Can I get some suggestions?

Started Apr 30, 2013 | Discussions
ConanD
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Can I get some suggestions?
Apr 30, 2013

On these photos?  I'm pretty new to photography -- been at it for about 1 year.  I'm looking to improve and was hoping to get some feedback.  These are in my gallery with others.  Thanks for any tips.  And don't beat around the bush.  I've got a thick skin.  If they suck, let me know.

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Mel Snyder
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to ConanD, Apr 30, 2013

Hello, ConanD...

I shoot with a pair of D7000s, so I don't know if I'm competent to discuss anything but the photos per se.

I find the second and third most interesting. The background distracts in the second one, and almost as much in the third. Hd you used a longer lens in the third one, you might have made the silhouetted images in the background stronger parts of the composition.

When the planes of focus aren't sharply defined, the eye/brain isn't as clearly impacted.

Don't be afraid to look at scenes from different angles. what you've shot doesn't move or squint or lose patience. Inanimate subjects are easy to shoot but hard to exact emotion from the viewer. I like people and cathedral/synagogue/mosque interiors, because I care deeply about them, and bring a point of view.

Mo grandfather can resist posing with his grandson

Unposed - just popped around the corner and had my camera prefocused for the window I was approaching

Look down this street at mid-afternoon. Almost every figure is a woman carrying or leading a child by the hand...

Bosphorus fisherman about to cast his line

Thrilled to pose for me, in exchange for a compliment

Family

How did you hurt your arm?

Saw them half a block away, shot from the hip while looking another direction

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ConanD
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to Mel Snyder, May 1, 2013

Mel, thanks for the feedback.  It is appreciated.  In case it isn't obvious, I'm a big automotive buff, so they tend to be a subject for me quite often.  I see what you mean about the focal planes.  Excellent point.

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JCB123
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to ConanD, May 1, 2013

ConanD wrote:

On these photos?  I'm pretty new to photography -- been at it for about 1 year.  I'm looking to improve and was hoping to get some feedback.  These are in my gallery with others.  Thanks for any tips.  And don't beat around the bush.  I've got a thick skin.  If they suck, let me know.

Well they don't suck. I don't like the background in the first shot. I would perhaps select the background and make it a uniform color in photoshop and definitely loose the horizontal beading or whatever it is. The second shot is a bit busy. I would clone out the pole rising behind the blue car and the silver car from the background. I really like the black & white images. Would the one with the boy jumping be better if all three images of him had colour in the tee shirt? or maybe just the first one before he jumps - not sure.

Overall pretty good, I'd say.

Regards

John

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jkjond
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to ConanD, May 1, 2013

ConanD wrote:

On these photos?  I'm pretty new to photography -- been at it for about 1 year.  I'm looking to improve and was hoping to get some feedback.  These are in my gallery with others.  Thanks for any tips.  And don't beat around the bush.  I've got a thick skin.  If they suck, let me know.

I'll splice comments into the thread - but when images are uploaded without gaps, the spliced comments will be in red as though you wrote them in your original!

This shows great promise - its maybe not an original take, but it follows the easiest bit of advice to follow - the KISS principle - keep it simple, stupid. Head on, centred, minimalist background - it simply works.

Now this is your car buffness taking over. Good car, good angle, awful background and way too tight crop on to the left and base. Pushing the main subject to the corner can work, but it risks allowing the background to take over. This could be a 2nd rate photo of an italian restaurant which happens to have a nice car in front (the grey one in the background:~). You need to take control and work out how to get the subject and background either working together, or contrasting in some way.

Pretty much another kiss shot. The big decision on a shot like this is how to control the space. The background is potentially distracting, but I think it is adding context. Should you have held all the heads in shot? Should there be a fraction more space at the base? Should you have used a tripod and ND filter to lengthen the exposure and blurred the people behind? I think its not quite right as is and you need to resolve more issues on location - but nice motor.

Hmm, not doing it for me. Its telling me more about circuit security than it is about the event, car or crowd. I don't think the flat highlightless processing is working with the subject either - though when this type of processing does work, I think it can be excellent.

It looks like you took a leek while photographing a parts bin. It may get the grease monkeys salivating, but its not what I'd call a photograph. Wait on, I'll just call my wife through, she loves to see a good cog shot. Fwaaah, and look at those needle bearings. Or to be serious for a moment, getting in closer may have resulted in a more interesting abstract.

