Maybe an improvement, but I see some backward steps which tend to detract from the improvement. I'm not sure what the net improvement is. Just for fun, here are some impressions and an attempt at analysis.
1. You've lost the round shape of the lock walls at the extreme edges of the composition, which was quite pleasing. I get the feeling you should now crop the remainder of that curved wall.
Interesting observation. I'll try it and see how I feel about it.
2. The second set of lock gates are now a more significant part of the image, as you intended, but tend to merge with (or not stand out against) the sky which you've darkened to a shade of grey too close to that of the far lock and tree.
Good point. I guess, seeing as I've already handed reality its hat, I could make the sky lighter toward the horizon. I was resisting this temptation, but it would definitely provide needed contrast with the second set of gates.
3. The sky itself now attracts more attention and as a consequence tends to become a competing element in the composition. Is the second set of lock gates really the focus of interest or the sky?
The sky cannot help but be a large part of this composition however, the second set of gates is still the focal point. Perhaps the rendered texture could be scaled back a bit. An improvement might be to fade the texture almost completely by the time we get down to the horizon.
4. I don't see any snow in the air, so maybe this is part of the problem; the jpeg is not detailed enough.
It's the jpeg. There's a lot of snow in the air. It looks very good at 14000 x 6000 (the file-size, not my monitor ) This also points out a problem with squinting at a little jpegs on your monitor. This composition was intended to be printed at least a metre across, but still viewed at a fairly close distance.
I haven't much experience with printing my work larger than 40cm on the long side. What's the general feeling on the effect of intended print size on composition?
I still think David Plummer's version is the best so far. The eye tends to be attracted to bright areas of an image, or the reverse; black or dark patches set against a bright background. Any compositional lines leading the eye to such areas reinforce this effect.
The open lock gates represent strong compositional lines leading one's attention to the second set of lock gates and tree. What David has done is not only enlarge that central interest, as you have also, but has kept it tight, whereas you've actually widened the gap between these two major structures on the left and right.
An intentional decision on my part. I tried several variations (including one very close to David's version) and felt that the wider opening worked better to reveal the second set of gates. What remains is to better focus the eye on those gates.
David has also created some additional gradations of movement (for the eye) from the top of the image to the point of central focus, and from the bottom of the image, by darkening the sky at the top and darkening the snow at the bottom of the image.
Good point. As I mentioned in my last post, I was using 'careful' burning (in the same areas). I didn't want to make it blatantly obvious that I was burning the edges of the snow. I'll do some more work there ... (throwing caution to the wind in the process )
The central point of focus for the eye is now more interesting as a result of greater contrast. There's light surrounding those far locks and tree. There's something happening over there. This raises some questions in the mind of the viewer. What is that light? Is it the dawn, or perhaps a break in the weather after a storm? You could even let your imagination run riot. Maybe it's the beginning of WW lll. That's the glow of an atomic explosion 200km away.
My intent for this image is not to imply that there is some monstrous catastrophe occurring just over the horizon . This is supposed to invoke (and amplify) the feeling of isolation (almost claustrophobic) that you get when standing outside in the middle of a snow storm. It's like standing in a studio with incredible sound damping. The world beyond what you can see does not exist (you can't even hear someone talking a few metres away). Perhaps being able to see all the airborne snow in this image would help you here. I'm definitely going to lighten the sky at the horizon, but I'll steer clear of the nuclear detonations