Skip to toolbar

Seriously. I need some tips and tricks.

Forums Forums Get Technical Tips & Tricks Seriously. I need some tips and tricks.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 26 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #1818
    ravnostic
    Participant

    Okay, I’m sick and tired of seeing everyone’s outstanding photos make a mockery of my and my either talentless hide or shody camera. What on earth am I not doing that everyone else is?

    I have a Canon EOS Rebel XTi, 10 megapixels. I have two lenses, a 28-55mm and a 70-300mm, both made by Tamron (they came with the camera.) I typically shoot in RAW and post in jpg.

    I have hosting through goddaddy.com.

    The most I edit my farktography posts is to remove dust and the occasional digital ‘blip’ (which tend to show up more in my time exposures, i.e. night photos.)

    Why don’t my colors pop? Am I supposed to saturate to some extent (It’s my understanding that such things are frowned upon.

    Why do my images look more granular (I just don’t seem to have the crispness of the better shots.) Should I be saving under a different file type? I shrink images with irfanview, I could use my Roxio photosuite (yeah, that’s all I have–no photoshop brand in this house.)

    Is it my photo composition (critiques welcomed, be brutally honest if you can also be suggestive about corections)?

    In short, what am I either doing wrong, working with, or missing out upon?

    While I have a limited budget (so freeware is good as a suggestion for improvements), I will get better lenses if and when I can if it will help my photography.

    Reminders of this week’s submissions:

    http://fossilspringsaz.com/pics/2010/apr/28/IMG_4604sm.jpg
    large: http://fossilspringsaz.com/pics/2010/apr/28/IMG_4604.jpg

    http://fossilspringsaz.com/pics/2010/apr/28/IMG_4710sm.jpg
    large: http://fossilspringsaz.com/pics/2010/apr/28/IMG_4710.jpg

    …and the one I thought would get at least a few votes because of the velociraptor hidden among the flowers (which I got screwed out of linking to, as apparently fark decided godaddy’s record of my filesize was incorrect, so it killed the link, and it’s really only very evident in the full sized shot):

    http://fossilspringsaz.com/pics/2010/apr/28/IMG_4728sm.jpg
    large: http://fossilspringsaz.com/pics/2010/apr/28/IMG_4728.jpg

    So anyone. Please. Help help help help help help HELP!!

    #27813
    ravnostic
    Participant

    p.s., I’m not talking about WINNING a contest–screw the contest. I just want the technical quality of my pictures to be more comparable to what I see from most others. If I can get that part down, then at least I’ll be in the same ballpark, content aside.

    #27814
    orionid
    Participant

    Your questions are fair and logical, I think we all went through them. I don’t consider myself anywhere national geographic level, but I’ve definitely had a pretty solid learning curve over the last year.

    If you look at my FSM, you’ll see some pretty crap-tacular stuff at the bottom end. And even some crappies that got votes for being funny in the middle or top.

    Basically, just keep an eye out for things you like. If a certain photo stands out to you, ask the person how they pulled it off. Google is also your friend for out-of-the-box ideas. Go out and shoot for fun, try different things. Play with the manual settings on your camera and see what they do. Keep notes (mental or otherwise) of what you like or don’t like. As time allows, picking up new/better lenses will help, but not to the extent of learning what your camera is capable of. I’ve seen amazing shots come out of point and shoots just based on user know-how.

    To give a psuedo non-specific example, every time I have an “ah-ha!” moment, I wind up thinking of at least three photos in recent memory that could have been better based on what I’d just learned.

    /Gets off soapbox
    //Hopes to see you keep coming back

    #27815
    nobigdeal
    Participant

    Shooting RAW is a good start, but only if you convert your images correctly. I don’t know what program you are using for RAW conversion but I would assume it is Canons DPP. Don’t be ascared to play with saturation & exposure settings in RAW or in whatever program you are using to edit the JPEGs. Thats what they are there for. We frown on garish saturation levels but not adjustments that make the photo pop.
    If you are not going to play with your RAW files you would be better off shooting JPEG in camera and let the processor of the camera do the work. If you just convert the image as is, the result will be rather flat and dull.
    Canon spent tons of money on R&D into that processor to make it produce a decent photo. Sometimes it even does a better job than what you can do yourself. (esp if you are not familiar with RAW conversion) Conversly you can shoot both a RAW file and JPEG in camera and see if you can do a better job processing the photo than the camera.
    Another big tool is sharpening. I sharpen everything to 150% @ .3 pixels by default. It’s a bit heavy but I like it. I will back it off if it looks too unnatural but I find it to be the best overall setting.

