RabbieBurns (19th April 2013)
Basically, the wider the appature, the less is in focus (depth of field).
I tend to use either TV or AV mode the most. If you want to control the depth of field select AV mode and then if you want more in focus, choose a nice small apature, while watching the length of your exposure. If you have an Image stableized lens then you can usually go down to about 1/10 second exposure if you have steady hand. Slower if you have a mono or tripod.
Increasing the ISO setting can let you choose a smaller appature also.
Curves is just a more controlled version of levels; what I tend to do is do the levels straight off as above, then use the curves to actually control the contrast I want from that point.
Sharpness tends to give a better appearance as well, when used within reason; look into Unsharp Mask to just crisp it up a bit (if you overdo it you just get artifacts, but for now: set your radius to 1-2px, threshold at 2-4, then play with percentages - normally 70-100%).
Also, in general: the best way to get better is to look at what you like and work out _why_ you like it. Anything I know, I taught myself from hanging around deviantArt and talking to better photographers. If you can learn to critique someone elses photos, you can do it to yours at the point where you're kneeling down framing the shot. I'm trying to do the same now for writing.
can I send you the 10mb raw of one of the above photos and see if you can make it look better using photoshop to see if theres perhaps some better post processing I can be doing?
I see better photos from the kids with their instagram iphone photos these days than Im taking ;p
It would be nice to be able to take a photo that didnt need post processing, but I guess I still need to work at the lighting aspect. I assume thats why when I get my school photo taken they have the external flash with the umberella extension and all those accroes. The only photo taken with a flash above is the green parrot on the bird feeding table but I think it didnt turn out very well. Is it worth getting an external flash?
IMO Yes. Good lighting is critical and relying on nature to provide it is a gamble. Look at any gaggle of press photographers clustered round their favourite subject even on a sunny day and they are likely to be popping off their flash to fill in and bring out the subject.Is it worth getting an external flash?
I would also agree that a decent flash is important - being able to position your light source according to the outcome you want is very useful. When I did wedding photography, an external flash was a must - being able to do things like bounce the light off a ceiling etc... very useful.
Light is everything - so if you can improve it, do it.
Photoshop has become a dirty word, but all it is really is a digital darkroom. Back in the day you'd have played about in the dark room to develop the print to the best it could be; tweaking contrast, colours etc. in Photoshop is similar. The more you can do in-camera, the better, because a lot of what you do in Photoshop is destructive and lowers the quality; you can get away with a fair bit, but too much playing will tell, and a source photo that doesn't need fixing will give you much higher quality at the end. GIGO, after all.
Any photo I want printed absolutely goes through Photoshop. There's no way I'm printing something that isn't as good as it can be.
The umbrella flashes for portraiture work because they are big, expensive lights that illuminate evenly; the built in flash in a camera is small, with poor colour cast, and casts harsh shadows. Photography is literally "light writing"; the better the light you write with, the better the result.
Stick a JPG up here and I can have a quick play (as can others, then); to be honest, as nice as RAW is, you're only going to overwhelm yourself if you try and get your head around it now. Just play with JPGs for now and then when you understand a but more of the theory around colour balance, contrast, lighting etc., you can make more use of the controls on a RAW file. Instagram shots look alright because it is mindlessly, automatically doing the contrast and the colour balance etc., but after you've seen two dozen in quick succession, it stops looking good because it all looks the same. Learning to do this properly will give you the flexibility to keep your photos interesting
Nothing wrong in using Photoshop to bring out the best in photos - all of these I touched up in Camera RAW:
I will get around to up-loading that stuff I promised......
@mattx they are amazing and what I am aspiring to. There is a definite different class between those and what I am taking, and I am trying to learn what that difference is.
Take that single photo of the cockatoo above, with the yellow crown. The single attachment above is a direct Save-As jpg of the original photo from the camera. The one I posted with the bunch was after I adjusted the levels.
Neither look like they belong in National Geographic.
Matt's ones, and others from this thread who have posted theirs, look amazing and I want to learn what im missing
mattx (19th April 2013)
Done a quick once over in Photoshop (more or less what I'd normally do to any photo, to be honest), but the problem with this particular photo is the background - there's a very harsh line that goes right through the parrot and it really distracts the eye. It's not always easy with animals, but if you could have stepped to the right one step so the photo was just against the greenery, it would have looked better. These are the kind of things you will learn to critique through the viewfinder, and correct before you click.
That said, what I've done (in order)
- New Levels layer, set to 25, 1.00, 179 respectively for the arrows
- New Curves layer in an S shape, chose Medium Contrast from the drop down, dragged the bottom left point up so it sat just below the diagonal line and moved the top right point up so it sat above the line - horizontally it was in the middle of squares 2 & 3, vertically it almost touched the top of square 3. This boosted the contrast at the top end, so we haven't lost detail in the dark areas but we've brightened the parrot
- Copied the original photo layer (so we don't damage the original while we're still working), and on this duplicate, applied an Unsharp Mask @ 80%, 4px radius, 1 threshold (sharpened the feather detail on the parrot)
- Applied a vignette, which I do in two stages - one layer is solid black with a circular gradient on the layer mask @ 20% opacity (in this case), the second layer is a copy of the just-sharpened photo using the same layer mask with the blending mode set to overlay (at 100% opacity).
The vignetting step there might not make much sense now, but layers & layer masks are where the power of Photoshop really lies; Google up some tutorials. I can email the PSD at a lower resolution if it helps any, just PM your email (too big to attach here).
(and whilst it might only have taken me five minutes in Photoshop now, it's taken me ten years to learn what to do in those five minutes)
EDIT to add: the main difference between the edit you did and mine, then, is that there's more contrast in mine, and the vignette draws the eye in to the centre; @mattx has made use of the same trick, both with light and focus (and I'd be interested to know, @mattx - was the DOF all in camera, or have you applied some judicious Lens Blur in PS? I always find the latter far too fiddly to do with depth masks etc.)
Last edited by sonofsanta; 19th April 2013 at 04:12 PM.
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