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Author Topic: Through the locks  (Read 6769 times)
fdr
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« on: February 06, 2007, 08:17:16 PM »
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Hi

I've been a regular visitor to Michael's site for about 4 years now and have been reading the posts from the 'regulars' on this site for quite some time as well. It's refreshing to find a group of people who appreciate the value of well reasoned discourse (well, most of the time anyway).

Here's the problem; I've been working on this image for a couple weeks now and it just doesn't have the impact that I had envisioned. It's a view from the base of one of the locks that are in my village. The image in my mind was one where the lock gates would  dominate the foreground and appear to tower above the camera (the lock gates are about 20 feet high). The background would then gradually disappear into the snow (in the full-size image, one can see that it is actually snowing quite heavily in the background).

I'd like some feedback on the image as it stands now. Does it convey my intent to anyone else?  Would it look better if I re-shot in heavier snow to isolate the subject more (the gates)? Would it have more impact if I re-shot on a clearer day with blue sky that I could turn very dark in a B&W image?

The image I set out to create was intended to be printed very large, so the full-size image is a composite of 34 exposures, raw processed in Lightroom, stitched and projected (cylindrical) with a FOV of 167 degrees horizontal and 88 degrees vertical in PTGui with final processing (vertical perspective corrected and a few curves layers to get the most out of the texture in the snow and, finally, sharpening with PhotoKit) in PS. The full-size image is approx 12000 x 7000 pixels.

There's lots of pixels, so cropping is not an issue. I also have no problem with starting over.

Helpful advice cheerfully accepted...

[attachment=1774:attachment]
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Dieter Raths
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2007, 08:41:46 PM »
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Essentially, diagonal lines leading the eye to nowhere. Cropping can not rescue this. Sorry to be so brutal.
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fdr
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2007, 08:52:02 PM »
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Essentially, diagonal lines leading the eye to nowhere. Cropping can not rescue this. Sorry to be so brutal.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=99550\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Apology not required. This conclusion was lurking at the back of my mind as well. This image really wants to be something, but ... there's just so much nothing  

The camera is facing east and I was thinking of shooting a similar composition during one of the amazing sunrises that occur when it dips below -30 overnight.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2007, 08:58:20 PM by fdr » Logged

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Dieter Raths
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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2007, 09:07:37 PM »
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If you crop the right side to just where the wall (structure? whatever) ends I find that interesting.  Particularly if there is resolution to spare.  (Of course that doesn't help create the picture you wanted.)
« Last Edit: February 06, 2007, 09:11:08 PM by DarkPenguin » Logged
fdr
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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2007, 09:19:03 PM »
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If you crop the right side to just where the wall (structure? whatever) ends I find that interesting.  Particularly if there is resolution to spare.  (Of course that doesn't help create the picture you wanted.)
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=99554\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hmmm. Possibly; however, the composition I had in mind demands symmetry. I see Ray's point, though. The viewer ends-up looking at the sky (hence my thought about using a sunrise with lots of ice crystals in the air).
« Last Edit: February 06, 2007, 09:36:19 PM by fdr » Logged

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Dieter Raths
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2007, 10:44:35 PM »
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The camera is facing east and I was thinking of shooting a similar composition during one of the amazing sunrises that occur when it dips below -30 overnight.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=99553\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Oh please no....not the sunrise through the opening  - that is so cliched I think.

I think the symmetry of the composition really lends itself to having something quite arresting in the space at the middle back in the distance.

What about some sort of human element which creates some sort of tension in the image?... something which looks sort of out of place, or stops the viewer to question why it was, or they were there??. .. Perhaps a group of children, or a newspaper, or a brightly coloured flowing skirt..someone flying a kite??? ... I'm not very imaginative at thinking of examples I'm sorry, but perhaps more time at the location may give you some insight into what stands out and perhaps looks a little out of place.
 
It may involve you observing over many visits and setting up for a while - but hey - how much time have you spent processing the image??  

Julie
« Last Edit: February 07, 2007, 12:06:40 AM by jule » Logged

wolfnowl
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2007, 01:22:55 AM »
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My first thought was that the image was off-centre.  This is not a shot where the rule of thirds applies.  But really, there's this big frame of the locks in the fore to middle ground and zero of interest in the background.  I don't think this shot can be saved.  As for future shots... something that will balance out the foreground interest, something that makes it worthwhile to look INTO the picture, past the frame.  Something...

