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Author Topic: Does this qualify as a Luminous Landscape?  (Read 3429 times)
David Eckels
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« on: February 14, 2013, 06:18:38 PM »
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Iconic Courthouse Rock, Sedona, AZ. Sunset obviously. Comments welcome.
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nemo295
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2013, 06:39:31 PM »
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I would vote yes on that question. Very nice.
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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2013, 08:25:54 PM »
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Iconic Courthouse Rock, Sedona, AZ. Sunset obviously. Comments welcome.
This is nicely proportioned and framed with pleasant relationship between sky and ground.  There's plenty to look at, and the gap between the tops (near the right) provides a nice breaking point in that line. In fact the right corner being closer, and with the green base, all together prevents boredom if it was all just the line of red rock. There's an interesting down streak in the sky - rain maybe, that adds a bit of texture.  The exposure and other points of execution are refined and work perfectly.

I get nice feelings of exploration, expansiveness, adventure and the western vibe all around. No dark effects or dissonant bells for me.

For consideration: I question whether it is more color than in life. Not that there is any right amount of color saturation - but whether this puts the viewer in a suspicious mind set about reality. I think there is a fine line in photographs,  landscapes in particular, between the photographer's truth in the image, and a  "for bookstore calendars only" kind of plastic-coated aesthetic.  Be sure - I am not calling a right and wrong here, it's a matter of taste. I am questioning aloud my own interpretation. I do know there would be a point (and I have found it in my own photographs first) where an over-amped reality doesn't work at all for me. After all, that's what photography does best is truth telling. I don't bring this up as a criticism so much as just raising the question for the photographer to consider. My best analogy at hand is that women's faces can range from totally natural, to slightly enhanced with make-up, to that point where everyone says, "Oh goodness - did you see her make-up!" And at that point, people begin to lose sight of what's underneath - which may be very valuable. In other words, you don't want a false surface to bury the gold that lies beneath.

And lastly, I am not registering any blacks in my read. I think a few points of zero might be more effective even than more color.

This is a strong landscape with very pleasant everythings about it. I really enjoyed pondering it.
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David Eckels
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2013, 09:26:16 PM »
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RG, first, you're right, my histogram does not show any complete black, if this is what you mean. It's just almost black. I will play with that. I also take your point re over saturation. To my eye, raw images come out a bit flat, even after adjusting the histogram in ACR. Part of what I try to get at with the post is what I remember about the scene that caught my eye and adjusting towards that. We've all seen that late sunset light on red cliffs-magic-and reproducing it can easily go over the top. But I guess I am saying it is all very subjective. Like makeup Wink I like your analogy.
I also find intriguing your comment that "what photography does best is truth telling." That implies a philosophical intent. While I agree that photography is capable of truth telling, I wonder if that is, in fact, what it does best. Is it an artistic medium and where does "truth telling" blend into "artistic interpretation?" The truth is, I was trying to capture what I saw; I could take your comment to reflect that fact. But what I saw was subjective and I had to apply an artistic intepretation (Adams' performance, if you will indulge me) to achieve the intent, the mood, whatever you want to call it. Not trying to set up a false dichotomy or put words in your mouth. I will think some more about this.
I appreciate your very interesting reflections and I will ponder them. These discussions have been helping me see a little differently, step out of my own head, whatever. Even the curmudgeonly comments are instructive Grin I am also coming to appreciate how much all of us photographers struggle with the concept of, "Why What Works" to go back to Michael Reichmann's essay from a few weeks ago. I am wondering if maybe not every photograph works for every viewer. Duh, Dave! Oh!  Shocked And another thought: Does the fact that some shots don't "work" for every viewer, make one an unsuccessful photographer? Now I am navel gazing Roll Eyes and better stop!
This is why I love photography!
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2013, 09:38:21 PM »
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... Even the curmudgeonly comments are instructive...

