Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback

Started Apr 25, 2012 | Discussions
Jonathan Brady
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Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
Apr 25, 2012

I visited Las Vegas for the first time last week on business and had a few hours to venture out on my own and I decided to give night photography a shot. I've also never tried pictures like this (usually more of a snap shooter with my pet snakes along with the occasional close up of them).

I'm really happy with how these pictures turned out given that this was 2 "firsts" for me bundled into one, but at the same time, I realize they're not great by any stretch of the imagination and I'm curious to know what I could have done better. I would sincerely appreciate any constructive criticism that anyone is willing to offer. I think that technically, they're okay, but I feel like my composition could use a lot of work.

I realize that on the DRP forums that asking for feedback is like telling a psychopath that you admire their new hunting knife while simultaneously insulting their mother and wife, but I have seen several VERY helpful and respectful people here and I'm hoping they'll chime in. I honestly don't mind brutally honest feedback like "these pictures are terrible" as long as it's followed with "they could be improved by ..........".

Shot with a 60D and 15-85 and they're all handheld with IS enabled. Shot in aperture priority mode with ISO capped at 800 and set to auto (I wasn't sure how 1600 or higher would have turned out).

Thanks for any feedback, advice, etc.

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StrangeWorld
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to Jonathan Brady, Apr 25, 2012

Personally I think all of the images are very nice!

I'll have to leave it to much better photographers than myself to tear you a new one.

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kevin walker
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to StrangeWorld, Apr 25, 2012

What aperture did set for av mode

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paul13walnut5
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to Jonathan Brady, Apr 25, 2012

Purely a matter of preference, but heres how I would have tackled these subjects:

Anything with the sky and artificial light:

Shoot in the magic hours, from an hour before sunrise & the hour after sunset.

This gets artificial lights coming on / before they go off, but importantly gets some colour and detail in the sky. The skies here are just very flat. Check the photographers ephemeris and be facing east at dawn and west at sunset. Choose and shoot your subjects and times with this in mind.

Drag the shutter where theres traffic etc. Get an idea of motion.
Stop down to a small aperture, perhps f11 or at a push f16. Use a low ISO.
Let the exposure drag (even as much as 30s) and get those lovely light smears.

Finally, it also strikes me that these are pictures of buildings and objects. There is no human angle. No scale. No sense of occassion. Maybe pick times of day or night when theres a bit of bustle. Again a slower shutter will blur pedestrians quite nicely, although they will just dissapear if you set the exposure too long. Maybe a 1/3rd of a second, half a second. So a wider aperture would be helpful, a stop or two down from max depending on your lens.

Keep the ISOs as low as your prefered aperture and shutter shall allow. Shoot RAW. Process with careful NR in DPP or PS.

Nothing wrong with the WB in these pics, but it's maybe something you want to just check in camera, use the presets as Canons with AWB and artificial light don't always play nice. If you've shot RAW then you can always tweak at the computer stage.

I like your images, just my personal approach would have been different, I hope you take my comments constructively.

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Jonathan Brady
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to paul13walnut5, Apr 25, 2012

Thank you SO much for your feedback. That's exactly what I was hoping for. It's definitely what I would consider constructive criticism as opposed to photographer-bashing.

It's funny, I spend SO MUCH TIME clearing out distracting elements from the frame of my shots of my snakes (leaf litter, etc.) and motion is generally a "no-no" as it tends to ruin the shot that I'm at the point that moving cars and people (in my mind) are "distracting". When I view a picture someone else has taken, I see the value of those elements, but for some reason I can't force myself to capture them in my pictures. So, thank you for reinforcing the need for such things to me - much appreciated!

As for the light, I unfortunately only had 2 VERY small windows of time to get out and take pictures and it was after sunset both nights - but I'll admit that I'm normally looking for very strong light during the day so even if I had the chance, it probably wouldn't have occurred to me to go out during the times you mentioned. So, thank you for that as well! I'll definitely take advantage of those times in the future.

All of your feedback was excellent and I can absolutely acknowledge that you're quite right! In many/most (probably all, actually) of those situations, each of your suggestions would have made for better scenes.

Thank you so much! I really do appreciate your feedback!

 Jonathan Brady's gear list:Jonathan Brady's gear list
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Jonathan Brady
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to StrangeWorld, Apr 25, 2012

haha! Thanks!

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Jonathan Brady
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to kevin walker, Apr 25, 2012

Wide open for all shots. Generally it was 3.5 (at 15mm) but occasionally I'd zoom in a touch and end up with 4.0.

Since I was shooting all of these handheld and at 800 or less ISO, I wanted to make sure camera shake wasn't an issue - hence the wide open aperture.

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Jonathan Brady
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to Jonathan Brady, Apr 26, 2012

If anyone else has any feedback, I'd be greatly appreciative!
Thanks!

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Kmccarthy
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to Jonathan Brady, Apr 26, 2012

I like your shot of the stairs. I just got back from Vegas myself. Here are some shots I took. (sorry to hijack your thread but I figured that we dont need two Vegas threads!). I had my 5D II with me, not my 7D.

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sierraphotography
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Very Appealing Shots (nt)
In reply to Kmccarthy, Apr 26, 2012

nt=no text

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Jonathan Brady
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to Kmccarthy, Apr 26, 2012

Very nice!

