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Thread: Eilean Donan

  1. #1
    ChrisH's Avatar
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    Eilean Donan

    I have been looking through my archive for images of the Sottish Highlands and came across my last visit to this iconic and much photographed castle. Unfortunately I had very limited time there, made even more difficult by hundreds of visitors, there was no water under the bridge and the light was bad.

    Well, I went back to the original RAW image and edited again. It is a great improvement on my earlier edits five years ago, however how good it really is I don't know and look forward to receiving your comments.

    Best viewed at larger size.

    Eilean Donan


    Aperture: f/5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/250 ISO: 100
    Last edited by ChrisH; 5th April 2012 at 12:06 PM.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Eilean Donan

    That is as good an image as I've ever seen from that particular location.

    What I mean by that is that John Revie (who hasn't been so active here on CiC for a while) once posted one taken from way left (round a couple of those sharp corners in the road) of the spot you're standing on, looking 'side-on' compared to this shot. That was an absolute beauty. I've also seen a couple of superb shots taken from somewhere near Dornie Village Hall which I know to be away to the right and further away (I know that part of the world very, very well).

    The biggest challenge in this is, I'd suggest, making it different from, as you indicate, the tens of thousands of tourist snaps taken every year and the commercial postcards that really push the heather/tartan image. And I think you have done than very successfully.

    To be almost snobbish about it, you have produced a photograph worthy of the name. I think you've used the bridge well in the composition and whilst giving prominence to the castle, you have set it well in its location, with the hill across the loch behind it (yep, there's water just behind the castle in front of that hill).

    And you have the sky looking good. It's not all nice blue sky and fluffy white cloud. I accept that you had to take what sky you had at the time, but you've still made the most of it to make this image work.

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    ChrisH's Avatar
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    Re: Eilean Donan

    Thank you Donald for you very kind comments. I hope to go back later in the year and to be able to spend some time both at the castle and at the Talisker Distillery on Skye!

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Eilean Donan

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisH View Post
    ... and at the Talisker Distillery on Skye!
    But then you'll be in no fit state to take photographs!!

  5. #5
    ChrisH's Avatar
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    Re: Eilean Donan

    Touche Donald.

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    Re: Eilean Donan

    Cloning in a little water wouldn't be a terribly difficult task for you. I've looked at this image for the better part of a half hour and I see it as an incredible opportunity for a B&W composition. Look at this chap's work and I think you will uunderstand why I would like it in a monotone.

    http://www.monolandscapes.net

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    Re: Eilean Donan

    Hey Jonny - mono is an interesting idea and I will have a go. Interesting mono website too. Not sure about cloning in some aqua as it will be very difficult to make it look realistic and natural, but again I will have ago.

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    Re: Eilean Donan

    I would copy the water from a similar scene, copy it to the area, erase according to need, then adjust all other levels before using the clone tool to match the bank, etc. When it goes B&W, you'll never even see the rework.

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    Re: Eilean Donan

    Castles and old structures seem to look better in b&w for some strange reason. So a colour shot is always good to see.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Eilean Donan

    Hi Chris,

    I really like this, but I do have a slight feeling is that there might be just a touch too much LCE (if you used it)?
    Or it is bordering on 'well sharpened', plus the greens are quite verdant - but this could all be down to the same cause if LCE was applied.

    I seem to have picked on three things there, which sounds like I'm having a real go at it, but each are quite minor in the scale of the beautiful composition and (I thought) nice lighting.

    I can only see one person in shot, did you have to clone out any tourists?

    Makes me want to go there,

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    ChrisH's Avatar
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    Re: Eilean Donan

    Thanks guys for your comments. Dave - although this was taken in July the light was aweful and to get where I am took quite a bit of editing. Sorry to show my ignorance but what is LCE? I have played around with the greens to try and make them look more natural but perhaps I have overdone it. The same with sharpening, I hand difficulty with getting good detail out of the stone work that again I may have over cooked it. I will have another look at it tomorrow.

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    Re: Eilean Donan

    Here is my effort so far on the suggestions made by Johnny. I am not totally convinced I've got the water quite right and will have another go, but a really interesting exercise in editing. If you blow this up to the largest size it produces an "engraving" quality about it (I nearly said Hogarth but that would be far too presumptuous).

