Coming Out Party - Lurker Group#2

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Coming Out Party - Lurker Group#2

Yay for lurkers coming out! I'm so glad you guys were open to staring another one of these groups. I know that it was from posting here on this board and getting so much feedback that I began to feel more at ease with my camera. I hope the same will be true for all of you.

Let's start with a little intro - let us all know who you are, what kind of camera you use, how long you've had your camera, and what you'd like to learn or how you'd like to see your skills grow. Please include a couple of photos - SOCC (straight out of the camera), if possible. Once we have a feel for where everyone is at, we'll start with some assignments and posting for CC.

In this group we have:

rachelrazzle (Rachel)
Jokr (Jo)
reeveslady (Suzanne)
lizzib45 (Sara)

Thanks for playing, ladies!

Best,
GiGi

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Hi all Smile
I guess I'll get the ball rolling here.....

I'm Jo, I have a Rebel XSi, I've had it for 2 or 3 years, and is it bad to say I'd like to improve all my skills?
I've taken a few photog courses, but it seems that as soon as I finish with them, everything they teach about the f-stops, shutter speed, etc all fly's out my head and I can never remember it. I do put my camera on manual quite often and play with it, but only if I'm shooting a still subject - if I'm out and about I prefer to keep it on auto (I know, it's the big bad 4-letter word of photographers) because I don't want to miss a good shot because my settings are all wrong.
My best pictures (at least I think they are) have all either been landscapes or candid shots - I'm not very good at portrait pictures, but I'd like to improve them. I'm always curious to see what it would take to take a good shot and change it to a spectacular one.

I'm at work right now so I have no pictures to upload, but I will try and do that later tonight.

OK, so here's some pics - both straight out of the camera, and after editing:

My brother's wedding this summer:
SOOTC:
[/IMG]

Edited:
[/IMG]

Wedding pic 2:
SOOTC:
[/IMG]

Edited:
[/IMG]

And this one I managed to overwrite the original image and I only have the edited one:
[/IMG]

Thanks for doing this!

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Hi Jo! Thanks for jumping in. It's more than OK to say you want to work on everything - I think a lot of us feel that way. And I think in general, we'll try a wide variety of topics, subjects, and techniques as to cover as many things as possible as part of this group. If nothing else, perhaps it can help you to find where your photography passion lies.

I look forward to seeing your photos!

Best,
GiGi

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Yay! I'm excited for any tips I can get, in any area. Wink And I mostly shoot on auto, and occasionally on portrait mode. I play with the settings when it doesn't matter (meaning not with live subjects), but always nervous about missing a good shot because I'm fiddling.

I'm Rachel, SAHM to four: Brilee (10 next week), Tucker (7.5), and my twin boys Abram and Wyatt will be 3 right after Christmas. Smile I like mostly taking photos of children, mine, nieces, nephews, etc. I do it in trade or for free for family, but its nothing awesome. Smile

My camera is not super awesome, but it better than what I have had before. I have a Canon SX30IS. Unfortunately it is broken right now, but I think dh is taking it to the shop (its way downtown) for me tomorrow, so for a week or two I have my old point and shoot, Canon PowerShot A90 (I think lol).

I'll work on uploading some photos. I am better at posed photos, but not great with positioning people. But I like to take photos of everything. Some challenges and tips would be great, and just anything! Smile

Looking through the photos makes me miss my nice camera even more! lol. Anyhow, I have a few from both (well, I uploaded a ton... hard to choose what shows my style, etc)

Okay, posed of my nephew, unedited (not best lighting, sunlight streaming in)

Lightly edited (somehow missed uploading the unedited)
My sis, bf and baby

(I have lots more from this shoot that I love. But I'll stop there lol)

My son and his tooth

My daughter (the taller one) waiting in the wings at the dance rehearsal. This is super zoomed, and w/o flash, so color is strange, but I don't know setting wells enough to play with them quickly.

Action shot of another class of dancers that I thought turned out decent

These next two are from my old Canon A90 (or whatever it is lol)
My sis and her fiancee,

and edited (lightly, because I really don't know much there either. lol)

(posing help... he was so not listening to most of my suggestions and I caught so many goofy looks on his face, or just weird stuff, and though I noticed some of it before the shots, when I tell him to sit a certain way, and he doesn't listen, what do I do? I think that is why I prefer shooting kids, they listen better, of it they don't it doesnt turn out goofy. lol)

Sister and nephew

some candid shots

(I'm sure if I knew settings more I could have made this better...)

And a few nature shots I like

(This one could have been helped by setting familiarity for sure, it just feels eh. But I like the next two.


For fun

(oh these shots range from April to Aug of this year)

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Thanks for doing this, Gigi! I?ve been admiring your martial arts action shots for a while now. I love how you capture the spirit of the action. Maybe you remember me. I?ve been posting on and off (OK, mostly just lurking) since 2008.

So, I?m Suzanne, mom of 3 (Sean?6, Luke?4, and Eve?2), and I currently have a Nikon D7000. I?m no stranger to DSLRs, as I started out with my first one back in 2007 (it was a Nikon D50). I got into DSLR photography because I wanted to capture moments quickly (remember how you?d press down the shutter button on a point and shoot and it would take forever to snap the shot?). My first son was probably around 10 months old when we got that D50. I didn?t fully go into manual mode until a year later, when I bought Peterson?s Understanding Exposure, which helped immensely. I also shoot in RAW now. I don?t really remember when I flipped the switch there, but I love how I can easily adjust the WB and exposure and get rid of some noise with it. Still, 4 years after discovering Peterson, I struggle with exposure (many times I still don?t quite get things right and end up underexposing), composition, and just plain not being able to translate my vision into a photo. I?m probably better at nature than portrait but still feel inadequate in most of my shots.

