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Author Topic: Miramare castle  (Read 8838 times)
kal
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« on: November 30, 2006, 04:51:38 AM »
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This picture of the Miramare castle near Trieste has been taken last week,
in one of the few days of really clear air we enjoyed recently. I was about 2km
from the castle, while the mountains in the background are at least 150km away.

I was quite pleased with this image, until a few friends commented that "It is
too good to be real!" -- meaning that the mountains have been blended in.

Does this really look fake? If so, how can I avoid such an unwanted effect?
I will also appreciate any suggestion for improving the image in any other way.

Thanks in advance.

Piero
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2006, 08:12:57 AM »
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The "pasted-in" look comes from the big featureless gray area between the mountains and the lake. Try doing a curve layer masked to bring out some more detail there without changing the rest of the image.
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kal
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« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2006, 01:51:04 AM »
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The "pasted-in" look comes from the big featureless gray area between the mountains and the lake. Try doing a curve layer masked to bring out some more detail there without changing the rest of the image.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=87839\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thank you Jonathan. I just tried that, unfortunately there is really little detail available to extract from the mists of the Bassa Pianura Friulana. I had some better luck stretching up the brownish blobs, but now it is actually fake! (and some artifacts appeared at the horizon , that I still have to fix)

btw, it is not a lake, it's the Adriatic Sea. And I ceched my maps, the mountains are "only" 120km away.
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russell a
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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2006, 07:04:02 AM »
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I was quite pleased with this image, until a few friends commented that "It is
too good to be real!" -- meaning that the mountains have been blended in.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=87812\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Unfortunately, in the Age of Photoshop, we are all judged guilty before the fact.  Never more will any of us be given credit for the "lucky shot", or for being in the right place at the right time.  Sad, but real.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2006, 09:37:01 AM »
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Piero,

I think the problem lies in the scene itself. I have sometimes witnessed a scene similar to yours in which a low-lying layer of haze separates the foreground from mountains behind it. To my eyes, the scene itself looks unreal, and the mountains look, in reality, as if they are pasted on! I have photographed some such scenes back in my film days, just because of this odd effect.

The trouble is: to any viewer who hasn't encountered a similar scene, a photograph will always look "fake." I think you should do the best you can with Janathan's suggestion, and then accept the photo for what it is.

I like it (partly because I've seen similar scenes.)

That's my 2 cents.

-Eric

P.S. A bit OT: On the LL forum there are often comments about photos that look "too digital." Just the other day on a walk I looked up at the sky (much blue sky with many white clouds), and my instant reaction was, "By golly, that sky looks digital!"    
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kal
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2006, 10:20:11 AM »
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Piero,

I think the problem lies in the scene itself. I have sometimes witnessed a scene similar to yours in which a low-lying layer of haze separates the foreground from mountains behind it. To my eyes, the scene itself looks unreal, and the mountains look, in reality, as if they are pasted on! I have photographed some such scenes back in my film days, just because of this odd effect.

The trouble is: to any viewer who hasn't encountered a similar scene, a photograph will always look "fake." I think you should do the best you can with Janathan's suggestion, and then accept the photo for what it is.

I like it (partly because I've seen similar scenes.)
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=88054\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thank you, Erik.

I think I will wait for a better day, with clearer air, so that some detail is visible between the sea and the mountains.

Maybe some some ship passing by will help... some of the latest and greatest ships for Carnival Cruises, P&O et al. have been built in Monfalcone, less than 15km behind the castle. They are now building the Emerald Princess, it should be ready in March '07: I'm waiting for it!
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2006, 11:30:38 AM »
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There's always going to be an annoying contingent of people who will dismiss any truly unusual image as a PS job instead of the result of being in the right place at the right time prepared to shoot; sort of a "sour grapes" reaction to their own inadequacies. Don't let them influence you too much, and especially don't let them discourage you from shooting striking, unusual, and eye-catching images. The other one I get all the time is "you have really cool cameras; I bet they take really awesome photos." While good equipment allows one to capture images without intruding into the process any more than necessary, a talented individual can still produce excellent work with inexpensive gear. More limited gear does increase the probability of missing an opportunity, or not capturing a subject as technically flawless as otherwise, but that should not dissuade from doing the best you can with the gear you have.

I recently entered a local photo contest with images shot with my Canon 1Ds DSLR and my Olympus SP-350 digicam. The winning image (in the "structures" category) was captured with the Olympus and this image, captured with the 1Ds, was a loser on the "landscape" category.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2006, 11:31:11 AM by Jonathan Wienke » Logged

Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2006, 11:52:04 AM »
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There's always going to be an annoying contingent of people who will dismiss any truly unusual image as a PS job instead of the result of being in the right place at the right time prepared to shoot; sort of a "sour grapes" reaction to their own inadequacies. Don't let them influence you too much, and especially don't let them discourage you from shooting striking, unusual, and eye-catching images. The other one I get all the time is "you have really cool cameras; I bet they take really awesome photos." While good equipment allows one to capture images without intruding into the process any more than necessary, a talented individual can still produce excellent work with inexpensive gear. More limited gear does increase the probability of missing an opportunity, or not capturing a subject as technically flawless as otherwise, but that should not dissuade from doing the best you can with the gear you have.

