What to do to improve?

Joined
Feb 20, 2008
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Now that you guys have seen my dragon shots for a while.... what can I do to improve them?

I am open to any suggestions.....
 
Joined
Jul 13, 2005
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Hi Paul!

You have already improved a lot! :smile:

Well, not knowing what you´re doing, what kind of equips you have (tripod etc) a bit difficult to say excatly what to do... Maybe it´s good idea if I just try to tell how I shoot, what equips I have...

1) I always use a tripod, which so far have been a Gitzo G2220 and Markins M10 head
2) Always wired shutter
3) Always MLU when possible (if too windy can´t really use it, so I just need to shoot a lot and hope for the best, so that I atleast get one spot on shot)
4) Always manual focus... and I think this is very very important to do it right. Let´s assume we are shooting a side shot of a Dragon here. I always start by placing focal plane behind the subject, then slowly starting to "move" it towards me and when getting Dragons eyes sharp (or any other part which is the closest to the camera) it´s certain that DOF is exatly where it should be, meaning the Dragon is inside of DOF area. ..Because, if you do it otherway arround starting so that focal plane is between you and the subject and slowly starting to focus and are done when eyes are sharp, then DOF is mostly between Camera and Dragon, not necessarily good... (there´s ofcourse risks to explaning the manual focus technique as I´m sure many of you know how to do it, but hopefully this helps atleast one person)
5) I Shoot a lot. Even I´m sure I´ve got some spot on shots, I still shoot some more. With DOF so thin, some shots are more spot on than others :smile:

And here´s one sample taken with methods descriped above. 1/40, f/8, ISO 200
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Joined
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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
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Jukka,
Just this week I have started using a shutter release, with mirror lock up. I switched to Manual focus about 2 weeks ago... these 2 things in addition to the lens collar modification have definately cleaned up my images. I have been having to do a lot less PP recently as well.

Thanks for the DOF instruction, I'm not sure I have been focusing from rear to front, but I will pay attention when I go out next time. As you can imagine I shoot far more than I post.

I appreciate your input, anything I can learn from better photographers is always welcome.
 
Joined
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Helsinki, Finland
Hi again!

One thing is backgrounds. Trying to find individuals percing exposed or using different angles may help, but ofcourse often they don´t choose places for perching a photographer in their mind. And atleast for me it´s totally okay to have shots with busy backgrounds as I know they often are, naturally.

When you have busy backgrounds you can ofcourse try to use larger aperature. I looked your latest post again now that I´m at home and able to check exifs. For example shots like #1, you don´t nessessarily need to shoot at f/10, by lookind the angle of the Dragon I would say you could have easily use larger aperature, maybe f/5,6-6,3 to get Dragon in focus but the background a bit more blurred...

But I would like to say also that shots I have seen so far, tells me that you´re a smart guy who can learn this quickly by doing it and that´s the best way of learning things, isn´t it
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
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Denmark
Jukka beat to to it. When I shoot I try to get the dragonfly parallel with the sensor because then I can maybe use 6.3 and get a better bokeh. When I shoot and I know the background will be busy. I take maybe 10-15 shots with different apertures.

I think I have about 25 exposures of this shot of a mating A. mixa couple. One of the last shots last year. I think this one is with aperture 6.3.

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Like Jukka I don't mind the background to be a little busy because it shows the environment where the dragonfly lives and like to perch. The most disturbing background is when there is something too bright to distract the eye. I sometimes make a selection and use the Highlight/shadow tool to darken the area. I also sometimes clone out a disturbing object if possible.

If you only want clean backgrounds you are very restricted with the species you can shoot as some will perch in grass others on the ground. What I personally don't like is to see a shot where the dragonfly is perching on something man made like a wire or a fence.

Another thing is cropping. When I have a shot I really like I try different crops. Should it be portrait or landscape? I try to follow the rule of thirds and also giving more space in front of the eyes than behind the appendages.

Anyway, experience is the best teacher and I think you have posted some excellent shots lately.
 
Joined
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What I personally don't like is to see a shot where the dragonfly is perching on something man made like a wire or a fence.
Yep, I know what you mean...but now I really hope I wouldn´t have deleted the shot I took a week ago of the first mature O. cancellatum male here in Finland (shot lot of them in Bulgaria)... nice sharp shot, the Dragon percing on a piece of burned wood and a half burned can of Coke next to him... it´s not always that nice, you know, but there he was, the first one :smile:
 
Joined
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I forgot to add: "except for O. cancellatum". They are too difficult to shoot. I have one where they are mating on a park bench. :eek:
 
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Feb 26, 2007
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BUCKEYE STATE
Thanks, Paul, for asking that question, and thank you Torben and Jukka for your detailed answers. I have benefited from your explanations as well.
 

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