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Landscape critique required

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stevo71 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote stevo71 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Landscape critique required
    Posted: 13 April 2015 at 17:10
First time I've ever posted something in this thread and I really hope I take something from it.

I guess the reason I'm posting this image is because a fellow photographer I respect asked today if I processed my landscapes on a calibrated monitor but hasn't explained further as of yet and it's got me thinking. Also I think that I have improved with my landscapes over time but still am in awe of others on this site and on flickr. I do like to think that I will always grow as a photographer and have found that some of the critiques I've received on open views have helped in this regard even when I haven't totally agreed on them.

Anyway the photo in question is one I took yesterday and I guess I'm probably more interested in being critiqued on the processing rather than the camera work although happy to hear about both.

Cornered Quarry by SteveKPhotography, on Flickr

This was taken into the sun using my a99 and Tamron 24-70mm with a CPL filter mounted on a tripod and with remote shutter. Settings are as follows RAW format,f/11, 1/25, ISO100, SSS disabled and AWB.

I have found that the Tamron has a slight greenish cast which is usually accentuated with a CPL attached and I do struggle getting the WB to look right and WB is one area that I am commonly unhappy with.
I think that a lot of my landscapes have a slight unrealistic or painterly feel to them due to my processing style but I don't mind that and it's something I probably do on purpose but I would like to know what others think in that regard.

Most of the processing done of this shot has been done in lightroom with the highlights dropped, shadows increased with a bit of increased clarity and contrast. I then played around with the WB by warming the temp and slightly adjusting the tint toward the red. I also used a gradient filter on only the sky and cooled the temp to get it more blue as it was washed out from facing into the sun.

I adjusted the tone curve using the individual sliders very slightly to improve upon the highlights and shadows more. I also adjusted the noise reduction, sharpened, dropped the saturation a tiny bit,added a little bit of vignetting and did some very minor adjustments mainly to the background using the brush tool.

I then exported as a TIF into CS6 removed 1 or 2 dust bunnies then did a slight S curve to increase contrast a little bit and further tweaked the WB/colour with very slight adjustments using the hue/saturation mask I then finished with a final sharpening using unsharp mask. Next I imported it back into LR as a TIF added my copyright to the metadata and exported as a JPEG.

I would like to know peoples opinion on my workflow and the result. All feedback will very much be appreciated and I will attempt to answer any questions should they arise as best I can.

Cheers Steve
a99ii | Tamron 90mm f/2.8 | Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 | Sony 50mm f/1.4 | Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 | CZ 16-35mm f/2.8 | Sony 70-400mm G2
 



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ifreedman View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ifreedman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 April 2015 at 01:33
Hi. Nice shot. First thing to mention is that Critic's Corner is really intended more for photographic critiques instead of PP critiques. However, I'll reflect on both here. Please excuse me if I'm picky and don't take it as criticism on your abilities. This is a nice shot.

In composition, the foreground rock is quite large. My eye moved through the image and ends up on the city in the background. This is a good thing IMO. I think I wish that the rock was so dominant, in part because you lose what seems to be a very large fall off between the rock and the jungle. I like the idea of that fall. I want my eyes to move from the rock, plunge deep into the jungle and then end up at the city. It's an interesting mix of images that evokes an interesting mix of emotions. Maybe this would have worked well as a vertical shot instead? I'm not really sure, though. You were there -- you know the scene. Still, it's a good image.

Or maybe a panorama that was a wider (on the right side in particular) with a bit less on the bottom would have worked well? I want to feel the expansiveness of the scene and the grandeur.

As for PPing, the colors are all pretty nice. Lots of nice shades of green and brown, well exposed. It definitely looks a bit HDR. I'm not sure the darks are as dark as they should be. It's all very evenly lit (PPed), but because of that it looks a bit unnatural to me. However, I like the fact that the clouds are interesting and the rocks are interesting, and it all seems to come together into a very pleasant image. The sky is very well done IMO, and it merges wonderfully with the city, which could have easily been over or under exposed and lost in the image.

I'm guessing that this image might look nice in a metal print. You've done pretty well with the colors, and a metal print might take advantage of your slightly well-saturated look and feel and make us feel a bit more of a part of the scene. Ultimately, we want to feel like we're in the scene. I don't quite feel that, though. I want more -- more a wider view, and a better view of the jungle valley.

