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Commons:Photography critiques

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Would you like a second opinion before nominating a photograph of yours as a Quality Image, Valued Image or Featured Picture candidate, can't decide which of your images to enter into one of the Photo Callenges? Or do you have specific questions about how to improve your photography or just would like some general feedback?

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stovetop coffee makersEdit

I've been experimenting with a makeshift "studio" setup and I'd like to hear some opinions about that. I chose a dark backgound on purpose, because I felt that the aluminium would look boring if I'd went for something like this. Now of course I've got problems with the black plastic parts disapearing in the shadows. I assume this could be avoided with better lightning arrangement, but I'm pretty new to this. For reference: I've used a single off-camera flash with a makeshift softbox positioned on the right side of the camera. Comments on other aspects of the images are welcome too, of course. --El Grafo (talk) 13:17, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

I am also interested by answers, and I'd like to know which camera, lens, and settings (EXIF data?) you use for this. Regards, Yann (talk) 14:08, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
Oh dear, looks like Gimp stripped the EXIF – thanks for pointing that out, I'll try to remember to fix that. I'll have to look up the rest, but as you can see from the categories, I used a Pentax K-5 and one of my old manual SMC Takumar 50mm F1.4 lenses with an M42 to K-mount adapter. --El Grafo (talk) 14:48, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
New versions with EXIF available now. In a nutshell: 1/160 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100. Shot RAW, developed and fine-tuned in LightZone, background cleaned in Gimp. --El Grafo (talk) 17:19, 3 November 2014 (UTC) And of course the whole experiment was inspired by this FPC – so far I've failed to produce something better, I guess ;-)
  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment El Grafo, Just my opinion: the photo with the wooden base is better IMO because there is no reflexion, I mean it's better to have or the entire reflection or not at all reflections. But a cut reflection is always a bit disturbing. On the both images the reflection of the light source on the aluminium is also a bit disturbing. I'm not a specialist but maybe the use of diffusers can help here. -- Christian Ferrer Talk / Im. / Fav. 17:08, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for your opinion, Christian. Good point about the reflection being cut off, I didn't really consider this until now. I'm not really content with the other picture either: Imho the wooden base I took from the kitchen doesn't seem to harmonize with the dark background – I can't really put my finger on it, but somehow it doesn't feel right. Maybe it's because it is lighter than both the background and the coffee makers?
The reflections have been bugging me as well. I actually used a softbox-like diffuser (made from two pizza boxes, staples, gaffer's tape and a white A3 paper sheet as the actual diffuser). Maybe that single sheet of 80g/m² paper was too thin. I'll try to double it up next time or look for something else (there are professionals out there on the web preaching that white shower curtain is the the way to go ;-) --El Grafo (talk) 20:17, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
El Grafo, I don't know nothing about diffusers so I can't talk about that. However the only issue, if there is, with the wooden base is not that it don't harmonize with the dark background but certainly more it don't harmonize enough with the main subject. Maybe it would have been better if you had choose a base with another form/size for a better harmonizarion with your subject. Or maybe an other disposition of the coffe makers on this base. Here for the size of this base the coffe makers are too close, or the base is too wide. With your composition, the base is too much prevailing with regard to the subject (coffe makers) not with regard to the black background. -- Christian Ferrer Talk / Im. / Fav. 22:04, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
Yes, Christian, the wood is certainly taking away the attention from the subject. I tried a darker round board first, but it seemed a little too small, so I picked this one without really adjusting the placement of the subjects. That's tricky stuff, I can see why there are people who can live from doing that professionally. --El Grafo (talk) 14:59, 11 November 2014 (UTC)
El Grafo, in more the crop around the wooden base is maybe a bit tight, it seems to be the main subject. You must think at what you want to show, try several placements, compare them, and find why one placement is better than an other. But at the end all is matter of taste. -- Christian Ferrer Talk / Im. / Fav. 15:35, 11 November 2014 (UTC)
Well, that's what makes it fun, isn't it? ;-) Thanks for your time! --El Grafo (talk) 13:08, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

