Why Are My Pics So Poor?

Started 6 months ago | Questions
skyglider Veteran Member • Posts: 6,214
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

abrogard1 wrote:

Took a few suburban flower pics yesterday. A fair few. They are all poor. Why? Is it a limitation of my equipment or something I'm doing very wrong? These are actually about the best of them.

The lens is a canon efs 18-55.

This picture appears to be over exposed. The second pic appears to be over exposed as well. The third pic does not appear to be over exposed.

I believe that your Canon EOS 550D is live view capable via the back LCD screen. I don't know if it has highlight alert (blinkies) to show over exposed areas. In case it does, here's a link on how to enable highlight alert and it also includes a blurb on using the histogram . Use exposure compensation to get rid of the blinkies. Using those tools, you can eliminate over exposed areas in your pictures.

There appears to be some camera shake that is causing non sharp images. Research indicates that your 18-55 lens does have built-in image stabilization, so that should help. To see if your hand holding technique is causing camera shake, try taking some pictures using a tripod and trip the shutter using the self timer. If no tripod, set the camera on a stable surface and take a picture of something at about the same distance as the flowers. Be careful no to be too close that negates sharp focus.

One thing you can do immediately if you don't use live view and blinkies, is to set exposure compensation to -1/3 for normal shooting.  I've found that every camera that I've used  needs -1/3 exposure compensation to minimize over exposures.

If you're open to buying another camera, get a modern one with an electronic viewfinder. Then you can enable zebras in the viewfinder and use exposure compensation assigned to a wheel. Just frame the scene in the VF, spin the wheel to show zebras and then back to just get rid of the zebras, then snap the picture. Guaranteed not to have any over exposed areas in your pictures with optimum exposures. It will change your picture taking life for the better.

Sky

FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 17,331
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

Often with a bit of processing one can get a better result. I'm not good at it but I gave this one a try :

If it is any better or not, it's up to you.

D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 31,233
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?
1

Bobthearch wrote:

The first one is soft, as if it didn't quite grab focus.

The second looks like motion blur. Perhaps the camera moved or the flower was blowing in the breeze. A faster shutter speed would help.

Both of the first two have motion blur. Look at 100% and you can see that there are little streaks on all the highlights.

More care when pressing the shutter button is needed. Beginners tend to jab at the button rather than gently squeezing. Lenses or cameras with stabilisation help, but it's best to not have the motion in the first place.

Also make sure the camera has time to focus -- there's probably a beep to tell you it's OK.

The third one looks fine to me.

It is.

If this didn't address your question, perhaps show an example of someone else's flower photo that has the characteristics you're looking for.

Don Cox

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Sigma fp
OP abrogard1 Regular Member • Posts: 207
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?
1

oh, they addressed it alright.   It all seems pretty definite now.  It's all my fault, too slow, camera shake, maybe too close for focus.  all good news because it means I can fix it. 

thanks for your input

OP abrogard1 Regular Member • Posts: 207
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

I think I've got too many other calls on my purse to be springing for another camera just now.  But it sounds interesting.  What cameras would you have in mind as a sort of starter to that realm?

OP abrogard1 Regular Member • Posts: 207
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

I don't think I can tell the difference.  Maybe the bottom one is a little darker.

I've found I was using jpg's because of a download hassle.  They're made by the camera, I shoot in raw and jpg,  but they're much lighter than the cr2's.  I don't know if it's under my control to change that.

But anyway I'll use the cr2's in future is the point.  I've never even used canon's DPP but I'll start. Does it alter the original raw image or makes copies?

I just googled and read a little about it and  canon is making a big noise about how wonderful it all is and how good their in-camera conversion is.  Bit surprising.  To me.  Because as I've just said, that's what i"m working with and I don't think it's too good because of that big difference in brightness.

But that's later.

Right now go to fix my faults:  speed and shake and focus.

D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 31,233
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?
4

abrogard1 wrote:

I think I've got too many other calls on my purse to be springing for another camera just now. But it sounds interesting. What cameras would you have in mind as a sort of starter to that realm?

I don't think you need a new camera at all.

Don

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Sigma fp
OP abrogard1 Regular Member • Posts: 207
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

that's a relief, because I want to buy a sax - and I can't afford that, either..  my toys...

skyglider Veteran Member • Posts: 6,214
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

abrogard1 wrote:

I think I've got too many other calls on my purse to be springing for another camera just now. But it sounds interesting. What cameras would you have in mind as a sort of starter to that realm?

If you can get live view and blinkies to work on your 550D, then use exposure compensation or other camera adjustments to get optimum exposures without highlight clipping. However, I did see a youtube video that advises against using live view on the 550D since it can overheat the sensor and introduce noise.

Maybe also verify that the optical image stabilization in your lens is working. Using live view, zoom in to the max and toggle image stabilization on the lens on and off. There should be a noticeable difference in shaky and stable image on the live view display.

I only suggested getting a camera with an electronic viewfinder if you were open to get a new camera. Shooting using an electronic viewfinder with the ETTR (Expose to the right) technique using the zebra overlay in the VF and using exposure compensation adjustment makes getting optimum exposures without clipping highlights super easy. Shooting using an electronic VF is much better than using the back LCD screen in sunlight.

The type of camera with an electronic VF is up to you depending whether you want an interchangeable lens camera with larger sensor size like micro four thirds or APS-C. Or are willing to get a bridge camera with a 1" sensor and long optical zoom in a fixed lens. For this type, I recommend a Panasonic FZ1000 II with 16x zoom for about $750. The Sony RX10 IV with 25x zoom is also good but at more than twice the price at about $1598.

Since you have too many other calls to spring for another camera, maybe later. Just get one with an electronic viewfinder and it will make your shooting much more reliable and easy.

Sky

AnthonyL Veteran Member • Posts: 3,606
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

abrogard1 wrote:

I don't think I can tell the difference. Maybe the bottom one is a little darker.

I've found I was using jpg's because of a download hassle. They're made by the camera, I shoot in raw and jpg, but they're much lighter than the cr2's. I don't know if it's under my control to change that.

But anyway I'll use the cr2's in future is the point. I've never even used canon's DPP but I'll start. Does it alter the original raw image or makes copies?

I just googled and read a little about it and canon is making a big noise about how wonderful it all is and how good their in-camera conversion is. Bit surprising. To me. Because as I've just said, that's what i"m working with and I don't think it's too good because of that big difference in brightness.

But that's later.

Right now go to fix my faults: speed and shake and focus.

Canon's DPP is highly rated.  It will help you if understand what a RAW file is.  Having said that the .cr2 you get starts with the defaults that you had your camera set to, eg White balance, colour saturation, etc but you can then change them.  When editing a cr2 file the "recipe" is stored in the same file but separately from the raw data, so you can:

1) Revert to last saved settings

2) Revert to shot settings (ie before you made any changes)

From what you've said earlier I would fully uninstall the Canon suite and start again as the EOS utility is very useful, especially if your preferred connection is USB.  However if you put your SD card in the computer then you can use the ImageBrowser utility to download and it mirrors whatever had been downloaded by EOS Utility.  I'm not sure however that you've said what computer you have and you need to ensure you are using the right downloads which you should be getting from the Canon support site.

For a long time I had the 450D and you have a later camera.  There is nothing wrong with those models and you don't need to splash out on new gear.  The one single item I would look at changing is the 18-55 even if it means getting a used 18-55 IS or STM of which there should be plenty around at a good price and low cost.

You also haven't answered the question of how you are focussing.  Are you trying manually, or using one of the focus modes or Live view?  Use a letter or flat magazine inside by the window so you have good light and learn to take a good sharp picture.  Read up on how to hold a DSLR.  If you can't then get good photos it may be you have a gear problem.

Jabbing the shutter (good call) as has been mentioned is something you can practise at overcoming and that will show on the test I've mentioned above.

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Mintychocs Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

I think the gear and shooting aspect has been well covered but one item hasn’t. Correct me if I am wrong but I presume that the photos you take don’t line up with what your saw. This can be split into two sections. The monitor you are viewing the photos on isn’t calibrated or doesn’t cover the colour spectrum of the flowers. When you view JPEGS this is the smallest colour space. RAW has all the colours but the JPEG only contains the colours dictated by the Picture Style https://www.canon.co.uk/pro/infobank/picture-style/

I would recommend you shoot RAW and learn how to use Canon’s free DPP software to edit.

DanishMacro Regular Member • Posts: 198
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

I don't think they are necessarily poor, but as most of us, there's room for improvement. One tip, I don't think you've gotten so far:

Watch your backgrounds. This can be difficult with any subject, but flowers especially, as they are often in close proximity to elements that make for busy backgrounds (brush, stilks, grass, leaves etc.). Be mindful of how you frame your shots of flowers. See if you can't get a nice clutter free background, or a more out of focus background, while still keeping your subject sharp and in focus.

Don't buy a new camera, concentrate on improving instead.

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pmgnut
pmgnut Contributing Member • Posts: 752
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

I don't think they are poor, just a couple things : Open your lens up a bit to blur the background clutter. Isolate your subject just a bit more. Also, mid day light is way too harsh, try earlier or later in the day.

