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Photo Examples of Good Rule or Technique Application, Help for the New Contributor


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38 minutes ago, Steve Bower said:

GregD & David,

Great points and images.  In addition to that unique perspective, a foreground item provides the opportunity to create additional depth of field in your images.  However, this usually requires a small aperture (f11 or f16) in order to keep everything in focus.  The attached images apply that perspective and a small aperture (f16).  Thankfully, I didn't have to get that low to get these shots. 

_MG_1154.jpg

Bow Lake Bridge & Clouds.jpg

I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to composition but don't the angles of the walkways in these two photos lead the eye away from the rest of the image?

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After 13 pages, I have no idea if it came up already or not, but just to be sure, sometimes it is good to ignore typical composition rules and leave some space for the buyer for copy or  cropping.

Most of us that have been here a while have done our share of critiquing the portfolios of our many newcomers, often a bit more harshly than we intended or possibly should have.  While I realize

My apologies to those of you who are getting tired of seeing this thread but in reviewing my portfolio images I noticed how often I have used an "S" curve in the composition of my images.  While I lik

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17 hours ago, Steve Bower said:

Kerem, 

Great photo!  I guess the "take away" from this image, is you never know when things are going to come together for that perfect moment so you need to have your camera settings correct and ready to shoot when it happens.  Thanks for contributing to the thread. 

Yes! Great way to put it! And thank you so much also for this interesting thread ^_^ 

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There certainly can be challenges trying to get a black background behind your subject when doing off-camera flash in a studio-type environment. You can easily get spill from the flash on to your black background, spoiling the image. However, this is pretty easy to correct if you're firing the flash to the side of your subject (left or right) and place something like a piece of black card (acting as a flag) between the flash unit and the black background. The 'flag' prevents spill from the flash and so the background remains completely black.

However, things get more tricky if your aiming the flash at your subject at an angle (say 45 degrees.) In this case, the black background is in more or less direct line of sight of your flash. I had such a setup not too long ago and found it very difficult to get completely satisfactory results. Obviously, distance is key. I tried to get the black background as far away from the subject as possible (placed it on the other side of the room.) It was a medium sized room by the way. And the distance from the flash to the subject was much closer. Using a flag helped a lot but there was still a little bit of spill on the black background.

A tip I learned recently turned out to be a great solution to this problem. And that is take the photo session outdoors during the day and kill the ambient lighting. Obviously, this will be a bit easier to do when it's overcast. Use your base iso, your maximum flash sync speed and an aperture setting of around f11 or thereabouts. Take a test shot without flash and chances are, your photo should turn out completely black. If it's not quite dark enough, attach an ND filter to your lens and try again. Then set up your flash and fire away. 

If you conduct your photo session in your backyard or a park, make sure any objects, fences etc are at least several meters away so your flash can't reach them. You shouldn't even need a flag for your flash. 

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Patrick, 

Thanks for bringing up this photographic problem and offering your solution.  I think I understand what you are doing but a little clarification might be helpful to the new contributor.  I'm guessing you are shooting in manual mode for all of your images, correct?

 My next question; Are you using manual flash as well or are you using "TTL flash"?  I believe you could get the same results either way but it might help the new contributor to duplicate your efforts if they knew exactly how you did it.

It's obvious that the key to creating a black background in your image depends on your ability to reduce the exposure on the background by at least 3 or 4 stops below that of your subject (when illuminating your subject with flash).   Your way obviously works, however, it would be nice to have a studio solution.  How about using the ND filter inside?  Did that work?  What about increasing the size of the flags?  Would that help?  What about post processing? Is that a faster solution?

I'm not a studio photographer so I can't really advise anybody on proper studio procedure but I must assume there are a number of ways that the studio experts might suggest.  Any Studio photographers out there that might help enlighten us?  The more ways we can solve these problems, the better in my opinion.

    

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15 minutes ago, Steve Bower said:

 

Thanks for bringing up this photographic problem and offering your solution.  I think I understand what you are doing but a little clarification might be helpful to the new contributor.  I'm guessing you are shooting in manual mode for all of your images, correct?

 

Well it was a partial solution. I found that even on an overcast day, the sky is still visible in the frame - despite the extreme underexposure. Probably best to choose compositions and camera angles that exclude the sky. Or wait till after sundown when light levels are even lower. And yes, I'm using full manual exposure. As well as manual focus.

