Photography Help

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Aug 3, 2014
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So I have been looking through the website and so many people have posted such great pictures. I am looking for tips/insight on how or what I can do to take better photos. I have a pretty basic setup to work with, a Cannon PowerShot SD4000 and my Galaxy S4. Any advice is much appreciated.
 

Laura

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Oct 1, 2012
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Practice taking photos is the best advice I can give. Go out and shoot leading lines, s-curves, where ever you find them. I took a workshop and a guy there who was also a composer commented that if you want to improvise, you have to practice your scales. This is the same thing. I used to just drive to random locations with my camera and shoot whatever I could come up with, and just let my creativity take over.

Second best advice is to take classes where you have an instructor who gives brutal feedback. You really improve that way.

Third-your mantra is light first, subject second.
 

tozo

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Jun 16, 2014
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Third-your mantra is light first, subject second.
I agree what that!
Get up early for the sunrise and hang around for sunset. its not called magic hour for nothing. experiment. try to mimic photos you like, not as in the exact same place, but in the same style. You'll learn what works and what doesn't. Think about foregrounds and background,.
spend lots of time browsing the internet photo sites mining inspiration.
Read up a bit on post-processing. I'd bet 90% of the great photos you've see were post-processed at least a little but. photo geeks like to shoot in RAW files (myself included, provides the most versatility) but there's plenty that can be done on plane ol'JPGs. (don't get too carried away with this last bit)
have fun and loose yourself in the process.
 
Joined
Aug 3, 2014
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Thank you both for the advice. It looks like first and foremost I have to do a little more research and get out there and just take pictures.
 

andyjaggy

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Dec 2, 2013
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1) Focus on composition. Composition literally makes or breaks the picture. Copy others if you need to, eventually you will find your own style. An image with okay light and a good composition can still work well. An image with a lousy composition and amazing light just doesn't work as well. The magic happens when you get both together.

2) Focus on light. Wake up early. Go out when it's stormy.

3) Use a tripod. that's the only gear advice I ever give anyone. It's the most important tool in your arsenal. 100 megapixels and the sharpest lens on the planet won't do you any good if you can't hold it steady.

4) Learn how to bracket exposures and also focus stack. Bracketing can save you for those times the scene just has too much dynamic range. Focus stacking is something I have started doing a lot lately. Focus on the distant object, focus on the close objects, then blend them in photoshop. It let's you get super close to foreground elements while still keeping a sharp background and foreground. It also lets you shoot at a smaller f-stop so you generally get sharper results.
 

Laura

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1) An image with okay light and a good composition can still work well. An image with a lousy composition and amazing light just doesn't work as well.

Have to respectfully disagree with this one. What you're photographing isn't the subject, it's the light on the subject. If the light's not good, the best you can do is a nicely composed, flat picture. It's all about the light.

Here's some examples:
Nicely composed shot in flat light

Flat light picture.jpg


Same location with early morning side light. Though I don't like this comp, it's still a better shot.

Better light picture.jpg


Another example-taken in nice light:
Better light 2 picture.jpg


The same location but taken 12 minutes earlier in much better light:

Perfect Serenity.jpg


In the 12 minutes between the shots the light became harsher and I lost the shadows, which really makes a difference. I processed both these photos exactly the same way (hit "Sync" in LR). What I was shooting wasn't the lake and trees, it was the light on the lake and trees. Getting the light at just the right moment was critical to getting the best shot. It's all about light.
 
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andyjaggy

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I disagree. Composition is everything, light comes in a close second.

I've seen some shots with amazing light, but because of poor composition it just doesn't work. You look at it and it's like wow, look at those amazing clouds and crazy light, but jeez I have no idea what I am looking at and where my eyes should go. It's a jumbled mess of some good sunset color.

Yet I've seen shots with just okay light, sometimes even mid-day light, but because of excellent subject matter and great and interesting composition it still works as a photograph. You look at it and instinctively know where to look and the composition leads your eyes on a journey through the frame.

Edit: Really I suppose it does take both, because otherwise it would just be black. ;) If you want to get technical anyway.
 
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andyjaggy

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Let me clarify my point with some examples pulled form the internet. This is the same beach.

This first shot I like way better than the second. It has the stronger and most interesting composition. The light isn't as dramatic as the next picture, but I'm drawn into the image more because of the composition.

http://www.earthshots.org/2009/03/bandon-coast-sunset-by-stephen-oachs/

This shot from the same beach has arguably better and more interesting light but I don't like it nearly as much. The composition is much more bland and doesn't draw me into the frame.

http://nice-cool-pics.com/img-twilight-reflections,-bandon-beach,-oregon-4469.htm

Of course others may like the second one better. But for me, I am drawn to more interesting compositions than I am too more interesting light. I suppose it's all personal preference.
 

Laura

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The first shot was taken in good light as well, and I like it better, too. Good light doesn't necessarily mean vibrant or dramatic colors. Good light enhances the scene, not overpowers it. If the light wasn't good in that first photo it wouldn't work, either, even though it's nicely composed. It'd be as flat as first shot I used in my example.
 

Nick

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Aug 9, 2007
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Oh, and to the OP here... just what has been said. Just start shooting a LOT and pay attention to how the different settings affect your results. You have unlimited room for error! What did people do when they had to pay for film?!?! Learn the basics of aperture, shutter speed and ISO and how they all relate to eachother and what each one does. Once you have the 'book knowledge' version of that, keep shooting and keep referring back and eventually you'll really pick up the real world version of it. I know I'm still learning things every day through the same process.
 

Christian

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Jun 2, 2012
Messages
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Tripod, tripod, tripod! Learn how ISO, Aperture and shutter speed work together. For landscape, a low ISO is usually a good choice to reduce noise and get maximum sharpness. Aperture, you can do a lot with F/8. Use aperture priority, and it will figure out shutter speed for you. Then, go find something amazing, wait for amazing light, and make sure you have a foreground that's as interesting as your background. You might get a good photo once a month.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

andyjaggy

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Dec 2, 2013
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I'm just putting in my two cents that good light edges out good comp, but bad comp will kill a picture faster than bad light. So I guess I agree with both of you. ;)

It's not usually an all or nothing thing, so we were probably arguing for no reason, still, I will take an excellent composition with pretty good light over excellent light with a pretty good composition. An amazing composition with terrible lighting still isn't going to work, and amazing lighting with a terrible composition isn't going to work either. It definitely takes both, and I guess which you think is more important is largely subjective and dependent on the type of photography that gets you excited.
 

Laura

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Oct 1, 2012
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IMO light can be fixed in PS to some extent. I tend to focus on composition first. Otherwise, great lighting on a bad picture doesn't do much for me. A great picture with bad lighting can be adjusted later.
Link to some great tutorials

There's only so much you can do in post. If you want to take your photos to the next level, which is what I believe the OP was interested in doing, you have to pay attention to the light. I usually get to a location early to work out the comp, then hope the light shows up. If it doesn't, I throw away the shot. Here's another example from my recent Kauai trip. I went to this location and got the best comp possible, but the light was flat:

Land Time Forgot Bad light.jpg


No amount of Photoshopping is going to make this shot interesting. The sun was behind clouds but there was a crack between the clouds and the distant mountains, and if the sun broke through that, I might get some good light. I came back just before sunset and got this:

Land time forgot.jpg


Don't get me wrong, you have to be able to compose. But good landscape photography is all about light.

Here's a good article from Outdoor Photographer about landscapes:

http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/...tm_medium=status&utm_campaign=tp#.VA3-gVawh69
 
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Laura

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It's not usually an all or nothing thing, so we were probably arguing for no reason, still, I will take an excellent composition with pretty good light over excellent light with a pretty good composition. An amazing composition with terrible lighting still isn't going to work, and amazing lighting with a terrible composition isn't going to work either. It definitely takes both, and I guess which you think is more important is largely subjective and dependent on the type of photography that gets you excited.

I agree completely with this. :D
 
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