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Critique thread

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by PacNWMike, Nov 24, 2015.

  1. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    I don't see a thread for feedback on individual images. Sometimes I think I need another set of eyes taking a look and telling me how I could improve. (And I wouldn't mind hearing what I might have done right too) Please be honest. Looking for more than the Like or Agree button if you care to take a bit more time. Maybe the Admin could add a Stinker or It Sucks button ;)

    I'll start off and others are encouraged to add theirs.

    This is one that I posted a few days ago and went back for another go. Still lacking something...

    then:
    Grandma'sCove_00002.JPG

    and now:

    Grandma'sCoveDxO_00002.JPG
     
  2. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    I was thinking about starting a similar thread. Great idea!

    I think your PP is pretty good. It needed the foreground lightened. I think I would try a more narrow aspect. 16/9 or something. It would give a more panoramic feel. Also adding a gradient to increase saturation from the horizon up might give a little more 'pop' to the colors of the sunset.

    Great image.
     
  3. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    Yeah, I could select from the horizon up (or down) when I bring up the foreground. Surprising how much is recoverable in the shadow. And I'll play around with the crop tool.

    Thanks for the feedback.
     
  4. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Hi, since the sky is mostly empty, I'd probably put the horizon at the top 1/3 line, emphasizing the foreground.

    Barry
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Very nice photo. I like your second version.

    OK, critique, questions, suggestions.

    Tell us what software you used so we can make comments about how you used it. You said "I could select from the horizon up (or down) when I bring up the foreground." so I'm assuming you used a gradient filter but what software (I know Lightroom and its filter) and where did you go from/where did you go to with the filter and just what did you do with it?

    Also, what kind of result did you want to end up with when you pressed the shutter? Was it something like the end result you got or was it something very different to that and what you ended up with was the best you could do with the file you started with. No criticism intended with any of those questions, just wanting to know how what you got matched with what you wanted so it would be easier to make helpful suggestions when critiquing the image. If something isn't working, it can be really helpful to know whether or not the problem is with the original exposure or a difficulty you're having in processing.


    Suggestions (assuming you used Lightroom):

    I don't know what you did. You may have done it the way I'm about to suggest, you may not. My way may or may not give better results. I don't know if any of these ideas/suggestions are going to help.

    I really like the clouds and the highlights in them, but it can get tricky playing around with those highlights with the sun in the image like it is. You may be able to keep the cloud highlights a little better if you leave the overall Highlights slider setting a little higher and play with curves or use a radial filter with the Invert Mask box ticked to decrease highlights a bit more in the area of the sun. It's a juggle with things like that and I never know what I can do, and whether I will like the result, until I've tried it. In this case I don't know how bright you can keep the cloud highlights without losing detail or making the clouds look funny, and you've got to have the sun looking brighter because having the clouds brighter than the sun just won't look real. What you've done looks nice to me, it's just whether or not you can get any more. You may not be able to because highlights on clouds at sunset and overall dynamic range of the scene can get really tricky. I know because I always tend to take just one shot and get stuck working with what I've got instead of taking several and bracketing exposures then picking the best one to work on.

    A HSL adjustment to the blue of the high sky area or a gradient on the sky, from top down to just above those low clouds and darken the sky at the top just a little more, and perhaps increase saturation just slightly or fiddle with colour temp to make the blue a little richer/deeper? Those clouds and the low sky are so rich and glowing that I'd like to see a slightly richer/deeper colour in the darker sky at the top to set off the golds at the bottom but it might be hard to achieve successfully. One thing I do know is that having a slightly cooler WB setting for the darker tones in sky high above the horizon than you have for the foreground in front of the horizon can sometimes look nice.

    Set your global sharpening settings (amount/radius/detail/masking) based on the foreground area and then reduce the amount to zero. Use a gradient filter starting at the bottom of the frame and ending at the horizon and set the sharpness setting to the level you thought was best before reducing it to zero in the global settings. This means there will be no sharpening in the sky and amount of sharpening in the foreground is going to gradually decrease from what you thought was the best setting in the extreme foreground to zero at the horizon. That can increase the sense of depth to the scene. You can also play around with lightening shadows in the foreground or boosting highlights for the glowing edges on the dog with this filter, and even try a bit of clarity and/or saturation boost as well. You can use a brush to erase the gradient filter on the dog and then use a brush adjustment on the dog to set sharpening/clarity/highlights to accentuate the dog slightly. Again I think you might be able to get a little more out of the foreground of the things you're already bringing out so it's a matter of experimenting to find out whether you can.

