Helsinki **Critique Please**

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Helsinki **Critique Please**

Postby thomasrichards » Mon May 05, 2008 6:06 am

I've had my D80 (my first DSLR) for one month now, and would appreciate it if the members could critique my progress. The photos are of Helsinki from last weekend.

There is no post processing except for 2 degrees of straightening on the first shot.

I had the camera on full manual including manual focus. I also had vivid colour set on. I believe metering was set to matrix(pattern), and white balance set to cloudy. No exposure compensation, ISO @ 100.

Shutter Speed: 1/100
Aperture: f/16

Shutter Speed: 1/250
Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/80
Aperture: f/16

Shutter Speed:1/80
Aperture: f/16

Shutter Speed: 1/40
Aperture: f/16

Thanks :roll:
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Postby Gregory.Rotter » Mon May 05, 2008 9:48 am

I like 2 and 3. Compositionaly they are the good ones out of the lot. The 2nd shot shows contrast in size, and while I know the shots were probably just out and about shots, having the girl sit on the steps might have increased the contrast of size here. But her pose does make the shot more 'fun' and less artsy if thats what you're going for.

Number 3 is a decent shot, its got symmetry although I might have asked the girl to stand a bit closer to you.

I might also mention that resolution wise, the 35mm F2, performs best at F8.

There's nothing terribly 'WRONG' with the other shots, they just don't say anything to me personally or are a tad 'bland'. Number 4 looks a bit 'busy', and I might have tried to get the shot without the lamp posts, and the statue in, and instead taken a photo of the statue by itself instead of trying to include everything in 1 photo.

While the photo's are not exposed wrong, I might have tried to underexpose the shots just a little bit to make the sky's just a little bit bluer. If you're in Programmed auto, Shutter Priority, or Aperture Priority, you can use the 'Exposure compensation' button on top of the camera. Note that if you use the Exposure Compensation button in Manual mode, the meter reading in the viewfinder will change, but the shutter speed won't change. I thought the exposure compensation button was faulty till I read the manual and saw it only works in P,S or A mode.

Of course this is just my opinion, and others will have other thoughts. :wink:

Postby thomasrichards » Mon May 05, 2008 10:27 am

Hi Gregory,

Do you think the use of a polarising filter would do a better job with the sky than darkening it with exposure compensation? I would prefer a filter if it works just as well, or better, as exposure compensation as I prefer to work in full manual.

Also, what do you mean when you say "... resolution wise, the 35mm F2, performs best at F8." ?

Thanks for the criticism. It's what I'm looking for.
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Postby Markh » Mon May 05, 2008 10:46 am

thomasrichards wrote:Also, what do you mean when you say "... resolution wise, the 35mm F2, performs best at F8." ?

All lenses have a "sweet spot" aperture at which their resolving power is best.
To get an idea of what that means and how it's tested, have a look at Gordon's Canon EF 17-40mm lens review for an example.

The 35mm f/2 is at its best when closed down (like most lenses) to f/8.


Postby thomasrichards » Mon May 05, 2008 10:53 am

Aahh.. ok. Thanks :lol:
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Postby grahamnp » Mon May 05, 2008 11:20 am

I think #2 is superb, it gives a real sense of scale with the way you've positioned your subject(s).

Postby alex168 » Mon May 05, 2008 11:26 am

Hey Thomas,

Your new to the DSLR world if i m not mistaken? I been looking at these images alot, and i cannot decided anything about how i feel about them, i sort of get the feeling that they mean more to you then anyone else, they got that "touristical lets go on a trip and take some pictures to remember" which isnt bad at all but its just not the same for us compared to what they are for you....understand what i m saying?

I mean you got the metering right, there is no overexposure which is good, seemed, you have taken a lot of better photos imo.

Lets try to track this down 1 image at the time:

Image 1: Where do you want me on that shot, i m all over the frame, the tree branches bother me soo much, that it ruins the entire shot, there is no good overall composition, you placed the what looks to be the church tower, in the middle of the lines of thirds...instead of choosing to place it on one side in this case left hand side would be better because of the tree..ohh i just noticed the underexposed sealing there..cant really seee much detail in that...overall i m not a big fan of this shot

Image 2: Its a massive subject, and due to the distance that your standing from her, she just doesn't suit the object really well...its kinds of ruins everything, but then again to remember this moment its a good photo. Ultimate here would be having a wide angle lens and having her standing very close yo you and then shooting the building. Just noticed the three windows of this building in the middle are overexposed. Maybe this photo would have worked from further back, alot further back...i dont knw never been there

Image 3: Same as above, would have worked alot better without the person in it, this is actually your best shot IMO. Good lines, but maybe a bit too much is shows on the stairs...once again i get the feeling that this could have been better from a bit further show more detail in the roof of the building

Image 4: As previously stated this shot is way busy, the building in the back is cut off which is very unpleasant. I think you need to get more used the lenses that you have, to feel what their limitations are. And work some what on composition...

Image 5: This is probably one of the better ones as well, but then again the bushes are very distractive, you should have cut those down :)

Overall, i have no idea what equipment your using, and what lenses you have, but it seemed to me as if your rushed some of these photos and just didnt think about the basic things, and seems as if some could use some levels the first photo for instance

A polarizing filter would be nice, it render a nice blue sky, which can be created in Photoshop as well, its a matter of opinion. As soon as i get my pay pal account working i m going to order a bunch of stuff from the net amongst them a polarizing filter, because i m going down to Spain and i want the water to look in a certain way, plus the sky is just going to be killer bright.

