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UER Forum > UE Photo Critiques > Newbie looking for a constructive critique (Viewed 1930 times)
Aran 


Location: Madison, WI
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Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< on 9/25/2014 11:31 AM >
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I recently went out to several locations, and took some pictures. I was hoping for some critical review to help make my pictures better, and some ideas on what works best. I used Night mode without a tripid for most of these, though for a few I used Auto and Suppressed flash.

The top four are from an old landscaping business that went under a few years ago, and the other two are of the cargo lift from an old warehouse.



A handkerchief in an air duct- lit via flashlight, Night mode.
351967.jpg (45 kb, 800x600)
click to view



A box of sculpting tools- lit via flashlight, Night mode.
351968.jpg (41 kb, 800x600)
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A generator in a side room- lit via flashlight, Night mode.
351969.jpg (29 kb, 800x600)
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The same generator- lit via Autoflash.
351970.jpg (102 kb, 800x600)
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A wide shot of the cargo lift apparatus- lit via natural light, Suppressed flash.
351971.jpg (82 kb, 800x600)
click to view



A close up of the lift itself- lit via natural light, Suppressed flash.
351972.jpg (80 kb, 800x600)
click to view



If you guys could give me some tips to improve my photography, that would be terrific. Also, is it considered acceptable to use digital editing software to improve the pictures, and if so, what do you recommend? These are all posted unedited, just as I took them. Thanks!



[last edit 9/25/2014 11:35 AM by Aran - edited 1 times]

Indiana Jones wasn't an archaeologist, he was an urban explorer. Archaeologists do a lot less running and a lot more paperwork.

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Explorer H 

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Re: Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< Reply # 1 on 9/25/2014 12:27 PM >
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There are several that are blurry. Use a tripod. It's unclear exactly what your subject is. They all feel as though they were snapshots with a phone-camera.
I'm being objective. Practice more. Even if your only goal was to simply document, these look like tossers.




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billgeorge 


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Re: Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< Reply # 2 on 9/30/2014 8:47 PM >
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If you're trying to convey your excitement of exploring abandoned or off-limits places, you'd often do better to use words and tell stories.

Even if your pictures were crisp and clear (use a tripod and don't use flash), they'd still be dull. (Who wants to look at a handkerchief in an air duct?) All my photos are certainly dull; that's why I tell stories to go with them, which I post to my regional board. Sometimes I explore without taking photos at all!




skatchkins 


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Re: Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< Reply # 3 on 9/30/2014 9:06 PM >
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Yep, tripod is key. Just get a cheap light one you can strap or put in your pack.

Glad you're having fun with it and have a desire to do more. Keep these photos to look back on once you've gotten better.




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Skye_Ann 


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Re: Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< Reply # 4 on 9/30/2014 9:40 PM >
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Ai...

What kind of camera did you use to shoot these? They're all blurry, colours are imbalanced and they just don't look post-worthy. If these were my shots they wouldn't even make it off the memory card...

I don't think a tripod would help much here. Honestly.




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Ganesha 

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Re: Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< Reply # 5 on 9/30/2014 9:50 PM >
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UE is really a clump of complementary pursuits. One of them is photography; and UER emphasizes that aspect.

But photography is an art in itself. So you're pursuing two goals now. As BillGeorge suggests, you can do UE without pics (of course, storytelling is an art too!).

OTOH if making "ruin porn" is what you want to do, then get serious about photography. This can be a lot of fun; but it will take time, effort and at least some money. A few pointers in an online forum aren't enough of a boost for a newbie photographer. Instead, look for community college extension classes about photography in your area. Good classes I've found in Seattle include "How to use your digital camera," "Composition," "Lighting" and "Nighttime photography." You can also learn a lot at free seminars put on by camera stores, manufacturers' trade shows, etc. Once you have that foundation, advice from other photographers and online will keep you growing.

