/////Diagnosing a (technically) bad photo
Diagnosing a (technically) bad photo2017-08-14T10:14:12+02:00

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Diagnosing a (technically) bad photo

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  • marlon
    Participant
    Post count: 323

    I have only been an amateur photographer for 10 years now, so I am still very much a beginner. I can’t seem to learn enough, so beginner-forum it is…

    This one is about diagnostics on images that are technically bad. Won’t go into ‘artistically bad’ here, there is no such thing, and 10 years have given me some good eyes for what i want… but technically? blegh

    On my third DSLR body now, before that, I had 110 film stuff, and my wifey has her first dslr body. We love arthropods, we try to macro them, on every possible oppertunity. Some days we have great results, some days bad, some days are just plain, excremental. This happens, it’s normal, everyone’s got that, I know… landscape, portraits and probably forensic photographers have ****ty days too (much akin to their subjects).

    But something that erks me is that ‘personal psychology’ effect, when you just had a bad day, and you do not have a clue why or what went wrong.

    During a recent trip to a garden, filled with new species, we had a great shoot. We felt positive, and had good moods (this is important, because mood affects results for me). Light was amazing, both the fireball in the sky as well as the eneloop driven speedlights. Everything was feeling good, histograms looked amazing, ETTR’d and LCD chimping (oopsie) showed sharpish compound eyes…

    But then we get home, and everything is soft. Sure, there are some blurries, and some over exposed and under exposed images (the thorns of shooting MF and M all the way), but the rest were all soft.

    How on earth do you diagnose bad photos and know what to do, what went wrong. There is no moving forward, no learning, if you don’t know what was wrong.

    ISO was at 100, so pixelated finer details in the noise was not the case.
    Shutter speed was at 1/200 all the way (because the flash fires much faster than any shutter, and besides, sync holds you back).
    Aperture values were in the normal f11, f13 ranges (i am aware of diffraction, but I doubt that everything would be THIS soft at f13 already, especially with canon’s L 100mm).
    Body postures and techniques were great in my opinion, when you do a lot of macro, you learn quickly how detrimental it could be to breathe to hard, or not at all.

    Why….
    How do you examine and analyse your bad ones, and determine the cause? That is, if you have bad days.

    PS: happy to see ODP is still getting some forum love.
    <3

    Marlon

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3717

    Marlon – most of us have bad days – and flops. And on top of it we go thru stages of being uninspired and not knowing what to shoot next.

    There are a huge amount of things which needs looking at – but then again it’s also not that bad

    It’s kind of like a list you run thru.
    Back in the older days of ODP – images on ODP were HEAVILY critted – and we all learned darn fast – if you didnt – you got a WTFWYT.. πŸ™‚

    This isnt really happening anymore – and people often take offense at crit – or they post to showcase (nothing wrong with showing off the good ones). Many members lost interest in the crit process – due to the flack we got. There were at one point SO many threads discussing this very issue

    Let me start off with some – other members can add more

    1. Lens – are you using the right lens for the subject you are shooting
    2. Lens – are you using a optically good lens
    3. Lens – did you focus adjust your lens on your body
    (did you check that it isnt front or back focussing)

    4. Settings – right settings for the lens
    5. Settings – right settings for the subject matter
    6. Settings – right settings for the situation

    7. Did you use a tripod for macro
    8. Did you manually focus for macro
    9. When shooting without flash – did you use an appropriate shutterspeed
    10. Did you use an appropriate aperture
    11. Was your exposure correct

    Mostly bad issues comes from 12 inches behind the camera.

  • marlon
    Participant
    Post count: 323

    @elsahoffmann 297501 wrote:

    Mostly bad issues comes from 12 inches behind the camera.

    This is the hardest part to fix.

    But that is a good list, I guess what I am trying to accomplish is to get into your minds, and how you diagnose them.
    I do know you are right though.

    This recent spate of soft photos were probably due to ambient light (sun) drowning out the flash, which means 1/160 is just not fast enough. Generally in the shadows with macro, the flash is the primary source of light, and has more of a freezing effect, or that at least is what makes sense to me optically…

    Elsa: I know you do model/studio shoots right?
    Do you ever have model movement causing softness in images (motion blue) and do you use flash to freeze up as well?
    I mean, the speed of a flash pulse is probably much faster than 1/8000, so even if a shutter was open for 1/50, that flash could give a crystal clear sharp image…

    I think somewhere along the line, I have this formula wrong πŸ™‚

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3717

    yes I do a lot of studio work as well. And yes I get soft photos – I shoot at a very shallow DOF at times – meaning my aim can be off – especially if the subjects move. But mostly I get keepers in studio. Dont compare flash duration of strobes and flash. I have Hensels which is not as fast as Profoto strobes. (my shutterspeed is only 125 and if I go to 250, I get black lines.

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Very interesting thread. Learning loads.

