Back Modifications (1)
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bodicote windmill

By johnalexander  
N density grad

Should you not have this many filters on at the same time?
I have lee filters with lee holder

I would love some critique on the photograph, please be brutal - I can go back because it is near my house!

Tags: Landscape and travel

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


JASPERIMAGE 12 55 1 Scotland
19 May 2009 10:06PM
Personally I gave up using filters and now shoot 3 images using AEB setting in camera. Basically I expose in fore at suitable position, lock exposure, focus on lower 3rd of view and boost f to 22+ and always shoot in RAW. This gives you one image exposed for fore and 1 for sky ( I do use polarizer ) and then blend the two etc on RAW conversion then Photoshop CS4.


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Andrew_Hurley 12 71 73 United Kingdom
19 May 2009 10:07PM
Hi John,

Please be brutal you said! Well I'll be honest I don't know about being brutally honest though!

You've put the horizon in the centre, which is not ideal, as it has split the image in two. This may have been your deliberate intention. The sky, for me, looks, well rather strange. There's evidence that a grad has been used but the clouds looks as though they have been burnt in. It may also be worth waiting until the sails on the windmill are more of an angle (the 10 past 10 look) to create more of a dynamic. What would really set the image off is someone walking away from you, on the left third, a slim, sexy woman in a red dress!!! (or is that a little cliched these days?). I just feel it needs an extra element.

I hope this helps. I really envy where you live, looks like a superb place to take photographs.

Fisher2 10 1 Ireland
19 May 2009 11:25PM
A sharper cleaner image would work for me rather than the blurred
foreground, just a suggestion.
malc_c 11 2 167 England
19 May 2009 11:41PM
Hi John,

An interesting image indeed. I like your courage to go for the long exposure to allow the forground flowers to blur themselves in the wind, and the use of the curved horizon to make the scene look deeper than it would straight as it registers as a distant horizon. And I like the letterbox presentation too.

There are two things I would like to see different though. The main one is of course the sky, and the effect of the ND grad on it. Because the grad line is above the horizon, you can see its effect very clearly, and it isn't at all pretty. However, it looks like the sky has an additional problem either with shadows cast from higher clouds or the use of the burn tool. I'm just not sure what's going on here- can you help explain it? To be honest, I would have post-processed the grad effect in PS, but then I'm not a real landscape photographer.

Secondly, it bugs me that we are looking at the back of the windmill, rather than the front. I know it sounds odd, but I don't feel connected with it because I can't see its face.

I appreciate what Andrew means about the horizon being too central, but I wouldn't want to lose the sails so you would either need to take a ladder with you (no, seriously), to get a higher viewpoint and get the sails in with less sky (but risk confusing the windmill with the background. Or alternatively just have more foreground in- if you have a suitable lens. I'm not so fussed about it myself as I think the image is strong as it stands, but it would be interesting to compare.

Lastly, I personally don't see a need for the red dress to come out. A landscape as good as this doesn't need it (in fact it wouldn't really be a landscape with it) and in any case I wouldn't then know whether the image was about the woman or the windmill, and that would considerably weaken the picture.

alansdottir 9 60 7 United Kingdom
20 May 2009 12:03AM
Weeell, looks like you have plenty of critique and I'm far from qualified, but... I'd say, if it works for you, do it. You have excellent quality filters, way better than mine, and I used a similar combination just the other day - I see nothing wrong with that. First impression here is good - but it doesn't hold up on lengthy examination - possibly because of the sky? Not much help, but keep trying - you have an excellent subject to follow through the seasons and changing weather, I think. Carol
20 May 2009 10:21AM
Thank you everyone for your comments.. I have had some comments from family that they didn't like the back of the windmill... it was turned around that way on that day without me knowing.. I quite like the back more than than the front but I know exactly what you mean Malcolm.... I haven't used any burn tools in photoshop.. in fact I have hardly done anything to the immage apart from blend them all together as it is a panaramic... although Malcolm I do not understand what you mean by saying the grad line is above the horizone.. do you mean I haven't positioned it properly?. There was something weird about the sky that day a weak white/grey haze which looked weird even with my eyes. I might go back when the sky is a bit better! x
Thanks for everyones support.. T
edsephiroth 11 169 9 United Kingdom
20 May 2009 11:35PM
Personally I don't see the need for any women in red dresses or suchlike, and I really like the basics of what you've done here - for me any criticism just goes back to the unnatural-looking sky - if I hadn't read your own comment, I would have really thought you had (badly) cloned in a sky in Photoshop - it just looks so weird!

Do you really need a multitude of filters on a 5D? I would have thought simply blending two different exposures would have come up with a lot more natural effect.

Anyway, I do like the rest of it and agree that the choice of a slightly longer exposure to give some movement to the flowers is a good (and perhaps more importantly - different) idea.
malc_c 11 2 167 England
21 May 2009 10:12AM
Hi John,

One of the big issues with great landscape photography is that you have little control over anything other than time and exposure. Exposure you can set on the day, but time means you need to be there just at that moment when everything is right, which means knowing the location, the weather etc.etc. (or of course being lucky every so often!) I'm NOT any sort of landscape photographer, and I doubt I would have picked up on the back of the windmill until I saw an image later. But then you can't do too much about it anyway... well not unless you take various pictures and clone the right windmill into the right background. This is "the picture that existed, but not when I happened to be there" as one of my Amersham colleagues puts it.

Regarding the grad line: if you look at the side of the windmill, you can see that the top is darker than the bottom, with a light-to-dark transition, which is caused by the grad filter, approximately half way up. You can follow this line across the sky with the sky above noticeably darker than that below. This gives the effect of a bright horizon, which just isn't very natural and I think is mostly to blame for the odd looking sky. Assuming you are using square 'P' type filters or something similar, just slide the filter in the mount to align the grad with the horizon in the viewfinder... I'm sure I don't need me to explain, sorry.

To illustrate and check this theory I will post two mods that-

1) 'undo' the grad filter in order to see how/if the sky looks more natural.
2) take the above and 'redo' the grad filter but aligned on the horizon to see how that compares to the original. AND I'll keep the windmill OUT of the grad so it grabs your attention to show the advantage of digital manipulation in this particular instance.

By the way, I meant to say earlier that you have some really great images in your portfolio. And despite this discussion, this image is pretty damn good too.

4 Jun 2009 4:05PM
Thanks Malcolm.. really helpful.. I will try to be a bit more careful in the future.. usually I am quite good at putting it in th right place but because I was stitching photos together, the tripod might not have been level and i forgot to re-adjust the grad..also I didn't want the trees to turn black because of the grad.. took a photo last year and it did that. How would I get the trees well exposed.. but the sky looking normal.... suppose I would need photoshop trckery to brighten up the trees??

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