I took the following photos yesterday to capture the shades of sunset skies. However, I am utterly disappointed with the sharpness of the overall pictures (areas in shadows particularly very soft) and not sure if the infinity that I intended to keep sharp (horizon in this case) is what the camera has indeed captured.

Please also review other pictures in order to assess my photography style, giving broader idea about me as amateur photographer struggling to make a mark at shutter stock site.

Also, am I struggling with my photography skills or partly canon 1300D kit could be blamed as well?

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  1. Taken just before sunset, 35mm, ISO 200, f/11, 0.6 sec, IS off, focus set at near most tower. Bushes under shadows appear noisy and lack detail (taken 35mm, ISO 200, f/11, 2.5 sec, IS off, using Canon 18-55mm IS lens). What could be the reason. Further, Shutter stock declined it for focus issues.

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  1. Exposure is better (35mm, ISO 200, f/11, 2.5 sec, IS off, using same lens as above) but again bushes just behind the first tower are all so soft and lack detail. Even longer exposure of 31 sec

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  1. Although this picture has better sharpness at 75 mm, f/10, 31 sec, it has been rejected by shutter stock for Noise/film grain (using Canon 75-300mm 4-5.6 non-IS lens). Could you please pinpoint it? Also, are lights on chimneys producing chromatic aberration?

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  1. I personally felt that at 125 mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 0.8 sec (using same lens as above) I clicked a good shot but it got rejected at shutter stock for Noise/film grain and focus issue. Because the scene was dark so to prevent noise at high ISO I didn't shot at high shutter speed. What I could have done better here?

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  1. I like the composition but failed to manage the bluish color cast in shadow area. Taken at 18mm, ISO 100, f/10, 90 sec, IS off using canon 18-55 3.5-5.6 lens with ND1000 filter at sunset time. Shutter stock rejected it for focus issues but I found the overall DOF to be good enough, please advice? Also, is this blue color cast normal?
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did add image's detail but somehow post is not showing it. Please bear with on this. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 17:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ How did you focus? Also, note that a lot of the very sharp photos you see all around employ some form of sharpening filter in post-processing. Are these straight out-of-camera JPGs? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kahovius
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 17:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, these jpegs are scaled down and partly compressed to fit in the post from raw images. I shot these with manual focus through live view except for the last one with bridge (shot with auto focus). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 17:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi techy samco. Open critiques are specifically off topic here. Could you edit the question to remove that portion Also, each question should address one specific problem. Much of what you ask is on topic, but needs to be broken down into separate questions. Example: Color cast in #5 is a separate question from image sharpness in #1 and #2, as is noise in dark images in #3 and #4. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 0:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ For more about how to ask good questions here, please see What topics can I ask about here? and What types of questions should I avoid asking?. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 0:27

1 Answer 1


After comments & question edit
I'm still only concentrating on the first 2 images, as a single question. The others ought to be separated out.
At exposure times of 2.5s & 0.5s respectively, I'd have definitely used some method to increase the amount of light captured - lift ISO, open aperture, or extend exposure time - whichever adds least extra work.
You could have opened your aperture a good way. Most lenses are at their sharpest a couple of stops from fully open, often around f/5.6 or so - which would have let in a lot more light & halved your exposure time already. A wide-ish aperture on a wide-ish lens & focussed at or near infinity still gives you a lot of DoF.
I'd also have ramped ISO until exposure was 1/60 or so & if there was still any chance of camera shake, weak tripod or wind, I'd use a remote release, mirror up & a 2 second delay to lessen that. [I don't really see any in the images, but belt & braces.]

Looking at the Histogram, though there's a hint of bright at the top, I feel it would have been worth at least bracketing these shots and either using HDR later, or picking the one least affected by lost data at the top. It's easier to reduce overall brightness after the fact if you are Exposing to the right than lift shadows if you haven't used the full scale to best efficiency.

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original answer before details were known

How long is a long exposure? Trees move, clouds move. The pylon, which is the only truly static element, seems reasonably sharp as far as I can tell on a small jpg.

Most photographers would not use the results straight from the camera - some Photoshop [or Gimp or Luminar or OnOne etc etc] skill is essential to turn 'pretty good' into 'publishable'.

I did a really quick punch up in Photoshop to add a bit of 'drama' to this. Working from a small jpg isn't the best start, as it's a bit crackly, but this was just 2 minutes' work, adding contrast & some sharpening. [No, it's not perfect, it's just an example of what can be done, to show how much you can punch up detail. It will work much, much better from your original image than a highly-compressed jpg]

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I did the wrong pic first, so I now tweaked both the sky shots.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I understand the point you are trying to make. Its just I believe I could have shot this better to have more detail in area covered by small vegetation just after the first tower. But it all look so washed out. its hardly 2.5 sec and the first one is 0.6 sec. There was no strong winds around that time. Also, with you edits i could notice some chromatic aberrations in the bushes in the front and some fringes around the boundaries of the main cloud. Should this be avoided in first place? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd have exposed both further initially - either by linger exposure or by ramping up ISO. You should run some test shots in half light like this to see when your ISO appears to get noisy [there's a lot of debate on how this actually works,. but it's simple enough to tell when enough is enough] Let me add a bit more... \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 18:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ I indeed entered detail of all the pics, but somehow its not showing in the post. thanks for bearing with me man. Anyways, I shot first pic at 35mm, ISO 200, f/11, 0.6 sec, IS off, focus set at near most tower. Using Canon 100D with kit lens Canon 18-55 ISII. Second pic at 35mm, ISO 200, f/11, 2.5 sec, IS off, using same lens as above \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 18:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I must respectfully disagree with the recommendation to increase the ISO. For shots that don't involve moving subjects and on a tripod I think one should almost always use the lowest ISO possible. This will help make the image appear sharper because of less or no noise reduction. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 3:12

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