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27/01/2015 - 7:56 PM

Teagan Lynn and Ernie

Teagan Lynn and ErnieGood eye contact between the girl and the horse. A well timed moment and one I'm sure you'll treasure.

While the green bucket is part of the setting, the image does look better without it. In my mod, apart from darkening the image I've also cloned out the bucket, using a mixture of the Clone and Healing brushes to help the cloned area blend in.

As the horse always greets her like this, you could have removed the bucket manually and just been ready with the camera, but it's straight forward enough in software.

Auto has wanted to increase exposure, due to the presence of the dark areas which is why this is lighter than it should be. A little minus exposure compensation say half or two thirds of a stop would have been the order of the day. Yes it can be corrected in software, as I've done' but there is clipping and loss of detail in the lighter areas. If you'd shot this in RAW ther would've been more detail avaialable to have been recovered.
As you're familiar with the location you could have taken a test shot beforehand, checked the histogram, adjusted settings and been ready.

Just some ideas to help in similar situations at a later date. Thought this image only required minor tweaks, I might add.
The use of flash has helped bring out some detail in the horse.

19/01/2015 - 9:27 PM

She is the Dark

She is the DarkThat's how they shot the old Westerns. In full sun but underexpose several stops with a blue filter.

On first looking, I thought this was shot with a harsh artificial light source (there's no sky visible) as if this were at night.
I do prefer the original for it's warmth, though.

We all think of blue for moonlight, bit in fact it's very close to daylight, as it's a grey surface reflecting the sun.
However, for pictorial effect it sets the scene (otherwise it's look just like daylight).

While you could selectively adjust the colour balance of the background that wouldn't be convincing either with one light source.
What you could do is shoot manually (exposure that is) to underexpose the background and illuminate the model with flash either through a gold Stofen diffuser or bounced off a gold reflector. The flash exposure would be rendered correct.
Adjust the colour balance so the model looks correct and the background will go much bluer, giving the appearance of 'night'.

Assuming your model will brave another cold January morning...

03/01/2015 - 9:10 PM

Sunset at the Beach

Sunset at the BeachThis is an image you've processed very attractively.

The noise is likely to be down to the long exposure, an unfortunate effect of digital.
You don't say what exact camera this is, but Canon's do have noise reduction settings you can apply.
The alternative is to apply it in software, and while Photoshop does have this, Lightroom is very effective at reducing noise, especially if you shoot in RAW rahter than jpg (Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop is also good if you don't have or want Lightroom).

There is excess pale sky here which I've cropped out, and also corrected the slight tilt of the horizon.
Of course, if this were for a card or book cover that extra space would be useful for text, as would the darker area at the bottom. But for a pure image, for example for the wall, then it doesn't add interest to the image, indeed it dilutes the appeal of those deep purple and orange tones.

02/01/2015 - 12:30 PM

The Scotsman Out of His Kitchen

The Scotsman Out of His KitchenHe's a character.

The image is a little soft, which could be because of a crop or resizing, or perhaps a jpg compression setting.
Ideally it would be good to see his complete foot, but as it's only the sole that's missing, not chopped off at his ankle I can live with that!

Nonetheless, a well timed capture and the subject is filing the frame. There's even extra space to his left, the direction he's 'looking into'. That's all good.

02/01/2015 - 12:05 PM


Cygent1This does look like a case of being near to the lens's closest focussing distance. Moira's advice is sound.
There also looks to be some overall softness. At 80 mm the shutter speed of 1/200 should be ok, but just to be safe you can happily use ISO 400 and that'd allow 1/400 to be used giving you a safety margin.
Resizing the image can image create softening, but keeping an eye on shutter speed is always worthwhile.

If possible, a lower viewpoint would producea more engaging photo as you'd be on (or near) the same level as the subject rather than looking down on them.
31/12/2014 - 11:29 PM

Hedge Sparrow

Hedge SparrowLooking at this, if all he needs is something for the record, then this is fine. The bird is clearly identifiable.
Ultimately detail and sharpness could be better (though I have seen some atrocious images on this site get lots of votes, should've gone to a certain opticians!), but even bad technique with a good lens can yield less than good pictures. Personally I'd delete tham as I'm critical of my own work. Unless it was a rarity or I needed a record, for example of a rare passage migrant.
I have and do use zooms, with an extender, for birds at closer quarters and on the whole the results are fine.
Yes I prefer and do use a 500 f/4, but good techniqe, including support, is essential to get the best out of it.

