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Thread: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

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    terrib's Avatar
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    Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    A little over a month ago, one of my first threads was about defining the subject in landscapes. I got some very helpful and thoughtful responses. The thread is HERE.

    Today, I was able to go back to the location of one of my original photos and try to improve the composition. The first shot below is the original. The second is the retake. What do you think? It's definitely a better time of year as it's much greener now than it was then.

    Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

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    Re: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    Terri: nice shot looks better with more of that green stuff in it, one problem no make that two problems. If you look at the right and left hand side of your image you have a tree problem, they are taking away from your image. Two solutions, one is to zoom in more but that sometimes does not always work, What I may have done was to rotate the camera 90 degrees counterclockwise (that's me I am right handed) so I would still have the stream, the far side and now included some sky to help give a sense of openness.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    Yep, I'd generally go with what Allan is saying.

    I think the question of what to do with the right hand side of the frame is interesting. I do agree that I'd compose it to exclude that little tree on the left.

    But on the right - I think the image does need the edge of the bank at that turn, in the frame. You couldn't have it with the river half in-half out of the frame ... I don't think. So, given that there is that tree on the right, then it needs to be included. So, instead of a few twigs and branches creeping in at the side of the frame in a way that looks almost accidental, I think maybe it needs to be bolder and include more of that. So, in essence what I'm saying is, is you rotated yourself a few degrees right to exclude the tree on the left but have more of what's at the right hand side included, how do you think that might have worked?

    But what you re-shoot also illustrates is that properly defining the subject is not solely a matter of your compositional skills. For such a subject it also depends on nature helping you. I think that, looking at the two images, we can see that nature has played a huge part in helping the second one be a much stronger image that defines the subject much better. that is, the grass has grown and greened up and provides a much stronger contrast with the water than the pale, dead looking stuff that was in the original.

    I think for us the lesson in that is being able to see as a photographer when we are looking at scenes and being hard enough on ourselves to say, 'No, this scene is not right'. That's hard when you're not a professional and/or cannot dedicate your full-time to being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes we amateurs have to go with what we've got at the time. But, nevertheless, I think this shows us the importance, for landscape photographers, of being able to get to the right locations at the right time of year and the rigth time of day.
    Last edited by Donald; 11th August 2012 at 10:25 AM.

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    Re: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    Terri,

    To further the discussion about the foreground trees, review in the other thread your first image and your remake of it. Notice in the remake that one of the foreground trees remains prominent and that you have eliminated the other one. I generally find that having prominent foreground trees on one side of the image is much more successful than having them on both sides. When they are on both sides, I always have the sense that the viewer is being uncomfortably forced to ignore them because I didn't have a long enough lens or didn't zoom with my feet.

    People have mentioned that nature presented an improved scene in the second image and I agree. However, if I had my choice, I would have preferred an image that combines the color of the river in the first scene and everything else in the second scene. That gets back to Donald's point that sometimes we have to return many times to a particular spot to get the very best landscape image (I rarely have the luxury of doing that, as he also mentioned).

    Sorry to stray from your topic of composition, but I wonder if you are using a circular polarizer. I'm guessing not though I could be wrong. Using one effectively will help your landscape images immensely.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 11th August 2012 at 01:07 PM.

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    Re: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    Shame on me, Terri, for not complimenting you on the great progress that you have made! I don't think it's a coincidence that you included the sky in all of the images in your other thread and that you excluded it here. This indicates to me that you are consciously thinking about whether the sky adds to or detracts from the image, rather than automatically including it with no thought.

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    Re: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    Hi Donald,

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I think for us the lesson in that is being able to see as a photographer when we are looking at scenes and being hard enough on ourselves to say, 'No, this scene is not right'. That's hard when you're not a professional and/or cannot dedicate your full-time to being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes we amateurs have to go with what we've got at the time. But, nevertheless, I think this shows us the importance, for landscape photographers, of being able to get to the right locations at the right time of year and the rigth time of day.
    This is a very interesting thought, I rarely shoot landscapes because almost everywhere I go I do think exactly; 'No, this scene is not right' and so don't take the shot.

    Your further thought about "this shows us the importance, for landscape photographers, of being able to get to the right locations at the right time of year and the rigth time of day" sums it up for me, I find this much harder than being patient for a wildlife shot - I can never seem to get the right view; I stand on a hill, look down on the scene and think; "I need to be a bit higher and fifty feet over to the left", which is inevitably a completely impossible thing to do - without a helicopter

    And that's leaving out waiting for the hole in the clouds to magically position itself between the sun and the bit of the landscape I'd like to be lit

    The only time I see photogenic landscapes is out of the corner of my eye while driving at some speed down a single carriage way road with no safe stopping places for several miles AND an appointment to do something else - it happened only yesterday, at 09:20 on the A29 just above Arundel - nice mist swirls in a valley, reminiscent of one of Jeff's masterpieces.

