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Unread 08-26-2013, 11:52 PM   #1
Mr Firefly
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WammysAngels Photo Critique

Riley and I have been working on our cosplay page (WammysAngels) a lot again recently, but we haven't had any critiques for a while. Since we're a photographer/cosplayer duo, tips for either of us would be greatly appreciated! We're also particularly interested in some editing tips (we've been at a bit of a loss in that area lately).

So here's a few of our newer photos!

http://wammysangels.deviantart.com/a...vail-375366890


http://wammysangels.deviantart.com/a...laby-395447867


http://wammysangels.deviantart.com/a...host-395463128


http://wammysangels.deviantart.com/art/Monkey-D-Luffy-396190344


Thanks!!
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Unread 08-27-2013, 01:41 PM   #2
Ito
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I am going to take a crack at a critique here I will be coming at this from a photographer side of things. I will start with a short critique of each image and then try and give some general advice for editing.

Justice Shall Prevail
This one isn't doing much for me. I think that first and foremost comes down to the composition. Putting your subject directly in the center like that doesn't exactly make for an exciting image, but instead it feels very static. The fact that the photo is taken straight on to the cosplayer and makes the image almost symmetrical doesn't help that either. Coming at this shot from a bit of an angle will probably bring a lot more life to the image.The next problem comes in the form of blown highlights. The details on the feet, the knee, and the chair and completely gone and are pure white. You could have brought your exposure down, but that would have given you very dark shadows. What I would suggest would be to try to soften the light. It looks like it is coming from a window, so maybe if it has white curtains, draw them shut. The last thing about this image that bothers me is the hand near the face. Because of the straight on angle, it is really hard to see what it is doing there, I can't quite tell if the thumb is on the lip or not. Telling them to bring their hand down a little lower will help with this (I think).

Whispered Lullaby
Right off of the bat, this shot is underexposed by a 1.5-2 stops...it is just too dark. Bumping that up will REALLY help with this shot (and you could even do that to some extent in post). I would maybe pull the framing back a little bit as well to get the top of the head a little breathing room as well as fitting all of the left hand in to the frame. I would also bring a wig comb to your shoot, cause god know that wigs always get messed up and fixing it in post is a major pain.

Your Ghost
Dump the fake lens flare, it isn't doing your shot any favors.
I would also consider not going for a dutch angle...but this is just personal preference, I find them to look very amateur unless you have a very good visual reason to them them (Which means I really don't mind them if I can't see the horizon line). Framing wise, I think this is the strongest of the bunch.
Here's my quick edit of what I would do in photoshop:
1) Fix the horizon line (I used content aware fill to fix the empty corners)
2) Color balance adjustment layer to introduce a bit more reds and yellows
3) Use a gradient map adjustment layer with an orange tone and use a layer mask with a large soft brush to limit it to the upper right corner.
4) Use a soft white brush in the upper right corner to give it a "realistic" flare)
5) Use a levels adjustment layer to bring up the black level to make the image appear "softer"
End result: http://oi39.tinypic.com/2s0zif6.jpg

Monkey D. Luffy
Again with the dutch angle…I don’t think it is adding anything to the picture here and I think it would be better off with the horizon straightened. I like the pose on this one, and I think if you cropped in on the left it would be a lot stronger of a composition. Also, the cosplayer’s face is very much under exposed, all the shadow detail is lost right under the hat.

As far as editing tips go, I would like to know what equipment and software you have first. If you have a camera that can take pictures in raw, make sure that you are using that. I do all of my editing in photoshop and lightroom, so those are the only programs I can speak specifically to. Overall, I just think you need to work on getting a bit cleaner of an image, keeping the highlights and shadows in check, and then playing around with the color balance.

I hope some of those comments helped. And please, don’t take anything I say as fact, they are just my opinions and observations…someone might pop down after my comment and say that dutch angle are awesome lol.
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Unread 08-29-2013, 09:42 PM   #3
Mr Firefly
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Awesome! Thanks for the feedback.

So far, our software and more importantly our equipment is lacking. We only have a camera (that can at least shoot in raw) and a tripod, but I've been tryng to figure out what kind of light sources and reflectors we take outside with us (I'm feeling that it's in that area that we're really lacking) I brought a mirror once, but I don't think Riley liked fiddling with that too much. Is there anything we could do with the mounted flash even? We recently used a business card to bounce the light for a play-around shoot, and that lightened things up a nice bit.

Actually, the camera is also brand new to us, so we're fiddling with it trying to figure it out. That's probably most evident in the shoot with Whispered Lullaby where it was just too dark to begin with. Normally in that situation, would we slow down the shutter speed a bit? (Unfortunately that time we didn't have the tripod with us and we were a little stuck for options. Somehow we also went through the whole shoot without noticing my hair was a mess which sucks, but is there any way I can fix that post-shoot? (With a lot of patience, I imagine)

Justice Shall Prevail was a shot I took, so that's probably why it's the most uninspired of the bunch! I thought the symmetry might be interesting, but maybe not!

