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Author Topic: Autumn Smoke Haze  (Read 7583 times)
OnyimBob
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« on: November 24, 2005, 05:39:28 AM »
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Bit nervous about this - but would really appreciate informed criticism. I like it but maybe no-one else does??
The photograph was taken in late autumn while there were some fires burning in the forest not far away. The river flows through our garden. It's in southern Australia.
Bob Munro.

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Dale_Cotton
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« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2005, 07:33:02 AM »
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Bob: I do like this pic; I think it has a wonderfully enchanted mood to it and sumptuous colours.

What we have to keep in mind is that no two people have quite the same taste or sense of aesthetics. I suspect that some people are going to have an issue with the length of the dead limb sticking out on a diagonal over the water. Of course, the most conventional will object to the dead root system as being less than romantic, but for me it is a nice strong shape like a dark explosion taking place. Without it the scene becomes innocuous and does not have enough going on.

Here is an edit of the image that reduces the length of the limb and changes the crop:



As well as cutting in a bit on the top and both sides, I extended the bottom of the frame to give it a bit more stability. This is simply what I would have done with the image if it were my own - a different approach that may be of interest.
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OnyimBob
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« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2005, 08:28:19 PM »
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Hi Dale!
I'm glad you picked up on the mood of the picture. It was the reason I made the photograph, hoping I could capture it. It was taken last Autumn here in May, and it's taken me this long to get where I thought it should be; the original .nef file was a rather dark image. In the end I just brightened it up a bit, increased the contrast a little, and gave it a touch of saturation.
I do like your edit, though I must admit I have bias towards a "wider" feel. I am curious as to how you extended the bottom??
Of course I understand everyone has their own sense of aesthetics when it comes to photography, and even that will vary depending on the subject.
Thanks for your comments - much appreciated.
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boku
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« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2005, 09:19:19 PM »
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I had the same sort of issues with this shot. The foreground had a very similar big sloppy dark mass of dead log. I subjected it to a critique and they told me to crop it out. I did, big difference!

Also, I went for a very neutral mist, not warm or cool.

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Bob Kulon

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OnyimBob
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« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2005, 09:45:05 PM »
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Also, I went for a very neutral mist, not warm or cool.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=52114\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Bob, great shot - already "cool mood" pervading the scene with those wonderful greens. It has brought to mind the huge difference between your north american woodlands and our dry eucalypt forests here. The "mood" could not be more different. I was in New England in August for a trip and was struck by the lack of "shades" of green - saturated green everywhere. Here we have a multitude of shades ranging from grey, blue and dark greens. Also much more "untidy" undergrowth. Makes for a totally different aesthetic - if you have the chance to look at any of our landscape artists' work  (painting variety I mean) you will see what I'm talking about.
As a matter of interest, your statement above suggests a choice, can you explain how you could have made it different - I'm very much a newcomer to Photoshop (I presume that's what you work with???
I have a lot to learn I think.
Bob Munro.
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Dale_Cotton
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« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2005, 07:23:13 AM »
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Bob Munro writes:

> and it's taken me this long to get where I thought it should be

Yes: we all have images like that: problem children we like in spite of themselves!

> In the end I just brightened it up a bit, increased the contrast a little, and gave it a touch of saturation.

Well, you done good by my book.

> I am curious as to how you extended the bottom??

I work in Photoshop. I used Image->Canvas Size... to add a blank area at the bottom. Then I used the clone/rubberstamp tool with a wide brush to copy from the old bottom into the new bottom in broad strokes. Then I used a smaller brush to clean up. Sometimes I also need to change the opacity of the clone brush to blend with.

> I have bias towards a "wider" feel

Just so long as you end up with a good composition. The wider the aspect ratio the greater the tendency for the composition to fragment into two halves, depending on content. These days I'm on a kick to print 14x20 framed to 18x24, so I guess I'm locked into the 7:10 aesthetic. ;)

> struck by the lack of "shades" of green - saturated green everywhere

Absolutely. I live with this six months of the year and call it the green plague. ;) I'm quite jealous of your "multitude of shades ranging from grey, blue and dark greens"!

I forgot to mention there is a flare spot just left of top centre that you may want to get rid of. I know of two approaches in Photoshop. The elegant one is to use the Lasso to select it, then feather the edge of the selection, then open Curves, switch to the green channel and drag the diagonal down, then back to the RGB channel and drag the diagonal up as needed. The other is just to creatively clone the spot out using similar vegetation from elsewhere in the picture.
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boku
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« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2005, 07:44:35 AM »
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Bob, great shot - already "cool mood" pervading the scene with those wonderful greens. It has brought to mind the huge difference between your north american woodlands and our dry eucalypt forests here. The "mood" could not be more different. I was in New England in August for a trip and was struck by the lack of "shades" of green - saturated green everywhere. Here we have a multitude of shades ranging from grey, blue and dark greens. Also much more "untidy" undergrowth. Makes for a totally different aesthetic - if you have the chance to look at any of our landscape artists' work  (painting variety I mean) you will see what I'm talking about.
As a matter of interest, your statement above suggests a choice, can you explain how you could have made it different - I'm very much a newcomer to Photoshop (I presume that's what you work with???
I have a lot to learn I think.

I shoot RAW files in the camera and use Adobe Photoshop's RAW converter. This is where I set the color balance. There are other ways to do this in Photoshop itself, but I am most confortable doing it in the RAW converter.

For this shot, I recall taking the grey balance eyedropper and clicking it smack dab in the middle of the mist. Immediately, cool blue disappeared and became grey.

This file may look blue to you, but I assure you it is warmed up considerably. Once in Photoshop itself I did a subtle remapping of some of the yellow in the foliage towards green. I know this looks a bit over the top, but it is how I envisioned the scene.

Also, it should be noted that I have calibrated my camera for the RAW converter. That affects color rendering considerably.

I was trekking this area with a friend that day. He was the first to capture this scene. His interpretation is entirely different. He cropped out the foreground "gunk" in-camera. I cropped out mine in the computer after seeing his image and how much the cropping added to it.

See the difference the white balance makes?

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Bob Kulon

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jdemott
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« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2005, 04:53:16 PM »
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There is much to like about Bob Munro's photo.  Obviously, the nicely filtered quality of the light is what caught his eye.  I also like the backlighting of the leaves, the contrast between the dark shadow of the snag in the foreground and the bright highlights of the sun reflected on the water just above the snag, and the somewhat mysterious feel of the trees on the opposite bank that are enveloped in the smoke (along with the very nice reflections in the water).  Overall, the mood and lighting are very well captured

The area at the right hand side of the photo doesn't have those same qualities for me--the smoke isn't as heavy, the backlighting isn't present, there isn't as much going on visually and of course that unfortunate tree trunk or branch is pointing away from all the great parts of the photo and trying to lead the eye out of the frame.

I would be inclined to try to pare the photo down a bit, preserving all the best parts.  Cropping away some of the right hand side of the photo then seems to let my eye be drawn naturally into the photo and along the stream.

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John DeMott
OnyimBob
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« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2005, 05:40:47 AM »
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Well, Dale, Bob & John.... thank you all for your help and advice.
I am at once flattered that you all seem to "see" what I thought I wanted to capture - the mood, filtered light etc., and very pleased that you had very definite ideas for improving the shot, especially with the composition.
 * The tree branch leading the eye out of the frame was obvious once pointed out.  
 * Cropping out un-neccessary content that detracts from the "heart" of the shot.
 Dale, I obviously have a lot of practicing to do with the clone stamp tool, you should see the mess I made attempting to repeat your edit! The same luck with the "elegant" flare removal! At least now I know how others do these things, and can practice accordingly.
Bob, about the white balance .... I'm using PS RAW converter also; my camera is a  Nikon D70, and I've found that, even using a WhiBal card, the camera nearly always get's it right without my "help", so I tend to leave the temperature setting "as shot". My feeling is that this is the way to go unless you're looking for an effect, which is what you seemed to be doing with your photo.
Another problem I have is that as yet I do not have a decent printer, nor have I attempted to profile my screen (Inspiron 6000 laptop with 1900x1200 screen) - doesn't seem much point in just doing the screen. As a consequence I have wasted quite a bit of admittedly cheap paper. My wife and I operate this guest house, I also work week on week off on an offshore oil rig, and I/we are about to retire from both activities, so I'm looking forward to investing some money in a couple of pieces of decent gear - always keeping in mind the hazards of browsing the LL web site  as you've pointed out in another topic Bob!
John, thank you also for your comments. I am learning how interesting it is to hear how other people see one's work, and how interesting it is to learn from them!
Just for interest's sake I went down to the river today in the rain and shot the same scene with all the advice you guys have given me in mind. Of course, it's now late Spring here, no fires, and a totally different "feel", but I hope I've improved the composition.

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I guess the name of the game is to get it as right as possible in the camera by learning to see.
Cheers, Bob Munro.
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Dale_Cotton
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« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2005, 11:45:19 AM »
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* The tree branch leading the eye out of the frame was obvious once pointed out. 
 * Cropping out un-neccessary content that detracts from the "heart" of the shot.

I never know how far to go with one of these discussions. But let's talk more about these two ideas. In the following picture just about everything points out of the frame: the yellow canoe, the rowboat, the landing railing, the oar, the far shore, and the fir on the left.



Are we then to conclude that we have an image that the eye literally cannot look at because everywhere it tries to look it is forced to travel outside the frame?

Secondly, we could certainly crop the picture down to a rectangle bounded by the man, the rowboat, and the far edge of the canoe. Does this improve the picture?

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Another problem I have is that as yet I do not have a decent printer, nor have I attempted to profile my screen  ... As a consequence I have wasted quite a bit of admittedly cheap paper

Wasn't so long ago that I was there myself. I think it is a real toss-up which is the greater money-sink: printers or cameras!
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jdemott
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« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2005, 01:01:19 PM »
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Are we then to conclude that we have an image that the eye literally cannot look at because everywhere it tries to look it is forced to travel outside the frame?

Secondly, we could certainly crop the picture down to a rectangle bounded by the man, the rowboat, and the far edge of the canoe. Does this improve the picture?

All the so-called rules of composition have plenty of exceptions and often seem to come down to a question of individual taste.  When I look at a photo, it is often helpful to try to become aware of the directions in which the eye is being led by the lines in the photo.  Some photos seem to hold your interest because they keep bringing the eye through the points of interest and others seem to take the eye away.  Obviously, you can get too hung up on drawing lines.  Since a photo has edges in every direction and every line has two ends, every line that leads in also leads out.  To me, it is more a question of understanding where the centers of interest in the photo are located.

In the canoe shot,  the two elements that distract me are the sky and the small area of color in the lower right hand corner.  Both of those are areas of high contrast  which naturally attract the eye but in this case don't seem to add much to the content of the photo.  I would be inclined to experiment with cropping them out (or perhaps cloning out the railing), but I wouldn't crop nearly as extremely as you suggest.  The rocks and trees on the far shore and the tree and shoreline on the left hand side add nice texture and feeling to the shot and contribute some useful negative space.

I don't think there are hard and fast rules for any of this.  I find it very educational to look at and comment on the photos that others post here.  I certainly have a lot to learn in my own photography and I find I take away a lot just looking at and appreciating the work that others are doing.  

Bob Munro has a nice location to explore that is evidently near his home.  Experimenting with different compositions at diferent times of day and different seasons can be really interesting.
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John DeMott
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« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2005, 08:45:45 PM »
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it is often helpful to try to become aware of the directions in which the eye is being led by the lines in the photo.  [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=52224\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

John: Thinking about this a bit more, I suspect what's going on here is that you and I actually see Bob's original image differently. Here's how I see some of the lines of attention:



I'm guessing that for you the brighter, yellow-green foliage upper right does not serve to return your eye into the frame as I've drawn. As much as I agree with you that everyone has his/her own taste and way of seeing, it never occurred to me before that different people would actually experience different lines of attention! But now that I think of it, it seems obvious that that would have to be true. Doh.

Corollary to that would be that your crop of his original pic would work for you, given that the upper right doesn't hold your eye; my crop works for me; and Bob's original crop works for him.
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jdemott
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« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2005, 11:40:50 AM »
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Dale,  

Your diagram is really interesting because it made me go back and examine why I am not seeing it the same way you are.  I think it is because the branch for me is just too strong a line (too long, too straight and too much contrast) and so the nice foliage in the upper right just isn't enough to pull my eye away from the branch and back into the picture.  To test that hypothesis, I did a little retouching in Photoshop and shortened the branch,  reduced its contrast by darkening the bright reflection on the upper surface, and added a little reflection in the water to lead the eye up to the foliage.  With those changes, my eye moves much more along the lines you have drawn (although I find my eye also wants to move back along the stream following the bright reflections) and the wider crop would also work for me.  Of course many nature photographers would not feel comfortable with manipulating an image to the extent of cloning out part of an object (and some would) but I'm presenting it here as an exercise in seeing.  


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John DeMott
Elia
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« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2006, 11:46:07 AM »
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OnyimBob, Love the scene! Great color. I almost expect to see a Hobbit pass by.
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OnyimBob
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« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2006, 05:13:06 AM »
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Hi Elia! Thank you. I've lived here for thirty years and never thought about this place as "hobbit" country. Biased as I am, it is one of the most beautiful places to live in that you can imagine, but still not how I imagined "The Shire" to be.
Just as an aside, we live in a shire here called Onyim, are the only inhabitants, and once considered seceding from Australia and styling ourselves the "King & Queen of Onyim". Has a certain je ne sais quoi, n'est pas?    Hence OnyimBob.
Seriously, I have had my D70 for about 18 months now and must have shot a couple of thousand photographs here, but to my dismay I've rarely captured what I experience visually here. This photo was one of the rarities. But I keep trying. I watch Michael's  LL video journal and salivate over the landscapes, but I know that the landscapes don't make the photographs (or photographers for that matter). In my other life at work as an offshore oil rig technician I remember the day and the hour when the huge conglomeration of pipes, pumps, turbines, gauges, valves and control systems suddenly all made perfect sense, and I UNDERSTOOD them! One day that's going to happen to me with my camera! Won't that be great???
Sorry Elia, you must have caught me in a waffle mode!
Cheers, Bob munro.
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