Got to be careful here as he may be your son - and people tend to get all possessive and personal about such photos. First, selective colour - good to see you getting it out of your system. It works to good effect... in advertising, but why people do it in any other contest is beyond me. Other people may disagree, but I'd recommend you tick that box, been there, done that, and move on. The time-lapse sequence is worth continuing. Where this one fails for me is in the confused background (so the selective colour is intending to deconfuse the image?), the clutter on the right with the upright running right up the frame, and the 3/4 view of the action. In most cases, getting some facial expression is a far more satisfying image.

Almost interesting - I like the idea behind the image, but its not quite hitting the spot. One huge compositional prob is the way the tree arrives right at the frame edge on the left. When items, especially curved ones, just touch the frame, then they create a visual hotspot which draws undue attention. Now if the rest of the composition is strong enough, this may not matter, it could even help the image, but in this case there are converging lines at the edge which I do find too strong. The conversion feels a bit weak too - more of a lift in tones in the upper section and greater tonal range overall would transform the image and draw the viewer in.

So in summary - some good stuff, but you need to be a bit more analytical on location. Try and think of the shots from the point of view of someone looking at your photographs, not you on location. Work on what matters in composition and keep an eye on the backgrounds, even if it means compromising your main subject slightly in order to get stronger final image. And the cogs, man, keep photographing those groovy cogs :~)

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john Clinch
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to ConanD, May 1, 2013

ConanD wrote:

On these photos?  I'm pretty new to photography -- been at it for about 1 year.  I'm looking to improve and was hoping to get some feedback.  These are in my gallery with others.  Thanks for any tips.  And don't beat around the bush.  I've got a thick skin.  If they suck, let me know.

Good one I like this

Too much clutter. Another angle might have got a better back ground

The people being darker helps here. But in an ideal world the front of the car wouldn't be darkened as well. I'd look into selective adjustment. What do you edit in?

Tricky subject. The trouble with tricky things like this is  you are so compromised on where you stand people in the way. May be try a tack day or lower category race with better access would work better. Also I love B&W but i bet the car would jump out more in colour

I get the idea but i think it needs less bits in

Great idea. But I'd go for all 3 figures as non transparent. Depending on how you did this that shouldn't be too hard. I'd go all colour or all B&W

Flash?

I like this one, If it were mine I'd try and darken the wall and then increase the contrast with curves so that each layer back is a bit darker but starting lighter at the front. But that might not help at all...

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ConanD
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to john Clinch, May 1, 2013

Thanks, John.  Great points.

The composite image of my Son jumping was tough to put together because I swung the camera as I took them.  So I had to manually cut and paste the 3 images together.  The two color versions of him represent motion.  It was a way to distinguish ("artistically" used loosely) between objects in motion and stationary objects.

Thanks again!

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ConanD
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to jkjond, May 1, 2013

Thanks so much for all of the detailed (and entertaining) feedback.  I think you nailed it with regards to taking more time to think about the shot.  I struggle with that aspect.  I see something that looks interesting but I'm not really looking at it from a completed image point of view.

The B&W of the F1 car with crowd looking on was a failed experiment attempting to make a modern image look like those racing photo's from the 50's/60's.  The crowd turned out ok, but I couldn't make the car look right.

I love the feedback on the transmission image.  I had a good laugh.  I agree.  I think I'll try and crop it again with that in mind.

All of the feedback was great.  From you and everyone else.  I will try to keep all of it in mind on the next "shoot."

jkjond wrote:

ConanD wrote:

On these photos?  I'm pretty new to photography -- been at it for about 1 year.  I'm looking to improve and was hoping to get some feedback.  These are in my gallery with others.  Thanks for any tips.  And don't beat around the bush.  I've got a thick skin.  If they suck, let me know.

I'll splice comments into the thread - but when images are uploaded without gaps, the spliced comments will be in red as though you wrote them in your original!

This shows great promise - its maybe not an original take, but it follows the easiest bit of advice to follow - the KISS principle - keep it simple, stupid. Head on, centred, minimalist background - it simply works.

Now this is your car buffness taking over. Good car, good angle, awful background and way too tight crop on to the left and base. Pushing the main subject to the corner can work, but it risks allowing the background to take over. This could be a 2nd rate photo of an italian restaurant which happens to have a nice car in front (the grey one in the background:~). You need to take control and work out how to get the subject and background either working together, or contrasting in some way.

