Friday, July 11, 2008

Image Critique #2

Everyone like flowers, well, not everyone, but they certainly are a very popular subject for training your lens. Getting a good shot of a flower is not as easy as the good floral photographers make it look.

Lets look at this image that was submitted.

OK.... Let's talk about focus and depth of field. There is very little depth of field in this image. Almost none. The only part of the frame that is in focus, is the greenery in the background and the very back edge of the bloom. If you are only going to have one part of your image in focus, this isn't what you want. You would want the focus to be in the front, where people are going to see it first and concentrate on that.

There is a large blurry stamen (if my botanical biology isn't up to snuff and that isn't what you call that thing, I'm sure someone will let me know. But hey, I'm a photographer, not a horticultural expert.), sticking out from the middle of the photograph that just gets in my way everywhere that I try to look. BAM! there it is again! BAM! BAM! This blurriness is caused by being out of focus, not from camera shake. You can tell that because parts of the photograph in the way back are very sharp. If the camera was moving, it would have blurred everything.

The third thing is the lighting. Strange and flat. It looks like flash, but I can't swear to it. Direct, on camera flash, is very difficult to use in this type of situation. You have to at least bounce it or diffuse it if you think it is necessary. If it's a P&S, turn the flash off.

I'm going to take a guess and say that this was a small part of a much larger image. I don't see another explanation for how the point of focus could be this far off unless it was intentional and I don't think it was intentional.

To do this shot right, you need a tripod and natural diffused light. A hazy day or early in the morning/early in the evening will work the best. You need good depth of field which you will get from shooting somewhere between f8 and f11, maybe even smaller if necessary, depending on your lens and how close you are to the subject. This might cause your shutter speed to be longer than it should be for you to hand hold it (see previous blog post), so use your tripod and either a shutter cable or a timer to avoid camera shake.

I hope the submitter of this image will tell me if I'm right about the extreme crop and flash.

Bottom line: You can do better than this.

If you have an image you would like critiqued (after these last couple I think my supply might dry up), please email it to me as specified in this post.


Tasha Early said...

These critiques have been really helpful, I sure hope you don't run out of images TOO soon. :)

Meg said...

I'm really glad you're doing these. I have thus far agreed with everything you've said. It's nice to have someone giving real, accurate critique. It seems there are so many out there who are afraid to give anything but praise to people.

Anonymous said...

That's some great advice! I'd just like to say though, that my camera sometimes focuses on background images rather than something that is obviously the focal point. But then, it's just a cheap camera so what can I expect? (: I'll have to check back here more often!

Beki - TheRustedChain said...

I think is a really great series Scott!

Anonymous said...

Damn. That's cool. Real critique in your face. Sweet.

You covered it all and then some. Awesome!

Your honest feedback method is what has helped me come as far as I have in such a short time.

These too will help me along also. I will be reading every one. Keep em' coming!

Garrity Photography said...

I know I have learned a lot from your critiques for the past almost two years Scott. I know how hard I work now to get the right shot where it is supposed to be. Keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much. I'm a beginner and only have a very cheap camera but your critiquing is a good learning tool. Please continue all the help.


I KNOW there are way to many obstacles, and mostly TIME, but, it would be great if you could reproduce the same photograph your critiquing with your corrections.
Just wishing out loud.

Anonymous said...

Thank for the critique. Photographing closeups of flowers is a hobby of mine but I am having problems with the focus, as you can see from this picture I submitted to you. To answer your question, it wasn't cropped. I have been using the micro setting and purchased a tripod but the pictures are still blurry. I will try the manual setting and change the focal point. Thanks for the help.

Scott Bulger Photography said...

If it wasn't cropped, then my next guess would be that you were too close for your camera to focus on the front, and the only thing that was within the focus range would be the back of this image. Try not getting quite as close.

Anonymous said...

Would it be better to take the picture further away, then crop the close up? I just assumed those close up pictures I see were actually taken that close. Thanks for the advice. I'll try some different things and see what happens. The other use I have of close up pictures is for my sewing patterns. I take pictures of each step and have to get very close.

Scott Bulger Photography said...

Nanette, different cameras will have different minimum focusing distances. You have have just exceeded your cameras capabilities here. Feel free to back up the few inches it would be necessary and crop if you have to.