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Author Topic: Stirling Ranges  (Read 16540 times)
petermfiore
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« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2012, 02:18:39 PM »
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Just asking. Why do some here feel misled by this particular image? Many of the worlds greatest images are very worked over and over until the artist has realized his or her intent.

How is this any different?


Peter F
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2012, 02:37:32 PM »
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It is not really about this particular image, it is about the whole concept of "very worked over and over" images.
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petermfiore
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« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2012, 04:49:37 PM »
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Is that not the ART? The worked on image. When is it ok, and and how far is to far?
All that matters is the final art. It stands on its own.


Peter F
« Last Edit: June 09, 2012, 04:52:55 PM by petermfiore » Logged

Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2012, 06:21:36 PM »
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Just asking. Why do some here feel misled by this particular image? Many of the worlds greatest images are very worked over and over until the artist has realized his or her intent.

How is this any different?


Peter F

When I take a landscape photograph and make a fine print (okay, as close to one as I can get), I'm trying to capture a special moment in time and show viewers that little bit of heaven I saw and felt. Sometimes that can mean stitching multiple files together to make a good panoramic, because that's often how I seem to see things. It can even mean some gentle HDR moves to get past the limitations of photographic capture. But I'm trying to show something that really existed.

To my eye, when compared to the original capture, 'Stirling Ranges' is a manufactured confection. I do understand that raw files always look pretty flat, and Mr. Eastway noted that he exposed low to avoid loss of highlight detail, which exacerbates this. His skill in manipulating the file is terrific, and I really appreciate seeing his working methods and logic. The final image looks great. But the bright warm light on the foreground hill is a complete invention. I regard this as different in kind from optimizing what's there in the subject to overcome the limitations of a reflective print.

Now, I quite understand that this is just my quirk. Artists are completely free to do whatever they want. No doubt most folks will love this image. Alain Briot has persuasively articulated the rationale for doing whatever it takes to create an image that grabs the viewer by the lapels. But to me it's trending toward Peter Lik territory, not meant as a compliment. I've seen way too many romanticized landscapes with impossibly vivid green vegetation and exaggerated dramatic lighting, all created in Photoshop. The English slang term for it is 'twee', a contraction from 'tweet', from a child's rendition of sweet. And I can't help feeling that such extreme manipulations debase the believability of photographs that more honestly depict real moments of magic. That's what I mean by 'misled'.

Stephen Johnson has articulated an alternative landscape photography aesthetic, one that employs the strengths of digital capture and printing to convey as accurately and honestly as possible the beauty that actually exists in the natural world. That's what I'm aiming for. Obviously no one else is bound by my preferences. But I think it's worthwhile articulating what's going on aesthetically.
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LKaven
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« Reply #24 on: June 09, 2012, 06:26:37 PM »
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I'd like the slightly recast the question -- the inevitable question -- into developmental terms.

There comes a time in every photographer's development where one realizes for the very first time that images like these, by the most acclaimed photographers, are crafted heavily in the post production process.  This comes with several simultaneous realizations.

The novice realizes that the acclaimed photographer (who is no one in specific, and not undeserving, just to be clear) is somewhat banking on maintaining the illusion that they found this scene that was so beautiful due to superhuman dedication.  In other words, the novice is /supposed/ to believe that the photographer has the superhuman dedication.  So is the buyer, but that's another topic.

Now that the illusion is broken, the novice must decide whether to adopt the convention, or reject it.  

The devil comes here:  Even if you accept that beautiful landscape photographs are heavily produced, it is hard to forget the disillusionment in coming to realize that there was a kind of deception involved on the part of your "heroes."  

I hasten to add that this might be considered a benign deception, and I am not suggesting that photographers be taken to tribunal over it at all.  But the small element of deception is hard to forget as a life lesson.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #25 on: June 09, 2012, 08:18:08 PM »
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You have valid point.
However I would like to add to it.

Although tone and colour to some degree or another have been altered in almost every image that is worth displaying or selling (keeping to landscape and outdoor photography here), it is also true that the principle of GIGO holds very well.
Crap image out of the camera is hard to impossible to turn into anything worthwhile - even if your name is Peter Eastway or even Jeff Schewe.
However, if one has a great composition shot with great light, with appropriate attention to detail to maximise image quality, then one may have something worth working with.

