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How do I improve these Photos?


Well-Known Member
I went on a little photo adventure yesterday to take pictures of surrounding things. The idea was mostly to put into focus what I learned recently about adjusting the aperture, shutter speed and exposures to gain images that look good enough IN camera rather than only getting a satisfied result AFTER I put it through a profound editing process.
Alas if I'm absolutely honest I'm not happy with most of the pictures I shot. In fact I'm even a little embarrass to show them here but for the sake of learning I hope you all can look past it's overly looks and give me some advice on how to improve? PLEASE! :'D

I shot with the setting between an aperture of f/14-f/18, a shutter speed ranging from 1/60 to about 1/100 depending on the sun and the ISO at 100 or 125. I took these pictures at about noon, so the sun wasn't that great especially since a thunder storm was brewing.
Here's what I would love to improve in (among many things):

How to angle my photos properly
- Because as you probably noticed a few of my images have those random little unwanted edges popping up even or some aren't even as straight as I thought it was when shooting

How to be able to understand enough about all the settings so that I can actually take an image I'm satisfied with without having to plan beforehand how I'm going to edit and make this all better.

How to find the focal point of my image while following the rules of third
- Because half of my images looks like I'm just shooting for the sake of shooting and the other after seems like you can't even find what I intended to take

Some images that I in particular have a comment about:
IMG_8161 - How come my focus is still so blur even though I made everything else higher after putting my aperture lower?

IMG_8165 - IMG_8172 - IMG_8219 - Probably the only pictures I really like
IMG_8261 - Somehow I like what I managed to get from this picture in terms of the contrast, but I feel like something is still missing.
P/S: Please ignore the dust spots. Still finding a way to get the side of my camera clean. FOR SHAME. *hides away from any pro photographers probably glaring at me* God, can this post get anymore embarrassing????



Tom Mann

Hi Elizabeth - It looks like you are getting some good comments over at "the other" forum, so rather than spend time duplicating some of the things that have been said over there, I'm going to hang back a bit and see if anything occurs to me that wasn't covered over there.

That being said, the first thing that entered my mind when I read your post and saw this set of pix is, "She's expecting to be able to do too much in-camera." I'm the biggest fan of "getting it right" in camera, but maybe my philosophy is better phrased as "getting it close in camera", or "getting a good starting point in-camera". By this I mean that you should be sure get the things that can't be tweaked afterwards right at the time of capture, but don't worry if you are a little off in other things. For example:

- - - Be sure you take the shot from a good point of view, but don't be obsessive about cropping or if a little tilting or perspective distortion creeps in. You can't do anything in PP to fix the former, but you certainly can tweak the latter, so long as you captured enough of the surroundings.

- - - Be sure your subject is in focus and your depth of field is appropriate. You've got to nail both of these in-camera because focus can't be fixed after the fact, and while you can soften overly sharp backgrounds and foreground objects to some extent, you can never increase the DoF of the original image.

- - - Be sure the exposure is reasonable and that the lighting is such that you don't come home with zero'ed out blacks and blown highlights. If your exposure is a half-stop off, it's no big deal, but if some areas of the picture are dead black or blown, you can't do anything at all about them.

- - - Be sure the direction and quality of the light is good for your chosen subject. If it isn't, you might be able to tweak it a little, but it may not be worth the effort to do so, compared to going back at a time with better light.

- - - Have a theme clearly in mind before you go out. If you think you might want to get some nice pix of a church, think about what shots would you find in an article about a church. Maybe look at some touristy picture books that include churches. Maybe even go to Google Images, look over a few hundred pix of churches and see which ones you like, and write down reminders to get similar shots (eg, interiors, not just distant exteriors; wide angle perspective exaggerations; people that have something to do with the church; architectural details, silhouettes, etc. etc. ) . To me, having even a very rough shot-list like this is invaluable. Otherwise the set of pix you wind up with looks random because it was taken randomly. ...

- - - etc. etc.

More later,

Tom M


Well-Known Member
Hi Tom,
Oh my god, talk about small world. You're in that forum too? Haha I figured I'd post it here as well to get the point of view from PS experts rather than just camera enthusiast. Thanks for taking your time to giving me a different set of advice. I read what you have to say and you're right, maybe I'm trying too hard to get everything perfect from my camera. It's just everybody has always said that here I have this fancy camera and yet the pictures that I take with it, looks nothing compared to what some photographers come up with. That being said, I can't rely of Photoshop to give me the outcome I wanted when taking the picture... So I always seem to struggle between the happy middle and where you said "be sure get the things that can't be tweaked afterwards right at the time of capture, but don't worry if you are a little off in other things."

Sometimes I want to kick myself in the butt for trying so hard to get pictures right when I don't even have an idea of what I want to shoot. And you're right, I should go out there with an idea. If I want church pictures than I'll be damned, I should go google how other church pictures look like and see what I can create with the advantage points I have. It's something like editing your pictures with the same type of effect otherwise it'll all look like a messy set, right?

Or another example, go out for a walk and say hey... I only want to take pictures of flowers today. With my research of how certain flower shots look like, I go around searching for that kind of picture.

I'm sorry, I don't mean to repeat whatever you said. It's just sometimes repeating what I'm taught in my own words helps me recall it better and it also helps me see if I actually understood what the other person was trying to teach me. Did I?

Thank you again for all your help. I really appreciate it Tom! :)


Well-Known Member
Today's cameras allow you to take multiple shots of the same scene at no cost to you,
and allow you to shoot wide and crop down to the best view of the scene.

Your photograph #8238 (window with flowers) could have been a much better shot if
you had shot wider and included all of the flowers and the wall beneath the flowers
I'd take that photo and process it so the window is much higher and to the left, and
all of the flowers and some wall beneath them were in the frame. I'd clone out or use
Content Aware fill to remove the branches at the lower left.

Your photograph #8236 (flowers, fence, and #16) might work better as a vertical (portrait)
shot, but filling the frame with the flowers and #16.

Take multiple shots of scenes and shoot the same scene in both landscape and portrait.
Shoot tight and then shoot the same scene wide. Decide in post what you want to end
up with.

There are, in my opinion, three important factors to taking a good photograph:

1) Learn to see what is photographable. That may be the entire scene or a close-up
of what is in the scene.

2) Learn to use your camera and understand the effect of the settings. That's what
you seem to be doing in this series, but you missed #1.

3) Let post-processing work for you. When you don't see the exact composition that
will work best when taking the photograph, take multiple shots and shoot wide on
some. Learning to crop to best advantage is after-the-fact composition, and sometimes
works better than getting it right in camera.


Well-Known Member
Wow TonyCooper, thanks for the tips as well. If I'm being absolutely honest #8238 was a rushed photo, I had to go and didn't have time to get the fence out of the picture so I just cropped it out. It bugs me to no end that I couldn't get an empty wall.

The advice on taking multiple photos both landscape and portrait is definitely something I'll try to do. I had the habit of taking it too literally how you really don't have to stress so much on getting ONE perfect shot. It made me a little trigger happy, simply thinking, "Oh I can just edit this later!" Hence I suddenly realise I'm not actually taking proper pictures. Haha

I actually read what you and Tom said yesterday and went for a walk without my camera. Instead I just looked at things with a theme in mind. Nothing too specific but the idea was "what can I make out of what I see". I looked at things and thought of what I wanted to take (mentally) and what I wanted to show (through my mental pictures) and realised I became more happy with those resulting "mental photographs" than I had been on my previous outting.

So today I went out again and took a few pictures. Couldn't take much because it was a bit too late and the harsh sun was already shining. But I I think I like what I took. Not 100% yet but like Tom Mann advice, make sure what you can't change is captured and leave what you can for later. For example: In some of my shots it's a bit slanted (because the church is on a hill) or how little parts got into my frame. I also tried to reduce all those various clutter around my images. So yes, what do you guys think? :D