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Posts tagged ‘Photos’

Up for Discussion – Critiquing

This is a topic I’ve been thinking about doing for a while.  I’ve also heard other people complaining about it, so I thought it is something that should be addressed and this forum seemed like the perfect place to do it. I am going to do it in two parts, asking for your images to be critiqued, then critiquing other peoples images when not invited to do so.

Asking to Have Your Images Critiqued

From time to time, well, maybe more often than that I get asked by various people if I will take a look at their photos, tell them what I think.  I always politely refuse, and try to find a good reason to not do it.  One of the main reasons is that I am very uncomfortable doing it.  I am not an expert on photos, and I don’t think I have the right to give my opinion just like that.

The other thing that people don’t seem to realise is the time it really takes to give a good critique.  It can take me an hour or two when I am doing it for other people, if I do it, I want to do it well.  I do offer critiquing as a service and it is often part of my online scschool-hpm5544-8courses, but it does take time.  You have to look at the images, and then seriously evaluate them, and sometimes write a report.

It is important to be careful about who you ask too.  I am kind, well I hope I am, but others may not be.  Your photography, anyone’s photography is something that is very personal, and people are attached to it.  The last thing you want is someone to critique your work that makes you want to give up photography altogether.  Positive sandwich, a term I heard recently and it is something I’ve always tried to follow.

There are lots of ways of getting your work critiqued without directly having someone do it.  Enter competitions, see how your work goes.  Find groups on Facebook and Google+ where you can put your images and see how many people like or +1 it.  There are lots of places like that.  Though you need to work out why you are taking photos too, if it is just for yourself, scschool-hpm5459-7then what does it matter what other people think?

Learn to be more critical yourself. I look at other peoples work and wonder what I like it about it, why I like it, and then how I can apply that to my own work.

Giving Critique When Not Ask to

This is one that I hear people complaining a lot about.  That they will put up photos and then someone else will go through their photos and tell them everything that is wrong with them.  This is unwanted criticism.

I have been the victim of it in the past, and sometimes it really upsets me, so I know why others get upset with it as well.  Often my first thought is, who the hell are you to be criticising my images, then I have to think of ways to get around it.  I don’t like upsetting people.  I tend to just respond with, but I like it like this, this is how I wanted it.

scschool-hpm4033-6It is hard to know what to say to people who do this and to get them to stop.  I have a couple of people that I love and trust, and if I really want an opinion on something I ask them. I know they will be honest with me and let me know.  It is good to have people in your life that are like that.  I had a friend from Uni and one of the things she used to say was, it’s good, but it’s not the best you’ve done.  I hated it at the time, but her opinion was valuable.

I also go by the old saying, “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all”.  I’ve had people saying things about my images and they have had nothing nice to say, and they are just being nasty, for whatever reason.

So what is my point, if you are critiquing peoples photos and telling them what you think they should do to them, then don’t.  Think about what your constant criticism of their work is doing to them, and I can tell you, the people aren’t sitting back and being happy about it, they may be too polite to tell you to just stop it. I can tell you they don’t like it.

scschool-hpm5434-5If you really want to help someone, ask first.  Ask them if they would mind you giving some advice.  One of the ways I’ve had people doing it to me is to suggest what they would do if the images was theirs.

I often see images and I think, oh I wish they had done this, or done that, but then I think, it isn’t my image, and I have to respect how the person has done it.  You can tell if someone is really happy with what they have done, if they are, then it is best to not say anything.

I think the best policy is don’t critique, unless invited to, and if you are invited and accept, then you still need to tread carefully, remember the positive sandwich, always put positives around negatives.  I had an art teacher once who was great, she would say what she liked about what you were doing, and then say what she thought you could work on to make the image better, or better next time.  I loved it and I have always tried to follow that way of doing it.

Wow, this has turned out far longer than I had expected.  I hope it all makes sense. Critiquing is a very personal thing, as are images, and whether critiquing or getting wanted critique there should always be a massive dose of respect.

The photos for today’s post were taken and processed a couple of years ago.  There were taken in an old school that has now been pulled down, apparently to make way for more houses.

