Beginner Brain melting.. overwhelmed!

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59
Name
David
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#1
Good afternoon all,

I've recently decided after getting upset about some photos i'd taken that i really do need to learn more about photography, I've had my 500d for a couple of years and have used it on aperture priority - auto ISO - shooting in Jpeg - pretty standard stuff, And also my 17-85is recently failed so I've been using a 55-250 that came with my camera and it just doesn't seem as sharp or produce as pleasing pictures (could be me) ...

So on to the post title, I've been researching lenses (minefield) & camera settings. i've been reading this forum most days to learn and improve where i'm going wrong and i think I've overloaded my noodle with info and to be honest I've stressed myself out a little, i know I've annoyed my wife with moaning about pictures that i've taken recently, I'll admit i have an obsessive personality and once i sink my teeth into something i get this incredible thirst for knowledge!!

I just wanted to vent and see if any other newbies feel the same way??

Mods feel free to move or delete my pointless rant.

Dave
 
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988
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#3
Don't worry, that feeling isn't exclusive to newbies - you just have to take things at your own pace and realise it's a very difficult skill that takes a while to master, and even when you think you've mastered it you can easily lose 'form' just like a sportsman.

Decide what you want to shoot and learn what the general rules are, study the best photographers in that field and try and recreate what they do until you find your own style. It might help if you post some pictures if you need specific advice...
 
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485
Name
Chris
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#4
As a newbie, i concur with the overload! Watching too many you tube videos and probably not practicing enough. I did just start an evening course at the local college on 'Recreational Photography' and whilst I don't think I've learnt anything new from a 'technical' point of view so far, putting it into practice and being in that environments certainly been beneficial.
 
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Name
Alistair
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#5
Not getting pleasing pictures is very disheartening, everyone goes through stages like that.
It's time to work your way out of that rut.

Firstly gear is going to be an issue. If you have one broken lens and the only other lens you have is a 55-250, you're going to find that very restrictive to shoot with.
If your 17-85 is broken, then you need to consider if it's worth repairing or just to move on to a new lens in that range. A repair could cost you well over £150. But that £150 could buy you a secondhand replacement or something like the Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 (which I've had an found it a very good sharp lens) or the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8. Both of these lenses give you an f2.8 constant aperture, so it'll give you the ability to shoot in low light easier and to get nice background blur.

Secondly, get yourself into a little bit of post processing. Learn a bit of Lightroom and/or Photoshop, learn how to make the most of the files coming out of your camera.

Thirdly, shoot more, find subjects that interest you and shoot, learn how to compose the image and make it look interesting.

Fourth, enjoy.
 
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297
Name
Marc
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#6
David your feelings of frustration are not unusual, it always looks so easy to just pick up a camera and take great pictures but the reality is so different isn't it. I think that's the first part, you need to realise it's not easy, but here isn't hidden secret to getting it right - that's the good news. You really do need to just practice and keep practicing.

Ultimately unless your equipment is faulty it doesn't matter what you use. Taking a picture uses skills and equipment, as long as the equipment works and you have the skills you will get a picture. Don't spend more money just yet, all you will do is be frustrated that you've spent more money and still can't get the picture you want.

The first thing to do is identify what it is you are really struggling with. It could be the lense is faulty, or it could be you. Don't worry too much about the zoom aspect, just pick a distance somewhere away from either extremity and leave it there. Just worry about your basic camera settings. Using Aperture Priority is fine, and there's nothing wrong with auto ISO, although I would have a go at setting it yourself so you have a good understanding of how it works and what it does.

Just take pictures, it doesn't matter at all what you take pictures of, just keep doing it, the more you take he better they will be. When you get it wrong don't stress about it, just delete them and move on. Ideally though learn from your mistakes, try to understand what your got wrong so you can work on it.

You can read too much, and especially forums, there are more articles on here than you could read in many years, if you are trying to improve your photography you need to work out what exactly you need to improve. I found watching really helped, there are a lot of videos on YouTube, start at the basics and work through to check you know what you are doing and understand exposure. If you don't understand how adjusting the aperture impacts on the exposure and how you adjust the shutter speed and/or ISO to compensate then you have to learn about it before you move on. It sounds easy, the basic concept is, but it takes a lot of practice and then a load more on top. I'm still rubbish, I've taken a few thousand pictures in a few weeks and most are not what I want, but I'm getting more images to look how I want them. Technically they are likely not perfect, but they are good enough for me to be happy and move on a bit.

If you don't know what to take pictures of - that can be frustrating - ask people to suggest a theme and then see how you interpret it. Are you interested in anything in particular? People, animals, wildlife, landscapes, sport, street photography? I have most enjoyed diving into street photography. I couldn't think what to take pictures of so I went to my nearest small town to wander around, took a few pictures like a typical tourist and then started to take random candid shot she of people who didn't know I was even there. At first I couldn't even hold the camera to my eye to do it, but slowly I got braver until I was wandering around taking pictures of strangers. I pretend I'm taking a pic of the building or whatever behind them and they are merely in my shot, but really it's them I want. I enjoy people photography, I didn't think I'd like street, I want to make portraits, but I have a load to learn yet. What I'm finding is its making me think fast and just take the picture. Often it's wrong, it doesn't work, the exposure is out, I miss the focus, but some are good enough that I'm happy with them and will edit them down when I get home.

Street photography may well not be something you enjoy, but it gives you things to take pictures of, and it's pushing and challenging you. The light changes with every step you take, you can't predict what's coming up, you have to just do it - I think it's the perfect challenge for people trying to learn to take pictures and get the hang of the settings on the camera. There's no reason why you can't keep it in aperture priority and auto ISO, but not the settings, see what the camera is choosing for the shutter speed and ISO, or you are not really learning how it works. Slowly it starts to make sense, that ISO works best in that type of light etc. I'm really weird (I've been called a masochist on here) but I've enjoyed learning in manual mode, I tried Aperture Priority and using the Exposure Compensation, but it made more sense to me to just control the shutter speed and ISO myself too. I sometimes use auto ISO and now and then let the camera manage the shutter speed, but it doesn't feel comfortable to me so I tend to keep it in manaual. What it's doing is teaching me the hard way I guess, I'm getting less shots right, but I'm understanding why. I don't see it as any different to someone who shoots on film or wet plate and then spends time in the dark room to develop the pictures. They have no idea if the exposure was right - thats masochistic!

Ultimately it's a hobby, it's meant to be fun, don't be so hard on yourself, if you don't enjoy it you will give up, and that's a shame. It will make sense. You seemed happier with the previous lense that broke, so maybe by another, but really if the current lense is working you should be able to take pictures just fine. Maybe ask someone else to test it out? Try pictures in controlled conditions - a stationery object in constant light. There is a good chance the lense isn't as sharp, it it should still be able to produce a nice clear image unless it's damaged. I must admit I don't use the kit lense that came with my Canon at all, I didn't enjoy it as much, but if I had to I'm sure I could. If you miss the lense get another or see if it's worth getting it repaired - there are companies who can fully service lenses and it's probably cheaper than replacing it unless you can pick up a secondhand one cheap.

Sorry for the long post, I do sympathise with you, it can feel like you won't ever get it right, but just take a breath and try to enjoy it. Stop looking at the work of people who are really great at this stuff and just keep working on your own photography, and take it back to basics - I like YouTube for learning, there are some great videos that help to understand how it all works.

Best wishes :)
 
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3,347
Name
Dominic
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#8
I feel your pain, like many others probably do or have a well.
The thing is out of all the rubbish i take, when i get a good one I'm so happy. Although the ratio of good to bad isn't great, I'm getting happy with what i take generally.
I used to think i could pick up the camera and take one shot to get the result i was going for, I've realised that I can't. I then started thinking about what I wanted the image to be (i want it to have a meaning, to say something), this made me focus more on the final result before I even pushed the shutter button.
I still take photos for me that would have no interest for other people (flowers, plants etc) but i think you may need to slow down a bit and think before you take that photo.
 
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Dave-o
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David
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#9
Wow thanks for the replies guys, Reading the replies has made me feel a whole load better about it - THANK YOU :ty:

I've looked through some recent pics with in a somewhat calmer state of mind and i think they're actually not that bad.. I've added them to my Flickr so i'll attach those when i figure out how to do that.

I think what bothers me is that some pictures dont look very sharp, and ive convinced myself that pictures that aren't sharp are crap pictures, the lack "pop" in my opinion, i'll let you guys be the judges though and i truly appreciate constructive criticism.


Decide what you want to shoot and learn what the general rules are, study the best photographers in that field and try and recreate what they do until you find your own style. It might help if you post some pictures if you need specific advice...
Good advice, thank you!!


Firstly gear is going to be an issue. If you have one broken lens and the only other lens you have is a 55-250, you're going to find that very restrictive to shoot with.
If your 17-85 is broken, then you need to consider if it's worth repairing or just to move on to a new lens in that range. A repair could cost you well over £150. But that £150 could buy you a secondhand replacement or something like the Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 (which I've had an found it a very good sharp lens) or the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8. Both of these lenses give you an f2.8 constant aperture, so it'll give you the ability to shoot in low light easier and to get nice background blur.

Secondly, get yourself into a little bit of post processing. Learn a bit of Lightroom and/or Photoshop, learn how to make the most of the files coming out of your camera.

Thirdly, shoot more, find subjects that interest you and shoot, learn how to compose the image and make it look interesting.

Fourth, enjoy.
Firstly - Im currently saving for Sigma 17-50 f2.8

Secondly - i have the Digital Photo Professional that came with the camera (any good??)

Thirdly - I'm trying to figure out what really interests me - so far its been family & cars

Fourth - EXACTLY!!! Im pressuring myself to be good, so not enjoying it.

Thanks again chaps, I'll figure out how to add pics from Flickr now and pop them in the next post.

Dave
 
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Dave-o
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59
Name
David
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#10
This one im not happy with as it just appears blurry & soft
https://flic.kr/p/MUnT9S
IMG_0575
by Dave Broom, on Flickr

Again, same with this one
https://flic.kr/p/M7TD7k
IMG_0460
by Dave Broom, on Flickr

Same story
https://flic.kr/p/MUny2y
IMG_0426
by Dave Broom, on Flickr

ditto
https://flic.kr/p/MCjJKN
IMG_0413
by Dave Broom, on Flickr

And one i am happy with, i took this a long time ago of my friends Lotus, I planned for it to look dark and moody, I really like this picture
https://flic.kr/p/M7SPSF
IMG_4796
by Dave Broom, on Flickr

Again, i like this one
https://flic.kr/p/MWXFvv
IMG_4830
by Dave Broom, on Flickr

Another one.
https://flic.kr/p/M7Sr9e
IMG_4781
by Dave Broom, on Flickr

I like how sharp the car in the foreground is.
https://flic.kr/p/MWWp4p
IMG_4612
by Dave Broom, on Flickr

This one i just really like the DOF
https://flic.kr/p/MUkznU
 
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6,116
Name
Terry
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#11
This one im not happy with as it just appears blurry & soft
https://flic.kr/p/MUnT9S

Again, same with this one
https://flic.kr/p/M7TD7k

Same story
https://flic.kr/p/MUny2y

ditto
https://flic.kr/p/MCjJKN

And one i am happy with, i took this a long time ago of my friends Lotus, I planned for it to look dark and moody, I really like this picture
https://flic.kr/p/M7SPSF

Again, i like this one
https://flic.kr/p/MWXFvv

Another one.
https://flic.kr/p/M7Sr9e

I like how sharp the car in the foreground is.
https://flic.kr/p/MWWp4p

This one i just really like the DOF
https://flic.kr/p/MUkznU
You seem to be more interested in cars than photography.
I rather doubt that that will help your photography that much.
You need to work with a wider set of subjects before you specialise.
 
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Name
Richard
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#12
Ok, I think I can see what is working for you and what isn't, and hopefully offer some advice.

The first shot is not too bad, I think the problem there is you were in the light and your subject was in the shade. I'm seeing a drop in contrast that is consistent with lens flare there.

The three of Myanna all suffer basically the same problem. They are all action shots, and your shutter speed is between borderline and way too low. 1/250th should be your minimum shutter speed for action and the higher the better. 1/160th and 1/100th means you are getting blur from subject movement. Next time change to shutter priority and select 1/500th as your shutter speed. Make sure you are in AI servo focusing mode and balance your ISO to keep the exposure correct. This should see some improvements.

Now for the second part, and the reason why some of your car shots look sharper. Light. Good light means more contrast, and contrast makes photos appear sharper. Good photography needs good understanding of light and how it affects your images.

Take your first shot of the Lotus. I know you like it, but I'm afraid I don't. It looks under exposed and not in a way that works for me. I think it needed some natural light on the side of the car - even a little - to make the details stand out. Kind of like the second... the car has some definition while still remaining moody.

Hope this helps.
 
