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I need to learn to take better photos

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thebigz View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote thebigz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: I need to learn to take better photos
    Posted: 15 July 2013 at 23:42
All C&C is welcome.

I considered putting this in the critics corner, but figured that is for people more serious than me. I went hiking up American Fork Canyon in northern Utah this last weekend and the views were breathtaking. I had my A77 along for the ride and decided to see what I could do with it. Usually I use my Samyand 14mm 2.8 for landscape shots, but decided to try my CZ 16-80 and see how that went.

This is in my mind the best of the bunch. All I did to it was crop and reduce the highlights to make it so the sky wasn't blown out. This just pales in comparison to what it was like in real life, and I don't even find it that interesting of a photo. What do you think could improve it? I'm thinking maybe there are too many small details that are causing distractions. Does anyone else think this?

Maybe its impossible to capture the grandeur of the place in a photo because you need depth as well.

I'm really getting frustrated with having no photos that I consider "Quality"

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happyjack View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote happyjack Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2013 at 00:19
Having just come back from a week long workshop my suggestions are:
Try continuous bracketing on the A77 then combine use say NIK to get a natural looking HDR ( the NIK suite is now only $149).
This should help bring out the the sky more dramatically.
But 1st in LR add contrast which might cut some of the haze in the distance, and some vibrance. Maybe use the brush tool?
Others will probably correct me or give better advice

One of the problems with cropped landscapes is that our eye sees the wide view, but our camera only captures a part of it. Also the dynamic range of 1 shot does not necessarily show what our eye and mind sees either. Processing can go someway to fixing that.
Howard

Edited by happyjack - 16 July 2013 at 00:22
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Introspect View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Introspect Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2013 at 00:42
hi, well you can play some in post processing, over here there's a tutorial about a Technic called midnight (something), canīt recall the exact name, but it's great for landscape shots... about the composition I believe that the central composition doesn't help all that much, both lines of the hills meets at the center, if you crop some from one of the sides the photo looks much better, put your hand over one of the corners and you'll see... hope this helps...
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Aavo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Aavo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2013 at 05:42
It can be over exposured and because of that you miss you see in nature. 16-80 is great lens for a-mount APS-C and here can't be something wrong. I hope PP can help you here, including basic functions in what ever PP software.
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igogosh View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote igogosh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2013 at 06:33
Try a different time of day, sunset/sunrise provide for stunning light. I'd make this shot about the horizon, the clouds and their shadows and the mountains in these circumstances and use a longer lens setting to compress the mountains even more and loose the bottom part of the image up to where the hills meet.
Here's an example of what dramatic light does to the skies
[IMG][/IMG]
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brettania View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2013 at 06:57
I have had a play with your shot. If you give me the OK I will post it.

(BTW -- I did not use it but the Midnight Something article referred to above can be found here.)

Edited by brettania - 16 July 2013 at 07:06
 



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InspiredbyNature View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote InspiredbyNature Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2013 at 07:05
I think that the main problem for this image is that it doesn't have a major foreground element to draw you in. I think that if you have a nice scene, than try to find an interesting part of foreground to aid the image in leading the viewer throughout the image. I think here for example you could have tried to zoom in a bit if you wanted just the mountains in the distance and the clouds. If you want a grand vista again try to find a unique angle, also a good friend of mine who is a great landscape photographer always tells me to get closer to the ground when it comes to landscapes. So I think overall when you see a nice scene like this try to find a good foreground element compose it so the foreground leads the viewer into the image and than snap away. Also if there is too much dynamic range I would get three exposures of +1,0,-1 and add them together to make an image that has more dynamic range.

Note: I also played round with the shot a bit in camera raw, and if you want to see it than I can post it.

Edited by InspiredbyNature - 16 July 2013 at 07:12
http://www.dvirbarkay.com/

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trefot View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote trefot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2013 at 09:12
Originally posted by thebigz thebigz wrote:

This just pales in comparison to what it was like in real life, and I don't even find it that interesting of a photo.


"Cool" to see that others also have this problem. As I only, due to some sort of laziness, use photoes directly out of camera I need to do what I can before I press the shutter. This have made me buy a polorasing filter, and I have to say it do creates a sky that pops, when used right. It could be worth a shoot.

p.s. Not to advertise for a certain brand, but the Marumi CPL-filters did get a nice review in a Polish filter test, and they are not that expensive either.
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brian33 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brian33 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2013 at 09:30
I think the biggest single thing you can point to here is that you simply shot it at the wrong time of day. At midday like this I think you can comfortably put your camera back in its bag. Landscape shots are all about being dramatic and the only way to do that is with a dramatic sky casting dramatic light on the ground. Pretty much the only way to do that is beginning or end of day. Beginning of day has the added benefit vs. end of day of morning mist in the air, which can add effects to the light, which you won't get at the end of the day since any water vapor like that low to the ground is usually fully evaporated.

Beyond that, there is the question of foreground interest and post-processing and the fact that the foreground doesn't look sharp (which I'm not sure I understand since you shot at 16mm and f9); but those are details insofar as you can correct for all of them but if you still shoot at midday you'll still come away with a mediocre shot (if your EXIF clock is correct it states the photo was taken at 12:15pm).

I think it can seem frustrating since our eyes, when we look at nature account for and accustom themselves and recreate as need be to create something beautiful. The camera's eye is soooo much more limited than our eyes + our brains interpretation. But I guarantee if you change the time of day you shoot your photos will start looking like much more than they are today. The composition here is fairly good with the endless array of mountains off into the distance so you're definitely on the right track.
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rowivision View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote rowivision Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2013 at 09:34
We all need to take better photos, so welcome to the club ;-)

To me it looks like the conditions at the time you took the shot were not very good. Even if your eye has seen the beauty of the landscape there, your shot is a very good example that cameras see different often.

I think the combination of A77 and the Zeiss 16-80 is a very good choice (it is my setup ;-).

Probably a polarizing filter would have reduced the haze to some amount. In landscapes I very much like to use polarizers, especially to improve the rendering of the sky.

The shot you have presented would benefit from something in the foreground (as mentioned above by others already) that would help to get a better sense of the depth of the scene. Some objects like trees bushes or rock to "frame the shot".

What settings did you use? Aperture and such I mean?

I bet in postprocessing there is quite a lot improvement possible, especially when I think of the clarity / micro contrast. What software are you using?

always on the need for improvement
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kerrath View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote kerrath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2013 at 09:48
I strongly agree with igogosh's recommendation. Looking at your photo it looks like the trees are casting no shadows which means it was taken at just about midday. Many (including myself) regard this as the least ideal time for landscape photography (and other genres) because the light is harsh, flat, or lacking contrast. Just about the only type of outdoor photography I bother with at midday now is under heavily shaded foliage, extreme macro, where ambient light is almost irrelevant, or infrared where shadows and specular highlights show up so much differently that the drawbacks to normal midday shooting are negated or at least lessened.

The comment about CPL filters I also agree with, though when using wide angle lenses you can get some peculiar results as they have the most effect on the sky perpendicular to the path of the sun. They can help cut out some of the haze which would bring out the deeper part of the valley.

My last thought I'll post here is a compositional one. The foreground is rather unexciting to me with similar colored vegetation and some so-so rocks and dirt. The valley itself is of more interest and the slope on the right has an abundance of trees. So I would have composed it to reflect that or crop the image to focus more on these areas.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2013 at 12:22
Since I am likely to be asleep when you next look at this thread, here's a link to my quick rework of your shot.

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2871/9299148930_8fc2049b20_o.jpg

... and an indication of the settings used in PaintShopPro is here.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7391/9296860175_d8f8cebddc_z.jpg
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Post Options Post Options   Quote InspiredbyNature Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 July 2013 at 00:57
If you are interested in what I got from a few quick minutes in camera Raw here it is.


I added some clarity and contrast. A tad bit of saturation. Used the gradient filter to lower the brightness of the sky. I also cropped it. I felt that the rock face in the distance was nice so I cropped it with that in mind. I also sharpened it up a bit.
http://www.dvirbarkay.com/

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brettania View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 July 2013 at 02:04
Given the number and depth of some of the responses I think this thread really should go into Critics Corner, so have moved it accordingly.
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