PHOTOGRAPHY CRITIQUE & ADVICE

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[FORMAL CRITIQUE] Moon Shot

panALsonic panALsonic 44 posts

Camera: Canon EOS 450D
Exposure: -1.52
Exposure: 0.004 sec (1/250)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 300 mm
ISO Speed: 1600
Software: Adobe Photoshop CS2 Windows
Lens: Tamron 70-300mm

copperhead copperhead 28 posts

This is an awesome photo..great texture to it I think. I might have cropped it and made it a portrait instead of landscape, unless you plan to put writing next to it or something…that’s an awful lot of blank space. As for quality of photo and things, looks excellent. Awesome details! You can also bring those out a little more if you crop off the black.

JimGuy JimGuy 1540 posts

At this size focus looks good with excellent detail. If there is enough pixels I might consider cropping to portrait format maybe keeping a standard aspect ratio, then interpolate back up to a larger size ( I prefer genuine fractals for that but ps and other apps can do it). I would make sure that after interpolation it still looks good at 100% or “actual pixels” in photoshop
Also I would probably have tried shooting it at a bit lower iso, since at 1600 it could get a bit grainy when blown up larger size.
Overall it looks good and has possibilities imo.

Serinidia Serinidia 5 posts

Excellent detail! Would make a lovely background for a poem about them moon the way you have it now, but I think for a stronger image you should crop it to focus the moon better. I love the detail and sense of peace that it gives off though!

panALsonic panALsonic 44 posts

Thanks for the feedback.
My initial thought with this crop (the original RAW shot had it centred) was to create a sense of light within an empty blackness, that there is always a source of light somewhere which illuminates this lonely figure.

Perhaps a brief piece of poetry would work here. I’ll dig out my paper and pencil….

Trish O'Brien Trish O'Brien 175 posts

Oh please don’t fill that frame up with poetry! I love it, but i am big on negative space at the moment…The clarity of the moon is stunning, you’ve done so well there. The only thing I would do is perhaps add a star or two if you’re hell bent on filling the space. But to me, the space is great – after all, it is SPACE!!!!!

BYRON BYRON 12105 posts

F I R S T- I M P R E S S I O N S:

  1. WOW!
  2. Looks great.
  3. Lovin’ how big the moon appears in the frame.
  4. Great detail.

E Q U I P M E N T

Brand / Manufacturer: CANON
Model: EOS40D
Lens: TAMRON 70-300mm

S E T T I N G S

Aperture / F-Stop: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/250 EV-1.52
ISO/ASA: 1600
Focal Length: 300mm

Did you set this manually, or was this chosen by your camera?


T E C H N I C A L

Exposure: No over-blown or burnt-out areas. However, your shutter speed is too short, and your ISO/ASA is way too high. I will explain this later in the “General” comments section. I think that the high ISO/ASA is causing a lot of grainyness and colour “artifacts”/abberations.

Lighting: Well, all things considered it is going to uni-directional! Not much you can do about this without the worlds biggest flashgun.

Colour Saturations: Good range of tones from black to almost white. On the enlarged view however, there are colour abberations which are rather distracting.

Focus / Depth of Field: Image appears to be in focus. But, f5.6 is not really a good choice here. You probably should use something closer to f11 to really help keep everything in focus.

All lenses have a certain aperture which gives the best degree of sharpness, this is usually about 3 stops down from the largest f-stop.

A typical “half-stop scale” looks like this:

f1.0 / 1.2 / 1.4 / 1.7 / 2 / 2.4 / 2.8 / 3.3 / 4 / 4.8 / 5.6 / 6.7 / 8 / 9.5 / 11 / 13 / 16 / 19 / 22

So if your lens has maximum f-stop of f19, then somewhere around f11 will give you the best sharpness.

Sharpness: Initially looks good, but when checking the enlarged view of this image, the image appears quite pixelated and grainy

Score (out of 10 points): 5


I N T E R E S T

Aesthetics / General appearance: Initially, this looks really good. It got my attention straight away. The curved moon stands in stark contrast to the blackness of space.

Unfortuneatly grainyness, pixelation and colour abberation issues really detract from the image.

Emotional Content: Conceptually, this image creates strong feelings. The moon is really imposing, and good use of negative space gives the viewer a real sense of “place”.

Storytelling ability / Creative communication of a concept or idea: Good communication of concept.

Originality: Reasonably original. Choosing the moon in 1/4 phase really adds to a sense of mystery.

Score (out of 10 points): 5


C O M P O S I T I O N

Framing / Cropping: Good position of the moon within the frame.

Simplicity of Design: Very clean and simple design lends itself well to attracting viewer’s attention.

Points of Interest: There’s the moon, and that is it. Nothing else really needs to be in the image, but perhaps some stars would look good.