Those issues aside it is also vital to note that no camera perceives light, and tone, and colour, in the way that the human eye does. The retina itself is not a passive recorder of light in the manner of a digital sensor. Massive processing of information goes on in the retina. The retina is just a specialized bit of brain cortex transplanted outside the brain and encapsulated in the globe of the eye. Further processing then occurs in the visual cortex that occupies most of the occipital cortex of the brain.

The key is that vision and visual perception is an intensely subjective process. Most objects that are currently in our field of vision and potentially visible remain unseen because they are not currently important. Should our priorities change then these objects might only then suddenly become explicitly visible despite the fact that they were present the whole time. The same would hold for colours, tones, and textures.

I would say that it would be rare for a photographer to see in an image that he/she had shot exactly what he/she had experienced at the time of shooting even if that individual was a master photographer able to exert expert control over exposure, composition, depth of field etc, because of the limitations of what a digital sensor can capture as well as the subjective perceptions of the photographer.
So, in postprocessing they would attempt to create (recreate?) what they saw and experienced at the time of shooting.

Another individual, even if he/she had been present at the time of the image capture and intensely interested in the scene being shot, might recognize the scene but neither the original RAW capture nor the final processed result would necessarily encapsulate, for them, what they saw and experienced at the time.

So, for most of the people who view the final image, who had no idea what the photographer really saw nor even had the opportunity to form an opinion for themselves because they weren't there to see for themselves, only the final image, as it stands, is there to make any kind of judgement on.
Even knowing that postprocessing may have occurred would be unhelpful in itself - one would either like or dislike the image. One would also decide whether the image represented for oneself any valid artistic aesthetic - again a personal and subjective opinion.

The only way to move forward with an opinion on the image from here would be to know what the ethic of the photographer was with regard to postprocessing practices.

Regards

Tony Jay
« Last Edit: June 09, 2012, 08:34:11 PM by Tony Jay » Logged
Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #26 on: June 09, 2012, 09:02:01 PM »
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Well, yes and no.  Grin
It's true that we all have some subtle differences in our perception of the same subject. That's why a half dozen photographers shooting the same subject at the same time all come up with quite different images. There is a whole literature on the subject of the impact of individual perceptual physiology on art. My favorite is Margaret Livingstone's Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing, but better known is Marmor & Ravin's The Artist's Eyes: Vision and the History of Art, which is a rewrite of their earlier edition. Great stuff. I was also a big fan of Galen Rowel's thoughtful musings on perception; he noted that what we see on the symbolic/meaning level is greatly influenced by our existing 'database' of images and knowledge.

Perceptual differences are also the basis for much of the artistry in representational painting. Most figurative painters aren't simply aiming to produce a 'photographic' reproduction of what's in front of them; they're trying to convey their own quirky perception to the viewer. Which edges look sharp, which look soft, how much shadow detail is visible...there are lots of subjective components that add up to a painter's unique 'look'. But even allowing all that, it's also true that our visual perception has much more in common with that of other folks than it has significant differences. Other than folks with malfunctions like color blindness or cataracts, we all see pretty much the same thing within reasonable limits.

Hence the invented light on that foreground hill in Eastman's image is not just an expression of individual perceptual physiology. It's the deliberate creation of drama that wasn't there. I think it drifts into a different category, more photo-illustration than photography per se. Of course, all's fair in art, love, and war; but at least in my mind I draw a bright line between subtle dodging & burning to overcome the inherent limitations of the medium and to emphasize what's there, and creation of a non-existent lighting effect out of thin air.

As always, YMMV. Life would be boring if we were all the same.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #27 on: June 09, 2012, 09:11:59 PM »
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The only way to move forward with an opinion on the image from here would be to know what the ethic of the photographer was with regard to postprocessing practices...

Goes to my last point.
In the case of the Peter Eastway article we all knew what the starting point was.
Most viewers/buyers of landscape photographs do not have that luxury of course.

Regards

Tony Jay
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David Sutton
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« Reply #28 on: June 09, 2012, 09:50:10 PM »
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Quite a curious discussion in that it seems to focus on an area in the image that has been lightened, ignoring the much larger amount of darkening. If Peter Eastway had exposed to the right until the foreground hill was the luminance in the final version, and then darkened the rest of the image to match that final version, would people object as much?

