WTF is wrong with this pic?

Discussion in 'Photo critique' started by Pedro, Feb 26, 2007.

  1. Pedro
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    Pedro Algae harvester

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    WTF is wrong with this pic?

    Sheesh! Not even 1 friggin' vote... Crit away peeps - throw me your nastiest comments. I'm a big boy and I can take it...

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Andre
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    Andre Green fingers

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    Hi Pedro

    Its not a bad photo, I just felt there were better ones.

    I am no photo expert, but the blurry gravel in the front makes my eyes hurt, and the photo is a bit dark and doesnt have enough contrast?

    Still a nice photo though
     
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    Discus Algae harvester

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    A super-speedy crit:

    The colour balance is off (I imagine you have an actinic or very blue bulb in the tank?). Try different lighting for photography (total flash is usually your best bet, but generally involves more complex gear).

    The subject is not filling the frame enough for my tastes.

    Somehow, the fish doesn't look quite in focus - the rock behind looks to be slightly sharper.

    Dead center / bullseye subject placement tends to make very static photos.

    Hope this helps. :)
     
  4. Pedro
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    Pedro Algae harvester

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    Thanks Andre & James.

    I never noticed the blurry gravel at the bottom of the pic until you mentioned it now. As for lighting and contrast, yes, a bit more of both would be good.

    The good thing about this crit section will that people will highlight what we don't see in the pics we have taken. I really didn't pay much attention to the gravel until you mentioned it as I was focusing primarily on the subject when I should've been focusing on the picture as a whole.

    James you're spot on in regards to the blue bulb - have 3 x white and 1 x blue -

    This pic was taken with a Sony Cybershot S600 (6.1Mp) without the flash enabled - because of reflection off of the glass.

    This cam is not very good for close ups and especially if trying to take pics of moving objects...

    I'm new to aquatic photography  - I think most of us on the APSA forum are - and so taking aquatic pics is a whole new ball game in regards to "terrestrial" photography.  

    Perhaps if I had cropped the pic a bit and then given it a slight tweaking in PhotoShop it would've looked a bit better.
     
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    Discus Algae harvester

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    That's one of the really irritating things about camera gear - taking aquarium photos, especially macros, instantly highlights weaknesses. Most P&S cameras are pretty terrible - with a few notable exceptions, like some of the Nikons (one I played with could focus on the lines of my hand whilst the lens was pretty much sitting on my hand!) - at macro photography.

    Generally you will find it an exercise in frustration to try to get fish photos without an external flash.

    One small tip is to press your lens right up against the glass, then the flash glare is pretty much eliminated from the glass - however, then you have to deal with very static lighting angles...

    The trick is to practice, practice, practice and in between, crit your own shots. Ask yourself what's wrong with each and every one of your pictures. I find that there are few, if any, of my own shots I am totally happy with. There's always something you could have tweaked.

    It is very challenging, and I wish you all the best in developing "mad photo skillz" :)
     
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    Discus Algae harvester

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    The more light you can get in there, the easier it will be to photograph the action. Fishtanks are actually quite dim in comparison to the outside world during the day. This makes stopping action tricky. Add to that the general necessity for using small apertures to get more depth of field, and you have a recipie for spending lots of money on flash gear. :)
     
  7. Steve
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    Steve Noob

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    Agree on the blurry gravel at the bottom and to the sides, its almost as if the effect was purposefully created around the fish to make it stand out more,..although I'm not convinced that it was, as the rock above does not seem to suffer from it.
    No offense, but the blurring really irritates my eyes, although I must admit that, due to a medical condition, I have incredibly sensitive eyes regarding blurring and/or flickering.
    As a "close up", I just have to say I dont feel it was "close enough"
    The following is more of a personal preferance than anything else, and as such, is not really fair,... but I prefer planted tanks, Malawi and Tang setups usually strike me as being a bit "bare",... maybe if the shot was closer my feeling of "bareness" would have been reduced.

    And seeing as I have commented on others pics without having posted one myself yet, I shall rectify this over the weekend, and hope to post one for yuz all to crit by next Monday.
       
     
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    Discus Algae harvester

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    I tweaked your image in photoshop - sadly, I'm not too familiar with the actual colours of this fish or your tank, but I tried to remove the extreme blue colour cast, and sort of indicate the way I might frame a fish if I were to be documenting just the fish (I like to really fill the frame with the subject). There were a few other tweaks as well. It's not particularly artistic crop, either - it's more a statement of "this is what this fish looks like", within a very roughly eyeballed aspect ratio of your camera (it should be taller, looking at it again). Shots like this I do a lot for work, almost always with dead :)() fish.

    With more "art" shots, you'd try different compositions. Capturing fish behaviour is always fun...
     
  9. Pedro
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    Pedro Algae harvester

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    Hi Steve,

    No, the effect of the blurry gravel was not purposefully created. I took the photo at an angle (probably about 30 or 40 degrees to the tank) which is what created that blur and which I reckon is because of the tank being 10mm thick glass.

    You're right about it not being close enough and once again I attribute that to the P&S cam I was using. If I use the optical zoom it just really looks crap so I don't ever use it when taking pics in my setup as it seems to pixelate the subject and generally give it a really poor quality.

