fund new hobbies like this (and pay a heavy tax to my wife at the same time of the funds I come up with from "nothing") :-P I'm not good at reading books/textbooks, but how is it that I can spend ridiculous amounts of time on head-fi or photography forums?
Which of these poses is better? I paid maybe 35% attention to the rule of thirds when framing / cropping these pics. I'm pretty sure a lot of these I have too much head-room, but it was hard for me to chop off pics that I took so much effort into taking in an opportunity I don't get often. Summer sunlight is going to be really hard to come by in Portland pretty soon as well. CPL. I got one used for 6. It's not a slim profile one, so I'll get vignetting on my 10-20mm Sigma, but I don't want to spend $80-150 on a slim B+W CPL right now. When taking pics against the sun (without flash), was it just a matter of metering correctly to get the blue sky? Yes, to me, too much headroom. Color and exposure are nice! Maybe a little too warm but not problematic.
This one is probably not one of the better ones--it looked way more exposed SOOC. I played around with the sliders--especially highlights to tone it down. Anything I could have done differently? Should I have done more more selective work on her face and not subdued/darkened the background as much? I left this in landscape the way I shot it, just because a lot of my other shots were shot in portrait mode. The second photo is clearly soft, but I like the pose so I selectively sharpened/contrast/etc her face. I kinda turned down the background similarly with the left picture. Is this more rescuable? I don't like either of these. The one on the left isn't exposed very well. Background is too dark and her face is too overexposed. The one on the right is soft. Remember what I said about the cat photo previously. If a photo is technically deficient, Lightroom won't fix it. These are ones that should have been passed over.
right one looks a little soft in her face, should i have selectively sharpened/played with highlights/contrast/etc her face? Or is this not worth keeping?
Mimicking the dance from the ridiculously popular Gangnam Style music video which has taken the world by storm. I think I shot these at 1/100 sec. I was afraid if I went faster I would get an underexposed photo. I have some more blurry photos in the same set that I took time to edit - mainly selectively made her facial features sharper/dark/contrasty to make it less blurry. Even in these, the jacket and hands look a little soft. I guess I should have gone up to maybe 1/150sec or so. I didn't think to selectively sharpen the jacket and hands...perhaps for the better? Should these two have been shot in AI Servo mode? Everything else was taken with One Shot. Why, if you shot faster than 1/100 would you get an underexposed photo? Are you familiar with reciprocity? And, with digital, not only can you adjust aperture and shutter speed, you can adjust ISO on the fly as well. Within reason, you can set any shutter speed you want and still get a properly exposed photo. If you don't know reciprocity, again, I have to recommend "Undestanding Exposure" as previously mentioned.
I think I like her expression more on the left photo better, but prefer the warmer color of the right one. Which one is better in your opinion? I think most of my pics I went with more of the scheme on the right.
I like this pic on the left if only for the fact that it's different from the others. It makes the picture to the right of me look a little too warm. I set the camera to AI Servo mode and had my wife hold the backfocus button for this one. A little less exposure on the right or less warmth would have been better?
Couple friends liked this photo a lot, although someone pointed out the arm could have been more relaxed. I was going for flare on this next one. The framing is horrible right? I don't use a UV filter. I kinda like this rainbow colored flare element on the left. Should I crop a 1/4th off the right? The one on the left is quite nice. I might have composed only slightly differently and had more space on the right than on the left. That's a bit more natural since she's looking in that direction. It allows the viewer "look" with her. If you ask me, if a photo has flare in it, forget it. It's not a look you should go for. It's something that's wrong with a photo, especially in this case where it's right next to the subject.
I think for the black and white one, I just simply pressed Black & White on LR after I was done. It was harshly criticized by a friend who's also into photography saying that I should only do black and white if I intended to do it in the first place, and that it's overused by no-talent photographers :) I get harsh criticism in the non-web world as well :P My start in photography was with B&W film in a wet darkroom. I can more easily judge if a photo is right (contrast, exposure) in B&W than in color. So, if I spend any serious amount of a time in Lightroom on a photo, I always look at it in B&W to see if I'm headed in the right direction. I don't keep the photo in B&W but it's a useful tool for me during PP. Your friend is right that B&W won't transform a horrible picture into a work of art and I also agree with him that you should set out to take pictures in a certain style, whether or not in B&W. These photos, with the few exceptions of those that have technical problems, are the best that you've posted so far. However, they all look different even though they were all taken at the same time. If you want to shoot a series, that series has to be cohesive and part of that is for each photo to have a similar feeling. Some of these are warmer than others, some are beautifully exposed whereas with others you have chosen to blow out the sky. Pick one look and stick to it for each shoot. If you want to showcase your ability to achieve different looks/feels, do it with separate series. As for the above B&W specifically, it's pretty nice! I wouldn't blow out the sky quite as much but otherwise, good contrast and dynamic range! And there's enough texture to make it work as well.
I'm noticing that I have quite a bit of head-room in most of these... would it have been better to crop it off? I rarely cropped off her knees (maybe not once). I'm also seeing a trend of centered photos - like I said, I didn't pay too much attention to the rule of thirds more than half of the time even when I was processing. This is the same mistake I make, you put your center AF point on the place you want sharp (her face) and then you don't recompose. I probably would have taken the exact same photo but I think this would have been better served seeing her feet and the extra texture of the grass at the bottom rather than the blown out sky.
back to studies. Thanks for the feedback.