  • SimonDP
    Moderator
    Post count: 2144

    Unlike Elsa, I never have bad days…..only less good days, once every four years or so… πŸ™‚ I wish….
    Identifying what went wrong really comes from years of experience looking at and analyzing the not so good ones….and believe me I’ve had plenty practice.
    Seriously interpreting the exif data, all of it, and comparing to other shots taken under similar conditions will help.
    Seriously analyzing your equipment helps, as per Elsa’s input.
    Seriously analyzing your technique comes next; what did you do different, could you repeat the technique accurately out in the field? If not, it probably was rubbish and inaccurate to start off with.
    After many years of practice makes perfect, you’ll eventually reach the point where the database kept between your ears are populated enough to start to learn from it….
    Good luck…

  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Elsa I just wish that more members would give constrictive crits on technical issues and basic composition. Simon and some others help a lot. I often post images when no comment is forthcoming. I take it that that image is average and not worth the effort of a comment or crit. That being said I am learning so fast here, using a tiny budget, and enjoying the process.

    If you’s all get sick and tired of my crappy images you better tell me how to make them awesome. I am a persistent one. πŸ™‚

  • elsahoffmann
    Moderator
    Post count: 3717

    πŸ˜‰ It was Pied kingfisher day in my garden (again- they ind of live here)
    I took 181 shots of which 2 is good – and one of those pretty boring.

    Sometimes your equipments fails you too – in my case – 500mm is quite short on a full frame body – considering the birds dont oblige by fishing a bit closer!

    For a change SimpnDP is right – it does come with years of practice. But every little bit you learn – contributes to the end result over time.

    Keith – as said before – the question of crit/comments have been discussed over the years – debated and argued over – till the cows came home. Many many years ago I made the point that FaceBook will be the death of forums – and I believe I was right. Perhaps not the DEATH as the slow demise – and fracturing of forums. The fact that you dont get many comments doesnt mean anything at all. So many reasons why ppl dont comment – least of them is not the fact that the original poster often doesnt even acknowledge the comment.

    What has worked on occasion – if you have an image you seriously want crit on – start a thread here – and post a link to the image – and let’s discuss it. No promises that it will work – but what the hell – go for it – what can you loose.

    On a side note – I have judged at several regional PPSA or is it PSSA (whatever) club competitions. And by judging – I learned a lot too. But one can also go overboard and be petty. I do believe tho that pointing out even smaller nits in an image – can be very constructive for future reference.

  • marlon
    Participant
    Post count: 323

    @keith Baxter 297508 wrote:

    Elsa I just wish that more members would give constrictive crits on technical issues and basic composition. Simon and some others help a lot. I often post images when no comment is forthcoming. I take it that that image is average and not worth the effort of a comment or crit. That being said I am learning so fast here, using a tiny budget, and enjoying the process.

    If you’s all get sick and tired of my crappy images you better tell me how to make them awesome. I am a persistent one. πŸ™‚

    I find the “diy” and “tiny budget” stuff to be my favourites. I started my macro adventures that way, and its amazing how much you learn by having “budget” stuff.

    I Agreed about learning from crit. Sadly on the “like for like” culture sites like 500px etc, you dont get constructive criticism anymore, people just want likes, so any input is offensive to them, it’s rather sad.

    Keith, I will be more than excited to share in chats. It’s been so long since I have frequented ODP, it needs to breathe on.

    As for my initial reason on posting this thread, it seems that hand movement was in fact my culprit, even though no signs of motion existed. I did night-time macro tonight, in the dark, focussing with a flashlight on a flash bracket. Even at 1/100, rear sync seems to freeze the bugs up nice πŸ™‚

  • marlon
    Participant
    Post count: 323

    @elsahoffmann 297509 wrote:

    On a side note – I have judged at several regional PPSA or is it PSSA (whatever) club competitions. And by judging – I learned a lot too. But one can also go overboard and be petty. I do believe tho that pointing out even smaller nits in an image – can be very constructive for future reference.

    True that. Critting poor lighting or distracting background action is one thing, but the other is that you will be giving opinion on an artistic piece of work, that may have been the intention of the photographer. I find it hard to crit images, unless things are obviously erking me.

  • Peter Connan
    Participant
    Post count: 818

    @keith Baxter 297508 wrote:

    I am a persistent one. πŸ™‚

    Which is in my relatively inexperienced opinion probably the best tool in your arsenal toward becoming a good photographer…

  • SimonDP
    Moderator
    Post count: 2144

    ElsaHoffman wrote:
    For a change SimpnDP is right – Who is this guy???
    FWIW – I started my photography with the cheapest gear possible, as a student I couldn’t afford anything more. Did several levels of upgrades over the years to get me where I am now. And its not done yet….
    Judging has learned me a lot too, appreciating the perspective from other photographers, etc. Comment what you find technically wrong, not the subject or the photographer’s intent. You can make alternative suggestions though. Its a free world, speak your constructive mind….
  • Keith Baxter
    Participant
    Post count: 143

    Thank you for the comments all. I continue to learn. I will take you all up on the offer to discuss one or two of my images.

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