Self-Critique: Storm, Barbed Wire Fence, Power Line

Martell, CA

Storm, Barbed Wire Fence, Power Line.  Martell, California. April 20, 2010. © Copyright 2010 Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

The 2nd of 3 photographs that were given creative titles, before I stopped the practice.  Titled “Ungathering Storm” this photograph was taken the same day as “House, Hills, Rain” and is another instance of me having my camera in the car and being able to shoot something on my way home from work.

Again, this was from last year when I started taking photography a little more seriously, but not enough so where I knew exactly what I was doing yet.  Evidence of this?  No tripod, no circular polarizer filter, and for some reason my camera was still set at ISO 800.  At least I was starting to not put the main subject in the middle of the photograph as much and even used the diminishing lines/perspective with the fence.  Of course I didn’t even know that term until my framer commented on it.

One of the bigger flaws was using ISO 800.  In fact, I didn’t even realize this until I export a copy from Adobe Lightroom a few minutes ago.  The rule of thumb for sharp handheld (non-tripod) pictures is to use a shutter speed of 1/focal length.  You might be able to get away with just a slightly slower shutter speed using a IR/VR lens.   Example using this photo: At 20mm, I would need a shutter speed of at least 1/20 sec or faster.  Being that this shot was at 1/40 sec, I could have tried shooting at ISO 400 and 1/20 sec.  While it’s not noticeable at this resolution, there is definitely graininess in the photo, especially in the clouds section when printed up to a size of 16″x12″.

A second flaw is the position of the power pole.  It’s too far off to the right.  In fact, I cropped it to be even more so because there were distracting buildings to the right.  What I should have done was walked over to my right a little and recomposed.

Anyhow, this was entered into local competition last year and took 2nd place in the Landscape category.  Looking back now, I’m a little surprise it did that and I’m starting to be in agreement with my dad.  I had shown him this photo last year after winning 2nd place and being all proud of myself.  He looked at the photo and said, “That?! That won something?  It’s okaaay.”  Thanks dad, I knew I could count of you to tell me the truth and bring me back down to earth and strive to do better!

EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 20mm, ISO 800, 1/40 sec, f/9

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