 

MM38 – Monochrome Madness 38

Here we are at Week 38 of Monochrome Madness.  Christmas is coming around soon so I was thinking maybe we should do something for Christmas, well the week before Christmas or rather Christmas Day is a Thursday, so maybe the Wednesday before, the 24th of December we could do a  special Monochrome Madness.  One idea would be to do a monochrome image and maybe leaving one thing in colour, like an image of a Christmas tree and leave one red bauble.  Let me know what you think! For those that don’t know how to do it I could do a tutorial on how.

Australia-warracknabeal-water-tower-monochrome

Someone suggested that the water tower in Warracknabeal would make a good monochrome image, and though they meant another image of it, this is the one I liked the most.  I spent a bit of time on it and am really pleased with the way it has come out. I have also done the reverse processing and you can see the result of that on my other blog,

coneflowertwirl

Laura Macky  has been playing around with the same image as last week, and if you want to find out more information about it then take a look at her blog and her post, Coneflower Twirl – Monochrome Madness.

Don’t forget all the instructions on how to enter your own images are at the bottom of the post.  If you have entered an image then please remember to check your image in the gallery, scroll down and see if anyone has left you any comments.

 

Now, if you wish to participate and submit an image here is how you do it:-

  • You must email me the image you want to include and if you have a blog or website, or somewhere else, please include the link. My email address is leanne@leannecole.com.au
  • The image size should be low res, so the largest side should be 1000 pixels or less.
  • Please insert either your name or your blogs name in the file name.
  • Remember I am on Australian time, so with GMT I am +11 hours at the moment, I publish my post on Wednesday morning.
  • If you need more help with sending images, and get confused about time zones, etc, well, there is a great website called The World Clock, if you go to that and look at Melbourne time, if it’s before 6pm on Tuesday evening, then you can still send me images.  If it’s after that time, you can send me an image, but it will be set aside for the following week.
  • Remember to include a link to your blog or website.
  • Please remember to resize your images, it is fairly simply, you just need to go into any editing software and usually under Image you will find, resize, scale, or image size, something like that and you can resize your image there. Change the dimensions to pixels and make the longest side 1000 pixels or smaller, hit return, and for most types of software that should change the other side automatically as well. Just remember to save it with a different name so you know it is the smaller version.  If you have any problems, please contact me, I don’t mind helping out.

Please note you don’t have to be a WordPress blogger to be in this challenge, you can have a link to a Facebook page, a Flickr page, anywhere really, or no link.  We just want to encourage people to do monochrome images, just for the madness of it. Just to let you know also, that as soon as the challenge is published, all emails and images you have sent me are deleted from my computer.  I respect your copyright and would never keep any of the images.

Quiet Thursday’s – Big Sculptures

This week I’ve been going to some towns in the Yarriambiack Shire taking photos.  For today I thought I would show you one of my favourites so far.

patchewollock-mallee-fowl-statues

These sculptures are in Patchewollock, in the State’s north west.  They are of the Mallee Fowl and they are so big.  You can get a sense of how big they are by the picnic table in background.  They are so good.

One of things I’ve been doing when photographing these places has been playing more with my 14-24mm.  I think I got a little lost with it, but I am really starting to see how to use it to it’s best now.  I love the images you can get with it and hopefully over the next couple of weeks I can show that to you as well.

I leave the Mallee soon and it will be back to Melbourne and home.  It has been a very busy week here, and not much recreation, but that is good, means it will give me more excuses to come back.  Next trip is planned for February or March.  I better go and pack.

MM37 – Monochrome Madness 37

Here we go again, time for MM37.  First of all I want to say thank you to those of you who sent your images early, it really helped, meant I could do a lot before losing the internet on my laptop.  I’m trying to be good about the whole thing, losing the internet will mean better coverage in the future as they upgrade the towers.

lake-charm-back-pier-tree-2

Okay, before you say anything, I know it is another pier, but this one is from the other end of the state and a long way from the ocean.  I took this after the workshop I taught on Saturday.  I showed you a similar photo in my Weekend Wandering post.  This is a sunset photo, and I know you wouldn’t normally do sunset photos in monochrome, but I thought I would give it a go. I also reversed the monochrome and turned it into a colour image again with an interesting effect, to see it to to my other blog.

coneflowerbw-2

Laura Macky has sent in her image and if you want to find out more about the image then please head over to her blog, Laura Macky and her post, Coneflower Convert – Monochrome Madness.

