Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

  1. #1
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    1,118
    Real Name
    Matthew

    Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    I've been away from the forums for a while now, due to the fact that an opportunity arose for me to take a vacation, so I was busy with a lot of planning and preparation (and then of course the trip itself!). This was the first photo vacation I've ever taken- actually it's the first vacation I've taken in years. As I'm a single guy, currently with no photography friends, this was a solo trip, which is great since I like solitude anyway

    Thought I've culled many shots, I haven't done much editing yet. I'll probably just share the shots and accompanying brief stories as I go through editing things, rather than doing one big thread. To kick things off:

    Mima Mounds Natural Area, Washington. Headed to this location for possible landscape shots, as well as the hope to get some wildlife (wildlife shots/story coming in future thread). This is a prairie, with unusual "mounds" of soil covered in moss, grass, and other things. The cause of the mounds is hotly debated by many people; some theories more plausible than others. One for a good laugh is the "giant gopher" theory

    The day was challenging, with numerous rapid and extreme changes in weather. Suddenly a storm would roll in, completely blanketing the sky with a solid sheet of dark clouds, dumping buckets of rain, and with powerful winds blowing the rain sideways. Then the clouds would break, the sun would come out, and then shortly after that, it would begin sprinkling rain, then convert to blustery storm, and so on. Difficult conditions, to say the least. During a calm period between the madness, I managed to capture these images.

    Let me say, one frustrating thing about this location is that your viewpoint for photos is mostly limited to the observation spot the park service put in. Unfortunately the angles don't lend themselves to a nice composition Had I descended to the ground and explored on foot (which I did), the landscape options were not ideal, due to the low viewpoint which does not allow you to capture the expanses of mounds. I worked with what was available, and these are ok for me but the compositions could be much better had the observation deck been positioned differently.

    When I got home with these photos, I decided to try some B&W conversions with a bit of dramatic post processing. I'm rather happy with the result. I like photo one for the expansive view and drama, showing a huge area and scale of the trees vs the mounds, and also the clouds high above. Overall a powerful photo for me, despite the somewhat "static" visual flow. Photo 2, I like the lines and visual flow slightly better, though I wish the largest mound was off to the side more. The sunburst and cloud is a nice bonus. I wish the positives of each of these photos could have been combined into one photo. Oh well.

    C&C appreciated. Please let me know if you prefer photo one, or photo two, and why. Thank you. EDIT - now added image 3, which is the same shot as #1 but less cropped.


    1
    Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    2
    Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    3 - New!
    Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...
    Last edited by FlyingSquirrel; 26th March 2013 at 04:23 AM.

  2. #2
    Wayland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Saddleworth
    Posts
    482
    Real Name
    Wayland ( aka. Gary Waidson )

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    Interesting... My first instinct would be to consider them man made but I presume that possibility has been discounted.

    It's unlikely to be glacial deposits unless there is a lot of gravel in them. I've never seen anything quite like it apart from burial mounds and spoil heaps???

    Nice shots by the way.

  3. #3
    Shadowman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    29,166
    Real Name
    John

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    I like the first for the slightly lower view giving a sharper leading line and for the crispness of the treeline on the left.

  4. #4
    dje's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Brisbane Australia
    Posts
    4,148
    Real Name
    Dave Ellis

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    Hi Matt

    I prefer #1 - I think it is a stronger and more interesting composition and I think it's because of the trees on the left hand side which add interest and the clouds are more interesting. And yes it is more expansive. It would have been nice to have the sunburst in #1 but it's still a strong image without it. Nicely done.

    Dave

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    northern Virginia suburb of Washington, DC
    Posts
    17,889

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    Though both are certainly keepers, I agree that #1 is the best. I like the trees on the left, lower exposure, and balance between land and sky.

    Very nice conversions!

  6. #6
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Glenfarg, Scotland
    Posts
    19,701
    Real Name
    Just add 'MacKenzie'

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    Yep, I'm for #1 as well. I think it's a much stronger composition. The trees on the left give the scene a sense of scale and depth. The sky is much more interesting and avoids that large blown section that's in #2. I think the pathway running through the mounds snakes out in a more elongated way that acts a guide to our eye across the frame, whereas in #2 it's much more 'aggressive' in terms of the bends in the path being foreshortened and therefore not as 'flowing'.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    I live a stone's throw away from Cuyahoga National Park (NE, Ohio)..
    Posts
    1,213

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    Hi Matt, definitely like first photo better. I think your second photo needs more contrast. It would be fun to rank these two pictures again once you process them a bit more.

    Karm

  8. #8
    mknittle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    auburn california
    Posts
    2,233
    Real Name
    mark

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    Hi Matt,
    I too have to go with #1 it works well for me. nice capture!

  9. #9
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    1,118
    Real Name
    Matthew

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    Thank you all very much for your feedback. This has been really helpful, and apparently my gut was correct about photo 1 being the better. I just really like it a lot and kept going to that one over the 2nd image. After reading your detailed comments, I like it even more and like the other one less, haha.

    For your review, here is the same shot as #1 but with less cropped off (the bottom is cropped, but not the top). My initial thought (and the reason I cropped the sky off) was that the sky was taking up too much space / drawing too much attention away from the mounded prairie. My eye goes to the sky first, which is not really the intent of the photo. Then again, I like the extra height because I feel it magnifies the drama of the scene by adding even more scale and making it seem expansive. I like both versions, but want to know what you guys think. Thank you!

    New crop of shot #1 (less cropped, actually). This new shot was also added as #3 to original post.

    Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

  10. #10
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Glenfarg, Scotland
    Posts
    19,701
    Real Name
    Just add 'MacKenzie'

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    I think that last version immediately above is, by some way, the stronger version of this shot. I think it places the horizon on amuch better position in the frame and I think the sky is so good that it serves that amount of space. I don't see it diverting attention from the ground in any way at all. indeed, I think it does exactly what you say, "it magnifies the drama of the scene by adding even more scale and making it seem expansive."

  11. #11

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    northern Virginia suburb of Washington, DC
    Posts
    17,889

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    I agree that this last version is best. There is something going on in this new composition that makes the primary mound seem more prominent, though my intuition tells me to expect the opposite effect. Very interesting!

    Consider toning down the bright clouds on the right, as that tonality is a bit distracting for me.

  12. #12

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Ontario (mostly)
    Posts
    6,616
    Real Name
    Bobo

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    Count me in on the latest version of #1.

  13. #13
    mknittle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    auburn california
    Posts
    2,233
    Real Name
    mark

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    Mee too nice work Matt

  14. #14
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    1,118
    Real Name
    Matthew

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    Thank you all once again for the feedback. One more version...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Consider toning down the bright clouds on the right, as that tonality is a bit distracting for me.
    I had trouble with the clouds because the highlights were blown, so all I could do was burn them in a bit in photoshop. It was difficult to make it look good due to the lack of detail; if I made them too dark they started to look "fake" in a way. I focused mostly on the farthest right ones near the edge of the shot. Not sure how I feel about them now. What do you think?

    Also, I added a tiny bit more contrast to the prairie mounds on this version- I feel like they were more contrasty at some point in the post processing but somehow I lost that contrast; maybe I accidentally deleted or flattened a layer and didn't pay attention

    Thanks as always!

    Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

  15. #15

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    northern Virginia suburb of Washington, DC
    Posts
    17,889

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    That little change to the clouds makes the difference for me. You expect to see bright light in that area of the frame because of how the mounds are lit, but this reduced brightness is no longer distracting for me.

    I also like the touch that you made to the mounds, though I would describe it as increased dynamic range rather than increased contrast.

  16. #16
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    1,118
    Real Name
    Matthew

    Re: Back from my first photo vacation! First of many shots to come...

    Thanks, Mike. Glad you like this one better. I was worried the clouds looked fake after burning them in. Maybe it's just because I was staring at them so much. Perhaps someone new to the photo wouldn't notice it as much.

    Good point about the contrast vs dynamic range. I basically dodged the "hillsides" a bit, making them brighter. I wonder what we would officially say is the difference between increasing contrast vs increasing dynamic range? Perhaps the proximity of the brigher / darker areas plays a part? (If I increase brightness on something that is right next to a shadow, that increases contrast; but if I increase brightness on something that is next to midtones, then I'm instead increasing dynamic range?) Maybe a subject for a new thread.

    Anyway, thanks to all for the help on these shots.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    That little change to the clouds makes the difference for me. You expect to see bright light in that area of the frame because of how the mounds are lit, but this reduced brightness is no longer distracting for me.

    I also like the touch that you made to the mounds, though I would describe it as increased dynamic range rather than increased contrast.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •