Back Modifications (3)
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Springtime bluebells in the woods

By cathsnap
I liked the composition and evening light in this one. but can I improve the colour of the sky? It was a bit overcast. Adjusted the llevels slightly and cropped a tiny bit to the left. Maybe I should have increased exposure compensation one stop?

Tags: Flowers and plants Portraits and people

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banehawi Plus
17 2.5k 4264 Canada
29 Apr 2014 6:12PM
The sky, being overcast, really wont have much of a colour, if any. As it is, the sky, especially on the right, is overexposed. so adding a positive exposure would make it worse.

The exposure, overall looks quite good to me; its balanced nicely between light and dark. Adding + exposure would normally be right if the subject was against a bright sky, and that would be to prevent the subject being underexposed, which is not the case here.

One option is to crop into a 10 X 8 format, as in the mod, which remoes a large amount of the sky, and places the girl on a third, which is probably a better composition?


alistairfarrugia 9 164 88 Malta
29 Apr 2014 6:49PM
Willie anticipated me, the +1 compensation would indeed have made this worse. I think my tendency would have been to actually go for an underexposure compensation here, to keep the image a bit darker and achieve better saturation and realism in the colours. I think it would have been more representative of how you were seeing the scene with your eyes as well. For instance, there are areas in the image that are completely blown out, like the edge of the branch and the girl's shoes and parts of her clothes.

That said, I think the image holds a certain charm regardless, although a crop would help - I'd agree with Willie there again and in fact I like his mod better.

If you had an opportunity for a second shot of the girl, I would have shifted more towards the right and crouched, shooting upwards to compose with the girl against the tree and the flowers showing slightly more prominently given the lower viewpoint. The position would also help you achieve a bit more contrast as it seems it would have put the source of light (the sun) towards your right hand side, as opposed to almost directly in front of you. It seems in this shot it was coming from your front-right direction. I think this didn't help as it contributes to lowering contrast for you and clipping some areas as explained above.

Finally, you ask about the overcast sky and exposing for it and this baffles me a bit - why would you want that when your subject is NOT the sky but the girl in this beautiful environment? My tip is to focus on what your subject is and the mood you want to create, and then focus your artistic effort on those elements. You didn't need the sky to be perfectly exposed here - it wasn't the subject. This kind of scene would have probably required an HDR approach to fully record the full range of colours, given the very bright sky and the substantial detail to be recorded in the shadow areas (ex. under flowers and tree trunk). However, HDR here would have been impracticable as the girl is clearly moving, and properly getting multiple exposures required for an HDR image would have been impossible.

Hope this helps!

pamelajean Plus
15 1.6k 2238 United Kingdom
29 Apr 2014 8:42PM
A lovely setting for the girl in pink, Catherine.
The inclusion of the girl lifts this image above the normal bluebell woods pictures we get at this time of year.

You ask about the sky.
When you have a large expanse of featureless sky it is a problem, but when you have trees and leaves against a sky that is light and bland, as you have here, I don't see it as a problem.
To give some colour to the sky that is showing through the foliage would be very difficult because there are so many bits and pieces to work around.
What I do in a case like this is to fill in the larger areas of sky with some more foliage, just so that any large white bits don't draw the eye away from the rest of the scene.
The girl in pink is definitely your subject, and she stands out well in that colour, so the sky will be of little interest to a viewer of this image.

At the time of shooting, try to include as little sky as possible inside your frame. Position yourself so that you have as much foliage as possible as your background.

I have done a modification where I cloned in some foliage to show you what I mean.
At the same time I cropped a lot of the right side so that I eliminated the brightest areas, and this placed your girl on a thirds intersection.
I lifted the shadows to get some detail in that lovely old dead tree, then used the burn tool to darken the bluebells.
I cloned a bit of detail into the burnt out areas on the dead tree, and slightly adjusted Levels.
There is something pink on the ground behind the girl's feet and I can't make out what it is.

I assume this is one of your children being a co-operative model for you, and I like the way her hair is being blown in the breeze, and she is looking at the tree in wonder.

dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
29 Apr 2014 9:58PM
Even on an overcast day, bluebell woods are a bit of an exposure challenge. I'm with Alistair on this: I would generally dial in a bit of minus exposure compensation to get good dark tones in the trees, and make sure the bluebells are a good rich blue.

There are two different sorts of picture here, and they are in competition, rather: the bluebell wood and the girl. The exposure needs are slightly different, and it might work well to take a series: one or two pictures like this, setting the context, and then moving in closer on the girl. Then the general shots couldbe exposed for good strong shadows, and the action shots slightly brighter?

Situations liek this are the reason that the dynamic range a sensor can deliver actually matters in the real world.
Mike43 10 286 21 England
30 Apr 2014 7:38AM
Very difficult to get the correct overall exposure when you have so many conflicting elements within scene, and which is the main subject in this case the Bluebells or the little girl. What a shame the little girl wasn't facing the camera, personally I think it would have help, but with a little adjustment to the exposure/color saturation, and there is not a lot you can do about the sky so for me I would forget about it.

30 Apr 2014 6:26PM
Thank you very much for all the advice and mods, I take on board all the comments about skies and exposure, the new crop really works well. Very clever extra greenery in Pamela's mod, amazing what can be done! Glad to hear this was a bit different from the usual bluebell shots, I will be sure to let the model know!
paulbroad 14 131 1293 United Kingdom
30 Apr 2014 7:26PM
Yes, the lighting range is a bit too much for your sensor and there are a couple of burnt out areas. I would have gone down a stop, minus 1, then lifted the darker areas with the dodge tool.

However, quite a nice image.


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