Without further ado, here are some recent SOOC shots, not even sharpened for web (or probably if flickr did it) :
Sean, on his first day of school. I was trying to follow an ROT with my Son, but I don?t know if that necessarily works here. ISO 400, f/4.5, SS 1/80, Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5 at 18mm

Luke, dancing around celebrating a great first day of pre-K. Very underexposed, and the aberration from the lens at 18 mm is pretty evident, as things in the background are all leaning (I could also be ever so slightly tilted here too, although the doorway in the back looks pretty straight at the top. ISO 900 (needed to be bumped higher), f/3.5 (that?s as open as this lens gets), SS 1/30 (I know, too slow for active kids Smile ), 18-200mm @ 18 mm.

Lady Godiva (aka Eve) horsing around! Totally impromptu, and the den is seriously a cave, and my speedlight didn?t have charged up batteries, so I relied on the camera?s built-in flash. I was just trying out this angle, and I think I kinda like it. It makes her look long and lean. ISO 400, f/3.5, SS 1/40, 18 mm on my 18-200 mm (yeah, that thing is just permanently attached even though I have other lenses) with built-in flash

Same settings, different angle

And this was just yesterday morning, outside of my house. It was grey outside, meaning the house was pitch black. And you?ll see by the settings, it was dreary and dark outside too. ISO 1600, 56 mm on my 18-200, f/4.8 (I think that?s the widest it goes at that mm), SS 1/50. Yeah, it?s dark even at that slow an SS and high an ISO.

So, looking at these numbers and these results, I think I need to switch to my nifty 50 prime. It lets in more light, so I can increase my SS and hopefully keep my ISO down too. Also, I need to charge up my batteries for my speedlite. It?s obviously a bit dark where I live LOL!

Oh, and because I mentioned nature photography, I thought I?d add this in, as I just saw it again on my flickr account. It?s definitely lightly edited, but it at least shows I?m capable of an OK shot every once in a while ROFL It?s from February 2011 and taken with my old D200. ISO 100, SS 1/320, f/5.6, 300 mm on my old Sigma 70.0-300.0 mm f/4.0-5.6

Thanks for reading what turned out to be quite a book!

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Crikey! Sorry about all the question marks up there. I copied and pasted from Word, and it translated my -- and ' to question marks ROFL Seriously, it took me a whole day to write it and I didn't want to end up time-out'd with loss of work. Crazy forum software.

Also, hi, Jo! Hi, Rachel! I hope to learn a lot with both of you Smile

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Hi there!! I am sure excited to learn. I would also say I have not retained anything from a local photog- did a 1-2 hour session with a friend and the photog, but she was more about landscapes and didnt really shoot in manual. I also think I am too worried about missing a moment so I have been shooting in Portrait or landscape. But again, I feel like I am just fumbling my way and really not recalling what settings worked and what didnt.
I have a Canon Rebel T3i. I have two lenses 50 and a bigger 250. Never used the 250 though. I would love to take good shots while in action with my 2 yo DS-Tommy. And portraits. I seem to do decent with non moving objects-LOL! I also have zero editing skills. I do have photoshop but honestly it confused the heck out of me so I have no photos that have been edits by me personally.

Currently Photobucket is NOT my friend.... I am going to try again shortly.

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OK Yay, PB is being nice- for now. Except the resizing. Sorry so big!

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HI Rachel! Sorry to hear your main camera is on out of the loop right now. Hope you are reunited soon. Smile Looking at your shots, you've got quite a bit of experience and already have a good feel for where your passion lies. I hope we can help you refine that and make you more comfortable coming off of Auto mode. Thanks for sharing and jumping in!

Hi Suzanne! I *do* remember you and I'm so glad you're joining our group here. You're another with a lot of experience and I feel confident that we, as a group, can help one another grow to the next level in our photography. It's really great to have you on board!

Hi Sara! Glad you were able to join us as well! I'm looking forward to getting to know you and seeing more photos of your adorable little boy. If you are not happy with photobucket, you might want to try flickr. I know most of the ladies here on the board use it. I use a paid service called Fotki. They do have free accounts, if you want to check them out (Fotki: Share and Print Your Photos | Fotki.com, photo and video sharing made easy.). I've got one year left on my membership, but I am not sure I will stick with them after this year and may go to flickr myself.

Looking at the pictures that have been posted and your intros, I can honestly say I'm pumped about getting the ball rolling with you guys! We've got a good range of experience and interests and I think that together we really can build our skills and get even more comfortable with our cameras.

We are going to cover a really wide variety of topics and as we go and find out those areas were we feel less comfortable, then we'll delve in a little deeper and see if we can't really push through any barriers.

For now, I want to start by making everyone feel at home. And I guess that should come with a short bio from me as well. Biggrin

I'm GiGi and I've been on this board in one form or another (I too started as a lurker) for the better part of 5 years, I think. I have been a member of pg.org since the birth of my son in October 2001. He is my one and only and is my primary photo subject. My passion lies in action photography, but I really want to improve my portrait work. I love landscape and nature photography and would like to experiment a bit more with that as well. I've been playing around with photoshop since about release 2.0 and while my editing skills are not the most advanced, I really enjoy creating with my photos by making posters and cards and that kind of thing.

I hope you will all get to feel at home in this group and on the board. I think we have a lot of fun in store for us! Biggrin

Best,
GiGi

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Gigi (or really anyone who might be able to chime in), my DD is taking her very first dance lesson tomorrow, and I was wondering if you have any tips on how to get a good action shot (not that a two year old would be taking leaps or anything Lol ). I'm not sure if I'll be able to be in the studio with her or if I'll just be behind some glass, looking in.

I have a 50mm f/1.8, 70-300mm, 18-200mm, and the old 10-55mm kit lens. What do you recommend using/taking with me? If I'm allowed in the studio, is there a preferred location where I should be? I'm not sure if flash photography is allowed. It might be very distracting (it's only a class for 2 to 3 year olds).

TIA for any advice!

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I would liken this to my judo pictures in terms of what the lighting is likely to be like and where I try to position myself.

With small kids, I would say get as low as you are able to get. For judo, I am allowed (since I help instruct) on the mat and will usually just try to find a corner and sit down. As a spectator, I would imagine your access will be more limited.

