With your submissions and as Digital Photo SA gains traction–
it’s our intention to have a regular feature where it is now possible for you to send in some of your work and in so doing elicit constructive comment from a panel of experts who are specialists in their own fields. By doing this we will be able to showcase some of the very best photographs that are being produced in our country.
I received a message from a concerned reader who asked that we give her some help and guidance with her website that featured some of her photography.
“Good day, I am still just starting out, but would love to become a professional. You can have a look at my website @ twlandscapephotography.co.za , its not much, but I’m trying.”
I personally was very pleased with her honesty informing me that she was starting and was still a beginner. Having this knowledge allowed me to give her the necessary information that she was asking me to help her with.
Before I started the article, and as I have not done this before, I felt it prudent that I qualified my reasoning as to why I am qualified to do this. I fondly recall an item by Ravi Zacharias ‘Is Truth Dead?’ wherein he says, and I quote; “I cannot recall when I had lived through a time when everything was going wrong, its unexplainable, and yet at the same time, the proliferation of information so that people are reading so many things from morning to night and the struggle with all of that is, is that they don’t know what they are reading, whether it is true or false. Once upon a time, you had to earn the right to be heard. People had to know something about you; they had to know your credentials, your track record. What your life has been like. And all of that. Today anybody can get in front of a computer and type out whatever they wish. They don’t have to defend it, and they even don’t have to give us their name. And yet we read and read and read and we find out how confused our world has become. But the tragedy is, the more we have access to and the more we are living in an abundance of supplies have you realized how empty we have become at the same time?”
I have had involvement with photography from a very young age, formally trained. Having served in the South African air force in the aerial reconnaissance division and worked in both retail and wholesale photographic sales. Manged two photographic sales outlets in Cape Town. Taught photography at a prestigious art college in Cape Town and had my own successful professional photographic business in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. I was involved with commercial advertising fashion and industrial photography. I spent many years with national Game Reserves such as Sabi Sabi and a small stint with Londolozi and other game reserves and parks around the Southern parts of Africa.
Greatly influenced and mentored by internationally known wildlife photographers such as Richard du Toit, amongst others. Also served as a member and on the judging panel of some of the Photographic Society of South Africa’s photographic clubs in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Went on to produce Camera and Image magazine that ran its course for several years before it’s inevitable demise and now Digital Photo SA that is still very new and set on to establish itself. I make no apologies about being so wordy in introducing this article.
I suspect that I need not repeat this introduction in further similar articles in the future. Once you have thoroughly read this piece, you may want to return to our website, where I produced a report about how I was motivated to create Digital Photo SA. https://digitalphotosa.com/the-beginnings-of-digital-photo-sa/
Tanya gave me the URL for her domain so I had the necessary information to help her with what she had asked me for. My initial impression was extremely positive as the website is professionally produced and needed no further comment so I could now concentrate on some of her images. twlandscapephotography.co.za I thought it best to take some of the images from her website and to produce a general report.
I had absolutely no problem with the location that she found herself in as this produced many outstanding possibilities to produce some prize-winning photographs. I felt however in order to achieve this and if possible to study and to survey the area that you wished to work in. I am also aware that this is not always possible but then you have to know how to make the best of the situation as it presents itself.
These are a few areas that if you took into consideration will greatly improve your images and I am going to talk about them in no particular order. The knowledge that you have of your craft is vitally important and particularly I want to mention a photograph that you took of an outcrop of rock that is very disturbing because the foreground is totally out of focus. In a previous edition of DPSA I did a feature on hyperfocal distance and if you were using the correct equipment and lens it would have been possible to get everything that you saw through your viewfinder to be completely in focus. Just to recap the piece on hyperfocal distance. https://digitalphotosa.com/understanding-and-using-the-hyperfocal-distance/
Every single element that you capture in your image will be needed to make up the whole picture so you must be very careful what you include or exclude. You produced an image that unfortunately had some overhead electrical cables in it. I found these cables to be very distracting and if you wanted to use the image to be displayed and it was exceptional, I would painstakingly have removed them in post-processing. In my case, I use Adobe Photoshop. Changing your camera angle or position could also help if at all possible.
How you crop your images is also very important. You produced a scene with a few Wildebeest that seemed to vanish into insignificance. If you had a lens that allowed you to zoom in, get a bit closer, this would have been an improvement. I did notice that you will need to upgrade your equipment. Upgrading could prove to be quite intimidating and somewhat expensive. There is just so much second-hand camera equipment on the market presently. Don’t get caught up in all the crazy hype that is talked about. Please speak to a reputable photographic dealer and let him know what it is that you are planning to achieve with your images and take his or her advice.
A good starting point would be a reasonable DSLR as I don’t think that you will find any used mirrorless cameras at a reasonable price on the market just yet. Your primary lens could be a kit lens that usually sold with the camera with a focal length of 35mm – 70mm or 24 – 105mm in 35mm terms. Practically a good lens that starts from a wide-angle and extends to medium telephoto. The lens is going to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Also, look out for the pixel value of the sensor. The higher the pixel value, the better the sensor is going to be when capturing the overall sharpness but more importantly, the dynamic range.
The ability of the sensor to capture all the colours. From the blackest blacks to the purest whites in a scene and every nuance of shades in between. Particularly when you shoot in RAW, I strongly suggest that when you have become familiar with digital capture, you take all your pictures in RAW or a hybrid setting of both RAW and jpeg images. You will also come across the term—post-processing. The initial capture is the starting ground, but in post-processing, you can render the image in ways that you would never have thought imaginable.
RAW capture will allow you to manipulate and improve your image without affecting your original file that is not ‘as possible’ if you shot in any other file type such as jpeg. The moment a jpeg file is adjusted reverting to the original would be impossible, and a jpeg does not carry the same information that a RAW file has. There is just so many photographic courses and YouTube videos on this subject that you can refer to and I suggest that you do as you may already be feeling intimidated but what I have just told you.
There are quite a few post-processing programs on the market, but my suggestion is that you investigate two suits that Adobe produces. The most widely used now is Adobe Lightroom. I still use my version of Adobe Photoshop that I am very familiar using. I suggest that you investigate these two suits and then make a choice for yourself. Note, there are others on the market, so investigate before you commit.
I took two of your images and did a tiny tweak on them to give you an idea as the difference between the two. The adjustments were not ideal but aptly demonstrated the point of working with your images after having taken them.
A constructive suggestion is to study what other photographers who have there own websites have done. Suppose you find something that you really like try and emulate this the next time you are planning to go out on a shoot. I have included a screen capture of a group of photographs that photographers displayed on Outdoorphoto’s website just for an idea but please go through the images that some of the members have produced as this is a good starting point. Outdoorphoto is an on line photographic store that also has it’s own blog with a wealth of useful information that will help you as well. www.outdoorphoto.co.za
Here are a few other suggestions that you will find useful. Try as much as possible to take your pictures in the “Golden hour’ This is the period of daytime shortly after sunrise, or before sunset, the colour of the sun is far redder or warmer than when the sun is higher in the sky. The shadows that are now created will improve the perception of depth/contrast in the scene that you will be photographing.
I noticed that you like close-up pictures so I would suggest that you have a separate macro lens or a lens that offers you a macro function. Also, ensure that your images are as sharp as possible as fuzzy photos have no place on your website. Concentrate on your framing and include only that which will make your picture jump of the screen. I must admit that you were courageous posting your images on a website for everyone to see. As the market is fierce with so much competition and you don’t get a second chance to make that first impression so be extra careful of the content and quality of the images that you are posting.
Avoid photographing your images from behind unless you have no other alternative and be particular with how you go about cropping, cutting your pictures. Your framing is vital when you want to achieve an appealing image. I understand that it is easy to become caught up in the moment, but as you become more experienced, you will become the best critic of your images. Seek guidance from like-minded experienced photographers who have become masters of their craft and I suggest that you learn as much as you possibly can about the craft that you now find yourself in. There are quite a few courses that are available on the Internet.
I suggest that you search for a topic on YouTube and nine times out of ten the information that you are looking for you will find. If you need particular advice concerning any image that you have taken we would only be too pleased to assist you. Don’t stop learning, experiencing and be willing to accept constructive criticism from photographers who have become masters of their craft and very soon you will be producing and sharing award deserving images.
Thank you for believing in us and knowing and understanding and accepting your limitations, and now all you need to do is to get on with what you love doing your photography, and we are here for you.
For quite a few years, locally and internationally award-winning renowned wildlife photographer Richard du Toit produced a feature in almost all of the issues of Camera & Image that I ever produced that was so positively received and enjoyed by our readers. In the not too distant future, this may happen again so watch this space. Richard du Toit Photography.