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Light and volcanoes, new versionI missed this shot first time around so I went back and looked.
This is much better and shows how processing differently can make a huge difference to the end result.
No centre of interest as Paul says, but some images don't need one. Imagine a boat on the water, or a bird silhouetted against the sky. Both will draw the eye. However, peaceful and relaxing as this is, would you want something as a focal point to change the overall feel? Perhaps, in an ideal world, but either way a nice mood in the image.
14/04/2015 - 9:43 PM

A Glance

A GlanceHow much of a crop is this from the original image? We can tell it's a crop as the aspect ratio is not the same as an original frame. If the crop is significant, then this will highlight any imperfections, such as lack of sharpness more so then a smaller crop.

You can upload the original image as a modification. we can then also offer alternative crops.
For example, if there was some room to manouvre, a version with the animal set to one side with space to 'look into' would be visually more appealing than a centrally placed animal.

25/03/2015 - 8:48 PM


JackrabbitSharpness looks fine to me too, at least at the size on here.
I know that (some) Canon lenses allow tweaking of the focus ring while AF is engaged just to adjust focus on the subject - not as an alternative to focus tuning but for example when the subject moves a little bit. I don't know if Nikon has a similar feature though I'd hope so. It's something I do use especially with birds.

You say you cropped this a little, but I'd prefer slightly more space around the animal rather than seeing it crammed in by the image edges.

Processing method (glad you included it, many don't) is good, pretty much the same as my workflow. Agree with Willie re white balance thoiugh my mod uses your original where I've tweaked the contrast using Curves. It's slight so the difference may not be so obvious on here but it made a difference when I was adjusting it. I prefer images with a little punch and those taken in soft overcast light can benefit. Your processing has retained all the detail, so my adjustemnts haven't lost any of that. As I say, a perwonal preference but worth thinking about now and again. I must admit sometimes I can't decide if the Clarity or the Contrast in LR is better for a particular shot!

That's the technical bit out of the way. If the animal's head was just raised a bit so there was good eye contact it would have been great, but a decent record as it stands and nice to see it taken on the animal's level too.

20/03/2015 - 8:32 PM

Cloud over the Island of Eigg

Cloud over the Island of EiggYour main image is a wonderful skyscape which you've captured well. It could even take a small crop from the bottom, though it looks good as it is.

Your crop version is less strong. Although there's a classic 1/3 land and 2/3 sky, the power of that towering cloud is lost. The foreground thus has to make up for the loss of interest. The island in that case would benefit from being larger and/or the tree at the bottom right needs to be bolder, protruding above the horizon. Neither make for a point of interest that holds the attention as they stand. You need to have some 'depth' to the image. I don't know how much leeway you had in your shooting position but moving forward or getting lower could have yielded some interestign compositions.

All of which points back to your first comment

Quote: the island is a bit perripheral to the Hebridean skyscape

And in this case that's all that matters.

I'll have a play at a couple of mods!

15/03/2015 - 8:57 PM

Gateway to Blaskets

Gateway to BlasketsIt's good to have a go at black and white imagery.
I'm interested as to why you decided this scene would be a good candidate?

Good monochrome images rely on shape, tone and texture for their impact. You have a nice rocky foreground and that figure on the hill is a strong focal point.
however, the dull conditions mean the overall result is grey and not exciting (to view). A dull scene is dull in colour, too. What can be done in mono is to boost contrast, something that would make a colour image look unnatural but in mono would be appealingly punchy.

The best approach is to take the image in colour and convertt to mono using software, the Channel Mixer being a good start. That's what it's called in Photoshop and I think Elements too, though other packages may have slightly different names. This allows you to vary the amounts of red, green and blue in the image so you can differentiate tones.
For example, someone in red clothing with a backdrop of green foliage woul dbe very similar in grey tones. Using the Channel Mixer you can vary the amounts of red and green so the person stands out from the backlground. Even then, you may need to boost contrast using Levels or Curves.