Bayreuth Festspielhaus: PerspectiveEdit

This picture was heavily modified distortion- and "perspective"-wise (see file history). I'm still pretty new to this kind of post-processing, so: Do you think I've overdone it? --El Grafo (talk) 09:54, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Hi El Grafo,
Thanks for sharing your questions if the community
Could you help in one point?
Why do you let in both sizes a little bit of the wall?
But looks like ok for me, maybe in greater resolution the line between the roof and the sky could receive a lens correction
And one small point, the line in the right banner are not parallel to the line in the left, this not affect that much, but can be a point for future images, because this pass the affect of " | / " in your image, so you overpass a little bit in the right banner.
Rodrigo Tetsuo Argenton (talk) 16:37, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
Hi Rodrigo Tetsuo Argenton, thanks for your comments, I'll answer to them in their original order:
  • You may notice, that I stopped adjusting the "perspective" before the outer borders of the banners were perfectly vertical - they are leaning in a bit. This was done on purpose to achieve a more natural look, since the actual perspective the image was taken from is significantly below the vertical centre of the building. For the flat surfaces of the banners, it would have been possible to simulate a higher camera position by making them perfectly rectangular. But this wouldn't have been in line with the three-dimensional elements in the middle, which are clearly seen from below (e.g. you can actually see the underside of the balcony). So, since the outer verticals of the banners are converging, I had three choices: 1) a very tight crop that removes the walls to the left and right entirely but also cuts the banners at the bottom, 2) a slightly wider crop that doen't cut the banners at the bottom but leaves a little bit of the walls at the top or 3) a still wider crop that shows more of the walls. Option 3) looked best, as it gave the banners some space to "breathe".
  • Concerning the roof, if you mean what I think you mean: That may actually be a result of too much correction.
  • You are right about the last point, I can think of three factors that may all have played a role in this: 1) it looks like the camera position was not 100% centered horizontally, 2) the scaffolding below the banners may not be exactly straight or at least different on the two sides, 3) I may have screwed up in post-processing.
Nota bene: I had a DSLR in my backpack, but I was too lazy to pull it out and went for the mediocre point-and-shoot camera I had on my belt instead. Probably a bad idea in this case ;-) --El Grafo (talk) 09:53, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

General view of Festos diskEdit

Hellow, can you provide some tips for background choise for items in a museum that are not in a showcase at the wall, eg. one this case. Thank you in advance. --C messier (talk) 21:50, 9 November 2014 (UTC)

Hi C messier, that's a tough one and of course it depends heavily on the situation. I haven't shot under conditions like that, but I'd guess that, apart from using a wide aperture, the key for a non-disturbing background would be to find a camera position that 1) shows the subject well and 2) enables you to have something in the background that's as close to an even surface as possible. One thing that might help is to step back from the subject as far as possible and instead zoom in/use a longer lens: This way you can keep the size of the subject constant, but at the same time have less background to deal with, due to the narrower w:Angle of view. Instead of having (for example) three other showcases in the background when using a wide angle lens/zoom setting, with a short tele lens you might be able to reduce that to only one – or maybe even manage to find a small empty spot on the opposite wall that can serve as a background.
Another idea: If you have another person with you, ask him/her to wear something evenly-colored and then place them behind the subject with the back facing in your direction (like a walking backdrop). Don't know if that actually works, but it might be worth a try. --El Grafo (talk) 13:48, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
Do you think as a composition could be promoted as QI. --C messier (talk) 11:28, 22 November 2014 (UTC)
Difficult to say, C messier. I think you've done a good job when it comes to separating the main subject from the background just enough to make it stand out, while at the same time keeping the environment … well … recognizable. Some of the reviewers are a bit picky when it comes to "perspective distortion", so the pillar on the right being broader at the top than at the bottom could become a problem. However, I'd say "no risk no fun", just give it a try at QI and see how it goes. Cheers, --El Grafo (talk) 13:33, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

Polished granite surfaceEdit

Hello, I'm thinking about entering this at QIC, but I noticed that the sharpness drops a bit at the top and bottom. Obviously, corner sharpness of this lens is not that great at f/5.6, but I was too lazy to swap to the dedicated macro. Do you think I should upload/nominate a cropped version (I'm thinking of a square crop)? --El Grafo (talk) 13:17, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

Shiny book coversEdit

Hi, I am trying to make pictures of shiny book covers. The result is average (I needed a lot of try and error), and it can certainly be improved. Also how to create a small home photo studio? Thanks, Yann (talk) 19:41, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