    I really like using gradient and radial filters in Lightroom, especially now that I can use a brush to modify the mask and add additional areas of the image in or remove some areas from the filter mask.

    Re TNcasual's suggestion of a crop: Panoramic would be nice but you're going to have to lose sky or foreground. A lot of the sky is empty, all the clouds are low, so it's tempting to crop the sky but that gradation from light sky on the horizon to darker sky at the top of the frame is nice and I'd hate to lose it. The darker sky at the top is a nice balance to the darker tones in the foreground. I'd suggest cropping the foreground instead but you've got the dog with those lovely highlight edges and that nice long shadow in the foreground and I'm a sucker for dogs.The image works the way it is for me and I didn't think of a crop when I first looked at it. It's got things I like towards the top of the frame, in the centre, and towards the bottom plus it's got a really nice diagonal from the right side of the coast continuing along the edge of the hill the dog is on with that "valley" just behind the dog and that diagonal gets a bit of extra support from the dog's shadow leading into the corner. It works for me just the way it is. There's a lot of really nice elements in nice places in the photo, they work well together, and I wouldn't like to lose any of them. I really like skies, I really like dogs, and having to choose between one and the other is too big an ask in my view. Stupid and impossible advice if you want to crop: either keep the dog out of the frame if the sky is nice, or put the dog in the sky and get the best of both :) Don't force yourself to make either/or choices between nice elements.

    As I said, I don't know what you did/how you did it/what software you used. I like what you did with the photo, you've captured a very nice feel to things, so it's a matter of whether you can enhance that result a little more or not. I don't know what the original exposure looks like. I would have exposed for the sky and ended up with a severely underexposed foreground but you may have favoured the foreground more than I would in exposure so your file might be quite different to what my file would start out like if I had been standing next to you taking a shot at the same time. My suggestions above are based on how I would have exposed the image and I often have more trouble with overexposed skies/clouds in processing than I do with underexposed foregrounds so I expose for what I find easier to work with. You may not have done what I would have done for exposure and you probably exposed for what works for you in processing. I think you've processed for a result that I would have liked to go for.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  6. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    Thanks for the detailed response! I'm buried in work so haven't had time to work on this.

    So quickly:
    -exif is in there
    -jpg out of the camera is here
    -I exposed to minimize blowing the highlights. Pulling more shadow was exposing too much noise I think ??
    -first quick and dirty 5min edit using Faststone, basic curves, level horizon, etc.
    -second edit is with DxOv10. (I don't use LR much but I do have v5.7. Also CS2 and PSE13.)
    -to improve further I think I will have to select out top and bottom and apply adjustments to each. Too bad there weren't a few more clouds.
    -I've never explored the gradient filters in LR, maybe now's the time...

    ...back to work
     
  7. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Thanks for the info.

    I've never used DxO. It seems we are "separated by denominational differences" as a character in an old Peanuts cartoon put it when it comes to processing software.

    My one big suggestion from your response is to suggest you start shooting RAW, at least for scenes like this with very bright highlights and very deep shadows. You still need to expose to preserve the highlights but you should be able to do more with the shadows and get a lot more range into the final image. You'll be able to do more with the highlights as well. I won't say you have to shoot RAW, or that you should shoot RAW, but for shots like this one I'd definitely suggest shooting RAW. You can do RAW + JPEG and only touch the RAW file if you need to, but I'd be prepared to bet that working with a RAW file for a shot like this may convince you that there are times when RAW is really the only way to go.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Engawa

    Engawa Mu-43 Regular

    45
    May 23, 2014
    I really love the rim light around the dog and the scenery.
    I think you have too much dead space to the left hand side and top of the photo.
    I would crop it as to put the sun in the top right corner, opposite the subject.
    That way the photo will have a nice flow from bottom left to to right.

    I think it may have been better shot from a lower angle, closer to the subject and further to the left. That way it would give a pov closer to that of the subject heading toward the sun.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    I'll go...

    E5167573-strangers passing-Hugo Boss 1000px.

    This is a a heavy crop from

    E5167573-1.

    Thanks,
    Barry
     
  10. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    I'm not sure what all should be done. However, losing the the distant buildings inbetween the closer buildings leaves out arguably the most interesting part of the entire frame. I think I would start by recropping with that detail still in the frame. It might help to add movement to the people as well.
     
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  11. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Barry,

    The architectural aspects dominate the full frame, the street photography aspects dominate the crop. It feels a bit like something I've done on occasion which is to take the shot for one reason, decide it didn't really work for what I was interested in, but then I discover something quite different and interesting in the frame and end up cropping for that. I think the shot might have been better taken in landscape rather than portrait format because that better suits the subject matter you've retained in the crop.