Since the light is not great in most dance studios, especially those for small children, I would say your lens choice will depend on which will open the most. For example, I usually stick to my 50mm for judo pictures b/c it opens to f/1.4 and allows for me to keep my iso at a reasonable level.

If you are going to have to be too far away for your 50mm, I'm thinking your 70 - 300mm would likely be your best bet. your D7000 should handle a pretty high iso, so don't be afraid to crank it up.

I would avoid using any kind of flash. But if it is just too dark, then I would suggest bouncing it from behind you if possible.

To freeze the action, you'll want to keep your shutter speed as high as you can manage for proper exposure. Don't be afraid of a little motion blur. Remember that dance is about movement and capturing a little blur can actually really add that quality to a still photo.

For her first class, relax and have fun. Hopefully it will be something she enjoys and then you'll have years to perfect the shot. Smile

Best,
GiGi

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Thanks, Gigi! I'll put my 50mm on and take my 70-300 just in case. Will share the results Biggrin

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I'm looking forward to it, Suzanne!

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assignment #1: fill the frame

Alright! Now that we've all introduced ourselves, it's time to jump into the assignments.

Since at least one member of our group is currently using a point & shoot camera, I'd like to start our journey together with a look at various composition rules. We'll focus on manual settings a bit later.

For these assignments, you will not need to shoot in manual mode (though, of course, that will be our eventual goal) and there are no restrictions on using or not using your flash.

For right now, I want us to focus on our compositions and not as much about the settings on the camera. I want for us all to post our pictures unedited and with our settings. That way we can TALK about those settings and set the groundwork for when we begin our assignments in manual mode down the road. Even when you shoot in the auto setting, by looking at the settings afterward, you can start to get a feel for where you should put your own settings when the time comes.

Now ... back to that assignment ...

The first piece of advice given to me by a photographer friend was to "fill the frame" when composing my shots. He said a good rule of thumb was to try and fill at least 70% of your frame with your photo. He said this was especially true with portraits.

Of course, every rule has an exception. But for our first assignment, I want us to examine this suggested composition rule.

Take a shot where you practically fill the fame with your subject. Then take a step back (or zoom out) and take another. Then do the same from a bit further out. You can take as many photos of this single subject as you like. Let's post at least 3. Remember to include your settings and also note if you shot it in automatic mode, shutter priority mode, aperture priority mode, or full manual. You can post as many sets as you would like, but please include at least 3 shots for each set. I want you think about what you like and don't like about each of the pictures you post.

For example, here is a set that I took of Loli this morning before shcool. All shots were taken in manual mode w/ my 50mm at f/2.5, shutter speed 1/80, and an iso of 1000.

What I like about the top photo is that I am immediately drawn to his eyes. His face is obviously the subject of my photo.

In the middle photo, I like the fact that I can see more of his body and that there is no head chop. But the further away from him I get, the more elements there are in the frame that compete for my attention.

In the bottom photo, I feel he is starting to get a little lost in the frame. In fact, my eyes are drawn to the artwork on the wall and not directly to my boy (even with my mommy goggles Wink ).

For me, composition-wise, these are the things that stand out in these 3 photos. If I were composing a shot to print (instead of just for our fun here), I would probably be looking for something more like the top photo. I might try to catch something in between the top and the middle shot to see if I could manage the connection with my subject that I have in the top photo without the head chop like in #2.

So ... let's see what you guys come up with and we'll start working on this aspect of our photography for now.

Have fun!

Best,
GiGi

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Since I promised: Eve's first dance lesson, all manual, all SOOC

ISO 1000, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/250

ISO 1000, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/250

ISO 1000, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/250

ISO 1000, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/250

ISO 1000, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/250

In the studio (at first I stayed behind the glass, but she started crying, so I went into the studio with her. I actually ended up dancing more than her ROFL
ISO 1000, 50mm, f/5, 1/60

ISO 1000, 50mm, f/5, 1/60 I need to pay more attention to my settings. I'm surprised I didn't get more blurred shots at this speed.

ISO 1000, 50mm, f/2, 1/400 There, that's better. I got this one a bit crooked :oops:

ISO 1000, 50mm, f/2, 1/400

After that one, she kept running to me, so I just decided to put my camera down, kick off my shoes, and dance. Next time I'm wearing my workout clothes Biggrin

I just went out during my lunch to do some exercise shots. I hope to get them up soon!

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All these are manual, SOOC, and ISO 100, 50mm, f/4.5, 1/200

Crepe myrtle

I wish I could have gotten even closer, but my lens wouldn't focus when I got right on the flower. I would have loved to have my zoom lens, especially since this little guy (girl?) was there too. He (she?) let me get really close anyway.

ISO 100, 50mm, f/2, 1/1000

Anyway, back to the exercise, I like the impact of the first picture, but the second one is OK too. In the last one, everything just sort-of blends in.

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WOW Suzanne! Great job jumping in like this!

I'm super swamped today so I just wanted you to know I'll bbl (probably Tuesday) for real feed back! I love the feel you created in the dance photos and honestly, you've already started the critique yourself (I do that too). Smile

Thanks for posting! I invite everyone else to put in their $0.02 worth. A big part of improving your photos is critiquing others. If you like a photo, find ONE REASON you like it. You may notice others, but at least try to figure out ONE THING that stands out to you and comment on that thing. If you don't like it, do the same thing - find at least ONE REASON why it's not pleasing to you.

Best,
GiGi

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OK I tried Manual for the first time. I am OK with what I got outside, but using the same settings inside the pictures came out completely dark - not usable. And I left the flash on Auto. Not sure what happened. Or if I should use a different flash setting. Not clear which ones to use, and usually just leave that on auto.

Ok so Manual, ISO400, 50mm, 1/60, F5.0(to be honest this was what the camera was left on so I didnt change it)

I like my first picture best, the 2nd I like too because my little man is playing with his favorite trucks, and 3rd feels a little more flat. But I also am not sure I backed up far enough for the 2nd and 3rd for the purpose of this "challenge". And since I want to do better on the random so to speak moments, vs posed I am not sure how to get a cleaner backround and better lighting.