Don’t forget all the instructions on how to enter your own images are at the bottom of the post.  If you have entered an image then please remember to check your image in the gallery, scroll down and see if anyone has left you any comments.

Now, if you wish to participate and submit an image here is how you do it:-

  • You must email me the image you want to include and if you have a blog or website, or somewhere else, please include the link. My email address is leanne@leannecole.com.au
  • The image size should be low res, so the largest side should be 1000 pixels or less.
  • Please insert either your name or your blogs name in the file name.
  • Remember I am on Australian time, so with GMT I am +11 hours at the moment, I publish my post on Wednesday morning.
  • If you need more help with sending images, and get confused about time zones, etc, well, there is a great website called The World Clock, if you go to that and look at Melbourne time, if it’s before 6pm on Tuesday evening, then you can still send me images.  If it’s after that time, you can send me an image, but it will be set aside for the following week.
  • Remember to include a link to your blog or website.
  • Please remember to resize your images, it is fairly simply, you just need to go into any editing software and usually under Image you will find, resize, scale, or image size, something like that and you can resize your image there. Change the dimensions to pixels and make the longest side 1000 pixels or smaller, hit return, and for most types of software that should change the other side automatically as well. Just remember to save it with a different name so you know it is the smaller version.  If you have any problems, please contact me, I don’t mind helping out.

Please note you don’t have to be a WordPress blogger to be in this challenge, you can have a link to a Facebook page, a Flickr page, anywhere really, or no link.  We just want to encourage people to do monochrome images, just for the madness of it. Just to let you know also, that as soon as the challenge is published, all emails and images you have sent me are deleted from my computer.  I respect your copyright and would never keep any of the images.

MM36 – Monochrome Madness 36

Here we go again.  I have to say one of the hardest things I find about these posts is how to start them each week.  I feel like I am repeating myself all the time. So I am just going to say welcome again. Perhaps we should just get on with MM36 and see all the wonderful images everyone has sent to me.

jetty-pointlonsdale-monochrome-morning

This is an image I took the other morning at Point Lonsdale, and I showed the colour version to you on Saturday.  I wondered how it would look in monochrome.  I did it the other day and put it up on Facebook and Google+.  It got lots of likes and +1’s, so I thought it seemed logical to use the image for MM36.

path

Laura Macky has sent in her image for Monochrome Madness and if you would like more information then go to her blog, Laura Macky. and her post, Enlightenment – Monochrome Madness.

Don’t forget all the instructions on how to enter your own images are at the bottom of the post.  If you have entered an image then please remember to check your image in the gallery, scroll down and see if anyone has left you any comments.

 

Now, if you wish to participate and submit an image here is how you do it:-

  • You must email me the image you want to include and if you have a blog or website, or somewhere else, please include the link. My email address is leanne@leannecole.com.au
  • The image size should be low res, so the largest side should be 1000 pixels or less.
  • Please insert either your name or your blogs name in the file name.
  • Remember I am on Australian time, so with GMT I am +11 hours at the moment, I publish my post on Wednesday morning.
  • If you need more help with sending images, and get confused about time zones, etc, well, there is a great website called The World Clock, if you go to that and look at Melbourne time, if it’s before 6pm on Tuesday evening, then you can still send me images.  If it’s after that time, you can send me an image, but it will be set aside for the following week.
  • Remember to include a link to your blog or website.
  • Please remember to resize your images, it is fairly simply, you just need to go into any editing software and usually under Image you will find, resize, scale, or image size, something like that and you can resize your image there. Change the dimensions to pixels and make the longest side 1000 pixels or smaller, hit return, and for most types of software that should change the other side automatically as well. Just remember to save it with a different name so you know it is the smaller version.  If you have any problems, please contact me, I don’t mind helping out.

