My thoughts are (but bear in mind I am but one person, and often wrong or mis-informed):
I think it looks/feels wrong because there is a luminance inversion going on -
a) we know it shouldn't be lighter on the undersides and between the front legs, but it is, and
b) the skyward facing snow on the ground ought to be the brightest part, but it isn't.
I am not on my home set up, so cannot try any PP (at work) and besides, this jpg may be too processed to recover detail on the body, so I'd need the original RAW ideally. Also, I have never tried to PP this kind of a high key shot, so I'd be learning as I go too
Not sure if what I have said helps, or how you can make it work.
Thanks guys. You have hit the nail on the head. It is the blown highlights that are bothering me. At first I was quite happy with this, but the final test for me is leaving it up on the screen for awhile and see how it looks after the initial satisfaction wears off. When I did that all I could see was the glowing white band and I was no longer sure if I liked it.
I have posted the original below - no adjustments, just resized. The highlights are not blown in the original. I think I did that when I did the Local Contrast Enhance. (I always seem to blow hightlights at that stage) I'm spoiled by my LR historgram and always forget to analyze the histogram in Elements. Excuses, Excuses, Excuses...
This was taken in my "Blue Snow" period and all i was trying to do when I started editing was make the snow white.
Ashwin: I'm at the stage in my PP work where I just diddle around with the controls. This was converted to Greyscale, and then I adjusted brightness, contrast, and the individual colour controls in Lightroom, and then Levels, Capture, and Local Contrast Sharpening in Elements. Oh, and cropped a bit and Cloned out the footprints
Dave: I'm not sure if the original qualifies as "High Key" or if you would want to work on it. I'd love it if you would take a shot though. I'm going to have another try and see if I cool it on the LCE and don't blow the highlights if I can get the same ghost like effect without the distacting white glow across the midsection.
I will find and read Colins instructions for the website where I can post the RAW photo for you. If I am able to get that working, I will let you know and if you are interested you can have a go at it.
Thanks again both of you for the feedback. You confirmed my thoughts
You, with the prompting of the others, got to the issues before I could contribute.
I would say this is a case for judicious use of masks, because I like what you've done with the background but there's been too much done on the horse.
I like the image as it is presented, it just looks unnatural as you have shown in the orignal, there are no shadows and the pose is static. If there were signs of blowing snow or a ruffling of the mane this image could work as a snow filled scene with a horse as the subject. i would still encourage you to edit the image as presented and see if you can add a bit of atmosphere to the photo.
I love very much horses.The idea is a very good one but the position of the photographer is not at all so happily.I should take many shots at different angles and distances to put a value on traces,on shadows etc.In this picture the horse is too little for "my love"(it seems to be a pet like dogs and cats).I should round it with his "personality":hight,big traces,big shadow.In one word Ishould photographed him like a statue.
I apologize for all I said.
Much better. I would just clone out the footprints for that came from nowhere feeling and that's much more what I was looking for.How is this.............................
did you do anything fancy or just watch for blown highlights during the editing. That's my plan when I go back at it, but have not had time yet.
You are right about the position. Actually I had stopped on the side of the road for something else, and this little one came out of his lean-to and right over to me. I think he/she would have followed me home if I let him. He really did seem more like a dog or a cat, not only in size but personality too. My position above him on the side of the road was not the best, but the light seemed nice and he was so friendly and I love horses....... and that's what drives me right now. Someday when things come together, I might see through eyes like yours and become more than just point and shooter - I hope so anyway.
Thanks for your comments. here and otherwise. It's always good to hear different views. I like your artistic take on things and am glad that you are not afraid to express yourself
Basically, i just made it high key. Your key tones are the midrange. Bring up the levels tool and slide the middle sllider to the left. I think i also played with the gamma slider and exposure sliders untill i found something i liked.
I actually like the first image. I like the idea of what you are trying to do with this.
I like the first one better, too. The second one looks more like a real horse, while the first looks more like a charcoal sketch. Very nice.
Thanks Rick and Steve: I think I would settle for a compromise between Steve's and the first one. If I can figure out how to tone down the glow on the chest and flank in the original rework, I will be happy. I tried today, but my plan didn't work so it's back to the books. Actually the plan might work but the software does not appear to be doing what I expected.
Has anyone ever made so many adjustments to a photo that their computer became unstable?
It's back to work for the weekend, so I'll try again next week.
Thanks again for the feedback
Slow day at work so...
My final 2 versions are below. Except for doing a better job on cloning I don’t think there is much more I can do with these. My main goal was to dull down the bright band across the pony’s chest and flank. I think I got that done, but had to compromise on contrast along the way.
This exercise did bring up some questions. I like this “high key” effect and would like to do more. I’m thinking flowers would look nice. This one just kind of happened when trying to get rid of the blue snow, but in the future I would like to aim for this effect in camera. I managed to come up with a couple thoughts, but would appreciate any more input on how to take available light High Key shots.
1. If I had added a stop or so Exposure Comp this would have been much easier to work with as I would have had white on white to start with instead of white on blue
2.In this case though even if I had adjusted the exposure, I would still have had the bright spot due to the dramatic lighting (and probably blown the highlights right from the start) which would have been hard to fix. So I’m thinking that high key shots would be better taken on a dull day with more even lighting. Yes, No, Maybe??
3.I’m thinking spot metering would be the best for this type of thing, but I get confused as to what I should meter. I think the brightest spot in the scene and then add EC until just before highlights blow. Do I have that right?
Started over with original and found where I blew the highlights was when adjusting Yellow slider after greyscale conversion. Also made sure that I did not blow highlights when sharpening in Elements. It's kind of grey, but making it lighter is when the highlights start to go.
This is from a different original that was zoomed out a bit.
I really like #1: I think it has a wonderful, simple feel.
On the exposure in this kind of thing, my approach (FWIW) is to put the camera on <M>, choose the aperture I want, spin the control wheel until the meter looks good, and take a shot. Then by looking at the histogram and what highlights are flashing, I adjust the shutter. Kind of a human-assisted Av mode. I'll be interested to see if there are good ways to meter it.
I think the only way you can retain detail on the horse and avoid blown highlights, without a great deal of work, is to accept grey snow.
I have had a quick play around with the original; without using any expensive software or complicated masking etc.
I've left the image in it's original uncropped size.
My method was create a Curves Adjustment Layer but don't adjust yet, just close the layer. Do the same with a Hue/Sat Layer. Finally a Channel Mixer Layer, select monochrome and set the individual colour channels to R 40, G 60, B 0.
Drop down to the Hue/Sat Layer and adjust the Blues to -80 and the Cyans to -170.
Adjust the Curves Layer to suit. I mostly brightened the midtones.
Finally I cloned out the barbed wire ans slightly sharpened.
I also tried selecting the blue snow with the Colour Selection Tool and desaturated before using a Channel Mixer adjustment at the previous settings; but I thought this didn't have quite so much detail.
One idea that I haven't tried is to use an Artistic Effect on the greyscale conversion.
Probably still not what you really wanted though.
ps. Using a Hue/Sat Layer under the Channel Mixer Layer can sometimes work well to produce dramatic skies in B&W landscapes. In which case it may work better to adjust the Master settings instead of individual colours. I don't think there are any hard and fast rules here, just play around with the sliders until you get a suitable contrast.