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Wintry Showers

By ctxuk  
Afternoon sky winter landscape shot at a distance.
General thoughs feedback sought on this image frame, on how I can improve my photography. I set a custom white balance at time of capture but decided when developing the raw in PS to sample the snow itself and alter it. Not sure which was right in honesty the SOOC using my custom WB I set, this my sampled from image WB or PS ACR Auto WB.
Shot with a prime lens and no crop employed as yet.
Looking for the rights and wrongs/good and bad (if that is the correct way to say it) aspects of the shot. Apart from the sampled WB only other edit was to remove some lower frame power lines.
Will upload a SOOC jpeg and a version of that with an Auto WB set in PS as mods.
I shoot using L Raw + jpeg and convert from raw.
Shot handheld and in Manual with exception of focus.

Tags: Landscape Snow Pine Wintry Landscape and travel Treeline Deciduous

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Comments


banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4217 Canada
25 Jan 2021 4:35AM
You dont mention the value of your custom WB.

I think I would assume if the light was a little pink, that the snow would have a slight hint of that colour, but not as much magenta as is present here.

The partial tree at the bottom could be viewed as a barrier or intrusion, - there will be different opinions. I chose to remove it, quite roughly, while increasing exposure a little, and lifting shadow detail a small amount. I used the raw that the auto set as a start. I also removed a yellow light shining through the trees.

Regards


Willie
ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
25 Jan 2021 11:55AM
Thank you Willie for your feedback

I shot the WB using a Mennon Cap - http://www.mennon-usa.com/products/white-balance-caps.html

Not aware there is a value assigned to it as such like a Nikon would employ (I used them on my D700 also to set custom white balances), it instantly improved my images according to the feedback in the critique given on here.

I am aware I inadvertently took the shot underexposed somehow but it was the best positional one on the series I shot.

I agree on the tree at the bottom but can hardly chop it down for aesthetic reasons, your removal a good improvement.

Does this ("I think I would assume if the light was a little pink, that the snow would have a slight hint of that colour, but not as much magenta as is present here.") refer to the last of the 3 modifications which has WB set to Auto in ACR? I though as I posted it that it looks far more pink on the page than when in PS ACR and personally would not use it. Far too early for pinks from a sunset (still daytime) so imo obviously incorrect.

Appreciate your input ty.
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1807 England
25 Jan 2021 1:33PM
A couple of thoughts...

I'm not sure if we've discussed spot metering before: it's good, providing you choose where to meter from, and adjust the exposure to place that area where you want it on the grey scale. Here, for whatever reason, you've got some underexposure.

Is there a slight tilt to this? Almost all the trees seem to be leaning to the left, but the prevailing wind might have something to do with that. Without any guaranteed verticals, it's hard to be sure.

White balance is a delicate and subjective business. Objectively, the light on an overcast day is quite blue, but that isn't always how we perceive it, and it's important to choose the degree of blueness or pinkness to suit the mood that you want to convey in the picture. Warmth is appealing...

I'll try a mod: I shall see what happens when i have the file open.
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1807 England
25 Jan 2021 1:51PM
I decided to crop tighter (which I realise is a push for your camera) and use a widescreen format. I fiddled with tones and white balance until I got something that feels right to me - wintry, but not unfriendly.

That may be a very unscientific way to do it, but the really vital thing with colour is that it feels right. I looked up your gadget, and I definitely see the point of it, and I note that the price is far more reasonable than the last such accessory I saw. The question is, did the result it gave make you happy? Did it look right? Did it match your memory of the light? Or did it give an artistically-satisfying colour rendering? If the answer to all of these is no, I suggest not using it next time, but trusting your instinct in doing a RAW conversion, or adjusting the colour of a JPG.

And a thought about the quality of light, as well. You had inherently dull and flat light, but with very widely divergent tones - deep shade and dark trunks, and snow in the open. Showing satisfactory detail in both is incredibly hard, because there's a void in between highlights and shadows, and there's nothing in there - very few (if any) midtones. The human eye adapts quickly, and the brain builds a whoe that bridges the gap. Cameras can't do that, unless you take multiple exposures and blend them very carefully, with contrast increased in both areas. HDR, done really well, can do this, as can more traditional blends of frames (something I've not done myself).

Big question: would you be able to take a picture that looked better in sunshine? And a subsidiary is whether you want to master the difficult but unsatisfying light you had here as a matter of technical development (in which case I admire your grit, but don't want to go there myself!)
ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
25 Jan 2021 6:46PM
Firstly thanks dudler for both mod and feedback I will attempt to answer the questions you draw in your responses.
Tilt - As it’s a minor thing I will get it out the way first. The trees do lean, prevailing wind comes up the river (from right side of photo) with no hills until this one, therefore the trees do lean especially coupled with the escarpment slope. Look in among those trees and you will notice some are vertical, not those pines though.
White Balance Cap – Yes, it does work and imho very well. If you do not know what absolute white point is you cannot establish any other tonal graduations, used correctly in the light you are working in it makes a large difference and no faffing about with colour cards to shoot and later match. Colour cards such as the X Rite Colourchecker will do that job more accurately used with the correct software and hardware as you can match specific colours etc if you want 100% accuracy of subject colour rendition.
I bought a D700 used some years back, I got panned on here in the Critique’s until I managed to learn how to shoot a custom WB and establish the white point in the lighting at time of shoot. I had used it on my S5 for quite awhile prior to that. Feedback on critiqued shots on the D700 was much more appreciative afterwards.
Underexposure – Whilst I did set things up, I also switched lens between an old Nikon 28-70 and the 300 f4. I did reshoot the WB for the lens and then, because I make mistakes, forgot to adjust the exposure using the metering in shot. 100% that was a failing of my own doing and why the underexposure. I put it down in part to the demise of my D700 and shooting next to nothing for the last 18 months.
Having said that, altering the exposure by increasing it in development in ACR only brings out in the image the colours that are there, yes, the sky was that colour hue and not grey, try it using mod 1 which I uploaded. I haven’t pumped up any colours in developing it, I did sample the snow on the right side to take away some of the blue hue which really shouldn’t be there.
I will upload a further mod taken using the 28-70 lens, it will reveal both sky, and tilt. Mod 6
Detail Shadows/Highlights – Yes I agree with your point, you also need to take on board its distance, in this case Distance: 2977 ft (907 m) = 0.56 miles, and the shot is handheld btw. Stacking would work for differing exposures and obviously at that distance with a sturdy tripod, I doubt though with any sufficient improvement to warrant doing it (although I do enjoy shooting handheld stacked shots sometimes, just not for this). Once the underexposure is increased there is detail to tree trunks but as you say affected by the snow etc.
As to a sunshine photo, I can probably find one of it to do as a mod also. Mod 7
A lot of the failings are of my own doing, set things up right then forget to adjust exposure correctly with the metering or spot meter the wrong point. Like many I suppose I want to take that shot but do not treble check my settings before releasing. Much of that due to 18 months inactivity, I was surprised to get a clean focussed shot with the heavy camera/grip and lens at that distance, normally I have to build up muscle memory/strength to hold it still for any length of time.
I find much of my photography disappointing based on non-commercial ability, I make no money at it and the gear is expensive especially as I am low incomed … none currently again because of covid impact on job market.
dark_lord Plus
16 2.7k 749 England
25 Jan 2021 8:48PM
I like the use of a long lens to pickout details in the landscape. The difference in content between your 28-70 shot and the telephoto shot is vast, one very ordinary and the other much more engaging. The eye and brain will pick out that distant part of the scene and ignore the surroundings, To emulate that, the 300 mm is needed. That's where many fall down, using a wideangle and geting too much in frame.

Quote:I did sample the snow on the right side to take away some of the blue hue which really shouldn’t be there

Sampling the snow is exactly what I qwould do. It's a known white point (assuming it jhasn't been exposed too far meaning there's little information for the software to give a good result. I'd try a few points to get a result you like and tweak if necessary. For example, if there was sunlight on the scene there'd be warm snow in the sun and colder blue colours in the shadows. In that case you'd need a variation in tones to look natural as indeed that's how they appear. You may prefer a warmer look overall, your choice. Subtle yellos and lues look natural, it's whan greens and magentas creep in that look unnatural that the problems become noticeable.
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4217 Canada
25 Jan 2021 8:57PM
Im familiar with thise caps, by other makers. You take a shot to measure wb toward you camera position, rather than towards the subject as far as I remember. They tend to be accurate.
ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
25 Jan 2021 10:04PM
Willie
You take a shot aimed at your subject under the lighting used setting a manual WB, but yes, imo very accurate.
ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
25 Jan 2021 10:14PM
dark_lord
I agree with that on a long lens, landscapes are not always about wide angle lens and not being right on top of the location means you can utilise a portion of the area in isolation.
I am not certain why but even using a white balance cap can leave some shots in a series shot in snow looking blue rather than a true white. I have found though colours are more accurate using one in snow. It really is a case of me being lax this time having to sample the snow area in developing the raw.
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1807 England
26 Jan 2021 8:50PM
Can I clarify one part of what I wrote? You clearly take technical accuracy very seriously, and that is laudable: but for me, it may miss the point, in terms of making the picture match your memory of the scene.

There are often discussions of white balance in the Critique Gallery, and they have prompted me to write a blog (largely) about it. The discussion that it's engendered is interesting, and I particularly note the contribution from whatriveristhis, who is a highly creative photographer: he produces some of the most interesting landscapes on the site, for me.

Along the way, I note that you understand the point of spot metering, and sometimes fail to meter from the area that you want to place on the grey scale.

There is an alternative, which I find is highly satisfactory, given that an adjustment of a stop or so is easy to make in editing from a RAW file: I use Aperture priority (depth of field matters to me, a lot), and matrix metering. I check exposures when the scene is any distance from average, and use exposure compensation on a second frame if I'm not happy.

That actually works pretty well, most of the time: if the light level is constant, the right exposure for a general scene won't vary significantly: so if I am using a manual camera, I can take a single reading with an incident meter, set the camera, and then forget about exposure if the light doesn't alter.

In general, my feeling is that it's better to get things reliably just about right than to try to make everything absolutely perfect with a process that has many opportunities for making mistakes. Does that make sense?
ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
27 Jan 2021 1:16AM
dudler I took a read of the thread, but only read a few of the later comments. Will read more of it later.

The issue I have with the shots I took is that
I did the initial WB correctly,
I then checked exposure quickly, and moved on to composure
I composed the frame, checking the area I wanted eliminated some items
I focussed and ensured it was on a subject using the focus point
I then forgot to recheck the exposure and correct it using the metering before pressing the shutter button - it really is as simple as that

As I have said, I have had a fair amount of time doing next to no photography. A variety of reasons - the demise of my D700 unexpectedly and unable to afford a replacement. Covid restrictions affecting both my income/employment, and the ability to go and shoot the things I wanted to. Other interests that I wished to improve and learn.

Stating I was lax in what I was doing is right. I have got out of the routine employed when using a camera, the basic steps I walk through in my mind before releasing the shutter. In fact I did it again at times yesterday when I took a series of snowdrop images locally. I went out shopping for food, to charge my electric key and combined it with driving to the location on the edge of the town I shopped in, all within the area I live to not breach lockdown rules. I kept aware of what was going on around me with regard to other persons (surprised there was any at all) and also had my elderly father with me near 90 and a photographer also, to also keep an eye out for. All distractions from the task in hand.
Reliably right is correct, not perfect. That though is the reliably right steps taken in shooting a frame or series and the lack of use has stopped me employing my basic walkthrough which should be second nature. In moving around during composure the meter reading altered, that last check its right I am forgetting to do and from the results, it matters.

I have a tendancy to work at the things I do, to learn and improve as an end target. If I ever get any good at photography then, maybe then it is time to be complacent, right now? I don't think so. Equipment and Covid restrictions see three steps forward and a good two steps back seemingly from where I was previously.
ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
27 Jan 2021 2:02PM
In addition to that written on my last post I ought add

You can look to get a faithful rendition of a subject when you are taking your photographs. You can make this easier for instance by using tools such as the i1 system from x rite. You can evaluate for instance at the time of shoot the light falling on a subject, reflected transmitted and absorbed to get it right in camera. Then set your screen using the same system so it matches your capture, your printer so it too matches or if it is for commercial print then use at the pre press and press stages. All to get your final output as faithful to the subject you are shooting. It is one way of looking at photography.

It could be though you treat your subject as an artistic rendition, but get it right in camera in exactly the same way at time of shooting. Tonal graduations are still required to be correct, as too perhaps the colours. What you do with that though in post processing and/or developing the raw file is for what you desire the end use or outcome to be.

Its the old thing where the "customer is always right", even if its not maybe an accurate portrayel of the subject. You manipulate the captured image to give the outcome you wish for whatever reason, be that selling to a customer, making an artwork or perhaps for an advert where you can manipulate how the public percieves the product to entice them into a purchase.

