The image looks a little flat to me. You can try curves on it, some cropping & vignetting (to focus more on the subject)
Looks better to me...
What do you feel?
In my opinion, you can use some dodging and burning on selective areas to give more impression of depth. The sculpture is properly exposed and crisp in sharpness. I think, what it lacks to give it the impact that it needs is the human element. If there's a man or a woman or a child interacting with the sculpture that would definitely make the shot more interesting. Just a thought, Frank.
I have to agree with Sahil - it does look a little flat. More-so, the background trees seem to be over-exposed and blur into the top of the sculpture (especially with that very hot reflection on the top right). Perhaps toning down those highlights would help. If you do crop, I would just take a little off the bottom and the left and leave the rest - I think the positioning of the sculpture in the frame is pretty good as-is, and I don't think you want to mess with that. Sorry, I can't give specific C&C help, because I'm just not that good at it.
However, I also got to see that sculpture at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I was there in Feb 2007, and by the looks of your photos, that means only a few short months after you were there. I was back there in Feb 2009, but the sculpture had moved on... not sure where it is located now. Also there when we visited in 2007 (I think it was also gone in 2009) was the Frabel sculpture I posted here.
I have a couple shots of the sculpture (including some from inside) I could share if you want, but I didn't want to hijack your thread, so let me know if you'd like to see them.
Frank, here's a quick edit using dodging and burning, if it is OK with you.
What I did is to add a new layer on top of the background layer. Filled this layer with 50% gray and then change the blending mode of this layer to OVERLAY. Using a black colored brush, I brushed on those areas where I think the shadow falls to darken them. If I want to lighten some areas, I would use a white colored brush to do that. Hope this helps.
I'm still in the process of teaching my eyes to see the artistic possibilities. <sigh> I can see the benefits of the suggestions after they are pointed out, but I feel I am learning, much too slowly for my enthusiasm!
Sahil - that looks better, not as flat and the sculpture stands out from the background better.
Willie - I'm having a hard time trying to figure out where to dodge and burn. I did whiten the teeth and eyes for the first post. I see what you mean about having human element involved. Perhaps I could PS some people into the image but I'm sure how that would work. Thank you for the suggestions!
Bill, thank you for the comments. I did get other shots, including the inside, but I think this was the best composed of the bunch. Actually, there were maybe 30 pieces of Niki's work there in 2006, some of them were much taller than this one. She had a very unique art form.
Many thanks for the C & C!
Follow the light. Burn the areas where the shadows fall (only with this image) since everything is too bright. On some images, you need to open up the shadows and do the opposite, you dodge them. The image will guide you on what to do, and of course your vision of the image why you took that shot.Willie - I'm having a hard time trying to figure out where to dodge and burn.
I thought you were referring to using the Burn and Dodge tool. I didn't know you could do it with layer and Overlay. Neat! I'll need to carefully compare the original with your example to see the changes. If the original post was too bright, then the square crop image must be way over the top. I just ordered the Vision and Voice book that you mentioned earlier. I suspect that will help my lack of 'vision'!
Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to help.
Regarding the book, David has about 8 - 10 vivid examples on how he edits his work in the book. His RAW image files (unedited) looks exactly just like what we can achieve using our cameras (others are actually underexposed, too ). It is his post-processing approach that makes an ordinary image captivating and full of emotions. I think that is also what lacks on my images. When I read his book, its like opening a Pandora box where your vision becomes vivid and with clarity as to how you will edit your work to coincide with your initial idea or concept of the image. I owe a lot of my post-processing skills lately with this little book. A bit expensive (about $40.00 after discount) but for me, personally, this is worth a lot with the knowledge that I have gained reading it. I hope you enjoy reading and learning from it, too.
Last edited by jiro; 28th May 2011 at 02:13 PM.
I just checked at Amazon, the book sells for $27.99 now. Much cheaper than when I bought it.
Whew! I was begining to think I had ordered the wrong book!
For anyone interested in seeing The Skull sculpture and 59 other pieces by Niki de Saint Phalle, The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, NC has them on display in their "Creation of a New Mythology" now through October 3, 2011.
For more information: