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Thread: I could use some opinions

  1. #1
    IShootPeople's Avatar
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    I could use some opinions

    After my Hawaii trip this year, I sat down and went through my close to 3,000 images and began to edit. As I was working on them, though, I began to realize just how unhappy I am with the end result. I'm starting to realize just how lacking my post-processing skills are.

    So, I would really love some opinions and input on what I can do to improve my editing. Here are a few examples of edited pictures.

    Any suggestions would be great! Thank you all!!!

    Kim

    I could use some opinions

    I could use some opinions

    I could use some opinions

    I could use some opinions

    I could use some opinions

    I could use some opinions

  2. #2

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    Re: I could use some opinions

    To some extent, it is always difficult to comment on editing without seeing the original. Also what software are you using?

    However, my first thoughts:

    #1. A scene which just doesn't inspire me, no matter what is done in the way of editing.

    #2. Has more potential but the horizon isn't straight. There are out of focus plants in the foreground. Ideally remove them before shooting or find a different position. It may be possible to clone them out.

    #3. Probably a scene which looks better in real life than a two dimensional photograph. It may take a little bit of extra highlight brightness, but not on the clouds. Which means some selective adjustment. I use masks and layers but an Adjustment Brush might work.

    As well, or instead, a little bit of Local Contrast Enhancement might give it a little bit of extra 'pop'. But be careful to avoid any substantial changes.

    #4. Same as #3. be careful to avoid losing cloud detail when brightening.

    #5. I'm wondering about fractionally reducing the amount of water to concentrate more on the cliff. But definitely the best image for me.

    #6. Probably more of a personal thing, but I don't like surf which has lost its sharpness or is on the point of over exposure. However this often means unrealistic shooting settings. I would like to see the original before coming to any firm decision.

  3. #3
    JPS's Avatar
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    Re: I could use some opinions

    Hi Kim,
    I had similar thoughts as Geoff in relation to picture No.2.
    perhaps something like this: (hope you don't mind)

    I could use some opinions

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    Re: I could use some opinions

    Kim: took a look at your smugmug site to get a feel of for you. A lot of very nice work love the ring shoots of the walkers. What I did notice overall was that you seen to shoot in strong harsh light, so you need to watch your original capture in that I noted that you have pushed you highlights up to and including clipping them. I say this as when I look at the images the highlights appear blown out so I would suggest leaving some room to stretch them out in post, say about 1/3rd of a stop. In post if using LR or Photoshop CS adding a gradient of say 1/3rd to a 1/2 stop to the upper part of the image before working on the overall image. Then if more needed, reduce the exposure just a bit, then using the black, shadows, whites, and highlight sliders stretch
    the histogram out to improve the contrast. Another way may be the use of either hard or soft grad filters, in mountains with large pecks, soft seem to work better, however as you are in Georgia I would say hard grads overall would be best say 2 to 3 stops.
    Remember our eyes travel to the light areas of an image first, so bring down those really light areas maybe something that you want to look at.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Re: I could use some opinions

    Kim, you posed an awfully open ended question. You asked specifically about processing so what is it that you aren't satisfied with about the photos that you posted? Can you articulate what it is about the shots that bothers you? Or are you seeking comments in general about the photos?

  6. #6
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: I could use some opinions

    Kim - I've looked at the images and downloaded them to look at the metadata to see if I could glean any additional information from it. I don't think that this is a post-processing issue, but rather a composition and lighting issue.

    The shots are perfectly nice, but they don't have that WOW! factor. I think that part of the issue is that the lighting is genrally quite harsh; not the best conditions for landscapes / sea scapes. I think that had these been taken at sunrise or sunset they could be quite amazing. I think the last two shots are leaning towards a being interesting with the shadows and the rainbow, but even there, I don't know. I find the wake from the boat quite distracting (remember our eyes tend to be drawn to light areas) and my eyes are drawn there rather than to the rainbow. Mountains and water start looking like you've seen them before very quickly.

    Compositionally I can't find a focus point and I think that is ultimately the issue with the images, and while you might be able to tweak things here and there in post, I'm not sure if this is really going to make a lot of difference in the end.

  7. #7
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: I could use some opinions

    The first thing that struck me is that your images have no foreground, and what little foreground exists, is out of focus.

    I frequently refer to this book by Tim Fitzharris, a well known landscape photographer:

    http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1554079934

    The author states in part: "the image should be in focus from the immediate foreground to the far background. In particular, the foreground must be sharp because with our naked eyes, we see the FG sharply and expect this in a landscape".

    He also talks about the importance of the foreground (FG) in "setting up" the remainder of the image, and of course, many other important aspects of composition.

    And also have a look at some good to great landscape images:

    http://www.naturescapes.net/forums/viewforum.php?f=4

    The comments are worth reading - many photographers on this site are pros that do this full time.

    Glenn


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    Re: I could use some opinions

    I am unfamiliar with the book that Glenn mentions but, I tend to be from the school that believes
    that you take a picture or you create an image. You are at the point where you take a picture and,
    has been pointed out, quite often in harsh, unflattering light.