Edit: my point being that it is essentially untrue to say the light on the hill is an invention, any more than the darkness on the the background is an invention, it's a question of how you expose. Not being there at the time, I don't know what it looked like, but I have seen similar lighting out of the camera with the use of grad filters. Personally, I don't want to lug them around and stand around setting up multiple filters until the light is where I want it, so I shoot 3 or 4 exposures and blend them afterwards. But then I'm not a “get it in one shot” image maker.
Cheers.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2012, 10:16:29 PM by David Sutton » Logged

theguywitha645d
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« Reply #29 on: June 09, 2012, 10:43:28 PM »
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Just asking. Why do some here feel misled by this particular image? Many of the worlds greatest images are very worked over and over until the artist has realized his or her intent.

How is this any different?


Peter F

But not all photography is work on like this--simple contrast and color adjustments if that (Robert Glenn Ketchum, Eliot Porter, Raghubir Singh, William Albert Allard, to name a few). Those are the photographers I like. That is the photography I enjoy doing. I like to bring back that wonderful scene and show it. Which brings up a fallacy in your question, maybe the photographer has no more intent than to show what was there. I would also question how many of the worlds greatest photographs have been "worked over."

I really don't care for this type of work where you are creating something that was not there. Personally, I find Uelsman's work more honest because it is obviously a construction. This work seems to be trying to pass itself off as reality, which it clearly is not.
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #30 on: June 09, 2012, 10:45:37 PM »
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Edit: my point being that it is essentially untrue to say the light on the hill is an invention, any more than the darkness on the the background is an invention, it's a question of how you expose.

No matter how you expose, you would never end up with that image with a simple gamma adjustment in levels. You have to go in and selectively lighten and darken different areas to create the lighting.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #31 on: June 09, 2012, 10:47:48 PM »
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Other than folks with malfunctions like color blindness or cataracts, we all see pretty much the same thing within reasonable limits...

Geoff I like your sources a lot.
That said I think your point that I have quoted is only potentially true: Being able to potentially see much the same thing does not in any way guarantee that the same things will be noticed at all. There is a massive difference between something being present in one's visual field (and thus potentially being seen) and actually being perceived by an individual (much more than just rods and cones reacting to wavelengths and amplitude of light).

BTW this does not at all nullify your point, and opinion, about Peter Eastway's style.

Regards

Tony Jay
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John Camp
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« Reply #32 on: June 09, 2012, 11:08:12 PM »
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Quite a curious discussion in that it seems to focus on an area in the image that has been lightened, ignoring the much larger amount of darkening. If Peter Eastway had exposed to the right until the foreground hill was the luminance in the final version, and then darkened the rest of the image to match that final version, would people object as much?

I would, although I'm not exactly objecting.

There are a number of things going on here.

1. Fraud or deception. There is a distinct line between deception and creativity, and they really have nothing to do with each other. There are well-known photographers who set up entire scenes, much like movie sets -- the scene itself is totally artificial -- but this is ALWAYS known to the buyer or the viewer. There is no deception involved; quite the contrary. The underlying vibration to *this* discussion seems to be, "Is it all right to represent something as naturalistic if I've moved a plant or a hill, changed the light, added a person, etc." The answer to that, IMHO, is No. Saying that "art is art, and the object stands on its own" is tap-dancing around the central problem of deception. If your creation is so good, why not take credit for it? If you can only sell it, or get acclaim of some sort, by claiming that it's a natural depiction when it isn't, then, you've crossed an ethical line. This has nothing to do with art; this has to do with honesty. IN some ways, among honest people, this conversation wouldn't even be taking place -- *of course* you disclose the genesis of the work; it's automatic. No need for a discussion. But...we're having the discussion, aren't we?

2. There are some implicit arguments about art, which seem to refer especially to painting. But painting and photography are wildly different from one another. With painting, there was never any question among sophisticated viewers -- meaning anybody interested in painting -- about objectivity. All paintings are interpretations. There are no exceptions. Recently, The Online Photographer published a group of fine portraits taken by a man who stood outside fast-moving trains and shot a high speed camera at the train windows. As he noted, he couldn't see the people he was shooting, and they really couldn't see (be aware) of him -- everything was moving too quickly. It occurred to me after reading that story, and looking at the photos, that you could put a camera on a tripod and hook it to a sound-responsive trigger, and get the same shots. There need be no human involvement whatever, in the capture. That's *never* the case with a painting, and it never can be. So, in a sense, photos can be objective in a way painting can never be. The various manipulations of "straight" photography seem to me quite minor compared to anything done in painting -- and not only minor, but well-recognized as manipulations by anyone with even the most cursory acquaintance with photography. Nobody thought the sky was black but the hills were white in Ansel Adams photos; nobody thought the deer were really fuzzy in Caponigro's "Running White Deer." Those things were all recognized as artifacts of the photo process. The difference with Photoshopped works is that sometimes even the experienced viewer *can't* tell if a photo's been manipulated. But the fact that a photo has been manipulated is crucial: you're no longer looking at a more-or-less good representation of an actual scene. In fact, you don't know what you're looking at. You have no guarantees whatever -- not even a guarantee that the creator took any of the photos associated with the work; as far as you could tell, they might all come from stock agencies.

3. In this current latest example, we see sunlight being placed on a non-sunny hillside. Or, maybe it is sunny, but underexposed, and he created the shadow. No way to tell. Did he create the sunshine, or the shadow? But you know what it reminds me of, in either case? The kitschy paintings of Thomas Kinkade, the "Painter of Light," who recently relieved us of his corporeal existence. In fact, I'd suggest that virtually all manipulations like this are automatically kitsch, because they are designed to evoke emotions based on a rather cynical manipulation, just as Kinkade's warm orange fireplace-glows in snow-bound cozy country houses did. What would we think of the present photo if it was entitled, "County Hillside with Artificially Added Warm Glow to Make You Feel Good?"

4. I think photography has a strong tendency toward naturalism, and anyone who messes with that tendency better know precisely what he/she is doing. On the other hand, there's an entire world that welcomes that tendency to naturalism, with the simple difficulty that the world is hard to represent in a way that is both natural and contains the aesthetic qualities needed to make a snapshot into "art." I know it can be done, because I've seen it. But rarely.  


  
 
« Last Edit: June 09, 2012, 11:11:41 PM by John Camp » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #33 on: June 10, 2012, 12:49:50 AM »
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C'mon you guys! What's all the fuss about? There's no addition or removal of major features in this shot from Peter Eastway, merely a change in light and shade. That's what photography is all about; painting with light.

Those of us who shoot RAW, even with our clothes on, know that we have to make major tonal adjustments to the image in post processing to achieve the effect that inspired us to take the shot in the first instance.

I don't wish to appear to be upstaging anyone, but my examples below demonstrate the problem. My only criticism of Peter Eastway's shot is that he's gone to a lot of trouble to highlight a mere grass-covered hill. Bright parts of an image always tend to attract our attention more. I would prefer my attention to be diverted to something more interesting than a relatively featureless hill.

However, the article has some merit in its exposition of Photoshop technique, so at least we should thank Peter for that. Photoshop is a marvelous editing program with huge potential that many of us, including myself, only scratch the surface of.

The most interesting part of the article for me was the following statement from Peter.

Quote
It will be printed to one metre in size and exhibited around Australia and Asia, so I will have to do a little more work refining the masks that curl around the top of my green hill. When you’re making larger prints, any areas of visual displeasure are also much larger and need to be contained!

This is a problem that I frequently encounter, and I'm not sure what is the most effective way of solving the problem. My image below also demonstrates this problem along that diagonal line of sharply changing contrast, between the darker foliage and the brighter sky/mountains.

This is a work in progress, of course. Was that small village in the lower right coner really illuminated by the rising sun? I can't remember for certain. All I can say is that it should be, and I want it to be.

Was that orange glow on the snow-capped peak of Machapuchare, the sacred mountain where the God Shiva resides, the God who will destroy any mortal who attempts to invade his residence, really that orange? The RAW image implies that it wasn't. Yet that's how I remember it. A bit of exaggeration is okay in my books.

If anyone knows a good technique of avoiding those 'overhang' conditions that so often occur between sharply contrasting parts of an image, please pass on the technique.

Cheers!
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Dohmnuill
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« Reply #34 on: June 10, 2012, 01:57:29 AM »
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Peter Eastway needs to see much, much more of Australia!

What's this , "not noted for its rugged mountain ranges"?!

Every Australian child is taught the iconic poem, "My Country", by Dorothea McKellar. Read carefully (second stanza), Peter:

 " I love a sunburnt country
    A land of sweeping plains
   OF RAGGED MOUNTAIN RANGES
    Of droughts and flooding rains."

A trip to the Flinders Ranges in SA, or the Western Arthurs in Tas., or the Musgrave Ranges in SA, etc, etc, etc,...far too many to list, should be on Peter's schedule.
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Dohmnuill
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« Reply #35 on: June 10, 2012, 02:21:38 AM »
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Geoff Wittig, you are not alone.