Shooting in colour allows you to capture all the image information for a better end result. Letting the camera create a mono image throws a lot of information away before you start.

There is a little texture in the sky here, Yu can selectively darken and boost contrast here too to bring back some mood.

By all means shoot a mono image in camera first and review the image on the screen, as this will help you 'see' in mono. then shoot a colour image and play later.

Back to the figure. It's very strong visually so I'd make more of it. It's a very dominant position being on the hill and high in the frame.
If the person was under your control you could try different positions - the middle ground or the shoreline would be good places to try too.

08/03/2015 - 8:00 PM

150 year old Oak Tree

150 year old Oak TreeHi Beth, welcome to epz and to the Critique Gallery. I hope you will enjoy it and find it a good place to learn. We try to give advice that will help people to improve their photography both the taking and the editing of images.

Remember that the more information you give us as regards your photographic aims and intentions, the better. It also helps us if you respond to critique and indicate which ideas you find helpful. That means we can tailor advice according to your needs.

That's a fine specimen of a tree.
The vignette forces the viewer to concentrate onthe tree - I guess you created this in post processing.
There is a little underexposure as noted in the grey-looking snow in the background. This is likely to have been caused as you were photographing into a relatively bright sky. Applying some exposure compensation would avoid this. Even thoughthe background is a small part of the image, it is noticeable so something you should think about.

The building on the left hand side of the image I guess is part of your school but does catch the eye, especially as the sun is right on to it. Perhaps moving a few feet to your left you could have avoided the bright area and you could still have captured that lovely symmetrical shape.

This image needs a clockwise rotation as it is on the tilt. Leaving some space around the subject would help when you come to make adjustments like this, but even so you need just a little more space below the base of the tree. It's too close as it is here and makes the image look cramped.

I'll try a mod to address these issues. To view mods scroll up the screen and click the Modifications tab above the Description.

With such a tree, you could make a good series of images of it from the same spot throughout the seasons.

02/03/2015 - 7:50 PM

A view with a Ferris wheel

A view with a Ferris wheelWelcome to epz from me too.
I see this is your second upload even though you've been on the site for a week or so.

A polariser is used to reduce glare and reflections from non-metallic surfaces. When I say reflections I mean the normal sort you'd get on a body of water such as a lake or river, or windows on a high street, so you can see the detail beyond.
They won't be very successful with the bright highlights created by bright lamps. Indeed, these are the sort of reflections we expect to see in dusk and night shots. In fact, the polariser will remove some of the subtle reflections here and make the imae look flat and less interesting.
Of course, you may consider them too bright and a distraction. In some cases they may be, but I wouldn't say so here.
You can always compose yur shot to avoid them. You may feel that compromises the image you want but many times it's what you decide not to include than what you do include that makes the picture work.

24/02/2015 - 8:23 PM

Whistling Sands, North Wales

Whistling Sands, North WalesA lovely location and a good subject.
As Paul says, it needs more drama to make a great picture. If it's local you should be able to make the most of the right conditions. Shooting at different times of day and year will give you the opportunity of more dramatic light, which will help. Combine that with stormy conditions and off you go. Just protect your camera!

This is a good subject for mono too, and as mono can take more extreme contrast and altering of tones I'll do a mod.

24/02/2015 - 7:41 PM


BlencathraIt could be there's so much fine detail that you lose a lot on downsizing. It looks fine here though the sharpened mod looks good but I wouldn't sharpen any more than that as you risk the dreaed oversharpened look with its corresponding destruction of detail.
As you say its not a problem with every image, as everyimage is different on something like this you need to use different settings which means some experimentation.
Large megapixel files are not new as sensors in cameras and back like the Phase One have been around a while now and the results even on web sized images have plenty of sharp fine detail.
A final thought, maybe playing with the Clarity slider in Lightroom would make a difference before downsizing?

21/02/2015 - 7:17 PM


WaterfallWelcome from me too.

This is an attractive scene, and there's just the right amount of water there. too little and the falls are feeble, too much water and there'd be qa torrent with little delicay.

You've shot on an overcast day, which is always best as it's very helpful in avoiding extreme contrast, and allows more choice of slower shutter speeds to blur the water. Try various shutter speeds as the flow of water varies and by using different speeds you can get the result you like.

However, this is overxposed as there are areas of burnt out detail in the highlights. While the exposure has given ood shadow detail, less detail in the darker areas to allow better detail in the highlights is often the preferred way.
Shooting RAW rather than jpg would allow you to recover some detail in both. RAW often means a little more work, but the end result is worth it. Even if you only shoot RAW for tricky subjects like this.
Dudler has given some good advice regarding processing this image to deal with the contrast range.

All I've done in my mod is to address the tilt and the colour balance.
Rotating the image necessitated a crop, but fortunately the original had a decent angle of view so there's nothing essential that has been lost.

I then warmed up the image using Colour Balance to add red and yellow, then I increased Vibrance which is more subtle than Saturation.

I made a feathered selection of the water as it had a strong blue and cyan cast (not helped by the overexposure and jpg processing). i then reduced the saturation of the blue and cyan using the Hue/Saturation dialog. I pretty much removed all the coldness of the water this way. Sometimes a bit of coolness looks good so it's up to you how much you remove.

I finally tried a mono conversion, where I went for quite a contrasty result to focus attention on the water.

19/02/2015 - 4:34 PM

Dublin at night - The Ferryman

Dublin at night - The FerrymanNight shots in mono can be very effective especially with strong subjects such as here.
You're nearly always going to get blown highlights when you have the light source in the image as they are so much brighter. Shooting at dusk helps. but it's not something to worry over, they are small points of light. Larger areas of blown out detail, that is more of a problem. Shooting one image with much less exposure and blending areaas in is one way, if you don't want to go down the HDR route which may or may not produce a better result but that's another story.

I haven't checked your verticals but at this small size they look ok.
I don't know if you know, but using Ctrl+' in Photoshop will bring up a grid which you can use to fine tune the verticals. You may prefer Lightroom's crop tool and Lens Correction. Whichever method you use, make sure the centre vertical is verticla first - this may mean a slight image rotation. Once that is vertical it makes sorting out the other verticals much easier.
And I read on a Capture One tutorial that often 100% correction of verticals may be 'correct', by doing 90 or 95% the building will taper towards the top of the image but only very slightly so and our brain is quite accepting of that. Worth a try sometime.

17/02/2015 - 6:55 PM

Blue Hour

Blue HourI see this image has been up on the site for a few hours now, so please accept my apologies on behalf of the Critique Team for not getting to this sooner.
We are all volunteers so we may not have time available to respond immediately.

However, to your image.
You've chosen the right time of day to get an attractive deep blue sky and water and retain some detail in the darker areas.

I notice that the White Balance has been manually set. I would always reccommend that, as would Willie, another of the CG team. Setting it to daylight would render the lights attractivley warm while cooling it down (setting a lower colour temperature) would make the blues bluer (as they are still daylight) and the lights closer to their 'correct' colour.
I say 'correct' in that they do have a colour temperature that can be measured, but with multiple sources the overall mix is so variable. In cases like this I go for somewhere between Daylight and Artificial light, just moving the slider until I get something I like. There's no 'correct' setting.
This is easier if you shoot RAW, though adjustments can be made to jpgs but with less control.
Not that you need worry here, the colour is lovely!

Whatever you did with the software has worked well.

There's little to suggest an improvement here thoughI would trim a touch off the left hand side, remowing the lettering and the stack on the horizon as that is very brightly lit and does draw the eye.
Alternatively take a wider view and get all the lettering on the building in shot.