Hi @Yann:, I guess we both are at similar stages of "studio" development ;-) I don't have time for it now, but I can share some of my experiences later. In the mean time, could you maybe describe your general lighting setup a bit? That could make it easier to make recommendations … --El Grafo (talk) 13:19, 11 December 2014 (UTC)
Thanks your message. I used a Yongnuo flash (YN568EX II) in slave mode in addition to the built-in flash on the camera. Regards, Yann (talk) 13:37, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

El Grafo, Yann, Christian, the definitive textbook on lighting is Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting. (I see there is a new edition due in March next year, but that is a while away and these things often get delayed as it probably hasn't finished being written -- and the fundamentals don't change). I have this book and it is excellent. Obviously some advanced lighting requires several light sources and elaborate modifiers, though these Yongnuo flashes makes for relatively inexpensive studio setups. The book will teach you pretty much all you need to know. Ask Santa for it. -- Colin (talk) 16:14, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

  • Thanks Colin for the book reference, here there is a link for a french translation of this book -- ChristianFerrer 08:19, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
I'm not a studio photo expert at all, but I think I understand some aspects of it from 3d graphics. In this case (especially for #2 above), I would probably try to put a grey piece of cardboard in the direction in which the spine is reflecting to make sure the reflective part is legible and doesn't have too much variation (at least if legibility is a goal) and then put a white (ideally larger) piece of cardboard/paper behind the camera to make sure the diffuse light is more dominant than the reflective one to keep the highlights in control. Then, if possible, flash onto those with the slave flash. Obviously, they can also both be white and the flash mainly goes onto the latter. And try to keep the built-in flash relatively low in such a scenario. Not sure if that helps, but I have occasionally had some good results with similar setups, imitating multiple softboxes with a single slave flash and large sheets of paper. Clothespins are your friend. :) — Julian H.✈ (talk/files) 08:52, 13 December 2014 (UTC)

Argiope pulchellaEdit

Recently I photographed a Argiope pulchella courtship moment. The closeup filter was not with me; so not able to capture decent shots of the male and the kleptoparasite on her web. But after reviewing existing FPs (Only 5 Argiope FPs so far), I'm curious whether it worth a try. :)

Dorsal view

Option 1:File:Argiope pulchella at Nayikayam Thattu.jpg This is the sharpest picture I captured; so my preferred choice. But the male is OOF.

Not bad, CAs around the male. -- ChristianFerrer 15:08, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
✓ Done Jee, I could not help but try to improve the details and remove the overexposure at top right, hope this version is good but do not hesitate if you have any over query. -- ChristianFerrer 18:43, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
Thanks Christian; it looks much better! Jee 02:56, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
Nominated at fpc. :) Jee 07:07, 14 December 2014 (UTC)

Option 2:File:Argiope pulchella around Nayikayam Thattu.jpg Here and male and female are reasonably sharp. If this is preferred choice, does it need to be brightened a bit?

Jee, in the file history or here, I make a try, if you like you can revert on it and/or ask me a modification (less noise in the background...) -- ChristianFerrer 15:08, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
Thanks Christian, I like that edit. But detail-wise, option 1 seems better. Or you think that to is over exposed? Any possibility to remove that CA? Jee 16:13, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
Ventral view

File:Argiope pulchella of Nayikayam Thattu.jpg. We've only one FP so far. Does this worth a try?

Too overexposed IMO -- ChristianFerrer 15:08, 13 December 2014 (UTC)

Feel free to make any criticizing comment too as they are very helpful to me. Jee 12:20, 13 December 2014 (UTC)

Brindled skyEdit

Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building 2014.JPG

Hello, colleagues!

About a month ago I nominated this photo for QI. It wasn’t promoted by reason of “brindled sky” (and for some other reasons, but they are out of the question now). Really, the sky is brindled... The photo was processed (sharpness, contrast...), but the “brindles” can be seen on the initial photo, too... At that time I didn’t pay special attention on this problem, but now, when I was looking over pictures on my computer, I noticed the similar brindles on other photos. All of them were taken under similar conditions: clear sky, ISO 100...200, the exposition 1/100 or less, f=11 or less.

What is a reason for the appearance of such brindles on the sky?

Is it a phenomenon of, so to say, “the noise nature” (as I supposed first)? H’m, but it seems to me the situation isn’t especially “noisy”... What then?.. :-(

I will be very obliged to you, if you provide me with some tips. What is the way to avoid the brindles when a photo is taken? Can the brindles be removed with the processing? What is the main idea of such processing?

