Back Modifications (6)
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first snow

By silverthorn1935    
i took this photo from my bedroom window, it is the first snow of the year, it was taken by street lighting only nusing an olympus em1 mk11 camera hand held, time 330 am i am 86 and do not sleep well,the lens was an 14 f 2.8 panasonic taken on auto i put this in for comment i am considering entering it in a black and white local camera club competition, to see if it was good enough.i welcome any comments you make as helpful as at one time i was a film photographer, but am told the criterion , of digital is different and i have to watch out for things called artifacts?

Tags: Black and white Black and white conversion

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dudler Plus
18 1.8k 1928 England
28 Nov 2021 9:34AM
I think this might do reasonably in a small club contest, although I'd prefer to see a little more sharpness, and maybe more pure black and white.

Could you upload the original, unprocessed file, please, so we can see what you started from? Also, if you tell us how you processed, that could be helpful.

Artefacts occur when you use too small a file for the detail and subtlety of tone in the image, either by overcompressing, or through processing.

I've done a modification - click on the blue 'Modifications' box below the image on the left, then on the number to see it. I've used the Levels adjustment in Photoshop to increase contrast a bit.
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.2k 2518 United Kingdom
28 Nov 2021 11:03AM
Belatedly welcome from me, yesterday was busy here and I missed your first Critique Gallery upload.

This was a tricky situation photographically, for various reason. Photographing from a window gives the angle, but it limits the compositional options, you cannot move round much; and I assume that it was taken through glass, possibly double glazing, which will compromise image quality and could account for slight softness.

The textbook response to a situation like this is to say - use a tripod, with a longer exposure, in order to reduce ISO and get better image quality. But then if there is any hint of breeze you will get subject movement in the twigs...

I reckon that in view of all the compromises involved you got a very good result. And being in my 70s I appreciate the need to stay indoors in conditions such as these! It would be good to see the colour original though, as a modification, and also to know how you converted to b&w - what software you used.

How it will fare in a competition I don't know. I might suggest removing those two thin tracks in the snow, the clone tool or spot healing brush will do that. I shall add a modification shortly.

John has explained artifacts, they take various forms but basically they come down to pushing processing too far, so that it exaggerates inherent faults in the file. I'm not seeing any significant problems here.

mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.2k 2518 United Kingdom
28 Nov 2021 11:31AM
I've added a modification now. I removed the two tracks using the spot healing brush, added a wee bit more contrast (generally b&w depends on shapes, structures, contrast, real black and white - rather than realism.) And I cropped to 3 x 2, to get rid of the darker background strip at the top and part of the rather boring bush in the foreground.

As for comparison I have added a version with a simple frame to enclose the scene. It's cosmetic, but it works I think.

Just suggestions...

I hope that we shall see more from you in the Critique Gallery, a number of us are former (and current) film photographers; we can guide you on the digital journey.
ZenTony Plus
6 12 2 United Kingdom
28 Nov 2021 11:32AM
I have just added a few slight adjustments. I rather like the tramlines and have left them. I cropped the dark band out and removed the spots. A touch of contrast and sharpening are my "personal" preferences. I should have added a frame as Moira has now done.
dark_lord Plus
18 2.9k 810 England
28 Nov 2021 1:53PM
Welcome from me too.

There's a lot of good suggestions above.
High contrast mono woks well with graphic subjects with strong lines which is what you have here so my mod concentrates on those, removing the bush at the bottom as while it's ot so much of a distraction it does dilute the strenght of the fence and shadows. I boosted contrast a little too.

This was uploaded with a greyscale profile so my mod changes that to sRGB which is the recommended profile for the web.

That greyscale profile rings alarm bells for processing but with, I guess, a fairly contrasty original a straight greyscale conversion has worked adequetly.
While this looks good, it would be nice to see the colour original and details of your pocessing.
pamelajean Plus
16 1.7k 2253 United Kingdom
28 Nov 2021 5:34PM
Hello again, Donald.

This is a strong black and white image with a good composition, and you have some interesting modifications, to give you some ideas for when you process it. If you want to enter it into a competition, you will want it to have as much impact as possible.

A good black and white image has those two colours very strong, which can be achieved when adjusting the contrast. But don't overdo it.
Here you have an ideal scene, complete with strong and attractive shadows. I see this was taken at 5.48am according to the Exif Data, though you say it was 3.30am. There would have been quite a bit of light available at about 6am, so maybe your camera's time/date needs adjusting?
When the sun is low in the sky, especially at sunrise, you will get those lovely shadows.
The best time of day to shoot is either just after dawn or before dusk, to get low angled glancing light.

I would recommend a crop that takes away some of the uninteresting foreground hedge, the dark line at the very top of the frame, and the little bit of tree trunk on the right frame edge, but for balance, maybe a bit more from the right side.
It's always interesting trying different crops on an image like this. Have a go.


pablophotographer 10 2.0k 423
30 Nov 2021 12:07AM

For the love of God do not crop the top part of the tree or the picture, please!

One can ask always themselves what frame contains the subjects the best. Thankfully your camera has four framing options, 1:1, 3:2, 4:3 and 16:9. The final framing should contain the strongest and the most beautiful parts of the picture as they have more impact and can make a powerful impression.

And it can be even in a frame which you decide its proportions afterwards, on your pc or tablet, when you consider the elements of the picture carefully.

I think that the tree on the right deserves to be displayed in full as you have photograph it. I don't mind for the grey zone being included, I accept it as part of the spectrum between black and white.

But I do mind the big bulk at the bottom, it may be a rock or a snow covered bush.
Imagine it as a tripping stone. Avoid it, as much as you can.

Consider aligning the bottom of your frame to the decorative stonework just above the "L" shaped corner. It suffices.
It points in a diagonal way to the beautiful shadows and the tree. And to my opinion it makes it look like a winner!

Best of luck in the competition!

chase Plus
16 2.4k 620 England
30 Nov 2021 6:25PM
I like the shadows you have captured but for me it is just a wee bit too busy. The big bush in the fg really takes over the frame and I would like to see a little more black and white, not quite so many shades of grey.

I did a hefty crop from the top and the bottom.
Took the image into Nik Silver and used the 'silhouette' option to darken the blacks and lighten the whites.
I tried to do as little as possible as overdoing the post processing can bring out the artefacts you speak about which can spoil a nice image wether colour or B&W.
I added a frame to contain the image and converted the colour profile to sRGB which is the one to use when posting images on the web.

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