Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Critique Time

 I've been reading [like a crazy person] about manual mode on my camera.
I'm trying to step out of my box and forget about auto.

Believe me, people - it's much easier said than done.
There are so many factors to consider in manual mode that your camera typically decides for you.

White balance
Metering Mode

Just to name a few.

So, I decided to do a little critique on myself. If you have input, by all means, please leave a comment! I need all the help I can get in my quest to understand manual mode.
Here are a few of my favorite shots in no particular order - 

What I love: I like the raw moment I caught here. This is one of my favorite pictures...ever. Because it captures the true happy side of my dad & BIL.
What could've been: The lighting's not great [Ugh, flash] and I would have preferred to use my 50mm 1.8 lens, but I didn't have it at the time. It would've been helpful to blur out the people in the background for less distractions. I also should've taken a step back and to the left to get both of them equally in the shot. 

What I love: The lighting was perfect [it was early in the morning] because it was bright & shiny - perfect for this fun shot!
What could've been: Blurry much? I think I actually shot this one in auto [this was right after I got my camera] and it's blurry. I should've switched to sport mode, or manual & hiked up the shutter speed to catch her mid-air.


What I love: This man, for one. :) OH right, the picture. I love the blurry background and the coloring. I think I might've used "the rule of thirds" correctly here.
What could've been: As you can see the hubs isn't as sharp as I'd like him to be [and no, I don't mean mentally. ;)]. Still working on getting super-sharp pictures.

 What I love: I couldn't have found a cuter baby to take a picture of, for one. I like the closeup I got and the colors are fabulous.
What could've been: The 50mm would've came to my rescue again, to blur out my dad [sorry pops, but the baby is just so cute! ;)] or I could've just moved the camera a little to the right to get Liam's head just in the left of the shot. 

 What I love: The coloring looks pretty cool; kind of has an old school feel to it. This had no post-processing done on it. I took it with my 50mm 1.8 lens. The blurry background is spectacular and for the most part the basket is in focus.
What could've been:  I can't decide whether I should have zoomed out or in. Or moved the camera to the left a bit, or centered it. I don't know. Something's just not right.


What I love: This couple is adorable, no? Though it would've been much more romantic if dude would've gotten off his cell phone. To the left of the lady was another person walking the other way, so I cropped/photoshopped her out of the shot. If it wouldn't have been creepy, I would've got in right behind them to take a close up. Or I could've used a zoom lens. Either way, probably would've made a bad first impression..
What could've been: The sunset on this night [in Cocoa Beach, FL] was spectacular. It took quite a bit of post-processing to get the color I was seeing that night into the picture. 


What I love: Oh Florida. It's hard to not get at least a few pictures that are spectacular. This one's decent, though it didn't get quite the color combo I wanted. I was trying to showcase the amazing moon that night, but it didn't work out quite like I wanted.
What could've been: Tripod. It's a little blurry. 

 What I love: That smile! The color is pretty decent as well.
What could've been:  A bit closer up, perhaps? To just get his adorable face [and those big blue eyes] in the shot.

What I love: I like the kid moment I caught here. Chewin' on his finger, not a care in the world. The shadowing on his face is great, too. I think it brings an interesting tone to the shot.
What could've been: Again with the 50mm lens. That would've brought some depth to the shot & blurred out that beautiful "warning" label on his carseat. 

 What I love: The waves & the sunset, for sure.
What could've been: It's hard to say. I really like this shot. The exposure could've been set a hair higher to let in a bit more light. Perhaps a higher aperture?

 What I love: That this was taken at dark & it looks like it was 5 am. Check out the lighting! Score.
What could've been: [this space left intentionally blank]

 What I love: The color on this one is fabulous. Check out those big blue eyes! 
What could've been: I wish I would've turned the camera vertically so I could get his entire face without zooming out. Exposure was a little out of whack, too. It appears I used the flash....[facepalm]. 

What I love: Macro mode. This shot just says "beach", mainly because....well, we were on the beach.
What could've been: Auto-focus, you are my kryptonite. It focused on the bottom left corner of the arm of the chair. Hello! There's a seashell there!

 What I love: The lighting. The smile on her adorable face! And the skaters in the background lookin' like they're skating at 1,000 mph.
What could've been: Tripod. My beautimus subject is all sorts of blurred. But, I hate to tell you kids - I'm not about to embarrass my little [or myself, for that matter] by bringing a tripod to a skating party. That's a line I just won't cross.


What I love: Kittens! Disregard the sarcastic look my cat is giving me in this shot. I like that the screen is giving the background a pixelated look. The coloring is great, too.  
What could've been: Move to the left a lot to get a full-length shot with some more blur on the background. 


What I love: SUPER cool fire shot. I took about 30 pictures before I actually got one that looked good. I tried every setting imaginable.
What could've been: Move the camera DOWN. And to the right a hair.

 What I love: This building. I LOVE this building. The angle turned out pretty legit, too.
What could've been:  Oy, the exposure is just tragic. It was midday so the lighting was less than ideal.


What I love: Oh sleeping babies...don't they just make you want to go take a nap and snuggle with your favorite stuffed animal [that you claim you no longer have]? I love the coloring and the light shining on the left side of his face.
What could've been: Again with the "warning" sticker...