    Other than that I would say composition is the key. Look through U-Mans photos and you will see that even the ones that are not technically perfect his composition is what makes the photo.

    And…Photoshop is the best tool on the market for editing bar none. PS CS4 cost $500 bucks for a reason.It’s a pro tool and nothing comes close.However, PS elements will do most stuff that an amateur photog need for under $100. Save your pennies shop around, you won’t regret it.

    #27816
    ravnostic
    Participant

    … Go out and shoot for fun, try different things. Play with the manual settings on your camera and see what they do. Keep notes (mental or otherwise) of what you like or don’t like.

    /Gets off soapbox
    //Hopes to see you keep coming back

    Hey, you! Back on the soapbox! 😉

    Your shots are fantastic (those I’ve seen), but let me clarify:

    I’ve had my camera for a couple years now. I understand some basic concepts, and logistically try to employ them:

    Lower ISO=sharper image but higher exposure time, Higher ISO=grainier image but shorter exp. time.

    High F-stop=more dof, higher exp. time, Lower=less dof, lower exp. time

    Exposure time relates to capturing a hummingbird with wings barely beating or that ‘Arizona Highways’ milky waterfall effect. (Or, in astrophotography, it’s simply a must to get any good shot–my extension shutter cord is on it’s way from Atlanta as we speak, for in A-focal photography through my 11″ 2800mm focal length lens [i.e., my telescope, purchased when the economy and my finances were far better], 30 seconds isn’t enough and I can’t in ‘bulb’ hold the shutter still enough without it.)

    These things I get.

    But what makes color pop, other than saturating a picture? And is that allowed (understand I know ‘cartoonish’ isn’t what farktography is about, but should I be employing it judiciously?)

    And I never got the ‘white balance’ thing. How dost that work?

    Rules suggest cutting the quality of the photo so it’s nearer to 60kb, which I do by lowering the jpg ‘save percentage’ rate, but when I do, my pictures seem to look ‘fuzzier’ than those posted by people like you, shoosh, staplermofo, and Elzanore. What tricks do you employ? If I can’t capture attention on a small version, I can’t see anyone clicking through for a bigger version, realistically.

    I’ve taken 15K pictures with this camera, I kid you not (actually, I’m only up to 14,729, but close enough). I have some pictures I think are compositions of art–to me, at least–but consistently, nothing pops like a good percentage of what I see in the contests–and I’m not just talking the content of the image. Colors. Vibrancy. I’ve done the morning and evening light shots.

    And while living in a desert (Arizona) doesn’t lend itself to many vibrant colors, I know they are out there, and I know my lens hath focuthed upon them (sic).

    For example. Using my flowers in my dad’s reptile garden where he keeps his tortoise (which also houses the velociraptor statue–hey, they’re both reptiles) the shot was taken about an hour after sunrise, in full shade. It was a 1/20th second exposure, ISO 400, F-stop 20 for depth of field quality, using a 28 mm focal length for the wider view.

    Here’s the original shot (which I gamma corrected to 1.25 to post) resized to 800w x533h:
    http://fossilspringsaz.com/pics/2010/apr/28/raptorplain.jpg

    And here’s one I just tweeked, in saturation and gamma:

    http://fossilspringsaz.com/pics/2010/apr/28/raptortweeked.jpg

    With the tweeked one (or even just the gamma), it’s pretty easy to spot the raptor (or so I thought–nobody did).

    Is this kind of editing allowed? Is this what everyone else does to get the vibrant colors?

    I noted one guy posted vinyards with mustard growing, and a few shots later posted a similar shot that CLEARLY (to me) must have been HDR’d, which I thought was EXPRESSLY forbidden.

    But is some ‘corrective’ valuating perfectly fine and dandy?

    #27817
    ravnostic
    Participant

    Shooting RAW is a good start, but only if you convert your images correctly. I don’t know what program you are using for RAW conversion but I would assume it is Canons DPP. Don’t be ascared to play with saturation & exposure settings in RAW or in whatever program you are using to edit the JPEGs. Thats what they are there for. We frown on garish saturation levels but not adjustments that make the photo pop.

    Canon spent tons of money on R&D into that processor to make it produce a decent photo. Sometimes it even does a better job than what you can do yourself. (esp if you are not familiar with RAW conversion) Conversly you can shoot both a RAW file and JPEG in camera and see if you can do a better job processing the photo than the camera.
    Another big tool is sharpening. I sharpen everything to 150% @ .3 pixels by default. It’s a bit heavy but I like it. I will back it off if it looks too unnatural but I find it to be the best overall setting.

    Other than that I would say composition is the key. Look through U-Mans photos and you will see that even the ones that are not technically perfect his composition is what makes the photo.

    And…Photoshop is the best tool on the market for editing bar none. PS CS4 cost $500 bucks for a reason.It’s a pro tool and nothing comes close.However, PS elements will do most stuff that an amateur photog need for under $100. Save your pennies shop around, you won’t regret it.

    My canon shoots RAW and JPEG in combination, and it’s pretty much how I shoot everything barring casual family gatherings. Anything I shoot for the love of photography, I do edit in RAW–just not here, as I thought that was phoe-paw (sic). The JPEGs are identical to the RAW, but don’t edit as nicely, so they just show up as an afterthought by design of the XTi. I will certainly take advantage of this as I can saturate pretty well without making it look like a cartoon. Typically I do my adjustments in irfanview, which does a fairly good job w/o a lot of technical stuff, but I’ll see what my Roxio can do, and elsewise, will check out the PS elements. I certainly don’t have $500 lying around at this time. I’ve never tried the Canon software but will run the disks (there in this apt somewhere) if you think it would work better.

    And I know composition is key, and I do try. The photo with the flower on the spider-thread (it looked like popcorn) I thought was a nice one compositionally speaking, but fell flat in comparison to others. I will have to check on if any of my programs (incl. Canon’s) have a sharpening feature.

    And just serves me right for posting diatribes–you’d commented and answered about 1/2 the stuff I asked Orionid about while I was typing it out.

    #27818
    sleeping
    Participant

    But what makes color pop, other than saturating a picture?

    Curves. They let you make an image much punchier without looking cartoony or blowing out the highlights.

    I posted an example here: http://farktography.net/index.php?name=PNphpBB2&file=viewtopic&p=24261#24261

    And I never got the ‘white balance’ thing. How dost that work?

    Light comes in different colors, but the human visual system adapts to that (within certain constraints, it breaks down as the range of colors present gets smaller) so white objects will continue to look white, not blue or pink etc. in a range of different lighting.

    Your camera will attempt to make the same sort of correction if you set the white balance to auto, but sometimes it will get it wrong. Also, it may remove desirable color casts, e.g. if you’re shooting a sunset.

    Your camera likely has a bunch of presets too, those can sometimes work better than auto, if you can match the preset to the lighting environment you’re shooting in (the auto modes tend to be worst with artificial light so you may be better off, for example, by setting the WB to fluorescent under fluorescent lights). You can probably also set the WB manually (the exact process will depend on your camera). Usually this means pointing the camera at a neutral toned object (e.g. a gray card) and shooting a blank frame so the camera can calculate the exact color of the light.

    Most any decent image editor should let you correct it afterward though. Usually it’s just a matter of clicking somewhere in the image where the tones should be neutral (gray, white or black).

    #27819
    SilverStag
    Participant

    I took the liberty of running your image through a couple of very simple and Farktography-legal tools in Photoshop- starting with the plain image here:

    I applied a little tightening of levels, added a more film-like S-curves layer, and then punched the contrast with an overlay in soft light, dialed back to about 20 percent.

