Sorry, I'm really late with that. I've been doing some spring cleaning and haven't been on here all week.
Jennifer - I love #1. I love the texture in the leaf, the colour, the composition, everything.
#2 I love the expression. I don't like the comp of this one as much as I do #3, but still cute
#3 Those eyes pull me in. This is so sweet.
I really don't have anything to criticize or any suggestions to make. I could only dream of taking photos like these!
#1 is cute. The shadows fall across his eyes and I would have loved to see a bit more light in them. His eyes are centred horizontally and vertically but it works for me. In all honesty, I didn't even notice the cast.
#2 Very nice. Great bokeh. He is centred, but you knew that.
#3 This is probably my least favourite. I like it, but it doesn't grab me.
I like #2 the best. Very cute pictures and what a great theme.
#1 You have captured beautiful light in their eyes. Clarity is great, but I'm not so keen on the composition. They are a bit too centred. your daughter's face looks a bit magenta to me. Also, a shallower depth of field might have helped as I find the bars behind them a little distracting.
#2 This one doesn't do much for me. It doesn't have the normal wow factor of your landscapes. That said, I might be more critical on you are your landscapes are always so good. Maybe if there had been less of the bushes on the left?
#3 Nice shot. Well done for thinking outside the square.
#4 Beautiful. Nicely posed, good clarity.
Shadow_grey, I couldn't get any wider open than I was in #1. I'm dying for a 50mm prime!!!
Thanks for the great feedback, everyone, really appreciate it!
Married Anthony April 2, 2005
Nora born Feb. 14th, 2007
Micah born Jan. 20, 2009
You know, I actually like the way the background compression looks on a longer lens. That is, if you can get away with having a long lens plus a crop sensor camera.... The 50mm does give you a lower AP, BUT, focus gets much much more difficult the more open you are. The 50mm would help you get some more of the bokeh you're after when you only have one subject, but when you have more than one, you really have to close up to get them both in focus. That's why both Nora and Micah are in focus in that one. You were a little more closed, allowing a larger DOF. But, the background doesn't get much blur to it.
The first image was taken at 50mm and f/3.5. The second was 154mm and f/5.6. I never would have got the seeds in focus at f/3.5, so I took it at a longer focal length and a more closed AP. I had to stand pretty far back, though. These were also taken in pretty much the exact same spot. In fact, Jackson was actually a little closer to the background than Carson was, yet the background looks closer to Carson, making him stand out more.
Do you guys know much about background compression? Gary Christenot over on ILP gave me a fantastic description of it from a set of images he had me take for him. I can share it with you if you're interested.
Tracy, I'd look into LR4 for your editing. I think you would love adjustment brush that it has to offer. It'll allow you to change the temp/exposure/etc. on certain areas of the photo, making it easy to play around with her skin. Maybe you can download their free trial before making the decision?
Steph, I use my longer lens to its max most of the time -- that's usually how I shoot my kids, as long as I can go, and as wide open. In the image in question here, I did two different focal lengths to compare, and in this particular environment it didn't make much difference... because they were so close to the building. But in an open field or something, as in your examples, I definitely prefer the background compression route. It produces a much nicer image with the lovely background softness, for sure.
We really can't afford LR4, so I'm afraid if I downloaded the trial, it'd drive me nuts not to be able to buy it. But I would sure like to. I might do the trial soon. I'm hoping to get some canvas-able images of my kids soon, so that might be a good time to test-drive it!
Married Anthony April 2, 2005
Nora born Feb. 14th, 2007
Micah born Jan. 20, 2009
Okay, here are the photos he had me take to compare the backgrounds.
55mm 1/250 f/4 ISO 100
Compression Experiment @ 55mm by Stephanie.Miller, on Flickr
250mm 1/250 f/5.6 ISO 200
Compression Experiment @ 250mm by Stephanie.Miller, on Flickr
I had to back WAAAAAY up in order to get the gnome approximately the same size in the frame when at 250mm.
Gary is a fabulous teacher. It's amazing that photography isn't his day job. Here's what he taught me:
That's a great set of images to illustrate the compression effect. Isn't that awesome the way that large tree to the right just comes in there so big? Here's the "why".
