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Thread: Help - my work is getting worse!

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    Member LisaNicholson's Avatar
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    Help - my work is getting worse!

    I have had a passion for photography my whole life, or for as long as I can remember anyway. In October last year I decided to follow my passion and enrolled into a Dip. Photoimaging with a Design College in Brisbane. After one term, I am sad to say that I feel my work has gotten worse! I was completely unhappy with a recent photo shoot I did for a friend and I have been trying to review my images to workout what it is I don't like about them, but I can't figure it out! I just don't like them. I am so determined to become a successful, and talented photographer - capturing the images I visualise, but I am really starting to doubt myself. Can anyone please recommend some valuable learning sites where I can work harder to improve my photography, or provide advice on how to become a better photographer - I am starting to lose faith in myself

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    Ausphotography Regular Allie's Avatar
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    Why don't you post some of your photos here (even on this thread) as there are a lot of knowledgeable and helpful people here who are willing to help?

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    Yep, Post em up!
    We love nothing more then deconstructing photographs!

    Makes us feel good about ourselves as photographers and how we've grown. It's also nice to help the people on L plates too!
    Greg Bartle,
    I have a Pentax and I'm not afraid to use it.
    Pentax K5
    Sigma 10-20 | Tamron 17-50 F:2.8 | Sigma 50 F:1.4 | Sigma 70-200 F:2.8 Plus a bunch of Ye Olde lenses


    Would you like to see more?
    http://flickr.com/photosbygreg

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    I moved your thread. the Constructive Critique forums are for PHOTOS!
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

    Constructive Critique of my photographs is always appreciated
    Nikon, etc!

    RICK
    My Photography

  5. #5
    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LisaNicholson View Post
    ...I am so determined to become a successful, and talented photographer - capturing the images I visualise, but I am really starting to doubt myself. Can anyone please recommend some valuable learning sites where I can work harder to improve my photography, or provide advice on how to become a better photographer - I am starting to lose faith in myself ...
    Yes. Right here!

    Starting with, "Don't panic!" (Say NO to this)
    Followed by "Calm down." (Maybe like this )
    Then, "Continue to post your pictures/ask for help/advice and interact with others - ie, give feedback too." (Like and maybe , even if you're sometimes. At least )
    And in time, "Take a re-stock of where you think you're going, how you're going, and why you're going there." (Make like )
    Also, expect some detours along the way. ()

    After all, everybody knows Roam wasn't reached in a day!

    (Who)Am(I to speak?)
    CC, Image editing OK.

  6. #6
    It's all about the Light!
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    My guess is you are still in information overload.
    Step back and get the basics right
    I.e. follow our learning plan... http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...g_Plan_Details

    Break it down into:
    1. Composition
    2. Aperture (Depth of Field)
    3. Subject pose etc. (see composition)
    4. Lighting (flash etc.) (i.e. sharpness via sufficient shutter speed)


    Give your self simple projects, one at a time, i.e. a sunset (composition and light), maybe some family portraits etc.

    Practice, practice, practice -- also post here to get feedback - which is essential!!
    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
    Digital & film, Bits of glass covering 10mm to 500mm, and other stuff



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    I agree with Kym , Take a step back , Looking at what you've posted I think you've jumped in the deep end first, BTW nice work for a beginner , Just get the basics down first then work on the manipulation and fancy stuff
    Canon : 30D, and sometimes the 5D mkIII , Sigma 10-20, 50mm 1.8, Canon 24-105 f4 L , On loan Sigma 120-400 DG and Canon 17 - 40 f4 L , Cokin Filters




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    Hi Lisa
    To me it sounds like you are in the transition period where the knowledge you have acquired at the course is causing you to look more critically at your photo's. This happens to a lot of people as they evolve, and is a very good thing. I see on this forum a lot where people who thought their early work was great have revisited it and found it wasn't, or that their style had changed.

    For you in the present moment your knowledge level has probably increased faster than your practical experience, and given you have paid for a course you will be even more critical of your work. All this seems to me to be very normal, so don't panic, this too will pass.

    As others have said, disect what you do and don't like about your photo's, and practice until you are happy with it, it will fall into place more quickly than you think. Posting up photos will help as we arent emotionally or financially involved in your work, and can perhaps be a little more balanced.

    There does come a time when we all realise how little we really know, feel like we have hit bottom, and then rebuild from there.

    Good luck with it all Lisa, and thanks for posting this thread, the replies will benefit a lot of people.

    Di
    D300s and D60. Nikkor 35mm 1.8 & 50mm 1.8, 18-55mm & 55-200mm; Sigma 10-20 F4-5.6; Tamron 90mm, Elements 8
    ...........................................................................................C&C is always welcome......................................................................



  9. #9
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    Thank you all so much for your wonderful feedback, it is so nice to have found this forum full of generous people, so will to give advice. Here are five shots taken from a recent family portrait shoot I did for a friend, these are some of the nicer shots, but still not at the standard I hope to achieve. I'm also struggling to come up with original ideas, I would love to learn techniques for developing my creativity and improving the artistic element of my portraits/photographs in general.


    Sheridan&Jason_0312.jpgSheridan&Jason_0334.jpgSheridan&Jason2013_0521.jpgSheridan&Jason2013_0527.jpgSheridan&Jason2013_0565.jpg

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    I think my photos have gotten worse since I set about learning to photograph well.... but I suspect it is just that my goggles have been removed and I can now see all the errors in photos that I would have previously thought so highly of.

    Have a look back through all your old photos... Could it be that you have just become better at critically evaluating your photos?
    Cass
    I switched my camera off auto in November 2012, and I have been busy reading and learning and practicing ever since.
    My kit is basic: Canon 1000D (two kit lenses) + 50mm f/1.8 + a tripod/monopod + Lightroom4

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Now for some self assessment and feedback to us Lisa. Look at your photos critically and tell us why you think your photography is going backwards. Tell us what YOU see is wrong with these photos.

    sharpness
    composition
    Lighting/exposure
    white balance

    What is it about these photos that makes you think they are worse than your previous efforts? Self assessment, done well and with honesty can by your best friend. But doing it takes practice and understanding of both what you were hoping to achieve and what you did achieve and knowing what is different.

    Looking forward to hearing why YOU think your work is getting worse, and not in general terms, I want you to assess yourself and tell us specifically.

  12. #12
    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Hi Lisa

    For starters, other than the B&W, I find all the other backgrounds have distractions.

    I know from personal experience that I can become so absorbed with my subject that I sometimes forget to look at what is behind it, and how it may affect the overall result.
    Cheers
    Kev

    D600 : D7200 and too much stuff to list

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    Ok, here is my self evaluation:

    1 - I definitely agree with trublubiker re background distractions, some of the images from this shoot were awful, there were cars, wheelie bins (eek!), and other distracting items, this is one of the learnings I took from this shoot for future reference.

    2 - Sharpness. This is something I continue to struggle with. In the image of the little girl her eyes are quite dark and do not 'draw you in'. This is something I really admire in portrait photography but struggle to achieve in my own.

    3 - light! I am getting better at reading light sources, but still struggle somewhat. I planned this shoot at 3.30pm (around 3 hours before sunset) because I thought that the light would be soft enough by this time, but it wasn't at all. Most of the shots from my first set were blown out exposure wise and needed to be adjusted in Adobe Camera Raw. My lecturer continues to enforce that we should be aiming for excellent images in camera, with minimum post processing needed. I find that I almost always need to adjust the white balance and exposure post shoot, it is really frustrating. Until now I have only been using the in-camera light meter and I have been told by a few people that these are not always reliable. I also shoot with a grey card but sometimes feel my images still look quite blue even after doing a customer white balance. Prior to digital photography, photographers needed to make these calculations in their heads, I really want to learn how to do this.

    4 - finally, composition. I am never happy with it. I want to be able to take 'candid' style shots but struggle to catch 'the moment' while also taking into consideration the moving subject, white balance, metering, etc... During a lecture on Monday night, by Program Director told us a story of when he shot Richard Branson, he was given 30 seconds to take the shot - literally! A woman stood behind him with a stopwatch! This thought terrified me, media + documentary & portrait photography are my favourite genres of this wonderful craft and I know how important it is to be able to 'catch the moment'. I know that composition is such an important element in photography, but find sometimes it is the last thing I think of when I am about to click the trigger, and by then it's too late -the moment is lost

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    2. you are mixing up sharpness and shadowing. The little girl has the light not in her eyes, as the dark areas around here eyes (under her eye-brows) and under her nose show. The darkness here is a composition issue. if you want your subject to have nice bright eyes you need to light them either by getting her to sit at a different angle to the sun/light, or introduce light to 'fill' in the dark areas. I would also guess that you have edited this photo to soften her skin etc, and thus you need to mask out any softening from areas like eyes to keep the sharpness in them.

    3. Light can be very harsh in Australia, try shooting your subjects in full shade, where you can adjust the exposure at the time of shooting. Learn about fill light, using reflectors, or flash.

    4. Composition is a learned skill, not only for the photographer but with portraiture, the subject as well. You need to look at others portrait photography and when you like something, study the angles, the way the people are positioned, body angles, head angles, whether the photographer is high, low, at eye level etc. This is a skill that comes with time, and along with your own skill at finding the compositions you have to become comfortable at directing and explaining to your subject(s) how you want them. "please turn your whole body to the right, now look back over your shoulder, lift your chin slightly and tilt your head to the right a fraction", etc. As well as being a photographer, portraiture is also about being the director.

    Also remember that turning your camera on its end is called 'portrait aspect' for a reason. Sometimes landscape aspect cuts things off that would be better off included.
    Last edited by ricktas; 22-02-2013 at 2:45pm.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Also, have a look at this PDF for some posing ideas!

