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Thread: First with ND grads

  1. #1

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    First with ND grads

    Here's one of the pics - and link to all 6 in gallery - from the end of a day on north Somerset coast; my first outing with ND grads.

    In terms of what I was aiming for, it was to capture some of the beauty and quiet solitude of that setting, while 'getting' and experimenting with water effects from slow shutter speeds I've seen others achieve.

    First with ND grads

    http://iancds.smugmug.com/Landscapes...2167542_5sMGw5

    I was pleased with these when I got back to the pub and looked at them on my laptop. This might be my favourite from the set, but that keeps changing... and there are things I like better about others in the set (the scale / size of the posts, reflections), though I like the rocks and the water effects - both the waves behind the posts and the swirls / patterns at right - in this one. Probably can't have all in one pic.

    Exposure times here range from 0.8 to 6 seconds, and I've pushed the ISO up to 3200 for some of them, which I'll avoid if possible next time.

    There are other things I think could be better.
    For example, in terms of composition my position was a bit limited by the tide coming in and not wanting to get soaked..! When I go back I think having the 3 sets of posts closer so they occupy more of the right side of the frame while retaining foreground rocks in frame and the cliffs on the left with some sky above would be good. I'll try to time it so the tide's highest just before sunset next time.
    Oh, and the horizons could be level... I know I could crop to achieve that, but I tried and it loses the sky above the cliffs to the left so I decided not to do that

    I really want to know more about the effect of using different amounts of ND grads. I didn't have time to experiment with changing the amount of grads here. I took meter readings off the sky and the foreground: there seemed to be so much difference, that I just put the two- and three-stop hard edge ND grads on that I have.

    So, from the results: did I 'over-grad'..? If I did, what gives that away? What difference would less ND grads make and how would they improve the pictures (if they would)?
    Are there other things which more experienced members here would do differently?

    In terms of how robust I'd like (and can take) any criticism to be - picking up on Robin's point, here - I'll try to imagine we're having a few drinks down the pub, and you're looking at these with the aim of telling me what I'd need to do to correct any technical and composition issues, and to improve on them to make the next ones really outstanding. To that end, I'd like to think I could take some fairly robust, well meant critique..!

    I'm planning another trip there next week, weather permitting, so hope to have more to post after that.
    Ian

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: First with ND grads

    Quote Originally Posted by IanCD View Post
    To that end, I'd like to think I could take some fairly robust, well meant critique..!
    I hope what follows fits that criteria.

    As you are no doubt aware, there has been some discussion about asking for and giving comment and criticism. My compliments to you is providing such a detailed self-assessment. It does make commenting in response much more pleasurable and, hopefully, helpful. I am sure you are also aware of the benefit of having engaged in such detailed self-analysis. It really can be a powerful learning tool.

    You acknowledge in what you write, that the horizon is not level. I think you appreciate that for an image such as this, that is just not an option. It needs to be level. I appreciate that this image is posted up for discussion and for learning purposes. But you'd never be able to put a sloping horizon up as an image for a serious competition for example. Just a 'no-no'.

    And that takes us onto composition, because you said you couldn't straighten the horizon or you'd lose the sky above the cliff. I can see that would be the case. That comes down to how it was all set up at the time and what you were seeing in the frame the moment before you pressed the shutter.

    The main thing I felt when I saw it was - you need to get down lower. I think you've captured this standing up. You've tried to get a lot of elements into it - rocks in the foreground, posts in the middle and cliff and sky in the back ground. I think they feel like separate 'bits' rather than elements of one image. They're not joined up. I just feel you tried to get too much into this instead of concentrate on maybe the poles and the sky, or the rocks. One of the things to keep in mind is that simpler and less cluttered is often more powerful.