15 minutes ago, Steve Bower said:

 My next question; Are you using manual flash as well or are you using "TTL flash"?  I believe you could get the same results either way but it might help the new contributor to duplicate your efforts if they knew exactly how you did it.

    

It's a fully manual speedlight that I'm using. After I kill the ambient light, I fire some test shots with flash to determine the correct flash exposure. Basically, I keep adjusting the flash power until the exposure looks good on the subject. The flash is mounted off camera at an angle to the subject. I'm also using a home made diffuser to soften the light. 

15 minutes ago, Steve Bower said:

It's obvious that the key to creating a black background in your image depends on your ability to reduce the exposure on the background by at least 3 or 4 stops below that of your subject (when illuminating your subject with flash).   Your way obviously works, however, it would be nice to have a studio solution.  How about using the ND filter inside?  Did that work?  What about increasing the size of the flags?  Would that help?  What about post processing? Is that a faster solution?

 

It's unlikely that using an ND filter inside would reduce spill from the flash. A larger flag may possibly work. A big, spacious room would help a lot. The general advice is to keep the flash relatively close to the subject and have the background a considerable distance away. That's the ideal setup for indoor use.

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@Wilm Ihlenfeld  Just wanted to thank you again for your tips and reworking my images to show me their potential. 😉

I knew that adding space around the subject is important, but didn’t know how to do this in PS... So i cut those images (cat and flower) to the rule of thirds.. But that resulted in a very close cut of the images. I was hoping a DTP-er would be able to fix it after purchasing my image... 

As I now have a monthly subscription to PS, I tried to add the space to the image of my cat. Even though you seem to have done it all in the blink of an eye (- obviously you know what you are doing 😉), it took me various attempts before I was happy with the result. 

And as proof that adding space to images will make an image more attractive to buyers ; just sold the image to Taiwan, 3 days after uploading. 🤗 Will see if I can rework the flower image too. 

  

 

176DAB3B-3395-4F06-96D6-118B8431C9E7.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Evelyn de Waard said:

@Wilm Ihlenfeld  Just wanted to thank you again for your tips and reworking my images to show me their potential. 😉

I knew that adding space around the subject is important, but didn’t know how to do this in PS... So i cut those images (cat and flower) to the rule of thirds.. But that resulted in a very close cut of the images. I was hoping a DTP-er would be able to fix it after purchasing my image... 

As I now have a monthly subscription to PS, I tried to add the space to the image of my cat. Even though you seem to have done it all in the blink of an eye (- obviously you know what you are doing 😉), it took me various attempts before I was happy with the result. 

And as proof that adding space to images will make an image more attractive to buyers ; just sold the image to Taiwan, 3 days after uploading. 🤗 Will see if I can rework the flower image too. 

  

 

176DAB3B-3395-4F06-96D6-118B8431C9E7.jpeg

Hello Evelyn,

it is pleasing to hear that your work was worthwhile and has already led to a sale. Good luck for many more sales!

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7 hours ago, Evelyn de Waard said:

And as proof that adding space to images will make an image more attractive to buyers ; just sold the image to Taiwan, 3 days after uploading. 🤗 Will see if I can rework the flower image too. 

Congratulations, Evelyn!  Here's to many, many more!

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On 9/2/2019 at 10:36 AM, Steve Bower said:

Patrick, 

Thanks for bringing up this photographic problem and offering your solution.  I think I understand what you are doing but a little clarification might be helpful to the new contributor.  I'm guessing you are shooting in manual mode for all of your images, correct?

 My next question; Are you using manual flash as well or are you using "TTL flash"?  I believe you could get the same results either way but it might help the new contributor to duplicate your efforts if they knew exactly how you did it.

It's obvious that the key to creating a black background in your image depends on your ability to reduce the exposure on the background by at least 3 or 4 stops below that of your subject (when illuminating your subject with flash).   Your way obviously works, however, it would be nice to have a studio solution.  How about using the ND filter inside?  Did that work?  What about increasing the size of the flags?  Would that help?  What about post processing? Is that a faster solution?

I'm not a studio photographer so I can't really advise anybody on proper studio procedure but I must assume there are a number of ways that the studio experts might suggest.  Any Studio photographers out there that might help enlighten us?  The more ways we can solve these problems, the better in my opinion.