    My somewhat jaded opinion is that unless you live, or stay a few days, somewhere stunning (like Jeff) or have somewhere similar local visible to you 24/7 and crucially, even more patience than a bird photographer, you might as well give up trying to achieve the perfect landscape (I do)

    Hi Terri,

    Sorry, now I have finished my rant, yes, this is a big improvement.

    I was thinking about Mike's idea regarding the river colour; I think the river surface in the second is just a tad over 'exposed' as shown here - a polarising filter may help if/when you are reshooting, but especially if you shot this in RAW, you could probably recover some sky detail in the river surface by 'burning' that more in PP.

    Hope that helps,

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    Re: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    unless you live, or stay a few days, somewhere stunning (like Jeff) or have somewhere similar local visible to you 24/7 and crucially, even more patience than a bird photographer, you might as well give up trying to achieve the perfect landscape (I do)

    I give up also, Dave. That doesn't keep us from getting some wonderful landscapes, but I do believe it keeps us from getting the very best of the best landscapes.

    Carolyn Guild, whose B&W landscapes are in some museums, camps to achieve her images. She has recently custom rigged a 4-wheel drive vehicle to increase the areas of wilderness that she can get to and live in for awhile. I remember one time that she was camping at a particular spot to get a sunrise image and the sky didn't present the scene she wanted until the very last day of her week at that spot. If you're interested in examples of her work: http://carolynguild.com/Carolyn_Guil...otography.html

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    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    Allan, thank you. You are right about the trees. I was so focused on "defining my subject" that I totally missed these elements and your comments have spurred a good discussion. Out of the camera did include some sky but I knew when I took it that I would do an HD crop to eliminate it to give more of the frame to the river and also because the sky had no clouds and was hazy.

    Donald (and Mike), Below is a shot that I also took that is more what you describe. I've included the "out of the camera" composition and then the HD crop that I did for the above reasons. I initially didn't choose this one because I felt since I'd failed to include the entire tree, that it wasn't quite right and I didn't like the bush in front of it. If I had thought of that at the time, perhaps I could have moved over a bit more and using a bit wider lens, still been able to keep the left tree out. I was aware at the time that I didn't want to move over too much because I liked the angles/bends of the river and didn't want to get too head on of the upper part of it.

    EVERYONE, thank you also for furthering the discussion of being at a location at the right time. I am learning that there is a lot more planning that goes into great photography than I ever imagined. And not only being there at the right time, but being prepared to spend an ample amount of time evaluating and adjusting on scene. (you can't have the spouse standing around with nothing to do making you feel rushed! ) Mike, thanks for the link to Ms Guild's work. It is inspiring!

    Mike & Dave, I do not have a polarizing lens. It's on my list of things to buy (they are so expensive!). I tried the polarizing brush in PP and my lack of skill around the grassy edges looked worse so I did bring down the highlights a little in the below photo.

    One last thing: I see how to do a "Reply with Quote" from a single response. I'm not seeing a way to include quotes from multiple people in the same reply. When you guys do that, are you just copying/pasting manually?

    As composed in the camera:

    Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    Cropped in HD:

    Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

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    Re: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    One way to minimize the cost of a polarizing filter is to buy just one that is large enough to be used on the lens that has the largest circumference. You can purchase step-up rings, which are inexpensive, to use the filter with all of your smaller lenses.

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    Re: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    Terri, at the risk of disagreeing with everyone else, my preference is the original photo in post #8. Even though the sky has no particular interest itself, the undulating hilltops compliment the curves of the winding river. In the cropped photo, the cutoff straight edge of the hills doesn't work as well for me as does the actual skyline. (In defence of my heresy, the hills remind me of an area of British Columbia which I enjoy but haven't seen for a few years.)

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    Re: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Cantab View Post
    Terri, at the risk of disagreeing with everyone else, my preference is the original photo in post #8.
    I actually agree with you, Bruce, though I never selected a favorite earlier. It's imperative for me that the foreground tree extends above the top of the distant hills because that conveys a sense of distance. However, I would want the haze to be dealt with in the hills before calling an end to the postprocessing.

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    Re: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    I would want the haze to be dealt with in the hills before calling an end to the postprocessing.
    Mike, I'm relatively new to digital processing and have recently taken a number of pictures which suffer from summer haze. Do you have suggestions for how one can deal with haze at the postprocessing stage?

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    Re: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    The way I most often deal with haze is to select the problematic area of the image and apply the Curves tool. I drag the center of the diagonal line toward the lower right corner of the graph until the selected area seems about right. Sometimes I have to tweak it a bit but that's the basic approach that serves as a starting point at the very least.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 12th August 2012 at 07:01 AM.

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    Re: Update on Subjects in Landscapes thread

    Mike, thanks. I'll give it a try.

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