Mike.
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2007, 10:45:19 AM »
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The image in my mind was one where the lock gates would  dominate the foreground and appear to tower above the camera (the lock gates are about 20 feet high). The background would then gradually disappear into the snow (in the full-size image, one can see that it is actually snowing quite heavily in the background).
[attachment=1774:attachment]
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=99545\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Try blurring the background and perhaps darkening the sky some.   Also consider cropping the bottom some.
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fdr
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2007, 07:05:53 PM »
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Thanks for your input so far everyone.

My original intent was that it would be snowing hard enough that the lock gates would be the dominant subject in the image, and, they are; but the eye keeps going and ending-up in the vast expanse of white. Not very satisfying at all.

I don't mind giving-up on this one. I live about 500 metres from this location, so it's a favorite spot for me to try things that I'm not sure will work.

I'll still try the sunrise though. Not the "cliched" sunrise that you have in mind, Julie, but the kind where the sun refracts off the ice crystals in the air about 2 minutes before sunrise. It only happens when the temperature is below -30 and the relative humidity is high. it's only -15 right now. Way too warm  
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Dieter Raths
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2007, 08:12:44 PM »
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Thanks for your input so far everyone.


I'll still try the sunrise though. Not the "cliched" sunrise that you have in mind, Julie, but the kind where the sun refracts off the ice crystals in the air about 2 minutes before sunrise. It only happens when the temperature is below -30 and the relative humidity is high. it's only -15 right now. Way too warm 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=99760\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Way too warm at -15....brrrrrr.  way, way too cold for me, being from sunny Queensland!!!!  I would love to see your sunrise shots if it gets cold enough to take them. I have no understanding of the type of effect you have in mind, and having only seen snow a couple of times in my life, I would love to see the effect you envisage.

Julie
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fdr
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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2007, 09:00:21 PM »
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Way too warm at -15....brrrrrr.  way, way too cold for me, being from sunny Queensland!!!!  I would love to see your sunrise shots if it gets cold enough to take them. I have no understanding of the type of effect you have in mind, and having only seen snow a couple of times in my life, I would love to see the effect you envisage.

Julie
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=99773\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'll try. It would certainly provide the missing 'something'. This is the coldest month of the year, so it should happen at least once soon. Failing that; I'll wait until the boats come back, although I'll get pretty wet shooting from the same location  
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Dieter Raths
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« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2007, 05:59:25 AM »
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[attachment=1787:attachment]

Fools rush in...as they say.

I hope you don't mind me taking a rather drastic approach to your image. There are plenty of elements here which are of interest. However, time of day, exposure, position make getting those elements balanced difficult.

First off, you need to do something with the sky and snow to get some contrast and texture into those elements. That is not something I can do with a JPEG - though I could easily clone pattern/texture in from other images if that is what was needed to create the final image.

Secondly, the lock gates need to dominate the picture. What I have done in this image is to select each lock gate and warp it in photoshop (copying the warped image to a new layer). This allows me to straighten up the gates so that the diagonal is not quite as sharp as in the original image. Ideally we want to get the lock gates as near to square on to  the viewer as possible with just the hint of perspective.

Thirdly, Increase the scale of the image seen through the lock gates. This has been scaled and stretched vertically. The most interesting element is perhaps the far lock gate which is the opposite pair of the one we are looking through.

If you dodge the sky and snow so that it is less contrasty/bright and keep the lock gates and far view bright/contrasty then you have the beginnings of a pictures where the viewer is forced to look at the elements of interest. At the moment your image is too 'flat' - flat in this instance is an image where there is so much white space/lack of interest that the viewer gets lost in terms of what to look at.

Hope this gives you some ideas - don't be afraid to butcher the image to get the final print you envisioned.
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David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
fdr
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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2007, 02:44:36 PM »
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[attachment=1787:attachment]

Fools rush in...as they say.

I hope you don't mind me taking a rather drastic approach to your image. There are plenty of elements here which are of interest. However, time of day, exposure, position make getting those elements balanced difficult.

First off, you need to do something with the sky and snow to get some contrast and texture into those elements. That is not something I can do with a JPEG - though I could easily clone pattern/texture in from other images if that is what was needed to create the final image.

Secondly, the lock gates need to dominate the picture. What I have done in this image is to select each lock gate and warp it in photoshop (copying the warped image to a new layer). This allows me to straighten up the gates so that the diagonal is not quite as sharp as in the original image. Ideally we want to get the lock gates as near to square on to  the viewer as possible with just the hint of perspective.