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Dave-o
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59
Name
David
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#13
You seem to be more interested in cars than photography.
I rather doubt that that will help your photography that much.
You need to work with a wider set of subjects before you specialise.
Hi Terry, Thanks for the reply,

Can you elaborate a little please, What is it about being a car fan that would make a bad photographer?
I don't think i specialize in car photography, I just like cars and i'm surrounded by the things all the time so makes sense to practice shooting on them.

Cheers


Ok, I think I can see what is working for you and what isn't, and hopefully offer some advice.

The first shot is not too bad, I think the problem there is you were in the light and your subject was in the shade. I'm seeing a drop in contrast that is consistent with lens flare there.

The three of Myanna all suffer basically the same problem. They are all action shots, and your shutter speed is between borderline and way too low. 1/250th should be your minimum shutter speed for action and the higher the better. 1/160th and 1/100th means you are getting blur from subject movement. Next time change to shutter priority and select 1/500th as your shutter speed. Make sure you are in AI servo focusing mode and balance your ISO to keep the exposure correct. This should see some improvements.

Now for the second part, and the reason why some of your car shots look sharper. Light. Good light means more contrast, and contrast makes photos appear sharper. Good photography needs good understanding of light and how it affects your images.

Take your first shot of the Lotus. I know you like it, but I'm afraid I don't. It looks under exposed and not in a way that works for me. I think it needed some natural light on the side of the car - even a little - to make the details stand out. Kind of like the second... the car has some definition while still remaining moody.

Hope this helps.
It helps a lot, Some really good advice there thank you so much! I've got some homework to do on understanding lighting & exposure.
 
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Richard
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#14
It is very difficult to judge how good your Photographs are,based on your selection.

A few snapshots of your little girl,I guess and the rest of stationary cars.

What are you trying to achieve and how would you like your family snapshots to improve,because the motor shot are much better.

Is HOT 201L your car?
 
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988
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#15
I was confused about the car comment too - if that's your passion you stand a better chance of taking decent pictures of them, but what I would do is photograph them more in action rather than at shows when they're stationary, or look at marketing brochures and try and replicate some of their staged shots. You could go along to a track day or race meeting and capture them trackside, there's some excellent car photographers on this forum who you could probably get tips from but unfortunately I can't remember who they are. This guy's pretty good on Flickr though:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ph-pics/
 
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Andy
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#16
There is also quite a strong correlation between the shots you are happy with and some you're not in the lens you used. Most of the car ones are with the 50mm, the family ones tend to be the 55-250 (I appreciate this isn't 100% but nearly). It could be you prefer the images from the 50mm because the overall IQ is better. While IQ is great, it's not the be all and end all to a good photograph. Looking at the exif the 55-250 shots appear to be shot wide open too, not the strongest point of the lens :)

For what it's worth, I like the family shots. I would try some more using the 50mm and see if you are happier with them. The wider apertures available should help with the points made by Richard above about shutter speeds too :agree:
 
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Dave-o
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David
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#17
It is very difficult to judge how good your Photographs are,based on your selection.

A few snapshots of your little girl,I guess and the rest of stationary cars.

What are you trying to achieve and how would you like your family snapshots to improve,because the motor shot are much better.

Is HOT 201L your car?
I'm trying to achieve well composed in focus shots, I'd like the ones of my daughter to basically be in focus and pleasing to look back at in years to come. I had advice further up about shooting in shutter priority rather than aperture priority so that's this weekends homework!!

The Lotus belongs to my friend.


I was confused about the car comment too - if that's your passion you stand a better chance of taking decent pictures of them, but what I would do is photograph them more in action rather than at shows when they're stationary, or look at marketing brochures and try and replicate some of their staged shots. You could go along to a track day or race meeting and capture them trackside, there's some excellent car photographers on this forum who you could probably get tips from but unfortunately I can't remember who they are. This guy's pretty good on Flickr though:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ph-pics/
OK that's some good advice thank you, A few of my friends are competitive drifters so hopefully i can get along to a comp and give that a go.


There is also quite a strong correlation between the shots you are happy with and some you're not in the lens you used. Most of the car ones are with the 50mm, the family ones tend to be the 55-250 (I appreciate this isn't 100% but nearly). It could be you prefer the images from the 50mm because the overall IQ is better. While IQ is great, it's not the be all and end all to a good photograph. Looking at the exif the 55-250 shots appear to be shot wide open too, not the strongest point of the lens :)

For what it's worth, I like the family shots. I would try some more using the 50mm and see if you are happier with them. The wider apertures available should help with the points made by Richard above about shutter speeds too :agree:
Hello Andy, Unfortunately the 55-250 is the only lens i own at the moment, My 17-85 failed and the 50mm was borrowed from a friend. Im currently saving for a Sigma 17-50 as i think this will be a good everyday Lens for what i need.
But yes i agree that the better quality images do seem to come from the 50mm

Cheers


Also thanks to whoever changed my pics from links to actual pictures, for future reference how do i do that??
 