    

To this I would only add that the right light modifiers such as barndoors or even home made gobos plus your choice of background material can make or break this kind of shot - particularly if your studio setup doesn't allow for the amount of separation required for the job. Softboxes on their own are very difficult to control in these situations so if flags aren't cutting it I use crushed black velvet I pick up by the bolt from the fabric store. I find it eats light like nothing else but be warned it does pick up lint like crazy. 

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On 1/23/2019 at 9:40 PM, Leonard Whistler said:

 

Sunny F16 Rule

  • Do not meter and shoot in manual mode using the Sunny F16 Rule if there is any sunlight in the scene - Exposure equivalent to 100 ISO, 1/100sec at F16.
  • Bracketing exposures is unnecessary. One shot is all you need.
  • Then if necessary bring up the shadows in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom.
  • If the shadows are still too dark consider getting a camera that has higher dynamic range.

 

 

Except that simply doesnt work in practice.

It may have produced adequate images in film days but has no chance in the digital era where harsh lighting can easily exceed the dynamic range of a camera sensor.

Bracketing is often needed (or at least exposure blending).

Bring up shadows? Great - brings up noise too.  On every camera on the planet.

(The less said about f/16 and diffraction the better).  These days its totally different, you're going to want base iso (whatever that is) to get the most range, an aperture low enough that diffraction wont be an issue and expose to the right or for the highlights...and if the scene has too much DR you have to bracket.

We're not in the 1960s any more.  Techniques change.

 

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2 hours ago, Richard Whitcombe said:

....The less said about f/16 and diffraction the better.......

 

 

  • f16 is not to be taken literally.
  • I usually shoot at 100 ISO, f8 and 1/400 second - which is still the Sunny F16 Rule.
  • Camera Canon 5D III. Depending on the lens shutter speed , f stop and ISO might change - but it will still be equivalent to the Sunny F16 Rule.

 

:)

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5 hours ago, Leonard Whistler said:

 

 

  • f16 is not to be taken literally.
  • I usually shoot at 100 ISO, f8 and 1/400 second - which is still the Sunny F16 Rule.
  • Camera Canon 5D III. Depending on the lens shutter speed , f stop and ISO might change - but it will still be equivalent to the Sunny F16 Rule.

 

:)

I can tell from some of your images that is is not working too well

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On 1/23/2019 at 8:29 PM, Steve Bower said:

This is not a "rule" or technique and may be something that everyone knows but I thought I would share it since it's "In The News" (on the forum) currently.

First off, I switched from a full frame Canon to the Olympus OMD EM 1 mk II about two years ago.  I am not that familiar with other camera manufacture's features so if this qualifies as "everybody knows that", please forgive me.

KEEPING THE HORIZON STRAIGHT.  This is something that plagued me constantly before I switched to Olympus.  Most, if not all of their OMD Cameras have a level at the bottom of both the viewfinder and the LCD which will indicate whether you have the horizon straight.  This (keeping the horizon straight) was difficult for me when there were other competing angles within the image (see attached).  This may be a feature in all mirrorless cameras and may also be on the latest DSLR from the major manufactures but for me it has been a huge help in composing my images.   

z  _7301160  adj.jpg

Old comment I know but for information Pentax DSLRs also have vertical and horizontal indicators, additionally the option for auto correction of the horizon if a couple of degrees out by rotating the sensor. Mirrorless have only just started exploiting moveable sensors for IBIS but Pentax has been doing it for years and is the only DSLR manufacturer to do so, with way more features like fine composition correction and rotating the sensor to eliminate star trails in long night exposures.

When it comes to correcting verticals I find specialist software like DXO Viewpoint way better than Lightroom or Photoshop or any other generic processing software, and if used carefully you can reduce the severe cropping others incur.

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Rod, 

I didn't know that Pentax had V & H indicators and IBIS, etc.  I knew there had to be very good reasons why you chose Pentax as your camera. 

I'm always amazed how little we "camera buffs" know regarding the features available on "those other cameras" (i. e. not OUR camera manufacture).  Like Pentax, Olympus uses IBIS and has since they introduced the "micro 4/3" format a number of years ago.  Their stabilization "claim" is now up to 7.5 stops on their flagship camera.  I could go into a litany of other features Olympus offers but I'm selfish.  I want to be one of only a few that has the "Olympus advantage".  Yea, I'm a fan boy.  Sorry!