Distance from the subject and magnification are directly related. Let's use easy numbers to illustrate. Suppose you are shooting the gnome (great test subject by the way) at the shortest zoom length of 55mm on your lens and standing 20 feet away from him. You take a shot. Now, you zoom out to 110mm on the zoom and look through the viewfinder. You have doubled the magnification (55 X 2) of everything in the view finder - the gnome the trees, etc. Double magnification means everything is now twice as big in the viewfinder. The way you get the gnome back to the original size while shooting at 110mm is to now double your distance from him. So you move back from 20 feet to 40 feet. You have doubled your distance (20 ft X 2 = 40 ft) to the gnome and now he is exactly the same size in the view finder that he was when you started. Doubling the distance cuts his size in half, or 20/40 = 1/2 (or .5).
But what about the background? Remember I told you to make sure you had plenty of distance behind the subject? Suppose that line of trees back there is 50 feet from you when you take the first shot? Remember when you zoomed in, you doubled the size of the trees too. But when you move back to resize the gnome, the distance from you to the trees is going from 50 feet to 70 feet (the original 50 foot distance, plus the 20 you just moved). So the magnification factor of the trees as you move back only changes by 50/70 or 5/7, which is .7, which is a long away around to say that because the trees are farther away, they don't shrink as much when you move back..
And the effect actually gets more pronounced the farther the background is behind the subject. Suppose the trees were 100 feet away when you started with the first shot. Then you zoom in and they get double in size. But when you move back, you're now 120 feet from the trees and the change in magnification of the trees as you move back is only 100/120, or .83.
And in your case, you zoomed out from 55 to 250, so you changed the magnification of the gnome by a factor 5 when you moved back but the magnification of the trees wouldn?t have changed nearly that much.
You can see if you keep putting more distance behind the subject for the first shot, then zoom in, that you eventually get to a point where the background won't appear to shrink at all when you move back. If the background were a mountain several miles away from you and you zoomed in after the first shot, looked at the mountain, and then moved back, the change in the size of the mountain in the viewfinder just before and just after you move back will essentially be zero.
It's the same reason that if you were looking at a setting sun in your rearview mirror while driving directly away from it, the apparent size of the sun woulnd't change at all, even if you drove several miles. It is so far away in comparison to the distance you are driving that the the relative change in distance is miniscule and thus no change in the apparent size as you move.
We can take advantage of this effect when we want to fill the view finder with something in the distant background. Zoom out to a longer vocal length to fill the viewfinder with the background, then backup to get our main subject back to the size we want in the view finder. The subject will shrink back down by quite a bit while the background shrinks down by a comparatively smaller amount.
The reason the bokeh is very similar is bokeh depends on both the focal length and the distance to the subject. Longer focal lengths give more background blur. So do closer subject distances. But in this case, the move backwards from the subject while zooming in for magnification for the second shot offsets the effect of going to the longer focal length.
The "zoom" really has nothing to do with this. It's just a matter of focal length, or magnification. So if you stood with 2 cameras (both either full frame or crop) in the same spot, one with a 135mm prime and one with a zoom set to 135mm, you should see the same level of background compression in the view finder.
The way we will use this going forward is understanding that the best results for backlighting are usually obtained by having a dark background. That tree line you have behind you would actually be a good set up. But we don't want the subject too close to that background. First, we want the background blurred so having more distance behind them will help that. Second, we'll usually be shooting later in the day when the sun is lower in the sky and if they are too close to the tree line, the sun will be blocked by the tops of the trees. So by taking advantage of the lens compression, we get the viewfinder filled with the darker background, but still have our subjects far enough away from the trees to catch the sun peaking over their tops, as well as a nicely blurred background.
Thanks Steph. I need to re-read properly when I have a bit more time.
I'm having huge focus issues (and colour, composition, lighting issues ). I can't seem to get anything sharp. Not when focusing and recomposing, not when toggling focus points, not even centre focused and not recomposed. I'm not even closed down much so I am really struggling to work out what I am doing wrong. I need a 'a-ha' moment in this area as it is really starting to pull me down.
These were taken in a rush. Had an afternoon that we were coming home during golden hour rather than the normal being out busy or already home (sunsets around 5.30-6pm and our yard gets no evening light due to larges trees). The light was fading so quickly that I struggled and was really rushed. Plus, my son completely refused and my daughter would only sit if I bribed her.
ISO 640, FL24mm, SS 1/200, F5.6
ISO250, FL66mm, SS1/320, F5.6
ISO250, FL66mm, SS1/640, F5.6
I'm not on the computer right now to give proper cc, but I wanted to see if you could share the sooc's. Maybe it's not focus issues but noise issues. If not that, then maybe there is a problem with the focusing system. There are tests all over the net to test it.