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Paired Trees

By biglog
Hi..Please could you give me some feedback on the composition of this scene from Dartmoor which I stumbled across whilst trying to get away from the crowds just after the lockdown had been eased..I will try to explain what I was I walked towards this set of trees I noticed a set of three trees which appeared to be in pairs which I liked plus one of them seemed to be catching the sun which I thought would make a a good focal point..I then noticed the small set of stones in the foreground forming a curve to the right which again I really liked..framing the shot up I then noticed the curve of the wall behind the trees seemed to reflect the shape of the foreground I tried to put all of this together into a composition ..but does it work..? many thanks, Martin..

Tags: British Landscape Trees Woods Landscape and travel Dartmoor national park

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chase Plus
15 2.0k 517 England
27 May 2020 2:34PM
Hi Martin,
Firstly I must thank you for asking specifics about your image and letting us know your reason for taking the shot, it all helps.
For me the composition isn't working as the big boulders put a hefty barrier in the way and that's where my gaze stops, there is nothing leading my eye into the image.
I think I see a bit of a pathway to the right which could have been a better lead into the trees and that very pretty light.So a few steps to your right may well have improved your composition.
As I have mentioned, the light hitting the trees is pretty and worth stopping for, it is throwing some good shadow and light patches on the ground which I reckon you could have used to better advantage.
Detail and texture are good, exposure is good for me, it does show off the light and dark nicely.
Looks like a good spot for photography with all the different shapes and light, it is just that I can't easily get past the boulders.

Just my opinion, others may well differ but if we were all the same life would be very boring.
biglog 7 42 2 United Kingdom
27 May 2020 2:52PM
Thankyou Janet for your feedback..the foreground rocks did cause me some torment..I was moving around a lot trying to find something in the end settling for this because I liked the shape..but I can see they are a big barrier !..maybe stepping back and having them smaller in the frame may help as the up close wide angle makes them look bigger than they are..or if/when I go back I could explore moving to the right as you suggest..

banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4202 Canada
27 May 2020 2:57PM
If you still have the original shot, before any post processing, could you upload here on this page? Just click the modifications tab, then click upload and select it. It will show as your own modification.


biglog 7 42 2 United Kingdom
27 May 2020 3:09PM
Hi..just added the original file..
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1777 England
27 May 2020 4:04PM
Thanks for the original file - although I've worked from your main version.

For me, this is trying a bit too hard: and the image in my mind is of the boulders, so I've cropped to a panoramic image of them.

I won't generalise and say that the main subject should always be large in the frame: I will say that if it's not, the rest has to be fairly subdued to avoid overpowering it. Here, an 85mm from roughly where you were might have made the shot all about the tree trunks (I admit to a weakness for 85mm. It's usually what I keep on my camera for everything).

Can I also mention exposure (geared for the boulders and grass, not the trees), and time of day? Close to noon is often the worst time for light as the sun's high in the sky. I wonder if early morning gives light from low on the right that will make the trunks glow? I think that by evening, it may be too far round to illuminate all of them. But it may be worth going to look...
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2346 United Kingdom
27 May 2020 4:56PM
Hi, welcome back to the Critique Gallery, and thanks for being so detailed in your description and your questions.

This is about composition. I can see the three elements you mention, the light on the trees, the boulders and the curved wall, but what I cannot see is a focal point, a subject towards which my eye is gently led. Janet makes a very good point above - the boulders act as a barrier, they rather say Keep Out...

There is so much in the frame. I think that part of the problem is that things are in rows, parallel to the camera, so there is no use of perspective to direct the eye or indicate what matters most. Composition is about arranging lines in the frame, think of the composition as an abstract design that happens to have very real detail. So I would want to move in closer, look for an angle to give a diagonal line on a boulder, leading to the trees or the wall.

I like John's crop, it's much more intimate, involving. I have a couple of ideas for crops, I shall have a play...
pamelajean Plus
15 1.5k 2189 United Kingdom
27 May 2020 5:25PM
Hello, Martin. Thank you for describing what you saw in this scene and how you tried to put those elements into your frame.

Sometimes less is more. Trying to put too many elements into one image can confuse the viewer's eye and lead it nowhere.

I have done a modification using your lead image, the modified one, not the original, because I quite like what you have done here. I brightened the image quite a bit, then selectively brightened the trees because I felt that they were your main point of focus, but were overshadowed by the size and strength of the foreground rocks. As you can see from John's modification, the rocks can be an image on their own.

I then cropped to a square format, eliminating some of the right side, concentrating on the curve of the rocks leading to the trees. I hope you can see how this changes the lead-in and helps concentrate the attention on the trees.

I like the way you have seen the lines and curves in front of you and have tried to use these to best effect. Well done for that insight.

mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2346 United Kingdom
27 May 2020 5:26PM
Back again. I've added two modifications, both aiming for a more intimate, involving feel.

Don't ignore the possibilities of portrait format for a subject like this, it leads the eye into the scene, it creates a more direct relationship between foreground and the more distant view, because it doesn't lead the eye horizontally as landscape format does.

For both these I reduced shadows slightly, made a Levels adjustment to boost lighter tones, then did some very gentle dodging on highlights, burning on shadows, huge brush, just 3% exposure, to bring out the foreground detail.

See what you think of the modifications, the Critique Gallery is really about seeing your work through other people's eyes.
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4202 Canada
27 May 2020 6:00PM
Thanks for uploading the original. Youve got lots of good feedback on the composition and good mods as suggestions.

The reason I wanted to see the original is to try to understand why the trees are so blurry?

It hasnt helped, - and I wonder is if was very windy, -would have to be very.

The tonal range of the original is better than the first version you posted I think, - you might have tried to reduce highlights too much that really didnt need to be reduced at all, giving it a rather dull appearance.

Anyway, using your original, and not cropping deliberately, Ive increased shadow detail, and tried to apply some movement blur sharpening to the trees.


dark_lord Plus
16 2.7k 738 England
27 May 2020 8:04PM
I'm a bit late here and there have been good suggestions above.

Your original has mor vibrance by far than the lead image so although you've recovered shadow detail well somehting went awry in processing so you need toidentify what that was. It is possioble to loft shadows wothout affecting the rest of the image. Unless you wanted a desaturated look, though that to me doesn't fit so well with ths particular image as it's the vibrance that's attractive to the eye.

Looking for foreground interest to include is always a good idea, so well done for thinking of that. But a suggested,a change in viewpoint could make more of them.
As they stand the interest is in the left hand rocks. The eye is then led across the scene (past grass with little going on in uninteresting just after-midday light in May) towards a dark area with not a lo tgoing on. The eye then goes to the bright green tree, that's og' but has the viewer 'lost interest' by then?

That's just how I read this image.
However,, the location looks interesting and with potential and as mentioned different light, or even time of year, would help.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2346 United Kingdom
27 May 2020 9:57PM

Quote:Looking for foreground interest

is I think the key - and aiming to differentiate between foreground interest and background. Try to get that balance right.
biglog 7 42 2 United Kingdom
28 May 2020 2:05AM
Thankyou all for all the comments, feedback and really is much appreciated..

I think what I can take from all the comments is that the foreground is not quite right for the image I had in mind, it is what I struggled with the most on the main subject was the trees with the brightest one being the focal point (maybe not a strong enough focal point) and I think I may be guilty of over thinking and complicating the scene as John and Pamela eluded too..I agree less is more and would work better hear I feel..

Regarding the light I totally agree I need a different time of day and possibly different season maybe Autumn..where I can work on a different composition,

As for the editing I have used some negative clarity and reduced the vibrance and saturation on the trees in my edited version as I like the softer muted look ..however I am not sure why in the original the trees look blurred, it was a very still day..

Many thanks once again and if I get the opportunity to visit this area again I will upload the image ..

mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2346 United Kingdom
28 May 2020 7:49AM
Thanks for joining in the conversation! That makes such a difference in the Critique Gallery.

Foreground matters because it's where your viewers are standing. So it needs to be involving.

Time of day - look at the very black shadows immediately under the foreground rock as well as the light hitting the top surface. Early morning or possibly early evening will give gentler light, and the shadows from side light work much better to convey substance, textures.

One other suggestion - try getting down lower, trying different angles. Not just normal eye-level. (Although you need to be careful to avoid bright sky in the background). Always look through the camera, see what it can see.
dark_lord Plus
16 2.7k 738 England
28 May 2020 11:45AM
Yes, thanks for getting back to us.

The details of your processing are useful. Negative clarity is useful for skin on portraits, I've not used it on landscapes. It shouldn't affect sharpness, just local midtone contrast but I wonder if that has given apparent softness here.

Landscapes don't always work first time amd can require multiple visits, though at least if you take a picture in any case you've a record and a reminder to visit again.
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1777 England
28 May 2020 6:34PM
Thanks from me, too, for making it a conversation.

It's hard to do the conventional landscape things at high noon, but there are other things you can do in blazing sun, in terms of looking for stark shadows, designs, and patterns brought out by harsh light. Something about taking the pictures that are available, rather than trying to take those that are not, at the moment...
biglog 7 42 2 United Kingdom
29 May 2020 3:12AM
Thanks Keith and John..totally agree about Landscapes and the time of the day...I find woodland photography is something that can be done fairly successfully all day round , especially later in the year..really dark shady woods with just shafts of light coming through the canopy.. ..quite a challenge but very rewarding..



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