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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.

17/09/2014 - 8:40 PM

little 'n' Large

little 'n' LargeAh yes, it's that time of year.

Fungi do look better against darker backgrounds, because that's the locations we see them growing in most often.
However, that's not to say they wouldn't look ok against a white or pale background, like on a book illustration.

To that end, it's useful to have a light and a dark card with you so you can try them when you're out in the field. As you are close to the mushrooms, you should be able to hold the card at arm's length. I often do this with flowers, so a similar approach.

That would also avoid the messy strands of grass in the background. Alternatively, make sure you look carefully before you shoot so you can tidy the background. A moment doing that can save hours trying to rescue the shot later, if it can be done successfully at all.
Use the depth of field preview if your camera has one, or take a shot and look very carefully at the image on the screen, make adjustments and reshoot if necessary.

Using a wider aperture than f/16 would also reduce the influence of the background and help the mushroom to stand out.
You may sacrifice a little depth of field on the subject but the overall image can be more pleasing. You don't have to use small apertures, sometime f/8 can be the optimum. Experiment!

17/09/2014 - 8:27 PM

low key

low keyLow key images are predominantly dark, but there should still be a full range of tones, albeit few lighter ones.

Looking at the histogram for this iamge shows the tones tail off around the mid-tone area. This means that image can lack 'bite' as the contrast is lower. I shall upload a mod. Adjusting the Levels means the image may appear brighter, but you can reduce this using the mid-point slider, or use Curves which offers finer control.

The white top isn't the neatest, but to keep in with the low key effect a darker coloured top would be more in keeping anyway.

The light is positioned well, and having the model look into the light rather than at the camera is ok, we don't always need eye contact, it depends on the mood you want to create. You can have great low key images with or without eye contact.
Focus on the eyes, at least at the size on here, looks fine.

This is also suitable for mono, and I'll upload a version.

02/09/2014 - 9:02 PM


willow3I like the fact you set yourself a task and worked through it. That's a good way to concentrate on your photography.
It's also good you've uplaoded the full original but as John and Ishan say, you can still upload your editied version. Not many upload a before and after to the Critique Gallery, which is a pity as it's useful.

This would suit a square or squarish crop, even a portrait format (more conventional) but whateve you choose, remove the flower on the right. It is a distraction from the mqin flower and that diffuse background that sets it off. And as it's cut through by the frame edge it looks more mistake than intended.

I was intrigued by your comment on V4 that that was the result of aperture priority, then you later commented about the sun bleaching the flower out. That's the crux of the matter, the harsh light on that shot, nowt to do with exposure mode.

I have no problem with shutter priority and your logic is fine in that you wanted to stop any movement. However, the resulting aperture chosen by the camera will have a marked effect on how the background is rendered. As this can make or break a picture, that's why most photographers in this field (no pun intended) tend to use aperture priority. For example here, going for a smaller aperture than you did would render the details more obviously so the flower would tend to blend in, which would not work so well.

Your +7/3 (on this original) did not have the effect John indicates because the lens couldn't be opened any wider to give that much compensation at your chosen shutter speed and ISO in those lighting conditions. When the sun was out, and conditions were brighter, it would do that.

There's some good advice re spot metering and manual exposure from others here.

Beside the Seaside in Southwold, SuffolkThe softness could be exacerbated by overexuberant noise reduction. The right hand side of the sea wall is particularly soft. I can't see why (and I doubt you did) applying noise reduction using only ISO 200.
Another possibility is high jpg compression settings. I don't know what your camera was set to, but the file size of this image suggests little compression here. The site will resize images quite aggresively if you haven't resized them yourself.
Either way, I'd expect to see more clarity in the image. It does have a look as though a watercolour effect has been applied. Indeed that is something worth trying.

The image could be better balanced if the steps were less central. However, that's where they were, the architects aren't thinking of our photos when they come up with there designs! Nonetheless, it's always worth trying a few different compositions at the time to give you more options later. There is only so much you can do with cropping.

Talking of which, I'd trim the left a little to get rid of that half roof, as has been done in the mods. I'd also correct the lean of the buildings using the perspective or skew tools. The lean is created by tilting the camera up to get the subject in the frame and is much more noticeable with lines near the edges of the frame.
It's a strange thing that a small lean looks bad (or a 'mistake') whereas a strong deliberat lean such as with very tall buildings can often work well.

01/09/2014 - 7:56 PM

beggar and the blonde

beggar and the blondeThe curl doesn't add anything to the image. Not this image anyway, some subjects would be better suited, perhaps a shot of a modern building, a flashy car or a still lie of metal and glass objects.
The subject here is more gritty, so maybe a dog-eared corner rather than a perfect curl woud be more in keeping.

I can see what you intended to show, and why you've given it that title.
The mono works better in that sense as the viewer concentrates on the girl and the crowd and beggar behind, whereas the colour has more distractions, or at least places the eye is drawn to in the crowd, thus reducing impact.
06/08/2014 - 9:05 PM

Backyard Bee

Backyard BeeYour timing is very good, capturing the bee in flight as it approaches the flower.

However, the insect isn't completely sharp, and i suspect focus is out slightly. It is very critical at such close distances.
Your shutter speed isn't bad, you've chosen well to try and stop the action. There isn't really a crisp part of the flower - I'm looking at the sharpest part just in front of the bea which shows what looks like a very small amount of camera movement. It is perfectly possible to have camera movement showing even at 1/640, often in the edge being taken off the image. Been there done that etc.

Perseverance is the key, and a nice way to do it sitting in the back yard!
The position of the bee and flower make for an attractive image, but I'd crop this square to remove the distraction on the far right.
You can always position a neutral or non distracting background behind the flower (for example a small fence panel or part of a panel, it doesn't need to be large, just big enough to fill th eframe at this close range), then sit and wait.

05/08/2014 - 10:58 PM

Alternative Palm Tree

Alternative Palm TreeIt is hard to show colour as the intense brightness of the fireworks can lead to burned out detail. Aperture and ISO are the only important parameters, shutter speed is not so relevant as you're recording the trails of light. Looking at this, the settings look fine, and I've used similar myself in the past.

As you shoot in RAW it is worth experimenting with colour balance. For the golden fireworks, something around daylight will enhance the warmth. For white, and any blue or green colours, something lower around the tungsten balance area (3200K) would help their colour rendering (as they effectively burn at at 2000 to 3000K, I'll spare the physics/chemistry lesson!).
The point is, just move the sliders to see what you like.