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Thread: Extremely amateur photography

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    Webmaster Neil's Avatar
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    Here's one I like of my daughter... Not a particularly great photo, except for the depth and angles...



    ..and kittens are always cute. My pair of brothers last year:-
    Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. [click for more]
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil View Post
    Here's one I like of my daughter... Not a particularly great photo, except for the depth and angles...
    Now THAT is an example of EXCELLENT shot composition in my eyes! A+, Neil! Love it! The kittens are cute too, but the composition of your daughter in that shot is just spot-the-hell-on. Did you crop that picture at all, or just snap it and post it as-is? Regardless, my eyes love it.


    Also - just wanted to say to everyone who has contributed: Thank you! I didn't really want this thread to be all about "my" stuff, I just wanted to get people motivated to post. I really, really enjoy studying other peoples photos, especially ones that really grab my attention so I can figure out WHY it grabs my attention, then use those techniques in my own work.

    Please, by all means, keep posting pictures - there's no "wrong" or "right" way to do it, just share if you care to do so, 'cause I love looking at them.
    Last edited by LouCipherr; 10-Sep-2012 at 09:22 PM. Reason: spelling

  3. #33
    HpotD Curry Champion krakenslayer's Avatar
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    Nice pics all round guys. Good too see some fellow snappers on here. Here's some shots from my recent trip to Amsterdam, culled from my Facebook page:















    (taken on a Canon 550D with 18-55mm kit and 50mm f1.8 prime lenses)
    Last edited by krakenslayer; 10-Sep-2012 at 11:20 PM. Reason: .

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    Quote Originally Posted by LouCipherr View Post
    *head explodes*

    See? This is why I will always be a rank amateur at this stuff, because beyond understanding how my camera works (and believe me, I've done some stupid, intense reading up on it), understanding how to manipulate the images on my computer to how my eye likes to see them, I'm lost. I should be reading up on this stuff, but shit man, I'm still struggling with shot composition and "finding" my way around HDR to find my own "style" so-to-speak (kinda like Trey has, as I haven't seen anyone else doing stuff quite like him, and boy do his images make my brain and eyes sing!). I'm workin' on it, but it's going to take years I probably don't have to "get" it all. If you have any suggestions where I can start at a novice level, please let me know, I'd be interested in reading up and more importantly, understanding more about color calibration.
    To do a basic calibration all you need to do is use the "adobe gamma" utility that installs with photoshop. It'll step you through a process where you look at grayscale gradients and choose the best ones. Then it generates an ICC profile that loads when you use an app that's color managed, like photoshop.
    That's on a PC. PC's aren't as good for color management. They use a lower gamma threshold, and only certain apps are color managed. On a Mac, the gamma is much richer and the entire system is color managed, so images look the same in every application, even the finder and image preview. This is why most people who work with images extensively use a Mac. Mac's are built for it from the ground up. PC's deal with it as more of an afterthought.
    After you use the adobe gamma app to calibrate your monitor you have to tell photoshop how to handle color profiles. You launch photoshop and go to edit>color settings. Then tell it to "ask you" what to do when an image has an embedded profile. Otherwise it will automatically convert the images colors to photoshops working profile. Which might not be the same as the profile your camera used to take the photo. If your camera supports it(and it most likely does) you should make your camera use the "AdobeRGB" or "ProphotoRGB" profile and edit using that profile.
    Then when you are done editing and want to save the file to display on the web, convert the image to the sRGB profile by going to edit>convert to profile>sRGB. Then save a copy of the image in JPEG. To save a copy go to save>save as copy. Don't just hit the save button because that will overwrite the image with the profile conversion. You want to store your images with the working profile, AdobeRGB, and only convert to sRGB when you want to post the image to the web.
    If you want to get real down and dirty with color calibration you have to buy a calibrator. Spyder's are the best. It's just a small device that hangs on the front of your monitor and measures pixels and compares them to the ambient light in the room. You probably don't need to do all that though. Not yet anyway. You'll be good with a simple software calibration for now.
    Last edited by babomb; 10-Sep-2012 at 11:29 PM. Reason: ..

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    Quote Originally Posted by krakenslayer View Post
    Nice pics all round guys. Good too see some fellow snappers on here. Here's some shots from my recent trip to Amsterdam, culled from my Facebook page:

    <snip>

    (taken on a Canon 550D with 18-55mm kit and 50mm f1.8 prime lenses)
    Ooooh, a f1.8... *drools* I know that 50mm wasn't a cheap lens. I've been eyeing a f1.8 lens for my Pentax, but damn are they expensive. At least the one I want: Pentax FA 31mm f1.8 for way too much money

    That's what I want. A nice, wide angle lens with some fast glass. I'm sure it could be had for a bit cheaper elsewhere, but the really good lenses are always going to be a bit pricey.

