Last modified on 17 April 2015, at 10:05

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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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)
"Exposing to the right" as I understand does not mean to overexpose. It means that that brightest parts of the photo (let's assume numerical values 0..255) have values close to but still smaller than 255. If you look at the intensity histograms for red, green, and blue, you want to have a small gap, but a gap between content and right edge. -- KlausFoehl (talk) 12:32, 30 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)

El Grafo Not at all :D, what happen here? We have 3 different colours of red LED, could you share the original? Than I could try to fix, or you can take the second in the bottom (I added a note) and then clone stamp it, cause this one is good. -- RTA 10:01, 30 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for being honest, RTA! Yeah, looking at it after some time again makes me realize they look pretty awful. What happened there is basically that I completely overexposed the LEDs – mainly in the red channel, making them look yellow (where only the red channel was blown) to white (where all channels were blown). Here's how I tried to fix this, as far as I can remember it: I did one regular RAW development for the whole device and one for the LEDs. In that one, I pulled the exposure down as far as possible and shifted the color towards red. So everything that was white before would now be plain red. Then I stacked the two developments in GIMP with the "normal" on on top and made that one transparent at the locations of the LEDs, letting the other red layer shine through there (sparing out dots to get the highlights from the "normal" layer). That worked very well for the "11" in the display panel, which was also affected by this to some degree. However, I'm not too experienced in GIMPing around on a pixel level, so I've left some ugly artifacts in other places.
For the record: The top left LED (next to the "33 amps") actually is a different kind of LED (brighter, can have different colors) than the other ones. Also, the big one at the top right is of much lower intensity than the rest – this one didn't need any retouching at all, so I used this as a guide and tried to match the other ones to it.
I suppose someone with better retouching skills could make it look credible, but at the moment I'm really considering re-shooting the whole thing: One exposure for the whole device and a separate one for the LEDs would eliminate the need for messing around with blown channels. I'd also like to try a third exposure for the glow of that vacuum tube, which is far too dim. After all having a real tube in a digital modeler is one the major selling points of this device …
--El Grafo (talk) 11:46, 30 January 2015 (UTC)
El Grafo, if you want, send me the RAW file to, and I could try to solve. :)
And I could fake the lights on, from here: File:VOX ToneLab ST.jpg :P
And just one note, I can see a brighter light in the left, if you gonna take another photo, have that in mind. Maybe Evan-Amos could help in this type of photo. -- RTA 11:57, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

File:Concattedrale di San Giovenale.jpgEdit

Just to not pollute the Commons FP, I bring here some thoughts about the photo File:Concattedrale di San Giovenale.jpg also see Commons:Featured picture candidates/File:Concattedrale di San Giovenale.jpg

Concattedrale di San Giovenale.jpg

Livioandronico2013, I really like the texture in the floor, I like the colours, ..., this image have a better composition then this one File:Cappella della Madonna Del Rosario in St. Mary above Minerva.jpg, the celling in churches are important part of the architecture, but ok... again panorama ;). But the lack of quality remains in another points, as you did not used the sharpest f-stop of your lens, that is ~f/4.0 [1], and in this case, is quite vital cause this lens have a good area of sharpness, and a really bad result in the rest :D . Did you locked the mirror up to take the shoot? And use a remote control or a timer to take the shoot? This kind of thing avoid micro vibrations in photo after you press the shot bottom. And if the f/5.6 did not cover the DOF needed you could focus bracketing also, and tilt a little bit. Maybe Diliff could give more tips :). -- RTA 10:49, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

It is a pity that the composition cuts the central arch. -- KlausFoehl (talk) 11:56, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Winter photo of a radar domeEdit

La Dôle sommet02 2015-02-07.jpg

Where can the photo itself be still improved, and how to improve the scene if I one happens to be at that location again? -- KlausFoehl (talk) 14:34, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

I think this is a very solid photo as it is. I'm not sure if this helps you, but if the location allows it, I'd probably try three things: 1) Step away a little further (might not be possible) to relax the perspective a little, make the building less threatening, 2) give the subject slightly more room to breathe, and put it off-center and 3) as always, if your trip allows it, be there at a slightly later hour with a little softer light (this one isn't bad at all because the snow softens it) and slightly more contrast because then you have a shadow side and a light side on the dome. Scribble: [2]. Cheers. — Julian H.✈ (talk/files) 19:10, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

Thank you for your suggestions. I have actually tried several shots, of which I already have uploaded two more. Stepping back is possible, but then the foot-steps in the snow become more pronounced. From that side it is always an uphill perspective, but one could crop the photo putting the building off-center. Also included a photo from a different angle, but then the foreground is busier which might distract from the main building, and the winter effects are less pronounced. -- KlausFoehl (talk) 13:50, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