There is perhaps some of all that in my photography although I have never sold any or used any to sell something. I do however want to have a 'good standard' in the body of work i amass whilst enjoying what currently is only a hobby. I am realistic that I am unlikely in todays age to make a living at it, everyone and their friend has a camera now, even if only on their phone. With all the tips and guides online it is so easy to achieve good results with a little persistance and the right equipment although some things are instinctual rather than learnt so much.

Earning some income from it to replace/update gear would be nice, anything above that a bonus. Realistic though is not just a faithful absolutely perfect capture but more a state of mind. Progress is made by examining others thoughts on your images as well as your own ..... although imo not by just pressing a 'like' button on social websites which often is a back patting excercise seeking reciprocal comment.

My own opinion, others may agree or disagree. We all decide what we think is right or wrong, good or bad about things in life, be that an image, a book or something else. If it differs from our own pov does it make it any less relevant, turn from one side to the other or do we just accept it is not our own pov and move on.
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1807 England
27 Jan 2021 6:26PM
After reading all of your comments through once, can I check that I've understood correctly?

First, you are out of practice, and part of what you're doing is to work back into your old system and process.

Second, you take great care with things like exposure readings and white balance to get as technically-correct a starting point as possible.

You don't, at present, need to please a customer, or judges - it's for yourself, but you value feedback.

Your equipment is relatively old, and not all your lenses have auto functions. (Is that why you use manual so much?)

My thoughts are that you may be working terribly hard, when there are often easier ways to work. Shooting, checking the histogram, and reshooting if necessary is a quicker way, and it's what I'd do. I note that in the conditions I see in this shot, the light probably wasn't changing, so if the right exposure at one point with one lens was 1/250 @ f/5.6, the same exposure would probably be right 15 minutes later. However, I note that the picture was taken just after 4pm, and at that point the light would be starting faster to change as sunset approached. Between 10 and 3, that wouldn't be an issue.

I look forward to seeing your next post.
ctxuk Plus
11 7 2 England
27 Jan 2021 7:05PM
Hi dudler

correct, no photography has meant I am not following a routine -
Quote:First, you are out of practice, and part of what you're doing is to work back into your old system and process.


correct maybe, I shoot a custom WB as I found its far more accurate on the S5 and D700. Its a little more difficult on my S3. It also seemingly results in sharper images unless that is in my mind. -
Quote:Second, you take great care with things like exposure readings and white balance to get as technically-correct a starting point as possible.


correct almost - I do and will use auto focus on a lens inc C or S. Most of my lens are older Nikon AF although I have some Tokina and Sigma (again older), none have vibration reduction for instance. Almost all are bought used. Most lens are auto focus, but will use manual focus as required (not as easy as it used to be on film with the split focus aid). Bodies were new S5, used almost new S3 and used low shutter count D700 (shutter gone so now not used but have spare grips, batteries etc)
Quote:Your equipment is relatively old, and not all your lenses have auto functions. (Is that why you use manual so much?)

If its a choice between M A S P, I will select M generally. I will use A for birds in flight but on S5 iso really restricted to 1250 and lower to keep noise down. S I would use if for prop planes for instance but haven't to date not attending airshows. P I don't think I have ever used.

correct but - A spectacle wearer now seeing the lcd can be difficult at times in some light, especially with smaller sized lcd screens. That said I do use the histogram now but also like to view the image itself and see how it looks, thats where the image visability on screen can be an issue in some light, plus I have to slip my glasses back on.
Quote:Shooting, checking the histogram, and reshooting if necessary is a quicker way, and it's what I'd do.


correct - I shoot a custom WB with the cap, if the light changes I will reshoot it. Days where the light is dappled due to spattered clouds and wind are a pain for this though and I then switch to using an Auto WB. Imo for sets of images it prevents them remaining consistent in the same manner. I still set a custom WB in the golden hour but acknowledge the light fades over it, I rely on the meter to keep some consistency to the batch as I shoot. I am more likely to purposely underexpose using the meter at times than to set a - reduction (still learning and it's quicker)
Quote:so if the right exposure at one point with one lens was 1/250 @ f/5.6, the same exposure would probably be right 15 minutes later. However, I note that the picture was taken just after 4pm, and at that point the light would be starting faster to change as sunset approached. Between 10 and 3, that wouldn't be an issue.



Not sure how to send you a private message with a link dudler so you could better evaluate my images.
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1807 England
28 Jan 2021 9:49PM
Thank you - a very detailed response. Let's keep this going...

And thank you for the PM, as well. I'm slower to respond to comments on pictures - there are a lot, at present!

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