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Thread: Not sure what I think of this....

  1. #1
    Quinn's Avatar
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    Not sure what I think of this....

    Hi
    Ive been trying to create a 'dramatic' version of these pillars I photographed in Northumberland some time ago. My first attempts were 'very beginner' but I think this is a better attempt. Having said that Im not sure I like it. It seems to me to be, well more 'busy' than dramatic. Ive emphasized the natural colour in the foreground pebbles and seaweed, using them as a lead in. Maybe its the HDR process. Incidently, I created 7 exposures from the original using a FANTASTIC free Canon tool, "Digital Photograph Professional" that Ive just become aware of and created the HDR with Nik's HDR effex Pro, another quality tool I think.
    Anyway id be grateful for your critique and suggestions as to how it could be improved.
    This is my first real post on CiCand look forward to your comments, Good or bad !!!!!

    Cheers
    Phil
    Not sure what I think of this....

  2. #2

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    Re: Not sure what I think of this....

    First, welcome to the forum Phil.

    Maybe "good or bad" are not the only comments to make. A picture may have many aspects, some of them regarding the technics, and not the least the technical background.

    First the image itself.
    I feel a somewhat disturbing imbalance in the composition, where the diagonal line of the pebbles in the water and the bent line of the trickle of water are strong compositional elements, that definitely can limit and hold the composition together, where they meet the diagonal line created by the pillars. I think the three main diagonals of the picture could have been more held together by turning the camera an itty bit to the left, getting just a bit more air to the left of the closest one. Also restitution of the lines when the relatively wide angle lens is pointed down, could make the composition stronger. There's where the leaning horizon also disturbs a bit. The diagonal lines drawn by the foots and tops of the pillars meet at the horizon, and I feel that all three should meet closer to the edge of the picture.

    I also feel that the effort to create a dramatic sky has made the tops of the columns a bit too dark to my taste, dramatic, maybe, but that's probably not the way a painter would have painted it.

    The colour of the pebbles in the foreground does its thing to draw the eye into the picture, but then I don't find anything else to rest my eye on; maybe busy could be one way to describe it, but I feel like it's rather the lines of the columns and horizon are not held together, and that the bright spot in the sky is disturbing. I might have tried to cut off some of the sky, maybe cutting the top so that the line over the tops of the pillars ends in the corner, and restitute the image so that the pillar becomes vertical and the horizon straight.

    And the technical side of it...
    There are many misconceptions about HDR, and you demonstrate one of the most common ones vividly. There is nothing in your image that is HDR, you did not create seven exposures from your original RAW file, but you simply made seven pictures with different tonal range, and then you combined them with a tool that can be used for HDR images, and tone-mapped the result. Tone mapping could as well have been applied to the original image without first splitting it into several, probably with a better result from some aspects.

    Exposure cannot be changed by a raw conversion program. You may choose many ways to render the image that you once exposed, but exposure takes place in the camera, and it can never be changed afterwards. You can however choose to make an image dark or bright, you may manipulate its tone curve, and you can also tone-map it, in order to make a large dynamic range of the scene visible in a much smaller dynamic of your presentation medium. The splitting up into several files before tone-mapping is futile and accomplishes nothing.

    And maybe the most prominent misconception of HDR is exactly the dramatic effect that you wanted to create. It is an effect that has been done by painters through centuries. It is not HDR, and it does not remotely resemble what HDR is about: to render a high dynamic range in a way that is pleasing to the eye in a low dynamic range medium. Most purportedly HDR images on the web are pseudo-HDR, and that of course adds to the confusion. Maybe a better name should be given to that kind of manipulation, with exaggerated tone mapping as its most prominent feature.
    Last edited by Inkanyezi; 2nd June 2012 at 07:22 AM. Reason: typo, missing letter

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Not sure what I think of this....

    What a wonderfully constructive and informative critique that is from Urban. I hope you find it helpful, Philip. I have nothing at all in relation to the aspects upon which Urban has commented. I think they are 'spot-on'.

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    Re: Not sure what I think of this....

    I would like to add, that tone mapping techniques, skillfully applied, can often enhance a single shot by maintaining global contrast within the range of the presentation medium, while increasing local contrast to enhance detail. Anna Kostenko is a photographer that uses such technique in many of her images. It might be worth a look into her gallery.

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    Re: Not sure what I think of this....

    As a non technical person,love the picture but the horizon appears to slope to the left which causes the sea to 'run out'

  6. #6
    Quinn's Avatar
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    Re: Not sure what I think of this....

    Thank you all for your comments, and Urban, indeed a constructive and informative critique. Thank you very much. When I first looked at the image I was taken by the rather obvious pebble lead in line to the rather perfect triangle made by the posts as they move towards the sea. I wanted to make the most of the colors in the image (pebbles, weed, algae etc) and the fantastic textures in the posts and rocks. With this in mind, I attempted an over sharpened over saturated HDR conversion. As suggested by the title of this post, I have never been happy with the image, although I was not sure why. I felt it should work, but it doesn't. Urban, I agree with all that you say. Two points you make in particular. Firstly on a technical note, my attempt create the HDR is obviously fundamentally flawed. I copied the technique from a You Tube tutorial which yielded a fantastic image. Secondly, composition. It hadn't dawned on me till you pointed it out that there is no focus to the image. Great lead ins, but nowhere to stop. I think this may be the biggest problem as your eyes are then continuously scanning the image which ads to the rather busy and frustrating feel it has.
    I have looked at Anna Kostenko's gallery, what can I say... Many lessons to learn!
    Thanks again Urban for your thoughts. Maybe I should have chosen a safer image to make my debut with lol.

  7. #7
    Quinn's Avatar
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    Similar processing, but a more pleasing result ???

    This image was taken at the same location and time as the top image. I used similar processing techniques but the HDR issues aside, I think the image has a much more balanced feel to it. Less frustrating to look at ?

    Not sure what I think of this....
    Last edited by Quinn; 3rd June 2012 at 04:57 PM.

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