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I need to learn to take better photos

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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: 19 July 2013 at 15:49
It is a nice shot. Congrats, you ARE taking better photos! This shot needs a bit of edit to bring the color, black levels and some dodging/burning. I hope you don't mind.
 



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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: 19 July 2013 at 15:54
Here are the steps I took to edit your image
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Bob Maddison View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bob Maddison Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 July 2013 at 15:56
Roger Rex: I don't think we actually disagree - although it might seem so. Photography, like all art forms, is a personal matter. I love (most) Classical Music and run away from (most) so called modern pop music. That is my personal preference. It is my own belief that that photography is a reasonably precise means of recording a scene, and should stay that way. If I want an 'interpretation' of that scene, I would buy a suitable painting of it; which would be the artists own interpretation but not necessarily mine.

Yes, I know that some photographers want to create great works of art with their camera; some succeed, most don't. For me, photography is recording life as it is, not as someone else interprets it. The OP was dissatisfied with the photographs he was creating primarily because they didn't turn out as he wanted. My original point was simply that the starting point is to ensure that the camera is set up to record what you see through the VF - optical or electronic. As with all such modern technology, there is an almost infinite opportunity to get it wrong. Fortunately, with digital photography, there are ample facilities for correcting those errors made at the taking stage. However, it is only too easy to get sloppy with technique to the point where every photograph is reprocessed in PS afterwards. Yet all the outstanding photos I have seen have been the result of careful juxtaposition of camera, subject and lighting, and preparation of the camera to get all aspects of the exposure correct. The proof of success in this is that the photograph requires minimal post processing. I think we all agree on that. We also agree that the most limiting feature of a modern camera is the fixed image format, and that is the easiest feature of all to adjust by simple cropping!
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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: 19 July 2013 at 16:05
Ansel Adams captured his landscapes in good places at the right time, he also developed his prints to look a certain way, often dodging and burning certain areas of the print in his darkroom. Why shouldn't we? Cameras see things pretty flat and capture the scene with a lot of details in the subject and in dynamic range. Cameras can be used for documentary and science (no edit) and for art - edit all you want. Artists start with an empty canvas and add things to it, while photographers start with a canvas full of details and we eliminate things we don't want to see as we compose, light and edit. Different approaches. I believe the second approach applies better to the landscape photography.
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Bob Maddison View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bob Maddison Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 July 2013 at 16:36
Ansel Adams certainly adjusted his film processing and subsequent enlarging techniques to suit the subject. However, he also went to infinite trouble to ensure that his viewpoint and lighting (i.e. timing) were just right too. His post processing was designed to compensate for the inadequacy of his media (B&W) rather than his taking technique, and to ensure that the final print represented the best practicable image of the subject as he saw it. I have the greatest admiration for his work, not least because his photographs are full of detail and capture the atmosphere of the scene so well.

Apart from my own amateur photography, in my work I took thousands of B&W photographs of gross metallurgical samples mostly at 1:1 but up to 5:1, using a 5x4 technical camera a Polaroid sheet film. An accurate scientific record was essential and getting a good 2D image of a 3D subject was essential. Perhaps this experience has coloured my judgment and biased me towards the "minimal edit" approach to digital photography!
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Roger Rex View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Roger Rex Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 July 2013 at 17:27
Originally posted by Bob Maddison Bob Maddison wrote:

Ansel Adams certainly adjusted his film processing and subsequent enlarging techniques to suit the subject. However, he also went to infinite trouble to ensure that his viewpoint and lighting (i.e. timing) were just right too. His post processing was designed to compensate for the inadequacy of his media (B&W) rather than his taking technique, and to ensure that the final print represented the best practicable image of the subject as he saw it. I have the greatest admiration for his work, not least because his photographs are full of detail and capture the atmosphere of the scene so well.

Apart from my own amateur photography, in my work I took thousands of B&W photographs of gross metallurgical samples mostly at 1:1 but up to 5:1, using a 5x4 technical camera a Polaroid sheet film. An accurate scientific record was essential and getting a good 2D image of a 3D subject was essential. Perhaps this experience has coloured my judgment and biased me towards the "minimal edit" approach to digital photography!


Bob,

"All art is autobiographical" (Federico Fellini); "Every picture is a self-portrait" (unknown). "...this experience has coloured my judgment" (Bob). I fully agree that we each bring a lifetime, be it short or long, of experiences to our photography and, thus, so much of what is preferred in an image is quite personal.

Interesting that you used the word "coloured" and then discussed Ansel Adams as well; black and white, for which he is known, being a major step away from what we see; the black and white film being a major "process", if you will, of the seen image. My first ever photo book was Adams' The Negative; I still have it. In it he states: "My work, for example, is frequently regarded as 'realistic' while in fact the value relationships within most of my photographs are far from literal transcriptions of actuality." And this: "The values are not 'realistic,' but the general effect is spectacular." For example, he supports the idea of having some Zone 1 or 2 very dark or solid black areas in an image even though the eye/brain rendered detail in those areas.   Much of Adams darkroom work, I think, would be considered quite extensive processing.

The OP was looking for ideas on how to get his images closer to what he remembered seeing. I believe he shouldn't rule out post-processing, even possibly extensively done, in this regard. He may reject such processing as you have and he may not as I have not. The fact that he asked for guidance suggests to me he doesn't yet know what is possible via processing and I am encouraging him to explore that aspect of image making. He got a lot of suggestions concerning what to do at capture (e.g., avoid middle of the day shooting, use a foreground element, etc.) and I agree with you that that first step is critical. I think a lot of folks, myself included, at times try to post-process our way from a not-so-good image to a nice image.

Roger







Edited by Roger Rex - 19 July 2013 at 19:11
Hatred corrodes the container it is carried in. http://rogerrex.zenfolio.com/
 



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Gert van den Bosch View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Gert van den Bosch Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 July 2013 at 19:22
Originally posted by InspiredbyNature InspiredbyNature wrote:

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.


PP is just a small element. I fully agree that you need leading lines, an element on the foreground, to get the best three dimensional picture. I you know how to handle an ultra wide angle lens, it will help. Get as close as you can to that element on the foreground to create depth. The most simple subjects are intresting with a dramatic sky. I use the Nikfilters and I never go out in the summer on the middle of the day, except for IR photography. Tilting your lens or turn it just a bit will give a total different picture. Catch the clouds.
I like down to earth photography. :)
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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: 20 July 2013 at 04:06
Originally posted by igogosh igogosh wrote:

It is a nice shot. Congrats, you ARE taking better photos! This shot needs a bit of edit to bring the color, black levels and some dodging/burning. I hope you don't mind.

Where were you going with this edit? The whitepoint is shifted to gray and the blacks are clipped. A monitor calibration thing?

--

RE: Everyone discussing PP in digital photography...
I started photography less than 3 years ago with the A100. From the beginning, influenced by people around me and internally, I did not want to be one of the people who shoots the same subject or scene 20 times to get 1 good photo by luck. I made an effort to not shoot the same thing more than 3 times unless it was a changing scene like a fast sunset or waves rushing into the beach. I hated the idea that unskilled people could appear to be skilled by the brute-force approach and did not want to be or be perceived that way.

Even when actively thinking about composition and settings and subjects, even some of my photos into which I put the most effort would disappoint or seem dull because I ended up comparing my products to the popular stuff I see on Tumblr, Flickr, or 500px. It took me a while to figure out that one of the largest obstacles to feeling like my own work was competitive was that I was hardly enacting any post-processing besides white balance. When I started using more advanced curves, sharpening, noise reduction, and took the time to understand what fill light, blacks, vibrance, etc., did, the quality of my work improved dramatically.

I believe for a time I even took it too far on contrast, until I started working with a photographer who wanted me to drop the contrast adjustment to 0 when editing photos from our shoots. After that, I started considering realistic black and whitepoints, and again my work improved. One of my largest goals in development these days is to include the largest perceivable dynamic range without crushing the lighting. Simultaneously, raising the vibrance to match my idealized recollection of a scene.

Long story short, being a photographer minted in the digital era, I firmly believe that post processing, even heavy post processing, is mandatory to have one's work stand out (at least online) these days. Beyond the fact that "everyone's doing it," I feel like the digital presentation is more challenging. Photos of mine that I think look good on computer often look great on paper for example. Part of it I imagine is that it's more real because you can touch it and interact with it directly, but also because there's so much more detail simultaneously viewable and understandable than on a 72 or 96 ppi or even Retina screen. There's certainly a limit to how much post-processing can improve a given photo, but there's no doubt it does. A good photo with excellent post processing can rival an excellent photo with no or minor PP.

I think that these days there's no reason not to try to get the very most out of your photos, not only because you can, but because everyone else can and is as well.

My $.02: Sorry for the tl;dr and off-topic.

Edited by kerrath - 20 July 2013 at 04:13
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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: 20 July 2013 at 16:55
"Where were you going with this edit? The whitepoint is shifted to gray and the blacks are clipped. A monitor calibration thing?" - creative choice, I like photos to have blacks, maybe a bit too much but you get the idea.
Would you share your edit, please, so we can compare?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote kerrath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 July 2013 at 18:36
Originally posted by igogosh igogosh wrote:

"Where were you going with this edit? The whitepoint is shifted to gray and the blacks are clipped. A monitor calibration thing?" - creative choice, I like photos to have blacks, maybe a bit too much but you get the idea.
Would you share your edit, please, so we can compare?

Something like this I think.
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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: 21 July 2013 at 04:19
It may be due to our monitor differences. The ones posted really look dull on IMac 27". Print is the perfect medium, I guess. The man got his shooting technique right, I applaud him for trying.
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Gary C View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Gary C Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 July 2013 at 02:31
BigZ,
Again, I've taken some liberties with your photograph, forgive me.   
I also may have a monitor calibration problem which I will have to address, again, for the umpteenth time. If the photo is a little light, or overly contrasted, I apologize. I looked at it on two different monitors, and I went with the second one, which I think is better calibrated than the first one.



As you can see, I cropped the image at the top and on the left. I felt that the lone fir tree made a very good stopping point, since it also removed one of the boulders that I didn't think really contributed anything (my opinion, it's only worth a ha'penny) to the overall effect of the picture. I was reluctant to lower the top of the picture because of the beautiful blue color of the sky, but it still shows up on the edges at the top of the picture.

I used a warming filter in Photoshop to take a little of the blue away, then selected the mid mountains and changed a little brightness and contrast there, and then overall after I looked at the second monitor, backed the entire brightness level down and perked up the contrast just a bit.

I think the rocks in the front give a nice feeling to the photogragh, and with the flowers set a nice foreground. The flowers also add a burst of a different color to the overall blue and green tonality of the picture. I love the sunlight on the far mountain range, and didn't touch that at all, other than the overall changes I made.

As I said earlier, I'm also learning, a lot, and while composition is very important, I think post processing, whether in the darkroom or on your computer can really make or break the shot, and for that, I'm thankful.

Gary
Minolta 7D, Sony A58, Several Lenses and Growing
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