Pretty much another kiss shot. The big decision on a shot like this is how to control the space. The background is potentially distracting, but I think it is adding context. Should you have held all the heads in shot? Should there be a fraction more space at the base? Should you have used a tripod and ND filter to lengthen the exposure and blurred the people behind? I think its not quite right as is and you need to resolve more issues on location - but nice motor.

Hmm, not doing it for me. Its telling me more about circuit security than it is about the event, car or crowd. I don't think the flat highlightless processing is working with the subject either - though when this type of processing does work, I think it can be excellent.

It looks like you took a leek while photographing a parts bin. It may get the grease monkeys salivating, but its not what I'd call a photograph. Wait on, I'll just call my wife through, she loves to see a good cog shot. Fwaaah, and look at those needle bearings. Or to be serious for a moment, getting in closer may have resulted in a more interesting abstract.

Got to be careful here as he may be your son - and people tend to get all possessive and personal about such photos. First, selective colour - good to see you getting it out of your system. It works to good effect... in advertising, but why people do it in any other contest is beyond me. Other people may disagree, but I'd recommend you tick that box, been there, done that, and move on. The time-lapse sequence is worth continuing. Where this one fails for me is in the confused background (so the selective colour is intending to deconfuse the image?), the clutter on the right with the upright running right up the frame, and the 3/4 view of the action. In most cases, getting some facial expression is a far more satisfying image.

Almost interesting - I like the idea behind the image, but its not quite hitting the spot. One huge compositional prob is the way the tree arrives right at the frame edge on the left. When items, especially curved ones, just touch the frame, then they create a visual hotspot which draws undue attention. Now if the rest of the composition is strong enough, this may not matter, it could even help the image, but in this case there are converging lines at the edge which I do find too strong. The conversion feels a bit weak too - more of a lift in tones in the upper section and greater tonal range overall would transform the image and draw the viewer in.

So in summary - some good stuff, but you need to be a bit more analytical on location. Try and think of the shots from the point of view of someone looking at your photographs, not you on location. Work on what matters in composition and keep an eye on the backgrounds, even if it means compromising your main subject slightly in order to get stronger final image. And the cogs, man, keep photographing those groovy cogs :~)

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For my landscapes and fine art photography:
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Daisy AU
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to ConanD, May 2, 2013

ConanD wrote:

On these photos?  I'm pretty new to photography -- been at it for about 1 year.  I'm looking to improve and was hoping to get some feedback.  These are in my gallery with others.  Thanks for any tips.  And don't beat around the bush.  I've got a thick skin.  If they suck, let me know.

Hi,

In my opinion:

In the first shot, the reflecting shadow on the RR is distracting and the absolute symmetry is broken by it.

In the second shot (blue car) my eyes went straight to the ITALIANA word instead of the car, which I assume is what you were really trying to show.

In the fourth show (racing track), the car is almost falling off the frame.  I believe it would have been better if the car was framed in the bottom right corner, giving it space to speed towards the left side of the frame.

I love the idea with the child jumping off the chair, however I think it needs more contrast.

Hope this helps.

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Daisy AU - Brisbane
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MTWewerka
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to ConanD, May 2, 2013

I'm going to focus on these two images. First, the Rolls. This has the potential to be a great shot, but as Daisy pointed out—which I'm glad she did—the shadow over the "RR" logo is not only distracting, it obscures the most recognizable part of the car. While some people (car fans) may recognize the hood ornament by itself, but to most, the RR is the most visually recognizable aspect of a Rolls Royce. The angle, crop and actual photo aren't bad at all. I think next time just be cognizant about shadows and you'll do much better.

As for picture number two, I like this image a lot and I think you can still save it. First, let me ask, what do you use to edit your images? Photoshop, Lightroom...Nikon NX, nothing? If you have photoshop (if not, you can get Elements for under $100, which if you spend $1000+ on a camera, is a must) then I would carefully "clone" out that poll. Next, I'd duplicate the newly touched up layer and give it a Gaussian blur of about 30 or more. Then drop that layer down to about 35-40%. About now, it's going to start looking like an image with a soft touch finish, that's okay. Make a layer mask, now, take a soft brush, drop the opacity to about 65-75% and start to paint away the blur over the car. It's okay to bleed outside the edges of the car and the foreground, but now your car will take center stage while the background is faded out a bit. If you're not happy with the result, mess with the opacity of the blurred layer until it looks right. You can also darken it too, pushing it further back. The shot is decent and with a little trickery, you can make it still stand out.