Please note you don’t have to be a WordPress blogger to be in this challenge, you can have a link to a Facebook page, a Flickr page, anywhere really, or no link.  We just want to encourage people to do monochrome images, just for the madness of it. Just to let you know also, that as soon as the challenge is published, all emails and images you have sent me are deleted from my computer.  I respect your copyright and would never keep any of the images.

 

Up for Discussion – Using Graduated Neutral Density Filters

Recently I was lent some Cokin Z Pro Series filters with the filter kit and I’ve been trying them, and talking about them here.  I know lots of people are bit confused about filters and how to use them and I was thinking of doing  a post on it myself when Adrian. , made a comment and I asked if he would be interested in writing something for us here.  He doesn’t use the Cokin filter systems, so I want to add that the filters I’ve been using have been great, however, no matter what brand of filters you are using much of what Adrian has to say is relevant to you. If you don’t don’t have any, this will help you realise why you need some.  

Using Graduated Neutral Density Filters

There are a few essentials that no landscape photographer should be without. There’s the camera of course and almost as importantly, there’s the tripod. Third on the list of landscape photography essentials is a set of Graduated Neutral Density Filters. Neutral Density filters are also useful although not essential so I’ll be mainly talking about ND Grads in this article suffice to say, neutral density and graduated neutral density filters are your camera’s equivalent of a pair of sunglasses. They cut down the amount of light reaching your camera’s sensor and whenever you cut down the amount of light reaching your camera’s sensor, whether it’s by stopping down the aperture or using a filter, exposure time is affected.

Trebarwith Strand

Neutral density filters cover the whole of your lens and therefore cut down the light hitting the whole of the sensor.  These are useful in extending exposure times allowing you to achieve that lovely silky water effect in rivers and waterfalls.  These come in a variety of strengths right up to the now very popular 10 stop Neutral Density Filters.  These allow just a tiny fraction of available light to enter the camera allowing you extend exposure times significantly allowing you flatten and smooth the ocean or achieve the silky, smoky water effect even in bright sunshine.  These 10 stop filters are so dark it’s not possible to see through them so it’s necessary to compose your shot and focus before attaching the filter.  Ten stop filters are often used by architectural photographers to simply make people disappear from busy buildings.  All the time people are moving, they will not show up in a long exposure.  There is a lot more I could say about using filters like the Lee Big Stopper but I’ll perhaps save that for another article and get back to my favourite filters of all, the Graduated Neutral Density Filter or ND Grad.

Early MIst After

ND Grads are used to balance exposures. The sunglass effect is graduated such that skies are darkened leaving foregrounds unaffected. One sure fire thing that will let your photographs down from a technical standpoint is blown highlights and lost detail in shadows. These are very basic faults and the easiest ways to avoid them is to pack a set of ND Grads. If you have a bright sky and darker foreground, some of it in shadow, without filters you have two options, expose for the sky and you’re going to lose details in shadows; expose for the foreground and there is a good chance you are going to blow out the highlights in the sky. Strictly speaking you have a third option and that is to use exposure compensation and bracket a series of shots but I’ll get to that.

Camera plus Filter

Once highlights are blown there is nothing in post processing that will allow you to bring them back.  Conversely, modern sensors are very good at garnering every ounce of detail from any scene you are shooting but if your shadows are just too dark, attempts to recover them in post will give you blotchy unattractive results.  You can’t make detail appear that just isn’t there and believe me I’ve tried.  Attempts to do so look very messy indeed.

Lee Hard ND Grads

ND filters normally come in sets of 3.  The filters are labelled differently depending on manufacturer but a set will usually allow for a 1, 2 or 3 stop exposure compensation.  The table below relates to both ND and ND graduated filters.

table

It’s important to note I think at this point that it’s worth spending a few pounds on these filters and avoiding the cheaper options you see on websites like Amazon. You can easily find a set of ND Grads for under a tenner if you look but anything you put in front of your lens will degrade your image. Why spend hundreds of pounds on a decent lens and then put a cheap piece of glass or worse, plastic, in front of it. These filters will last a lifetime if treated well so it’s worth saving a little before taking the plunge and buying a set.