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Sara, WTG on coming on over to manual! I love the idea of your Tommy playing with cars outside of a real car. I think it's a very cute idea, and I actually like the last picture because of it. Maybe a different angle would be cuter, but I know that's really hard to do when you're just doing a spontaneous shoot like that. As for some of your photos being unusable, I can completely relate. I almost always forget when I first turn on the camera to change settings. I'm always in an "I need to capture this moment!" kind of mindset. Unfortunately, if I forget to check, I usually end up with severely underexposed or overexposed images. Rule 1 of shooting in manual should be "Always check your meter and make adjustments when necessary." Don't be afraid to fidget with your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, especially when you change locations. All that being said, if you can get your hands on Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop or some other kind of RAW photo editor, you might be able to salvage some of your images.

I, too, struggle with backgrounds when I'm in a rush (ha, ha, did you see the blanket and book strewn in the background of the first dance pics of my DD?, not to mention the wrinkles in our couch cover!). I think if we want frame-worthy moments, we are going to have to set aside a block of time to put everything in its place (like clear a room or go outside in a picturesque location), like an actual regular photoshoot. Then we could do candids (and maybe even some posed shots, if our subjects are willing) and not have to worry about weird backgrounds.

Sorry I wrote that book, but I hope I helped a bit. I know having a ton of info thrown out like that can be overwhelming. Let me know if it's too much!

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Alrighty, Suzanne! I finally have a few minutes and can start CC for your dance photos! First let me say that Eve is just so _beyond_ adorable! And to see her like this is just so precious - thank you for sharing!

Now ... on to that CC ...

1. Your focus looks AMAZING, especially since your aperture is open all the way to f/1.8! Good job! I like this one quite a bit. Your connection with your subject is very good. Color, focus, and exposure all look very nice. As there is a bit of clutter around her, I would like to see a tighter crop. I know these are SOCC, so don't take that as a harsh critique - just thinking of when you edit ahead. Smile It looks to me like you got really great light in her eyes here and for dark eyes, that's no easy feat. NICE!

2. focus is not quite as sharp here. Looks like it feel on her chest/shoulders and as such, her face is just slightly OOF. My thoughts here would be to close your aperture just a little - like to f/2.0 or f/2.2 and slow your shutter speed to 1/200 or slightly slower (I would try to stay above 1/125 with a moving kiddo). LOVE LOVE LOVE her expression here. And I think that, even with it being slightly OOF on the face, this one would benefit from a nice tight crop. Don't worry about the leg chop because by the time you crop in nice and tight on her face (I would do a portrait crop starting just below her hands and going to just over her head) it won't matter. You might have to try some cloning work to remove the material just under her hand.

3. LOVE the eye contact here. In fact, I can see you in her eyes! The side of her face is blown and that's a bit of a distraction. Her face looks a bit washed out as well. Great job again for focus at f/1.8. I think with this one, I would like to see you drop the iso just bit and maybe speed up the shutter just a touch to bring down the exposure. I like the wide open aperture here. Focus falls very well on her adorable face. You might back up just a touch so that her hair is not chopped. If you are in the same spot/same conditions, you might have her turn a bit more to her left so that you get some nice back lighting but don't have to worry as much about blowing out her skin. Either that or find some way to diffuse the light slightly from her right side. Really nice composition here though!

4. I like the tighter crop here, but the technical issues (blow spot on face) are pretty much the same. And as such, my suggestions remain the same. Wink You might even try a landscape crop of this type of shot, if the background is not too distracting. I know the pink outfit is part of the show, but those eyes just pull me right in and making them the focal point of your photo is never a bad idea.

5. this is a great fun shot! looks like similar light to #3 and #4. One side of her face is blown. The ear chop is also unfortunate. But sometimes, we need to look beyond that and just catch a moment - which is what you have here! Still have great focus and her eyes look pretty sharp. For a shot like this, I would really like to see a smaller aperture, maybe around f/2.0 or f/2.2 so that all of her face stays in focus. It's harder here because she has tilted her chin forward and thus it's no longer in the same plane as her eyes.

6. I love the idea of this shot!!! I do wish her feet had not been chopped but the reflection looks really nice! You might try a landscape chop here focusing on her upper body area (just above the waist) and then the chopped feet won't be an issue.

7. very nice catch here too. I think this one really captures the emotion of her first dance class! Here you are battling the lights and the color casts from the walls. Her skin looks much warmer than in the previous set of photos (at home?). You'll want to try and remove some of the yellow. Were there fluorescent lights? If so, you can try using that white balance setting. I have this issue at judo class but I find that setting makes things just a touch cool. So I will usually have to warm things up a bit in my post processing.

8. this is probably my favorite of the studio shots. It just screams toddler dance class to me! I love how Eve and the other girl are focused on their stretching. There is the slight tilt, but that is not a major issue to me. I would, in the future, try to have a little more space behind the teacher so that you can correct that and also adjust for other size crops. Just like all of the shots in the studio, the lighting is working against you, but you did a very nice job. You might think about a grey card to help you get your white balance right (I need to do this as well, so this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black - I tend to make my adjustments in ACR, but as you know, it's always best to get things right in camera if at all possible).

9. you've got the tilt here again, but I do love what you caught. You might try cropping around the teacher and the group of girls closest to her (including Eve, of course) as there seems to be a lot of distraction in this shot. It's hard to get good group shots when there is such a difference in size (parents and kids all at once).

I think you're off to a good start here! And the more pics you take at class, the more you will learn how to handle the lighting as well as where to position yourself for best results. Also, once the kids don't need mom there to hold their hands, you will be able to isolate Eve more and then I think you will see even better results! So keep shooting and sharing and I know eventually you'll find the sweet spot. Biggrin

TFS,
GiGi

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Suzanne ... for this "fill the frame" challenge, you've illustrated the point VERY well! LOVE your crepe myrtles, btw.

FYI ... my 50mm won't focus up close either. So when I want macro-ish shots, I will usually grab my 18mm-20mm, step back, and then zoom in all the way. Just a little side note.

