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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:44 am 
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Yes-under the title 'PP=Post Processing'

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:58 pm 
Thanks to Albert for jumping in on this one. I haven't much time at the mo, so would have struggled to reply in such depth.

One point I would make is that a lot of pictures are spoilt by camera shake.
It's important to have the correct shutter speed especially when using digital SLRs with interchangeable lenses.
Rule of thumb - shutter speed should equal, or be more than, the focal length of the lens. So 50mm lens = 1/50sec or faster (the nearest shutter speed is actually 1/60sec). 200mm = 1/200sec or faster (the nearest shutter speed is actually 1/250sec). To make sure you attain the correct shutter speed, consider changing the aperture, or changing the ISO, or use a tripod or monopod. If you've got an image stabilising lens you will get away with slower speeds. On my 17-85 IS lens I can get away with 1/30sec at 85mm focal length.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:06 pm 
Somehow looking at images on a computer does not, for me, procure the same passion as a contact sheet, bizarre. I do see in photo magazine though there are many others that are still argentique.

A useful thing to try and understand / learn is Exposure values. Not rocket science but one can see, for example, that 1/500 at f1 is the same as 1/2 at f16 (to a point, in theory). If one takes the time to appreciate the concept of depth of field, the area that is in focus in front of and behind the principal subject the EV table can give a rapid appreciation of exposures possible for a desired image.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:11 pm 
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For those who want to experiment with advanced post production without shelling out for Photoshop I would suggest trying gimp (http://www.gimp.org/).

Gimp is free and pretty similar in concept to Photoshop. Like Photoshop it takes time to get used to (you need to understand the concept of 'layering' before you can get anywhere for example) but it's no harder to use and at least will give you an idea of whether you are interested enough to go beyond the more straightforward adjustments of iPhoto or Picassa.

However I would echo the comments of other posters that it's 90% composition. The tricks I have picked up are
1. get close to your subject (either when taking the picture or by judicious cropping). Faces are generally more interesting than bodies.

2. exploit the digital revolution by taking lots of pictures - then you increase the odds of getting the right stuff in the frame. And dad, if you are reading this DELETE THE RUBBISH ONES BEFORE INFLICTING THEM ON THE REST OF THE FAMILY!!!
Image


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:30 pm 
Nice photo Raoh, what the original like?


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:49 pm 
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The original was bigger and a bit washed out as I'd tried too hard to get the motion of the traffic. I took a lot of shots though before I got the right car in the right place. I'm currently trying to teach myself to cut objects from one picture to another but frankly at the moment they end up looking as subtle as ransom noted


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:23 am 
I have been thinking (not good news for society that :lol: ).

Ideal choice for me would be to carry on with film but with the possibility of transferring slides and prints to the computer. Have used numerique and . . . . . didn't suit me, though must confess, not used it much and was with a borrowed compact. One thing I'd miss is the sound of the motor as the film is wound on . . . . . Nikon F100 Continious Shooting. Numerique cameras sound lighter, not as solid.

Preferred film was / is Fuji Sensia 400 and Fuji Neopan 400. Sometimes, not often though, used Agfa. Never touched Kodak after I tried Fuji though.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:31 pm 
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The digital SLRs still have some heft and there is still a clunk as mirrors shift around like they always did with film. The compacts don't have that though obviously.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:33 pm 
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Albert and Pareloopy, thank you both for your considered replies and Albert especially for dragging me up the learning curve.

Back from taking lots of photos of medieval building hanging off the side of cliffs in all sorts of different lights and I promise to delete the bad ones.

Long-suffering OH spent lot of time sitting in cafes waiting for me to catch up as I shot everything in sight.

Something I never do and that's read the info about each shot - armed with my new information I'll have a look at the numbers and see where the photo's worked and where it hasn't.

Thanks again for your help.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:28 pm 
Give a shout SPJ when you're ready to talk Kelvins :lol: :lol: :lol: .