Hope that helps and is a little more constructive than, eh, it looks like crap.

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ConanD
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to Daisy AU, May 2, 2013

Daisy AU wrote:

In my opinion:

In the first shot, the reflecting shadow on the RR is distracting and the absolute symmetry is broken by it.

In the second shot (blue car) my eyes went straight to the ITALIANA word instead of the car, which I assume is what you were really trying to show.

In the fourth show (racing track), the car is almost falling off the frame.  I believe it would have been better if the car was framed in the bottom right corner, giving it space to speed towards the left side of the frame.

I love the idea with the child jumping off the chair, however I think it needs more contrast.

Hope this helps.

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Daisy AU - Brisbane
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Thank you for all the tips.   I like the idea of more contrast in the image of my son jumping down.   Back to PS/LR

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ConanD
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to MTWewerka, May 2, 2013

MTWewerka wrote:

I'm going to focus on these two images. First, the Rolls. This has the potential to be a great shot, but as Daisy pointed out—which I'm glad she did—the shadow over the "RR" logo is not only distracting, it obscures the most recognizable part of the car. While some people (car fans) may recognize the hood ornament by itself, but to most, the RR is the most visually recognizable aspect of a Rolls Royce. The angle, crop and actual photo aren't bad at all. I think next time just be cognizant about shadows and you'll do much better.

As for picture number two, I like this image a lot and I think you can still save it. First, let me ask, what do you use to edit your images? Photoshop, Lightroom...Nikon NX, nothing? If you have photoshop (if not, you can get Elements for under $100, which if you spend $1000+ on a camera, is a must) then I would carefully "clone" out that poll. Next, I'd duplicate the newly touched up layer and give it a Gaussian blur of about 30 or more. Then drop that layer down to about 35-40%. About now, it's going to start looking like an image with a soft touch finish, that's okay. Make a layer mask, now, take a soft brush, drop the opacity to about 65-75% and start to paint away the blur over the car. It's okay to bleed outside the edges of the car and the foreground, but now your car will take center stage while the background is faded out a bit. If you're not happy with the result, mess with the opacity of the blurred layer until it looks right. You can also darken it too, pushing it further back. The shot is decent and with a little trickery, you can make it still stand out.

Hope that helps and is a little more constructive than, eh, it looks like crap.

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Mike Wewerka
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Awesome feedback.  I am using LR4 but I have PS 12 at work.  I'll have to give your suggestion a try.

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golf1982
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to ConanD, May 2, 2013

Is that a 2012 Williams??

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golf1982
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to golf1982, May 2, 2013

golf1982 wrote:

Is that a 2012 Williams??

Also I think many of the pictures would benefit from a shallower depth of field, enabling you to isolate the subject from the  backgrounds.

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golf1982
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to golf1982, May 2, 2013

golf1982 wrote:

Is that a 2012 Williams??

Ok answer my own question, it is, and its Bruno Senna

you could improve the f1 image by replacing the williams with Lewis. though you could have made the picture Far Worse by replacing it with vettel.

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ConanD
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to golf1982, May 3, 2013

golf1982 wrote:

golf1982 wrote:

Is that a 2012 Williams??

Ok answer my own question, it is, and its Bruno Senna

you could improve the f1 image by replacing the williams with Lewis. though you could have made the picture Far Worse by replacing it with vettel.

Ah.  A fellow F1 fan.    Here ya go.

Lewis Hamilton leaving T1 and heading downhill to T2.  Austin, TX, 2012.

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Petroglyph
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Re: Some suggestions.
In reply to ConanD, May 3, 2013

See if I can recall them:

Shot 1.  Too much DOF try f/2.8 on an APS/C camera.

Shot 2. Not bad

Shot 3.  Same as 1. blur out the BG with more open aperture or normal lens and stand back.

I forget.  The one with the gears on the ground needs the specks in the pavement blurred out and shadows pulled.  The last one has no subject to provide interest.  Sorry I've reached my memory capacity.  General rule of thumb for composition is to use the rule of thirds or center, for instance, the race car in that one and isolate the subject, once you decide what it is, by adding nice bokeh to the BG.  Hope that helps.