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OP abrogard1 Regular Member • Posts: 207
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

okay.  thank you.  I've taken note of all that for future reference.  it's all new to me.

OP abrogard1 Regular Member • Posts: 207
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

shouldn't shooting in the shade overcome the harsh light thing?  and if I'm setting my speed to avoid shake and then opening up the aperture I guess you're advocating shooting in manual?  I generally use tv.

Bobthearch
Bobthearch Forum Pro • Posts: 10,697
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

abrogard1 wrote:

shouldn't shooting in the shade overcome the harsh light thing? and if I'm setting my speed to avoid shake and then opening up the aperture I guess you're advocating shooting in manual? I generally use tv.

Try using Aperture Preferred mode.  Aperture controls the focal depth, which to me is the most important aspect of most photography, especially flowers.  Just keep an eye on the shutter speed displayed in the viewfinder so it's not too low.

You can also control the depth of field and increase the focus blur by changing focal lengths.  Personally, I shoot flowers using a long focal length while standing farther back.  You might consider adding a basic 55-200 zoom lens to your kit.

Note the aperture, shutter speed, and focal length.

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OP abrogard1 Regular Member • Posts: 207
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

Thanks for this.  I'm accustomed to think of speed as the most important because as you can see I'm a victim of blur.    You got that at 1/1000  with an ISO of 100.

I doubt I could do that.  In the morning sun here I just got 1/160 at 6.3 with ISO 100.

I shoot a lot out in the bush.  Little bits of wind shake things around a lot.  Opportunistic shot of a bird I need speed to catch a moving bird especially the wings.  Running roos etc.

So my strategy has been to set a 'safe' speed for myself and let the camera do the rest, using tv instead of manual.  And leaving ISO on Auto, too.

I do have a Canon EFS 55 - 250 and I have used it a lot.  I was thinking the 18-55 gets in closer and of course is a lot smaller and easier to handle.

But I just checked that and it seems that really the longer lens might actually get a tiny tad closer and yep, there's that depth of field advantage.

I just took a shot with it and got 1/200 at 6.3 on ISO 100.  Different camera.  eos400d. but yes,  I get just as close.

I think you're right.  I need to switch back to the longer lens.

Bobthearch
Bobthearch Forum Pro • Posts: 10,697
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

The photo was taken in the New Mexico morning sun, the amount of light probably not so different from your mid-day flower photos.

If I were shooting action, like sports or kids, or doing something special like panning or long-exposures, I would use the shutter speed preferred mode. I don't do that much, so Aperture-Preferred is my default.

Regarding the longer focal length, look at the bokeh, the quality of the out-of-focus areas. By giving the background a stronger or more 'dreamy' blur, the viewer's attention is directed entirely to the subject without distraction.

I'd also point out the lens I used for that shot is a Nikon 55-200 AF-S, a basic kit lens that came 'free' with my kid's entry-level camera. Just so you don't think it costs hundreds of dollars to take a shot like that.

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Mark S Abeln
Mark S Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 18,894
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

abrogard1 wrote:

Yep. that's been suggested to me. Use exposure comp to knock it back a bit. I plan to do it. But I've had a thought just now - aren't all digital photos nowadays subject to post editing - often tailored to their target place of viewing?

JPEGs are in a universal standard color space, and they have limited editing ability: for example, you can't reliably recover highlights.

Raws often have considerable unused highlight headroom, but particularly with brightly colored saturated objects like blue skies and red flowers. Raws may also have a lot of shadow detail which can be brightened.

I played with a couple of them a tiny bit in picasa but it doesn't get very subtle.

I probably should try DPP. I shoot in CR2 and jpg. So the jpg were made by the camera.

They're not downloaded either, I suddenly realise. The EOS utility doesn't work too well and I let MS Photos download and i see now it's only downloaded the .jpg.

I should download those and look at them. I know in Picasa viewer the cr2's are always darker than the jpg.

Only DPP will render the JPEGs like the camera. Other raw processors have their own ideas of rendering the files—which, of course, is the entire idea behind raw processing, to do something different than the camera, and to take advantage of newer or better technology.

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OP abrogard1 Regular Member • Posts: 207
Re: Why Are My Pics So Poor?

what i am seeing is that DPP has not rendered jpg like the camera.

edit: nonsense. or part sense. I've got folders on my pc like that: jpg all lighter than cr2. But I just downloaded >700 pics from the camera and there's no such behaviour. All jpgs and cr2's the same.

so I need to look into that more before I make any such claims. my mistake.

second edit: I looked into it.  It was Picasa. When I view with Picasa it renders all jpg lighter than the CR2.

if I view the same folder in faststone they're identical.  no problem.

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