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01/01/2011 01:09:21 PM · #1
Hi

I am stuck in the 5.5 - 6.2 rating band for photos submitted. What can I do to improve my photos? Do I just lack creativity and therefore take boring pictures. Is my processing wrong? Please help with any suggestions to improve - big or small will be appreciated.

Kind regards
Marna
01/01/2011 01:17:05 PM · #2
I like your images and think you're doing a great job.

I see however that you only comment a bit over 1% of your votes given out. To improve I think you could benefit from taking some time and make constructive comments on other people's entries. You won't believe how much you learn from it.
01/01/2011 01:19:46 PM · #3
Make what you yearn for and submit that.
Collect even lower votes and accept those to build some negative capability.
What is a good photo anyway? Ask yourself this.

01/01/2011 01:43:04 PM · #4
But all these good photographers make it look so easy, taking one stunner after the other. The most fustrating thing is that I can see the good ones when voting, but just not capture them.
01/01/2011 01:46:54 PM · #5
Originally posted by tinkie2010:

But all these good photographers make it look so easy, taking one stunner after the other...


Name some, I'll tell their secrets ;)
01/01/2011 01:47:17 PM · #6
I agree with both of the above.

To expand a little on what Trollman said: Many of the most improved people on this site spent their first year or so on DPC commenting VERY heavily. It does two things. By making yourself analyze why you do or do not like a photo, you will learn things that you can apply to your own photography. Especially true for the midrange votes. The 4's and 5's for most people. These are normally tough to comment on, because there is nothing outstandingly good or bad that you can easily identify. You will learn the most by taking such time on these. Secodnly, most members will appreciate the feedback to let them know why their masterpiece is only doing mediocre.

As Zeuszen said, you need to decide for yourself what a good photo is. There is far more to go on than just the overall average. The comments and commenter's average vote can tell you if you nailed what you were after. I have had many low to medium scoring entries that I consider 100% successes because they hit the audience that I hoped they would appeal to. You have to interpret the voting results to decide if you got what you really wanted out of it.
01/01/2011 01:53:49 PM · #7
...aaaand adding to all that, remember, DPC likes,

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01/01/2011 04:09:08 PM · #8
Commenting as most definitely helped me improve my photography - in every sense. My content, subject matter, angles, processing, everything, has improved because I looked at what worked and didn't work for me on thousands of images. Really examine the images you think are so fantastic, and dissect what it is that is so fantastic. Is it the subject, the processing, the pov? Then look at your best picture of a similar subject and compare them. Sometimes, it is also equipment, but not always. There have been several ribbon winners who shot their winning entry with P&S.

You also have to ask yourself what your goal is: making good pictures or getting ribbons. Those things do NOT necessarily go hand in hand.
01/01/2011 04:22:06 PM · #9
Hi

Thank you for all the comments.

Even though I do not have the self confidence to write my feedback down, I do review and compare and comment to myself in most of the challenges. I have casted 20 000+ votes and in each of these challeges I go at least twice through all the photos.

And no, I do not want ribbons or high scores - I want stunning, interesting photos that takes your breath away and evoke emotion. Tough call - not succeeding yet. I feel my photos are maybe technical correct, but boring. And when more interesting, then technical not so good?

Thanks anyway.
01/01/2011 04:32:29 PM · #10
I'd advocate software. Nik's Complete Suite has transformed my photography more than anything else I have bought.
01/01/2011 04:40:39 PM · #11
Originally posted by paulbtlw:

I'd advocate software. Nik's Complete Suite has transformed my photography more than anything else I have bought.


I'd have to agree. The Nik's software and Topaz labs stuff has been most useful. Of course I still don't create Wow factor photos but I am quite pleased with my work and especially my growth over the past year.
01/01/2011 04:41:15 PM · #12
More than photoshop? It just took me about a year to learn the basic of cs5 and bridge? Are you talking about the Nikon software? I do find that my processing can sometimes be harsh?
01/01/2011 04:45:19 PM · #13
Originally posted by tinkie2010:

More than photoshop? It just took me about a year to learn the basic of cs5 and bridge? Are you talking about the Nikon software? I do find that my processing can sometimes be harsh?