    Eilean Donan

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    Re: Eilean Donan

    Chris,
    just wanted to say I like it just as it is. Looks good to me 'Large'.
    Well done.

    I would like to know what LCE is as well...Please.

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    Re: Eilean Donan

    I went a bit more traditional in my B&W conversion, though also a bit more contrasty, partly to mask the added water and partly to enhance the castle in its natural setting.

    Eilean Donan

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Eilean Donan

    Hi Chris, John,

    LCE = Local Contrast Enhancement, a technique I often apply to images to give them a little more 'pop'.

    It is applied using UnSharp Mask (USM) 'sharpen' filter, but with different figures, for example an amount of between 10 and 20% and a radius of 50 - 250px (depending on the subject - large figure for smooth tone images) and 0 threshold, since at those radii noise won't be an issue. Normally radius is 60 - 90px, it really isn't that fussy, the 'amount' (%) figure is more sensitive.

    There's a tutorial on it here at CiC.

    Like sharpening, sometimes it needs to be applied selectively to part of an image (the subject) only.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Eilean Donan

    I think the discussion above makes us consider how much we are prepared to alter reality when making an image. There was no water under the bridge at the time the photograph was captured, so is it legitimate to add it in and create a landscape image that never actually existed?

    I suppose you could see the issue as being a continuum - at one end of which is 'anything goes' and at the other 'make no alterations of this nature, including cloning, at all.

    There are arguments to be mounted at both ends of this continuum and all points in between. Maybe the important thing is that each of us decides where we our view lies on that continuum in respect of our own image-making and stick to that, so that what we do produce is the result of conscious decision-making rather than fad, fashion or peer pressure.

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    Re: Eilean Donan

    I think a person could argue that at one time there was water under the bridge, else why the bridge. For me, and I think for Chris, this was more an exercise in determining whether a B&W conversion would look better whilst getting carried away with other PP tools. In either conversion, the water really doesn't fit well.

    If we clone out a tourist, is that any different than cloning in a river, as it does change both the perception and the reality? I have never been a proponent of totally changing a reality unless specifically notating it as such. In this series of posts, I offered up a chap's site who alters everything in his images, especially his skies and wins salon competitions on a regular basis. It would appear judges have no qualms about "reimaging."

    Like you, I would suggest to anyone either entering into or at an advanced level of post production, make those decisons based on what works best for you and not what everyone else is doing. As a personal example of this, I have only rarely delved into HDR and even then more as a bracketing tool than its intent of exploring a higher dynamic range. To me, those images look over everything-ed and I cannot bring myself to accept them as "good" photography, snob that I am.

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    Re: Eilean Donan

    Eilean Donan

    I think its a fantastic photo, Chris. I was there only last week, during that record warm spell - there's no way I could have got your photo because of the swarms of tourists, but the morning light on the water meant that this view was inviting. As Donald says, its a much more conventional perspective, in fact I see that they use this view on the TV ads for Scotland! But I can sure see why its popular!

    cheers, David

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    ChrisH's Avatar
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    Re: Eilean Donan

    Donald – I am sorry but I have only just read your post.

    You have raised the age old question, to edit or not to edit. I know some people are of the opinion that major editing is a sin; however I personally believe that creating images that attract people’s attention is an art form, even if it involves major editing. I also believe that this whole subject is down to the individual to take a view and there is no right or wrong in this matter, just a question of personal taste.

    Johnny’s suggestion to convert my image to mono and add water was interesting from an editing point of view and a good exercise to undertake. Personally I prefer my original image, which was what I saw (apart from the several other visitors that I had to clone out), so perhaps the mono version was an editing step too far for me - who knows? An interesting subject

  20. #20
    ChrisH's Avatar
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    Re: Eilean Donan

    David - I have only just seen your beautiful image of Eilean Donan. This is very much the image I was looking for, however the tide and weather conditions were against me during my brief visit. I hope to go back later this year and spend some proper time there. You have captured the true atmosphere of the magical place.

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