Thanks in advance, Dmitry Ivanov (talk) 21:45, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

Hello Dmitry, I loaded your image into gimp and played around a little bit. An indirect conclusion is that the sensor must have shown some noise, even at these relatively low ASA values of 100 or 200. But then some filtering must have happened, probably some median filtering with threshold (guessing from the result). The result is that there are these groups of pixels with same colour. Technically due to the ironing out of individual pixel noise one looses the effect of dithering. Due to the removal of high spatial frequencies one instead gets these lower-spatial-frequency effect, these brindles. It does not help that cameras record only into 8 bit per colour, but that is a contributing issue only. And it is not a JPG compression issue, as there are no artifacts visible that hint to too low a quality setting.
Of course the brindles effect can get amplified in post-processing. But then you say it is already in the original image...
Then I looked at your camera name. It says NIKON. I do own a NIKON COOLPIX S6600. With that camera I also observe issues similar to your brindles. It looks like image surfaces are painted, with loss of fine detail within patches. Even on the best quality settings the Nikon camera compares badly with the Canon bridge camera I now mostly use, and the resulting JPG file sizes of the Nikon could easily accomodate much better image quality.
To rule out sensor unevenness, one would need several photos of blue sky. If the structure were exactly the same, then the sensor response would be inhomogenous. But my bet is on sensor noise.
What can you do? You could look whether your camera can shoot in RAW (and with this I really mean unprocessed image data directly stored to card). If not, you cannot do much. You could filter further, with brindles disappearing but bands appearing. But the information you would actually need has been filtered away. You probably would need to switch to a different camera manufacturer, as Nikon has a known track record of damaging image data by design, one example being that in one study a Nikon camera was assessed unusable for astronomical images.
It may sound harsh but this is an honest assessment. Hope your next camera will be better. -- KlausFoehl (talk) 14:43, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
Just a note: The manipulations that Nikon performs that make the images unsuitable for astro imagery aren't usually relevant in normal photography, certainly not in daylight. I agree with the previous assessment that it's probably a problematic interaction of noise, noise reduction, post processing in the camera - probably with some help from compression. Shooting in RAW should fix it and helps to improve the quality anyway. If that's not an option, you might have to look deeper into the image processing option of the camera. — Julian H.✈ (talk/files) 18:00, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
According to the EXIF data a en:Nikon D3100 was used, so shooting RAW (here: NEF) should be possible. If you want to continue shooting JPG, I'd suggest to try if switching the the noise reduction setting changes something. --El Grafo (talk) 08:55, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Thank you, dear colleagues, for your detailed explanations and opinions, they were very useful and gave me some ideas. I looked over photo forums and found opinions (not universally recognized, though) that the noise reduction on Nikon reflexes sometimes works incorrectly: some of photographers advise to deactivate the noise reduction (it is activated on my camera). As well there are an opinion about the poor work of the standard mode of the post processing in the camera and advises to use specialized modes.
So I need some experiments; unfortunately, they cannot be carried out immediately; it is winter and the clear days are rare :-(. And I will think about the work with RAW-files (you are right, El Grafo, Nikon D3100 records them).
Dmitry Ivanov (talk) 17:14, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
One more thing. You can decrease the relative noise contribution if you "expose to the right". -- KlausFoehl (talk) 14:34, 14 January 2015 (UTC)
I read about this method but never used it purposefully. About 2 weeks ago, before my first question here, I took some photos, which were intentionaly overexposed a bit, + 1EV, (sunny day, comparatively dark objects on the snow - I preferred details in objects). Really, I got rather good pictures, and snow is wholly satisfactory, but the noise on the sky can be revealed even on an unprocessed picture. Dmitry Ivanov (talk) 21:03, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

Devices with LEDsEdit

This one was very difficult to me because the LEDs had completely blown the red channel, making them look almost entirely yellow. I had a hard time trying to recover them in post, and I'm still not quite content with the results. I probably should have made multiple exposures and merge them in post, but I didn't notice that at the time of shooting. Also, in hindsight, I'm wondering why I chose that ridiculously slow shutter speed of 3/10. Anyways:

  • Do the LEDs look plausible to you?

Any other comments are of course welcome as well. Cheers, --El Grafo (talk) 09:51, 15 January 2015 (UTC)