Rule of Thirds: n/a

Lines & Diagonals: The angle of the moon (ie the direction of the light) points towards the bottom RHS corner, which is good as this enhances the way we naturally look at an image. This helps maintain viewer’s interest. The image would feel completely different if the moon was facing directly to the right.

Balance / Use of Negative Space: Negative Space has been well used here to balance the moon. I feel that more space could have been added to really enhance the sense of isolation in the darkness of space.

Score (out of 10 points): 7


G E N E R A L

As a concept it is a pretty good shot of the moon, but some technical aspects are letting it down. But this is not surprising since photographing the moon is notoriously tricky.

Photographers who are new to shooting the moon often make the same mistake you made here with your shutter speed and ISO/ASA. – Its dark so you think, reasonably so, that you need high ISO, but then you try to balance it with a short shutter speed.

Shooting at night time is actually about under-exposure. (The opposite of photographing snow where it is about over-exposure)

At night your camera is going to try to over-expose because of the large amount of black, – Your camera is trying to make the darkest section average-out to 18% Grey. But don’t forget that the light bouncing off the moon is very very bright (it is sunlight). You need to expose for Highlights, and the highlight here is bright sunlight bouncing off the moon. So set your camera to ISO/ASA 100 and use a 1sec shutter speed.

The second problem you are going to have is that to get the moon really big in your frame you are going to need at least a 900mm lens, and preferably something bigger.

By using a 300mm lens and then enlarging it in Photoshop, or whatever you used, you are left with a pixelated, grainy image with some nasty colour abberations. You could fix this to some degree by converting the image to greyscale and adding a bit of blur to soften the pixelation.


Look at these two images by J.K YORK

LENS: Zuiko 600mm
ISO/ASA: 100 – 200
SHUTTER SPEED: at or near 1sec
APERTURE: f5.6/8

See just how small the moon is within the frame when using a 600mm lens? – You really do need BIG lenses to get the moon BIG and SHARP. One solution is to hire a big lens for the night, or try using a Teleconverter to double the Focal Length of your lens. A tripod is, of course, compulsory

J.K. YORK’S second shot used a telescope! The moon in this photograph is roughly the same size as the moon in your photograph.

LENS: Telescope
ISO/ASA: 50
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/10sec
APERTURE: f/8

The low ISO/ASA ensured plenty of sharp detail with zero grainyness and fantastic tonal gradations (shades of grey). To get the moon this big in the frame you really do need to use a telescope. Fortuneatly good quality affordable hobbyist telescopes are available with camera-mounts for a lot less that you would pay for a good lens.


For more information about shooting the moon, check out my tutorial:

PHOTO TIPS & HINTS – ZOOM LENSES, or HOW TO SHOOT THE MOON

I would love to see some stars, and I think you could get away with compositing some stars into the negative space. This would add another dimension of interest other than the moon.

I am definitely with Trish on this one point: Don’t put any poetry/text on the image. Let the image speak for itself. Adding text can appear cliched, and you don’t want to detract from the image and lose your viewer’s interest. If you must add text, then put it into the “Description Box” next to this image in your portfolio.

Finally, don’t be disheartend by this critique. You should have seen how baaaaad my first moon shots were. (horrific).

I think you have the makings of a really good moon shot here.

Total Score (out of 30 points): 17/30

panALsonic panALsonic 44 posts

Wow!

Firstly, thanksn Trish – you seem to have understood my concept for the shot, which has spurred me on.

However – BYRON, thanks a MILLION for your comments. Virtually everything you commented on is correct – the 300mnm lens forced me to enlarge the image in photoshop, and I had to sharpen the image only slightly to get the sharpness, but this was, as you rigbhtly point out, to the detriment of the grain generated.

If I recall correctly, I took the shot by deliberately setting the shutter speed as I did not have my tripod, and had to position myself leaning against a pillar, thus forcing the high ISO, again, to the detriment of the grainy shot.

I took the shot by spot metering the moon to avoid the camera compensating for the vast blackness surrounding the subject, which worked well. This also helped with the short shutter speed.

Based on all of your comments I now can’t wait to get back out tonight to shootn the moon again. I have a 300mm manual focus lens (fitted using an M42 adapter, with a x3 magnifier. i’ll give these a go in addition to some more with the Tamron.

Your comments and advice are top. Thanks again.

BYRON BYRON 12105 posts

You are most welcome PanALsonic.

Spot metering on the moon is going to be hard – its soooo far away. Basically you can use ISO/ASA 50-100 with f11 and try for a 1second shot.

To vary exposures – adjust shutter speed only.

I hope you have a tripod as well.

Good luck – looking forward to seeing the results.

JanT JanT 2558 posts

Cool. Another Byron photo-course-in-a-comment critique.

BYRON BYRON 12105 posts

Hiya Jan, its my raison d’etre…

grsphoto grsphoto 43 posts

Byron
What a fabulous commentary. I think everyone learned from that.
G