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05/05/2015 - 2:10 PM

Round the Bend

Round the BendThis is one of those scenes that has huge potential and is definitely worth going back to a few times, once you decide on your final composition, to see how the light changes the feel of things. I think that both of your versions have merit, they're just different. And, of course, it all depends on what you want to convey.

Building on what EllyNelly said above, about the gate subconsciously blocking the viewer's progress through it and into the scene beyond, I've done a quick (okay, not so quick ...) mod where I've kind of opened the gate a bit, to give more of an invitation feeling. Just to see, really, how the gate being opened instead changed the feeling overall.

I did try moving the pump up closer to the branches, as you said in your description, but with this angle of view it kind of didn't really work well so I changed it back in the end Smile

I like the tree on the right hand side, as I think that it feels like a book-end kind of container for the view, and also helps to steer that view through the gate. Likewise, the dense left hand side does the same thing, although I have cropped a bit off it in my mod (also from the top down - don't ask me why as I honestly don't know. It just looked better that way to my eye with the other things I'd done Grin).

Anyway, have a look and see what you think of the open gate idea. It's not the best clone job in the world, so excuse that. The toning is done using a ColorLookup layer, set to the preset TealOrangeplusContrast.3DL (this is a Photoshop CS6 specific thing, by the way, which you may or may not have). It's just another idea to give a slightly forbidding feel to the image which, combined with the open inviting gate, might give a feeling of a little tension in the image?

04/05/2015 - 3:10 PM

Controlled by their mistakes

Controlled by their mistakesI know this is a serious image to all intents and purposes, but like Moira I can't quite stop smiling at the Nora Batty moments and being discovered in the woods wrapping a young lady in blue wool ... Grin

Still, I love it. It's quirky but with a very sinister feeling to it. However, the warmth of the tones in your version above, for me, are a touch too warm and almost jolly. So I've done a mod for you - not because I needed to in order to correct anything (other than the fractional tilt Willie mentioned) but just to see how a different feel would affect the image. I used Nik's Analogue Effex Pro, the Classic Camera 9 preset, and played with the film type a bit (the hue side of things).

I added a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer too, to take back the red of the nails (I set the Reds to -80 Saturation and -40 Lightness - this has affected some of the red in the vegetation, but for my eyes that's not a bad thing Smile

You do come up with some interesting stuff!

30/04/2015 - 4:46 PM


TrialsOkay, so in theory (good ol' theory Grin) ... your base layer (i.e. the background layer with the litle lock icon next to it) is the flowerhead, yes?

I think what she means by Step 3 is to duplicate the background, apply the USM to that duplicated layer and then go to Layer/Layer Mask/Hide All - that should give you a black layer mask next to the layer you've added the USM to ... the black layer mask will hide the effect of the USM until you paint on it with a white brush, to 'reveal' what's underneath (see mod1). Remember the layer mask mantra ... 'Black conceals; White reveals' with layer masks - if it's black, you won't see the effect, if it's white, you will.

So, then you've got your texture(s) layers above that one and you've done your blending and stuff that you want?

I think Step 7 is the same principle as Step 3, although I can't be sure whether she means to do the gaussian blur on one of the texture layers or a 'stamped' complete image. You could try creating a stamped version of the whole thing (Shift+Ctrl+E) - this should appear at the very top of your layer stack. Duplicate that stamped layer, and apply the diffuse glow or gaussian blur to it. It should go all blurry and you'll be wondering what the hell you've done! Smile But then do the same thing as you did before, with adding a black layer mask to the duplicate and 'painting in' on the layer mask itself with white, in order to reveal the effects of the gaussian blur effect where you want it.

Does that make any sense, or have I confused things even more?

29/04/2015 - 3:05 PM

Touch me not

Touch me notHello again Nishant

Once again, you've given us a well constructed, beautifully conceived image. The viewpoint is wonderful and that one solitary shell certainly does draw the eye into the image, where the ebb and flow of the water then takes the eye out further to the horizon line. A very well crafted, well put together image on your part.

You say that a warmer tone made the image look too much like 'digital art' ... but what do you, as the photographer, feel that the blue gives the image? Especially such a strong, overpowering hue of blue as well? Don't misunderstand me, it looks good! But I'm wondering at your own thoughts on the blue and what you feel it brings to the image that the warmer tone didn't?

One big problem with the strong blue colouration is that it spills over onto the inner part of the shell which, to my eyes, should be neutral instead of blue.

A couple of observations that I've addressed in my mod are ... I've taken down the blue a bit to something that appears (to my eyes anyway) more natural but which still retains that sense of 'otherness' and mystery. I've also cloned out a couple of dust bunnies in the top right corner (check your lens or mirror!). In CameraRaw, I first added +17 to the Temperature and -40 on the Vibrance settings. Then, using Photoshop CS6, I added a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set the Cyans to -30 on both the Saturation and Lightness sliders.

The other thing that might be worth mentioning is that you save your images with a ProPhotoRGB profile - nothing wrong with that, but it can play havoc with the colours of an image on uncalibrated, 'standard' monitors which don't necessarily have the wide gamut to appreciate the colours in your original images. Sometimes, it's better to convert to an sRGB profile before uploading here - that way, given that most web browsers don't manage colour in any way, you're more likely for your audience to see the image as you intended it, rather than their monitors not being able to display the image properly. There will always be variations, obviously, but you stand a better chance with sRGB which is, of course, the internet 'standard' colour space anyway.

I love the image - this is the kind of thing I can definitely see on a wall somewhere.

29/04/2015 - 12:40 PM

Italy. The space #1

Italy. The space #1That's quite an expansive scene you've captured here Smile Willie and Paul are right in that the image is underexposed in the foreground and that bright light top left is distracting. The other that sprang to mind for me is that the little town itself seems to be slightly leaning to the left ... I realise that this may have been unavoidable from where you were standing at the top of the tower, but I do find it a bit disconcerting!

So I've done a mod which, as well as brightening the foreground as Willie's done, and burning in that top left corner as Paul suggested, I've also given the image a 0.6 degree rotation, clock-wise (this, in turn, necessitated a slight crop to the original image). The rotation, for me anyway, takes away the slightly queasy feeling of the village being slightly tilted! Smile

27/04/2015 - 5:19 PM

Love photography

Love photographyYou're right - this has been done lots, but I really do like the spin you've given this Grin

As much as I like the old paper style preset you've used in V1, there's something lovely about the colouration of the magenta in V2! Smile Okay, perhaps not quite that pink, but to me that goes with the 'love' shadow from the filter.

I've done a very quick mod where I've done basically the same as you with the gaussian blur layer, although I've perhaps blurred slightly different areas in different ways. I've then kept the magenta cast and added a Color Lookup adjustment layer using the CandleLight.CUBE preset. This mixes nicely the pinky tone of the magenta with a slightly sepia tone, giving it an oldey-worldy feel with a modern twist Smile

I love the way the eye is drawn in your V1 to the words that are in focus - it's a great technique to really put the attention on the bits you want the viewer to see.

Does it count as macro? Dunno, to be honest - but it's one heck of a clever image Smile

25/04/2015 - 5:18 PM


GeometryHi Matt - though I'm normally a mono gal, there's something beautiful about the colour version. I think the trouble with the mono you've got here is that it almost needs more drama to bring it to life more. The colour version has that.

So I've gone for the fence-sitting position, and done you a mod which is a half-way point between the two Grin I just took the colour and added a black and white adjustment layer, set to 50% Opacity. (The image opened with a ProPhotoRGB profile attached to it, by the way, and the minute I converted it into an sRGB profile space to work on, it starts to easily break down in the blue areas.)

Don't know what you you'll think of my half-breed version, but have a look anyway and see what you think Smile

24/04/2015 - 3:49 PM


attitudeI really like the pose, it's very strong (and he's kind of got the look of Ricky Whittle, which isn't a bad thing by any stretch of a girl's imagination ... Wink).

However, the light is really harsh and contrasty here which I don't think is doing your model any favours - okay, the squinting into the light is doing wonders for the whole attitude thing, but I think I prefer the play of light on his face/body in Intensity rather than here. Whether that's got anything to do with the colour/mono choice, I don't know. But it's almost too much in this instance (for me, anyway - others will no doubt see it differently).

24/04/2015 - 2:36 PM

Between mountains and lake

Between mountains and lakeHi Juan

What an amazing looking place! It looks so precarious on the side of that mountain ... and I think the angle you've taken the image from highlights that feeling very well. It also doesn't look the easiest place for agriculture, either.

While this is a very good image, for me it's more a record shot than a landscape photograph. It shows the entirety of the village and its location, but without getting in close enough to give the viewer a real sense of the lives of the people who live in the village. Still, at a focal length of 18mm, I'm not surprised. Trouble is, going to the other end of the lens's range would have given you a closer image, yes, but also not enough to really pick out individual details. It's also quite contrasty, especially up in the upper mountain area where the green trees and shrubbery are.

There's a white cloud on the upper edge of the frame that's half in and half out of the image - I'd suggest one or the other, in or out. In my mod I've cloned it out completely. I've also adjusted the shadows and highlights throughout the image, to try and get more of a balance between the lightest and darkest areas and to bring out more detail in the green of the upper mountain and also in the water that's right up against the land at the edge of the town.

I've cropped up slightly from the bottom too, as for me the land coming from the lower left corner seems more natural and balanced, rather than having what looks like the edge of a bush of some sort in that corner? As the image looked a little on the soft side, I've also sharpened a touch which seems to have given more definition to the buildings.

Anyway, have a look at my mod and see what you think of the changes I've made.

24/04/2015 - 11:20 AM


*****I'll second the idea of a fractional crop in from the left, to remove that light strip Smile If it's a window, then it's one of those either/or situations ... leave enough of it for the viewer to fully realise that it's a window, or take it out completely as it adds nothing to the image and is ultimately distracting. Oddly, I don't mind the white blob above her head - it looks to me like a picture frame of some sort and, because my mind can subconsciously recognise it as such, it feels right and isn't distracting.

Other than that, though, it's a superb image. Softly sensuous, good eye contact and you've got the hands looking nice and natural - they're sods, normally, hands ... either they look like a bunch of bananas, or they just look plain wrong no matter which way you try and pose them Grin
24/04/2015 - 11:09 AM

Sunset on La Digue

Sunset on La DigueWell, I personally think it's amazing Smile I absolutely love this and am wondering why on earth you put it in for critique? This is an image that would do really well in the main gallery instead.

Would I change anything about it? Probably not, if I'm honest. There's a fractional yellow colour in the white cloud, top left, but that could (a) be reflected light from the rocks or (b) maybe just how the clouds were at that particular moment.

In terms of composition, again, I don't think there's anything I'd change. The figure could be positioned so that there's more separation between her arms, so that they don't merge into one limb (look at the legs to see what I mean - they're both very clearly delineated and separate). However, there's a lovely sense of 'as is' with the position of the model so it's only a personal choice thing for me.

You could, if you chose to, also crop this to a square format (and yes, I know you're a purist and don't really do much in terms of cropping etc). However, the rock formations, the colours and everything do also lend themselves to square. I'll do a mod to show you what I mean, for you to consider.

23/04/2015 - 2:13 PM

Caldera. Santorini

Caldera. SantoriniHi Alexander Smile

When you upload your images here, you're forgetting to 'tell' the system what format you captured the image in, that's all Smile On the upload screen, after you've attached your image, go down to the next box called 'Exif Data (Optional)'. In there, at the bottom, where it says 'Recording Media:' - make sure you change that from JPEG (which is the default option) to RAW (which is the format you took the original image in).

Then, once the image is completely uploaded to the Gallery, in the exif data underneath your image as well as saying what camera you used, what lens, what aperture, shutter speed etc., it will also say what format you took the image in (i.e. instead of saying 'JPEG (digital)' it will say 'RAW (digital)' instead).

If you're still having trouble, just say and I'll upload a mod which has some screenshots for you to look at, showing the options and where to find them Smile

In the meantime, by the way, I've done you a mod of your image above where I've brought out the details a bit more in that dark band of rock, below the town. It's a beautiful image, by the way, even though it's predominantly blue in tone. I love the combination of the warm glows within the houses and the cool, cold aura of night time outside.

I also cropped a fraction in from the right hand side, just to remove that little bit of orange light in the bottom right corner - it's lovely, but it's distracting to the eye Smile

23/04/2015 - 1:48 PM

Killarney, April 2015

Killarney, April 2015Tracey, I've just had another thought about this (sorry!). When you say that the histogram appears fine, even though the image seems underexposed, what shape is the histogram for this one and what's the distribution of tones through the length of it?

The only reason I'm asking is, thinking about a conversation I had with a guy the other week who does an awful lot of very good landscape imagery, his advice was to expose to the right. I'm still trying to get my head round that theory and it's one that not everyone holds dear to, but the logic behind it seems sound.

The idea is to expose 'to the right' as far as you can without clipping the highlights (particularly if you shoot RAW, which you do). Apparently one of the advantages of doing this is that it minimises noise and in post processing it's easier to take down shadow areas without the risk of introducing noise. As opposed to lightening them afterwards in post processing - that always runs the risk of introducing unwanted noise in those shadow areas.

You're probably one step ahead of me already here, but have a look at this article on the Cambridge in Colour website. It gives several techniques (as well as the ETTR one) that you may find interesting and/or useful.

23/04/2015 - 11:50 AM

Killarney, April 2015

Killarney, April 2015Hmm ... I've just had a play with this and I can see what you mean about it easily breaking down. However, I've done a mod which is has brought out a bit more detail, particularly in the distant hills. I can't see anything untoward in terms of breaking down, or at least no more than you had on the upload here, but I also think that the image when I opened it in PS had an AdobeRGB profile attached, not an sRGB one? I don't know how much difference that made to anything I've done at my end. I did convert to sRGB while I worked on it, so I don't know what it's going to look like here afterwards ...

I basically had a quick play with the Image/Adjustments/Shadows & Highlights feature in PS6 and used the following settings:

Shadows: Amount = 16%, Tonal width = 35%, Radius = 0px
Highlights: Amount = 0%, Tonal width = 50%, Radius = 30px
Adjustments: Colour correction = -61, Midtone contrast = -35

Everything else in the Shadows/Highlights settings was at the default levels.

I personally struggle with this sort of thing, so I don't know how helpful this will be for you. It'll be interesting what else comes up as better way to do what you want to do.

22/04/2015 - 2:21 PM


RaingazerGosh, he's rather ... err ... buff!! Smile

Great shot, by the way ... the right combination of dark menace and lighting on his body. You've got three light spots in the foreground rocks that are pulling my eye a fraction, but that's a really niggly minor point given the rest of the image.

22/04/2015 - 11:35 AM

Photo Shoot - Portrait

Photo Shoot - PortraitHi Tyson - welcome back to the critique gallery Smile

First off, well done for having a go with this genre. Sometimes, it's easy to get put off in a situation like this, surrounded by other photographers (some of whom are either pro or semi-pro) and end up with nothing because you were scared of being seen as 'pushy'. Secondly, good on you for wanting to do something a bit different to the normal shots in this kind of scenario.

There's one or two things that immediately strike me about this image - firstly, you can tell that she ain't used to holding a camera! Secondly, your skin tones are a fraction warmer than I personally like (others may say different though). Okay, the light is perhaps a little harsh and you can spend ages thinking of what you should have done, but you've actually ended with a very good portrait of this lass.

I've done you a mod which I hope will present a different way of doing this image - both at the taking stage and the processing stage. As well as cropping the image overall, I've moved the camera over so that she's looking 'through' the viewfinder - that to me seems more natural. Okay, you don't get to see both of those beautiful eyes, but that's a small point. It may not be the best cut-and-shut job in the world, but it is only to illustrate the point Grin

The other thing I've done is to go black and white instead (the red on the camera strap was bugging me Smile), fairly high contrast but still dark and moody.

I've never done this kind of shot, so in terms of the technicalities I'm hoping that someone else will come along and advise you on that side of things, if necessary.

But - I like the image and will be interested to see some of the others you took, too Smile

21/04/2015 - 4:59 PM

What happened to the view?

What happened to the view?I've nothing really to add to the others' comments above. If one of your fellow coach travellers was wearing a bright red jacket, or had a red umbrella or something similar, you could have asked them to move into the misty area and capture them that way. Something bright in amongst all that mist would have caught the viewer's eye and drawn it onwards and upwards into the image.

Alternatively, you could have asked the pro photographer to put his money where his mouth was and pose with his tripod for you in the mists Grin That could have been classed as 'not fighting the weather and making a picture of it' ... You could then have (possibly) had something intesting by photographing a photographer, who was trying to photograph something in impossible odds!! Wink
17/04/2015 - 3:09 PM

Storm on the Vestmann

Storm on the VestmannHello again Alexander Smile

It's great to see another one of your images in the critique gallery, although I will say that had this been in the main gallery, I'd have definitely voted on it! However, as you've put it into the Critique Gallery, I'll give you my thoughts on it.

I love this view. It's harsh, uncompromising and says 'storm' incredibly effectively. It puts the viewer very much in the image, with that big wave about to crest over and tumble towards them - that's a good technique, as we instantly become a 'part' of the image, rather than a passive spectator.

I can't personally see anything wrong with your settings technically, although I would say that if you chose to shoot RAW instead of JPEG, you'd probably get a heck of a lot more out of the image in the post processing stage. The trouble with JPEG is that the camera makes certain decisions for you, at the time of taking the image. It will also throw away some information in order to keep the file at a manageable JPEG size. Unfortunately, you can never get this information back - it's gone, for good. RAW, on the other hand, records everything and discards nothing - it's then up to you as the photographer to process the image as you want, using every single bit of available data that the camera recorded at the time of taking. You're probably already aware of all this already, and shoot JPEG deliberately, but it doesn't hurt to reiterate it, sometimes Smile

I know you see yourself as a purist with your photography, only taking what was there at the time, and will have composed this view deliberately in your viewfinder to include the big chunky rocks on the left hand side, but for me I see this as being more about the upward pointing shards of rocks and that wave, then the heavyness of the left hand side.

So I've done you a mod where I've cropped to almost a square format, excluding the left hand side of your original image. I've left part of them in for the sake of context, though.

The one thing I absolutely love about this image is that emerald green colouration of the wave, mixed in with a tiny bit of blue here and there. That, for me, is what makes this image. So I've tried to concentrate on that aspect of it and, as part of doing that, I've reduced the blue from your sky a bit as I felt that it competed too much for attention with the colouration of the water. By doing so, I also think that it goes along more with my idea of a storm - blue skies never give me that impression!

I've also adjusted shadows and highlights a little, just to try and bring out a bit more detail in the rock areas. I cloned out a couple of the larger, paler coloured rocks that were sitting on the bottom edge of the frame, as they distracted my eye from going forwards ... that rocky foreground should serve as a pathway to the main event of the wave - it shouldn't prevent the viewer's eye from delving into the image at the outset.

I realise that these aren't things that you would do yourself, given your approach to the naturalness of your imagery. However, for me I think it improves the image. You may agree or not, and that's absolutely fine Smile


[Edit: I've actually done you two mods - the first is exactly as I've described above. The second, however, I used a bit of artistic license and I hope you don't mind. Sometimes, imagery needs a little bit of something in order to make it into something else, and I've done that with my Mod2. I've retained the emerald green of the water, but given the rest of the image a darker, warmer tone throughout.]
17/04/2015 - 12:47 PM


MagnoliasMe again ... Grin I thought I'd try a mod as, although I really like what Willie and Moira have done with your image, for me it was saying something else that I've tried to show in my mod.

I've cropped to a square format and removed the statue completely. For me, the image isn't about the interaction between the flower head and the statue, it's purely about the flower head. So I cropped and then cloned out the remaining bits of the statue, selected the flowers themselves, inverted the selection and applied some gaussian blur (I think it was about 8 pixels, but don't quote me on that!). I then adjusted the midtone levels to bring up the whites a lot more than you had in your original.

On top of that, I applied a gradient from the top left corner to the bottom right one, using a Selenium 1 preset and I then set that gradient layer at 70% opacity and a Hard Light blend mode. I liked the way it illuminated the uppermost petals, almost making them glow, while still retaining a little bit of darkness in the bottom right corner to anchor the image to reality a little.

My selection of the flower head isn't the best in the world, and I'll apologise for that, but hopefully you'll get the idea Smile

For me, now, the image is about the flowerhead reaching towards the light, striving to become something ... you may not see it that way, and I know you like your lower contrasty feel of the shades of grey, but I think with something this delicate and beautiful it needs light to really do it justice. Have a look and see what you think of my mod, but do remember that it's just my interpretation of your image.

Light and volcanoes, new versionLooking back on the previous version of this, I much prefer what you've done here.

A slightly different crop by the looks of things which really does highlight that gorgeously rippled water. The colours in this version are also much more pleasing on the eye - gentler and, because they're on the warmer end of the colour spectrum, it makes the image much more inviting to the viewer in lots of ways.

You've addressed the slight rotation needed, and you've also brought out much more detail in the grassy bank, which is lovely. It's now an invitation towards, rather than a barrier across, that wonderful scene in the background.

I see that the little white blob on the bank that Moira pointed out before is still there Smile It's not really an issue, given the beautiful serenity of the rest of the image, but I think like to see it gone as well.

Other than that, I think this is a massive improvement over the last image of the same place. I don't want to change or correct anything in the image, but I am going to try a mod where I want to introduce a dreamy, otherworldly feeling if I can. I'll be back in a bit ...