Exploring with more seasoned folk will help you move beyond the thrill of having gotten in there at all to an appreciation for a place life has touched, changed and, in the end, forgotten. Some places hold clues to fascinating stories, mysteries, histories. Others are just enclosed dullness, and not worth photographing, tho you may still have adventures to tell. Hopefully, getting injured, chased by scrappers or arrested won't be one of them! 8)




"The beauty of mediocrity is that anything can make you better." -Jeff Mallett
Ganesha 

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Re: Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< Reply # 6 on 10/1/2014 5:45 AM >
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On further thought, I see that you didn't get the critique you asked for. Some people here have been very encouraging to me. So, paying forward, I'd like to share some ideas about #5, the most interesting of your pics.

The best practice is to take as nearly perfect a shot as possible. You can do things at that time that are difficult to do later, and that if done later will reduce the image's quality. For insurance, take lots of shots, trying different settings, particularly shutter speeds.

#5 is a promising scene, a worn room with a lot of objects. The first problem is that it's not straight. We can straighten it with an editor, but that involves resampling the pixels and will diminish the resolution. More care next time; good tripods have built-in levels BTW. I'm using iPhoto, which is a really useful program, and free too (on OSX). Steve Jobs got mad at Adobe and decided to show them up, lucky for us!

1. Straightening is simple here; in "Quick Fix" mode just pick it on the menu and drag the lever to align a horizontal or vertical line in the image with the guideline grid.

The second problem is that the lighting is poor. Too much light in one area, not enough in the rest. On site, you might deal with this by moving the camera so little or none of the bright area is in the viewfinder. Another idea is to have someone stand in the bright area with a reflector such as a bright jacket or a windshield sun visor and send some light into the darkness; flashlights help too. Camera flash nearly always ruins a picture, and it gives away your location too. Another thing you can try with a tripod is to take bracket shots with different shutter speeds and merge them with an HDR-capable editor (some cameras have a built-in HDR feature).

An editor can increase or decrease lighting after the fact. But only a Photoshop-type editor can do that in just one region of the image. And if some pixels have no data due to extreme light or dark, there's no way to salvage them.

2. White balance is one thing we can do with this simple editor. Click the pencil icon to make your cursor cross-hairs; then aim the cross-hairs at something in the picture you know should be white or gray. I picked the white area above the big beam in the top left. The editor will adjust the colors of the picture as needed to make the pixel you selected white or gray.

Other things you can do involve adjusting the color and strength of the light. I marked the controls I used for this task. A lot of editors have similar controls.

The third problem is that the composition is poor. If there were useless stuff around the subject, like your generator picture #4, you could crop the picture, sacrificing some resolution for a better layout. Since all the good stuff in #5 is just off the edges and the middle is dull, cropping is no use. I'm guessing you couldn't get far enough away from that stuff to fit it all in. There are wide-angle lenses for this situation, but they'll costya. Another way to deal with the problem is to take overlapping images and stick them together with an editor that makes panoramas (iPhoto can't, but Photoshop Elements can).

To close with a lawyer joke, what do you call 300 lawyers buried under the bottom of the sea?

A GOOD START






"The beauty of mediocrity is that anything can make you better." -Jeff Mallett
billgeorge 


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Re: Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< Reply # 7 on 10/1/2014 8:14 PM >
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Ganesha wrote:
I see that you didn't get the critique you asked for. Some people here have been very encouraging to me. So, paying forward ...


Somebody give this helpful person full membership!




NotQuiteHuman 


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Re: Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< Reply # 8 on 10/1/2014 9:56 PM >
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I would start off by getting a tripod like others have already said. Get on youtube and look up basic photography composition techniques. If your camera has manual controls, learn how to use them. If not, learning about iso, aperture and shutter speed can still be very useful. If you want to get serious, look for a camera that has a manual mode. Take a look at other people's photos. Find photos you like and think about what makes them work and how you can use that in your own work. Once you getting an understanding, keep practicing and shooting and you will only discover more. Ultimately, you can work on developing and perfecting your own style.




