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04/11/2014 - 10:14 AM

Dave's Tongue

Dave's TongueI think the lighting on the bloke (and his tongue Smile) is just right. As you already know, you've got some blown highlights on the girl, particularly on her forehead. Never easy in a closed space environment like that, especially as it's no doubt warm and if she's 'glowing' a little (as us ladies do ... we don't sweat ...) that again is very hard to control. It's not like you can just go up to her and dab a bit of powder over the shiny bits!!

As suggested above, a Stofen diffuser slipped over your flashgun could work (if you don't have that already) or even, as a DIY-alternative, some tissue paper that been folded several times and taped over the flash could diffuse it enough? Or are you able to move the light back a bit from where you've got it currently? Or does that then complicate things with the audience?

I've never tried this kind of thing, so can't suggest more than that unfortunately Sad
03/11/2014 - 2:39 PM

Cloughlea, Co. Wicklow

Cloughlea, Co. WicklowHi Tracey

Not the most ideal conditions for this kind of shot, as the light's very contrasty as you found out! Still, I think you've actually done well to keep details in both sides, to be fair. Sometimes it would be a case of sacrificing one for the other, but you've balanced these nicely, even with the much brighter left half.

Just out of interest ... which way round did you orientate your ND grad filter? Horizontally or vertically? I don't want to make an assumption here, as I'm probably wildly wrong, but some people forget (or don't realise) that they can use the filter side to side, as well as top to bottom (if you get my meaning!). If you already know this, feel free to tell me to button it Grin Grin

What I've done in my mod is to crop a little off the bottom (just to concentrate the eye more on the upper portion, and remove a little dead/messy rock space at the bottom) and then make the following adjustments in Photoshop:

1) I used a Linear gradient from left to right on the image, choosing the 'Neutral Density' option from the drop down box. I dragged it from left to right across the whole of the image. This takes down the brightness on the left hand side a bit and hopefully evens it out a little across the whole frame.
2) I then used a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer, and pushed Brightness up to 28, and Contrast down to -20.
3) I then added a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer, where I amended to Reds to +10 Saturation, the Blues to -38 Saturation, the Yellows to -40 Saturation and the overall Master settings to +20 Saturation.
4) On top of that, I used a Dodge and Burn layer, where I tried to tone down the bright spots both in the water and some of the rocks and bright grassy areas over the back of the image.
5) I also added an Levels Adjustment layer, setting the Blacks to 15, Midtones at 1.00 and Whites to 220 ... but I can't now decide whether the Levels adjustment improves it or not. Still, it's just another option and as you know, how an image looks in its final state is very often personal choice anyway!

It's a gorgeous location, though, I'd thoroughly urge you to go back when the light is perhaps less contrasty Smile It's Sod's Law, sometimes ... perfect location, wrong lighting; perfect lighting, wrong location Grin Still, this one's a bit of a gem by the looks of it - like a Fairy Glen. Full of possibilities and images.

31/10/2014 - 11:31 AM


DaisyHiya Helena

Although I really do like this, I think one of the reasons it may not have done well at camera club level is that the girl is in the left hand third of the image, looking out of the frame. There's not enough space to her left for her to be looking into. The ideal scenario (certainly as far as a lot of camera clubs like it ...) would have been if you'd just asked her to turn the other way so that she was looking out to the right hand side of the image, or alternatively to reposition yourself so that she's orientated the way she is here, but with much more space on the left of the image.

I love the concept behind the image though, and think that it definitely has some possibilities. I've done two mods, and I'll try and retrace the steps I did in order to get to those results. I used Photoshop, although I don't know what software you use - but in principle the theory behind the changes should be sound in other software.

Mod 1

I basically did a cut-and-shut job Grin Not the best in the world, but it does now give her space on the left of the image to 'reflect' into. I love the symbolism of the posy of flowers in her hand, and her downward gaze and introspective expression. It makes the viewer wonder what she's linking about ... a lost lover? A potential lover? Dinner?? (okay, that one's a joke ... )

Having done all that, and tried to get things lined up with the cloning, I then flattened all the layers and added an Adjustment Layer of Colour Lookup ... and chose Candlelight.CUBE 3DLUT option (this is a Photoshop CS6 thing, and I don't think it's available on earlier versions; however, it's just another way of giving the overall image a different colour tone - I think other software may have similar options). Yes, by doing that it's taken out some of the blue and yellow tones in your original image, but I quite like the muted colour palette as I think it fits more with her dreamy, slightly 'otherworldly' expression of contemplation. I stayed with the 'Normal' blend mode, but adjusted the Opacity down to 75% on the Colour Lookup layer.

Mod 2

Using the flattened Mod1 version, I then just went into the Filter Gallery, chose Distort / Diffuse Glow and used the settings of Graininess=0; Glow Amount=5; Clear Amount=15. Quit out of there, and flattened the image again to create Mod2.

I know my two mods are rather different to your original, but you did say in your description that "any creative version would be welcomed" so I've taken you at your word, and got a bit creative Grin

I actually think it's a great image to start with, with bags of potential. Often, what's a creative image in one field is seen as abnormal, or not fitting the 'rules' in another. As you know, the rules are a great starting point, but sometimes you've just got to get a bit creative in order to create something that's on the edge of the box, if not outside it completely Grin

Good luck with the resubmission, and I'd be really interested to see what version you end up with yourself from this Smile

30/10/2014 - 5:03 PM

look me close

look me closeHi Philip Smile

I really do like your analogy here and it's beautifully illustrated by the central spine of the leaf, and the tiny veins radiating out from it. It would indeed be lovely if the world lived by this philosophy and maybe one day it will (although I think humanity's got a long way to go before it reaches that elevated way of being).

So, your image ... as an abstract, I like it. It's bold, it's almost architectural in its formation and by placing the central spine of the leaf down the centre of the frame, it's almost like an open book with the pages either side giving a message Grin

I love the little droplets of water too, almost as if the leaf is crying at the state of humanity (okay, that may be a stretch of the imagination, but then imagery is all about how we see things, so I think it fits here).

In terms of what I think you could have done differently with this, it's a nice shot as it is. It could be a little more contrasty, perhaps a little more vibrant on the colour side of things, but as an abstracted image which alludes to something else, I like it. However, what I would dearly love to have seen is some sort of shadow behind it - whether that's a hand, a face in profile or something else of significance, I don't know. And I know also that it's easy to sit this side of the monitor and say "Well, you could have done x, y or z ..." but that doesn't help you in the meantime.

So personally I think it works as it is, although I've done a mod where I've used a Curves adjustment layer to just darken down the overall feeling a little, and added a soft black vignette to concentrate the attention and lead the viewer's eye into the centre of the image, and for me that's all it really requires.

Nice work!

30/10/2014 - 11:27 AM

Autumn sleeper

Autumn sleeperA lovely concept, well thought out and executed. The two small areas of blue on the left hand side, in the leaves, are a tad distracting for me. Cropping would disturb that wonderful symmetry of the centrally placed girl, so maybe cloning would be better?

Other than that, I think it's charming and different - I love it Smile
29/10/2014 - 2:14 PM

Winning Strokes

Winning StrokesHi Jo - and welcome (back) to both the website and the Critique Gallery in particular Smile I see you've been a member for a number of years, but that it's also been a while since you've been actively uploading. Hopefully, we'll be able to give you the impetus you need to get out there more and get photographing Grin

You say you want to improve, but judging by the calibre of this image I'd personally say there's not a long wrong with what you're currently doing!! Grin I love this - it's got movement, it's got style, the black and white conversion is great, and the expression on the guy's face is just brilliant. A wonderfully caught moment in time which really does give a sense of strenuous effort, determination and grit. The little droplets of water on the right hand side of the image are also just perfect.

Looking at your exif data (your settings) you've used the Shutter Priority mode, which I think was a good choice in this instance, and that's given you a shutter speed of 1/50 second ... with the length of lens you were using (300mm) this might have been a little too slow as the image, although sharpish, could have been sharper. On the other hand, this kind of panning image doesn't so much rely on sharpness for its impact, it relies on that sense of movement which you've captured perfectly. So although there may have been a better exposure that you could have gone with, I still like the image as it stands.

The only things I've done in my mod is to crop a bit from the left, the top and the bottom, to place the guy more on the left hand third of the image. I then adjusted the contrast a touch (using a Curves adjustment layer in Photoshop) to give a slightly stronger feel. The other thing I did was a little dodging on the face itself, using a separate grey layer, filled with 50% grey, set to Overlay mode and painted on using the brush and white. to bring his facial features out a bit more.

So although I've made a couple of changes to your original image, I've got to say that I think it's great and doesn't need a lot to improve it.

As for just getting out there and doing it ... it's always a hard balancing act sometimes to fit photography in with everyday life, as other things always intrude or take precedence. However, actively make the time for it if you can - as L'Oreal says: "You're worth it!" ... and so is your photography Grin

29/10/2014 - 10:32 AM

Trees in the mist

Trees in the mistI also love this kind of image. It's always the kind of image I want to get out and take, but never seem to have either the opportunity or the right conditions Smile So kudos to you for actually doing it!!

In terms what's wrong with it - actually, nothing Grin I like the cool blue tones, it's got lots of atmosphere and interesting shapes in both the tree line and the foreground field. Yes, you could crop for a different feel but that's always a personal choice anyhow.

If I were to crop it, I'd also go with a square crop and do away with much of that featureless sky. So a square crop which has almost three bands top to bottom - the field/grass at the bottom (maybe a wee bit off the bottom to make that diagonal line more prominent into the bottom right corner), the line of trees in the middle layer, and a bit of the sky at the top.

it's also one of those images that could benefit from some white space around the edge, with a fine line border on the inner image to make it look more 'fine art' like.

Just my thoughts though Smile
23/10/2014 - 10:50 AM

Eye on the prize

Eye on the prizeA wonderfully captured moment in time, I think Smile It's also kind of poignant too, with the figure trudging along with their head down, oblivious to the drama on the wall. Age comes eventually to us all, and for me this image kind of reiterates that somehow.

I'm wondering whether cropping a little from the right hand side to remove that pillar (corner of a building?) would work? Then the face on the wall would butt up against the extreme right hand edge? (Hopefully you'll know what I mean by that ... the light bit on the right hand side I find a tad distracting.)

I'd not crop at all from the left hand side - the majority of the words "The Third Eye" are, for me, absolutely brilliant and very telling. The 'Third Eye' could allude to the viewer looking at the scene Smile

Other than that, I think it's great. I know what you mean about colour almost being too much - the black and white choice does make me look at the whole thing more intently, trying to figure out what it's about; whereas colour would have smacked me between the eyes (no pun!) and I may well have missed a lot of the little things that make this such a worthwhile image.

So I'd say include it in your panel. I'd also say to seriously think about the lady in the rain one too - yes, it's alternative but sometimes it's good to think outside the box. It's often those images that are so far outside the boundaries of the box that really make people sit up and think.

I'll be interested to see the other one you're thinking about, and look forward to seeing it when you upload it Smile
22/10/2014 - 3:31 PM

Hard Sell

Hard SellHi Keith - I like the idea with this one but would you mind me making a couple of suggestions?

The pose is good and quite well though out, although you may want to try putting the hand that's currently behind her back onto her hip instead? To me, that would be a more 'natural' place and would fit in more with the whole "Look at the scene beyond the window" feel that I think you're going with here. The lighting is nicely realistic on her body, but perhaps adding a shadow underneath her (quite muted, almost a suggestion of one) would 'anchor' her more within the scene and add to the realism.

The other thing to possibly try is to reduce, if you can, the saturation of the red in the tattoos - I'm trying to imagine how real tattoos are, and for me they're more subtle than this one currently is.

Overall though, I do quite like this. I particularly like how you've blurred the scene through the window, which is how it would be in reality with distance and atmospherics.
21/10/2014 - 3:24 PM

Pebbles and rust

Pebbles and rustNo, don't bin it Bill!! There's lots you could do with this ...

For such a 'simple' image, it's very nicely composed and there's an awful lot going on in here. There's the smooth, cracked textured surface of the red stone in the foreground; the wonderfully knobbly rust on the metal and then the cool tones and rounded shapes of the pebbles in the background. It's almost too much for the eyes to rest on, as there's no obvious, definitive, focal point.

The image has a very diagonal feel to it, running from corner to corner, left to right. Round things to knobbly things, and then on to smooth things Smile

Seeing as the image seems to be about textures and shapes, I've done a very quick mod where I've (a) gone with a square crop and (b) gone with black and white, instead of colour. Yes, you may lose those wonderful colours, but you gain form and texture and with no competing colours for the eye to worry over, it then becomes much more of a 'fine art' type image. The other thing I've done in my mod is to extend the canvas size out a bit using white, and to add a thin black border around the inner image.

It's just another way of looking at the same scene, and we all see things differently Smile You may not agree with the crop I've done, but it's an option.

[Edit: I've just realised that the mod's come up on a pure white background, so I'm just about to do a very quick second one to fix that Smile]

21/10/2014 - 11:28 AM

Paint horse jump

Paint horse jumpThis is great, Carl - you've really caught the action at a good point, you've left space on the right of the image for the horse and rider to move into, and you've got a nice side profile on the guy's face too. Taking the image from both a low viewpoint and while the horse is in mid-air lets the viewer really feel a part of the process. It all adds up to a very good image Smile

The only thing I'd say post processing wise is that your image has a slightly red colour cast, which I've removed in my mod. (I just used a Colour Balance layer, and toned down the red in the highlights and the midtones a little.) I also added a Levels adjustment layer and toned down the midtones in there to 0.88, just to increase the contrast a touch.

Other than that, well done indeed. To be honest, I'm not surprised you've been asked to help out with the photography at the local equestrian event - and I hope you enjoy every moment of it!! Smile

20/10/2014 - 1:07 PM

Front on jump

Front on jumpHi Carl

I do like the fact that the background of the image is pretty uncluttered, as it allows the viewer to focus on the action in front of them. I know you used a 200mm lens, but the way that brings the viewer close to the action and almost makes them feel like they're about to get ridden over is great Grin

I think the image, as it currently stands is okay but maybe a little boring? (Sorry!) It's not easy to photograph horses jumping straight on, as often you won't get a straight on view (as is the case here, it's slightly off so you're looking down the body of the horse as well). Although this can work, I think it needs to be either more so in this case or not there at all. I think too, that a straight on view would work better with a much higher fence, so that the viewer can really see the power and effort the horse (and rider, of course!) puts into getting lift off and getting over it.

Bright white bits on the wings of the fence are, as you describe, a nightmare in bright sunlit conditions but to be fair you've done really well here to keep them from blowing out completely. The grass is green, the sky is blue and the horse's feet are all up off the ground (bar one slightly lazy back leg Grin)

I'm not going to suggest anything more post processing wise with this image, as I think it's been covered above, but maybe give you some things to think about for next time. Looking in your portfolio, you've got a few cross-country and show jumping images and I think there's a couple in there that are more successful than this one (Freedom and Freedom 2 are obvious choices for me).

One of the beautiful things about watching horses perform is the 'shape' they make in the air as they go over a jump (known as 'bascule') and I think sometimes that getting a side-on angle is more pleasing as it allows both the jump and the horse to been seen in all their glory.

Another thing to maybe think about next time is the creative side of photographing show jumping (or cross country) and use a panning technique to capture the horses as they approach, take, and then move away from a jump or obstacle. You'd have to time pressing the shutter, or pre-focus on the jump itself, but that kind of technique can produce some beautiful images which are much more about power and movement, and less about a static moment in time.

Although it's an old thread, you may find this interesting reading. It's a short thread, and may go over what you already know, but it also might give you some other ideas as well Smile

(And if I sound really enthusiastic about this kind of imagery, I used to do show jumping and eventing as well as dressage, so the beauty and power of horses and what they're capable of really does resonate with me Smile Smile)

17/10/2014 - 6:51 PM

Shells spread...

Shells spread...Hello Dibyajit

I love the fact that you've got down to sand level to take this shot! So many people don't think to do this, and it can make a huge difference to the overall feel of an image and how the eye perceives the scene. By getting down low like this, you make the viewer feel like a part of the beach - almost a 'crab's eye view' Smile

In terms of overall exposure, you've got some nice deep blacks in the holes of the shells, and some brighter areas which haven't been blown out - they still retain detail. It can be hard for any camera to expose accurately on a beach, as the meter can so easily be fooled by the light reflecting off the sand and ends up underexposing a bit. So for me, you have produced a nicely composed, well exposed image with plenty of contrast here.

The only thing I'd say about the composition is that the objects closest to the camera in the foreground, although nicely blurred by using a wide aperture, are a little intrusive into the calm of the rest of the scene - they almost stop the eye going forwards into the vista to explore the textures and shapes of the further rocks, shells and sea. I don't know how much control you have over the settings for your camera, or what mode you used though?

I've done a very quick mod where I've cropped up from the bottom in order to remove the majority of the large brown object on the left. By cropping to a much more letterbox format, the image is then one of three parts almost - the foreground sand, the shoreline where the surf is rolling over the sands, and the distance horizon.

I've also used a Curves adjustment layer to lighten the darker hues in the image and give a brighter feel. I've removed a little of the yellow tones from the shells and the sand, using a Selective Colour Adjustment Layer and set the Yellows to -100%. There are lots of different way to probably do this, but this is the method I used here.

I also cloned out a couple of stray pebbles from the foreground, to clean that area up a little. And finally, adding a very fine black border 'contains' everything within it. Not everyone likes borders or even uses them, but I personally like them so have taken the liberty of adding one to my mod Grin

I don't know what post processing software you use, if any, so my mod is very much just an alternative way of presenting the image. The overall tone of my mod is slightly cooler and less vibrant than your original image, which you may or may not like. The other I though of trying, but didn't in this case, was converting the image to black and white and letting the eye concentrate just on the shapes, tones and textures of the scene, rather than colour. This may be something you could think about in the future with other shots like this, though.

07/10/2014 - 12:02 PM

Avenging Angel

Avenging AngelI really like the concept here, even though personally I'm not to keen on the helmet (even though it does ensure anonymity!! Grin). The lighting on the girl's body is lovely and soft and that's why, I think, the wings jar slightly with me. I think the lighting on the wings is too harsh (presumably taken from a fully sun-lit bird image?) and doesn't quite match the quality and direction of the light on the girl herself. The angle of the wings though, in relation to the line of her shoulders, is just about right. I would expect to see a very slight shadow between the left hand wing and her left (as viewing) shoulder, just to add to the realism of them.

Good concept overall though and done well.
02/10/2014 - 2:29 PM

Horse Fly

Horse FlyHi Ewan - I know from the title that this is more about the fly than the horse (in a way) but I actually think that it's a more powerful image without the fly Smile There's a lovely balance between the horse's eye and half-face and that soft focus green on the other side, that the fly is actually a distraction for me.

The eye of the horse is a bit soft, and could do with being sharper though. Even if it was just the edge of the eyeball and the eyelashes that were sharp, the rest of the image could be as blury as hell, and it wouldn't matter.

I like it Smile
01/10/2014 - 12:40 PM


ROAD TO NOWHERETish, I'm glad my weirdness has inspired you a bit Grin

You've enabled mods, so I really hope you don't mind me having a play around with V1, which I like the best of the variations you've done. The selection of the road/bridge is lovely and cleanly done and sits well in the clouds. I love the concept of the road going absolutely nowhere, and whoever has the misfortune to be on it better be prepared for something at the end of the road, even if it's nothing ...

I don't know whether you use Photoshop or not, but I'll try and describe what I've done below in PS - although the principles should be similar in Elements or something like that.

Mod 1 - I've taken V1, duplicated it on another layer and applied a black and white adjustment layer. I then added an inner glow to this layer, changing the blend mode of it to Overlay, and the size of the glow to 250 pxls. I also set the 'source' of the glow to the centre of the image, rather than the edge and the colour to a murky reddish brown. I really like the vanishing point of the bridge/road in your image, but felt that it needed a little bit more 'misty fog' to give that sense of hopelessly walking into 'otherness' ... so on another layer I just created a short reflected gradient in the middle of the layer (running from top to bottom and 'foreground to transparent' with white as the colour) and set the blend mode to 'Lighten' and the Opacity to 60%.

Mod 2 - this is the same as Mod 1, but with the added element of the twisted 'thingy' ... I'm not entirely sure how I got that, although it's essentially a separate layer that's had the Filter/Render/Clouds applied to it, and then the perspective distorted hugely. At some point during that distortion, the thing flipped around on itself (which wasn't what I intended, but hey ...) and I kind of liked the results so left it. All I did was line up one of the lines coming from it with the right hand edge of the bridge, and set the layer blend mode to Overlay.

I really hope you didn't mind me playing with your playing? All the right elements were there in your image and your title just kind of made my imagination get a little excited, that's all Smile
29/09/2014 - 2:00 PM

I hear you whisper Alibi's

I hear you whisper Alibi'sI love the idea behind this, although I would have gone the other way and wanted to see the 'dead' body more in focus, with the villains themselves being in soft focus. For me, that would then feel like the body is the 'immediate' focus of the story, with the shadowy, fuzzy alibis more in the background (inkeeping with the thoughts of lies, alibis and underhandedness ...) Maybe I just watched different movies to Keith!! Grin

I realise that this was taken with film, so not easy to go back and redo it in a hurry (I don't know what your neg is like, and whether reprocessing it is an option?).

Still, I think the image is very effective as it stands and my comment and what I would like to see is only that - my interpretation of your skullduggery Smile
26/08/2014 - 10:06 AM

enginn tími fyrir svefn

enginn tími fyrir svefnFirst off, good on you for doing this.

Secondly, there's a couple of things that I think would improve this image no end - (1) is to crop in from the left a bit, to remove that half a lampshade and half a picture, (2) clone out the base of the overhead light that's intruding in from the top, and maybe the edge of the table on the left and the power cord for the lamp and (3) crop up from the bottom to remove the bed base and the bit of tucked-in duvet on the right hand corner. That then puts the focus of the image firmly on you, rather than the bedroom furniture Smile

Oh, and smile a bit - at the moment it looks like you're about to shout at the viewer for looking, and your expression is a tad fierce !! Grin
12/08/2014 - 10:44 AM

Heavenly body

Heavenly bodyAs a female viewer of this image, I love it. The lighting highlights the power and grace of the female form, without going into the realms of sleaze. The pose, while coy in some ways, is also very strong. The lens flare, while it can look corny in some circumstances, actually works really well here and definitely adds something to the image, rather than taking it away.

I really like the way the lighting has accuented the musclature of her back too. It speaks of strength, and beauty, and grace.

Excellent work Smile
06/08/2014 - 10:52 AM


TreeHiya - I really wanted to have a play with this as I think it's beautiful and definitely has more to give. I hope you don't mind what I've done. I first added a Curves adjustment layer to adjust the tonal range, and then a Black & white adjustment layer. I changed Reds to -94; Yellows to 67; Greens to 82; Cyans to -2 and Blues to -51. I added a tint to the B&W adj layer of #fce4c3 and then did a bit of selective painting on a layer mask to bring out the rows in the corn a little. Flattened the image, and added a feathered black border to contain it all a little.

[Edit: I also went with a square crop, just because I like them and felt that it suited this image of yours Smile]