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Thread: What am I missing in this landscape?

  1. #1
    Alis's Avatar
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    What am I missing in this landscape?

    I want to show my ignorance in yet another area: i took this picture today with my camera using 24-70 mm f/2.8 handheld without using any filters, tripod, multiple exposures, etc. And it looks to me like the shots Colin, the master of landscape, posts here. Of course, to me it is

    So I want to know what am I missing here? What is wrong with this picutre or different in this picture that could be fixed by using all those other "stuff" I mentioned above?

    What am I missing in this landscape?

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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alis View Post
    So I want to know what am I missing here?
    Something in the foreground

    Seriously, nice colours, but as it stands I think that there's too much dead space at the bottom of the frame; you either need something there to fill it, or you could crop it off to make the image more panoramic.

    Here's a "similar" shot of mine to illustrate what I mean ...

    What am I missing in this landscape?
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 21st September 2009 at 05:16 AM.

  3. #3
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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Alis,

    Now all you have to do is clone that boat into ...

    Seriously, yours is great apart from the missing something.
    If I were in your position and I had another (self shot) image with a foreground element I would clone it in if I could (i.e. all other things being equal; size exposure, light angle, etc.).

    Cheers,

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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Hello Alis,

    Thats a very nice shot.
    Like Colin said, I would also crop the bottom off the photo. The other thing I would do is place a border (black) around the image.

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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    What am I missing in this landscape?

  6. #6

    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Alis

    The shot is bisected into two equal halves, which normally doesn't work for a landscape - unless it's a perfect symmetry shot. You nearly had that symmetry here, but not quite. In the event of a lack of any foreground interest on water (no friendly boats!) I always chuck a rock into the water to get a nice ripple.

    What am I missing in this landscape?

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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    If I were in your position and I had another (self shot) image with a foreground element I would clone it in if I could
    Dave - wash your mouth out! (just kidding )

    Seriously though (for just a moment!) - Ali, this kind of shots (as it stands) is relatively easy to capture - the "trick" (in my opinion) is to have something interesting in the foreground ... and unfortunately, that's the bit that makes it 50 times as hard (well not hard to have "something" in the foreground - but much harder to have something that's "complimentary to the image" (eg rocks, vegetation, a structure etc) (at which point you then have to start considering how close you are to it - what your elevation is - where you focus - do you need bracking or filters to balance strong backlighting with foreground shadow detail - is the current tide / sunset combination best, or do you need to wait a week for a better combination (at which point the sky will look different) - what lens do I need?

    Welcome to landscape photography

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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Dave - wash your mouth out! (just kidding )

    Seriously though (for just a moment!) - Ali, this kind of shots (as it stands) is relatively easy to capture - the "trick" (in my opinion) is to have something interesting in the foreground ... and unfortunately, that's the bit that makes it 50 times as hard (well not hard to have "something" in the foreground - but much harder to have something that's "complimentary to the image" (eg rocks, vegetation, a structure etc) (at which point you then have to start considering how close you are to it - what your elevation is - where you focus - do you need bracking or filters to balance strong backlighting with foreground shadow detail - is the current tide / sunset combination best, or do you need to wait a week for a better combination (at which point the sky will look different) - what lens do I need?

    Welcome to landscape photography
    Isn't it like learning to drive a car? At the beginning, you have to control your speed, direction, using clutch, gears, speed limits, watch out for the lights, traffic, lines on the road, signs at the road, pedestrians, keep the appropriate lane, look at the map, read road names and talk to the passenger on the seat next to you, all at the same time. And it seems just impossible. But after some practise, you can drive without even thinking, everything just happens automatically.. At this point my photography is at the level "I know where the clutch n my car is and when I should use it, but it happens I forget about it when changing gears" But I hope one day it will be better, and I'll be shooting like a pro rally driver!

    Back to the topic: I read a book once where they said that a landscape should have 3 planes: foreground, something in the middle, and background. So for example: sky as the background, water or horizon with trees as the middle thing, and some ground, rocks, grass etc in the foreground. From my own (very little) experience I can say when I show my photos to others, they usually pick those that have more 3D looks as their favorite ones. Conclusion: the more 3D a landscape looks, the more people like it.

  9. #9
    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Something in the foreground

    Seriously, nice colours, but as it stands I think that there's too much dead space at the bottom of the frame; you either need something there to fill it, or you could crop it off to make the image more panoramic.

    Here's a "similar" shot of mine to illustrate what I mean ...
    Thanks, Colin. I was trying to learn backward and started from that picture. It looked so nice but was so easy to take. So I wanted to see what the exact things are that I am missing in that pictures and now I know.

    I think one more think that will look different with a longer exposure is the smooth water surface. I assume if the clouds are moving too fast, then I get a smooth sky too. I remember someone here saying that they fix that by inserting a nice quick shot of the sky in the picture.

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    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Alis,

    Now all you have to do is clone that boat into ...

    Seriously, yours is great apart from the missing something.
    If I were in your position and I had another (self shot) image with a foreground element I would clone it in if I could (i.e. all other things being equal; size exposure, light angle, etc.).

    Cheers,
    Thanks, Dave. I think I will start with taking to pictures, one for the background and one for the foreground and blending them, so I do not have to steal Colin's boats!

  11. #11
    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodders View Post
    Hello Alis,

    Thats a very nice shot.
    Like Colin said, I would also crop the bottom off the photo. The other thing I would do is place a border (black) around the image.
    Thanks, Rodders. I think Colin copied exactly what you suggested!

  12. #12
    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    Alis

    The shot is bisected into two equal halves, which normally doesn't work for a landscape - unless it's a perfect symmetry shot. You nearly had that symmetry here, but not quite. In the event of a lack of any foreground interest on water (no friendly boats!) I always chuck a rock into the water to get a nice ripple.
    Thanks, Rob. I like the fact that you always have a good solution to these problems. The ripple effect is very appropriate here, a real one or in PS!
    Last edited by Alis; 22nd September 2009 at 02:00 AM.

  13. #13
    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    What am I missing in this landscape?
    Colin, this is a real wonder, specially the border!

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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by agaace View Post
    Isn't it like learning to drive a car? At the beginning, you have to control your speed, direction, using clutch, gears, speed limits, watch out for the lights, traffic, lines on the road, signs at the road, pedestrians, keep the appropriate lane, look at the map, read road names and talk to the passenger on the seat next to you, all at the same time. And it seems just impossible. But after some practise, you can drive without even thinking, everything just happens automatically..
    Yes - very good analogy I think. For me though it often works in reverse; often what the camera captures is not what the eye sees - so - faced with a situation where it doesn't look that great to the naked eye, but I suspect that the camera will be able to salvage something from it, I often just consciously "go through the motions" - using compositions & settings that should work, even though I can't necessarily foresee the result in advance.

    Last time I did that I ended up with this ...

    What am I missing in this landscape?

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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alis View Post
    I think one more think that will look different with a longer exposure is the smooth water surface. I assume if the clouds are moving too fast, then I get a smooth sky too. I remember someone here saying that they fix that by inserting a nice quick shot of the sky in the picture.
    Shutterspeed plays a BIG role in how water and skys look - but - there's no fixed rules; I've had water shots ranging from 1/1000th sec to several minutes. THe big variables are really "what is the water & sky doing" (with the sky being based on what the wind is doing - even where it feels like there is no wind you'll usually see movement between successive shots if you flick back and forth.

    Some quick "cases in point" ...

    1/1000th second

    What am I missing in this landscape?

    1/13th Second
    What am I missing in this landscape?

    3.2 Seconds
    What am I missing in this landscape?

    60 Seconds
    What am I missing in this landscape?

    12 Minutes
    What am I missing in this landscape?

    In the last two the clouds are smoothed by the long exposure - so as you can see, it's not necessarily a bad thing. However - it it had been a howling gale that night then obviously they would have looked quite different.

    Probably some good examples here of how this kind of photography isn't just "setup tripod and click the button" - you have to be thinking things like what shutter speed do I need - not just for the correct exposure, but for the best effect - ditto for the aperture - ditto for the ISO - but all of these things have secondary effects; like my "off to work" shot (with the boat / wake behind") - one needs a certain minimum shutterspeed to freeze the boat, but being a dusk shot there's also the competing issue of low light levels, but the "compromise" of noise if I "up the ISO" too much ... and keeping in mind also, while your trying to think all these kinds of things through, the light levels are changing (not to mention the scene). Apart from the time where your committed to a long (multi-minute) exposure, I find that I'm actually kept fairly busy trying hard to pull together the best combinations of variables.

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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alis View Post
    Colin, this is a real wonder, specially the border!
    Why don't you send me the RAW - I'll process it the same (but in high resolution) and send you back the *.PSD so you can have it printed and framed for your office / waiting rooms etc?

    PS: If you want better spoothing of water then you need to pop along to www.singh-ray.com and grab yourself a vari-ND filter (2 to 8 stops) - best filter I EVER bought.

  17. #17
    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Why don't you send me the RAW - I'll process it the same (but in high resolution) and send you back the *.PSD so you can have it printed and framed for your office / waiting rooms etc?

    PS: If you want better spoothing of water then you need to pop along to www.singh-ray.com and grab yourself a vari-ND filter (2 to 8 stops) - best filter I EVER bought.
    Thanks for the offer! Right now I have a picture of a pile of chain in my office that I took with my old camera, Rebel, a few years ago, printer on canvas and mounted, actually very nice looking! It is amazing that people look at it and think it was taken by a master of photography!

