Outdoor photoshoot critique

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#1 ryohazuki224 on 4 years ago

Hello all! I'm fairly new to cosplay photography, so I'm learning with every shoot that I do. I recently did a shoot at a botanical garden with a very colorful cosplayer, and we did have a lot of fun and I think most shots came out great.

The day had very bright sun overhead, with sparse clouds here and there, so sometimes it was hard to get good exposure without overblowing the exposure.

I should have used a ND filter for some of these, but these few here are the ones I'm most curious about, and that even after adjusting the RAW in Lightroom, something is still off. Not sure if its just the color or exposure or what. Any suggestion would be appreciated! Thanks!


Here is the rest of the gallery for your viewing pleasure! I look forward to any comments! :)

#2 roseandzippin on 4 years ago

Personally, I like the bold colors, like your cosplayer's pink hair and blue hat, to pop out in a photo. I used to have Photoshop for photo editing, but then my desktop computer died, so now I just use GIMP. It looks much simpler, but it offers almost everything that Photoshop does. Also, it's free, because I sure don't want to pay for another expensive program! I took some outdoor pictures just yesterday with lighting similar to yours in this photoshoot.
This is one of the shots I took of a plant that was originally very colorful, but the sky was cloudy, which messed with the photo lighting:
I opened it in GIMP and did a color enhance (Colors > Auto > Color Enhance) and increased the Contrast and Saturation each by 10. That's all I did, and this is how the picture looks now:
It's really simple to do, but it automatically finds the brightest colors in the picture (which is sure to be your cosplayer's bright colors and maybe some of the green landscape) and makes them "pop"! :) Good luck!

#3 nathancarter on 4 years ago

It looks like your "something is still off" is that the white balance is giving you trouble - especially where you have some subtle mixed-color lighting. This can wreak havoc on attempts to get a suitable skin tone. I'll have to look again when I get to a better monitor, my office-job monitor is not calibrated at all but is extremely cool/blue toned.

In the first one - if you framed this one pretty loose and cropped in a bit for this composition, try playing with the Upright tool which is in the "Lens Corrections" panel. Try "Auto" and try "Full" and see what they do. Sometimes you have to have a LOT of excess around the edges for this to work well, then you let it do the corrections, then you crop in for your composition. Here's an example, not my photo:

I think the first one could also benefit from a gradient adjustment to even out the exposure/toning between the top and bottom of the photo. You're getting a lot of light reflected from the bright gray ground - look how bright the skin is on the feet, compared to the skin on the shoulders and face. In the Basic panel, lower overall exposure by maybe 0.5-0.8 or so, then put a gradient adjustment on the top half to lift exposure and highlights to brighten the face back up.

#2 has pretty severe mixed-color lighting, which is probably what's throwing you off. The light filtering through the foliage or reflecting off it, is making a very severe green cast on the right side (camera left) of the face. This is hard to correct - it can't really be done with a global correction, but you might be able to use the adjustment brush to reduce it a bit - depends on how much time you want to spend on it. It's a good exercise, but not something I would do on a regular basis since it's just very time-consuming to get it to look good. Alternate possibility is a B&W conversion which can maybe save it.

#2 is a cute pose. I like to have the nose pointed a little closer to the camera when making a side-eye pose like that - this way you get somewhat less eye-whites and can still see the irises. If you want the subject looking off to the distance, point the nose a little further out and bring the eyes back in a bit.

#3, I like the concept, not a huge fan of the crop. You might try a few different crops for composition, since it's so easy to adjust the cropping in Lightroom. A few degrees counterclockwise so that the water is falling vertically, perhaps. The very bright background on the left half of the frame is a little distracting, but not a shot-killer. You might give it some quick broad swipes with the adjustment brush to bring down the exposure and highlights back there.

Can't really speak to the white balance on this one till I get to a better monitor.

#4 monodistortion on 4 years ago

I looked through the gallery and I like the bright colors and the location is very nice. These are the main critiques that popped into my head:

1. The big braid in the bangs looks pretty awkward so I looked up the character. I'm not familiar with this series but it looks like his bangs are long and jagged and there's a small braid in the middle but it's not really that prominent.


I don't do wig styling but I'm sure there are many guides online. Also, the bangs shouldn't cover up any of the eyes-- eyes communicate the most emotion.

2. I would edit the photos down to just the very best 2-5 pictures. If you're telling a story in a sequence maybe you could get away with up to 10 photos but that's pushing it. I wouldn't use any duplicate poses or scenery-- you don't want to bore people.

3. Be careful when you use a very wide lens (or the wide end of a zoom). It tends to distort perspective very dramatically so closer things are very big. This is a technical point but I think you're getting some noticeable barrel distortion in this photo. It's easy to correct in an editing program:

4. I think these are my favorite of the group. The framing and poses feel natural and you have good eye contact. Some of the others could be improved by cropping or changing the pose or camera angle a bit.

I think you're off to a good start. When you see a photo that you really like, try to analyze it and figure out why you like it. Then try to duplicate those things in your own photos! There's always more to learn.

#5 nathancarter on 4 years ago

[QUOTE=ryohazuki224;4997713]I should have used a ND filter for some of these, but these few here are the ones I'm most curious about, and that even after adjusting the RAW in Lightroom, something is still off. Not sure if its just the color or exposure or what. Any suggestion would be appreciated! Thanks![/QUOTE]

One other little thought:
Unless you're using a flash - especially an off-camera flash that won't do high-speed-sync - you likely don't need a neutral density filter.

The primary use of a ND filter is to reduce all incoming light. This is useful when you're using a powerful flash in a place where there's a lot of ambient light. You need the ND filter because:
- Your ISO is already as low as it can go in the camera body
- Your shutter speed is at the maximum sync speed to go with your flashes (generally only 1/160 to 1/250, which is pretty slow for outdoors daytime)
- You want to open your aperture even more for creative purposes, but doing so will overexpose the ambient

The ND filter blocks a portion of ALL incoming light so that you can open your aperture while still maintaining proper exposure of the ambient, and not increasing shutter speed.

I suppose the same thing applies here for wanting to keep a slow shutter speed not for the flash sync, but to get a little motion in the waterfall.

#6 Tigerpaws on 4 years ago

I would recommend doing a little color correcting as the images are all pretty green. Also experiment with the time of day you are shooting. It looks like it was pretty bright outside, and the images get kind of flat. A lot of photography, including cosplay photography, ends up looking truly incredible because of editing. Checking out editing tutorials on Lynda.com would be a good place to start and really help you grow as a photographer and image maker!
Best of luck! You're off to a great start!

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