OK then... cyan-ish sky? Tongue
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David Eckels
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2013, 09:40:10 PM »
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I took the blacks down -15 and pushed the highlights +35 in LR4. Just to where they touched the lower and upper boundaries of the histogram. Subtle difference. Is it better? Not sure I would notice, especially once printed, but maybe you have a different view.
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David Eckels
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2013, 09:47:45 PM »
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Slobodan--good point Grin I thought about that and kept coming back to thinking if I took out the aquas and blues too much I ended with more of a B/W sky. BTW, curmudgeonly--not. Thanks! It all helps.
Also, helps if I post the altered image per my previous comment blacks -15, highlights +35 in LR4.
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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2013, 10:00:23 PM »
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RG, first, you're right, my histogram does not show any complete black, if this is what you mean. It's just almost black. I will play with that. I also take your point re over saturation. To my eye, raw images come out a bit flat, even after adjusting the histogram in ACR. Part of what I try to get at with the post is what I remember about the scene that caught my eye and adjusting towards that. We've all seen that late sunset light on red cliffs-magic-and reproducing it can easily go over the top. But I guess I am saying it is all very subjective. Like makeup Wink I like your analogy.
I also find intriguing your comment that "what photography does best is truth telling." That implies a philosophical intent. While I agree that photography is capable of truth telling, I wonder if that is, in fact, what it does best. Is it an artistic medium and where does "truth telling" blend into "artistic interpretation?" The truth is, I was trying to capture what I saw; I could take your comment to reflect that fact. But what I saw was subjective and I had to apply an artistic intepretation (Adams' performance, if you will indulge me) to achieve the intent, the mood, whatever you want to call it. Not trying to set up a false dichotomy or put words in your mouth. I will think some more about this.
I appreciate your very interesting reflections and I will ponder them. These discussions have been helping me see a little differently, step out of my own head, whatever. Even the curmudgeonly comments are instructive Grin I am also coming to appreciate how much all of us photographers struggle with the concept of, "Why What Works" to go back to Michael Reichmann's essay from a few weeks ago. I am wondering if maybe not every photograph works for every viewer. Duh, Dave! Oh!  Shocked And another thought: Does the fact that some shots don't "work" for every viewer, make one an unsuccessful photographer? Now I am navel gazing Roll Eyes and better stop!
This is why I love photography!
If I may say quickly---
It was just for your consideration....
No, all photographs will not work for all people, and that is not a negative reflection on the artist.
I'll say some more later. Have to run.
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David Eckels
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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2013, 10:03:57 PM »
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OK then... cyan-ish sky? Tongue

Ok. I took the blue down -20. Looks too gray to my eye. I think it's a touch thing. BTW, checked out your photos on your links. Terrific! But I can't resist: Green water in the Chicago River Wink
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David Eckels
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« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2013, 10:05:20 PM »
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Senior moment! Again Embarrassed
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2013, 10:20:52 PM »
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Ok. I took the blue down -20. Looks too gray to my eye. I think it's a touch thing. BTW, checked out your photos on your links. Terrific! But I can't resist: Green water in the Chicago River Wink

Not sure what you mean by "blue down -20." Saturation down? What I had in mind is to play with Hue sliders. Blue for instance. Then saturation may or may not need adjustment.

Chicago River green? You haven't heard of St. Patricks day, when they dye it green? Tongue

Just kidding, it wasn't taken that day. On the other hand, I never claimed "truthiness" for that image... it was extensively post-processed, intentionally.
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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2013, 11:59:37 PM »
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RG, first, you're right, my histogram does not show any complete black, if this is what you mean. It's just almost black. I will play with that. I also take your point re over saturation. To my eye, raw images come out a bit flat, even after adjusting the histogram in ACR. Part of what I try to get at with the post is what I remember about the scene that caught my eye and adjusting towards that. We've all seen that late sunset light on red cliffs-magic-and reproducing it can easily go over the top. But I guess I am saying it is all very subjective. Like makeup Wink I like your analogy.
I also find intriguing your comment that "what photography does best is truth telling." That implies a philosophical intent. While I agree that photography is capable of truth telling, I wonder if that is, in fact, what it does best. Is it an artistic medium and where does "truth telling" blend into "artistic interpretation?" The truth is, I was trying to capture what I saw; I could take your comment to reflect that fact. But what I saw was subjective and I had to apply an artistic intepretation (Adams' performance, if you will indulge me) to achieve the intent, the mood, whatever you want to call it. Not trying to set up a false dichotomy or put words in your mouth. I will think some more about this.
I appreciate your very interesting reflections and I will ponder them. These discussions have been helping me see a little differently, step out of my own head, whatever. Even the curmudgeonly comments are instructive Grin I am also coming to appreciate how much all of us photographers struggle with the concept of, "Why What Works" to go back to Michael Reichmann's essay from a few weeks ago. I am wondering if maybe not every photograph works for every viewer. Duh, Dave! Oh!  Shocked And another thought: Does the fact that some shots don't "work" for every viewer, make one an unsuccessful photographer? Now I am navel gazing Roll Eyes and better stop!
This is why I love photography!
Loving photography is what it is all about.

I fear I may have misled you about the saturation comments. It wasn't intended to say I thought it was "too much." It was intended to say, "think about this aspect of it." For me there is a line where photos are so over-decorated on their surface ("make-up") that the underlying photograph - the bones underneath -  is lost. Those photos don't work for me because they give up too much of the truth telling that sets photography apart from all other arts. You don't have to decorate over the surface, like a painter. If you want to paint, get a brush and canvas. This is one reason that many B&W photographs work so well. They are like x-rays seeing down to the bone of the subject. Of course it is philosophical. Art is visual philosophy.

Everyone viewing your photograph is bringing their own background and interests and prejudices and internal workings. It would be impossible for a photograph to appeal to everyone. Try to stay true as you can to your own interests and your integrity will show through in the final photograph. I always like to look for the photographer in the photograph. What is he/she revealing of themselves? The more they reveal, the more powerful the photo will be. (NOTE: photos taken expressly for sale to the general public (like calendars and such) are an entirely different matter all together, and I am not referring to those here. Totally different subject.)

I hope you have some more photographs to critique. And I sincerely hope you did not take my comments as any form of insult.

 
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William Walker
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« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2013, 12:23:50 AM »
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Not sure what you mean by "blue down -20." Saturation down? What I had in mind is to play with Hue sliders. Blue for instance. Then saturation may or may not need adjustment.


How about checking what happens when you move the White Balance slider a little to the warmer side? If it "over-cooks" the terrain, try doing it with a Graduated filter on the sky only? That sometimes works for me.

William

PS I like the picture - a lovely landscape with the light I always look for when I am out and about!
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 12:25:56 AM by W. Walker » Logged

ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2013, 12:34:30 AM »
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Hi,

I feel the image is OK. I also like it. Regarding cropping I feel it is a bit tight at the bottom, the image would be better balanced with a bit more mountain. Obviously I don't know what cropped out.

I don't really feel colors to be unnatural.

Best regards
Erik
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Chris Calohan
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« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2013, 09:06:47 AM »
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I try to avoid sat/color sliders if possible and work more with blend modes when possible atop various intermediate types of contrast layers. I find it keeps the colors truer to their natural form yet allows a bit of pop where needed, ehanced contrast if needed or subtle variation as needed. I didn't think the colors in the sky were overly anything but did feel the sky lacked a bit of tonal variation.

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« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 09:11:02 AM by chrisc » Logged

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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2013, 09:12:39 AM »
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I would like to ask the photographer, David: What was your intention in the photograph? What kinds of feelings or thoughts were you wanting to pass along?


For instance - - There are but two main elements in the photo. Each has a powerful, and yet very different influence on the communication. Is it about what the ground is saying, or is it about what the sky is saying? Which is dominant, if any? What's the intended relationship?
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 09:47:30 AM by RedwoodGuy » Logged
David Eckels
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« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2013, 09:33:40 AM »
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Fantastic feedback. Thanks.

RG-I get your point(s) and agree. There's a fine line. With over thirty years in biomedical research, I have pretty thick skin, but I have no formal training in art so I value these discussions enormously. BTW, I used the levels tool to add a full on black in some small areas; I think it does enhance the contrast a bit. I only brought the left slider up to 10. I also clipped the highlights down to 245. Overall, a subtle enhancement of contrast.

Slobodan-I thought about your comments all night! And I got to thinking about whether I had pushed up the blue and cyan saturation and sure enough, I had so I set both to zero. That shows in image 3 and includes the blacks and highlights adjustments above. This morning I saw your comment re the hue slider, which I have never used until now, so thanks for the thought! In image 4, I pushed the cyan hue slider to +10. I wouldn't call the difference subtle compared to the first image (I think most of the cyan cast is gone in 4), but I also didn't have that sense of "graying out" the sky. So I felt that this better reflected the scene as I remember it. I would never have thought to try the hue slider had you not mentioned it, so thanks! BTW, I've seen the green river and that's a lovely shot of Chicago.

William-I will keep that "trick" in mind. Like the hue slider, I often do not touch the temperature control and let the camera handle white balance.

Erik-Thanks. I was cropping out the homes of Sedona, but I often crop thusly, I guess 'cause I like an upward drawing interest, which the sky does for me.

Chrisc-I don't think I understand what you are saying from a "how to" point of view. I agree that the original sky needed some structural enhancement. If you would, please elaborate.

RG-I will get back to your question in a separate post.

All-Thanks so much for this discussion  Smiley

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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2013, 09:41:08 AM »
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RG-I will get back to your question in a separate post.

All-Thanks so much for this discussion  Smiley


Ok David...I look forward to it.
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Chris Calohan
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« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2013, 09:44:19 AM »
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In this particular instance, after isolating just the sky, I used SEP2 to create a B&W layer (full dynamic, smooth). I changed the blend to Luminosity and lowered the opactiy to 67%. To counter some of the grain created by SEP2, I did a noise reduction using "despeckle" only. Next, on a copy of the  B&W sky layer I used a blend mode of "screen" at 17%, flattened and it was finished. I am using CS6 but I think all these are available in LR4. If you don't have SEP/SEP2, make a copy of the original, use the B&W conversion adjustment and use that for your blend layer. I tend to add a bit more contrast when doing it by that method, but in the end, it's pretty close to the same.
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« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2013, 09:56:24 AM »
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God, Chris, my head is going to explode! Too early in the day for all those acronyms, percentages and generally nerdy stuff. Tongue
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