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Thread: Lonely

  1. #1
    Davidd's Avatar
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    Lonely

    I came across this ruined building in a lonely valley in Wales a few weeks ago, and tried to capture the feelings it aroused in me. Noone around, not even a sheep. Clouds building, great Welsh mountains rearing up. Shot it as a panorama, which I then cropped down. Played with different ways of processing, so much so that I need fresh eyes to appraise it. What do you think - could I do anything by way of processing to improve it? Any comments at all would be very welcome.

    Details: Nikon D7000, 16-85mm lens, F11, 16mm. The current version is processed as 'single shot HDR' to try to bring out the textures.

    Thanks for viewing!

    ~ David

    Lonely

  2. #2
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    Re: Lonely

    This shot really appeals to me David!

    I can't quite make my mind up on the lighting, especially on the building. It looks ever so slightly unnatural, although you have clearly tried to retain a sense of photorealism with your conversion.

    The clouds are magnificent and really add to the mood of shot and from a compositional point of view it's very pleasing. To my eyes at least. I imagine it would also be a good candidate for a B&W conversion.

    I hope you have many more similar that you will post! Great job

  3. #3
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    Re: Lonely

    Hi David,

    My first thought - it doesn't look quite natural, as Tommy says, but especially in a Lytebox, it really isn't too bad at all.

    I tend to keep my PP dead simple; I don't mess with layers, effects plugins, HDR, etc. - although they might save me time, I prefer to look at an image and fix the problems as I see them, one by one (dodging, burning, desaturating, bluring, cloning, etc.), that helps keep it natural looking to my mind. Sermon over, not personal. Hang on, let me climb down off this soapbox

    I like the composition, and it does convey the feeling you were after, but I would clone out the long rock at the lower right of frame, it leads the eye out of the picture, there's something else small there too.

    Cheers,

  4. #4
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    Re: Lonely

    Very nice image David. I think you've captured the mood very well.

    Cheers Dave

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    Re: Lonely

    I think this is a beautiful shot, but I too would like to see it processed in a more natural manner, but only so I could compare the 2. I love this as is, and I like the effect that you have achieved. The more I look the more I agree that there is something not quite right with the house. It is a bit overdone or like Tommy said the light isn't right or something. I just love the look on the mountains and the clouds, but perhaps the bottom half just needs to be toned down ever so slightly. If the sun is behind those clouds, it's not quite natural that this side of the building would be so bright - I think?????

    Also, now that Dave mentioned it I see what he means about that rock leading out of the frame. It's these little things that make a big difference. I didn't even realize it until he mentioned it, but every time I look at this shot, my eye ends up on that rock.

    Wendy

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    Davidd's Avatar
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    Re: Lonely

    Great, many many thanks for those comments Dave, Dave, Tommy and Wendy - just what I wanted. You've both encouraged me and given me some pointers.

    You've picked up on the fact that I've been trying too hard with this one! I do like the shot, which is why I put the extra effort in. But - I definitely felt that I'd over-processed it, as Dave implies, though its hard to retrace your steps sometimes, isn't it? I'll post another version as soon as I get home and you can compare if you'll be so kind? I did actually follow the procedure you use, Dave, only resorting to eg HDR when I wasn't happy with an earlier version etc. The problem as I saw it was that the building was too similar in colour and tone to the background, so I heightened the existing colour and used the HDR to bring out the texture more against the grassy hills. But I agree - everything else looks natural but the house doesn't! Dave and Wendy - really helpful to mention the rock, I'm usually fairly alert to things which distract and lead out of the frame, but I missed that one. I'm now wondering about the ladder/stile too...

    I'll be back later

    ~ David

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    Re: Lonely

    I wont gone about the light, but once the rock was mentioned I then spotted the ladder and thought the ladder to make out of the picture more than the rock. I have also noticed the the tree on the right seems to have a dark line running back down to the ladder, making look like some had a blob of ink drop out then run down a bit.
    Is it not strange how a very simple looking picture with a great subject and location can get so many little things picked out
    Paul

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Lonely

    Quote Originally Posted by paul17 View Post
    Is it not strange how a very simple looking picture with a great subject and location can get so many little things picked out
    I think it's the really good ones that do, Paul. Two things:

    One of the great lessons for us all is really learning to look at everything in the frame before we press the button. I think it's one of the best things we can train ourselves to do.

    But when you get a high class image then it's on the detail that you can concentrate your comments and criticism upon - all aimed and helping the artist get the very best image out of it.

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    Re: Lonely

    Quote Originally Posted by Davidd View Post
    The problem as I saw it was that the building was too similar in colour and tone to the background, so I heightened the existing colour and used the HDR to bring out the texture more against the grassy hills.
    Hi David. I can see why you had concerns about the building not standing out. When I look at the image, there is a strong tendency for my eyes to follow that most prominent object in the image, the road. I end up at the end of the road on the left side. I notice the clouds, then the mountains, and just as I start looking at the building, the road takes my eye back to the left. It's almost as if the story in this image concerns itself with where the road is going and the building is just there, something on the side of the road as we pass by. I think that I, too, would want to do something to make the building more prominent.