What I love: Being in the delivery room when my nephew was born was an insane experience. I was just glad I could catch moments like THIS. :) What a special moment to capture!
What could've been: The coloring is kind of dull. And I fear I should have zoomed out a bit & moved the camera up a bit to get Mr. Dad more in the shot.

 What I love: THIS KID. More than the moon & the stars. :) I caught a smile. A SMILE, people. Okay, maybe he was just letting out some gas or something. But I'm calling it a smile.
What could've been: Exposure on his blanket is a bit much. And if only I could go back and just ZOOM IN on that adorable face.

 What I love: Probably one of my favorite shots ever. Like...of all time. The blurred background rocks. 50 mm would have made it even more intense.
What could've been: See how the focus is just on his left food? The "Rocks" foot is out of focus and it makes me sad. :( But..still readable, thank the Lord. 

What I love: This moment! Things like this handsome smile don't get caught this in-the-moment very often.
What could've been: All in all, this picture sucks. It's focus is on his collar, the lighting is terrible, exposure isn't much better & I centered the picture on his right shoulder for some un-Godly known reason. But, I still love it because it's such a great moment.

What I love: She's reviewing the pictures she just took, which is just awesome. I love that the railing and background are blurred. The coloring is pretty great, too. We went out at about 6 so the sun wasn't so harsh. Plus, she's IN FOCUS! Holy hell.
What could've been: Again, the 50 mm would have been AMAZING here. It would've made it so much more dramatic. 

 What I love: I love that he is so snuggly in his mama's arms! And she's holding him like she will never [in a million years] let go. What a precious pair. The lighting on top of his head makes for a more dramatic effect.
What could've been: Center that darn picture more! Her shoulder takes more focus here than it should because I didn't position the camera right. I'm such a newb.

What I love: I'm going to assume you know I love the people and move right on to the picture. The background of only trees makes for an awesome backdrop. It brings in some color that neither of them are wearing & makes them pop out of the shot.
What could've been: They're mostly in focus but it's not sharp and that drives me CRAZY. The exposure is a bit much, too, but that can be corrected post-processing.

 What I love: The giant beer glass makes for a fun subject, though it's a bit random. I was just messing around with camera settings here and snapping pictures of everything around me. I LOVE that the glass is so sharp & the background is so blurry. Ahhh....the sweet relief of a sharp shot.
What could've been: Um...stop taking pictures of random crap.

 What I love: My SIL's form, for one. :) The background is great & the lighting in the trees is perfect.
What could've been: Why, dear God why, can't I center a picture. Move that camera to the left! 

 What I love: The irritated look he's giving me. It makes me feel like a paparazzi. That would make him a pro golfer, though, right? The coloring is fabulous here, really bringing out the yellow in his shirt. And he's in focus. YAY!
What could've been: zoom in? I think that can be done post-processing by cropping.


What I love: Tiger, Tiger Woods, ya'll! Whoa. Trip back to 2001. I didn't notice this until now, but the trees in the background, the way they're positioned, makes it look like a circle. Which is cool. Plus, he's totally in focus, which is a mega-bonus.
What could've been: Less exposure? Darker background? I'm just not sure.

What I love: The sunset on Saturday night was spectacular. This one has a bit of post-processing on it, but all in all I got a pretty decent shot.
What could've been: If only that house wasn't there...

 What I love: I can say that I love the positioning on this shot. I'm not sure why, I just do.
What could've been: hmm....more zoom? I was far away in the cart and my idiot husband was driving like we were in the freaking Indy 500, so I wasn't able to get a lot of great shots at this point.

 What I love: It's very "walk to remember" for some reason. It just makes you think of a serene walk on a cool night.
What could've been: Those houses are officially driving me nuts. The coloring is kind of dull here, that could be fixed post-processing. 

What I love: Another beautiful sunset shot, though let me tell you people - those are hard to get.
What could've been: This one isn't that great. I was trying to get my FIL in focus [I think we both know how that went] and get the sunset in there, too. The sun just looks like a giant fireball [which it kind of is...] so that's way too distracting to get someone to look at the golfer.

So you see...I know about 10% about all the different stuff there is to know about photography. And I don't want to do it professionally, but I would like to know how to use my camera appropriately. No one buys an expensive DSLR camera and sets it to auto-mode. You buy a point & shoot for that.
Or so I've learned.

Constructive criticism welcome.



For reference, some of the fotography sites I LOVE! 


  1. Mallory, you are too hard on yourself! Your photos are great. A lot of the things you mentioned you would like to have changed about them can be easily fixed in Photoshop! Do you have Photoshop? Photoshop is my best friend :)

  2. Haha...well you know what they say; We are our own harshest critic! And yes, I have Photoshop it is AMAZING. I'm not sure I could live without it..
    I'm trying to learn Lightroom right now. Do you have experience with that?

  3. Hey Mal! Honestly, I think you and Brent need to hang out one day! He has a program that he uses for his pictures (I'm a failure of a girlfriend and I can't really remember the name). But I think you two could help each other out! He is super-awesome with his camera and all the settings! He put's is on "Auto" only when I use it (because I'm a loser like that)!

  4.'re definitely not a loser, Bethy! Matt uses auto too, even though I've tried teaching him some of the manual settings. That sounds awesome; I could definitely use some help from a pro! :)


Thoughts? Love to hear 'em.