I've been into photography for quite a while now, but am new to the site - please be gentle!
I took this shot last year in Cornwall, at around 10pm. I think the composition works well, and I like the shot as a whole - but even though my camera was on a tripod, set to ISO 100, focus set to infinity, and the shot fired off with a remote release, it doesn't seem sharp enough. Maybe even a little noisy too.
I'm so glad you posted this shot for critique because I was just looking at it in the gallery’s and I'm never sure if I should leave critique on images in there or not .
First of all I'd like to say that I really like the idea behind the shot , St Michael's is such a beautiful location and such a well photographed one that it's hard to find a different point of view but what you have done in using it as the backdrop is very refreshing .
Now for the critique , first of all is the horizon , I don't know what software you use but I should think that most of them have the ability not only to straighten the horizon but also to deal with barrel distortion , it's one of those things that really stands out when you view an image and you can't help but be distracted by it .
The whole image seems very soft but I'm not sure if it's due to a bit of movement during the 30 sec exposure or it's the way you set up the camera in the first place . My understanding of the best way to get a sharp image from front to back is to use the hyperfocal distance for focusing , this can be worked out with the use of a chart but off the top of my head the last settings that I used was some thing like aperture priority f/16 and manual focus at about 3m but as a rule of thumb you would use a narrow aperture and focus about 1/3 of the way into the scene , I definitely don't think that focusing to infinity is the right way to go .
Thanks very much for your comments! In terms of software, I currently use Photoshop CS5. For the horizon, I normally just overlay the grid and use that to check it's level... I maybe didn't do that on this one, as now you mention it, there is a definate down-tilt to the right...
With regards to barrel distortion, I honestly struggled to see what part of the image you can see it! Now though, yes, the horizon line does also have a slight curve to it.
I'm suprised to see it though... the shot was taken with a Sigma 20mm-40mm f/2.8 lens, so I would have thought it would be less susceptible, given that the focal range is surley best suited to landscapes and the like...
I seem to recal I set the exposure using the shutter speed, rather than the aperture, so next time I'll definately use your advice for setting the hyperfocal distance - it's something I've read about many times before, but never put into practice! I'll also delve deeper into my camera's custom menu... hopefully there's a 'Mirror Lock Up' function in there somewhere.