Back Modifications (3)
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Perch Rock

By ChrisStyles  
What can I say it's that lighthouse again sorry Smile
Would like some critique on this one as the last two didn't do to well & was just wondering were I was going wrong.

Thanks for your time.

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.


Ian-Munro 10 200 15 Wales
16 Aug 2009 11:05AM

I dont feel qualified to give critique on this because it looks as if you have made the best of the situation. May i first say that i would maybe try and bring out the rock details more using say "shadow highlight" tool in image - adjustment - shadow highlight. or even just try image - adjustment - levels and play with the sliders until you get the desired effect. Make sure you select just the rocks though otherwise you will alter the whole image. And secondly maybe use a different white balance or temperature to cool things down, to see what suits.

You probably know this already so pardon me if im teaching you to suck eggs Wink
Anyway it must be a good image otherwise i wouldn't open the thumbnail so well done.


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rossi 14 142 11 England
16 Aug 2009 11:27AM
I don't think you're 'going wrong' as such as you've achieved quite a nice feel with this, but it would probably benefit from a little more foreground detail. The composition IMHO is spot on, it just comes down to filtration and capturing the light coming from the sand and rocks in this instance. Obviously I don't know what meter settings or filters you used, but I always use spot metering and in this instance I guess it would have been about 3-4 stops of ND filters across the sky, possibly more. The metering would have been off a midtone in the foreground, this should then allow you to capture the detail in the bottom 3rd of the image whilst retaining the detail and colours in the sky. Its not easy and does take practice, its also worth while moving the filters around to get different levels of light, and even when shooting RAW it can sometimes be worthwhile bracketing a half or maybe a full stop. At least then you can pick and choose which image to work with whislt limiting the possibility of noise in dark or flat areas.

Hope my box of eggs aren't too hard boiled.

cassiecat 9 39 46 England
16 Aug 2009 11:30AM
i think Ian is very qualified and has given some good advice. have done a mod, hope you approve, but do really llike it, and its my fav of the 3. not sure the mod is any better.lesley Smile
jeronius 8 1 1 England
16 Aug 2009 11:36AM
Agree with Ian about trying to bring out the foreground rocks, but many people seem to get a "glow" around their selectively lightened areas so watch out for this. Otherwise a superb image.
ChrisStyles 10 387 United Kingdom
16 Aug 2009 12:29PM
Thanks very much for the the advice it's most appreciated, I'll head back to PS and see what I come up with & cassiecat thanks for the mod.

BillyGoatGruff 10 191 199 England
16 Aug 2009 3:08PM
Hi Chris.
There's not really much wrong with this, imo!
The composition is spot on, and as has been said, it's the best of the three images!

For me it's all about the light values, and some gentle contrast work would greatly enhance it.
The mod I've uploaded addresses this and explains where I think work (if any! Smile) should be done.
I used three separate curves layers to respectively lift the darkest shadows; increase midtone contrast; darken the highlights. All of these through layer masks.
This was followed by a small amount of colour "massaging" and an additional masked curve layer to lift the tones of the lighthouse a tad. Last of all was a tiny bit of smart sharpen.
You may or may not like the result!

I thnk the most important thing about any image editing, is to have a good idea of what you want to end up with and then choosing the right tools to achieve it, all the way from camera set-up to post-processing.
Both Ians have made very good points, which I'd echo and addend with try learning about layer masking and selections/channels to enable you to target your adjustments to specific areas - not easy, but with practise, it'll start to happen!

Steve-T 11 56 66 England
16 Aug 2009 3:36PM
Hi Chris, this is definitely the best of the three - particularly in terms of composition. Here the lighhouse is in exactly the right place in the image. The colours are also much better in this image. I can see in your first image that you have quite rightly concentrated on the highlight in the sky and its reflection. Unfortunately, the rest of the image is too flat which may have impacted on the response you recieved. The second image has areas of blocked shadow particularly in the bottom left. This also applies to this image but less so as there are reflected highlights in the sand and on the rocks.

The solution, I feel, has to be in the camera and not the software and would endorse rossi's suggestion to bracket the images particular where there is a large dynamic range (e.g. sunset). Grad filters could be OK but not if you want maximum detail in the lighthouse.

I am not sure what software you use but if you did bracket your shots there are various methods of blending the images which I am sure you are aware.

Hope this helps. Steve.
ChrisStyles 10 387 United Kingdom
16 Aug 2009 4:01PM
Bill thank you for the mod, I did try something similar but with colour saturation which looked way over the top as you can imagine Smile I'll look into layer masks this week as it's something I've avoided.

Steve the shot was bracketed then put through Merge to HDR in CS4 but again as with layer masks this is something I need to work on.

Thank you both for the advice.

fatherpie 9 18 12 England
16 Aug 2009 4:13PM
Hi Chris, you mention in one of your comments above that you'd merged to HDR and I'd echo Steve's comment about ND grads. Given the composition a hard grad would have worked quite nicely I think. For those occasions when I don't have grads with me I would try to "expose to the right" keeping as much detail in the highlights without clipping them. Once I got the shot home I'd try a gradient filter in PS. In the mod I've uploaded I adjusted exposure to get the FG how I wanted it and then used the gradient tool to darken the sky.

Hope this helps
ChrisStyles 10 387 United Kingdom
16 Aug 2009 4:58PM
Hi Dave,
Thank you for the mod & advice. Would the gradient tool in camera raw work in the same way as I've found this so much more easy to use ??
fatherpie 9 18 12 England
16 Aug 2009 5:02PM
Chris, I rarely use ACR (I do my RAW conversion in DXO and post production in PS) but I can't imagine you'd have any problems using the gradient tool in the way you suggest.

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