number 10

I use Lee filters because I think they are arguably the best and I have no affiliation with Lee. Hitech filters are right up there however and I’m hoping to put that to the test. Both of these companies offer 100mm filters with holder systems. When using my Nikkor 14-24mm lens, I use the Lee Super Wide system and 150mm filters. The bigger sizes really come into their own if you’re using wide angle lenses. Cokin Z-Pro filters are also 100mm I believe but I have no experience or knowledge of those. The first set of filters I had were of the smaller Cokin variety and I used to have to crop my wide angled shots rather defeating the object This was because the edge of the filters were picked up by my Nikkor 24–70mm lens at 24mm but if you’re on a budget, these are an ideal choice, certainly to get you started.

Another point to be made in favour of spending a few pounds or dollars is that Neutral Density Filters and ND Grads are so called because they have a neutral impact on the colour of your images, or at least they are supposed to. Not all ND and ND grad filters are created equally. Colour cast can be a real issue with cheaper filters and even with the more expensive ones when you get up to 10 stops. It can be corrected, using colour balance tools, but it’s best to try and keep things truly neutral from the start.

Bedruthan Steps

For most landscape shots, I like to keep my aperture constant at f/11 for maximum depth of field.  You need to choose the right ND Grad to get the right effect.  The sky is naturally brighter than the ground so you want to keep it that way.  To achieve the most natural looking result you need to choose the right ND Grad to correct exposure difference to within 1 stop.

Therefore, if I point my camera at the sky, not the sun, and take a light reading and my light meter suggests a shutter speed of 1/200sec and I then point my camera at the foreground and take another light meter reading and my light meter suggests that to properly expose the foreground I need a shutter speed of 1/125 sec. This would be two stops and I would choose my 1 stop filter which would be my 0.3.

I would of course have the option of keeping my shutter speed the same at 1/200 sec. and opening the aperture from f/11 to f/9…  This would still be two stops and I would still need my .03 filter to even the exposure.

Likewise, if my light meter suggested that to properly expose the sky at f/11, I would need a shutter speed of 1/250 sec. and to properly expose the foreground I would need a shutter speed of 1/125 sec. this would equate to three stops.  I would therefore use my 2 stop .06 filter to darken the sky enough for me to shoot at f/11 and 1/125 sec. This would ensure I wouldn’t lose any details in the shadows and highlights wouldn’t be blown out in the sky.  A balanced exposure in other words.

Wheal Coates from Chapel Porth

ND Graduated filters, as well as coming in different strengths as it were, they also come in hard and soft varieties.  The hard and soft relates to the graduation between the darker glass and the lighter.  Soft filters have a much more gradual division between the two halves.  My recommendation would be to buy a set of hard ND Grads.  It may be tempting to go for soft thinking this will allow for easier blending of the filter effect.  The problem with soft grads is that often times you end up pushing the filter so far down the filter holder it’s nearly out the other side to darken a bright horizon.  Having darkened the sky above the horizon sufficiently, because you’ve pushed the filter in so far, you end up with the area below the horizon being adversely affected by the filter.

The graduation on a hard ND Grad is not as stark as it at first might appear. You’re not going to see a hard line across your horizon unless of course, you set it too high but this is less likely because the hard edge also makes it much easier to set the filter in the right place. It’s not always easy to see through the lens, especially with the 0.3 filter, exactly where you need to set the filter. It soon becomes evident when you try and process the picture if you’ve set it in the wrong place however. A dark smudge right across your landscape does not look good. A dark sky with a bright strip just above the horizon doesn’t look good either but you’ll soon get the hang of setting the filter in the right place.

1AT_0689

I had hoped to show some ‘with filter’ and ‘without filter’ photos to demonstrate just how effective these filters are in properly balancing an exposure but we have had thick fog in Cornwall for the last five days and with no let-up in sight, I’ve run up against my deadline for this article but please, take my word for it; with a set of these filters in your kit bag, you’ll be able to tackle shots you just might not be able to manage otherwise without under or over exposing one part of the picture or other.