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jkjond
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to MTWewerka, May 3, 2013

MTWewerka wrote:


I'm going to focus on these two images. First, the Rolls. This has the potential to be a great shot, but as Daisy pointed out—which I'm glad she did—the shadow over the "RR" logo is not only distracting, it obscures the most recognizable part of the car. While some people (car fans) may recognize the hood ornament by itself, but to most, the RR is the most visually recognizable aspect of a Rolls Royce. The angle, crop and actual photo aren't bad at all. I think next time just be cognizant about shadows and you'll do much better.

I appreciate the idea behind cleaning up the reflection, but for me, that would make it more of a clinical advertising shot. As a typographer, I don't like to see clear writing in photographs, I'd rather appreciate the forms of the letters in composition rather than resort to reading a message. This is maybe why oriental calligraphy is so beautiful to my eye, I've no idea what it is saying, I just enjoy those shapes and expression. As a poster shot for a wall, then a clean, clinical version would likely have a wider market, but as a photograph to enjoy, I prefer to have the spirit of ecstasy controlling the shot.

As for picture number two, I like this image a lot and I think you can still save it. First, let me ask, what do you use to edit your images? Photoshop, Lightroom...Nikon NX, nothing? If you have photoshop (if not, you can get Elements for under $100, which if you spend $1000+ on a camera, is a must) then I would carefully "clone" out that poll. Next, I'd duplicate the newly touched up layer and give it a Gaussian blur of about 30 or more. Then drop that layer down to about 35-40%. About now, it's going to start looking like an image with a soft touch finish, that's okay. Make a layer mask, now, take a soft brush, drop the opacity to about 65-75% and start to paint away the blur over the car. It's okay to bleed outside the edges of the car and the foreground, but now your car will take center stage while the background is faded out a bit. If you're not happy with the result, mess with the opacity of the blurred layer until it looks right. You can also darken it too, pushing it further back. The shot is decent and with a little trickery, you can make it still stand out.

...that's a lot of work for a photo that is never going to make a statement. Though photography is changing through the digital era, I feel the root of good photography remains in observation. That may seem ironic coming from someone who clearly processes images to extreme, but I prefer the ideal of processing what is there, rather than creating something that wasn't.

I agree the suggestions would make a more accessible and maybe more pleasing image, but I'd say the real lesson to take forward is how to recognise distractions on location and work around them to minimise their impact. Yes, there will be times when the optimum angle would contain distractions - and no harm recognising at the point of shooting (or later) that it will have to be cleaned up in post (Adams would call it previsualising) - but the overall composition of this shot isn't strong enough. The effort taken could even highlight other deficiencies. No harm in trying it to see.

Hope that helps and is a little more constructive than, eh, it looks like crap.

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Mike Wewerka
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jkjond
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to ConanD, May 3, 2013

Hmm, back of an F1 car!

If there for a full 50-odd laps, then I'd want to experiment rather than snap a few heros. The shot posted is very sharp in the background, and as we're looking at the back of the drivers head, the background is taking control. Trying panning technique with varying exposure times could produce something worthwhile - from relatively fast to very slow (I've no idea how slow you could go, I'd keep increasing the times until the blur renders it pointless), as could experimenting with compositions. Turning your back on the action and photographing fans could also have its rewards - you can always watch the race on a replay when you get back home :~)

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ConanD
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Re: Can I get some suggestions?
In reply to jkjond, May 3, 2013

Hmm, back of an F1 car!

If there for a full 50-odd laps, then I'd want to experiment rather than snap a few heros. The shot posted is very sharp in the background, and as we're looking at the back of the drivers head, the background is taking control. Trying panning technique with varying exposure times could produce something worthwhile - from relatively fast to very slow (I've no idea how slow you could go, I'd keep increasing the times until the blur renders it pointless), as could experimenting with compositions. Turning your back on the action and photographing fans could also have its rewards - you can always watch the race on a replay when you get back home :~)

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I posted that image because the other poster seemed to be a Lewis Hamilton fan and that was the sharpest pic of him I had.

I did a lot of experimenting over the course of the weekend. I have a couple of decent shots with panning, but considering my experience and the extremely limited number of good viewing angles, I'm pretty happy with what I have. Head-on angles without a fence in the way were all but impossible without a top end 400mm+ lens. And any angle without looking through a fence was tough to find in any case.

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