I love #1. It's an explosion of color and the directional light is really well used here (imho). I like the aperture setting you used so that the whole set of blooms in in focus. You got really nice bokeh of the background and that helps make these pop. The strong light is _just_ on the border of being too harsh, but you used it very well here.

#2 is probably my favorite. What great use of a leading/trailing line! When/if you go to edit this photo, I would probably crop off the top left corner - it keeps drawing my eye away from the pretty blooms. I think that is due to the change in color and light there. this is a lovely shot. Did you get below the blooms to set your background? However you framed it, it really works for me!

#3 illustrates very well how you start to lose your subject at this range. There is no clear subject and I think that is what hurts at this range. Perhaps if there was only 1 set of blooms, an angle like this might work.

BTW ... very cool shot of the dragon fly/damsel fly (I admit, I don't know the difference).

As always, TFS!

Best,
GiGi

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Howdy Sara!!!

I'm so glad you decided to try this "fill the frame" challenge too! And I'm tickled that you decided now was a good time to jump to manual as well. I know it's tricky and it may take a while before you feel truly comfortable, but the more you do it, the easier it will get. I promise! Biggrin

So let's get into some CC ....

1. Suzanne has already mentioned that he's pretty centered. And usually, we try to shy away from that. But your shot here shows that, when you "fill the frame" with your subject like this that other composition rules like lining up prominent features on the 1/3 lines you can break other rules. Your little guy and his adorable eyes are the focus of the shot. I really love how you have used the truck to provide a clean white background. With a little tweaking in your post processing this could be a very successful "high key" image. I also think you did a nice job of using directional light here and think this image would be a good candidate for converting to black and white (like the rule of thirds, we'll be visiting conversions a bit later).

2. I love this moment you caught here. your boy playing w/ his car next to the big car is a super cute idea. Looks to me like focus fell mainly on his hand and the truck. And there's nothing wrong with that, but I find myself wishing his face was in better focus. This can be done in two ways - you could either set your focal point on his face specifically or you can close down your aperture so that you have a deeper field of depth. You have your aperture set to f/5.0. You might try closing that down to f/8.0. It looks to me like you got down nice and low - on his level - for this shot and that is the perfect angle, imho. I almost suggested a portrait crop rather than landscape, but really, I like how you have used the car behind him to set the tone of the photo and you might lose that in a portrait crop. I think the one thing I would try is to move him further to the left in the frame. And if that is not possible, then you might try a portrait crop.

3. I think, more than anyone else so far (myself included) you really used this distance well. And this shows that while there are some really great rules/suggestions for compositions, there are ALWAYS exceptions! You have used the truck behind your son so well in each of these shots - though in each shot, you have used it differently. Great job! Focus is off in this one. It seems to me that the focus fell on the truck (on the running boards) and not on your DS. Like in #2, I would really like to see your DS more to the left in the frame. And again, if that is not possible (due to space limitations, etc) then you might think about trying a portrait crop at this distance.

These settings look pretty good for outside. Was it cloudy out? Normally when you are outside, especially on bright sunny days, you won't need an ISO that high. In fact, when outside, I usually sick to either an ISO of 100 or 200. But if it's cloudy, you might need the higher ISO like you have here. To lessen the impact of the background, the easiest fix is to open your aperture more. You have all of these shots at f/5.0. If you could open up to 3.0 or more (2.8 perhaps) then the background would be nicely blurred and would help your son to stand out more from his surroundings. Another way to achieve this would be move him further away from the background - in this case further from the truck.

Candids, especially in and around the home, are hard to get w/out the clutter of background "stuff." For me, I find this when I go out to shoot pictures at my son's soccer games. All of the parents have to sit on particular sides and I am limited where I can go to catch the action, so there is almost always something cluttering the shot (other parents, trash cans, etc). I try to really fill the frame with my son when that is the case so that there just isn't room for competing elements. Opening up your aperture will also help since that will blur everything else.

As for using these same settings inside, I think you would have to make a few adjustments. First, you would need to raise your ISO a good bit. You were at ISO 400 outside, so I would suggest bumping up to 600 or better inside. You'll also have to open your aperture a good deal more inside. I would say probably f/3.2 or more.

If you want a "suggestion" for where to place your settings, put your camera in auto and take a shot and then look to see where it set the camera. In time, you will have a better feel for where to start.

Also, we are going to cover understanding your light meter soon - once everyone is back on a dSLR - so hang in there for now and know we'll be coming back to it soon.

Thanks for sharing1 I really love how you used the environment to set the tone of these photos! And I really look forward to what you show next!

Best,
GiGi

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Thanks for all the great CC, Gigi! I struggle with focus, especially since I like to focus and then recompose. It's become a bit more difficult for me to use that technique with this D7000. I've only had it for a few months, and even at the single focus point setting, it seems to want to refocus, like I have it at continuous (but I don't!). It's just a nuance I have to get used to, I guess Lol Or maybe there's a setting I'm missing, or maybe I should just use different focal points instead of just the center one. Ha, ha, there's never just one answer in photography Biggrin As for the blown side of her face, yeah...those were taken in our sun room, where we have lots of windows, and she was actually sitting right in front of one in those particular shots. I wish there were a way to filter the light a bit, so that it's not so harsh. If only I could get her to sit still for a bit and stay off the windows ROFL I do have a grey card somewhere. I need to figure out how to do custom white balance.

I picked that angle on that crepe myrtle specifically for the lighting. I'm glad my vision came through even though it's a bit on the harsh side Biggrin It was a little after noon, and the sky was very clear when I took it. That location is at the university campus where I work. There are beautiful water lilies out there that I plan on trying to get when I can bring my zoom telephoto lens with me. And that dragonfly--oh my goodness, the autofocus struggle! There wasn't much contrast, with the grass and sticks all being green and brown, so I had to switch my focus to manual too. I think that's the first time I've gotten a decent pic in manual focus.