I hope this helps. Keep in mind that this is just a first impression and just one viewpoint. Well done!
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wross View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote wross Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 April 2015 at 02:28
Tons of interesting things going on here, Steve. I love this location and if I were you I might revisit it at many different times of day and year. That being said, on to some specifics...

In no particular order of importance...



In many ways I like that you've captured the "into the sun" tone of things, with everything being just a little washed out and no true blacks. I'd be curious to see two variations: One, with a little more black in the foreground, to sharpen that area up and separate it more from the middle and far background. Two, to throw a 33% sepia filter over the whole thing to exaggerate the "glare of the sun" feeling and blend more the whole image.

The more I look at it the more I think this is a really exceptionally thought out and executed image. I keep going back to look at it again, and for me that is the mark of the images I enjoy and remember the most. Your placement of the horizon at the upper 1/3 line instead of the lower is dead on and gives power to the cliffs and forest. I'd still like a little more definition to the foreground cliffs, and maybe pull a little blue (or a lot?) out of the sky, depending on what feeling you want the image to convey. (Just a picky, technical note... the two big boulders appear over-sharpened and a little jittery.)

You've got a powerful image here. One to print and hang. And, one to revisit, either by reprocessing this one or reshooting again and again. Various shadings of light or dark, for the near ground cliffs, the middle distance forest, and the distant city (and different tinting for that matter) have potential for all kinds of different looks and feelings.

Really memorable image, Steve. Nice.
Lazarus Long said "If it can't be expressed in figures, it's not science. It's opinion." Comments I leave are only my opinions. Feel free to disagree; your opinion is as valid as mine.
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wross View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote wross Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 April 2015 at 02:35
PS.... My good monitor is down at the moment so I'm viewing this on a laptop. My interpretation of your colors, blacks and whites may be skewed by this.

PPS....You mentioned your liking of painterly style processing. That shows in this image and this is a perfect place to apply it. Google "hudson river school paintings" to see what I mean.
Lazarus Long said "If it can't be expressed in figures, it's not science. It's opinion." Comments I leave are only my opinions. Feel free to disagree; your opinion is as valid as mine.
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MichelvA View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote MichelvA Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 April 2015 at 06:59
Fully agree with Walt here, although for me a slightly less shopped version would work too. The greenish cast makes it a little out of this planet to me, on one hand less natural but on the other hand rather special looking. Where i have no doubts at all is the composition. The big bold rockformation is placed right and the city in the far right gets exactly the right attention. This presentation also gives a special mood to the difference between the seemingly old rock with trees and the modern city. It makes me feel as if i'm in the stone age and looking into the future. This effect makes it a hugely attractive photo.
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stevo71 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote stevo71 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 April 2015 at 09:34
Thanks for the responses guys I will try and respond to you all here. Also I put this up to be critiqued so please do be picky and if you may think it's harsh don't - I can certainly take it.

Sorry Ian but I did read through the guidelines thoroughly and presumed that critiquing PP was okay and the previous two posts before this were clearly asking for critiques on processing too rather than the capturing. Maybe not in a good way but in today’s modern digital age I believe processing is a fundamental part of photography and shouldn’t be exclusive to the “taking of” a photo. If I am wrong on this then I do apologise.

Before I start I forgot to mention in the original post that I do indeed have a calibrated monitor.

Thanks for the general consensus concerning the composition certainly something I concentrate upon much more than I used to. Good point about wanting more of the background image to the right Ian and something I would have liked by moving more to the right to improve the angle unfortunately I was at the other edge of the quarry rim and couldn’t move further right safely. I do have a portrait oriented shot which I think works just as well and was torn between the two with the vertical shot helping with the height of the cliff face. I have posted this picture below.

You are all right about how the foreground needs more black and I am often guilty of pulling too much out of the shadows which does give it an unrealistic look. I have played with the image some more and have also posted the re-do below. I have increased the blacks some more and have adjusted the tint moving it a little more out of the green and into the magenta and IMO I believe this has improved the image. I also used the brush tool on the clouds and warmed the WB a touch and de-saturated them a little too. Also the top of the cliff face does look over-sharpened particularly the two boulders but I think this has more to do with me not being as fine with the adjustment brush on the background as I should of been???

I really like the 30% sepia hint Walt and tried that on the work copy and it worked a treat something I will try on future efforts. Also I looked up the Hudson River School paintings and can definitely see why you mentioned them to me they’re fantastic . I often am conflicted about my processing as I know it lends my photos a slightly unrealistic feel or as I mentioned before a painterly feel but this is something that appeals to me although it is a very fine line balancing the effect as not to go too overboard.