On this note, I’ll come back to bracketing as another way to balance awkward exposures.  Bracketing can be very effective and when weather conditions make the use of filters awkward, I use this technique myself.  But, bracketing is going to give you a whole lot of work to do in post that you just won’t have to do if you use filters.  You can use programs like Photomatrix to make light work of merging bracketed shots but in my experience, this is difficult to do without getting an HDR like effect, even when using the ‘exposure blending’ rather than the ‘HDR’ option within Photomatrix.  Filters are the best, and in terms of workflow, by far the most efficient option in my opinion.

St Michael's Mount

As well as balancing exposures, you can also use a darker ND Grad than your light meter suggests for creative effect.  I’ve peppered this article with photos I’ve taken where the use of a filter was essential in order to get a proper exposure and others where I’ve used a darker filter than was necessary to create drama or to otherwise enhance the sky.

With a decent set of filters and with these pointers in hand, the best advice I can give is to get out there, take photographs and experiment.  For the added effort of a few minutes setting up, you’ll be amply rewarded, your landscape photographs will improve enormously and you’re going to look very professional to boot.

I would like to thank Adrian/Chillbrook for writing this informative post for us.  He is also going to answer any questions you might have.  Don’t forget to go and take a look at his blog , and check out his amazing seascapes that he takes along the Cornwell coast, they are stunning.

I am going to put his wonderful images into a gallery for you now as well.

MM35 – Monochrome Madness 35

Here we go again, another week of Monochrome Madness, week 35 now. There does seem to be a bit of a theme happening in this weeks MM, and I bet you can guess it is Halloween.  We don’t do Halloween in Australia, though many of the younger generations are trying to make it happen, not sure how much luck they will have with that.

Don’t forget that this challenge is all about challenging yourself to make monochrome images, they aren’t judged and it really is all about participating.  So if you think you could benefit from doing more monochrome work, then consider joining us. The instructions on how to do it are list at the bottom.

mallee-cottage-stone-abandoned-old

 

When I was trying to get an image for today I thought I was going to use one of the ones that I had taken of a rainforest that I visited recently, but after doing five of them and not being happy with any of them I saw an image that someone else had done on another blog and I remembered this image.  This image I took over two years ago while on a trip to the Mallee, and I was never totally happy with the way I processed it, so I dug it out and tried to see what I would do if I were to make it Monochrome.  I like the result, and in the end knew this had to be my image today.  I have put the other ones up on my other blog and you can see them here, Trying More Black and White Photography.

fuzzy

Laura Macky has sent in this image this week and if you would like to hear more about it then go to her blog, Laura Macky and her post Forgiveness – Monochrome Madness

Don’t forget all the instructions on how to enter your own images are at the bottom of the post.  If you have entered an image then please remember to check your image in the gallery, scroll down and see if anyone has left you any comments.

Now, if you wish to participate and submit an image here is how you do it:-

  • You must email me the image you want to include and if you have a blog or website, or somewhere else, please include the link. My email address is leanne@leannecole.com.au
  • The image size should be low res, so the largest side should be 1000 pixels or less.
  • Please insert either your name or your blogs name in the file name.
  • Remember I am on Australian time, so with GMT I am +11 hours at the moment, I publish my post on Wednesday morning.
  • If you need more help with sending images, and get confused about time zones, etc, well, there is a great website called The World Clock, if you go to that and look at Melbourne time, if it’s before 6pm on Tuesday evening, then you can still send me images.  If it’s after that time, you can send me an image, but it will be set aside for the following week.
  • Remember to include a link to your blog or website.
  • Please remember to resize your images, it is fairly simply, you just need to go into any editing software and usually under Image you will find, resize, scale, or image size, something like that and you can resize your image there. Change the dimensions to pixels and make the longest side 1000 pixels or smaller, hit return, and for most types of software that should change the other side automatically as well. Just remember to save it with a different name so you know it is the smaller version.  If you have any problems, please contact me, I don’t mind helping out.

Please note you don’t have to be a WordPress blogger to be in this challenge, you can have a link to a Facebook page, a Flickr page, anywhere really, or no link.  We just want to encourage people to do monochrome images, just for the madness of it. Just to let you know also, that as soon as the challenge is published, all emails and images you have sent me are deleted from my computer.  I respect your copyright and would never keep any of the images.

 

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