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Thread: My first mountain shots - C&C please!

  1. #1

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    My first mountain shots - C&C please!

    On a recent trip to Breckenridge, I decided to take my camera on the mountain with me. I am new to snowy, mountainous landscapes and would love some help here. I really like this image of the sun setting, and have already tried messing with the curves and shadow/highlight. Is it okay that it looks a little washed out (since the sun is directly on the mountains), or are there ways around that? Thanks in advance!

    My first mountain shots - C&C please!

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    Re: My first mountain shots - C&C please!

    Yes it is possible to improve that photo, Rachel, but how good are your editing skills?

    There are too many requirements here for one simple Curves adjustment to suitably adjust everything in one go.

    Probably the simplest answer would be, once again, to work on some layers with semi transparent masking to apply different effects to different areas. I think you could probably get away with just two layers and a simple mask gradient between them.

    But real experts may want to do something considerably more complicated here.

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    Re: My first mountain shots - C&C please!

    I think the idea is great, but that big ball of blown-out sun is, I think, terribly distracting.

    If you were to crop just at the bottom of that blown-out area, I think you would have yourself a very nice image in a 1:1 ratio (square). After that I wouldn't be doing a huge amount to it. It's a very good capture. Sometimes the key to good post-processing is knowing how little to do.

    I think what you describe as the washed out look suits it very well. It is, after all, a late afternoon, mountain, winter scene - you get that sort of washed out light. You don't want to disguise it and create something else that wasn't there.

    Maybe just a touch of Local Contrast Enhancement (but don't overdo it) to give the trees a bit of 'pop'.

    Just above the people at the extreme right hand side, there is some sort of triangular object and, beside it, something else that goes out of frame. I would clone those out.

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    Re: My first mountain shots - C&C please!

    I have done a very quick edit to show what can be done with layers and masks.

    My first mountain shots - C&C please!

    The method was: Create a new duplicate layer of the original.

    Edit this layer to suit the foreground and ignore the sky. Add a 'Reveal All' Mask to the layer. I just slightly brightened the midtones and reduced the amount of blue with Curves.

    Use a soft edged 'black' brush* at low opacity (say 30%) to gradually paint over the sky area which will 'remove' the edit adjustments and allow the original background image to show.

    Keep removing the sky layer in several passes of the brush and carefully blend the area between the sky and mountains by staggering the join between successive passes of the brush.

    Switching between viewing the layers (turn the eye symbol on or off) will allow you to see your progress and the amount of gradient between them.

    After creating the duplicate layer it would be possible to darken the background image slightly in order to, if required, darken the sun and sky.

    * when adjusting a mask you have the choice between using a 'black' or 'white' brush which can sound confusing but basically a 'black' brush will subtract from a reveal all mask while a 'white' brush will add to it. And the other way around for a 'Hide All' mask.

    Using masks and layers does appear complicated at first but is quite easy as long as you keep a clear head. And once you get used to editing in this way you will wonder how you managed before.

    There are several other alternatives for editing a photo like this but I think this method is probably the easiest to start with and obviously working from the original will produce a better result. But as Donald said, don't overdo it'.

    I have left the snow a bit on the yellow side to match the sun, but you can edit to whatever suits your taste.

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    Re: My first mountain shots - C&C please!

    Thank you SO much for the feedback! I have always been intimidated by layers/masks, but I know I have to get over that and start using them. I cannot wait to take all of your feedback and come up with an image I am happy with. I will re-post after I have a chance to work on the photo. Thanks so much again!

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    Re: My first mountain shots - C&C please!


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    Re: My first mountain shots - C&C please!

    Donald and Jeff, this is what I have come up with from your comments (unfortunately I just saw the link you gave me Geoff, so I will take a look at that now). I think your input helped this photo tremendously, any more thoughts? Thanks so much - and Geoff you were right, I'm not sure how I wasn't using layers/masks before and I'll never switch back!

    My first mountain shots - C&C please!

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    Re: My first mountain shots - C&C please!

    That is a great improvement, Rachel.

    But I wonder about having just part of the sun visible. Possibly that scene either requires most of the sun or none at all, as Donald suggested, so I would try that tighter crop. You can afford to lose a bit from the left side as well as the top.

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