Good luck with the photography, even the bad photos are good as it is by those ones you learn.

Apart from that do you buy photographic magazines, a lot of info in those, good, bad, indifferent, but always interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:50 pm 
SPJ wrote:
.....Back from taking lots of photos of medieval building hanging off the side of cliffs in all sorts of different lights and I promise to delete the bad ones......


Might be interesting to post an unprocessed one on here and let us all play with it. Could be some fascinating results.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:13 pm 
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Can I give you this one that I took today to play with please :)

It looked so much better in real life :(

Image

clare


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:46 pm 
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A simple question - why shoot in RAW?

I like to take action photos, comes with having fast dogs:

Image

but its not always that easy, this one came out with in focus buttercups and out of focus dog (the photo has been kept for purely sentimental reasons - the last photo of the old boy actually running)

Image

Any tips on how to take good action pics?

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:09 am 
Clare
I was just turning off when I saw your post.
Done a very quick tweak. First of all, I think I would have taken a few steps to the right and put the big tree to the left of the picture.
So I've (very quickly and not thoroughly) cloned out most of the gorse bush and the horse (plus it's deposits on the grass :)) ). Then I've cropped the bottom, adjusted the highlights and contrast. Then sharpened. Spent about 10mins on it.
Image


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:28 am 
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Wow :-o

Following your kind invitation to SPJ I thought I would jump in there with a poor photo, not expecting much, but it's incredible.

I need to go back to the beginning, and take a few days off work to have a serious go at this.

It's a bit late now, but thank you very much and I will be back with questions :D

clare


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:24 am 
Ah. In the cold light of day & after a sleep I can see lots of errors, but you get the jist.
I may go back to it tonight and add more groundcover beneath the gorse bush - not good at all :oops:
(Or even remove it all together as the more I look at it the more it looks out of proportion.)


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:13 pm 
Why shoot RAW?

Simply put, because then you decide how to process the image, rather than let the camera do it for you. You need raw processing software of course. My preference is Lightroom. You can then very easily adjust any setting you can think of - exposure, tone, sharpness, contrast, brightness, colour saturation, changing individual colours, sharpness, etc. The resulting image will be miles better than a JPEG off the camera. If you try it you won't go back.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:39 pm 
Here's an example - I took this photo this morning. The light was quite tricky. This is how the camera thinks the photo should look:

Image

This is how I want it to look (minus a slight necessary crop which I've just noticed):

Image

If you let the camera do the processing you can still make adjustments - as we have seen above, but every single adjustment you make will result in a loss of image quality. With RAW you have no such loss. I think Lightroom is particularly clever as it is 'non-destructive'. It effectively records changes to an image without altering the original RAW file, so you can play with it as much as you like and you don't need to make copies of the same image to experiment with, also saving a lot of disk space. But whichever RAW processor you choose (and there are free ones) will be a significant improvement over the camera's onboard processing.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:02 pm 
Any tips on how to take good action pics?

Not easy, particularly with dogs this fast. For the first shot where the dog will be running at a reasonably constant distance from the camera you could try panning. Use a slower to medium shutter speed and follow the subject with the camera, keeping the subject centred in the viewfinder. Gently release the shutter whilst continuing to follow the subject. This should give you an in focus dog and a motion blurred background. You may have a continual focus setting on your camera.

The second shot is even trickier. For the dog running towards you could try pre-focusing on a set point and wait till just before the dog arrives at it. If you have tall grass or something that will cause the autofocus to focus where you don't want it, you could try manual focus.

For vertically jumping dogs try and capture the peak of the jump where the dog will momentarily be still.

Finally sometimes blurred shots can be fun, so experiment with different combinations of settings.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:22 pm 
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Thanks Dr O, I do shoot in RAW because I was told to and really need to play around more with my photos. I use either the software that came with the Canon or Corel Paint Shop Pro which I also need to learn to get to grips with properly. All I need is time!