    To create an image involves "working the scene", determining what works and what doesn't.
    A couple of links might help...the first one is over an hour long, but worth it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpHMuK7Htic
    http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/a...a_picture.html

    Good luck.

  9. #9
    IShootPeople's Avatar
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    Re: I could use some opinions

    Thank you for all your insight!

    Yeah, there is still a lot I feel I need to improve on my composition. Unfortunately, I was somewhat limited in timing, as most of these shots were a one time deal and the lighting was rather harsh, when it wasn't overcast. So I was often caught between clouds and mist or harsh light.

    Based on your opinions, I suppose that a lot of my issues are stemming more from the composition than the editing. It does make sense, though, as there are a lot of things I need to learn or improve on with my shooting. I do like some of the images I took, but I'll admit I was hoping for some better shots from a trip like that. I am hoping that with a little trial and error editing, I can salvage a few of the nicer ones into something I'm a bit happier with.

    Thank you all again!

  10. #10
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: I could use some opinions

    Kim:

    If it will make you feel any better, I've been to Hawaii twice, and have one image that I might show to anyone - other than snapshots of where we went.

    Only once the light was good - during a Luau, and I sneaked out during the festivities to catch the sunset.

    The remainder are shots of where we went, and I wouldn't post one of them. Too much good weather, no clouds, and bright sunshine for two weeks.

    I shoot more flower macros because they're easier than good landscapes.

    It's very difficult. Don't be down on yourself.

    Glenn

  11. #11
    Jeff S's Avatar
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    Re: I could use some opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn NK View Post
    Kim:

    If it will make you feel any better, I've been to Hawaii twice, and have one image that I might show to anyone - other than snapshots of where we went.

    Only once the light was good - during a Luau, and I sneaked out during the festivities to catch the sunset.

    The remainder are shots of where we went, and I wouldn't post one of them. Too much good weather, no clouds, and bright sunshine for two weeks.

    I shoot more flower macros because they're easier than good landscapes.

    It's very difficult. Don't be down on yourself.

    Glenn
    For what it's worth, I live in Hawaii and have the same challenges. I just have more time to practice because I'm not going anywhere else.

    Jeff

  12. #12

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    Re: I could use some opinions

    I don't take landscapes in the main but when I do I treat them as any other photo and try and add depth to a two dimentional medium. All your photos are very 'flat' and 2D. The shot from the boat is trying to get there but doesn't make it IMO
    There is an interesting point about achieving depth of field in that subjects close to the camera either are sharp or they are not but the further you go back the less important sharpness is and you can usually get away with a gradual increasing softness.
    When you are on holiday you simply have to work with the lighting you have, often away from the Golden Hours, and while it may be hard direct sunlight it is also flat and uninteresting ... so you have to try and cover for this by more interesting composition.

    Edit after visiting your site ... your single IR photo, you should do more it can be great ... the comment I tried to leave didn't work with the silly letter box system ... . "I would point out that IR when the correct filter is used results in a black and white result without the red tone you have here.
    You will find some IR shots at my website www.jcuknz-photos.com which may suggest to you what you should be looking for. I noticed in a number of your photos what appears as the horizon is off at an angle ..here the end of the grass lawn should be level." If you are only using a deep red filter then I think you should desaturate to B&W or something.
    I could use some opinions
    Colorado River upstream from Glenwood Canyon.

    Edit II Sorry but no IR on my current website, Sorry
    Last edited by jcuknz; 16th July 2013 at 08:51 AM.

  13. #13
    IShootPeople's Avatar
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    Re: I could use some opinions

    I've done some pretty extensive re-editing of the last photo and wondered if I could get some input on the revision. I took the water from a different image and combined it with the rainbow of this one to get the end result. I'm still not 100% happy with the PP, but I think it is going in the right direction!

    Thoughts?

    I could use some opinions

  14. #14

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    Re: I could use some opinions

    For me, Kim, the last edit has too much uninteresting dark sea which is overpowering the hill and rainbow.

    Try a crop to reduce the amount of sea. This will however need a reduction from the sides as well, unless you change the size ratio. But I suspect you could get away with losing a fraction from the right side.

  15. #15

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    Re: I could use some opinions

    I agree with the others that the issues stem more from the time of capture to your processing techniques. I like the vivid quality of the first image. It looks like you ran into some haze in image #3 and some others. One thing I suggest you do when the atmosphere presents obstacles is to shoot close. As others suggested, more foreground detail would certainly help give depth to your images. But, it would also provide some saturated, contrasty colors right up front. If you included some background, the haze may work as part of the overall image. Or, you could just focus on some up close detail and exclude the sky. Sounds backwards when you are in Hawaii but there really are no rules in photography and sometimes being flexible, working with what you have, is the best way forward. In terms of your processing, for these images I might suggest a more aggressive and varied cropping. For example, the rainbow image might look good with a panoramic crop--exclude much of the sea and much of the extra sky above the rainbow. That might help focus one's attention on the rainbow itself. You get a lot of pixels with modern cameras and, although I like to keep the original frame as much as possible, flexibility and variety can mean different final aspect ratios. It is an easy way to cut unnecessary stuff. You may want to look at my set (better pictures than words):
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/brev00/...7632477447205/
    Or not. Good luck!

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