Back Modifications (10)
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Playing in the woods

By jackdeakin
Out for a walk with the kids over easter. Playing with a lens i have never given much time. Made some tweaks in lightroom to warm up the image but not too sure what to do with it.

Tags: Woods Children playing Portraits and people

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Squirrel 15 471 7 England
1 Apr 2016 7:39PM
Hi I like the way you handled the vignetting/ soft focus on the edges. It brings the eye into the centre of the image. It seemed a bit washed out but that could be my monitor. I've done a quick mod. The tree trunk on the right was a bit bright so did a bit of dodging and burning.
jackdeakin 14 16 United Kingdom
1 Apr 2016 8:42PM
The washed out look was me! Took out some of the blacks and flattened the high tones. Attempting something i have seen in other photos. Not sure it works myself! looking for an old yesteryear/past look. Thanks for the advice and certainly notice the tree now you mention it and bringing the blacks back look better in comparison
banehawi Plus
18 2.7k 4319 Canada
1 Apr 2016 8:43PM
Its a very nice scene Jack.

I dont think theres really a whole lot you could do with it other than experiment with crops, as its looks good as it is.

It is rather soft and light, - which seems to work here also; its due to blacks not being black, which improves contrast. Its something you have done, and it does work, so the mods show the different with denser blacks.

I have addressed this, and added a little more sharpening in the mods. Mod2 is softer again, more dreamy perhaps. Mod3 is very light with very low black level.


jackdeakin 14 16 United Kingdom
1 Apr 2016 9:00PM
Thanks Willie, keen on mod 1 myself. Agree bringing out out the blacks and increasing contrast help. Something to note when using this lens. Its a very old Nikon 70-210 f4. but does tend to wash out colours somewhat. I was keen to 'pursue' the washed out feel at first but comparing them side by side prefer your mod 1.


mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.3k 2538 United Kingdom
2 Apr 2016 8:43AM
Willie has covered most of what I wanted to say on this.

There's a really delightful image here, but it's partially hidden under the special effects. I generally reckon that partial desaturation works well for children, so long as it is very restrained. But for me there are too many effects piled on top of each other here - the softening of everything that surrounds the children (there is no firm ground under their feet!) plus the light vignette, on top of the colour treatment... You risk the image being about the processing, not about the children.

Plus, I do think this needs a slight anti-clockwise rotation.

Could you upload the original please, as a version or a modification? I'd really like to have a go at it.

dark_lord Plus
18 2.9k 825 England
2 Apr 2016 9:21AM
I'm not familiar with Nikon lenses and although older zooms especially had lower contrast and colour rendition I wouldn't have said the marque lenses were that bad.
I'm with Moira in that I think the original image would have been absolutely fine. A vignette is ok but I'd go for a les heavy one.
jackdeakin 14 16 United Kingdom
2 Apr 2016 10:03AM
Thanks again. Uploaded the un processed original strait from camera. (converted to jpeg). Any processing ideas welcome or not as may be the case. I guess looking for ways to add to the image as opposed to distracting.

dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1948 England
2 Apr 2016 10:39AM
And I am with Keith and Moira - my favourite is the unprocessed version.

Less is very often more, and I admit a personal bias: I detest the belief that you must process everything a lot. Many a good shot has been spoiled by too much fiddling.

Processing should either be confined to tidying up - removing a little bit here, cloning out a sweet wrapper there, straightening, and so on; or it should add something specific. Too often, software now is the same as Cokin filters in 1980: useful once in 100 pictures, and a really big problem in the other 99.

The shallow depth of field is all you need to isolate the children here, and maybe running a 10% burn on shadows along each edge. If you really want to soften, do it right at the edges, and on the sides only, not much.

Extra thought: moving the taking position fractionally to the right would have simplified the composition by putting the children against the path, and not partly in front of the trees. It's not wildly intrusive, but in the best of all possible worlds...

Actually, these two little areas demonstrate the quality of the lens: the path is pretty sharp, though slightly less so than the centre of the frame. (In other words, the 'imperfection' of the lens gives a positive artistic effect. This is why there's an increasing market in old lenses to use on CSC bodies...)

It also casts an interesting light on the scramble to design (and buy) lenses that are pinsharp from corner to corner at maximum aperture. There are very few types of photogrpahy where you need that!
biglog 9 42 2 United Kingdom
2 Apr 2016 11:27AM
Great light, location and most importantly subject matter for me make this a really nice first impression was really small things like just moving more in line with path as John stated plus the blur is a little on heavy side, but I like the washed out look, think you did a good job there.

Have done a small mod just trying to move camera angle,
dark_lord Plus
18 2.9k 825 England
2 Apr 2016 12:24PM
Thank you for the original.
It's really good and the suggestions of minor processing are all that you'd need to do if you wanted. This is a good case of less is more.

However, it was worth doing the processing you did. You've increased your skills, you've found out what works well and not so well, and you've prompted discussion. This is all positive.

If you think about it, sepia toned mono images are highly processed (either digital or film), and have a classic look but don't suit every image.

I remember Cokin (well I still have them somewhere!). I restricted my collection to the mono contrast filters and colour correction types, though a couple of 'other' ones did creep in. The fact I didn't really use the 'other' ones should speak for itself...
TanyaH Plus
19 1.3k 411 United Kingdom
2 Apr 2016 2:56PM
As one who does a heck of a lot of processing fiddling, I can totally appreciate what others are saying above about taking it too far in the pursuit of 'something'. Your original image which you've uploaded is absolutely lovely. Nothing that a small amount of tweaks to things like vibrance and contrast can't fix.

Still, I thought I'd have a play anyway ... I was really lazy in the end, and after a small crop, I took the image into Nik's Analogue Effex and kept pressing 'I'm feeling lucky' until I got something that told my brain to stop Grin

Trouble is, there are so very many ways to process an image - some good ones, others totally unnecessary and do nowt but destroy the ambience. Knowing when to sit back and truly evaluate your image before doing anything to it is a good skill to cultivate.

I'm not sure of the exact settings that Analogue applied to my mod, but it's another potential 'look' to consider.

jackdeakin 14 16 United Kingdom
2 Apr 2016 3:16PM
Good points. I'm not usually one who likes to do too much but very easy to get carried away when i have an idea in my head. There is a photographer called Iwona i have seen recently who seems to be known for photographing her kids. The images are quite stylised and some of them think work well. i assume using photoshop to enhance lighting, light beams, washed out feel with warm filters etc. Some interesting techniques which i have 'attempted' to use here. i guess its a fine line between unnecessary fiddling and adding to an image. shows the importance of taking a step back from an image and reviewing with all the above point in mind.
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.3k 2538 United Kingdom
2 Apr 2016 5:02PM
It tends to be the better uploads that attract this number of modifications!

Thanks for adding the original. I really think it doesn't need very much tweaking. I have uploaded two modifications though, as suggestions.

First mod: I rotated slightly anti-clockwise, to my eye this looks a bit more stable, natural. Then I cropped keeping your proportions, with a view to making the children more important in the frame but keeping a sense of the context and light. I also wanted the faces more or less on the upper third, that's a comfortable level for the viewer.

I darkened highlights slightly, and used the burn tool set to midtones very gently, to bring out detail in the little blond lad. Then I made a Levels adjustment to bring back highlights and boost darker tones. I reduced saturation by 15% overall, and 2% further on magentas. Then I added a hint of dark vignette.

Second mod: B&W conversion worked very simply in Nik Silver Efex Pro, with a touch of sepia toning and a frame. For me this gives a gentle, timeless look.

Really enjoyed this one! Thanks for engaging in the conversation, and explaining what you have done!

As a postscript, there was a nice little moment in one of Michael Portillo's Great Railway Journeys, it's something that stuck in my mind. A master baker was instruction MP in the art of kneading bread, he said 'There comes a point when the dough tells you it's had enough, I think that point was about two minutes ago'.

The same thing often applies to image processing, sometimes less is more. It's worth occasionally going back a step and asking Am I actually adding anything worthwhile?
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1948 England
2 Apr 2016 7:09PM
Sorry - family stuff got between my comment and doing a mod.

I took the original version, rotated and cropped, and burned in along the edges.

I also did a slight Levels alteration, to beef up the midtones a fraction.

The crop at the bottom brings things down to earth a bit, I think - the space is dead, and the blurry area invites the additional blur you put into the original.
paulbroad Plus
15 131 1294 United Kingdom
4 Apr 2016 7:58AM
Lots of stuff! The image I like, the processing, not so good. I like the vignette, but the warmth and flatness just gives the effect of an old print starting to fade. Prefer a good bright image.

The lens may not be good for digital. Older lenses, pre digital, do not have rear element reflective coatings. The digital sensor, or actually the filters in front of it are shiny, reflecting light back which film, being matt, did not do. The result can be lens internal flare caused by light bouncing about in the mirror box.

Do some tests, but I got rid of a perfectly sharp Canon 100/300 which I had with film EOS for this reason.

TanyaH Plus
19 1.3k 411 United Kingdom
4 Apr 2016 11:17AM
Paul, I've still got my Canon 100/300. What you've said above explains why I've never been entirely happy with the results from it on the front of a digital body. Makes complete sense Smile
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1948 England
5 Apr 2016 2:49PM
Paul makes a very good point about the difference between film and digital lenses.

And the effect isn't confined to consumer-grade lenses, though it can be worse with the second (and third) lines. I had a 75-300 Canon lens, long ago, which was neither sharp nor reliable. Subsequently, someone on a Canon stand at Focus conceded that it was a 'consumer' lens, as opposed to the original EOS pro-am lenses (better results, better build) and the L series (suitable for hitting concrete, and best results).
7 Apr 2016 11:12PM
Hi, great little 1970s feel image.
I do prefer the original though!

Done a quick black & white mod and crop

dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1948 England
8 Apr 2016 12:36PM
Steve's mod is so different, and so good. An entirely new take on the image...

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