Looking back, I wish I had tried some shots from that side of the fountain as well. Should have been easy since I was staying in the hotel! lol But, I was eager to get out on the strip in the very small amount of time I had.

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JTAnFIA
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You got one ugly mama, but that there is a purty knife
In reply to Jonathan Brady, Apr 26, 2012

Very nice handheld shots! I've never been to Las Vegas but always imagined it bustling with people. I kind of like the lack of distraction. I agree with Paul about the sky, but I imagine it would be hard to pull off these shots during that time without having to deal with the distractions.
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Flying Fish
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to Jonathan Brady, Apr 26, 2012

Jonathan: Your shots are technically excellent, IMHO. So that's a great place to start; you can handle night photography, at least in Las Vegas, where the lights turn night into day.

But as one poster put it more politely than I'm about to, the shots are somewhat boring. There's no story being told, no interesting angle (figuratively), no particularly interesting lighting, and so on. I'm exaggerating, and grateful that whoever has that knife can't use it through the Internet (that was a great line of yours!).

I think the poster who added his Las Vegas shots exemplified that; he used the magic light. (I love a deep blue sky against lights, see below. They aren't great photos but they give you the idea.) So I'd say well done, you're on the right track, now you can spend time thinking about what you want your photos to convey.

FF

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qianp2k
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to Jonathan Brady, Apr 27, 2012

Jonathan, these photos are good considering you didn't have much time to take photos in a business trip, the lens is not very fast at tele-side and they were taken hand-held in somewhat high ISO. Next time if you had time bring a tripod and take some pano shots that will make your photos look different from others. Pano photos also eliminate the converging lines of buildings usually resulted from WA lens in close distance.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1019&message=40400556
These are photos I took in my last visit (4th in last decade) in last Nov.

These are three pano photos taken by 60D and Sigma 17-50. 2.8 OS lens

You can see rest photos in http://qianp2k.zenfolio.com/p338779301

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VisualNectarPhotography
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to Jonathan Brady, Apr 27, 2012

Jonathan Brady wrote:

If anyone else has any feedback, I'd be greatly appreciative!
Thanks!

I think Paul13walnut5 hit most of the points on the head. I've been playing with shots walking around downtown Denver for a while now and have a couple cents to throw in.

Looking at your photos I notice they are all seemingly taken at eye level or there abouts. One of the things that makes photography so interesting is the ability to capture a moment from an aspect or angle that most people don’t normally see the world from. When I am out there i will some times have to sit (or even lay) on the sidewalk just to get the shot that I invision. So get low, get high, move left, move right, whatever feels the most out of place or different from our standard walk around eye level perception will net interesting angles. That’s not to say that you should never shoot at eye level, it’s just a method of creating new angles.

Also when I find a spot and set up my tripod I tend to do anywhere from 5-30 photos of the subject or scene. I will play with low f stops all the way to high f’s, exposure compensation under or over within 1 (usually), 1/25 sec to 30+ exposures ect… also when you park it for a photo and think you’ve found “the perfect angle” you may have missed it but a fraction, or by a lot, so don’t lock yourself into shooting just one angle from one position, alter it move it and see if you missed framing something that was right in front of you all along.

Aspect Aspect Aspect. If you are really low with a wide angle think about how much sky you want in it, if you have some great lighting and clouds you might want to over emphasize the sky by including more of it in the frame so tilt back and get more of it in… The key is to keep playing with it

The more material that you capture the more likely it is you will find more gems when you get back to your computer.
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Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.

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VisualNectarPhotography
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to VisualNectarPhotography, Apr 27, 2012

Consider grabbing a 6 point star filter for your lens
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Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.

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Jonathan Brady
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to VisualNectarPhotography, Apr 30, 2012

Thank you for all of your advice!

I tend to play things safe sometimes (and hate myself for doing it, lol) and I could absolutely implement your suggestions and I'm positive it'll help.

See... you and the other folks here have restored my confidence in the Dpreview users and their ability to help people, and not trash them!

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Jonathan Brady
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Re: You got one ugly mama, but that there is a purty knife
In reply to JTAnFIA, Apr 30, 2012

I waited around quite a bit for "clear scenes". I actually have several pictures with people in them of the same scene (for instance, the stairs) where I was just practicing and trying to get my settings dialed in. I'm going to have to go back and check those pictures to see if they're more interesting than what I've got.

Thanks for the tip about the sky. It's absolutely something I'll keep in mind for next time!

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Jonathan Brady
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to Flying Fish, Apr 30, 2012

Thanks for your feedback. I actually didn't find your use of the word "boring" to be hurtful at all. It didn't come off as though you intended to try and be hurtful, or snobby - which is how the feedback I've seen from numerous people on this site come off.

I've actually got pretty thick skin and when I posted this thread and the "helpful feedback disclaimer", my hope was for constructive criticism as opposed to the "unleashing of teenage angst" that we see so often. It wasn't to protect my feelings.

So, thank you for your constructive criticism, I absolutely agree with it and think it'll help me to grow.

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Jonathan Brady
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Re: Visited Las Vegas and took a few pics - requesting helpful feedback
In reply to qianp2k, Apr 30, 2012

Those pictures are FANTASTIC! Thank you for sharing them!

If you don't mind sharing, what sort of focal length and aperture do you recommend for pano shots like those?

Thanks so much!

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