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My first Nikon D300 photos ... please criticise! (6 images)
These were taken yesterday. All but the first were taken in London. Other than straightening, I've done no editing - these are how they came out of the camera. They were shot as fine JPEGs at ISO 400. I had no flash or tripod. All were shot mode P..

First, a picture at Stockley Park (near Heathrow). 8am. The sky looks washed out; I hope a polarising filter will fix this. 1/400, f10, 28mm.

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Later in the evening I went up to London. These were shot about 6.30pm. It was a gorgeous spring afternoon. The Houses of Parliament; sunset just out of pic to the right. The sky looks washed out: what else could I have done better? 1/400, f10, 95mm.

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"Charlie Chapman" with my dearly beloved.I like the colour of my wife's hair in the sunset but I should have got s shot with fewer people in the background (or less depth of field) 1/320, f9, 75mm.

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This skyscraper in the City looked golden in the sunlight - but not in my photo. 1/250, f8, 200mm.

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But then I was quite happy with this shot, leaning my camera on a concrete wall. 1.6secs, f5, 42mm.

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And with the patterns here: 1/2 sec f3.5, 18mm.

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Any suggestions on how to make these better would be greatly appreciated!Sean..

Comments (17)

Congrads on your purchase. Like many of us, I hope you are thrilled and awed with the equipment..

I like the night captures. Light in the others was very flat. Also, try filling up the frame with the subject a bit. You can almost never get too close!.

Thank you for sharing these!..

Comment #1

Not much you could do about the typical UK washed out sky apart from keep it out of the frame..

But for #3 there is one observation I should make: I suspect you used the centre focus point - which is why your wife and Charlie Chaplin are out of focus while the guy in the orange T-shirt is in focus, because the camera focused on him. Easily done with a gap between two people..

It's not so bad here because you had a smallish aperture so the depth of field is quite deep, but to avoid this either (in descending order of preference):.

[a] move the focus point with the 4 way controller to the off centre subject;.

[b] keep the centre focus point on the subject, autofocus then keep the shutter half pressed to lock the focus and refompose the frame; or.

[c] set autofocus to 'nearest subject' ('waiter mode') so the camera focuses on the nearest thing wherever they are in the frame..

Try and get into the habit of doing [a], as [b] can cause focus accuracy issues especially with portraits and close subjects. I've never done [c] with my D200, it seems lazy to me..

Alex.

Http://alexandjustine.smugmug.com/..

Comment #2

The night shots are interesting though it looks like you missed the best part of the "Blue Hour" when city light reflections on water look can at their best against a very dark blue sky..

To stop the washed out skies save yourself a whole load of trouble and use Neutral Density Graduated filters. If you get the Cokin ones then inexpensive step-up rings allow the holder to fit on all your lenses..

An alternative is to use a tripod or other support, shoot multiple frames and combine with HDR software..

No trouble with detail there so that camera looks like it will do whatever you want it to do..

John.Please visit me at:http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/backtothebridgehttp://www.pbase.com/johnfr/digital_dartmoor..

Comment #3

For jpeg, you are overexposing your daylight shots with sky in them. Bright but overcast skys are the worst for this. You will likely get better results by tweaking the default jpeg settings, information you are sure to find in the Nikon forum. Slightly underexposing the image (with exposure compensation) and brightening the darker areas in post processing can help. Personally, for these types of shot, I switch the camera to raw, use the histogram to expose to the right and recover the highlights in post processing. If I have my tripod I take two expsoures and blend them.

You will have to shoot farther away from the right of the histogram and accept or deal with the shadows if they appear too dark..

It's not your camera. It's the dynamic range of the photos you posted. No other camera at this price will allow you to get a better photo. Unless it's a film camera. It's your methods that will show a difference in your results..

Raw? Highlight recovery? jpeg settings? Dynamic range? Exposing to the right? Exposure compensation? Understanding these things and experimenting with them will allow you to get better results from your camera. Good photography requires more knowledge and effort and experience than many think. But anyone can do it. All that is required is a willingness to learn and implement what you learn. Over many years, not months..

A polarizor will help make the highlights darker at the same exposure but it will make the shadows darker too. But it may help to saturate your colors a little, something that underexposure also does so it 'may' help to get the sky slightly darker without making the shadows as dark, compared to not using the polarizor. It depends. Depends on what I don't know because I've never been able to figger out why sometimes it helps and other times it doesn't..

