Back Modifications (7)
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Public footpath

By AM74
I tried a few different settings here and uploading what I thought would be most amenable to critique. I would love to get feedback so I can go back to this place which is round the corner from where I live and take another shot based on your advice. I wanted to move away from my favourite shallow depth of field and wanted to have everything in focus. Have cropped it slightly to remove out of focus leaves and adjusted very slightly in lightroom. Also would love to get your opinion on what would have made this shot more interesting?

Tags: General Footpath Leaves autumn

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Comments


mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2265 United Kingdom
7 Dec 2017 6:52AM
It's an attractive scene, with lines, textures and a real sense of place. I have two major lines of thought here, and I'll deal with them first.

Light: The word photography means light drawing. Light is what it's all about. Something that is particularly valuable to photographers is the way that light can hit a surface sideways, creating shadows that really show up the textures.

The problem here is that you won't get ideal light on both sides of the lane at once. Here you have lovely light and shadows on the left, but the leaves are in complete shadow, so they look a bit flat. (Some dodge and burn would help there).

According to the Exif this was taken 2.54pm. It's a sunken lane so at this time of year the sun will only reach it for a fairly short period every day.

Going mid- to late morning might get light catching the leaves, but not the wall on the left.

I think what you need to do is to work with the light, and decide what the image is about accordingly. In these conditions I would sacrifice a lot of the leaves on the right and concentrate on the light and shadows on the left, with the path disappearing towards the right of the frame rather than centrally.

(Central placement of a focal point can work, but off-centre generally gives a more dynamic and more involving effect!)

Second point, leading on from that - Composition. You did two good things here. You got the camera down low - that's involving, it makes the experience more immediate; pretty well any viewpoint that is not normal eye-level will add interest.

And you have a diagonal entering from the bottom left corner - that's called a lead-in, it does just that. It leads the viewer in to explore the frame, it gives me a route. And that basically is what composition is about. Having that diagonal attached to the corner is way stronger than starting it mid-way along the edge of the frame.

You cropped to concentrate attention on the path. If you hadn't cropped quite so tightly at the top you would have that hand rail hitting the top left corner perfectly - as it is it's just a wee bit short.

Other thoughts more briefly - I think you have processed this to darken the bright sky in the distance? I would prefer to keep some contrast there, and go for more contrast generally. Contrast will improve the colours of the leaves. And at 0.6 second shutter speed I assume you are using a tripod!

I shall see what I can do, back soon!
Moira
mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2265 United Kingdom
7 Dec 2017 7:27AM
And just for comparison I've added a horizontal flip, so that the path leads from right to left - the mood changes, I think.

In the West our brains are trained from very early in life to read everything from left to right, images as well as text. That's why strip cartoons run left to right... It's how we expect to see a story develop. So your composition is very comfortable to the eye. Flipping gives a less comfortable feel, a slight edginess, heading leftward is counter-intuitive. That's something that you can exploit if you want to...
mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2265 United Kingdom
7 Dec 2017 8:00AM
Aaaaarrrgh, I posted a comment in between the above two, explaining what I did in my modifications, but it has disappeared!

First mod - I added brightness, contrast, and I used the dodge and burn tools over the foreground textures, the leaves and the cobbles. These tools are found in a lot of editing programs, they take their names from traditional darkroom techniques, for selectively lightening or darkening different areas. You use the cursor as a brush, you can choose the brush size, the strength of application and whether you target shadows, midtones or highlights. NB They are powerful tools! I used dodge (lighten) on highlights, burn (darken) on shadows, with a huge brush and just 3% exposure (strength), to build up the effect. I think you'll see a more 3-dimensional look to the leaves. Working on light improves colour - I haven't touched colour settings but the reds look stronger.

Second mod - a crop to take the handrail into the top left corner.

Third mod - a slice cropped off the right, to place the focal point off-centre.

Fourth - horizontal flip as previously described.

I'll just add - you were using your widest angle, that in itself increases depth of field. I would have stuck at around F11.

And I think this needs a slight clockwise rotation but I'll leave that for someone else to play with!
ddolfelin Plus
8 103 3 Wales
7 Dec 2017 9:14AM
Not clever enough to advise but would like to say that I like your picture - especially the great lead-in.
paulbroad 13 131 1289 United Kingdom
7 Dec 2017 9:33AM
Decent content but you are very over exposed left and top and that cannot be. Grad filters would be no good due to the shape of the skyline so you need to expose for the highlights, then brighten shadows in software. You must expose for highlights, because if they burn out, as here, no amount of processing other than cloning will sort it.

So, lots of good stuff above, but if you do not get the technical bit right, the rest becomes superfluous. Less exposure and wide bracketing.

Paul
banehawi Plus
16 2.3k 4163 Canada
7 Dec 2017 3:50PM
A subject would improve it. Imagine a kid walking down the path, or a cat, - it could come alive.

Otherwise, as it is, make it a little mysterious and brooding. Try a much darker image, and a mono.

