Why do my pictures come out "soft?"

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Why do my pictures come out "soft?"

Postby AnnaBanana23 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:51 am

Every photo I take seems to come out soft looking. I sooo desperately want the crisp clear pictures that I see professionals take. What am I doing wrong? I'm guessing it's my gear, but maybe it's just the settings?

I shoot with a Nikon D90 and a Nikkor 35mm lens 1.8.

Take a look at my blog to see some pictures - I just started it to document my family, and my journey to become a better mamarazzi ;)

http://capturedbykarlee.tumblr.com/

TIA! :)
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Postby MarriedtoaBaritone » Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:47 am

What mode are you shooting in? Automatic or Manual or Aperture Priority?
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Postby AnnaBanana23 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:24 am

I am shooting in M. Sometimes A (aperture priority)
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Postby MarriedtoaBaritone » Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:17 am

Well, the lower your f-stop, the "softer" your image will be--though your area of focus should be crisp, even down to f/1.8.

My guess would be that your shutter speed is too slow. Are you adjusting it based on your lighting situation?

I'm a newbie, too, though--so hopefully some of the more professional mamas will chime in, too. :)
Melissa (32) and Adam (34)
DD #1: Adeline Laurel, born 6/12/08, due date was 9/18/08
1 pound, 8 ounces//135 days in the NICU
Image

DD #2: Kate Elisabeth
BFP: 1/17/11//EDD: 9/25/11
born by repeat c-section on 9/6/11 (37 weeks + 2 days)
Image
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Postby blue-eden » Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:17 am

It's not your gear. The Nikon D90 is a stellar camera, and the 35 mm 1.8 lens is notorious for being a super sharp lens. I have both of these, and shot this combo often.

In the pictures that I can see on your blog, I think you are too close to the subject to get good focus, and you might be shooting too wide open.

Close down your aperture to about F4, increase your ISO to avoid underexposure (the D90 can handle it, push it to 1600 if you have to! I've done it and even higher with great results!). increase shutter speed and stand back a bit. Then practice there for a while. Then open up to about F3.5 and practice that ap. Then go down to 2.8, then 2, then open up to 1.8.

Getting good focus takes lots of practice, just keep at it! :)
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Postby AnnaBanana23 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:01 pm

Thank you both! :)

What is the 1.8 number on my lens mean? What is the difference between 1.8 and 1.4? Is that the highest aperture?

I have been using autofocus as well, and being too close could be an issue because I am usually pretty close.

I have been using the ISO at about 400 and 200. I found higher I went the grainier it got?

I do usually shoot at 1.8. Especially it being winter and our house doesn't get that great of light.

I will do some playing around with the aperture and see! So much to learn...it's really overwhelming at times and I need to understand the aperture settings more. I keep thinking lower the number smaller the opening.
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Postby MarriedtoaBaritone » Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:19 pm

It's the opposite--the lower the aperture, the more open your lens and the more blur you'll get in the background.

1.8 is good, 1.4 is better. 1.8 is the lowest your lens goes (and that's okay for now).

You might want to look up Me Ra Koh. She's an awesome photographer and she specializes in teaching mommas. I LOVE her!! Anyway, read through her blog and photo recipes; you might pick up something helpful before your next workshop. :)
Melissa (32) and Adam (34)
DD #1: Adeline Laurel, born 6/12/08, due date was 9/18/08
1 pound, 8 ounces//135 days in the NICU
Image

DD #2: Kate Elisabeth
BFP: 1/17/11//EDD: 9/25/11
born by repeat c-section on 9/6/11 (37 weeks + 2 days)
Image
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Postby blue-eden » Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:46 pm

AnnaBanana23 wrote:Thank you both! :)

What is the 1.8 number on my lens mean? What is the difference between 1.8 and 1.4? Is that the highest aperture?

I have been using autofocus as well, and being too close could be an issue because I am usually pretty close.

I have been using the ISO at about 400 and 200. I found higher I went the grainier it got?

I do usually shoot at 1.8. Especially it being winter and our house doesn't get that great of light.

I will do some playing around with the aperture and see! So much to learn...it's really overwhelming at times and I need to understand the aperture settings more. I keep thinking lower the number smaller the opening.


Yes, the 1.8 is the WIDEST your lens will go. Lenses are usually named for the widest ap they can go. The ones that go very wide are "fast" lenses, good for low light so you can get faster shutter speeds.

If you are getting too much grain with the D90 past 400, that is odd. Perhaps you are underexposing too much. You NEED light on the subject or it will look noisy. Take your child, put her in front of a window and turn her TOWARDS the window, not with her back to it. Look at the play of light and shadows on her face. In front of a window, even on a cloudy winter day, you should have good enough light to not get grain at iso 1600.
They will be grainier than iso 200, but that's ok! The D90 handles noise really really well.

There really is no "best" aperture. It depends on what you are shooting, and what your style is. So shoot at f4 if there is nothing behind her that you need to blur out (ie. a wall, in studio), so you can practice nailing aperture When I shoot outdoors, I often use a narrower aperture like f5.6 or f8 to get some greath depth, and a 3D effect.

The 35 mm lens does not have a 1.4 version. The 1.8 is SUPER sharp, I can't say that enough. It's a fabulous lens, it will kill me to sell it but I need the FX version for my D700.
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Postby AnnaBanana23 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:35 pm

MarriedtoaBaritone wrote:You might want to look up Me Ra Koh. She's an awesome photographer and she specializes in teaching mommas. I LOVE her!! Anyway, read through her blog and photo recipes; you might pick up something helpful before your next workshop. :)


THANK YOU!!!!!
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Postby MarriedtoaBaritone » Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:52 am

You're welcome. :) She taught me everything I know!
Melissa (32) and Adam (34)
DD #1: Adeline Laurel, born 6/12/08, due date was 9/18/08
1 pound, 8 ounces//135 days in the NICU
Image

DD #2: Kate Elisabeth
BFP: 1/17/11//EDD: 9/25/11
born by repeat c-section on 9/6/11 (37 weeks + 2 days)
Image
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