Thanks for the 'action' advice too, the problem with the last shot also is that I was so surprised to see this particular dog running, he's rising 16 that I just grabbed the camera and shot. I've practised quite a bit trying to capture horses jumping and getting them just at the 'top' of their jump, that's fun and a lot of shots go in the bin! At least horses aren't going quite as fast as the lurchers.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:27 pm 
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A recurring problem with the photos from my trip is the over/under-exposed look.

A lot of the pictures are long shots of distant scenery / views of buildings hanging off cliffs and the resulting images are underwhelming - little sense of the sheer size / drama of the location.

I realise that some of it is timing - we arrived at St Cirq Lapopie for example just as the sun was disappearing behind the hill so caught late sun on the top of the village and deep gloom below (too far away for flash to have an impact).
Sometimes I tried pointing the camera at the sunny bit and then holding the shutter half down so that the setting "held" and taking the shot. That gave more interest in terms of sky / sunny building but meant the rest was dark. Reversing the process(pointing and holding the setting for the darker bit) over-exposed the sky and the building in the sun.

Here's an example of the latter (untouched) [focal length 12.6mm F/4.1 exposure time 1/125 ISO 80] the setting I used on my camera was "intelligent ISO"

Image

I tried playing about with it to get better clour and cropped it slightly, but not sure I've improved it!

Image

In the second example, I've got more sky interest, but deeper gloom below [focal length 6mm F/2.8 exposure time 1/500 ISO 80] setting on camera as before, "intelligent ISO"

Image

For this one I've just cropped back to the bits that are more in sunlight and sharpened it. But then the background looks a bit over-exposed.

Image

Grateful for any suggestions :)

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:36 pm 
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Balham wrote:
Give a shout SPJ when you're ready to talk Kelvins :lol: :lol: :lol: .

Good luck with the photography, even the bad photos are good as it is by those ones you learn.

Apart from that do you buy photographic magazines, a lot of info in those, good, bad, indifferent, but always interesting.


Is that Kevin Kline? Kevin Spacey? Kevin Costner? Oh KELVIN! I thought you said KEVIN!

You say ... "A useful thing to try and understand / learn is Exposure values. Not rocket science but one can see, for example, that 1/500 at f1 is the same as 1/2 at f16 (to a point, in theory). If one takes the time to appreciate the concept of depth of field, the area that is in focus in front of and behind the principal subject the EV table can give a rapid appreciation of exposures possible for a desired image."

Wow - that feels like rocket science to me - I've got a long way to go. :roll: Balham how long did it take you to get to grips with this? Or did it just come naturally?

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:55 pm 
Lovely shots. Nice composition and timing on the lighting. 1 minute's extra work each one. Slightly reduced exposure, a little bit of this, a little bit of that:

Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:55 pm 
SPJ wrote:
Balham how long did it take you to get to grips with this? Or did it just come naturally?


Good question ! ! !
Sort of naturally but with experimentation. As mentioned the camera that I started with was a Fujica ST605 . All manual. The first photos I took were truly awful, I hang my head in shame. I was photographing anything, which itself is not such a bad thing to do. I always liked press photography, that press photographers were in the right place at the right time to get that image. I was trying to find a photograph of Edward VIII just after his adbication, a perfect example of what I mean.

A group of photographers were waiting outside a building for Edward VII to depart in his car, they were all on one side of the street. One photographer had a hunch, he crossed the street and stood alone. As the car left the building all the photographers found that Edward VII was not sitting on the side of the car that they had expected him to, he was sitting on the other side of the car. Only one photographer got the image of the king after his abdication, it was the photographer standing alone, because he had a hunch.

So, I developed an interested in street photography, geting up early and just wandering around the streets of central London, photographing normal people doing normal things. Because of the nature of that photography I had to learn quickly to judge the light to know that I need X shutter speed at X aperture. Using a medium to large aperture if possible, for the greater depth of field. I learnt to anticipate, to be patient. I wrote elsewhere that I got some images by an ice cream van, patience, there were people, if one waited, sooner or later someone was bound to do something.

