What can I improve

Joined
May 18, 2013
Messages
142
Location
The Netherlands
Yesterday I had a day off and took a walk. Not the best time of day. Between 14:00-15:00. Not som many clouds and a nice sunshine (low on vitamine D).

In all these photo's I used the E-M1 Mark II with the 12-40 with a polarize filter screwed on it. The first 2 where shot in JPEG (forgot to set in on RAW) and the last 3 RAW and edited in DXO Photo Lab 4.

I want to improve my photoskills. Can you guys and girls give me some advice? What could I have done at that moment (bedside come back at sunrise, summer, winter or something) to make these photo's more joyable.
I think they are rather dull, flat and maybe not even sharp.

P4260056_DxO.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

ISO 100 - f/7.1 - 1/100 sec - 12mm


P4260057_DxO.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

ISO 100 - f/7.1 - 1/100 sec - 40mm

P4260067_DxO.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

ISO 100 - f/5.6 - 1/100 sec - 40mm

P4260071_DxO.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

ISO 100 - f/5.6 - 1/200 sec - 12mm

P4260074_DxO.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

ISO 100 - f/6.3 - 1/100 sec - 12mm
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2017
Messages
1,067
I think if you look at "most" of the other landscape photo's here unless the large view is really special ie. light, scenery ,subject etc, people will tend to focus more on specifics and isolate certain subjects in the landscape that they find unique. IMO ,I think you probably could have spent all your time working on the tree in the last photo or found other angles of the path.
 

Brownie

Thread Killer Extraordinaire
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,800
Location
SE Michigan
Real Name
Tim
The first thing I noticed is that the first two photos are dark and low contrast. The third photo appears to be over processed. The last one is the best from a compositional and processing standpoint.

Were these processed in DxO? I don't use it but I see that as part of the file extension so I am assuming. If they were, you may be able to work on them a bit more to get closer to something you like.

I like the second photo. The sky/road are in the top and bottom thirds broken up by the middle. The person on the roadway is well-located in the frame. I downloaded it and played with the curves/brightness and just a touch of saturation. I thought it helped.
 
Joined
May 18, 2013
Messages
142
Location
The Netherlands
One thing at a time.

Buy a tripod. It will give you time to think about compositional rules like "thirds" (and when to break them).
Thanks. Have a tripod but didn't took it with me yesterday.
I only use a tripod at night or when I am using nd (grad) filters. Is it useful for other occasions when the shutterspeed isn't slow?
 
Joined
May 18, 2013
Messages
142
Location
The Netherlands
I think if you look at "most" of the other landscape photo's here unless the large view is really special ie. light, scenery ,subject etc, people will tend to focus more on specifics and isolate certain subjects in the landscape that they find unique. IMO ,I think you probably could have spent all your time working on the tree in the last photo or found other angles of the path.
Thanks for the advice. A subject is a must. But what about wide landscapes without a specific subject?
 
Joined
May 18, 2013
Messages
142
Location
The Netherlands
The first thing I noticed is that the first two photos are dark and low contrast. The third photo appears to be over processed. The last one is the best from a compositional and processing standpoint.

Were these processed in DxO? I don't use it but I see that as part of the file extension so I am assuming. If they were, you may be able to work on them a bit more to get closer to something you like.

I like the second photo. The sky/road are in the top and bottom thirds broken up by the middle. The person on the roadway is well-located in the frame. I downloaded it and played with the curves/brightness and just a touch of saturation. I thought it helped.
The first to are strait out of the camera JPEG's I believe. The other 3 are processed with DXO. Indeed, I might played to much with the 3th one.
 

WT21

Mu-43 Legend
Joined
Feb 19, 2010
Messages
7,298
Location
Boston
Composition and subject. The pictures are just not of anything interesting. The scene itself is flat (literally). Nothing topographically interesting, very little subject choice, and the lighting is mostly overhead, which doesn't even really leave shadows. Try early morning, evening for interesting lighting. Even flat scenes can be interesting if there is color/shadows. Work to find something more detailed, or that has sweeping landscape interest. It's not about jpg vs raw or what you processed it in. It's about the subject first, and lighting second, IMO.

