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For me, the problem lies with the lighting initially. There isn't enough of it. I'm guessing the lights are quite a way from the subject, causing uneven illumination (hotspots on the child's head) and lack of wrap round (blotchy skin tones), plus a dull grey backdrop. The camera is compensating for the white background, so if you can use spot metering, it will be more accurate as long as you use a mid-toned target, eg the babygro here.
I would have preferred not to see the human element at all.
I'm guessing they're some sort of antirrhinum (commonly, snapdragon).
The photographer makes the picture, the camera just facilitates the capture.
I agree...there is no sense of context, just a shot of a bin with stuff in it.
In film days, we would have used a blue filter to really bring out the contrast and weathered lines in the subject's face. I think this just needs the same thing, digitally. The subject is great, plenty sharp enough and there is no extraneous detail, it just needs tweaking as it's a little flat, tonally.
I feel this ought to tell a story, but somehow it just doesn't come out. I can't even make out what is behind the fence in the recess, and that is attracting my attention more than the whole picture.
By using HDR, you are compressing the tonal range, rather than extending it, so if your previous lacked depth, an HDR version will lack more. It allows more colours to be seen, at the expense of making them all similar brightness, and thus more flat-looking.
This is the best scenario for the use of a polarising filter. It would intensify the colours and get rid of most of the reflections on the water, from this angle. It would give the image a lot more "bite".
It's a step up from a record shot. You've obviously thought about how you are going to process it, and how you want it to appear, and the HDR is competently done, but not overdone like so many others.
As Paul says, a decent record shot. Not overly exciting, and while the black and white treatment removes any dating clues, I'm not sure it suits the subject particularly well here, as there isn't much hard definition, or anything else, to give it a "wow" factor.
I think you might be limited by your software.
Whatever your intentions with the sky, I'm afraid it just looks overexposed, and as a result, somewhat dull and uninteresting. The peak would look more imposing if it was exposed better, and most of this is due to the flat lighting. There is no real drama, nor majesty in it, and looking at your exif, the overexposure isn't deliberate, more a byproduct of the high dynamic range between the sky and the shadows.
The colours are caused by the stresses in the perspex material of the window, and slight polarisation of the light. You can exaggerate it by using a polariser, but I don't think it was caused by one here. You can see the effects much more clearly by using cross-polarisation with clear plastic objects, and by flexing them which causes the patterns to change.
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