Later I got a Minolta X700, three lenses, 28mm, 50mm and 70 - 210 zoom plus motor wind. The zoom was the one I used most, followed by the 28mm. The Minolta had automatic programme and aperture priority. The aperture priority I used alot. Indoors I tended to use it on manual with flash (though I would use flash outdoors with aperture priority).

I don't do pretty pictures, while in Germany I took lots of photos around Wernigerode, a pretty town. Though it is the photos I took around Nordhausen of which I am more content, not a pretty town with sombre history. Also quite a few photos along the site of the iron curtain.

I read lots of books, I read photographic magazines, I belonged to two clubs in London, I have done some studio photography and also been on the other side of the camera, having done some modelling.

I have sold quite a few photos in the past, only one with a camera, right place, right time and also being a bit shy I can be there but stay hidden behind the lens.

My interest was photography itself rather than the developing and printing, tending to use, eventually, pro labs or Fuji's own labs for the slides. It was for that reason that i made sure that I got the picture I wanted, that it would need, perhaps, cropping, but no more. Especially with E6, there is no room for error. So now with photoshop the emphasis has shifted a bit perhaps, everything can be corrected on the computer. But even if I had a numerique camera my main interest would remain the photography, capturing that moment in time rather than correcting everything after.

Don't think I didn't make mistakes, I made loads, often found myself in difficult situations for a photograph, even with a zoom lens once or twice got spotted, had to pick up my gear and run ! !

Everyone hopes for the photo that will make a difference, that will be remembered, that everyone will know, few achieve that. Nick Ut did, in the Vietnam war with this image of Kim Phuc (don't look if you are of a delicate nature)

Two of my favourite photographers are Willy Ronis and James Nachtwey, a war photographer.

So, the question, how long did it take to learn, the basics and principals quite quickly learnt (the maths side of things). But then one still learnt something new everytime one read a magazine, spoke to another photographer, even reading the newspaper (Daily Mirror used to have the best photographers). Even now I probably have lots to learn.

Apologies, went on a bit there!


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:24 pm 
Oh, Edward VIII, I have found the photo, took some searching for. Leaving Windsor Castle after his abdication speach on 11 December, 1936. King Edward VIII.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:33 pm 
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Apologies, went on a bit there!

Balham, glad you did - really interesting. And yes I remember the Kim Phuc picture - very powerful - the sort of image that defines an era.

My favourites; Bert Hardy, Cartier-Bresson and Fulvio Roiter (although less so his Venice carnival photos) I admire their capacity to capture people going about their lives. I always feel too inhibited. So my best photos tend to be landscapes, or people at a distance.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:36 pm 
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dr orloff wrote:
Lovely shots. Nice composition and timing on the lighting. 1 minute's extra work each one. Slightly reduced exposure, a little bit of this, a little bit of that:



Thank you Dr O. but your little bit of this and that is much more subtle than mine - please do tell! Like that extra ingredient in a recipe!

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:38 pm 
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I think you'll find that the extra ingredient is experience!

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:59 pm 
SPJ, take cover, I've had an idea . . . . :o .

You said at the outset you have a Canon EOS. (I'll keep writing, you just take out any information that might help you and leave what doesn't interest you). Thinking back to how I started . . . . with an instamtic I had (at a young age) I had taken snaps using kodak film. Bof, nothing special. When I got the SLR I ditched the Kodak film and went to using Ilford (B&W) FP4 and HP5. Oddly when in the clubs it was exceedinglay rare to see anyone using colour negs. 95% were on E6 or B&W. I bought a book on indoor photography, how to light a studio, how to use ambiant light etc. One thing in this book I really appreciated was a list of all the films available. It was then that I switched to using Neopan 400 for B&W and Fuji Sensia for slides (though have used Agfapan).