Hope that helps you some how, would be nice to see what you have to say back apart from thanks :P

Postby thomasrichards » Mon May 05, 2008 11:38 am

Hi Alex,

I feel your criticism is quite accurate... I was quite rushed in composing. I had only a few hours in Helsinki before I headed to Tallinn.

However, on the first shot I deliberately placed everything in the frame that way it appears. I wanted to show the stark contrast of light and dark, and where these meet in the middle, in a symetrical kind of way. The branches are an eyesore and wish I could have taken the shot from a different angle so as to exclude them, but then the shot would not look anything like I intended it to.

Thanks for the critique :D

EDIT: The equipment I'm using is stated below in my signature. No other equipment used.
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Postby Gregory.Rotter » Mon May 05, 2008 5:36 pm

Hey Thomas, I often use the bracket function on my D80 and get 1 under, 1 normal and one over exposed shot, normally with the increment set to 0.7. You could use a polariser, but I've noticed it has a lesser effect on digital than what you see on film. But yeah, it would help. Just remember that if you get any filter, if you plan to get another lens later on, it might not have the same thread, and would mean you having to buy another filter.

Postby Kenneth Skou » Mon May 05, 2008 6:37 pm

Hey thomasrichards,

I feel a little differently than some of my esteemed co-posters here - but I could be "the odd one out".

I think that shot #2 is the best one and the very presence of the young lady posing in a clearly wacky/exuberant way is what makes this image, to me. Not only does she provide scale, she also provides a "reason" for this picture to exist to begin with, so to speak.

I think I can sense what you were trying with image #1 and my only "advice" as it were, is don't hold back - push it over the edge instead. This specific composition might look really well of you grunge it up with a B&W conversion and adding some film-grain to the highlights. Ideally the sky would be more dramatic with more clouds.

Image #3 is good, but I think it would be even greater if the young lady was down and to the right or left, so that you could only see her face or torso. Experimentation is key of course - but her position would aid the image by challenging the symmetry.

The fourth one is lovely as it is, but might stand out more with some polarization of the sky. I can imagine that this exact shot might be killer at night/dusk, with the streetlight.

The fifth one is nice too - suitable for a travel-blog or a pamphlet. It's against an uncooperative

Thank you for sharing :-)

Kenneth Skou

Postby michduncg » Tue May 06, 2008 9:25 am

Hi Thomas

Thanks for posting these pics of Helsinki. I've been too, and there are some fantastic sights. Click on my flickr link in signature to see my own attempts!

Ok - #1 I like the colour of the sky and the dark/light sides of the church tower that you captured. What I don't like is the branches of the tree which kind of interfere. Maybe if you had used a wide angle lens and got down low on the ground you could have got the whole church tower and the sky in without the tree? Personally, I'd also crop it get rid of the arched windows at the bottom, but I like the lighter coloured wall there

#2 - Again - love the sky and the girl on the steps. Its good she is there as you may not realise that area of the foreground are stepped! Maybe crop to get rid of the grass? Good exposure, with clear shadows behind the pillars.

#3 Its a nice shapshot! I've been to Senate Sq and so know how imposing those steps are! Again, maybe if you'd got closer to the girl at a low angle you'd have got something more dramatic.

#4 - you cut the top off the cupola - theres a really shiny cross on top! You may have done that trying to get more of the street furniture in, but if you'd stepped back a bit you could probably have achieved both.

#5 - this is a classic angle of the Orthodox Cathedral, and you managed to capture the highlights and lowlights pretty well. Again though, if you'd got closer (eg the car park in front), and got down on the ground, you'd have got this building in without the need for any of the railings, shrubs and flower beds. You may have needed to set your EV a little lower, as the sun really shines of those gold domes.

So my overall advice would be:

1) get a wider angle lens. Even one that goes down to 18mm would give you great results.

2) Get down low against a building and photgraph it from the ground up. You'll get funny looks! Use a gorillapod or small tripod to hold the camera steady while you're down low!

I'm not sure if a polariser is needed in Helsinki this time of year - I found the sky to be an incredible blue this time last year, and it looks the same in most of your pics.
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Postby dryan2 » Tue May 06, 2008 11:56 pm

I abslolutley love the 2nd one :D
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Postby thomasrichards » Wed May 07, 2008 9:16 am

Thanks for all the critique guys. It gives me the idea that i'm off to an acceptable start atleast.

Michduncg, I looked at your flickr and saw the shots of Tallinn. I could'nt stop laughing because I have alot of shots similar to yours, including the angles. I went there the day after Helsinki. So far of all the cities I've been to, I would say that Old Town in Tallinn is the most photogenic. Thoes red tiled towers look awsome agianst a blue sky.

If anyone ever goes to Tallinn, I would highly recommend that you have dinner at 'Olde Hansa'. You'll be in for quite a treat... you should try the 'dark beer with herbs'... YUM! ... and the peppered schnapps if you feel drained from all the walking.
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Postby patti » Wed May 07, 2008 5:39 pm

Wow, what a neat place...all the repeating patterns...and it is enormous...I am a fan of # 2..because it is a little on the irreverent side, amid the gaze of the "solemn column", those pillars have seen it all, and I have to think that they love a dancing girl.....and the severe steps.. how many have trudged to the top, and never thought to stop, and play..

Great buildings, wonderful, old, solid.

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Postby thomasrichards » Thu May 08, 2008 6:37 am

Thank-you for the great comment Patti.

I enjoy seeing your comments on my photos, it adds a storyline to them.

By the way, the building in shot 2 is the parliamentary building completed and inaugarated in 1931.
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