    I think there's a better looking composition in cropping at the bottom to lose the rocks and give yourself something something like a 2:1 ratio image that is a picture of the poles and the sky, with the cliff as part of the picture. As it is, I feel we have a few rocks creeping in at the bottom. Then we have a gap to some poles that then leads us on to a cliff and a sky. The rocks don't contribute anything to the image. Indeed, I think they just distract from what could be a much better picture.

    But I also feel the cliff has been squeezed too much into the top left corner. And that takes me back to the point about your position. If you had been down much lower you could have had more sky in the frame. You might even have been able to get the rocks playing a role in the picture. I know Colin has many tales to tell about standing in water. I've been kneeling down in a river on a couple of occasions and wet feet are pretty normal. I think when you're going out to shoot this sort of image, you have to be ready to get wet and, sometimes, pretty mucky.

    As for the use of ND Grads - I've shot with a 2 and a 3 stop on at the same time. But I'm wondering where you had the edge? The light on the water just behind that breaking wave behind the poles, seems different to the light in front of that point. Was that where the edge of the filters were?

    I don't have any hard edged grads (mine are all soft edge) and I imagine that positioning the edge of the grad with a hard-edge is crucial. My apologies if the edge was on the horizon, which is where I think it should have been.

    ps - Since we're having a few drinks, it's your round.
    Last edited by Donald; 11th April 2012 at 10:26 PM.

  3. #3
    JPS's Avatar
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    Re: First with ND grads

    Hope you don't mind.


    First with ND grads
    Last edited by JPS; 11th April 2012 at 10:36 PM.

  4. #4

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    Re: First with ND grads

    Hi Donald, JPS

    Donald, thank you very much for such detailed feedback: just what I was after, and JPS, I'll come back to this in a minute.
    First let me get the drinks in... Cragganmore? Macallan..? Bruichladdich?!

    Your feedback makes a lot of sense. A more cohesive composition is needed, and I think that's probably what I had in mind with getting closer to the posts so they occupy more of the foreground, but still to the right - rather than centre-left as in the shots (in the gallery) where the posts are bigger; I think I had the tripod lower in those, too. Wellies next time!

    What I was seeing was changing all the time... and what the sensor captured during the longer exposures. I wonder if this works a bit better, where the reflections of the posts reach down among the rocks? Maybe still cluttered.

    First with ND grads


    As far as the ND grads are concerned, I thought I had them on the horizon at the time, but by the end it was so dark it was difficult to tell... couldn't see a thing with Live View as far as I can remember, hence going up to ISO 3200 for the last shots. From some of the other shots, it looks like they might have been angled across the base of the second post - maybe because I thought the reflected light in the sea needed filtering...

    JPS: How did you do that..?! When I select the horizon to change the angle and straighten it in LR, I lose a slice off the top, as in the shot posted above. Did you use PS - with an extended area and cloning..? Just guessing!

    Thanks again both... another round..?
    Ian

  5. #5
    JPS's Avatar
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    Re: First with ND grads

    Quote Originally Posted by IanCD View Post
    JPS: How did you do that..?! When I select the horizon to change the angle and straighten it in LR, I lose a slice off the top, as in the shot posted above. Did you use PS - with an extended area and cloning..? Just guessing!
    Hi Ian,
    yes you are correct. Adjusted in PS by ajustung 'perspective - Freeform' then clone in the gaps. Other's I'm sure have better ways to do this, but my way was a 10 min fix, using the limited PP skills I have.
    Great image though, thanks for sharing.
    John

  6. #6
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: First with ND grads

    Quote Originally Posted by IanCD View Post
    I wonder if this works a bit better, where the reflections of the posts reach down among the rocks? Maybe still cluttered.

    First with ND grads
    Now, I think it does. This, for me, does a good job of illustrating the point I, rather clumsily, was trying to make in my first post. I think the reflection 'joins up' those parts of the image (the poles and the rocks) in a way that just wasn't there in the first image. And also in this image, we have that rock just up and on the right, visible. It wasn't in the first image. That serves the same purpose.

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