I soon realised that I didn't need to have all the images from a roll printed. I started to rely on contact sheets. All the images negative size on one sheet, (see, I'd even take pictures while waiting for a train :lol: ! !). On these sheets I would make my notes and study the images with a loup, perhaps one or two images out of each sheet were okay, but that was part of the fun for me. So, the idea . . . why not with the Canon (as anyone can with a Canon . . . . can't they?) run off some B&W, just get contacts done and study those. I did look up Canon EOS to see what you had but that is just a range with many models with in that range.

Just a thought (try not to think to often, not good for me, or anyone else :? ! !) but with out the computer influence that might help you deal with the photography, not having to worry about the computer work after.
Image

Oh, earlier I see I started with Edward VIII and then ended up with Edward VII, should have course been Edward VII all the way, , but hey, what's an Edward between friends :roll: .


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:29 pm 
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Albert wrote:
I think you'll find that the extra ingredient is experience!


I agree, which is why as an apprentice I ask a master how he does it. If I was at his elbow watching him do it, would be easier.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:51 pm 
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The trouble is that some aspects of experience can't be taught -- you need lots of practice. I've still to get to grips with digital image processing but I can relate a lot of it to what I know from working in a darkroom. I've run training sessions for amateur photographers but there are some things that just can't be taught -- you have to learn them by doing. Stuff like judging just how much you can adjust contrast or exposure without it degrading the overall look, or when to use one tool instead of another that does similar things.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:15 pm 
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Balham, no need to take cover, I love ideas.

I just think our contact sheet these days is the thumbnails page.

Image

And as I look at these I see very few worth reproducing - out of some 300 photos I think there are no more than about half a dozen of any merit.

Oh and the B&W thing - a whole other topic. I'm not sure digital cameras can do good B&W?????

I would much rather see the final picture through the lens and not create it in the lab, but I also think something is happening with colour. We have such strong colours in print / on TV etc that what would have seemed "natural" a few years back now looks washed out. Yet this is how my camera sees it. So I believe there is a need to understand what programmes like photoshop can do. Yes the programme does not turn a poor picture into a good one, but can give an extra edge to something already good.

I've a Canon EOS 300D which at the time MOH bought it for me was a cutting edge 6 megapixels. It now lanquishes on a shelf because I've a 12 mp Panasonic Lumix which I have very mixed feelings about. I notice the difference between 6 and 12 mp and am glad of the extra quality. The Canon felt lovely to hold, but it was big and cumbersome and awkward to carry around. The Lumix just slips in my pocket, but I hate that it doesn't have a viewfinder and so I need to find something else.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:16 pm 
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Albert wrote:
The trouble is that some aspects of experience can't be taught -- you need lots of practice. I've still to get to grips with digital image processing but I can relate a lot of it to what I know from working in a darkroom. I've run training sessions for amateur photographers but there are some things that just can't be taught -- you have to learn them by doing. Stuff like judging just how much you can adjust contrast or exposure without it degrading the overall look, or when to use one tool instead of another that does similar things.


Fair point Albert. Just that coming to this whole new learning late-ish in life I was hoping to get up to speed quickly!

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:36 pm 
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Pareloopy wrote:
SPJ wrote:
.....Back from taking lots of photos of medieval building hanging off the side of cliffs in all sorts of different lights and I promise to delete the bad ones......


Might be interesting to post an unprocessed one on here and let us all play with it. Could be some fascinating results.


Pareloopy, I'm being greedy ... hope you don't mind. I've chosen five. Only slightly tweeked them - sharpened and cropped one or two slightly. What do you (and anyone else) think? What would you do with these?

Rocamadour Ramparts

Image

Doorway Cahors

Image

Figeac

Image

The Dordogne at Beynac

Image

Archways Rocamadour

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:43 pm 
SPJ wrote:
....Oh and the B&W thing - a whole other topic. I'm not sure digital cameras can do good B&W????? ...

Image

Shot into low sun. Desaturated and tweaked in PS.
I actually prefer the original which has a hint of colour in the wakeboarder (my son).


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