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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Photographing nature of Barnaul, Altai KraiEdit

Below are the photos that I consider best of those I’ve made and uploaded so far.

What would be the issues with them? The Achillea alpina one gets too small a part of the background at the bottom, but otherwise made it to Spanish Wikipedia. (Which is not entirely surprising given that there seem to be just three photographs of the plant in the respective category – something I hope to fix later this year.)

The two panoramas feature somewhat uneven light, but they seem to otherwise reproduce the scene as was actually seen rather well. (Or should I’ve made ’em brighter?)

Now, I see no obvious issues with the Delphinium elatum photo. Does it make sense to, say, nominate it for a quality image?

Anything else I could consider or improve? Thanks.

⁓ [Gyft Xelz · talk] 10:50, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

  • The first two images have problems with the brightness, for sure. There are situations where it's not possible to retain details in the shadows and the sky, and you are usually forced to choose which one you want to expose correctly. However, the first image doesn't seem to have achieved good exposure in any part of the time. The sky is too bright and the foreground is too dark. The third image of the Achillea alpina is quite good, although it seems a bit dull, the colours are muted and the contrast seems a bit low. The fourth image of the Delphinium elatum and the bee is an interesting composition and is probably the strongest of the four images. It would have been better to have a clear sky behind it though, so that it doesn't look so busy in the background. It could also be a bit brighter too. These are my first thoughts. I think that perhaps the darkness of that Delphinium elatum image might stop it being a Quality Image, but you can nominate it and see what they think. Diliff (talk) 10:56, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the comments!
Now, regarding the first image, it’s probably more due to post-stitch processing than exposure proper. I’m not at all good at photo editing, and stitching images with considerable difference in exposure produces quite a dynamic range to be compressed for the ordinary, 8-bit per component JPEG. That said, I think I still have the HDR image saved from just after the stitch, just in case someone’d like to try his or her hand at it. (Hopefully this could make the details more pronounced, not less.)
The Achillea image was made at some 17:30 local (that is: astronomical) time, and that probably means poorer lighting and thus explains the muted colors. The location is some 2520 km from my home, and well, per my records, it took almost three hours for me to get there. I still hope to try starting my travels before noon, so to get better lighting.
As for the Delphinium – that was a pure chance shot, which I have little idea of how to recreate (apart from waiting for hours near a flower for a bee to get near, or perhaps devising an apparatus to mind-control them.) The brightness could probably be adjusted, couldn’t it?
⁓ [Gyft Xelz · talk] 13:37, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
  • On the delphinium, consider cropping about a quarter of the way into the photo from the right and also cropping up to get rid of the partial flowers at the bottom. (I added an annotation to the original photo with possible cropping.) Burn the light-colored trunks of the tree in the background, and also what I think is a blurred-out delpinium, so that their whiteness isn't so distracting. You can try bringing up the exposure on the whole thing a bit to try to get a little more detail in the flowers and the bee (not too much or lose color in the sky), and then selectively lighten/brighten/dodge/whatever the bee and the shadowed parts of the flowers so that we can see more details. Might try doing a little vignetting to lessen the sky's brightness and draw attention to the middle, and too bad the bee's wings are hidden against the tree, maybe try doding them a bit, too, and see whether it still looks natural. Elf (talk) 17:43, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
The crop is certainly an improvement, thanks! (I guess I should upload an “artistic version” of the image as a separate Commons file, right?) As for the rest, I’d give it a try, but apart from the light levels of the image as a whole, I’m unsure if I’d be able to make any real improvement. (BTW, that’s one more Delphinium in the background, indeed.) ⁓ [Gyft Xelz · talk] 11:40, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
Шмель и живокость (фрагмент), 2014.GRJS1.jpeg
Just uploaded the cropped version separately. I’ve spent some time trying to de-emphasise the background as suggested above, but failed to achive anything of value, so I’ve resorted to doing just a plain lossless crop for now. (Meanwhile, I’ve found a couple more of photos of these same delphinium and bumblebee, and uploaded yet another one.) ⁓ [Gyft Xelz · talk] 19:25, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  • For the first one, the trick is to adjust the exposure before using an HDR tool to combine them. What I do is first adjust the original so that the exposure is OK on the brightest parts and save that, then on the original adjust exposure for the darkest parts and save that, so you now have 2 photos with different exposures, just as if you had done a correct 3-or-more image HDR bracketing set to begin with. Then use whatever tool you use to combine the resulting images and see what happens. Otherwise, yeah, that's going to be a tough one to get right. I fiddled a little with this in camera RAW (I know that this isn't a raw photo, but it can still be used for editing), fixed the exposure for the river and then brought down the highlights--it's not great, but a little better than the original. Elf (talk) 18:06, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
My understanding is that Hugin already deals with exposure differences, doesn’t it? All three images in the set were shot using “auto” exposure setting, and visually, the light levels appear more or less correct for all of them (the details are well discernible in all the shots: the treetops one, the middle section, and the pond below one.) The problem may be that I’ve used good old gamma correction to “fix” the brightness when converting HDR to JPEG… ⁓ [Gyft Xelz · talk] 11:40, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
BTW, I’ve uploaded a few more not-quite-colorful images. Curiously, could it perhaps be some mistake I do with the camera settings (though these are mostly all “auto”), or do I just happen to be at the wrong time at the wrong place? (Or is it some kind of a “Vancouver effect” at work?)
⁓ [Gyft Xelz · talk] 11:40, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
@Gyft Xelz: "Auto" settings may indeed be a problem here. Auto white balance usually does a good job in producing neutral colors, but that's not always what you want. Try setting it to "daylight" or "cloudy" and see what it does to your images. Also, the last one looks like it could use some brightening, but be careful with that or you'll loose detail in the flowers. (Large amounts of white in the scene – e.g. snow, white beaches or flowers – almost inevitably makes the camera underexpose) --El Grafo (talk) 07:44, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
Стрекоза на стебле, 2015.GV0SE.jpeg
Стрекоза на стебле, 2015.GV0SM.jpeg
Looks rather that the season, the weather, and the time of day matter much more than the camera settings. See the images to the right, for instance – they were made just some 6 s one of another, on exact the same settings (both part of the same series of shots). The difference? Just a single passing cloud.
A bumblebee in July
The Malus flowers close-up was somewhat underexposed semi-deliberately; indeed, my goal was to preserve the detail in the flowers. That said, the photo was made around 16:30 local (astronomical) time, in May, under the shadow of this and nearby apple trees – so that probably explains its dimness. It gets better in July (see the bumblebee image to the right, for instance.)
As for the white balance setting – yes, I still don’t quite feel how it does affect the result. One of the worse parts of the auto setting is that the camera at times seems to change the setting on a slightest change of the view angle, thus producing two photos that are nearly the same except for the colors. And then – I often don’t like either. (And even worse if the shots were intended for later stitching.)
Curiously, it seems that sometimes setting white balance to flash produces the result that looks the most natural to me. Or is it just my perception?
⁓ [Gyft Xelz · talk] 08:08, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

How to crop this?Edit


Hello Folks!

I'm having difficulties with choosing a crop for this one. I think the uncropped version on the right might be a bit too wide, but if I go tighter I run into problems with the windsock and the runway marker on the left: If I crop them out completely, the whole thing gets pretty tight, maybe too tight; but if I go wider I'll end up with half a windsock. Any ideas?

Comments on other aspects are very much welcome as well: What's good and (more importantly) what's bad? I've already got some thoughts of my own, but I'll keep them to myself for now in order not to influence your opinion. Cheers, --El Grafo (talk) 08:11, 11 September 2015 (UTC)

  • I added a note to the image page. Just my initial impression. I didn't think there was any one crop that stands out though, plenty of different framing options that are ok. Diliff (talk) 09:16, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
    • @Diliff: thanks, I'll give that a try later. I agree that going for a wide aspect ratio makes sense here. I usually don't do much cloning, so I hadn't thought about that option – might be worth a try! --El Grafo (talk) 10:06, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
      • No problem, I don't usually clone either if I can help it, but it's fairly irrelevant to the composition this time and it wouldn't be an issue to remove IMO. Diliff (talk) 11:10, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
    • I mostly agree with Diliff's choice, although I would probably move the rectangle slightly further to the right to give more space "to fly into" and maybe just crop out the Dachreiter (don't know the English term) that way. — Julian H. 11:27, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
      • Thanks to you as well, Julian. I decided to just bite the bullet and cut through the runway marker. I would've cloned it out if I were going for FP, but I think it's not sharp enough to stand a chance there and for typical Wikipedia use it might even be better to leave it in. --El Grafo (talk) 09:19, 16 September 2015 (UTC) Anekdote am Rande: Das ist überhaupt kein Dachreiter. Die kommerziell erhältlichen Dinger sind uns immer kaputt gegangen, was auf Dauer recht teuer wurde. Stattdessen haben wir Regentonnen aus dem Baumarkt halbiert und rot-weiß angestrichen – die geben nach wenn mal ein Windenseil drauf fällt und die zuständige Luftaufsichtsbehörde fand das auch total OK. Muss man halt alle 2 Jahre mal neu anpinseln …
        • Alles klar, wieder was gelernt. :) — Julian H. 09:22, 16 September 2015 (UTC)
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