I agree with Nigel about ISO, use the lowest possible. But again, for your friends purposes, shooting at high ISOs to get that record is possibly more important. Personally i have no qualms using ISO 1600 or 3200 on my particular camera.
30/12/2014 - 8:56 PM

Proud little chappy...

Proud little chappy...Willie has covered everything nicely.

Backgrounds can make or break an image, and while there is a diagonal line visible there it's sufficiently out of focus not to be an issue.

From your description this sounds more like an opportunist shot so you've done very well as it's as good as anything you may wait a while for after setting everything up.
to be picky, the green foliage at the bottom right may be a natural part of the environment but i'd tone it down - I'll try a mod.
Of course, in the spring when you're likely to get more such greenery in the frame it wouldn't be sucha niggle.
Funny how a splash of colour can have such an impact.

Nonetheless a nice shot.

14/12/2014 - 9:55 PM

Black winged stilt

Black winged stiltI used your colour version and did a mon oconversion from that.
I increased the level of blue and cyan in the channel mixer to make the water less dark grey.

I then made a Curves adjustment layer and masked the bird so I only increased the contrast on the water to bring out the ripples.
I could have been more aggressive with this to get the whiteness of Willie's mod, so mine is more of an intermediate stage.

I had a line arond the head of the bird which I cloned out.
You can be more precise and take a little more care on your full size original.

That's just one way, there are different ways to achieve the same thing in Photoshop, but masks and layers are very useful.
11/12/2014 - 9:02 PM

of which and why

of which and whyV3 is helpful as it shows how big a crop V1 is, which only magnifies the inherent softness. It's more impressionistic in its look, though a blurred woman and sharper phone booths or vice versa would make for a more visually engaging image. Or taken at a slower speed so there's more movement blur in the background thus enhancing the feeling of rushing along the street.
However, I agree with the need for a rotation and not so close a crop so that the whole of the suitcase is included but none of the bus shelter.

V1 doesn't need the text, and indeed the image is of her walking past the phone booths not actually looking at them which the text implies.
Either way her pose in V2 is much more purposeful.
10/12/2014 - 8:25 PM

cleo the guinea pig

cleo the guinea pigThey eye needs to be perfectly sharp - it's only just off here so by applying extra sharpening selectively in software will help.
It's best to get it right in camera though as there's only so much can be done later without it looking wrong.

If you have a focus lock on your camera, you can focus on the eye and recompose, but you may miss a spontaneous shot and the animal may move while you adjust your camera position. But such is the lot of animal photography (wild or tame) not to mention other genres.

Cleo being higher in the frame with some space below works well with her looking down into the bowl. It's the same reasoning with a moving subject having 'room to move into'.

04/12/2014 - 9:53 PM

In the arena

In the arenaHi Harriet,
It would be very helpful in terms of giving feedback if you could provide the exif data. That way we could assess for example if the shgutter speed was too slow or the ISO too low.
If you could post the original image that is too yellow (as a version or as a mod), as with the exif we can see why it was yellow. I suspect Daylight white balance set and the shot taken under artificial illumination.

You've done an ok job here with the colour, it still looks warm but that is often more appealing to the eye.
Were you after a mere record or something with more action?

One thing that I would definitely do is remove the edge of the barrier in the bottom left of the image. It could be cropped out but then the picture edge would be very close to the horse's hooves so my reccommendation would be to clone it out. A little thing but it would make a big difference.

25/11/2014 - 9:00 PM

Dim Lights

Dim LightsThe strong contrast certainly retains the look and feel of the lighting in such places.
Good to see you haven't gone down the 'cartoon-like' treatment that some tone mapping produces.

However, there is loss of detail in the bright areas and deep shadows. Perhaps this is due to creating your three images from the same RAW file, as there is a very high dynamic range in this scene. Even with RAW there is a limit to what one exposure can record.

You'd have retained more detail by shooting three different exposures, preferably 2 stops apart each.

But well done for giving this a go. As this is the Critique Gallery it would be helpful to include a version (which you can uploaqd as a mod if you can't upload versions) showing the best you can get from a single RAW conversion, just so that we can compare it to this one.

