Also, depending on your type of photography, the sun can be your enemy.
As you can see in the Wolves Pub shot, there is a large dark area that isnt exposed well.
For close ups and portraits invest in a decent flash early on and learn how to use it! Larger shots and landscapes with static subjects you can HDR.
Learn what effect different ISOs have and where your moving subjects start to blur at what ISO/shutter speed.
That's interesting Chris, particulary if you work a bit with HDR stuff. I'd have to say I can see why you say it, jpeg does seem a bit less intimidating, but I'd advise always shooting RAW for anything you plan to post process simply because of the extra data you retain which might come in useful for "rescuing" things.
Originally Posted by CHR1S
Personally, I do struggle with the volume or processing assocaited with RAW shooting, I have 120Gb+ of family/holiday photos, Bournemouth Air Show etc etc pictures that I've never really fully processed down to jpeg or tiff for archive but I just can't bring myself to go back to jpeg'ing and throwing all that data away as there is always new software or techniques coming through that will sometimes allow you to do something new with a shot. I am a bit of a hoarder though. :)
I tend to shoot in RAW+JPEG, that way I can get the quick snaps I want straight from the camera, but if I want to process, I have been doing it in RAW. One thing I have found incredibly useful is the ability to correct lens distortion with RAW; even if I don't do any other processing before I convert to JPEG, that alone seems to really improve the quality of the shots, it's incredible how "rounded" the photo's are, they look absolutely fine to me but then there's a massive difference when Photoshop corrects them!
Just gonna jump in and put a comment about the pub shot (I know it as I used to live in Wolves and even worked on renovating the old Low Level Station nearby - many years ago) on the basis of that one photo I'd say you need to get more foreground detail and use the local features to your advantage. To be honest the pub shot looks like something from an estate agent window, you could experiment with taking some shots from under the bridge so its cutting into the skyline, there are quite dramatic effects if you make shots black & white too. The cropping is quite important as well, sometimes its what you can't see that gives a photo that bit extra, maybe you don't need the whole of the frontage in frame for example. Just a few ideas but nice to see
Thanks pauljonze, I'll bare that in mind :)
I'm not saying don't shoot in RAW, I'm saying hone your skills in the camera before relying on PS to save you. I never had PS when I learned to shoot on 35mm film, you got it right or that was that.
I was misunderstanding you, that makes more sense :)
Originally Posted by CHR1S
I very rarely use PS (I only have CS2), I'm a bit 'old school' and like to try and get the shot I want direct from the camera. Occassionally I'll use cropping, resizing and autoleveling but not much more. I'm going to have a look at HDR at some point as it does have its uses when you get a conflict in the light.
The Panda shot - I would probably moved to the left and lower down for that shot :)
All photos can benefit from processing in photoshop and from raw format, as you decide how the photo looks not the programmer who wrote the processing software. I usually like my photos to have a processed look as they stand out from snaps.
As for raw verus jpeg, no question, I always shoot in Raw, I can easily export to jpeg later, and if I do get that one perfect shot, then I can always process it later.
I learned my lesson with a family portrait I took two years ago in Jpeg. I got the exposure wrong , which I could have easily fixed in PS from a raw file but in the jpeg the clarity and ability to fix was lost. My grandfather passed away shortly after and the so did the option of taking the photo again.
Shoot raw, process manually the best ones, export the snaps automatically.
Just read the start of your post again and you were askign for constructive crit and here we are talking data format!! :)
RAW+Jpeg = good plan.
to cover a couple of points you brought up before moving onto pics, lightroom is a stand alon bit of software that does basic editing, but also allows you to keyword, manage, export and do a load of useful other stuff. Possibly the single most useful bit of software you could own and not terribly expensive. try the 30 day free trial from adobes site. I have CS5 which I do use for more complicated edits, layers etc but unless it's wedding pics or a pro shoot I've done, I barely open it now. The latest version of it includes a shed load of lens profiles and if your lens is in there, you can set it to apply corrections on import, or batch correct once in rather than working files individually. It's designed for workflow and it's brilliant. Finally, it's non destructive meaning it doesn't touch the original image, it edits a preview which it creates a siecar file for, then when you export the image it calls on the original data, (raw or Jpeg) and applies the changes to the output file.
Tips, Chris has given you a lot of useful info about cameraskills to master, these are all ace and as you master and understand each one, you'll find new ways to be creative with them. It can get confusing as everythign inter-relates but concentrate on one aspect of a function and learn it well. Read too, i learnt most of what i know from magazines. I'm no expert by any stretch but there's lots to learn from reading.