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Suzanne ... I moved away from the single center focus for just that reason. You can still focus and recompose w/ the multiple points like you are family with now using the single point. I got a lot better focus once I made that switch. And it really does get easier to toggle between focal points once you get in the habit.

And WTG for using manual focus! I only do that when I absolutely HAVE to (like at the zoo when I want to focus past the bars, etc).

Best,
GiGi

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I am going to join if y'all don't mind Smile

I am a mom of two boys 5 and 2, work in the semiconductor industry as an engineer. Been into photography, as a hobby since 2007, when my son was born. I own a Canon 7D. I can't justify to DH getting a full frame, since this is just a hobby for me. I feel I am stuck in a rut. I have not touched my camera for over 2-3 months now. I've been just lazy. I used to be very active here but lurked for the most part. I am hoping by joining the lurker group, it can kick me off again taking pictures.

Here is a sample of an SOOC - it's a messy room sorry about that...

Here it is re-edited.. tried to get rid of the clutter.. still shows... lol

Here is a better picture

SOOC vs edited (got to fix those orange ears lol)

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Welcome El! I'm so glad you decided to join us - I can never get enough pics of your adorable boys. Biggrin

Right now we're working on a composition assignment since one of our members has an injured camera and has had to revert to using her p&s. Check post #14 for the details, but the basic idea is to take a shot up close where you fill around 70% of the frame with your subject, take a few steps back, recompose and shoot again, and then another few steps back (or zoom out) and shoot again.

"Filling the frame" was the first piece of photography advice I was ever given and I have found that with many of my shots, this is a good place to get started - especially with portrait style shots. And thus the motivation for the assignment.

Again, I'm so very glad you can join us! Jump in and offer CC to all those who post and then start snapping away!

Best,
GiGi

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"reeveslady" wrote:

All these are manual, SOOC, and ISO 100, 50mm, f/4.5, 1/200

Crepe myrtle

I wish I could have gotten even closer, but my lens wouldn't focus when I got right on the flower. I would have loved to have my zoom lens, especially since this little guy (girl?) was there too. He (she?) let me get really close anyway.

ISO 100, 50mm, f/2, 1/1000

Anyway, back to the exercise, I like the impact of the first picture, but the second one is OK too. In the last one, everything just sort-of blends in.

Here is my CC on your photo. I have not read the other CCs, so I apologize ahead if it has been said already.
This is a lovely picture. I find it hard to shoot full sun without blowing anything, unless you have an OCF. Your focus is really good. I think you could have opened up your aperture to get more of the bokeh and up your SS. Since you have plenty of light. Great composition, on the dragonfly!

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"lizzib45" wrote:

OK I tried Manual for the first time. I am OK with what I got outside, but using the same settings inside the pictures came out completely dark - not usable. And I left the flash on Auto. Not sure what happened. Or if I should use a different flash setting. Not clear which ones to use, and usually just leave that on auto.

Ok so Manual, ISO400, 50mm, 1/60, F5.0(to be honest this was what the camera was left on so I didnt change it)

I like my first picture best, the 2nd I like too because my little man is playing with his favorite trucks, and 3rd feels a little more flat. But I also am not sure I backed up far enough for the 2nd and 3rd for the purpose of this "challenge". And since I want to do better on the random so to speak moments, vs posed I am not sure how to get a cleaner backround and better lighting.

Here is my CC -
First, congrats in switching to manual mode - there is so much possibilities with this mode Smile
You can definitely play with your ISO, shutter speed and aperture. I think the Lurker #1 group with Stephanie has some pointers with playing around with this.

Lighting is pretty important to get a good exposure on your picture. Also for background just find something that isn't too distracting. If you look at the 3rd picture your eyes tend to go to the black parts in the background.

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Here is my attempt. I should have changed my pillow cases Smile Also, since I shot this indoors with not enough light, I cheated and used my speedlight Smile

ISO f3.5, SS1/80, ISO400



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Wow, El, I really admire your speedlight work! These aren't looking flashy at all, and the catchlights in his eyes are very natural Biggrin

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El ... it is SO AWESOME to have you as part of this board!!! You have so beautifully illustrated using each of these distances.

In #1, we are so very well connected to your adorable DS and I am drawn right to his eyes.

In #2 you have used the bed to create a wonderfully intimate shot where I feel like I'm right there with him.

and in #3 I feel like I am watching from across the room - like he might not even know I'm there.

Each of these is beautifully done and our connection with your DS never falters. Personally, I struggle with maintaining that connection when my subject does not fill my frame. But you have used the environment so well here that it too becomes part of the subject.

Of the 3, my favorite is #1. I just love up close shots like this and feel very involved with your little one. Your focus and exposure look pretty good. You might have bumped the ss up just a tad so that he hand was frozen more, but honestly, that's not a show stopper for me. I feel like the movement in the hand is part of the mood you created and I am not sure I would change it.

TFS!

GiGi

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"acarbo99" wrote:

Howdy Sara!!!

I'm so glad you decided to try this "fill the frame" challenge too! And I'm tickled that you decided now was a good time to jump to manual as well. I know it's tricky and it may take a while before you feel truly comfortable, but the more you do it, the easier it will get. I promise! Biggrin

So let's get into some CC ....

1. Suzanne has already mentioned that he's pretty centered. And usually, we try to shy away from that. But your shot here shows that, when you "fill the frame" with your subject like this that other composition rules like lining up prominent features on the 1/3 lines you can break other rules. Your little guy and his adorable eyes are the focus of the shot. I really love how you have used the truck to provide a clean white background. With a little tweaking in your post processing this could be a very successful "high key" image. I also think you did a nice job of using directional light here and think this image would be a good candidate for converting to black and white (like the rule of thirds, we'll be visiting conversions a bit later).