    At the time I took that pic my tank was pretty bare which probably explains why you got that feeling of bareness. The bareness of Tanganyikan/Malawi tnaks is what I like about the biotopes. I've got in some Vallis and Crypts now which make it feel a bit warmer and when I take pics in future will try to capture those backgrounds to give the pic more of a "lively" look and feel.
     
  10. Pedro
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    Pedro Algae harvester

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    Hey James,

    Believe it or not I have tried this before but perhaps because it is a P&S the photo comes out looking really shite. By shite I mean very white ares and lots of shadows even if the pic is taken straight ahead.

    I'm very interested in seeing what sort of difference I'll be getting when taking pics with a DSLR as opposed to a P&S.
     
  11. Pedro
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    Pedro Algae harvester

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    I've actually only had the 2 x white and 1 x blue tubes running the past few months because of a faulty ballast. Do you reckon that one additional flash will be cool or will I require 2 or 3 off-cam flashes to really notice a difference?
     
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    Discus Algae harvester

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    Do you have any control over the flash output (try underexposing the flash by at least a stop)?
    You can also try diffusing the flash a bit with tissue paper or opaque plastic (plastic semi-translucent milk/juice jugs) and the like. I once used a bit of polystyrene to take out-of-tank macros of things on an expedition with a really kak Fuji - the lens got in the way of the flash with close-ups, but bouncing the flash off a bit of white polystyrene managed to fill in the dirty great big shadow.

    The main difference between a DSLR and basic p&s is the flexibility with accessories. If your camera can take an off-camera flash, and you have some spare cash (doubtful with new kid on the block and a big tank!), try getting one, and definitely do if you're gettin a DSLR, along with a good 1:1 macro lens, preferably 100mm or longer. :)
     
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    Discus Algae harvester

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    directly on axis with the camera lens is generally the worst possible angle for a flash, sadly - one of the reasons such pics looked so kak.

    How many flashes you need depends on how much light you need. I.e. are you lighting only a small area of your tank? Are you firing the flash through a lot of water? How much shadow filling do you need (would another flash help "lift" them?) What aperture and shutter speed are you using?... a couple of similar things. Start with one, and see how you go. but whatever you do, get it the hell off the top of your camera!
     
  14. Pedro
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    Pedro Algae harvester

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    Nope. I don't have control over the flash with the P&S - although I can set a slight delay between the time flash goes off and the pic is taken. Generally I don't use the flash with aquatic pics because of how the colour of the pic comes out. It just throws it way off. Will try that "kak papier" ;D trick you suggest?

    Would like to get a couple of additional off-cam flashes plus a macro lense - maybe next month after robbing my local cornershop. :)
     
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    Discus Algae harvester

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    Petty larceny, FTW.

    At least until you get caught. Otherwise, there's long term saving for a new lusted-after toy. :)

    Experiment with different thicknesses too.
     
  16. Pedro
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    Pedro Algae harvester

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    The tanks a 2000 x 600 x 750 and although it is pretty well lit I will always more than likely only be taking pics of a small area of the tank. In regards to whether I'm firing the flash through a lot of water, no, at the moment I'm not as because I don't use the optical zoom, I always tend to play a waiting game at the front of the tank and only shoot once my finned friends are really close by - I kind of ambush the buggers and I'm surprised none of them have died of fright as yet...
     
  17. City bowl
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    City bowl Noob

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    If I can give you some advice as a designer,
    I'd try cropping more dynamically on the fish,
    it is not always important to crop tight, but to show some sense of habitat or landscape,
    I'd also try and saturate the colours a bit more, work on the colour balance, knock back the pink gills a bit.
    the tank light makes the photo look a bit flat, or dead.
    I'm sure as the tank matures and the rocks get some algae they will have more visual interest.
    There is one thing worse than no plants and that would be half dead plants!
    No offence inteded! :)
     
  18. Pedro
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    Pedro Algae harvester

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    Hey City Bowl,

    Thanks for the advice. Having spent the last 8 or 9 years being involved with graphics and web development - I also consider myself to have a pretty good eye for design and layout. What limits my creativity in taking pics at the moment is the hardware I've currently got for the job.

    When you talk about cropping on the fish more dynamically, I hear what you're saying but I think that James was basically showing us is what he does when he needs to document a fish and to highlight the focus on the fish by cutting out distracting elements.

    I agree with you that when taking a pic of your finned subject that it is important to display the habitat and landscape and for me that is what I like about aquatic photography - attaining a balance of several elements in the pic and not just the fish ityself. When I get a macro lense (one day) that may change though...

    The tank is a couple of months older than it was at that time of the photo, so yes, the rocks do have some more algae on them (not too much though) and so the tank is looking more mature and less "grey" than it was.
     
  19. Andre
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    Andre Green fingers

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    Hi Pedro

    I actually wanted the photo competitions to be open to people who dont have fancy cameras too. I think that we should keep this in mind, you can take some great photos with crappy cameras. Good gear certainly makes things easier, but I hope that we can all learn to get the most out of the cameras we do have.
     
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    Discus Algae harvester

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    Good gear simply makes it a ton easier. But yes, you can take interesting pictures with a cardboard box with a small hole in, if you find the right subject.
     

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