    Excellent pics, btw. I know this is going to sound weird, but I really dig the lone B&W bike pic. As usual, I can't explain exactly why, but it tickles my eyes and brain. I also really like the pic of the blonde walking by the bikes.

    Quote Originally Posted by babomb View Post
    ...You'll be good with a simple software calibration for now.
    Thanks, babomb - appreciate the info and advice, and I will certainly use it. I actually considered picking up a Spyder2 a while back at a recommendation of a friend, only to run out of on hand cash because instead, I bought a vacation house. Oh, and I usually post on HPotD at work (yeah, yeah, everyone, go ahead with the "don't you do anything at work?!" jokes, I can handle it.. ) and they block facebook. While that doesn't really bother me since I don't use it, it blocked your first set of pics you posted and all I saw were little 'broken pic' squares. Checking from home now, though - some great pics!

    Here's one I took in Ocean City, Maryland earlier this year. It was extremely foggy that day, even though it's not very evident in the picture. This isn't the best composition, but I do like it:
    Last edited by LouCipherr; 11-Sep-2012 at 01:35 AM. Reason: .

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by LouCipherr View Post
    Now THAT is an example of EXCELLENT shot composition in my eyes! A+, Neil! Love it! The kittens are cute too, but the composition of your daughter in that shot is just spot-the-hell-on. Did you crop that picture at all, or just snap it and post it as-is? Regardless, my eyes love it.
    Glad you like it. That shot is not cropped. I have cropped it removing top (her hat) and bottom (finger tips) so it's just her hands, head/face and the landscape angles, which seems to be the crux of the 'pleasing bit' if you get my meaning.

    I was dangling flowers near the camera trying to get hand in the right place, and the right angles of the bank in the back ground.
    Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. [click for more]
    -Carl Sagan

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    HpotD Curry Champion krakenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LouCipherr View Post
    Ooooh, a f1.8... *drools* I know that 50mm wasn't a cheap lens. I've been eyeing a f1.8 lens for my Pentax, but damn are they expensive. At least the one I want: Pentax FA 31mm f1.8 for way too much money

    That's what I want. A nice, wide angle lens with some fast glass. I'm sure it could be had for a bit cheaper elsewhere, but the really good lenses are always going to be a bit pricey.

    Excellent pics, btw. I know this is going to sound weird, but I really dig the lone B&W bike pic. As usual, I can't explain exactly why, but it tickles my eyes and brain. I also really like the pic of the blonde walking by the bikes.
    Thanks Lou! Believe it or not, that 50mm 1.8 is the cheapest lens Canon currently makes, and can be picked up for about 70 or well under $100! The trade-off is that its field of view is fixed at 50mm (near the furthest zoom of the standard kit lens) with no zoom capability (so you sometimes have to do a bit of leg-zooming backwards to get your subject in shot), and the build quality of the housing is very plasticky, but the quality of the glass itself crushes pretty much any Canon-fit zoom lens under 500. It has great depth of field at lower-numbered f-stops, with creamy-blurred "bokeh" backgrounds and vibrant pin-sharp foregrounds. It handles deep focus really well too, with great low-light capability and amazing sharpness and colour reproduction across the board. I know I sound like a salesman, but I just love this lens - it's not often you get pro-quality optics at amateur prices, so it's probably the best bargain I have ever had (and we all know Scots love a bargain )

    Here's a few pics I've snapped on it recently, some fairly commonplace images, but just to show the quality of the lens:










    I know Nikon does a similar lens that's only slightly more expensive. I wonder if Pentax does something like it too. I know it's not wide-angle like you were looking for, but I highly recommend a 50mm prime if you can get one, especially since the prices make them almost disposable.
    Last edited by krakenslayer; 11-Sep-2012 at 11:07 AM. Reason: .

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    Quote Originally Posted by krakenslayer View Post


    Love this shot. I could totally see it being in one of those coffee table art books or something like that. Lovely stuff.

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    HpotD Curry Champion krakenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MinionZombie View Post
    Love this shot. I could totally see it being in one of those coffee table art books or something like that. Lovely stuff.
    Thanks, I thought it looked very Stella Artois

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    Quote Originally Posted by krakenslayer View Post
    Thanks, I thought it looked very Stella Artois


    Now that you mention it, the front wheel does look a little bit bent, as if some boozed-up Amsterdammer took a tumble on his way home to the Mrs.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by krakenslayer View Post
    I know Nikon does a similar lens that's only slightly more expensive. I wonder if Pentax does something like it too. I know it's not wide-angle like you were looking for, but I highly recommend a 50mm prime if you can get one, especially since the prices make them almost disposable.
    Yeh, I've got one for my Nikon.
    Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. [click for more]
    -Carl Sagan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil View Post
    Glad you like it. That shot is not cropped. I have cropped it removing top (her hat) and bottom (finger tips) so it's just her hands, head/face and the landscape angles, which seems to be the crux of the 'pleasing bit' if you get my meaning.

