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Sooty_1's Gallery Comments
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.
While it's a lovely scene and well worth shooting, the problem for me is the sharpness. There's too much of it.
A pretty good effort considering the modest equipment. It looks like you're starting to get ambient light interfering with your darkness, and maybe you've changed the colour balance to counter it, hence the slightly odd purple colour.
A couple of Lightroom pointers:
And here's the problem with hip shooting. A decent enough candid photo spoiled by poor framing.
In terms of the photo, there are several little thing that need addressing.
Photo outings are far more profitable when you walk the tripod rather than the dog.
My first thought is that there is too much rock! Most of it is very dark and adds little but a barrier to the left side of the frame.
I'm going to have to disagree about the black and white, and in fact, about the figure contrasting with anything.
You can shoot this exactly as you have, but place a white reflector to bounce light back into the front of the flower. You can use card, paper, anything really. Then your exposure will be right.
It's an interesting take on a familiar object. These need a little something extra to make them stand out, but this is quite close.
It is possible to use HDR and not make everything look flat, tonally. Here, you have managed to eke a decent shot from very little.
Echoing Willie, nice geometry. I think you just need a sliver off the left edge, cropping to the column will contain the image more, focussing your attention on the colonnade.
Negative clarity can work in a similar way to a blur tool. That's why it's most evident around hard contrasty edges. It's still there in graduated colour, but you can't see it as well.