Critique Wanted Starting at the bottom


Talkeetnai, AK
My first post, my first picture. Alaska in January, lots of snow and poor light. The camera is an Olympus E-420 and the lens is an Olympus Digita 14-42mm. I have everything set on auto starting out (I know, I know. Neophytes :redface:) I'm standing on my upstairs deck zooming down at the tire swing almost burried. Where do we start from here?

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Hall of Famer
Don't let anyone tell you that Auto is always bad, it's not. With more tricky shots you might need to adjust things and auto won't necessarily do that to your liking however for this instance it did real well, and so did you. The snows not blown out, the shadows are that attractive blue and you can see the texture of the snow.. So congrats on your first shot shared it's a winner! And you didn't have snow up to your waist getting it!


Hall of Famer
Perth, Western Australia
Bill Shinnick
I like the composition - it's very good. You have a blue/grey cast to the snow which is very common in snow pictures. If you shot in RAW you may be able to adjust that although you may prefer it as is which is fine.


Tasmania, Australia
This has come out well but it may not always using auto for a scene such as this as there is a large difference in dynamic range between the bright snow and dark shadows. You may have to choose which you want to keep more detail in - the bright or the dark portion of the image - and set the correct exposure for this part of the image. It may sound daunting at the moment but you can learn a hell of a lot in these forums in a short amount of time if you are motivated to. My advice would be to start shooting in aperture priority mode (assuming your camera allows it) as soon as you become comfortable with auto. This lets you manually set the aperture setting so you can determine the depth of field of the image while the camera automatically sets the correct shutter speed for your chosen aperture. Also, read your camera manual thoroughly when you get a chance so you know what it will let you do.

Enjoy shooting.


betwixt and between
briarhopper, I'm so glad you jumped right in - hadn't seen this thread until after I'd offered my welcome.

Here's a comment from one of our members that I think will be very helpful and I'm counting on the hope that the links Bill(wt21) has supplied:

Bill is right -- a cheap DSLR is a great way to learn. I would even recommend a cheap prime lens. I used Canon, so for me it was a 400D and a 35mm f2.0 lens, but I'm sure the Pentax would work just as well.

You ARE right about ISO (at least practically, though not technically). You can think of ISO as "sensitivity to light"

ISO, shutter speed and aperture work together to determine "exposure." There are generally set exposure values. See here (especially "tabulated exposure values" Exposure value - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Moving up or down one exposure value is moving on "full stop" in exposure.

There's much to explain here, but much that is already explained elsewhere. I don't have time this am to type, but try reading explanations at the following sites:

Exposure: Glossary: Learn: Digital Photography Review
The Luminous Landscape Tutorials contents
Digital Photography Tutorials (this was one of my favorites)
And the ever infamous wikipedia.

Also, Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure should be a good primer on exposure.

One thing I do recommend learning is the full stops on the aperture. Generally, progressing by full stops, it goes: 1.0, 1.4, 2.0, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, 8.0, 11, 16, 22, 32. There's a mathematical reason for that odd progression, but I just memorized it by writing it on a card.

So, if I am shooting at ISO100 shutter speed 1/200 and f/8.0 and I want to lower aperture to f/2.8 (for less depth of field, but it also lets in more light), that's four whole stops (8 to 5.6 to 4.0 to 2.8). I would need to either boost shutter speed 4 stops (200 to 400 to 800 to 1600) or lower my ISO (100 to 50 to 25 to 12.5 -- well, can't do that on modern digital cameras) to maintain the exposure. Alternatively, I could attach an ND filter, or come back some later time when the light is less.

Good luck with your learning! Concentrate on exposure (and also the depth of field work you've been doing). If you master these, you'll get a lot of the technical side of photography down (now, as for the art side... well, I'm still struggling with that!)

It's quite simple -- we are actively pulling you into our own delirium!!!

What we've talked about so far, both with Peterson's book and all the other posts -- is mainly about exposure, with a bit on DOF. Important stuff! But, it's not that Understanding Exposure is biased towards a DSLR, it's that a DSLR is more flexible than a point and shoot.

But, there's lots of great work being down on small sensored compacts, too. You just have to learn the limits. One thing a small compact does that a DSLR CANNOT do is take photos in lower light with greater DOF! Also, compacts can sometimes take better macro shots because they have a naturally deeper DOF (sometimes the narrow DOF on a DSLR makes taking macros harder).

Peterson has another book titled "learning to see creatively" here in the US Amazon: Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography (Updated Edition) (9780817441814): Bryan Peterson: Books: Reviews, Prices & more

And another: The Photographer's Eye by Freeman (and Freeman has other books, too). Much of what these two books talk about is color, composition, perspective and framing. These approaches can help with any camera, as it's about what you are shooting, not what you are shooting with.

In a simplistic approach, Exposure is sort of the "technical" end of shooting, and composition, color, perspective and framing is more the creative end. Although, exposure is important to the creative side, as well, especially with things like high-key or low-key type photos. See High-key lighting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia as an example, or Low-key lighting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (In short, light meters in your camera want to average out the exposure to middle-grey. Well, that's fine for boring photos, but you will want to learn how to control exposire to get what you want, not "average" gray!)

Welcome to the collective insanity known as photography ;)

I found these within an older thread that you might want to read through... While some of the comments are specific to the original poster's smaller sensor camera, there are other helpful posts, I think. In addition, I would suggest checking out one of the books mentioned that will help you learn more.

Please feel free to begin any new thread you'd like, briarhopper. We have a separate forum for learning about the how to's of photography whether they are "basics" - which many of us still need to learn or refresh ourselves regarding - or more involved subjects: Photography Techniques. There's also a forum about post processing called Image Processing..where you can learn about different softwares, etc....both of which are found in the larger subsection known as Image Works.

You're on your way, briarhopper!


Talkeetnai, AK
Thanks for all of the advice and info. I was not sure if the blue tint was acceptable, though I know it is common for snow. When I tried to do some tweaking on the computer with color balance and get less blue, I wound up with a lot less definition in the picture as a whole, and I lost the bar of sun laying across and through the tire. So, except for cropping of a little yellow snow from the dog at the bottom of the picture, I decided it was best left as-is. :smile: