Back Modifications (3)
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Snowy Cliff

By alexisdifruscia
Took this photo in a moving car on the pass in between California and Oregon. Feel free to tell me what you like or dislike about the picture, how i could fix it or just improve my skill in general, and of course, upload mods.

Tags: Sky Wildlife Nature Snow California Outdoors Trees Oregon Landscape and travel

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pamelajean Plus
15 1.6k 2238 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2015 8:01PM
This is a very attractive scene, Alexis, and quite sharp, considering you were in a moving car.
I assume the car window was shut because there are some signs of reflections from the window, which have smudged some parts of the picture.

I like the strong contrasts between rock and snow, and the attractive trees on the horizon. I also like the lines in the snow where some has fallen and made tracks.

I assume that's a river at the bottom but, because it's in a shaded area, it isn't very obvious.
In fact, your image is quite dark overall, and it's worth remembering that your camera gets fooled by the whiteness of snow and will underexpose. Using some positive exposure compensation should correct that. You do have some nice detail in the whiteness, so well done for that.

The trees on the left are bending to the left, either distorted by your camera, or by the car window.
Your auto white balance worked well to prevent too much of a blue cast appearing on the snow, which is often the case.

In my first modification I skewed the trees and even made them all a bit taller because I think they are a nice feature of the image.
I brightened the image overall and lifted the shadow areas. I also increased the saturation slightly because there is some nice colour in the rock face, which adds a bit more interest.

My second modification shows a crop that removes a lot of the bottom dark area and concentrates on what I consider to be the most attractive part of your frame. The crop also removes some of those smudgy reflections from the bottom.

mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2457 United Kingdom
12 Jan 2015 9:31AM
You did extraordinarily well to get this so sharp from a moving car. The very fast shutter speed, 1/1000 second, has paid dividends.

The first purpose of the image is to remind you of the experience, and I assume that it works very well for you in that respect. You were there, the next function is to convey the experience to people who weren't. There are two experiences really, the height of the rocks and the the speed of a vehicle moving through. The angle of the trees top left actually does convey the sense of moving through, it tells me that I am looking through the distortion of a car window.

Pamela's use of the Skew tool is effective in emphasising the height, it's difficult to convey that when you are looking up at close range. It occurs to me that rotating the camera to portrait might have worked. It could give the sense of rock towering above us - here that long vertical fault-line adds to the horizontal rather than vertical flow.

There's a dust bunny in the sky top left by the way, but that could well have been on the car window!

I shall go and try a modification of my own.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2457 United Kingdom
12 Jan 2015 9:42AM
I've added a modification. I worked on much the same basis as Pamela - I skewed and then added extra height to the frame and stretched the image up. Then I cropped to portrait.

I added brightness but first I used the burn tool on midtones and shadows in the snow, to try to preserve the detail and texture.
paulbroad 14 131 1293 United Kingdom
12 Jan 2015 12:52PM
It is a well exposed record of a scene at the time. It is strongly divided by several lines horizontally which are not conducive to good composition, and an angled viewpoint would be more attractive. Not possible from a car in this case.

As with so many similar scenes, it lacks a focal point on which to base the composition. What is the subject? Nothing stands out as an anchor point dpfor the eye.

dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
12 Jan 2015 8:36PM
The thing that strikes me most is that the exposure is just right to allow a little detail in the snow, while not making it grey, as it seems to be in so many pictures. Well done!

The big problem with shooting from a moving car is that you have very little control of composition: this is even worse than the reflections and camera shake problems, as it can undermine getting a picture worth having.

Hence the problems that others have noted: there isn't really a main point of interest in the picture.

When you are looking at scenery, and particularly when you are travelling through it, the interest comes from the way that you look round it, and the way it changes as you move.

When you capture it in a photograph, the eye can't wander in the same way, and you need to structure the picture far more. You need to tell the story of the landscape with a series of points of interest, arranged in a way that leads the viewer from one to the next in quite a structured way.

There are some rules about this - always worth breaking, but you need to know and understand them first. Like learning to drive: to get down the road, you need to understand how the steering, the gears, the brakes work, and put them all together.

That's what Moira and Pamela have done - and what you need to do, I think - isolate the specific areas that form the composed picture, and convey the feeling you had when you were faced with the reality.

A side-issue - most scenery looks best in particular light, often when the sun is low and warm, in the morning or evening. Driving past doesn't let you choose the light. So sometimes you are lucky, and sometimes not...

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