Back Modifications (5)
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Balnakeil in Sutherland

By Bigpoolman
Comments please.
I liked the colours and the shapes cut by the water in the sand. I used the stream as a lead inline to the horizon and clouds and a tilt shift to achieve focus throughout the composition.
ND grad was used to balance the exposure.
Processed in LR and PS.


Tags: Scotland Autumn Sutherland Landscape and travel Balnakeil

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mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.8k 2406 United Kingdom
15 Jan 2017 5:16PM
I rather like this one. It's about twisting lines and textures, and being a vertical frame it draws the eye upwards very effectively towards the horizon.

I'm not sure that the long exposure works so well here, as the soft water in the bottom section of the frame is masking the textures of the pebbles. Did you take any shots using a faster shutter speed?

Have you done some work on the other side of the stream? It looks oddly bright, with a near-vertical strip in shadow. I find that a wee bit distracting.

I am itching to have a play with this - it's the foreground where I want to work. I reckon some very discreet dodging and burning could make those textures more tactile, really bring that area forward. And there's a thin, curving line in the water, maybe a plant stem, that I want to get rid of.

And then, while the colour is seductive, I see scope for a strong b&w conversion.

OK that's my excuse for staying on the computer a bit longer... Wink
15 Jan 2017 5:37PM
Thanks Moira

I didn't take any at a faster shutter speed. I can't remember now but I think I used a polariser which prob got the exposure up to 2 secs when combined with the ND grad.
I see what you mean about the sand, it needs better balancing with that on the left, prob toned down a bit. No idea about the vertical shadow, well spotted - don't think it was me
I think the curving line is an old pipe which I was too lazy to clone out (oops).

mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.8k 2406 United Kingdom
15 Jan 2017 5:41PM
Thanks for getting back so quickly! I've uploaded three mods - thinking about the original, my problem I think is that the bright area on the other side of the stream makes me want to start exploring there, rather than looking down first at where my feet are. But that's just how I want to explore the frame...

Good use of the polariser, rock pools and similar are the main area where I use mine.

I have enjoyed doing the b&ws... Grin They're done in Nik Silver Efex, which is a free download from Google, part of the Nik Collection. (It used to cost around 90). The first started with the Wet Rocks preset, the second with Filmnoir1. Both travelled on a bit beyond the presets...
15 Jan 2017 5:46PM
I like the first mod Moira, it definitely makes quite a difference particularly the foreground changes bring it alive.
B&W has potential too, think I prefer the first one but I do like the dramatic effect of the other.


15 Jan 2017 5:54PM
Thanks Moira, I've done very little B&W, its one of my targets this year. Ive got the Nik collection but not really used it so plenty to play with.

Really good point about the bright sand as well.

paulbroad 13 131 1293 United Kingdom
15 Jan 2017 5:58PM
This one is pretty good. I've said I'm not a pictorialist but the format and composition rest well on the eye. i don't think the foreground rocks should be sharp. the composition is designed to take the eye to the horizon,so strong extreme foreground detail is not needed and could actually be detrimental.

You know how to use spot metering! Dead right on this one although a slight reduction in overall density gives another image.

You like your tilt/shift lens? Not always ideal for coposition - overall sharpness can reduce compositional impact.

15 Jan 2017 6:14PM
Hi Paul

Generally landscapers are striving for as much sharpness as possible through the picture (unless looking for a particularly different effect) so I'm probably trying to follow the herd here. The tilt/shift is ideal for that although I do use other lenses as well (I rather like the Canon 70-200 but more on that on a later post) and the 24mm gives a reasonable wide angle which I can crop down if needed like I did here.
Sorry - didn't fully understand the 'overall density' comment.


dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1843 England
15 Jan 2017 7:56PM
Quite a busy picture, though with a lovely overall structure. Again, I want to simplify, and maybe have more coverage close in. I wouldn't want to lose the cloud shapes, which fit into the frame nicely.

Monochrome and simplification work, I'd say.

It's always a problem to know where to stop at the edges with this kind of shot - and there may be good reasons why you couldn't go a step back...
15 Jan 2017 8:41PM
Hi John

I think I had a beach behind me so could go back but I would have had a lot of sand with no real interest as a foreground and I thought the rocks were better close up. I wanted to get the rock at the right front and have the line of the stream bounding the left side. Whether that makes sense is a moot point.
Any suggestions as to how you would change it, I'm interested - closer in or further back?


banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4235 Canada
15 Jan 2017 9:13PM
Its a nice shot; good balance in exposure, so thats a success.

A couple a minor points; horizon is a tiny bit off; you dont need a tilt/shift lens for far to near sharpness, - thats a function of focal length and aperture, the tilt/shift looks after geometry; using f/13 puts the lens into the realm of diffraction, where sharpness starts to fall off. Try not to go below f/11.

Loaded a mod that level, slightly warmer.


15 Jan 2017 9:53PM
Thanks Willie

Good eyes, hadn't noticed the horizon slightly out and a little warmer works I think.

My limited understanding of the tilt function is that it shifts the plane of focus so if you get the angle right then for example a low rock in the foreground would be in focus through to a high mountain in the background. I presume that the aperture/focal length govern whats in focus ie the depth of field either side of that modified plane. ..or then again.........Help?????

Thanks also for the tip re aperture



15 Jan 2017 9:58PM
I'm a complete idiot anyway cos having said all that I have just noticed that I used my 24-105 zoom lens for this shot and not the tilt/shift anyway. I'll put it down to age and at least it proves I do use a different lens at times!!!
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1843 England
15 Jan 2017 10:46PM
The tilt lens lets you get front-to-back sharpness at a wide aperture - so you don't need to stop down a lot for a shot like this, or can operate at the optimum aperture.

I think you composed round the rocks, and I am looking at the pools! I'd have looked at including all of the bow on the left with a bit of sand all round it, and a fraction more on the right - and at what happened to the stream of water coming from the bottom of the frame - whether there were picturesque shapes there.

It's always hard to understand constraints after the event: and it may have been perfectly obvious why you can't do anythign else, or particular things - because, say, of the dead seal lying fractionally out of frame.

Does that help at all?
15 Jan 2017 10:59PM
Thanks John, yep that does help. I'll have another look at the original and see if its gives me any more options.


salopian 9 3 28 United Kingdom
16 Jan 2017 12:56PM
A most attractive, fresh scene - can almost smell the salty breeze !
Lots of good comments and advice above. With regard to John's comment that it may be a little busy and might be simplified, I was waiting for one of Moira's excellent square crops, but she has produced some other excellent mods instead, so I have taken it upon myself to follow in the mistress's footsteps to create a square mod cropping off some of the foreground rocks in a bid to simplify the shot slightly.

16 Jan 2017 9:42PM
Thanks Geoff, quite like that treatment as well. It brings the main body of the water more out the right corner which works rather well I think.

All in all some very useful suggestions and plenty of food for thought, so thanks everyone who has commented.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.8k 2406 United Kingdom
16 Jan 2017 9:46PM

Quote:I was waiting for one of Moira's excellent square crops, but she has produced some other excellent mods instead, so I have taken it upon myself to follow in the mistress's footsteps...

LOL. as they say. I shall start signing myself as She Who Must Be Obeyed... Wink
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1843 England
19 Jan 2017 5:41PM
Please don't do that, Moira.

For reasons that you and Bill will understand, that would cause me terminal confusion...

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