The third and final images are the more interesting of the set, and could benefit from less than mid-day sun.

Lastly, your horizon seems to always be in the middle, which creates a double-subject of sky and land. Which are you trying to emphasize, and why? For "road" scenes like #3, you could have the road go diagonally or fade off into the top of the pick. For the tree, if you are emphasizing loneliness or a tree standing against the elments, reduce the ground in front, and get in more sky. Crouch down so you are looking up at the tree, instead of just straight on. We've all seen trees straight on, so this is something we see everyday. We don't always see trees from e.g. one foot off the ground.

Stuff like that. Hope it helps in some way.

Keep shooting, posting, and asking for feedback. But think about what's interesting, unusual, or not seen commonly (which is early morning, or at setting sun, odd angles, different elevations than eye level) and tell a story.
 

WT21

Mu-43 Legend
Joined
Feb 19, 2010
Messages
7,298
Location
Boston
Thanks for the advice. A subject is a must. But what about wide landscapes without a specific subject?
Good Lanscapes have a subject, even if it's a compound subject (such as "hills" or "rain"). "Flat terrain in midday" might be a subject, I suppose, but it's not an interesting one.

In your second pic, the terrain isn't entirely flat, but the overhead lighting has removed any interesting shadows making it look flat, as an example.
 
Joined
Jun 5, 2018
Messages
1,143
Location
Derby, United Kingdom
Real Name
Martin
@Jeroen81 I have taken a liberty and applied simple crops to no. 2 and no. 3 images (hope you don't mind) and basically removed the sky and what is (to my eye) distracting elements - I will add that my compositional skills are in much need of refinement!

When I am out on my own, I always take a tripod - it does slow you down within an area: there is no need for gun & run with landscape - it isn't going anywhere, and as others have mentioned, early morning/late afternoon light is much better - bright skies are (to my mind at least) only good for infra red images.

Just keep looking and shooting and most of all, enjoy your photography. :)

P4260057 crop.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
P4260067 sq crop.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

RichardC

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Mar 25, 2018
Messages
4,574
Location
The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, UK.
Real Name
Richard
Thanks. Have a tripod but didn't took it with me yesterday.
I only use a tripod at night or when I am using nd (grad) filters. Is it useful for other occasions when the shutterspeed isn't slow?

Just gives you time to think about what you are doing and why you are doing it.

MFT cameras with their IBIS free us from the need for tripods under many circumstances, but when composing a landscape (or portrait for that matter), it can be very helpful to immobilise your camera and take a good look around the frame, experiment with zoom, focussing and exposure.

Better to crop out an unwanted element when you take the photo than having to remove it in photoshop.
 
Joined
Jun 8, 2019
Messages
451
Buy a tripod.
This is the first time in history that I disagree with @RichardC. ;) Shooting a boring landscape with boring light while carrying a tripod, will not lead to better results than without a tripod. Instead of "immobilising" your camera, you should actual be mobile and try many different perspectives and compositions to see what works best.

I'm not saying a tripod is never useful. I'm just saying that when you have a problem like @Jeroen81 (trying to create interesting photographs out of the flat Dutch landscape under suboptimal light), a tripod is not the first thing I would reach for. Just an opinion, of course.

Some rules of thumb that I find useful:
  • When the light is boring, find an interesting subject. (This also works the other way around: when you have no subject but you do have nice light, you can still create something nice out of it. If you don't have either of those, you're in a tough spot for making interesting photographs.) See @Acraftman's suggestion about the tree and the paths.
  • With bad light, a narrow field of view works better than a wide field of view. (Makes it easier to eliminate the boring sky and ugly shadows from the frame, and to isolate an interesting subject. So try zooming in or using a longer lens.)
And some general comments on @Jeroen81's settings:
  • Shooting at ISO 100 is never a good idea when your base ISO is 200 (because you will have a higher risk of blowing out the highlights). Just shoot at base ISO.
  • Your lens performs optimally at f/4 or f/5.6, not f/6.3 or f/7.1. An aperture of f/5.6 gives you a lot of depth of field already. For the landscape shots you shared here, f/5.6 would have been more than enough. (I almost never go narrower than that, unless there is something close to the camera that I want to have in focus, while still keeping distant subjects in focus as well.)
 

exakta

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jun 2, 2015
Messages
857
Boring subjects except for the shots of the tree and the two people on the trail. If you had been much closer to the hikers, that would have improved that shot. The tree shot would have helped by a more dramatic sky, like a B&W with red filter emulation, or just darkening the sky with a polarizer or in post.

The most important skill for landscapes is knowing what's an interesting subject and then how to frame it. Otherwise they just look like snapshots. When the sky takes up half the frame or more, it better be full of real interesting clouds and/or a colorful sunset.

Both the crops offered are improvements. The shot of the lone hiker going into the curve is especially boring because of the time of year. Trees with leaves on them are more interesting, imagine the two at the corner had beautiful red/orange autumn leaves. If there are wildflowers in that area, imagine shooting when in full bloom, etc.
 
Last edited:

doady

Mu-43 Veteran
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
408
Location
Canada
1. As @frankmulder said, ISO 200 is best and DR and noise and optimum shutter speed. But this is technical matter, not an artistic one.
2. Partly cloudy sky would give photo more depth compared to clear sky, and reduce the harshness of the sunlight and emphasize colours more.
3. Use histogram to judge and optimise exposure. You can use increase exposure (positive exposure compensation) if there is still empty space on the right side of the histogram. 1st, 2nd and 4th photos seem a bit underexposed (too dark).
4. Experiment with raising the camera higher or lower. The horizon doesn't always have to be in the middle.
5. Try to consider the "visual balance" when composing you photo. Every element in a photo has a certain "weight", or it might direct the viewer's eye in a certain direction. For example, the tree on the right side of first photo is distracting, but we cannot even see all of it. In constrast, in the second photo, the person is on the right side walking toward the left side along the path, drawing the viewer into the picture very effectively.
6. Considering looking at small details instead of the just the wide view. Sometimes beauty is directly in front of us. It is not always far away.
7. Use Curves in a program like DXO to optimize and fine-tune constrast and exposure. Curves can also be a way to emphasize elements you want people to focus on, and de-empasize elements you don't want to people to focus on.
8. Move forward and backward with your feet to find different perspectives. Zooming the lens in and out is not the only way.
9. Trying turning the camera and experiment with vertical orientation for your photographs.
 

Hendrik

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Feb 27, 2015
Messages
1,998
Location
Wayland MA
Real Name
Hendrik
What they said. For me, #2 & #5 come closest. The tree would have benefitted from a point of view a little bit lower and a smidge to the right. This would have isolated the tree's crown from 'touching' any other objects in the landscape.

For composition, study paintings. Painters get to compose scenes in an ideal world, photographers have to make do with the real thing. Still, there's a good deal to be learned about placement, weighting, lighting, variety, etc. Your #2, #3 & #5 put me in mind of a couple of landscapes by Jacob van Ruisdael, here and here. Also one by his brother, Salomon van Ruysdael, here.
 

agentlossing

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
4,968
Location
Oregon USA
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
Never halve the horizon, unless there's an essential reason to, such as a nice cloud formation that you want to squeeze in with some foreground. One thing I think Freeman Patterson recommended in one of his books, which I've used to good effect, is when you're shooting wide angle with a big, somewhat flat landscape, use portrait orientation, and find a good close-up foreground element to set off the background and provide interest, shooting from a lower angle and getting the foreground interesting thing in focus.
 
D

Deleted member 36320

Guest
Jeroen, my goodness, you got a ton of feedback! Well, some people recommend tripod and it works for them. I am not fond of them and I do not cary one. Olympus is so well stabilized that I never had any need for it.

Here is something that I would suggest. Pay attention to what your eyes are drawn to. That is probably something that really interests you. Next, ask yourself: how do I convey what interests me to the viewer of my image? One of the most powerful tools is the focal length, because it impacts on the relationship between your object of interest to the surroundings. As a rule of the thumb, it is often good to have something that is of interest to viewers and that should be your visual focus or one of your foci. At some of your photos, you try to show just the expanse of the wide open space. That is very interesting to the viewer, but often devilishly difficult to present in a photo. Proceed with great caution with such photos! Pictures with roads and people provide a visual anchor and the images tend to work better.

Sometimes your sky and your land get the same amount of real estate in your photos. It works sometimes, but most times it is either land or the sky that is the main interest. It is a good idea to guide the viewer to what interested you to take the photo by emphasizing that which interested you and deemphasizing or eliminating other aspects of the image. In this case, emphasize the sky OR land but not both.

Most of your photos do not show much detail in your vegetation and everything tends to look a bit like a dark green blob. That is sometimes good, if you wish to deemphasize the green areas, but in thes photos, you need them to add interest. I would increase brightness a bit and add local contrast to separate nearby patches of similar brightness into darker and lighter areas. You can use sharpening or "clarity" in Adobe products or microcontrast in other tools or tonal contrast in NIK.

You know, you do get a lot of "negative-sounding comments". Remember we are all on the same path - to become better photographers. Naturaly some sf us started earlier and some later and so there are differences. However, the path to get better is open to you as it is to any other photographer. Have fun with it - like I do!
 

Dinobe

Mu-43 Veteran
Joined
Nov 23, 2017
Messages
411
Location
Belgium
My input, I'm by no means a professional and I often kick myself in the head making these beginner mistakes myself.

Biggest issue is that these are shot mid day, which means hard light, no real colour and no texture. Go early morning, yes that does mean getting out bed early. But I understand that sometimes you are in a place, sometimes once in a lifetime and that you have to take the shot or get nothing. If this is the case, pick "subjects". Get closer to trees, rocks, creeks, water, moss, flowers. Explore different angels. Mostly lower angels work better or create a more interesting shot. The keyword IMHO to any photo is "subject". Find a subject and show it.

#1: No real subject, horizon in the middle, underexposed.
Biggest issue here is that there is no real subject. What should I be looking at? The clouds? The footpath with the hiker? The shrubs in the foreground?
Even if you want to show the vastness of a landscape, pick a subject and show it in it's surroundings.

#2 a lot better, more subject.
I guess the subject is the winding path with the hiker. I would try to find another angle, so the path goes diagonally through the frame and lead the eye in the picture. "Leading lines" to give the image depth.

#3. Clearer subject.
But the image is overprocessed "overcooked" probably trying to fight the effect of harsh light and hard contrast.
Also people walking towards you are more interesting than people walking away from you.
If you want to show hikers in their environment, go up front, turn around and shoot them walking towards you.

#4. Same issue as number 1. No real subject, horizon in the middle.
Yes I understand you want to show the wide and barren landscape, but that's just not that interesting to look at.
Landscapes exists of foreground, midground and background. There is not really anything interesting the foreground, not really anything interesting in the midground. The trees and houses in the background might be of some interest, it's just too small and too far away to be of any meaning.
Wide angles and wide landscapes mostly don't work. It's often the exact opposite. Take longer focal lengths and pick a subject in the landscape.

#5. Better, a real subject
I would crop even tighter and really focus on processing. It's a bit dull and grey. Probably fighting the harsh light.

Some other tips:
1. I might be a good idea to look up basic composition guidelines like the rule of thirds, leading lines, negative space, diagonals, symmetry, ...
2. A good way to practice post processing is participating in the PPC (Post Processing Challenges) you'll get a variety of subjects to try to get the best out of it.
3. Limit yourself with the amount of gear. Go out with a prime (25mm/50mm eq) and try to make it work, try find compositions, try to tell a story with only one lens. Even if you wished you had brought along your telephoto or wide angle or whatever. Accept this one lens, and force yourself to make it work. Even if that does mean missing opportunities, you'll probably not shoot 'the photo of the year' anyway.
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom