A set of things to consider when shooting

Mar 22, 2007
Manhattan, NY
Real Name
Lewis Lorton
An acquaintance of mine, who considers himself a new shooter, was having some problems with his shots and asked me to look at a bunch of flower and garden shots to see if I could spot a persistent issue that he wasn't seeing. I don't pretend to be any expert but he thought a new set of eyes taking a look might be helpful

Rather than critiquing specific things in his shots, I came up with this things for him to consider when he went out shooting again. He is technically pretty proficient so the issues of focus and exposure weren't even a problem

I thought the list might be a source for some general discussion. I am certainly open to correction or amendment and plan on forwarding any changes to him.

The links to pictures are from another site and were chosen because they came to mind quickly and fit the point. No insult intended to this site's shooters; I didn't want to sort through pictures here when I had good examples already.

I looked at your pictures and then spent some time weeding my wife's garden and came up with a set of things that occurred to me that you might consider.

Three general rules:

1) if you can, shoot early in the day, or late. The slanting light is softer, more complimentary and gives you better color saturation.
2) if you can, use a tripod. It slows the tendency to shoot and move and will improve your shots immensely because you will stop, think and adjust your framing.
3) learn to interpret your histogram and understand "expose to the right" -

Now some specific things about your pictures.

1) stop taking pictures of things, take pictures with interesting things in them. Many of your pictures have the object of interest (OI) right in the center with nothing else going on.

2) this means gives your OI some context, some idea of surrounding and allow those other things to balance them or enhance them. These are two excellent examples recently posted.
These are not pictures of a flower but interesting pictures with flowers as the main OI.
n.b. that these are submissions by hobbyists like yourself and there may be items within these pictures to critique, but my general point is that these are good pictures with flowers as the main points of interest and are nicely composed with lots of balancing elements to make the image interesting.

example 1
example 2

3) these supporting pieces of the composition can be in opposition to the main interest, lines leading to OI, or similar objects at different sizes or at different distance from the lens

4) These differing supporting elements of the composition can/should give a impression of layers or dimensions to impart a life to an image. Often this is managed to keep the interest on the main idea by having less important objects or elements out of focus either in front of or behind the main OI.

example 3

5) this means that controlling the depth of field is a crucial skill. Many photographers shoot aperture preferred so that they can control this depth of field directly.

6) The creation of the appearance of depth in a two dimensional image can be enhanced by the recording of the texture, the micro-dimension of an image. This is virtually impossible with direct light but much easier with the slanting light of morning or late afternoon. Sharpening techniques in PP can also help with this.

7) When you control as much as you can in composition and exposure, recognize that post processing is crucial to the finalization of an image. Creating a good picture starts before you press the shutter button and continues after.

Sep 17, 2006
Hamilton , New Zealand
I see some good points here , a while back I posted some pictures [on another forum ] and everyone said that I had improved in my composition . It turns out that because it was extremely cold I had the camera on a tripod outside my car - composing properly with a tripod made a lot of difference .
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