Also, all of them except for Your Ghost were shot in raw. (My Photoshop at the moment is just a freebie that came with my tablet (Photoshop Elements 5.0)) I haven't quite figured out how to edit raws, but I know that they're pretty versatile for the most part! (Or so I've heard!) I'll post the originals here too if I could get some more editing tips. I really like what you did with Your Ghost!
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Unread 08-30-2013, 12:16 PM   #4
Ito
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Firefly View Post
I've been tryng to figure out what kind of light sources and reflectors we take outside with us (I'm feeling that it's in that area that we're really lacking) I brought a mirror once, but I don't think Riley liked fiddling with that too much. Is there anything we could do with the mounted flash even? We recently used a business card to bounce the light for a play-around shoot, and that lightened things up a nice bit.
As far as light sources go, I would probably spend some more time with natural light before you delve in to that area. But if you are really eager to jump in, though, I would buy a really cheap 5-1 reflector (http://www.amazon.com/Fotodiox-Premi...n-1+Reflector). It's pretty easy to use, but I think that you really need an assistant (or a stand) to make them worth your while. I have tried to used them while taking a picture at the same time...it's just too hard for me XD. As far as business card pop-up flash bouncers, I tried that at a con several years back now. I found the results to be incredibly mixed, with more bad than good XD

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Firefly View Post
Actually, the camera is also brand new to us, so we're fiddling with it trying to figure it out. That's probably most evident in the shoot with Whispered Lullaby where it was just too dark to begin with. Normally in that situation, would we slow down the shutter speed a bit? (Unfortunately that time we didn't have the tripod with us and we were a little stuck for options.
My best suggestion for you is to learn the exposure triangle (Shutter speed - aperture - ISO). If you can get that down, your images are going to show it. I see that you shooting with a Canon 30D, so I can give a bit more direct advice since I also shoot Canon. Let me give you an example on how this works. In the Whispered Lullaby shot you were shooting at:
Shutter Speed: 1/25th of a second
Aperture: f/4.5
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 46mm
That shutter speed is dang slow for hand-holding that shot at 1/25th of a second at that focal length...that is evident with the slight amount of motion blur that is in that shot. I would go at the slowest at 1/40th of a second at that focal length. Now we would need to brighten up the shot. The first thing I would do is make sure that my aperture is the widest is possibly can go (the smallest number). Since I think it is safe to assume that you are shooting with the kit lens, you are already as far as you can go here. Since I would have already made the shot one stop (doubling it) darker by raising the shutter speed to 1/50th, that really only give me one option left to make it brighter; ISO. I would raise the ISO to 800 right off of the bat. This is going to add more grain to the image, but it is going to brighten things up. IF that isn't enough, I would push that up to ISO 1600...but that might be pretty grainy (I have never used a 30D, so I don't know how it handles grain at that ISO). You can fix a good amount of the grain problems in post if you have the right software. All of these things would give you a better exposure to your image with less blur...and it all comes from understanding the exposure triangle XD. Try shooting in manual mode on your Canon and get used to how you can change the values of all three parts of the exposure triangle. This won't help you compose shots better, but I guarantee it will help you make better photographs...

Quote:
Somehow we also went through the whole shoot without noticing my hair was a mess which sucks, but is there any way I can fix that post-shoot? (With a lot of patience, I imagine)
You can, but it usually a major pain. If you want to save hours of your time and have an image that is going to look better anyways, just get it right before pressing the shutter...I know this is incredibly hard...I have so many pictures where the wigs are just don't bad things XD. I usually only fix minor flyaways, anything more than that is just too much work for me and I can't get it looking quite right half of the time anyways.

Quote:
Also, all of them except for Your Ghost were shot in raw. (My Photoshop at the moment is just a freebie that came with my tablet (Photoshop Elements 5.0)) I haven't quite figured out how to edit raws, but I know that they're pretty versatile for the most part! (Or so I've heard!) I'll post the originals here too if I could get some more editing tips. I really like what you did with Your Ghost!
Good job at shooting in raw! Once you know how to edit them, you will never want to go back to jpg lol. And dear lord that is an old version of elements. My recommendation? Keep elements (I honestly have no idea what that version has or doesn't have, I am working on CS6) but get lightroom 4. http://www.amazon.com/Adobe-Photosho.../dp/B007BG9VLK

It might be pricey for you at $95 (and I am sure you could find it for cheaper...and maybe even cheaper than that if you browse the right sites ). Don't bother with 5, it's not much of an upgrade from 4, but 4 is much better than 3. You will find once you start working in lightroom how much more you can pull out of your pictures. If you would like to see what can be done with editing in post, upload the .raw file and I would be glad to show you .
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