Self Critique: Boudin Bistro, Sign

Fishermen's Wharf, San Francisco, CA

Finally gave myself some prep time for a post for this first time in over a week.  So let’s do another self-critique post.

The photograph was taken in January 2010, about 2 years ago, and just about 2 months after I decided to become more serious about my photography.  That meant that while I had some understanding of the relationship between ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, applying them in the field was a challenge.  What was also a challenge was selecting composition.

It was also on this weekend trip that I visited the Rodney Lough Jr. gallery on Pier 39, a master of landscape photography and the medium format camera.


Without the full EXIF data from the camera available at the moment, I have a feeling the ISO was randomly selected.  For a handheld (non-tripod) shot, 1/20 sec for a 24mm shot is at the limit of what will achieve a non-shaky shot.  Always try to shoot faster than the inverse of the focal length when shooting with a non-IS/VR, non-tripod shot.  In this case, shoot faster than 1/24.  I might have gone with a smaller aperture (higher f-stop = smaller aperture = more depth of field).  With a smaller aperture, the items in the background including the letter of Boudin Cafe would be more in focus.  In a photograph like this, with so many areas and items to look at, I would like to see them as clear and as detailed as possible.  Of couse, by going with a higher f-stop, I would need to pump up the ISO accordingly just to keep the shutter speed the same.


The largest failure is my not capturing the entire neon Boudin Bistro sign.  I’m not sure why I did that.  Maybe I wasn’t paying attention?  Maybe, I intended to not to include the entire neon sign?  One thing to remember is that if you have enough megapixels in your camera, it doesn’t hurt to shoot the composition just a tad large than what you want.  Two main reasons I’ve realized. 1) You can crop to exactly what you want in post processing. 2) When framing a photograph, a tiny portion of the photograph may be hidden under the mat, depending on how you printed the photo and how you frame.


This might be a composition that lends well to something like a 3-exposure HDR blend.  The exterior light is bright and probably blows out the highlights, while potentially overexposing the Boudin Cafe (non-neon) sign just a bit.  What I would need to contend with if I try an HDR in the future are the moving baskets of bread overhead.

EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 24mm, ISO ???, 1/20 sec, f/5.6

Boudin Bistro, Sign.  Fishermen’s Wharf, San Francisco, California.  January 29, 2010. © Copyright Steven Tze– all rights reserved.


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