Ah, this one gives a nice overview over the area. I think leaving more space towards the shadow side is not as good as leaving more side towards the sunny side. But from the sommet03-image, I think taking one or two steps to the left and then making a two-photo panorama, with the existing direction being the right frame and an additional one towards the left would, in my opinion, be ideal. The step to the left (and necessarily slightly down) will make the shadows on the right less visible and move them to the very edge of the frame. And open blue space on the left is a great relaxing area leading the eye to the subject. Everything only my opinion though. — Julian H.✈ (talk/files) 19:54, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

Well, I have browsed through my photos again. The first two show some shadow on the radome. How do they compare to the previous ones in your opinion? The third one shows a little bit more scenery, and the fourth maybe could be cropped such to have the radome more to the right. -- KlausFoehl (talk) 20:34, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

La Dôle sommet09 2015-02-07.jpg

And I fudged a photo according to your sketched suggestion (you may hunt for stitching errors-they do exist...) -- KlausFoehl (talk) 22:11, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

KlausFoehl, good, good, rule of thirds, interesting sky colour,
Did you shoot raw? This photo have a strong chromatic aberration, this need to be fixed. RAW are better to recover that.
Do you still needs to give more room to the photo, less ground, and more sky, the ground here do not add to the photo, but a little bit of sky could improve your image. [3] [bad photo], but gives the idea.
Be careful with weird shadows, create distractions, but, you seems to know.
This are stars at the sky? You could explore more of that.
Looks like a cold, desert, and high place, but, maybe a golden hour or night be awesome time to shoot. [4] [5] [6], the the last ones are not a great photos, but gives the colour to looking for.
In golden hour, could be better take in the angle of the first one (File:La Dôle sommet02 2015-02-07.jpg).
Measurable elements could also improves our photo, this shows me how big this thing is, looking your photos, I though that it was a smaller place,
And looking other photos, maybe you can improve your ones: [7] [8], or, avoid to create more of the same, and create a unique photo.
Very fast tips. -- RTA 09:04, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
Well, some answers. Yes I do have RAW files as well. I know that my lense has chromatic aberration. If I plan for a stitched image, I can put the hard transitions into the middle of images. How do you correct for them best? In gimp, I know about making a blurred layer, use grain extract, then remove the colour and finally grain merge. Is there a better way?
More blue sky, this time I do not have a shot in the right direction to stitch the proper sky to it. Yes I know it is tight, and it is already wide angle.

No, these are not stars, but snow blowing in the wind. And you see the stichting limit, the second photo I used, first in the gallery below, does not have snow in the wind.

Thank you for your comments. Golden hour at this time of the year, good suggestion colour-wise, but they do not like you going downhill that late in the day. -- KlausFoehl (talk) 18:17, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
Well, do not put in the middle, keep the rules of third, it is better.
Try the gimplensfun plugging for gimp, this should fix in a better way the chromatic aberration.
No problem with the snow, a faster shoot speed could freeze a little bit better, but it's ok.
Yeah, could be cold :P.
-- RTA 19:06, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Small church interiorEdit

I would like some oppinions about photographing the interior of small churches, like this one. Help wanted about what to crop, the height of the tripod, white balance adjustment and exposure. The door was about 2 meters behind the tripod and the light in the church was the two candles visible in the middle and two (halogen?) lambs behind the tripod. --C messier (talk) 19:18, 9 March 2015 (UTC)

I would suggest: 1) The camera should be at or around eye level, both because it feels most natural and because most architecture has few obstruction at that height. 2) The vanishing point should be above, say, the lower 20-25% of the image, otherwise the bottom looks cramped (exceptions maybe for high and narrow churches). 3) I would set the white balance to a "correct" value, i.e. a white or grey object as close to the center of the room as possible, and adjust from there towards what looks right. 4) If you don't want to bracket, set your exposure so that nothing is clipped except for actual light sources, check the image (histogram/clipping display if avaliable) and adjust if too much is clipped or the histogram isn't used in the upper area. If the dynamic range of the camera is limited, you might have to give up the windows - or bracket. 5) Shoot and edit raw if you can, in high dynamic range situations like churches, this makes a more significant difference than for most other situations. 6) Forget what I just said and ask Diliff/look at his photos. :) — Julian H. 22:26, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for tagging me Julian. ;-) Well, I agree with everything you said. A low vantage point can work but I don't think it does in this image. I think there's something a bit wrong with the processing though. It seems like the image has been overexposed and then darkened too much, the tonality is strange and some the dynamic range seems lost. I think the WB is a bit too cool. There are some strange colours, but maybe that's just how it looks. Hard to know without being there, but the image of Jesus on the ceiling isn't very flattering. ;-) Diliff (talk) 23:08, 9 March 2015 (UTC)

Actually it is three exposures, 8, 2 and 1/1.3 seconds, merged with GIMP with brightness mapping as descripted here [9]. --C messier (talk) 07:33, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

  • Ah, that might be the source of the problem then. I've never tried using GIMP for HDR processing but I'm guessing it's not very good at it (judging by the result). It looks like the way Photoshop used to process HDR. I guess if you're using GIMP, you don't have access to Photomatix or Adobe Lightroom, but they are known to be the best for HDR tone mapping. Diliff (talk) 08:25, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

Deflating a balloonEdit


I would just like some general thoughts on my photo below, and/or suggestions to improve it. I didn't think much of it at the time, but it's now grown on me.

Neuroxic (talk) 12:48, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Deflating a hot air balloon 1.JPG
  • I think it would have been better if you had shot it so that you can't see any gaps behind it, a but like Benh's stunning balloon image. I'm not sure it's possible to crop it like that now without making it feel too squashed now though, but I think that's what is needed to really 'make' this shot. Diliff (talk) 16:08, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    I though so too, I've trimmed the edges now, but I don't think I can crop out the last piece of grass without, as you said, squashing the image. Neuroxic (talk) 05:09, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
That would have been my major point as well. I think it's much better now, that last patch of grass at the lower right corner doesn't really hurt that much. I'm not sure what would be needed to move this image to the next level (i.e. from very good to truly outstanding). It has some elements which in combination seem to give it a little bit of a "snapshot" feeling:
1) The person in the brown shirt is not yet in position, maybe waiting jut a few seconds would have been better. Also the woman in red seems to be more concerned about her camera than the balloon. (If I had to guess: the man in red and the woman to the right of him belong to the team, the rest are passengers?)
2) Moving a few steps to the right, centering the white line the woman in red is standing on might have given you more symmetry. But on the other hand it seems like the left part of the team has been doing its job a bit quicker then the right part, so by moving right you possibly wouldn't be looking at the "wall" at a right angle anymore …
3) Lighting is a bit uneven with shadowy parts on the left – but I guess telling the team to re-arrange the balloon for best lighting before deflating isn't really an option ;-)
There's of course a lot of speculation in these comments, so please take them with an appropriate grain of salt. --El Grafo (talk) 09:46, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
Excellent comments! Each of your points are so obvious.... there were a few things I thought were slightly off with the photo, but I couldn't pinpoint them... which you've exactly done. I now have a few more tips in the back of my head when taking photos. Thanks again. Neuroxic (talk) 10:17, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

Acantholimon acerosumEdit

Acantholimon acerosum (Botanical Gardens Berlin) (02).jpg

A shot of Acantholimon acerosum I took in the Botanical Gardens of Berlin (whole plant looks something like this). I know, focus point is not ideal and maybe F11 would've been better, but how bad do you think it is? Also, does it "work" for you as a picture in general? Please don't hold back … --El Grafo (talk) 14:27, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

  • I disagree, for this specific composition I think the DoF is too big and make the background too predominant. -- Christian Ferrer 20:12, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
    @Christian Ferrer: Interesting thought, thanks for that! I'm mainly bothered by the out-of-focus twigs (or how do you call that?) in the foreground, so maybe focusing a bit closer plus wider aperture could've done the trick. --El Grafo (talk) 07:47, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
  • This aperture can be acceptable, IMO even a lowest could be, however a focus point nearer from you (on the first plants) would maybe have been better, indeed. -- Christian Ferrer 11:00, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

Review photo, pleaseEdit


I did this photo with Hugin, I used 6 photos, and I like to another user review it and sign on it possibly perspective issues and other mess, Regards!!! --Ezarateesteban 22:51, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

@Ezarate: I've marked some stitching errors which broke some of the power lines. Also, there is a white border at the left side of the image. Not sure about the perspective yet – the wooden pole holding the power lines does actually lean to the left in reality, right? --El Grafo (talk) 07:58, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

Cropping around a paintingEdit

Γεώργιος Καστροφύλακας - Άγιος Μήνας 7720.jpg

I need some help of which is the best way to present a painting with unfavourable background. I decided to crop as closely as possible this one, but there are some spots that the background is apparent and others that is too tight. What do you propose? (I also have a problem with the yellow highlights in this one, but I tried to develop it with RawTherapee but the end result was not very pleasing as far as colours is concerned (and it also looked more blurred) --C messier (talk) 16:55, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

@C messier: It seems that your camera/lens has produced a bit of barrel distortion. Hence, the frame is not rectangular anymore and if you crop tight at the corners you lose parts of the frame at the centers. You could try to find a correction profile for your camera or correct the lens distortion manually (e.g. in RawTherapee). After that, cropping should be easier. (Maybe a bit of rotation and/or perspective correction is needed as well, but I'd start with the barrel distortion and see how far that brings you).
I wouldn't worry about the highlights too much, but if you want to tune them down it might be better to try local adjustments instead of working on the whole image. Afaik, that's not possible in RawTherapee, though. Personally, I'd use the good old Lightzone (a bit outdated, but Open Source since Version 4) for that, but something like Gimp should work as well. More importantly, due to the uneven lighting coming from the top, the bottom half seems a little dark. I'd suggest brightening the lower portion of the painting, using a long vertial gradient to achieve even lighting across the whole frame.
Hope that helps a bit, --El Grafo (talk) 10:05, 17 April 2015 (UTC)