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Still, reading the above, I think that your struggle is more perceived than real. There is a certain amount you can achieve in camera, sure!
    But not all shots - nor a majority of them - will get by without some PP. I don't know how much of the word "excellent" you could apply to a
    "mostly in-camera shot". Composition and exposure and focus, maybe. Colours and tones, less so, and often much less so. I think the frustration you cite
    over "white balance and exposure post shoot" may be mostly uncalled-for. The spectre of what pre-digital photographers supposedly did is mostly
    a myth. Such people had means at their disposal to set some control over exposure and white balance, light exposure meters, properly balanced film, filters to balance
    other light sources. And in the end, they did a bit of PP in darkrooms and in colour filtration.

    About candid shots. How many moments pass that you never get to photograph? I would suggest that there is no such thing as "the moment".
    To try to chase such could result in much dismay. There are "moments", and you can only hope to catch "a moment" at best.

    Try to divest yourself of too many other less-relevant concerns in your pursuit of a moment. In a given time period the lighting conditions may remain fairly constant.
    You may need to learn how to judge any variations and make some compensation. For example, most of my daytime shots are taken in manual mode with ISO200, f/11, 1/320 sec.
    In deeper shade, or with brighter objects, I usually make a quick change to f-stop and/or shutter speed. Mostly I just concentrate on focusing, and that takes up most of the effort, as I
    don't bother much with AF.

    And now, before you think I'm trying to negate your lecturer's advice, let me assure you I am not. I am trying to suggest that you may be taking what he says
    somewhat out of context and worrying about your perceived shortcomings too much. This is what I am reading in your last paragraph - point 4 - above.

    And now for an anecdote. On someone's profile somewhere I read the likes of, "When I manage to take good photographs I'll stop."

    Almost lastly, photographers do not comply with the quantum nature of the universe: they can't be in all places at once!
    Lastly, too much introspection can be a distraction.

    PS: PP certainly has its place, although I guess you're talking more about candid photography. Look at some of the landscapes by
    William and dtoh here.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 22-02-2013 at 3:22pm.

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    Lisa I have been through the same process in many of my hobbies you will progress to a stage,as you have realised, then seem to go back-wards it is the nature of the beast,just as you think you are getting there you will go backward but from there you will gain a better understanding of of what you are not doing right, and progress to a higher level,this will happen time and time again, the only way forward is to practise, and listen to people around you with the same interests,some of the information will not work for you but you must listen and dissect it.

    You have in your signature that you don't want your photos edited,this puts you at a disadvantage,there are a lot of very good photographers on this site if they could edit your work you will be amazed at what a few tweaks can do for you,

    I have looked at your photos the first of the young girl is soft,slightly out of focus,this can be made better by some sharpening and maybe lightening up a little.

    The fourth one could be improved by cropping out the house in the background,making it a pano,or crop the top and sides.

    Just my opinion Jack.
    Pentax K5iis, k7 plus lenses from 18mm-600mm.

  18. #18
    are you serious? Shelley's Avatar
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    I highly recommend you go back to basic composition rules - examples such as, get the eyes of the person around the intersecting lines - one third the person, two thirds space (nicely out of focus background etc. ), leading lines in your shots. Once you start doing this, you will find you then start getting a feel for it and then you can be more artistic and break the rules.

    Concentrate on one thing at time when practising until you get it down pat. I concentrated for ages on backgrounds of my people shots, now its second nature, I then moved onto posing (boy that was hard), but now I see things without even thinking about it. Like Rick said, always looking at other people's work and deconstructing their shots to see what they did.
    Shelley
    (constructive criticism welcome)

    www.shelleypearsonphotography.com


  19. #19
    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shelley View Post
    I highly recommend you go back to basic composition rules - examples such as, get the eyes of the person around the intersecting lines - one third the person, two thirds space (nicely out of focus background etc. ), leading lines in your shots. Once you start doing this, you will find you then start getting a feel for it and then you can be more artistic and break the rules.

    Concentrate on one thing at time when practising until you get it down pat. I concentrated for ages on backgrounds of my people shots, now its second nature, I then moved onto posing (boy that was hard), but now I see things without even thinking about it. Like Rick said, always looking at other people's work and deconstructing their shots to see what they did.
    I have to agree with Shelley as I think she has hit the nail on the head with her suggestion. Sage advice.

    Also, remember, memory is chaep so just keep firing off shots at different apertures and compositions and focal lengths and see which ones work, you can always delete them! I can go out on a photoshoot and take 400+ images and if I end up with 6 images that I am truly happy with, then I think I have had a good day!

  20. #20
    Ausphotography Addict
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    It's been said a couple of times already. Your excelling in theory, but not so good in practice.
    Two ways to fix the problem.
    1. Place you shots in the CC forum, and ask "How can I fix this"
    2. You live in the TOG capital of Aus (Queensland) They have plenty of meetups. And if you can't get to one, look for a member that lives close by. Comment on some of his/her images. Then do a suck job and ask if you could meet. Like me, you could end up with a few new life long friends.

    Like many extremely intelligent people, like doctors, lawyers and teachers. They can tell you exactly how things work. But wouldn't know how to change a tyre, or what a spanner is. Some things you need to see how it is done yourself, before getting the idea of how it works.
    Last edited by geoffsta; 26-02-2013 at 7:56am.
    Geoff
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    CC is always welcome
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