I recently entered a local photo contest with images shot with my Canon 1Ds DSLR and my Olympus SP-350 digicam. The winning image (in the "structures" category) was captured with the Olympus and this image, captured with the 1Ds, was a loser on the "landscape" category.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=88072\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Ain't it the truth.

I think that in my fifty-plus years of photography, every time that I have upgraded to "better" equipment, the quality of my photography has gone down for some time, while I fuss with the new equipment instead of seeing things.

So, Jonathan, if you want to send me your 1Ds and just keep your obviously superior Sp-350, I'll be happy to take it off your hands.    

-Eric
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Richowens
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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2006, 12:11:24 PM »
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KAL

For your consideration.

[attachment=1272:attachment]

I followed Jonathon's suggestion and did three curve layers with a mask to bring out some detail in the base of the mountains, removed the color cast from the snow, and cropped to bring the castle as the center of interest.

Just my .02 worth.

Rich
« Last Edit: December 01, 2006, 12:14:03 PM by Richowens » Logged

howiesmith
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2006, 12:32:39 PM »
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KAL

For your consideration.

[attachment=1272:attachment]

I followed Jonathon's suggestion and did three curve layers with a mask to bring out some detail in the base of the mountains, removed the color cast from the snow, and cropped to bring the castle as center of theinterest.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=88082\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I like this version better than the original.  I also find it interesting that making "the castle [a] center of interest" involved cropping to put it more into a "rule of thirds" position.  Mere coincidence?

I think the bouys and flag on the castle are distracting.  I found I looked hard at the flag to figure out what it is when it probably doesn't matter.

I think the image, especially the castle, are a bit overexposed.  I find it hard to see real details (texture) in the castle walls.

I would not categorize "it looks fake" as "sour grapes."  If it looks faked to a viewer, then it looks faked.  I thought that comment goes well with the topic on the difficulty of giving an honest opinion.  An honest opinion is not sour grapes.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2006, 12:34:13 PM by howiesmith » Logged
Richowens
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2006, 12:49:48 PM »
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Hi Howie,

I never thought about the "rule of thirds" when cropping. Probably an unconscious habit. I just pushed the crop around until everything looked better to me. Now that you mention it, I see it.  

Rich
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howiesmith
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2006, 12:58:02 PM »
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Hi Howie,

I never thought about the "rule of thirds" when cropping. Probably an unconscious habit. I just pushed the crop around until everything looked better to me. Now that you mention it, I see it.  

Rich
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=88092\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Sort of like checking the law of gravity before taking a walk.  You don't really do it, but you know in your gut (or the bottoms of your feet) that all is OK, gravity wise, for a walk.  It certainly does not mean the law of gravity doesn't exist just because we have become habituated to it working.

I know several (excellant) photographers that apply this rule unconsciously, yet know and use these rules.  When something comes along that doesn't fit the rules, thye break them, but know on a consciuos level why.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2006, 03:06:48 PM »
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Sort of like checking the law of gravity before taking a walk.  You don't really do it, but you know in your gut (or the bottoms of your feet) that all is OK, gravity wise, for a walk.  It certainly does not mean the law of gravity doesn't exist just because we have become habituated to it working.

I know several (excellant) photographers that apply this rule unconsciously, yet know and use these rules.  When something comes along that doesn't fit the rules, thye break them, but know on a consciuos level why.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=88095\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Right. And every time you consider using (or breaking) any "rule" (such as the rule of thirds, which is often useful), you should ask yourself, "Is it appropriate for this scene or this image?"

The rule I cherish most is this: "Never blindly follow any rule* just because it is a rule. Follow it if it improves your photograph; otherwise don't."

* including this one, of course.    

-Eric
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2006, 03:21:30 PM »
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I followed Jonathon's suggestion and did three curve layers with a mask to bring out some detail in the base of the mountains, removed the color cast from the snow, and cropped to bring the castle as the center of interest.

That's more or less what I had in mind; you can see enough detail between the water and the mountains to tell that there is more mountain there obscured by haze or whatever. That visually connects the mountains to what's under them, and makes them look less "pasted in". The crop is also a significant improvement.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2006, 03:30:58 PM »
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I think that in my fifty-plus years of photography, every time that I have upgraded to "better" equipment, the quality of my photography has gone down for some time, while I fuss with the new equipment instead of seeing things.

So, Jonathan, if you want to send me your 1Ds and just keep your obviously superior Sp-350, I'll be happy to take it off your hands.   

When you pry it from my cold dead fingers...or something like that. Or I upgrade to a 1Ds-MkII. But in this case, the SP-350 was a "downgrade"; something I bought so I would have a camera in hand in situations where the DSLRs would be too heavy, bulky, or conspicuous. Its mix of features and shortcomings was the least objectionable for the price, but it is certainly not as capable as any DSLR overall.

Besides, I prefer to fantasize that the outcome of the contest demonstrates that a skilled individual can work around the shortcomings of equipment limitations to produce a quality result, in spite of the limitations of the capture tool.
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howiesmith
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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2006, 03:47:05 PM »
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And every time you consider using (or breaking) any "rule" (such as the rule of thirds, which is often useful), you should ask yourself, "Is it appropriate for this scene or this image?"

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=88119\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Agreed.  For me, the rule of thirds is very useful.  It has been shown over a very long time that this rule puts things where people expect and find pleasing.  If I want to shock the viewer, it can sometimes be done very effectively by putting the subject in an unexpected or unpleasing place - break the rule intentionally.

A painting by Bev Dolittle comes to mind.  She put a red fox right in the center of a rather non-red duotone background (browns and whites).  The placement really shocks the viewer.  I have never discussed this with Bev Dolittle, but I strongly suspect she knows the rule of thirds and didn't just randomly place the fox in the center.  

If placement of the subject is random rather than rule based, wouldn't you expect to find subjects at random places on the paper?  Equally probably at every location, not just centered or "rule of thirds?"  Maybe the rule of thirds isn't it, but there must be some rule for placement of subjects (other than on the paper).
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RonBoyd
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« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2006, 05:15:46 PM »
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Agreed.  For me, the rule of thirds is very useful.  It has been shown over a very long time that this rule puts things where people expect and find pleasing.

True, almost without exception, for non-square images. Square format, I feel however, is more receptive to centering of the main focus. Even in those cases when you can use the "rule of thirds" in a square frame, a "centering" generally works equally well.

Ron
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howiesmith
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« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2006, 05:57:17 PM »
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True, almost without exception, for non-square images. Square format, I feel however, is more receptive to centering of the main focus. Even in those cases when you can use the "rule of thirds" in a square frame, a "centering" generally works equally well.

Ron
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=88143\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I agree that square format is more "receptive" to centering.  But it is my opinion that the more squarish the frame, the less "error" or difference between centering and rule of thirds.

I do a lot of portraits.  Mug shots seem to be the most receptive to centering.  But the eyes (center of interest?) seem better placed on the upper third line, even if centered left to right.  Turn the head some and the better compostion seems to move off center.  Again, there are a few times when this may not be the case.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2006, 05:59:20 PM by howiesmith » Logged
kal
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« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2006, 10:18:56 AM »
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KAL

For your consideration.

[attachment=1272:attachment]

I followed Jonathon's suggestion and did three curve layers with a mask to bring out some detail in the base of the mountains, removed the color cast from the snow, and cropped to bring the castle as the center of interest.

Just my .02 worth.

Rich
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=88082\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thank you, Rich. It is definitely worth much more than 0.02 -- even counting Euros...

I also agree that your crop improves the image: I didn't remove the leftmost part only because I liked the colors in the vegetation, while in fact the trees do not add much to the composition.

Many thanks again to everybody who spent their time commenting on this little work of an amateur.
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etude
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« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2006, 07:49:16 AM »
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The crop version is definately an improvement. The original places the castle slightly off centre on both H and V axes. When I saw the original I felt it needed to be more panoramic - less water and sky with more emphasis on the water stretching out. The crop has achieved this to a degree, although I feel it could still improve.

I actually think the cropped version has lost something the original had. It is more grainy now, which I think is a backward step. The original had a hint of an ethereal and a slight mystical feel, which the strange grey area was part of. It is smoother and lighter. That it makes you wonder if it is real I see as an advantage that you should play with and explore. I wouldn't treat it as an obstacle.

I also wonder if you could attempt to get a little more detail on the castle walls. If you have a tripod and don't mind using photoshop and don't consider it "cheating" then I wonder what you could do if you took two images and exposed one for the castle itself, to get a little more detail.

I think another interesting exercise here would be to try different focal lengths, if it is at all possible. With the tele you get the flattening of perspective which I think is possibly going to work best with the mystical feeling with regard to the relationship with the mountains behind. If you can get in with a wider angle, that could also be interesting to see the change. I wonder if this would perhaps appear more real, although perhaps also less interesting.

I think you could also have some fun with a polariser if you have one. The water could take on a different quality, and you could experiment a little with how bold you want the castle to be against the sky.
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