    But about the Sing-Ray filters, I am thinking of buying a couple of those but to be honest when I go to their website, I get confused which foundation and filter go together. It is for people who already know or can actually call them. May be I should actually call them...

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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    I love your long exposure shots Colin, they have this artistic feel! I think I never went for anything longer than 45 seconds.. What's the best moment to shoot something like the 12' tree vista shot? I guess it was well after sunset/before sunrise, and for the "naked eye" it was almost completely dark? When the sun hides behind the horizon I usually shoot a few more, and go home, convinced it's too dark for anything more.. but maybe that's the best moment to get creative? How do you estimate the exposure time needed for such long exposures like this one? Up to 30 seconds live view is of great help, at least in my camera.. but for the bulb mode.. it's a bit of lottery for me.. I guess it just requires some more experience.. I have to try it next time!

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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alis View Post
    But about the Sing-Ray filters, I am thinking of buying a couple of those but to be honest when I go to their website, I get confused which foundation and filter go together. It is for people who already know or can actually call them. May be I should actually call them...
    Hi Ali,

    It's one of those things that seems harder than it really is ...

    The Vari-ND is a screw in filter - so only choices are 82mm (for EF16-35/F2.8L) and 77mm (for EF24-70/2.8L & EF70-200/2.8L) - too easy eh?

    The GND filters that you need come in a couple of sizes - the first (75mm wide) is too narrow for you - you need the 100mm x 150mm ("postcard") size ones; I'd suggest a Darryl Benson 3-Stop hard edge Reverse GND and Galen Rowell 3-Stop hard edge GND as being excellent places to start.

    For the "postcard" type filters you'll need a holder - 2 brands to choose from - Cokin (cheaper) and Lee (higher-quality) - I'd suggest going with this one.

    Only 1 thing left - an adaptor ring to mate the standard-size holder to whatever your lens diameter is; 77mm variety for 24-70 & 70-200, and 82mm for 16-35mm.

    Easy eh

  20. #20

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    Re: What am I missing in this landscape?

    Quote Originally Posted by agaace View Post
    I love your long exposure shots Colin, they have this artistic feel! I think I never went for anything longer than 45 seconds.. What's the best moment to shoot something like the 12' tree vista shot? I guess it was well after sunset/before sunrise, and for the "naked eye" it was almost completely dark?
    Yep

    When the sun hides behind the horizon I usually shoot a few more, and go home, convinced it's too dark for anything more.. but maybe that's the best moment to get creative?
    Yep

    How do you estimate the exposure time needed for such long exposures like this one? Up to 30 seconds live view is of great help, at least in my camera.. but for the bulb mode.. it's a bit of lottery for me.. I guess it just requires some more experience.. I have to try it next time![/QUOTE]

    Hi Agata,

    You reminded me of an occasion when I was out shooting about 10 minutes after the sun set - a chap on a bike called out 'nice night, but you've missed the best light". I just smiled ...

    ... I don't think so!

    Seriously, the camera can work waaaaaay after our eyes have shut up shop for the night. The Lone Tree Vista shot was some hour and a half after sunset (sorta, kinda - sunset is technically later, but because it goes behind the mountain range it occurs earlier). So yes - very dark (trip over tripod and pack up your gear by torchlight kind of dark).

    With regards to calculating exposures - 1 normally use 1 of 2 techniques:

    For Lone Tree Vista shot I spot-metered the brightest part of the scene and shifted the result by 5 stops; 2 for the fact that because I've metered that part of the scene as a highlight, I want to expose it as a highlight (remember that the meter gives you figures to expose whatever you spot meter as a mid-tone), and another 3 stops to allow for the 3-stop attenuation of the GND filter I had attached (that the light meter didn't know about).

    The other technique is to just max out the ISO on your camera - meter the scene - and then double the exposure for each doubling of the ISO above what you intend to shoot at; eg if your set to ISO 3200 (+5 stops over ISO 100) and the camera says "15 seconds" then you can reset the ISO back to 100 and in your head (whilst counting on your fingers!) 30 - 1 minute - 2 minutes - 4 minutes - 8 minutes. If you get it wrong and get blinkies, just take the shot again if it's a sunset - but the time your next lot of 8 minutes has passed the light levels will have dropped and you'll probably be OK. If it's significantly under-exposed then usually easiest to just double the ISO ... going for ultra-long exposures (more than a few minutes) with sunsets is pretty hard to calculate.

    To do this of course, you'll need a remote release and some kind of timing device (must be a Rolex if it's a Canon 1D series camera :P) - personally I use a Canon TC80-N3 which does the job wonderfully.

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