2. I love this moment you caught here. your boy playing w/ his car next to the big car is a super cute idea. Looks to me like focus fell mainly on his hand and the truck. And there's nothing wrong with that, but I find myself wishing his face was in better focus. This can be done in two ways - you could either set your focal point on his face specifically or you can close down your aperture so that you have a deeper field of depth. You have your aperture set to f/5.0. You might try closing that down to f/8.0. It looks to me like you got down nice and low - on his level - for this shot and that is the perfect angle, imho. I almost suggested a portrait crop rather than landscape, but really, I like how you have used the car behind him to set the tone of the photo and you might lose that in a portrait crop. I think the one thing I would try is to move him further to the left in the frame. And if that is not possible, then you might try a portrait crop.

3. I think, more than anyone else so far (myself included) you really used this distance well. And this shows that while there are some really great rules/suggestions for compositions, there are ALWAYS exceptions! You have used the truck behind your son so well in each of these shots - though in each shot, you have used it differently. Great job! Focus is off in this one. It seems to me that the focus fell on the truck (on the running boards) and not on your DS. Like in #2, I would really like to see your DS more to the left in the frame. And again, if that is not possible (due to space limitations, etc) then you might think about trying a portrait crop at this distance.

These settings look pretty good for outside. Was it cloudy out? Normally when you are outside, especially on bright sunny days, you won't need an ISO that high. In fact, when outside, I usually sick to either an ISO of 100 or 200. But if it's cloudy, you might need the higher ISO like you have here. To lessen the impact of the background, the easiest fix is to open your aperture more. You have all of these shots at f/5.0. If you could open up to 3.0 or more (2.8 perhaps) then the background would be nicely blurred and would help your son to stand out more from his surroundings. Another way to achieve this would be move him further away from the background - in this case further from the truck.

Candids, especially in and around the home, are hard to get w/out the clutter of background "stuff." For me, I find this when I go out to shoot pictures at my son's soccer games. All of the parents have to sit on particular sides and I am limited where I can go to catch the action, so there is almost always something cluttering the shot (other parents, trash cans, etc). I try to really fill the frame with my son when that is the case so that there just isn't room for competing elements. Opening up your aperture will also help since that will blur everything else.

As for using these same settings inside, I think you would have to make a few adjustments. First, you would need to raise your ISO a good bit. You were at ISO 400 outside, so I would suggest bumping up to 600 or better inside. You'll also have to open your aperture a good deal more inside. I would say probably f/3.2 or more.

If you want a "suggestion" for where to place your settings, put your camera in auto and take a shot and then look to see where it set the camera. In time, you will have a better feel for where to start.

Also, we are going to cover understanding your light meter soon - once everyone is back on a dSLR - so hang in there for now and know we'll be coming back to it soon.

Thanks for sharing1 I really love how you used the environment to set the tone of these photos! And I really look forward to what you show next!

Best,
GiGi

Thanks Gigi! I am really very green on my fancy camera. So I am not quite up to speed with changing all the settings especially with a kiddo I am trying to capture. Is there a way- I think there is- to save a few settings so I can alter for shots off that? So I am not constantly playing with the settings? Also a lower # F the more blurry the backround?
Suzanne- I have zero editing skills, so I am not sure I will recover the shots. I need more time in the day to figure editing out! But I appreciate the info and am going to try to play around more this week! cant wait for the next challenge!

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I am so sorry. I got my pics taken last week, but we have had awful sickness around here, along with preparing for my dd's 10th bday party. I am going to get them uploaded tonight, as soon as kids are in bed.

But I really love seeing everyone's pics and reading tips and such! This is helping me, for reals!! Smile

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Okay, here are mine. I decided to do a few shots of ds (7) doing his homework.


I wish I would have had him facing the other way, so he only had the wall behind him, because even the close-up has distractions. I could have done it even closer, but I wanted his homework, face, and hands all in the shot. Smile


Ugh, you can see so much mess behind him! Such a crazy week last week!

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I love seeing everyone's pics.

Suzanne, love the dance photos! So fun! Makes me miss my daughter being so little. Smile I love your dragonfly shot and the first two of the crepe myrtle, so pretty!!

Sara, Tommy is getting so big! I love the first shot with his serious look and beautiful eyes looking right at you! And as everyone else said, cute to see the big truck in the background. Wink

and El, glad to have you with us! Your boys are so cute, and I love all three shots. Your background was great in all three, not much to distract you, I think it just added to the pics.

I still do not have my camera up and running, so if we need to move on to other things, I totally understand, I do not want to hold everyone else back.

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Rachel, I love the expression on your DS's face in that last picture. I'd really like to know what he's thinking there.

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Ha! At first I was just telling him to do his homework, so I could do mine (taking the photos) and he did well, but then he started to can his expressions a bit. lol

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Rachel ...

I do hope the sickies have all left your home and everyone is on the mend. I'm glad you got a chance to join in on this little starter assignment.

Here are my thoughts ...

#1. I like that you included the worksheet as they are an integral part of what you have made the subject of this shot. His look of concentration perfectly sets the mood.

#2. I also like this one a lot. Even with the clutter of the room, it really paints a picture - a slice of life kind of theme and I love it.

#3. Personally, I like this too. I love his reflection in the table and the fun he is starting to have with you. I'd watch the tilt though. Wink

Don't worry about not having your good camera just yet. We are going to play with a few more rules of composition before moving on to the more technical aspects, so it really won't matter what kind of camera you are using. You will hear it on this board a lot, but it's truly not the camera that makes the shot. A "good" camera can make getting the right shot easier, but it is still the mind behind the lens that pulls it off.

So we are going to focus on those kinds of things for now!

Best,
GiGi

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GiGi, thanks for the kindness. And I did not even notice the tilt until I posted the photo, and then its like, "where did that come from?" lol

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Time for a new assignment!

We're still going to be focusing on composition for now. With that said, please remember to post your settings even though that is not a major part of the assignment. Even if you shoot in full auto for the assignment, by looking at the settings you can get a feel for what you could change in the future. KWIM?

ANYWAY ... on to our assignment.

Last time we worked on filling the frame with the subject. As we learned this can have a pretty big impact, especially with portrait photos. But there are a lot of other composition rules and suggestions.

This time, we'll look at a very often used composition "rule" - the rule of thirds (ROT).

Simply put, the rule of thirds contends that you will get a pleasing composition if you will position a prominent feature of your subject at the intersection of one of the thirds in your photo.

OK. So those are my words and they're not the most elegant. Let's look at what I am really trying to say. To do that, let me show you a photo divided into thirds:

Notice that I tried to line up Logan's left eye where the top third line and left third line intersect. I was off by a little, but still close. I also placed the strings on his viola at the intersection of the bottom third line and the right third line.

This is an example where I tried to use the rule of thirds (ROT) to guide my composition.

Here's another example. A landscape this time.

For this example, I tried to line up the the tree/sky line with the top third line and I tried to position the edge of the pond at the bottom third line.

So ... your assignment (should you chose to accept it) is to practice using the ROT when composing your shots. Try to compose them in camera that way. We can always crop a little here or there if we are off a bit, but as a general rule we try to get things "right" in camera whenever possible. This saves a lot of editing time.

Remember - right now, you do not need to be shooting in manual mode, but if you want to use this assignment to practice that as well, jump on in! And regardless, don't forget to post your settings so we can discuss them as well. Feel free to post one picture at a time or gather up several examples at once. But get out there and start using this popular composition rule and see how you feel about it.

Best,
GiGi

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I am going to aim to get challenge #2 done tomorrow. DH took the camera over the weekend to one of his truck events, and work has been draining so not much energy to put my brain into it. I am trying for tomorrow!!

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Sounds good, Sara! Can't wait to see what you have to share!

Best,
GiGi

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Here are a few images I took last weekend. I'm pretty sure I didn't quite get these exactly on the ROT lines, but at least they're not centered Lol

Both are SOOC and ISO 100, f/2, 50 mm, 1/1000


DSC_1325 by sultana2_10, on Flickr


DSC_1326 by sultana2_10, on Flickr

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Great examples, Suzanne!

For me, getting into the habit of not centering every shot was more than half the battle!

In both of these her yes are near the top 1/3 line and I think it work really well. I love the fact that we can see so much of her expression in #1. Even though she's not looking directly at us, you get a good sense of connection in this shot. I know this is SOCC, so when you go to edit it, you might want to look at your WB. To me here at work (on my not-so-awesome monitor) it looks a little cool. Mostly, the whites of her eyes look blue. I think your exposure looks great and focus for f/2 is REALLY NICE! Both her hands and face look pretty good.

In #2 she's more in the right third of the frame and you've used the negative space really well. This is something I really struggle with, but you have done a good job here. I do wish we could see just a bit more of her face though. Perhaps if you had moved a bit to your left. With out the eye contact or being able to see what she is gazing off at, I feel a little disconnection. Again, the whites of her eyes look a bit blue on my monitor here at work. However, like in #1, your focus looks really well done! Her right hand, nose, and eyes all seem pretty sharp and I do not find it displeasing that her left hand is a little soft.

I think you have worked this assignment really well in these photos, Suzanne! TFS!

Best,
GiGi

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Thanks, GiGi! I've been trying out back button focusing and switching out my focal points, so I think that's been helping a lot Biggrin I just tried a really quick and dirty warming up in iPhoto (I don't have Photoshop on this lappy Sad ). Man, some of the editing is nice in that program, but it really is no comparison to PS! I miss masking.

Anyway, it was really overcast on that day, so no matter what I did Eve still has a bit of blue in her whites. Here is the play:

DSC_1325Play2 by sultana2_10, on Flickr

ETA: I decided to goof off on an online photo editor called FotoFlexer. I played with the curves a bit and changed it to greyscale

42b20cce0b662d6473ba19ea0eb5fe0e0ee4c0eb by sultana2_10, on Flickr

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On the whole I like the conversion, Suzanne. Really sweet moment! The eyes look a bit dark. You might try dodging them to see if that brings back some of the detail from the original. Smile

Best,
GiGi

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When I can get my hands on our Photoshop machine, I'll try it, GiGi Biggrin

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Sorry I've been a little out of commission lately. I've been uber busy and haven't been able to pick up my camera since those last ones with the oranges :oops: Anyway, I have had my eye on full-frame cameras for quite some time, found out about the d600, and decided to go for it. I just ordered one *excited jumps* Unfortunately, DH wants to sell the d7000 so it's not so much out of pocket for us, and someone is looking at it tonight. If it sells, I'll only be able to do some point and shoot shots until my d600 comes (I ordered it from Amazon, and estimated arrival time spans from early November to *gulp* early January). Here's hoping I get it in November.

If the d7000 doesn't sell tonight, the trees out by the water lilies are turning some beautiful colors, so I'll be taking it out there during lunch tomorrow, and I'll share Biggrin

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color me jealous on the d600! I'll keep my fingers crossed that everything will fall perfectly into place for you!

Best,
GiGi

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I am behind on this. Hoping to catch up this weekend!

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Thanks, GiGi! Well, they looked at it but didn't buy it that night. I brought it to work with me the next day and took pics. That night, they bought it (woohooo for a chance at last pics!). I just got an email from Amazon, and it said I'll get my camera by the 27th! I think your crossed fingers worked Biggrin

As promised, here are some ROTs from the area where the water lilies are...
ISO 100, 300 mm, f/5.6 (that's as wide open as that lens gets at that ap), 1/400

Untitled by sultana2_10, on Flickr

Acorns!
ISO 100, 85 mm, f/5, 1/200

Untitled by sultana2_10, on Flickr

I love that red leaf (maybe a better framing example than ROT?)
ISO 100, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/80

Untitled by sultana2_10, on Flickr

Little bridge. I can never seem to do it justice. This was actually across the road from the water lilies. We have such a picturesque campus Biggrin
ISO 100, 70mm, f/5, 1/500

Untitled by sultana2_10, on Flickr

Water Lilies and Changing Leaves (probably not ROT, but still interesting colors)
ISO 100, 78mm, f/10, 1/80

DSC_1398 by sultana2_10, on Flickr

Thanks for looking Biggrin

El, can't wait to see your ROT visions!

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