In the end, your results will be determined by getting the best exposure the camera is capable of no matter what you point it at and without learning manual control (and I don't mean P) you won't have much control over it. Many people are happy with jpeg. If you find you are not then raw is the next step. If you don't mind using a tripod and acquiring the software, blended exposures can make a dramatic difference in results for some of the photos you posted..

Msjhaffey wrote:.

These were taken yesterday. All but the first were taken in London.Other than straightening, I've done no editing - these are how theycame out of the camera..

You did no editing but the camera did some post processing of the raw file which the camera always takes even when using jpeg. So learn to get the best jpegs out of the camera, then learn how to improve them in post processing and then if you are willing to put in the effort for better results, look into raw and the further abilities of post processing compared to jpeg...

Comment #4

Nothing helps overcast skies with big things sticking up n them..

The polarizer only works with bright, sunny skies..

A neutral density filter requires a pretty smooth horizon, or it will make the big towers darker at the same time it makes the sky darker..

BAK..

Comment #5

Good points - thank you! I'll work on this.Sean..

Comment #6

In this case, I was celebrating a birthday with my son at "blue hour" so I had no choice. But I must try to remember to look out for this in future..

Thanks for the reminder.Sean..

Comment #7

Nice work, some good shots, especially the night shots. Personally the daytime shots all look a bit washed out and maybe overexposed slightly to me. Not sure if that might have been caused by the fog or white overcast sky etc, but I probably would have underexposed by half a step maybe, then also bump the contrast a bit in post processing...

Comment #8

Thank you for this..

I've never worked with RAW before, but I have a friend who will introduce me to this next week (he's a professional photographer)..

I realise this will take time and I'm prepared to spend that time learning. I'd like to get myself up to near-professional standard. But that means I really need to learn how to exploit the camera, which has a mass of interconnected controls, get better at taking a good shot in the first place (or several), and learning PP..

I'm really grateful for your suggestions, and those of others who have taken time to give me constructive criticism..

Many many thanks.

Sean..

Comment #9

Actually, the sky was mostly clear. I think it's whited out in these photos because of a combination of some haze and late afternoon glare. So I need to learn how to deal with this.Sean..

Comment #10

I absolutely agree with the comment about washed out colours. Even using something as simple as iPhoto for PP I can get the pics looking more like what I remember. But I'd like to take the best possible picture first. I'll try some bracketing in future so I'll learn better what works and what doesn't..

Many thanks for the feedback.Sean..

Comment #11

Hi,the d300 is a brilliant bit of kit, and needs a LOT of time to master.1/ ALLways shoot in RAW.2/ Get other photographers to critique your pics honestly.To get outstanding results will take quite some time to achieve.3/Have fun..

Comment #12

Your pic of the H of P has a telling histogram:.

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Note that there are no dark pixels! I fixed that by sliding the black pointer to the right until it just touched the first pixels..

You could have looked at the histogram in the camera immediately after taking the pic. This is called "chimping", BTW....

Then I added a sky, a gradient layer to make the sky fade out at the bottom, tweaked the shadows up a bit, etc:.

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This scene might have been a good place to try taking 2-3 shots with different exposures. One shot would be exposed on the sky, one on the buildings, and one in the middle...then combine them in PS. Or an HDR program might be used..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/'Experience: Discovering that a claw hammer will bend nails.Epiphany: Discovering that a claw hammer is two tools...'..

Comment #13

Well, no..

And I wasn't even there..

Look for shadows, and look for sparkle on the water. There are none, and that's because the sky was overcast..

BAK..

Comment #14

Wow!.

That's spectacular ... it will keep me on my toes..

I will try some bracketing shots in future while I learn what works. I really want to focus on taking the right photo first, so it needs minimum work after..

Thanks for the help!Sean..

Comment #15

By the way, this is the first time I've been shown how to positively use the histogram. Thanks for that, too.Sean..

Comment #16

Msjhaffey wrote:.

By the way, this is the first time I've been shown how to positivelyuse the histogram. Thanks for that, too..

You're welcome. Makes my day!.

You probably need to review P.301 and then set f1 to display a big, yellow RGB histogram when the center of the multi-selector is pressed. This makes it really easy to "chimp"....

Also set Highlights ON...p. 250..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/'Experience: Discovering that a claw hammer will bend nails.Epiphany: Discovering that a claw hammer is two tools...'..

Comment #17

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