My tip would be effort. I went to see David Noton a few weeks back and he said it best, "you don't take great pictures from the car park". what he means is, being in the right place at the right time with the right light doesn't happen by accident. If you want landscape stuff, be prepared to get up early before it gets light, and go home late after it gets dark. the "Golden hour" for landscaping is an hour after sunrise, and the hour before sunset. If you are out and see something you like but it's midday, make a note to go back another day when the light is right. Factor in where the sun rises and sets, for example most shots of durdle door are taking in the evening as the light at sunset shines in the right direction. Sun rise doesn't work as well at that location. Related to your images: The pub, difficult to shoot with the distracting surroundings and contrast in the scene. why not try going back at night after it's rained. used a tripod to shoot a longer exposure and use the lights from inside the pub reflectin on the wet ground for foreground interest. Bracket a few exposures so you can cut and past the windows in to avoid burnout or hotspots (PS layers good for this) It'll add atmosphere and maybe even help tell the story of the buildings role.
Shoot lots too, different angles, crouch, climb on something. digital is cheap and the more versions of you a scene you have, the easier it'll be to visualise what works next time. i don't mean get trigger happy, think about each shot but work the angles. often what worked in the viewfinder looks different on the big screen. when i look through the view finder i try and distance myself from the scene and pretend i'm looking at a postcard. do the lead in lines work? is there a focal point? anything distracting in the background. I find it easier to compose doing this. Relate: your panda shot, currently a record shot of a panda with too much depth of field and the subject is getting lost against the background. A higher vantage point would have made a feature of the volume of the panda's there (think or google Arlington cemetery and lookat the way the gravestones have been captured). Getting closer would have decreased the depth of field at the same aperture, or open it up some more and moving round the subject would have helped you isolate that one as the subject. Also, in the leaf shot, if you had got lower and put it against the blue sky, it would isolate the subject. The current image uses depth of field nicely but the background is such a similar colour the leaf is getting lost.
Shoot less. (A contradiction I know :) ) set yourself a target of x images so you really have to think about what you are trying to capture. Relate: Your building in HDR, it's an ok shot, the light is pretty good but with a bit more thought you may have spotted the horizon is wonky. You can crop this straight but the school of "camera craft" says get as much right in camera as possible. As the lens is pointing up, you can't do much about the converging verticals but alwaus make sure your horizon is level ;)
Finally, as i need to do some work, think light. All the images on your flikr site could have benefited from better light. That's not a dig, I have hundreds of grab shots taken where i was, when i was there. My point is, to improve your images, put some work into being "there" at "the right time"
Mostly though, enjoy taking pics and learning from your successes and failures. Worry more about what you think than what others do. Plenty of people love David Bailey's work, plenty don't. Take advice/crit on board, but never to heart (easier said than done). I recommend subscribing to chase jarvis's blog. He's a commercial 'tog based in seattle but he shares info, technique and advice like no-one else I've ever met.
I'm not sure what my flikr username is. I think it's motothephoto but i've never uploaded much. My site is down (trying to decide on a wordpress theme atm) but davidshepherdphotographic.com will show you some things I was recently approached by an image library to buy (shows you don't have to be great to sell), there's some wedding stuff hidden up there too, i think it's /wedding_gallery don't expect to be impressed though ;)
@edumoto: lots of great advice there, thank you! Love some of the pics on your website, am I right to believe that a lot of the beach shots are HDR? And the blue landscape shot with the rock in the background is great, did you use a filter or post-processing to give it that blue tint?
I'll check out Chase Jarvis's blog, thanks for the tip. Are there any books you'd recommend to a beginner like me?
Josh, yes there is a fair bit of HDR in some of the beachhut stuff. i tend to over process if i'm using hdr. no point pretending and tbh I like the look. The blue landscape shot, or any of the blue shots are long exposure shot in near darkness. It's been tweaked but its the colour my nikon records the light at. at night, the only light coming through the clouds is the part in the blue spectrum and yes, if you shoot raw you could adjust the colour temp manually. for creative effect, you can try shooting with the white balance set to one of the presets, "cloudy" tends to give a blue hue.
Books? Maybe, none off the top of my head but there are a million and one in print (or on line). I'd say, get something covering photography in general (rather than just digital as these tend to be focused on post processing) as although they will cover film stuff as well, they usually cover the basics better. Photography 101 :) I'm not an expert BTW, just further along the same "muddling along curve" that you've just jumped on.
if you get stuck, mail me at "anything@ and then my url.
@edumoto thats a great bit of advice, sums up what I was trying to say much better!
Love your HDR work, someone else who likes high contrast colours ;)
[QUOTE=CHR1S;666927Love your HDR work, someone else who likes high contrast colours ;)[/QUOTE]
Thanks Chris, I'm going to have a poke around your bits later. The guy that got me into it has a flikr feed, "clearinnervision" although he doesn't do so much HDR any more. He's a good buddy and a prolific photo taker. You'll see a lot of his poor GF Nat, in a corn field, dressed like kill bill. :D Are you using a photomatix plug in?
Nicely subtle HDR.
Originally Posted by CHR1S
Have a look here - RAW HDR Processing | Andre Gunther Photography for some tips on creating HDR images from a single RAW image.