    Voila:

    It seems to me that the original might be in a less-than-optimum colorspace, I’d be sure your camera is putting out sRGB rather than CMYK or Adobe RGB. There’s clearly lots of color there, it just needs to be found 🙂

    #27820
    ravnostic
    Participant

    Thanks for the tips, sleeping, and from what Silverstag did, I think I’m going to have to buy me photoshop. Assuming I can get an older version online used, whould that be enough, or do I have to get the latest-greatest stuff? I remember photoshop used to be numbered (3.0, 4.0, etc), then they went to letters (cs, etc); waht are they up to now and what would a suitable older version be?

    #27821
    ravnostic
    Participant

    Holy crap. Downloaded the Canon software, started toying. I have some learning to do (lots and lots, but I’m a quick study, I like to think, but I’m LIKING IT!! And for the moment, it will have to do. It allows me to edit in Adobe color format for one. Here’s a pic that I thought was good in its original, but I’m loving the edit (though some cropping is called for). Naturally I’ll need to figure out the details, but for 1/2 hours work with 0 experience, I think I did okay:

    #27822
    LeicaLens
    Participant

    Adjusting saturation and stuff when converting from RAW is definitely OK because it’s done across the whole image.
    As for equipment, rather than buy a new body, upgrading your lens will probably affect your pictures more.

    As for getting more votes, well I am certainly in no position to give advice there. I am thinking of changing my login to u-man, though. That *might* fool a few people 😉

    #27823
    ravnostic
    Participant

    No so worried about the votes as I am the skills. But dayum–camera lenses are SO expensive!! I can’t believe the costs for high quality optics (my 11 inch telescope costs 3 grand, and I’ve seen friggin camera lenses that cost that much–how can this make sense?)

    #27824
    LeicaLens
    Participant

    No so worried about the votes as I am the skills. But dayum–camera lenses are SO expensive!! I can’t believe the costs for high quality optics (my 11 inch telescope costs 3 grand, and I’ve seen friggin camera lenses that cost that much–how can this make sense?)

    You can still get some decent lens for under a $1000. For example, there’s a 85mm F1.2 lens from Canon that costs about $2500–too pricey, right? But there’s a 85mm F1.8 from Canon that costs from $420 upwards. Not so bad, right?
    Also, apart from Tamron, Sigma lens tend to be cheaper than Canon makes. I have a film EOS 3 (secondhand), and I am considering the Sigma 50mm F1.4 for it. I have seen it on sale for about $450 here.
    Canon brought out a shiny new 70-200m F2.8L IS USM II lens recently, so the secondhand stores have been flooded with the older model, which is still a great lens.

    Which brings me to another good way to get good glass: secondhand. Also, depending on your needs, you could consider getting, say, old FD lens for your Rebel. There will be no auto focus, and the mount may be a bit of a pain, but it’s cheap. I have an FD 100mm F2 for my Eos 3. The lens cost about $130 (very good condition), and the conversion mount about $100 (that was pricey for what it is). Mounted on the Eos, the lens turns into a 150mm F2.8. I have just put in my first roll for development, so we’ll see how it goes.

    I satisfy my craving for lens by buying cheap OM lenses for my OM camera. No auto focus, but I can great great lenses for little outlay.

    I am not sure what’s available in the States, though. Most mass-make camera and lens makers are Japanese these days, so I don’t have a problem finding equipment here. Also there is a very vibrant secondhand market–too vibrant, really, as it means demand keeps prices relatively high.

    /off to look at a secondhand OM4Ti body

    *prices are estimates, because I am converting yen to dollars, based on the old 10,000yen=$100 rate.

    #27825
    caradoc
    Participant

    I’ve been effing *thrilled* with my Tamron 90mm. It’s definitely well under $3000… currently going for $460ish with a $50 rebate (B&H, Adorama.)

    It works well for macro:

    It works well for portraiture:

    I get angry when people insist that their particular brand of lens is “the only way to do it.” If you can’t justify the expenditure, you can’t justify the expenditure. There’s nothing *wrong* with “good enough.”

    #27826
    ravnostic
    Participant

    Those are nice shots, caradoc. Hey, we both live in the Phoenix area. Let me know if you’re up for going out shooting sometime. I’ll bring my telescope, if you’d like to try it out (I’m working out a piggyback system to use the scope as a tracker for long-exposure sky panoramas.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 26 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.