    But you have to deal with the frame as you shot it and I think you've identified the interesting part of the frame in the crop you made. My first suggestion would be to consider a change to the crop. Both of the main subjects in the crop seem to be walking with a strong sense of purpose and that makes me want to put space around them into which they can move. I'd like to see more surrounding area on both sides so I'd open the crop up all the way to the sides of the frame on both left and right sides to create that space.

    As well as going wider, I'd like to see if the shadowing on the woman's face and body could be lightened a little. I think we have an expectation that closer subjects will be a little clearer in the image than more distant subjects. In this case the woman is the closer subject but the man just behind her is much clearer than she is and that feels a little uncomfortable to me because an expectation isn't being met. I know from the shadows that the sun is behind her so her face and the front of her body are going to be in shadow but I think it would make the image a little stronger if that shadow was a little lighter and we could see her a little more clearly as she is a very strong part of the image.

    Finally, I don't know what lens you used. Based on a lot of visual cues I'd say it's wide angle yet there's a bit of a feel of that front to back compression you get with longer focal lengths. I suspect that's due to the portrait orientation of the frame and the strong receding lines of the lane behind the main subjects. I'd try using a local adjustment to increase sharpness and perhaps clarity on the 2 main subjects and the boy on roller blades, the three closest subjects, in order to make them stand out from the background a little more in clarity and give a bit more of a sense of depth to the image to counteract that sense of front to back compression I get.

    Those are my 3 suggestions.
     
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  12. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Thanks @TNcasual@TNcasual, @David A@David A

    The lens was the Oly 12-40mm @12mm.

    @TNcasual@TNcasual, by "add movement", do you mean add a motion blur?

    Thanks!
    Barry
     
  13. Gerard

    Gerard Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 12, 2015
    Vleuten, Utrecht
    The most striking in this photo is the glow of the sun on the dog. my eyes are drawn to the dog. But the dog has a big competitor, which is the setting sun. A setting sun is always pleasing to look at. my suggestion wouldbe to try to emphesize the attention of the onlookers eye toward the dog. Maybe by cropping the sun out of the photo. Maybe the sun gets more attention by not being shown. we know the sun is there because of the warmth of the colours, the long shadows and most of all because of the reflection off the dogs' body.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    By movement, I mean the implied movement of the people in the frame. With your crop so tight, it is more difficult to ascertain their movement. With a wider crop you can see how they relate to what is going on around them and that they are moving in the scene. I think I may agree with @David@David in that a wider crop, not necessarily including the far buildings, would add a sense of movement back into the scene.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    I agree, open up the crop...but not the full frame. Keep it 4:3... might even try 1:1 to eliminate the sky. Narrows the focus to the street scene which is what it's about IMO.

    (still mean to do some editing ... when I get some larger blocks of free time)
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    I would like to see this thread be a little more active. So here is something for others to critique.

    23366603963_b9dc2ab9df_o.

    Taken with the 14-150 II with the MCON.
    I wish I could have captured the mushrooms with a little more "pop." What could I have done to achieve this either in PP or on the initial capture?
     
  17. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    OK. With the shallow dof I try to align the subjects the same distance from the camera. In this case move to the right until both mushrooms are in a line perpendicular to the view angle. This would also get rid of the oof foreground object. Also I would close down the aperture to f16. IMHO a bit of sacrifice of bokeh and to diffraction is better than totally oof. Then adding a bit of LCE helps. I do like the bokeh in this shot and of the 14-150II in general. Am considering the MCON as well so interested in hearing your thoughts.
     
  18. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    Thanks!

    I had it stopped down to F10, I was thinking going any further would be losing too much light for the lens. But f16 may have let me get more mushroom in focus.

    I like the bokeh in this shot, too. The few shots I have tried to get bokeh in the 14-150 have turned out nice.

    I got the MCON to use on my kit zooms. It works pretty well to reduce the focus distance and add magnification. I was happy that it also works on the 14-150 II. Now all I really need to hike with is the 14-150 and the MCON to cover everything I need and no more swapping lenses.
     
  19. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    I see that there are two versions about $10 apart. One more expensive is specific to the 14-150II but I don't see why the other one wouldn't work. Which one do you use? Seems like a lightweight addition to a very nice hiking kit.
     
  20. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    The MCON-P01 works on the kit 14-42 II, 40-150R and 14-150 (I & II). That is the one I have.

    The MCON-P02 works on the M.14-42EZ, M.14-42 IIR, M.45mm f1.8, M.25mm f1.8, M.17mm f1.8 and M.12mm f2.0.