    I was dangling flowers need the camera trying to get hand in the right place, and the right angles of the bank in the back ground.

    Well, if that picture is not cropped that's great composition, at least to my eyes. I love the angle, how she's reaching for the camera, the placement of everything - even the slope of the background. Just looks great.


    Quote Originally Posted by krakenslayer View Post
    Thanks Lou! Believe it or not, that 50mm 1.8 is the cheapest lens Canon currently makes, and can be picked up for about 70 or well under $100! The trade-off is that its field of view is fixed at 50mm (near the furthest zoom of the standard kit lens) with no zoom capability (so you sometimes have to do a bit of leg-zooming backwards to get your subject in shot), and the build quality of the housing is very plasticky, but the quality of the glass itself crushes pretty much any Canon-fit zoom lens under 500. It has great depth of field at lower-numbered f-stops, with creamy-blurred "bokeh" backgrounds and vibrant pin-sharp foregrounds. It handles deep focus really well too, with great low-light capability and amazing sharpness and colour reproduction across the board. I know I sound like a salesman, but I just love this lens - it's not often you get pro-quality optics at amateur prices, so it's probably the best bargain I have ever had (and we all know Scots love a bargain )

    <snipped pics>

    I know Nikon does a similar lens that's only slightly more expensive. I wonder if Pentax does something like it too. I know it's not wide-angle like you were looking for, but I highly recommend a 50mm prime if you can get one, especially since the prices make them almost disposable.

    Hmm, interesting. It almost sounds like what Pentax does with some of their lenses. They will put out a, let's say, 50mm DA* f/2.4 lens. That one, since it has the "DA*" designation, means it's built like a brick shithouse (ie: it's ALL metal, including the bayonet mount and threading). However, they will also make the same lens and call it a "DA" lens (without the "*") - this designation means it's the exact same glass and design as the DA*, however, it's plastic as well as the threads and the bayonet mount. Works the same as the other, much more expensive 'metal' version, but it's just made out of plastic instead of metal. I also think there might be some "water resistant" tech in the DA* lenses that the DA's don't either.

    I currently have that Pentax 35mm f/2.4 prime lens, which is a DA lens (ie: plastic, but the glass is the same as the high-end one) and it was fairly cheap. I got it new from a camera store just trying to ditch it and it ran about $80 USD. Not bad at all - but had that been the DA* version? Add a few hundred bucks to that price.

    I'm sure there's cheaper alternatives to that f/1.8 I linked to - in fact, I know Pentax makes a f/1.8 cheaper, but I really, really want the widest angle lens with the fastest glass I can find. Mostly because I want a lens for doing fantastic landscapes - sometimes in very low light. As you can see from what I post picture-wise, I'm a lot more into landscapes than taking pictures of people. lol.

    A 50mm lens would be nice, but here's the one issue I have with the Pentax: since it's sensor has a crop factor of 1.5x, that means that a 50mm lens would be the equivalent of a 75mm lens. I'm not a big fan of these "cropped sensors" that cause this, but until I can afford a full-frame camera... That's why I want that 35mm lens. It will still equate out to a 52.5mm with the sensor crop taken into account, but that's wider than a 50mm with the crop issue, and, I don't really want to go so wide as to get a fish-eye lens. I am, however, a fan of good prime lenses. Zooms are nice, but sometimes you really have to play with the aperture and the zoom to find their "sweet spot."

    Ok, so here's an HDR shot I created from the Shepherdstown Bridge in West Virginia I took a few weeks ago. This is a shot of the view from the bridge, not the bridge itself. There is a train track bridge out there in the distance, but, notice the piers out there in the middle of the water? They used to be for a covered bridge - well, two of 'em actually:



    Here's a quick bit of history:

    Covered Bridge #1 at Shepherdstown

    The Virginia and Maryland Bridge Company, owners of the Blackford Ferry that crossed the Potomac River at Shepherdstown, discontinued the ferry service in 1850 and built a 600 foot covered bridge in its place. The bridge connected Shepherdstown, West Virginia (Virginia until the Civil War years) to the road leading to Sharpsburg, Maryland.

    The first covered bridge at Shepherdstown was one of many victims of the Civil War. Confederate soldiers burned over a hundred wooden bridges and destoyed other bridges and railroad property from Point of Rocks to Cumberland, Maryland. After blowing up the railroad bridge across the Potomac at Harpers Ferry in June of 1861, General Stonewall Jackson's mission was to continue the destruction of all bridges north of Harpers Ferry. He sent a detachment to Shepherdstown and burned down the multi-spanned highway bridge.