    I wonder if the solution might have something to do with cropping out part of the road? Or, perhaps, let the road do it's thing and let the building remain subduded to complement the view from the road as we pass by?

  10. #10
    Davidd's Avatar
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    Re: Lonely

    Frank, I'm been thinking exactly the same as you all day:

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Hi David. I can see why you had concerns about the building not standing out. When I look at the image, there is a strong tendency for my eyes to follow that most prominent object in the image, the road. I end up at the end of the road on the left side. I notice the clouds, then the mountains, and just as I start looking at the building, the road takes my eye back to the left. It's almost as if the story in this image concerns itself with where the road is going and the building is just there, something on the side of the road as we pass by. I think that I, too, would want to do something to make the building more prominent.

    I wonder if the solution might have something to do with cropping out part of the road? Or, perhaps, let the road do it's thing and let the building remain subduded to complement the view from the road as we pass by?
    Exactly. I'm a big advocate of the idea that a photo should only have one main subject, or it will get confusing. As it stood, the photo was trying to be about the lonely house and the lonely 'road to nowhere'. Result: unrealised potential. I got home planning to crop out the left part of the photo with most of the road, then saw that you'd made the same suggestion. I also took on board what Dave, Paul and Wendy said about the distractions - got rid of the ladder too, and that apparent 'paint drip' (actually it was a feature of the landscape, but no matter, it wasn't helping so it went! (Oh, these godlike powers of PS!) I addressed the rather unnatural bightness of the building by dimming it a little bit through burning the highlights then restored some of the highlights in the sky - the HDR had made the clouds more dramatic but in the real world there was still sunlight in the sky lighting up the house and fields and 'explaining' the brightness. I did try converting to monochrome just for interest, but as I suspected there's not enough contrast in the photo for that to work well - the house recedes completely into the background.

    When I look at it now, the photo looks more harmonious, more of a whole. See what you think. Anyway, couldn't have done it without you all, thanks again.

    ~ David

    Lonely

  11. #11
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Lonely

    Frank, I'm been thinking exactly the same as you all day:

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    I wonder if the solution might have something to do with cropping out part of the road?
    Exactly. I'm a big advocate of the idea that a photo should only have one main subject, or it will get confusing. As it stood, the photo was trying to be about the lonely house and the lonely 'road to nowhere'. Result: unrealised potential. I

    I also took on board what Dave, Paul and Wendy said about the distractions - got rid of the ladder too,
    Mmmmmmmmm! I don't know.

    If we go back to what you said above, David, about your original vision: - "the photo was trying to be about the lonely house and the lonely 'road to nowhere"

    Now, I have to confess right away, as I have done on here many times, I am not a fan of that artificial, HDR-effect thing'. But, in compositional terms (and I accept totally what Frank says about the tendency to hafe your gaze wander off out of the frame on the left), I think your original works and isa much stronger image that your re-worked version.

    If we think of the image as a whole, we have a whole scene. I think the road wandering off into the distance is an integral part of that image and shouldn't be cropped. And I think the steps over the fence (the ladder) are an equally relevant part of that scene.

    Just a counter-view.
    Last edited by Donald; 7th September 2011 at 05:13 PM.

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    Re: Lonely

    Forgive me David, hope you dont mind me jumping in here, I think your capture is quite wonderful, although I do personally think that Tommy and Donald have some good points.

    I do prefer this as a monochrome, just wondered what others thought? (Made the sky a little more dramatic too)Lonely

  13. #13
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    Re: Lonely

    Quote Originally Posted by Davidd View Post
    When I look at it now, the photo looks more harmonious, more of a whole.
    Hi David, with your current cropping, my eye starts down the road and pulls into the yard, even though there is not an obvious driveway. From there I see the mountain, then the sky and back down to the building. In this view, the building is obviously the subject and the road, mountains, and sky complement it.

    But as Donald observes, you really have two stories to tell here, the decaying building and the road to infinity. What Ian has done, in my limited view, is to use contrasts to bring the eye to start at the building, then follow the road. I don't know if that would have been possible to effectively accomplish in the color version.

    What a wonderful image, so many options and possibilities that the magic of post processing can bring to the forefront. It feels a bit like the three doors that the contestant has to choose between and as it is your picture, you get to choose! The neat thing is that there are no wrong answers, only personal preferences. I like all three options for different reasons. I hope you'll let us know which option appeals to you!

  14. #14
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: Lonely

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Mmmmmmmmm! I don't know.

    If we go back to what you said above, David, about your original vision: - "the photo was trying to be about the lonely house and the lonely 'road to nowhere"

    Now, I have to confess right away, as I have done on here many times, I am not a fan of that artificial, HDR-effect thing'. But, in compositional terms (and I accept totally what Frank says about the tendency to hafe your gaze wander off out of the frame on the left), I think your original works and isa much stronger image that your re-worked version.