Thirdly, Increase the scale of the image seen through the lock gates. This has been scaled and stretched vertically. The most interesting element is perhaps the far lock gate which is the opposite pair of the one we are looking through.

If you dodge the sky and snow so that it is less contrasty/bright and keep the lock gates and far view bright/contrasty then you have the beginnings of a pictures where the viewer is forced to look at the elements of interest. At the moment your image is too 'flat' - flat in this instance is an image where there is so much white space/lack of interest that the viewer gets lost in terms of what to look at.

Hope this gives you some ideas - don't be afraid to butcher the image to get the final print you envisioned.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=99820\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks for the inspiration  

This brings to mind another thought I had, in which this image would be created from a composite consisting of exposures shot at multiple focal lengths (to 'pull-in' the set of lock gates in the background). I had created 45 exposures on this day (34 of which were used in the image as it stands now), so there's plenty of material to work with. I could actually rebuild the composite image in 3 separate elements; each of the foreground lock gates and the background. The sky will actually go this darker colour if it's snowing hard enough.

I've got an idea now. I'll try something over the next couple days ...
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Dieter Raths
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« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2007, 08:17:19 PM »
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David's version is definitely an improvement. What we seem to get now is a heightened emphasis on the tree, slap in the middle. This is now the focus of interest.
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nicolaasdb
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« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2007, 11:20:21 PM »
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I love the original image......don't know why...but I really do!!
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fdr
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« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2007, 10:41:58 AM »
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I love the original image......don't know why...but I really do!!
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Thanks, Nicolas. The only way I think the original image might work would be if it were printed very large (there are enough pixels to print 100 x 50 cm @ 300dpi) with a viewing distance of about 100 cm. That way the lock gates would be almost in the viewer's peripheral vision, whilst the second set of lock gates would be printed large enough to be the focal point. I'm not sure if it would work though.

It was snowing this morning, so I was down in the channel playing in the snow again  
I shot each lock gate at 90 degrees and then moved the camera closer to the second set of lock gates. I also shot the very steep stone channel that is behind the camera in the original image. There's potential for a very interesting image there as well.

I'll be working on a new perspective over the next few days and will post with the result.
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Dieter Raths
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« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2007, 08:27:09 PM »
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I'll add that David Plummer's version saves the image. At first I thought this image was not salvable through any degree of cropping, but David has changed the shape and size of the elements, introduced more interesting lighting and has generally turned the image to something quite interesting. This is a testament to David's skill in Photoshop as well as his artistic vision.

Ultimately, we should not forget that images are about light and shade, shape and form. At one extreme the subject is irrelevant. At the other extreme, the subject is paramount and a complete technical botch-up of the photographic process does not necessarily ruin the shot. Most photos fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
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fdr
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« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2007, 01:23:08 PM »
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I (almost) started from scratch on this one. Each lock gate was re-composited as a separate image (and the horizontal perspective reduced). The background and foreground elements were also re-composited as separate images (cylindrical projections worked best for all 4 images). The scale of the image changes as you pass the outer walls of the lock gates to pull the background closer.

A few more things:

- Rendered a bit of texture into the sky. Although the sky does not look quite like this during a snow storm, it definitely helps this image.
- Rendered a bit more snow in the air (mainly in the foreground).
- Some careful linear burning to help pull the viewer into the focal point of the image (which is now the second set of lock gates).

An improvement? I think so. Comments...





[attachment=1844:attachment]
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Dieter Raths
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« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2007, 07:24:20 AM »
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- Rendered a bit more snow in the air (mainly in the foreground).
- Some careful linear burning to help pull the viewer into the focal point of the image (which is now the second set of lock gates).

An improvement? I think so. Comments...
[attachment=1844:attachment]
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=100915\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

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.

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.

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?

4. I don't see any snow in the air, so maybe this is part of the problem; the jpeg is not detailed enough

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. 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.

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.
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Gordon Buck
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« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2007, 10:27:51 AM »
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Since you are planning to re-shoot this scene, go for the sunrise, sunset or some other dramatic lighting effects that result in very bright and very dark areas.  Then take a series of bracketed exposures, probably five, and assemble a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image.

Even if you don't like the HDR effect, you can use some of the bracketed exposures for improvements in sky and shadows.

You can also work up an HDR color image and then covert it to B/W.
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