Rod, I appreciate the information on DXO software.  Photoshop is all I use and my knowledge of that is limited.     

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1 minute ago, Steve Bower said:

I didn't know that Pentax had V & H indicators and IBIS, etc.

Canon, Nikon, and Sony all have built-in level indicators, too.  I find that when I use them, I'm usually never more than a fraction of a degree off from perfectly horizontal.  The biggest issue I run into is with wide and super wide angle lenses: barrel distortion can really affect verticals at the edge of the frame, and I have yet to find a suitable fix - short of buying TS lenses - for such wide angle distortion. 

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38 minutes ago, Phil Lowe said:

Canon, Nikon, and Sony all have built-in level indicators, too.  I find that when I use them, I'm usually never more than a fraction of a degree off from perfectly horizontal.  The biggest issue I run into is with wide and super wide angle lenses: barrel distortion can really affect verticals at the edge of the frame, and I have yet to find a suitable fix - short of buying TS lenses - for such wide angle distortion. 

Thanks Phil. On my D500, I knew I had an indicator in Live View. I didn't know I could switch one on for 'normal' hand-held use. I had been correcting horizon in PS. Anyway, I've found it now!

These DSLRs are so fricking sophisticated now it's almost impossible to get to grips with all the functionality.

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When gear matters...

It's often been written on this very forum, that it's not the gear that matters, but the photographer.  While that is true in a very general sense - give two photographers exactly the same gear and subject, and it is photographic skill that will produce the better image - there are times when gear DOES matter.

Take wildlife photography, for instance.  Most wildlife isn't going to want to get anywhere near enough to a human to allow the use of a 135mm or even 200mm lens (let alone a cell phone camera!), so most camera manufacturers make very good telephoto lenses in the 400 to 600mm range.  These lenses allow the photographer to capture wildlife from a distance without disturbing the subject.  And while these lenses excel at capturing wildlife, they are not very good (understatement alert!) for landscapes, portraiture, or macro photography.  So lens makers make lenses purpose-built for these other types of photography (wide angle, macro, portraiture, etc.)

One of the most frequently asked questions I see on social media sites asked by new photographers is, "What is the best lens to get?", because they have often heard that a "professional" lens is the most important piece of gear in their bag.  Unfortunately, as there are as many types of lenses, it seems, as there are types and styles of photography, until someone decides which type of photography and subject they wish to pursue, there is not a one-size fits all answer to that question.

So if you're trying to decide whether you should get a professional 400mm wildlife lens, or professional 85mm portrait lens,  the first thing you need to ask yourself is, "What am I going to use it for?", because while both may be very good, "professional" lenses, only one of them is going to be the "best" for what you want to shoot.

So the first thing a new photographer needs to do is to define that area of photography that interests them then acquire the tools best suited to shoot those subjects.  The last thing anyone needs to do is to rush out, buy a professional 400mm wildlife lens only to decide that product photography is what you really love!  THAT'S when gear matters.  

Many people cannot initially decide what type of photography they want to do, so that is why camera makers also sell "kit lenses" as part of their camera packages.  These lenses are typically referred to as "general purpose" lenses, and are most always zoom lenses.  Typical kit lenses are 16-50mm, 18-55mm, 18-135mm, 55-200, 55-300, 70-300, 18-140mm, and - in the case of higher end Canons and Nikons - 24-105mm and 24-120mm.  Often, you will hear and read such lenses dismissed by professionals as not being the sharpest lenses available.  And while that's often the case, these lenses are designed to help new photographers define those areas of photography that interest them and, in the case of stock photography, allow them to produce perfectly acceptable images for stock that will let them grow their portfolio, until they can afford that professional glass for the type of photography they want to do.

So, if the new photographer is still not sure what type of photography they want to do, but only has a kit lens to use for now, learn to use that lens to its best advantage until such time as you do decide on the type of photography in which you want to specialize.  Don't rush straight out to buy the most expensive camera or lens you can get for microstock, because - at $.25 per download - you are going to be working a very long time to make that return back on your gear investment.  And that is when gear matters the most!  

IMHO.

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