I dodge and burn, mask and unmask, to my heart's (and eye's) content.

However, the risk (as I see it) is the immediate contradiction the brain picks up when viewing Peter's scene.

I think it starts where I become aware of the main source of light, its strength, colour and direction.
Then I think, well how come the foreground hill is so warmly bright (is it radioactive..)...it can't be coming from the sunlight...?

That paradox of physics then becomes more the feature than the lovely vista. In other words, it's not subtle or subliminal.
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Ray
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« Reply #36 on: June 10, 2012, 02:43:13 AM »
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Geoff Wittig, you are not alone.

I dodge and burn, mask and unmask, to my heart's (and eye's) content.

However, the risk (as I see it) is the immediate contradiction the brain picks up when viewing Peter's scene.

I think it starts where I become aware of the main source of light, its strength, colour and direction.
Then I think, well how come the foreground hill is so warmly bright (is it radioactive..)...it can't be coming from the sunlight...?

That paradox of physics then becomes more the feature than the lovely vista. In other words, it's not subtle or subliminal.


Exactly! Well put! One needs at least a hint of sun rays descending upon the hill.
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Rob C
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« Reply #37 on: June 10, 2012, 04:07:21 AM »
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I hadn't realised that landscape photographers were working primarily to impress other ARAT snappers; I'd always imagined that that kind of peer pressure was the driving motivation for us fashion and girls guys. What a disappointment to learn that we were not alone and, as bad, that the motivational forces behind ARAT are no the more pure. Where the true love of nature, of the creation around us... oh those friggin' tripods of clay!

A sad day indeed.

;-( and ;-)

Rob C
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Josh-H
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« Reply #38 on: June 10, 2012, 04:29:01 AM »
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Quote
I love a sunburnt country
    A land of sweeping plains
   OF RAGGED MOUNTAIN RANGES

"Sweeping plains".. we have those in abundance.. but "Ragged Mountain Ranges"...I have always wondered how this made it into our colloquialisms. We have nada in the way of ragged mountain ranges by world standards. I have lived and travelled throughout Australia for nearly 40 years (born and bred aussie) and in short our mountains suck by world standards. I've travelled many places in the world and I would say nearly every one of them has mountains and 'ragged mountain ranges' to put us to shame. Ce la vie.

In terms of Eastways shot - what strikes me about it the most is that its an 'unusual Australian landscape'. Unusual (as he points out) in that its a series of 'hills' not commonly seen in Australia. Its very rare to find a scene like this in Australia. Normally the hills would be dotted with gum trees.

In terms of being 'manufactured' - Yes. But, so what?

I saw this shot in print at the Medium Format Australian Photography awards in Melbourne and remarked to my friend at the time that the print was exceptional. The jpeg does not do it justice. It truly doesn't.

IMO Peter is to be commended for having the vision to see the finished product after gathering the 'raw' ingredients (pun well and truly intended).  Grin

I've often found Peters work highly polarising. Either a hit out of the park, or a complete train wreck. This is one of the few that strikes a middle ground for me. I appreciate the scene, composition and art that constructed this image in post. Ultimately however (even after viewing the print) it leaves me a little cold and wanting. I find my eye has nowhere to settle and that I am dissatisfied with the hill in the foreground alone.

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Dohmnuill
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« Reply #39 on: June 10, 2012, 07:05:35 AM »
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JOSH-H, no doubt the print would look better. And I agree with you about the composition.

However, after visiting many of our arid mountain ranges, as well as the more temperate locations, there are indeed many "ragged" examples. Dorothea McK. was not mistaken or deluded. (For those unfamiliar, Australia is almost the same area as the US.)

I mentioned the Musgrave Ranges in South Australia because of the great paintings Sir Hans Heysen made in that area. They are  spectacular, as are the more southerly Flinders Ranges.

Sure, we have no 'Himalayas', but as in Scotland, often the relatively low mountains start from a near sea-level base and rise to their height over a small lateral distance.  Who would not be impressed by the Grampians of Victoria, or those Western Arthurs in Tasmania?

I have seen the Himalayas, the Rockies and a host of other ranges in between, but ours add another unique perspective.

And remember, Australia has a greater area of snow cover than Switzerland, albeit at lower altitude.

And no, whoever it was, you won't get bitten by a snake or spider! Unless you really want to. :-)
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