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Thread: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

  1. #1

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    Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    I caught perfect weather and nearly still water to capture the most iconic rock formation in Sedona, Arizona.

    This photo is really important to me. I don't have any concerns or questions but I also don't know how to take it any farther. So, any suggestions to improve it are greatly appreciated.


    Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    If mine Mike; I would rotate it slightly so the reflection is vertically above the same point (or corner) on the real thing.

    Beyond that, I wonder (only since you ask about taking it further - it looks good/natural to me), whether a bit more 'texture' could be made visible in the brightly lit slopes and trees area?

    I did 'experiment' with trying to make the rocks less central (left/right), but cropping any off either side spoils it - this is just one of those shots that has to break the rule of thirds

    Hope that's helpful,

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    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    I would be proud to have made this shot, Mike. Very nice.

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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Thank you, Terri. Coincidentally, just a few days ago I heard from a person on another photography forum that I frequent only to discuss Nikon Capture NX2. Her name is the same as yours including the spelling and I hadn't been in touch with her for a long time. She was only a few days away from going to Sedona, so I told her how to find this spot.

    Dave: You must have an uncanny ability to spot a photo that isn't straight. My first version was captured using the camera's electronic level, which indicated that it was perfectly level. I didn't notice that it wasn't. When I checked it in my software after seeing your comment, it was off by 0.49 degrees. As you surely know, that may seem like very little until you go back and forth between the two versions using the Lytebox.

    I really like your idea of adding texture to the bright rock and trees. Thanks to your suggestion, I was able to add considerable definition to the area in the shadows and a little bit more to the rock formation. This is a significant improvement in my mind, so thank you!

    Any other ideas?


    Revision 1
    Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 21st April 2013 at 01:01 AM.

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    Cantab's Avatar
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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Mike, I really like your revised version.

    What did you do to increase texture and definition in the areas you described: increase brightness and sharpness in those areas??

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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Lovely image Mike. The colours are great and the reflection really makes the shot.

    Dave

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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Nice to look at all right. Revision is more engaging I think with lightening of opposite shore subjects. What strikes me most is that the saturation and vividness of the reflection exceeds that of the rock itself. I'm guessing that's just the way it was, but wonder why - is it that there's some luminance absent in the reflection?

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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Thanks, guys!

    Bruce: The settings and parameters that I applied were done using Nikon Capture NX2. However, the results are the same as if a user of Silver Efex Pro (formerly owned by Nik and now owned by Google) uses the Structure control.

    I used a High-Pass filter with the radius of 25 pixels and the Overlay blending mode. Surprisingly, the opacity was 75%, which is about twice the opacity that I usually use. I was really surprised that no halos were produced at that combination of settings, but they don't seem to be present even when viewing the full-size file at 100%.

    I thought I was going to have to use one set of parameters for the bright rock formation and another set for the shadow area but one setting worked fine at least to my eye for now. Naturally, I applied the filter to the reflection, not just the source.

    I'll review the image in a day or so to determine if this particular adjustment needs tweaking.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 21st April 2013 at 03:46 AM.

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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Quote Originally Posted by Downrigger View Post
    What strikes me most is that the saturation and vividness of the reflection exceeds that of the rock itself.
    You might be right about that, Mark. Alternatively, it might be an optical illusion. I'll explain.

    In the out-of-camera version, the reflection of the sky and rock formation are considerably darker and with far less dynamic range than the sources. That's because I used a polarizer to eliminate the glare on the water. If I understand the physics of light correctly (don't trust me on that), the light being reflected toward the camera is at an angle that was affected by the polarizer. The source light was not affected because the sun was directly behind the camera and very low.

    Even though I brightened the water, notice that the reflection of the sky is still considerably darker than the sky itself. I've been told that that disparity often happens at sunrise and sunset, though I don't know why. I also don't have any experience with photographing reflections in water.

    It was more important to me to match the tones of the rock formation and its reflection. I think I did that reasonably well. However, -- and this is where my idea of an optical illusion comes in -- the water is not perfectly still. Instead, there are some mid to dark tones created by the ripples in the water that do not exist in the source rock formation. I wonder if that leads to the perception of greater contrast and/or saturation.

    Regardless of what the cause is, I'll revisit the reflection tomorrow with a fresh eye with the purpose of trying to ensure that the reflection appears natural. Thanks for the heads up about that!
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 21st April 2013 at 04:03 AM.

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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Dave,

    I think I figured out why the image wasn't straight despite that I used the camera's electronic level. I leveled the camera before I took the first shot. At least 30 minutes passed before I captured the photo being discussed in the thread. The front tripod leg was on wet soil at the very edge of the stream. I'm positive that leg moved a bit because my photos were not exactly aligned with each other.

    By the way, that ruined my plan that involved exposing several series of images and making a composite image that took advantage of the best parts of each exposure. In the end, I wasn't able to do that because of the misalignment; the image shown here was made from one capture.

    Whew! I feel better now knowing that my camera's electronic level isn't malfunctioning.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 21st April 2013 at 04:04 AM.

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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Quote Originally Posted by Downrigger View Post
    Nice to look at all right. Revision is more engaging I think with lightening of opposite shore subjects. What strikes me most is that the saturation and vividness of the reflection exceeds that of the rock itself. I'm guessing that's just the way it was, but wonder why - is it that there's some luminance absent in the reflection?
    It is fairly typical that reflections appear a bit darker and more saturated than the actual object. This is one of several photographs in my CinC album that shows the effect very slightly. (Apologies Mike I tried to leave a smaller version but did not manage to using the album picture)

    Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection


    Anyhow Mike I like your photo and the tweaking on the second version has been worth while. Just wonder what it would look like very slightly vignetted. To state the obvious the lighting is great.
    Last edited by pnodrog; 21st April 2013 at 06:01 AM.

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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Thanks for that helpful explanation and demonstration, L. Paul. I prefer larger photos, so if you feel that a larger photo would demonstrate your point better, please do replace the current version.

    Thanks also for the idea of using a vignette. It would be helpful to learn how everyone feels about this treatment:


    Revision 2
    Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Mike - you've mentioned vignette in a prior post in which you challenged me to identify which of a series had it. I could not. Similarly, here, since done so gently, it is imperceptible to me in regarding the revision alone, but yet imparts effect when comparing revision to original (and a nice one). I learn from this.

    And... thank you L. Paul and Mike for helping me out on the character of reflections. In particular, polarization in a vertical plane seems explanatory for some of the effect (which can be regarded as enhancing anyway). Now, I'll pay more attention when I encounter reflections - "seeing" is critical to photography, but this shows that photography can educate me as to how to see. Headed today to Moab, not the best location for me to explore the idea further.

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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Have a great time in Moab, Mark. I would think there might be areas where depressions in the rock still hold water this time of year that could present scenes with great reflections.

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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Have a great time in Moab, Mark. I would think there might be areas where depressions in the rock still hold water this time of year that could present scenes with great reflections.
    Thanks Mike: Good point about puddles - I'll keep my eyes peeled. The muddy Colorado may not be much help.

  16. #16
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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Sedona, one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    Well the vignetting works for me - but I would say that wouldn't I.

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    Re: Cathedral Rock at sunset with reflection

    The vignetting is very subtle but, I think, adds to the effect of the image. And thanks for the pp explanation of what you did with revision #1.

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