The Nik's software and Topaz labs are plugins for use with PS or LR. I think a lot of the stuff can be painstakingly done manually but it is, well, painful. Both Nik's and Topaz labs have free trial versions that you could download to play with to see if it is something you may like.
01/01/2011 04:46:37 PM · #14
Not the nikon software, but a set of third party plugins:
Nik: //www.niksoftware.com
Topaz: //www.topazlabs.com/

I have started using Topaz in the past few months, and it has definitely transformed some of my ho-hum photos into shots I really really enjoy. There is a bit of a learning curve, but it's worth it, in my opinion.
01/01/2011 05:05:37 PM · #15
Just want to speak up here and mention the gigo thing. As wonderful as the NikSoftware Suite is, 90% of a great image begins with a quality image capture with your camera.

Most of your time and effort should be spent on the image capture. If, instead, you are spending a lot of time using Photoshop, relative to image capture time, you might want to shift workflows. It's not totally the caliber of the camera equipment or speed of the glass which produces quality images. It's the artist in you which determines how you compose and expose the frames. I think everyone has a recognizable style that comes from how they capture images, not how they use post-processing techniques.

I assume you are capturing images in RAW format. If not, then look into the benefits, which are substantial.

I'd absolutely recommend participating in some field seminars, led by pros in the fields in which you want to excel. I am constantly amazed at how much my seminar participants do not know about the basics.

Sure, it can help to comment and vote on images at DPC. But, do those things with the intention of trying to emulate the best results you observe with techniques applied to your own photography. It will be 90% camera and 10% post-processing.
01/01/2011 05:05:45 PM · #16
sorry, double post for some reason.

Message edited by author 2011-01-01 17:06:10.
01/01/2011 05:16:30 PM · #17
Originally posted by tinkie2010:

I am stuck in the 5.5 - 6.2 rating band for photos submitted.


Interesting concept, and I recognize it's been talked about before. Without sounding like Yoda, you need to just be. One can improve technically, and to be honest, this is definitely in the grasp of everybody; and by this I mean anybody can make a well focused image with nice color and contrast. One can also grow from a more artistic/internal perspective, and, in the context of DPC, this begins by letting go of the scores. Take the challenge theme and contemplate if it means anything to you, or if you can use the them to express something meaningful to you. This may take a few minutes to days, or, it may mean nothing to you at all. From here, try to visualize that meaning/emotion/context/story; sometimes it's obvious and concrete, other times, abstract. The resultant image should reflect this process, and if it does, you will have a connection to the image that can not be undermined by a score. If it ribbons or makes the top 10, fantastic. If it goes sub 5 but makes an impression on the few, fantastic. My biggest struggle are my images that connected with nobody but me, I haven't conquered this inevitable disappointment yet. The images that I'm most proud of have evoked different interpretations from different people, particularly if it is different than me interpretation. See example below, but in short, the struggle to improve begins by letting go and creating images that speak for you; let go of the score. For me, this began towards the end of 2009; finally, I will also say that when I stray from this process I ultimately regret entering the image, regardless of the score.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1243/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_899343.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1243/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_899343.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' This image fell in the score range you listed. Higher than I expected; and it was interpreted differently by many, but I considered it successful.
01/01/2011 05:18:49 PM · #18
Originally posted by zeuszen:

Make what you yearn for and submit that.
Collect even lower votes and accept those to build some negative capability.
What is a good photo anyway? Ask yourself this.


Just saw Z's post. To the point! I agree that negative capability is important.
01/01/2011 05:23:46 PM · #19
Originally posted by hahn23:

Just want to speak up here and mention the gigo thing. As wonderful as the NikSoftware Suite is, 90% of a great image begins with a quality image capture with your camera.

Most of your time and effort should be spent on the image capture. If, instead, you are spending a lot of time using Photoshop, relative to image capture time, you might want to shift workflows. It's not totally the caliber of the camera equipment or speed of the glass which produces quality images. It's the artist in you which determines how you compose and expose the frames. I think everyone has a recognizable style that comes from how they capture images, not how they use post-processing techniques.

I assume you are capturing images in RAW format. If not, then look into the benefits, which are substantial.

I'd absolutely recommend participating in some field seminars, led by pros in the fields in which you want to excel. I am constantly amazed at how much my seminar participants do not know about the basics.

Sure, it can help to comment and vote on images at DPC. But, do those things with the intention of trying to emulate the best results you observe with techniques applied to your own photography. It will be 90% camera and 10% post-processing.


I'd have to say it isn't like that for me, I'd say it is 40% capture (at the most) and 60% processing (my recent blue ribbon was about 95% processing, 5% capture). I also feel that in post processing I feel I have much more artistic control than at the point of capture. However, the capture phase has become more important as I have gotten to know my software because I now often have a post processing workflow in mind at the point of shooting.

If you are broadly satisfied with what you are shooting but want to increase impact, for me software is the way to go. Also, the Nik plugins (I have them for PS too but I use them in Aperture) are really quick to use - getting the same effect in PS alone would frankly be beyond me.

Certainly you should consider downloading the 15 day free trials.
01/01/2011 05:28:16 PM · #20
Originally posted by paulbtlw:

Also, the Nik plugins (I have them for PS too but I use them in Aperture) are really quick to use - getting the same effect in PS alone would frankly be beyond me.

Certainly you should consider downloading the 15 day free trials.


Yes, I'm a huge fan of Nik software as well.
01/01/2011 05:42:23 PM · #21
i understand the drive to improve but do you know how many people here would like to have their top 3 scores be 6+? i think you're doing just fine
01/01/2011 07:24:10 PM · #22
Maybe you could try something drastically different than your normal style. If you usually like having a picture one way, try editing it or cropping it completely different than you normally would. Or if you regularly shoot from shoulder height, try shooting from the ground up.

Spend a day shooting like you are a different person.
01/01/2011 07:38:33 PM · #23
Originally posted by adigitalromance:

Maybe you could try something drastically different than your normal style. If you usually like having a picture one way, try editing it or cropping it completely different than you normally would. Or if you regularly shoot from shoulder height, try shooting from the ground up.

Spend a day shooting like you are a different person.


Looking through your portfolio I only see a couple of candids - I love this one ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1217/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_886887.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1217/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_886887.jpg', '/') + 1) . '. I agree that taking on something different, whatever you dream up, can often make things seem less boring. Your score may not reflect a change for the better but you might surprise yourself with enjoyment of the results!
01/01/2011 07:57:30 PM · #24
Originally posted by smardaz:

i understand the drive to improve but do you know how many people here would like to have their top 3 scores be 6+? i think you're doing just fine


I second that. Having just 6s on my home page is my dream for 2011.

My current take on creating top photos - you either:

1. have a real talent - there are a few people on DPC who consistently score high, it is worth analyzing their photos, you can improve just trying to understand what makes their work stand out
2. have luck - be at the right time in the right place with the right equipment!

And most of all - have fun! I think there is a danger of losing it if you focus entirely on what other people think.
01/01/2011 08:06:22 PM · #25
FWIW my photography has improved greatly over the last couple years, because I was lucky to meet Ryan (' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Magnumphotography). I am not joking when I call him my private photography tutor, because I have learned so much from just shooting with him. Doubly lucky as he's been into photography since his teens. I saw some of his photos online, studio shots and especially long-exposure shots with LEDs, that I contacted him and after some correspondence and sharing photos back and forth, that we ended up meeting for what we both thought would be nothing more than an afternoon get-together.

In return he's joined the site, and we've been together since that fateful day :-)

So, if you are indeed fortunate enough to meet someone local to you, who would be willing to share knowledge and show you various new techniques, by all means go for it.

In the meantime...between 5.5 and 6.2?! That's not shabby at all, that's quite respectable. Keep on doing what you're doing. And if I might echo what others on the thread have already said, shoot and enter shots that you like. Shoot for yourself because there is just no way you can please everyone else.
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