    Covered Bridge #2 at Shepherdstown
    It wasn't until 1871 that a second bridge across the Potomac was built at Shepherdstown. John Wood built the bridge at the same location as the first. That one was destroyed in the great flood of 1889, the Johnstown flood, and was replaced by an iron bridge.


    And here's another American Swallow Tail butterfly, but this one was captured in West Virginia this time:

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by LouCipherr View Post
    Ok, so here's an HDR shot I created from the Shepherdstown Bridge in West Virginia I took a few weeks ago. This is a shot of the view from the bridge, not the bridge itself. There is a train track bridge out there in the distance, but, notice the piers out there in the middle of the water? They used to be for a covered bridge - well, two of 'em actually:

    Nice! - Wonder if a polarising filter might have made more of that sky (not that I'd know!)?

    Hand held or tripod?
    Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. [click for more]
    -Carl Sagan

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    The first pic is just a reminder of the old days before digital cameras, when you'd go on a school trip with a 24-exposure disposable film camera - a time before screens to properly line-up your shot, the option to delete dud pics, and being able to take hundreds of pics all on one tiny memory card. That first pic is from my Year 8 (age 12) trip to Paris during high school - naturally you had no real idea what you'd actually end up with in the end, and it was so hard to frame your shots with those disposable cameras ... so there's a shot of Paris from the Sacre Coeur, with a couple of my fingers invading the city.

    The second two pics further the notion of taking good pics with basic cameras due to the natural beauty of your surroundings, here's a couple that I took with my Kodak Zi8 (which is primarily a HD hand-held video camera) of the Scottish seaside town of North Berwick. Naturally, my photo-taking skills improved quite a bit during the intervening 14 years between pic #1 and pics 2&3.

    Year 8 Paris Trip 013.jpg

    829_0882.jpg

    829_0871.jpg
    Last edited by MinionZombie; 11-Sep-2012 at 05:24 PM.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil View Post
    Nice! - Wonder if a polarising filter might have made more of that sky (not that I'd know!)?

    Hand held or tripod?
    "Cheated" hand-held photo, actually. There was no tripod involved - instead, I sort of rested my camera on the metal railing of the bridge I was standing on (strap firmly connected to the camera and around my neck, just in case!) and snapped away.

    Not sure if a polarizing filter may have helped. It seems with HDR you can sort of, kind of, "almost" do what a polarizing filter can do (removing some glare, pulling back in some details, removing some "muddiness" etc), however, I think babomb could probably answer that question waaay better than I could. There weren't really many clouds in the sky to begin with, so what you see in that pic is what I saw on the bridge. I did, however, kinda over-do some of the green & yellow colors while doing the HDR, so that might account for some of the weirdness of colors and the slight ghosting effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by MinionZombie View Post
    The first pic is just a reminder of the old days before digital cameras, when you'd go on a school trip with a 24-exposure disposable film camera - a time before screens to properly line-up your shot, the option to delete dud pics, and being able to take hundreds of pics all on one tiny memory card. That first pic is from my Year 8 (age 12) trip to Paris during high school - naturally you had no real idea what you'd actually end up with in the end, and it was so hard to frame your shots with those disposable cameras ... so there's a shot of Paris from the Sacre Coeur, with a couple of my fingers invading the city.
    Nice pics, MZ. Ah yes, I remember the days of disposable cameras - hell, I even had one of those shitty Kodak "Disc" cameras, remember those awful things?! Did you guys have them in the UK at all? That was my main camera for a while when I was a kid (probably because it was the only camera I had at the time!). Still, I worked with what i had, and sometimes even then I surprised myself. In fact, your pictures you posted prove it - sometimes, it's not about the quality of the camera or even the camera itself you're using. You can take stellar pics with a disposable 35mm, it just depends on what you're going for in the final product.

    Here's another pic I took at the Dickey Ridge Visitors Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway (wow, I took a lot of pics on this trip!) - I cannot STAND bees, but I had my camera ready and decided to give it a shot:


    The bee was tiny, and I shot that with, IIRC, my 18-55mm kit lens. I had to get close, and that creeped me out!

    Here's a church I shot in Potomac, Maryland:


    The angle I took this from makes it look a lot more spooky than it really is.


    ***edited to add: Here's a pic of a bat we found in our cabin when we arrived in Boone, NC for our vacation last year. It wasn't fun getting him out of the house, but I managed without hurting him. One thing I did not know about bats: you put them in a box and they will SCREECH like a pissed-off banshee! I had no idea!


    Anyone have any idea what kind of bat that is?? I don't, but I'd like to know.
    Last edited by LouCipherr; 12-Sep-2012 at 03:50 PM. Reason: .

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