I have uploaded two examples, with most of the sky removed, so we are focused on the pathway.

Tip: when using a small aperture, it makes a difference WHERE you focus. Dont focus on the horizon, furthest point, but focus, in this imagem roughly on the third post in. You will likely not have any out of focus leaves closer to the lens. BTW, at 24mm, this lens has a load of barrel distortion (makes the image rounded), so the mods have this corrected.

Regards


Willie
dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1696 England
7 Dec 2017 5:07PM
The first thing that strikes me is the composition - diagonals zipping onto the corners.

The the texture of stone wall and cobbles.

Then the overexposed sky. There are various ways to deal with this, all involving multiple exposures at different shutter speeds and the same aperture (which, reading your description, you may have already).

I think I might also make the composition less central by stepping back a fraction, and rotating the camera to the left, to include more on that side.

The aperture and focal length are certainly right for maximum depth of field: the last question is - where did you set the focus?
9 Dec 2017 8:43AM
Thank you once again for all your comments and modifications. I have read all the messages a few times- there is so much I did not know before this critique. It is like having a personal textbook written especially for me! You have obviously got an eye for things that non-photographers don't...For example, highlights and shadows, distortion- I can't see all this like you can. You guys are Premier League and I am not even Conference North! Smile

[You cropped to concentrate attention on the path. If you hadn't cropped quite so tightly at the top you would have that hand rail hitting the top left corner perfectly - as it is it's just a wee bit short.]
Yes got it! The original photo had it perfectly in the corner and I will bear that in mind next time.


[In the West our brains are trained from very early in life to read everything from left to right, images as well as text. That's why strip cartoons run left to right... It's how we expect to see a story develop. So your composition is very comfortable to the eye. Flipping gives a less comfortable feel, a slight edginess, heading leftward is counter-intuitive. That's something that you can exploit if you want to...]
This is really fascinating and I had never thought of that. I love the horizontal flip mod -perhaps because I learnt to read from left to right at the same time as right to left since childhood. Or maybe I just like it anyway.

Lastly, yes I used the tripod and I think I used multiple AF points in the middle of the frame. Is this something that proper photographers look down on? Grin
Willie's comments are very helpful that it matters where you focus with smaller aperture. I did not know that and had wrongly assumed that it was more important where you focussed with larger aperture!

I will go back to the lane and take photos based on your feedback and see if those would be any better.
Many thanks again.
dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1696 England
13 Dec 2017 10:32AM
Hi again -

Focus - like everything else, there's a need to take control for really creative work.

Automatic systems are clever, and do a great job for snapshots: but for creative work (which is what you're dong here) you will want to make all the decisions yoruself, not leave them to the engineers.

For shots like this, most of us would use either a single AF spot, placed over what we want sharpest, or manual focus. You have an option to choose which single spot of the ones the camera has, or use live view on the back of the camera, enlarging the area you want.

And there's an extra thought, for shots like this, where you want as much in focus as possible, front to back. It involves learning a little about something called the 'hyperfocal distance' - sounds quite technical, and it is, but there are rules of thumb that stem from it, and handy tables to look things up.

For any given focal length and aperture, there's a distance that you can set on the focus ring that will keep distant objects sharp, and as much nearer stuff as possible, as well. That is the hyperfocal distance. It gets closer as you stop the lens down, and as you use a shorter focal length.

In practice, there will be twice as much distance in focus behind the plane of sharp focus as in front - so if you focus on 15 feet and objects 13 feet away are acceptably sharp, things that are 19 feet away will also be OK.

There will be a question about what is 'sharp enough' - only you can make that decision. Try it and see is a good motto!

Sorry - there's a big chunk there, and it will be worth looking hyperfocal distance up, and playing with your camera quite a bit. It's worth spending time playing, trying things out, to make the textbook stuff real for you.
16 Dec 2017 11:41PM
Thank you for this John. Have been reading (on the very helpful Cambridge in colour which you kindly sent me the link for in an earlier critique) and watching tutorials on hyperfocal distance-initially felt a bit overwhelmed that I am too old perhaps to learn all this, (made worse by the fact that my 16 year old daughter can take better photos with her iphone leading me to question what would be the point), but then persevered and I think I have the gist of it now.

Easy to give up I think, when learning a totally new skill like photography, when you have not got the eye for highlights, shadows, sharpness, light etc etc, and also because the desired outcomes are not quick and satisfying.

But ultimately I think it is about creating something and expressing yourself..

Will keep going for now. Thanks to all of you for your helpfulness again Smile
dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1696 England
17 Dec 2017 4:38PM
Absolutely, this is all about expressing yourself and how yo usee the world.

There's a lot to learn all at once at the start - and it then gets easier. The learning curve gets less steep!

A 'phone or a compact can make a good job of a snap - but to give more creative results you need the control that you are learning.

Keep working, keep playing, and keep looking ofr other ways that people express the ideas. You may suddenly find that a new set of words, a different approach - and it all comes clear!

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