Anyway thanks very much for all your opinions and hints Ian, Walt and Michele. This was my second visit to this location to photograph and I do plan on returning again maybe in the morning next time so I catch the morning light on the rock face. BTW I used to come to this place as a teenager to abseil which is how I knew about it and it is very popular with the rock climbing/abseiling crowd.

Vertical shot:
Face Value by SteveKPhotography, on Flickr

Re-do:
Cornered Quarry by SteveKPhotography, on Flickr

Cheers Steve (also very happy to hear any more comments or critiques).
a99ii | Tamron 90mm f/2.8 | Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 | Sony 50mm f/1.4 | Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 | CZ 16-35mm f/2.8 | Sony 70-400mm G2
 



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wross View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote wross Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 April 2015 at 10:20
The vertical is interesting, but I think it lacks the power of the horizontal. The re-do of the original has real "print-it-large-and-hang-it" potential.
Lazarus Long said "If it can't be expressed in figures, it's not science. It's opinion." Comments I leave are only my opinions. Feel free to disagree; your opinion is as valid as mine.
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nandbytes View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote nandbytes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 April 2015 at 11:44
I have never done this before, so I am kinda nervous. I'll give critiquing a try...

hmmm... I really like the "mood" and the lighting and tones in the picture.

Composition wise while the huge rock in the background is a good idea, I find it almost obstructing the view. Through your picture I am trying to visualise the dramatic landscape you visualised in person. But that boulder is blocking that perspective for me. So perhaps if you had shot the camera from a slightly higher angle/perspective it would have given a nice drop to the forest around then lead on to the city in the far distance (may be this wasn't possible). Also for this reason I prefer the landscape orientation than the vertical/portrait one.

Overall I do like the shot, it just leaves me feeling "I'd have liked to have seen a little more".

Edited by nandbytes - 16 April 2015 at 11:49
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Fivepin View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Fivepin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 April 2015 at 13:13
The horizontal shot is much stronger. The vertical shot is lacking a balance with the city being to close to the foreground elements. Your point of view has no room for the eye to travel back into the frame to the city. As Nandbytes states the foreground rock formation on the horizontal is overpowering. Its position along the same plane as the horizon line is the problem. It is blocking the view for half the frame and then in the far left corner you see horizon again. For me the interesting area is from the center frame over to the right. If this were mine I think a square crop from the left of the top most boulder to the right of frame would be the best compromise in terms of interest and balance. You can't do a vertical within the horizontal because your spacing from boulder to city is to wide. That is why I say try a square crop.




Edited by Fivepin - 16 April 2015 at 13:17
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stevo71 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote stevo71 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 April 2015 at 12:31
Thanks for commenting Anand and Gary.

No it wasn't possible to get any higher as I am standing on top of the quarry on the opposite side although I know what you are saying and it would of been nice. The area behind the cliff face is just scrub dissolving into the metropolitan area anyway so nothing much to showcase really. If you look in Open Views at my latest post you will find a squarer crop with more of the landscape to the right and less of the quarry wall pretty much as you have described Gary although that shot is taken with my Zeiss 16-35mm and is probably the best from the day.
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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 April 2015 at 13:55
I agree with the others, and I'm impressed at the way you've managed to get detail in both the shadowed rocks and the sky, though on my monitor (which is *not* yet calibrated), the result looks slightly dark and washed out, possibly a result of the contrast reduction implicit in getting both sky and shadows within the display limits. I'll defer to others on this.

The colour balance suggests an evening shot and these always raise the question of what white balance to use - do you hide/limit the colour cast or revel in it?

Compositionally, for me the result sort of falls between two different pictures, or aspects:

1) A skyscape in which the foreground rocks *are* dark, the horizon is much lower, and the distance city, clouds, and sky are the focal point together with the jagged silhouette of the rocks. Must surely be horizontal format?

2) A vertical scene in which the rocks are the focal point, and which the horizon might be a little higher and the sky/clouds less dominant

I'd would have been tempted to see if I could climb down a bit to get the rocks above the horizon, but that's me!

A personal view of course; I've spent ages myself trying to move around to get different elements in the same picture and, often enough, have had to admit I can't get them all to work together. Overall an excellent picture, though, and the others look nice too.
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