13/02/2015 - 9:49 PM

flash struggling

flash strugglingI'd second dudler's advice about the lighting. I suspect the flash is the main source and won't be sufficient for the effect you want.
Yes there may be two sources here, flash and daylight, but they aren't balanced.
It may be easier to let the diffused light from the curtains light the flowers and use the flash remotely (on a cord or via a radio trigger) to light the background. Set the flash to manual and adjust the power until you get the background white.

13/02/2015 - 9:29 PM

chevelon canyon

chevelon canyonThe image is overexposed - the highlights on the rocks lack detail.

The camera has been unduly affected by the deep shadow areas. even though the exif says matrix metering which should do its best to give a decent exposure, not all systemns are equal and very harsh light and sensor technology can conspire against any system. If there is any sort of exposure compensation available you need to check the image histogram, apply any compensation and re-shoot. A minus value here would be requiredin order to give less exposure and retain detail in the rock. Some shadow detail could then be axtracted, or deeper shadows left for effect. nce detail has been lost in the highlights it can't be recovered.

V3 is OTT but I gues you knew that!

Composition wise there's a nice curve up through the image through the rocks. Either crop or clone out the small intrusion in the bottom left corner, it is a distraction once noticed.
10/02/2015 - 8:48 PM


ZuritrainOne of those moments that remind you of your memories of being there.

There are a few tweaks that can be applied to help this image, as you had no control over how the image would be rendered.
I'm going on what I see, as there is no exif data avaialble to help with suggestions.

There is a strong blue cast, which while suggesting a cold night is not that attractive here. And I am partial to cool and cold looking images.
In my mod I've increased the yellow and red to reduce the blue and cyan content, and I think it still has a cold night look.
I also adjusted the Levels to make the blacks deeper. You could go further and lose more shadow detail for more mood and mystery. that's helped reduce the visible noise, though I also applied some noise reduction in Photoshop.
Finally I straightened the perspective.

The whole image isn't particularly sharp, but given the conditions you did well to get this. I like the two figures by the tram, it makes it more interesting, and they are nicely placedon an image third.
I assume the tram was moving. If so, your timing was out as a fraction sooner or later (depending on the direction it was travelling) and you would have had that nice building on the left in full view and less of the buildings on the right which are less important visually - we don't need to see so much of them in this scene to still appreciate the setting.

the empty tables and chairs on the left add some depth and as they're unoccupied add to the feeling of a late night scene.

Ideal place for seclusion__Mauritius series-11Colours that are too vivid and oversaturated in a landscape image that purports to be restful are an assualt on the eyes. The viewer is not enticed into lingering on the image and will pass it by.

The background colour, while a pastel shade, is also quite saturated and fights with the image. Keep it simple, and a black border for example is sufficient.

The small red area at the botton left is a distraction, and sloppy composition - it can be cropped or cloned out but shouldn't have been ther in the first place. You need to look all around the frame edges as well as for background and foreground details that can be a distraction when composing your image.

Take on board some of the feedback you've been given over your last few uploads and present us with some new work.

Steps to the Realm_Mauritius series 2Firstly, a belated welcome from me, as I missed your upload yesterday.

The first thing that struck me about this image was the strong blue and cyan cast. Your exif data says you used Auto white balance which tends to produce a bluish hue but I've never seen one as strong as this (using Auto, that is).

It's like setting a tungsten artificial light white balance. while that can be effective for some subjects it does not look natural (especially the cyan coloured hills) or pleasing here. I've uploaded a mod where I've done some extreme correction for a more natural rendering, and lightened the image as it is underexposed. I also reduced the saturation.

This has made more of the hills receding into the distance. Yes they do get lighter and bluer, which is normal, and it's an attractive atmospheric effect.

While it portrays the mood of the mountains, ultimately there is little for the eye to linger on and look at.
It'd make a great background, for example with a figure or two looking into the distance. If you get a silhoute of someone you could use them as the foreground and use this image as the backdrop.

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.