20/11/2014 - 10:57 AM

Dark horse / colourful jump

Dark horse / colourful jumpI can't add much to the above, and I agree about this looking cool in tone. Warming it very slightly would be good. I'll try a mod, though working on my laptop at the moment it may not be as good as I'd like but hopefully it'll illustrate the point.

No problem with your processing in general. The lighting looks quite harsh so that bit of tweaking to highlights and especially shadows is often a necessary evil (in that it takes time) but is worth it.

Excellent timing and sharp capture, which is the hardest part of shooting action whatever the sport, so getting that right is 90% of the job done!

06/11/2014 - 8:51 PM

exploring texture and light

exploring texture and lightMy first thought was similar to Moira's in that this is quite flat tonally.

We always talk about a full range of tones in an image, but this is one where that doesn't have to apply (though we could make it so) because there is a limited range of tones.

What is does benefit from is more contrast as Moira's mods show, just to give it more visual 'bite' or eye appeal.

And yes, toning is another option on top of that, (subtle) warm tones for being soothing, and you can choose one that goes with your decor.
A word of warning though, creating different toned mono image can be very addictive!

Composition is always more subjective with abstract images because they are just that, abstract.
A good play with light and shadow, too.

However, there's less going on on the left hand side, and a squre crop would look very good keeping attention on the framework and shadows.

This is going to be hard to swallowFull marks for effort and keeping up with the bird. It's always good when you can capture behaviour over a straight portrait, and as crows are intelligent there's a lot of scope for such shots.

I've just done a mod where I've used the Colour Balance tool to remove the blue and a bit of cyan from the image, as the plumage should be a neutral dark grey/black.
there is still a slight blue sheen on the back as I guess light from a bluish sky is the source.
I could have selectively adjusted that too, but you'd lose some of the subtleties of the light on the plumage.

26/10/2014 - 8:37 PM

Into the lead

Into the leadWell captured, good sharp detail and no distractions which you can easily get at sporting events.
Just needs a small boost to contrast even though there's a full range of tones here it need some visual punch.
25/10/2014 - 1:20 PM

Willow & Water

Willow & WaterThis is one of those shots that look nothing in colour but work well in black and white as it's all about the light snd shape.

Mono has also allowed you to reduce the prominence of the background. There are numerous ways to process an image and you've done it well here, you seem happy with that, and apart from Pamela's suggestion as an alternative, finding 'your' favourite method that works for you is fine.

The square crop is more pleasing s there is less space at each side which on the original doesn't add interest or information.
In a situation like this it'd always be worth taking a portrait format picture (you may have done) as a taller thinner image would look good as an abstract image.
Just a different view.

16/10/2014 - 9:45 PM


ContrailsIt's generally accepted that there should be no or little clipping of dark and light tones.
While this is a worthwhile approach for colour images, there are times when making the blacks properly black does benefit the image and this is more suitable for mono images.
I'm not saying lose all detail in the shadow/black areas, but you can push mono more in this respect. Some images will take this treatment better than others.
One question you could ask is 'does there need to be detail in the ground?' on this image. Thoughthere may be some who would like to see detail, having the ground completely black, like a silhouette creates a good anchor for the image and makes the viewer concentrate onthe sky details, the line of ground just acting as a visual reference.

Or put it another way, go with your instincts!

01/10/2014 - 10:40 PM

A Pair of Provosts

A Pair of ProvostsBlending modes can work, but they do take into account the colours on each layer so a variation in the sky may not be noticeable to us but when combined with another image the difference can become clear.
That's why Layer Masks are a better bet but you need to be accurate with your selections.
On the other hand you could use your blending mode and a Layer Mask so you don't need to be as accurate with a selection so you can get away with it.
Worth having a play.

28/09/2014 - 8:04 PM

I hear you whisper Alibi's

I hear you whisper Alibi'sI applaud your improvisation and opportunity for an image.

I would agree with more space at the bottom of the image.
A crop from the top too, though with the 'movie' theme there is room for the movie title!

The faded colour effect does help with the dark mood here, but I wouldn't particularly attribute it specifically to the decades stated, not that that matters.

The whole image is soft, reinforcing the impression of old movies, but is this due to post processing, scanning the neg or print, or just as it is?
Useful to know for the Critique Gallery as it helps mould our feedback.

On that note, selective focus on the two men and having the 'body' in less focus would be in keeping with your title. Selective focus being used in movies would tie in with your theme well, too.