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Intrinsic 


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Re: Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< Reply # 9 on 10/1/2014 9:58 PM >
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When you shoot at night, compared to daytime, you really need a tripod so that the camera remains stable as it absorbs the background light necessary on longer exposures.

If you don't own one, try placing the camera on something level and try that approach. Also consider using the built in timer (2 seconds) as you may shake the camera when pressing the shutter button.

Beyond that, the composition of what you're shooting is well, boring. Try for the decay, unusual angles (get on the ground if necessary), the overdone lonely chair in the corner shot.

You can even pick up cheap mini tripods that are no higher than a foot. I did handheld for years and found the results were less than desirable.




Aran 


Location: Madison, WI
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Combining form and functionality

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Re: Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< Reply # 10 on 10/3/2014 12:58 AM >
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Wow, thanks for the critique everybody, especially you, Ganesha. I'll be sure to fix up the photos in the future, though the warehouse is becoming increasingly difficult to access. A tripod I can do for other sites, though.

The city has voted to renovate the entire area, including the warehouse, and the only time there are not construction workers outside is on the weekends and at night. Furthermore, somebody nailed sheet metal over my original POE, and the only other possible POE is a window a dozen feet up lined with jagged, broken glass. I predict that within a month it will be near-impossible to access, so I'm glad I went when I did.

I'm not really trying to make ruin porn, per say. I just enjoy exploring abandonments, going where few have set foot in years. I take the pictures to try to share some of that, and to add something to it.

Thanks again for all the help, guys. I'll try to implement what you've all suggested in the future.




Indiana Jones wasn't an archaeologist, he was an urban explorer. Archaeologists do a lot less running and a lot more paperwork.

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dashrsp 


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Re: Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< Reply # 11 on 10/8/2014 5:20 PM >
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Posted by Ganesha
On further thought....


Definitely the most comprehensive reply I've seen in this section!! Nice work man.




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dashrsp 


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Re: Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< Reply # 12 on 10/8/2014 5:37 PM >
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Definitely get a tripod, and if you can, shoot on manual mode. When doing handheld with a dslr, generally 1/60 (generally displayed as 60) shutter speed and up will get you consistently sharp (not shaky) shots. You can get some as low as 1/20 or 1/25, but it is much more difficult.

Also another thing to work on is composition, before taking a shot, think to yourself, is this the best way to represent this subject? If I crouch down so my quads are shaking, will it look better? A lot of cameras will have a accelerometer that can tell you if the camera is level or not. Note that you may not always want it level.

In terms of using flash, I've found any flash thats physically on the camera (generally) does not look better than just doing a really long exposure.

It is definitely acceptable to do post-processing, and it can be extremely helpful as well as open up a whole new path of creativity. Personally, I like Adobe lightroom for most low to moderate editing. If you don't want to break the bank, im sure the pirate bay as something to offer... ;) Also, if you can shoot in RAW mode, helps a lot for editing.

Good luck in future endeavors.




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Acadian 


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Re: Newbie looking for a constructive critique
< Reply # 13 on 11/16/2014 6:11 PM >
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Night photos are the most difficult, as I'm sure that you've found. Sometimes, in the dark, just finding the subject can be hard to do - let alone focus on it.

Not sure if you were using a digital camera or a cell phone (I'm thinking that it was the former) but there are many variables when taking night shots. On the shoot-and-fly neither are great at taking night shots.

Many have recommended that you purchase and utilize a tripod for the night shots. That's great advice if you have the time to get things set up without feeling that you have to get moving. Plus, tripods can cumbersome, heavy and awkward to try and carry around.

My solution is to go and get a good 'unipod' and save the tripod for times when you have the time to set up. Just Google unipod and you'll see what I'm talking about and why so many photographers use them. Mine goes everywhere with me.

If you have a pre-flash/spot light then that will help (usually built right into the camera). With that you can atleast see where you are aiming at before you hit the shutter. But it all still comes down to your camera and it's ability to process such low light settings.

Wal-Mart has adjustable unipods for just over $20. And they're great for all types of shots other than just night shots.

Best of luck




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