TheBigYin

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22,655
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Mark
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#18
Also thanks to whoever changed my pics from links to actual pictures, for future reference how do i do that??
You're welcome - I could only change 8 of them, that's the maximum no. of pictures we allow in a single post. For future reference, I'd actually suggest keeping to half a dozen or less as it's actually quite difficult / time consuming for people to give full critique on masses of shots...

to actually add the picture rather than a link, there's something in the tutorials section on adding photos from flickr...

https://www.talkphotography.co.uk/tutorials/inserting-images-from-flickr-updated-22-08-15.7/

is the link.


ETA: I should mention, the reason I changed the post to actually embed the pictures rather than just the links is that many members will simply not click the links to external sites, not knowing what they may get served up (i.e. NSFW images etc when browsing the forum at lunch-breaks etc.) or, because they think that it's simply a ploy to get lots of hits on your flickr site for some wierd "social media bragging rights thing"... So, it's always better to display the picture rather than a link. And, I changed them because... well - i'd already had to go into the flickr pages to see the images (to check if I needed to break any of the links because they were NSFW without warnings, so it was relatively easy to just paste in the BBcode to display the images at the same time...
 
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Barry
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#21
I am the same as you i tend to overthink my photography and instead of getting out there and takiing pictures and spend way to much time reading and watching tutorials, which in some cases can have conflicting and confusing advice.
 
OP
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Dave-o
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David
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#22
I am the same as you i tend to overthink my photography and instead of getting out there and takiing pictures and spend way to much time reading and watching tutorials, which in some cases can have conflicting and confusing advice.
Its difficult to understand that pictures don't have to be technically "perfect" to be a pleasing picture to look at!! We'll get there buddy...
 
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Rob Telford
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#23
A consistent issue I'm seeing in most of the images you posted (and a common error for beginners) is not considering what's going on in the frame around the subject your'e photographing. It's easy to get fixated on the person, child, or car when looking through the viewfinder, but then ignore distractions in the background. People with poles sticking out of their heads in photographs is a common symptom of this kind of thing.

The third [IMG_0426] is by far the most engaged and engaging of your photos of Myanna, but then there's lots of things going on in the periphery that don't add anything. With your zoom (or a hefty crop) you could have isolated her from all of that and made it a much better picture.

The last two of the Lotus and BMWs suffer from the buildings and sheds behind.

Take your first shot of the Lotus. I know you like it, but I'm afraid I don't. It looks under exposed and not in a way that works for me. I think it needed some natural light on the side of the car - even a little - to make the details stand out. Kind of like the second... the car has some definition while still remaining moody.
The second photo of the Lotus is much the best from that perspective, aside from the small bit of foliage that drifted into the left hand side of the frame.

As you have editing permitted, I did 2 minute job in Photoshop to bring up the light and contrast on the car, but tame the light in the sky a little - shifting the visual balance of the photo toward the foreground. You could have done a lot of that in camera with a well-placed grad filter.

I also took out a part of the plants - moving the car and yourself forward a foot or two while taking the picture would have probably allowed you to eliminate it entirely and left a clean line on the spoiler.


lotus_edit_2014-80.jpg
 
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7,389
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Rob Telford
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#24
BTW, don't get fixated on sharpness and your gear. I think your photos are generally sharp enough. Think more about the impact the whole image will have.

I took this on a foggy December night in 2004 with the 18-55 kit lens on my first digital camera, a Canon 300D. It's still one of my favourites because of the simplicity of the elements and bold colour.


Foggy Dubs
by Rob Telford, on Flickr
 
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Dave-o
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David
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#25
A consistent issue I'm seeing in most of the images you posted (and a common error for beginners) is not considering what's going on in the frame around the subject your'e photographing. It's easy to get fixated on the person, child, or car when looking through the viewfinder, but then ignore distractions in the background. People with poles sticking out of their heads in photographs is a common symptom of this kind of thing.
Thanks @Musicman - Some really useful advice again!

I think i'm going to enjoy my stay here!! some really helpful people :clap:
 
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