    If we think of the image as a whole, we have a whole scene. I think the road wandering off into the distance is an integral part of that image and shouldn't be cropped. And I think the steps over the fence (the ladder) are an equally relevant part of that scene.

    Just a counter-view.
    I agree with this and prefer the original composition.

    I decided to have a little play (hope you don't mind) and basically changed the tone and brightness of the scenery to try to draw more attention to the building and in doing so I've tried to eliminate the almost artificial lighting.

    It might not be to everyone's tastes, but let me know what you think.

    Lonely

  15. #15
    shreds's Avatar
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    Re: Lonely

    I have to firstly say thank you David for providing such a captivating image and allowing us to use it as a basis for manipulation.

    Reading everyones slightly differing interpretations and seeing the results are one of the joys of the forum, the internet and digital capture. I think we all gain from it and is far more interesting than merely looking at a picture in a gallery or listening solely to one judges interpretation of a photograph.

    Everyone has their own take and style, and it really brings it home how in reality everyone sees something different in a view or in a picture itself.

    I look forward to further images!

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    Re: Lonely

    Ditto what Ian just said, and just to add my 2 cents, I love the B&W version.

    The cropped version certainly does put more attention on the hut, but I too prefer the original crop.

    I think what Tommy has done which to my eye is basically toning down the bright green in the foreground has done wonders to naturalize this wonderful image.

    Soooo, bottom line my preference would be the original crop with the foreground greens toned down a bit and the rock leading out of the picture cloned out. The B&W gets high marks too.

    What Ian said is so true though, we all have our own take and style, and it is so wonderful to be able to see what can be done with a great shot like this where there are so many different possibilities. When all is said and done, the final choice belongs to the shooter.

    Bottom line, great shot David, thanks for posting and being open to suggestions, and thanks to the people who took the time to post their ideas and samples, I learn more by following threads like this than I would spending hours hitting the books,

    Wendy

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    Re: Lonely

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    ...I think your original works and isa much stronger image that your re-worked version.
    If we think of the image as a whole, we have a whole scene. I think the road wandering off into the distance is an integral part of that image and shouldn't be cropped. And I think the steps over the fence (the ladder) are an equally relevant part of that scene.
    Just a counter-view.
    Agreed.

  18. #18
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    Re: Lonely

    Thanks to all for your fascinating thoughts on my photo Just a few reflections:
    - There are 2 kinds of helpful comment - practical suggestions about eg cloning away distractions, which are easier to see in other people's pics but maybe less so in one's own, and observations which come down to interpretation and taste. I love to hear how others respond to my images, and it doesn't matter at all whether I happen to agree. Its just really good to find out how the photo looks through the eyes of others, it expands my understanding and helps me to grow as a photographer.
    - You might be interested to know that of all the versions of my pic here, including my own, the one I like most is Tommy's! It naturalises the colours and tones so well, makes the photo more of a unity. Note, though, that the real scene was brighter than Tommy's - it was a summer day even though cloudy, the greens were brighter and fresher. So 'natural' isn't necessarily the same as 'truer to life', a point worth bearing in mind I think.

    To my own mind, the cropped version is also more harmonious and easier on the eye than the uncropped version. However, I also bear in mind that at the time I took the photo, I was responding to melancholy feelings aroused by the scene, and not thinking that this is a satisfyingly peaceful image! And obviously I could see the road heading off to nowhere, that was part of the scene, it wasn't 'cropped'!

    - On the other hand, the title itself gives away my inner conflict about the pic: 'lonely' what? lonely building? lonely road? Lonely photographer? (Of course what photographer could be lonely with camera in hand! Not to mention the wife and dog who were behind the lens with me!! ) So to me, the uncropped version is restless and unharmonious but truer to the scene, the cropped version makes a more satisfying but less interesting photo!!! How's that for an outcome?

    Best to all, David
    Last edited by Davidd; 8th September 2011 at 01:01 PM.

  19. #19
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Lonely

    Quote Originally Posted by Davidd View Post
    So to me, the uncropped version is restless and unharmonious but truer to the scene, the cropped version makes a more satisfying but less interesting photo!!! How's that for an outcome?
    That will do splendidly, because what it demonstrates is the process of learning to critically appraise and assess what it is you are doing and why. And irrespective if the result in relation to this image, that is, in my view, a hugely invaluable and important learning activity that will stay with you as you line the next shot, and the next one, and the next one ...........!

  20. #20
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    Re: Lonely

    Spot on Donald. It will indeed stay with me.

    There's a whole other discussion to be had, sometime, somewhere, about what matters most in a photo. How we should appraise it. Other things being equal, is a 'better' photo one which best records what was 'there' or one which creates a picture which we enjoy looking at, regardless of whether its true to life? For example, earlier in the thread, some suggested that the photo would improve if the HDR brightness was toned down to something more natural. Ironically, when this was done, the photo was improved (in my opinion as well as that of others) but it became less true to life. A summer day became an autumn day. The photographic jury's out on this issue I know, and I doubt whether they'll ever agree on a verdict!

    Cheers

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