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19/03/2014 - 8:53 PM

Cockerham Sands

Cockerham SandsHey Mick!

It's a pretty nice image and a good choice to go B&W, but there are a few things you could do to improve this.

Firstly, from a shooting perspective, you should try to be more aware of the horizon - it should be level. Yours is getting on for 2 degrees off, by my quick estimate!

The other thing that you benefit from is learning about hyperfocal focussing which would help you greatly with depth of field and image sharpness - you'll have to google it as I don't have time to get into the nitty-gritty, I'm afraid. Wink
It's perhaps a bit daunting at first, but is, in fact, a reasonably straightforward technique and especially useful at w/a focal lengths.

Secondly, there's a great deal you can do in post processing to lift this image to where it should be.

First off, fix the horizon using the "measure" tool in photoshop followed by rotate image "arbitrary". You will have to crop the image consequently But using a D800 you can afford to lose a couple of million pixels without too much harm.

Next off, I would work on the contrast which, in my opinion, is what is really lacking here.
Try just putting a curves layer above your image layer without adjusting it, but set its blend mode to "soft light." I think you will be surprised at how improvement there is. Grin
Personally I would go slightly further with two additional curves layers (for foreground and sky - normal blend mode on each) on which I would adjust the curve to improve to tonal separation to my taste and the limit the effect by using a gradient fill on their respective layer masks....(I may have lost you by now! Smile).
Curves layers and layer masks are very powerful tools - do some research. It will benefit you greatly.
Lastly (after resizing for epz) I would use some careful sharpening to tighten it all up prior to uploading.

Cheers - hope this is of some help Smile

19/10/2013 - 8:50 PM

Anonymous Falls

Anonymous FallsA terrific composition, Mike.

Can't help feeling, however, that the water and overall contrast is a tad weak.

I think you afford afford to set the black and white points in Levels a bit more aggressively.
White point to 241 or thereabouts (hold the alt key to see where the highlight start to clip), black to 2 or 3 and mid point to 1.04 seemed to do the trick, IMO.
I would also be tempted to use a gentle "S" curve in Curves to further punch up the contrast a bit,
Doesn't need much, but the above adjustments do seem to improve and already good image into something much better.


12/06/2013 - 6:04 PM

Langdales Pano

Langdales PanoDid wonder if you'd make this crop!

And presented at less than 2000px - a very good thing, imo, since the whole image is visible and no scrolling is required.

A deft conversion, Paul, although I'm not too sure if mono is quite the right choice with this particular image.
It's mainly because of the subtlety of the colour original: all those lovely, delicate, receding blue tones.
I think the aerial perspective - and therefore, the huge sense of distance and scale - seems to work better in colour. At least to my eye. Tongue
Nay bad, though Wink


20/11/2012 - 5:50 PM

shooting clouds

shooting cloudsA strong composition here, Mark, and good use of the long exposure.

I think you could afford to work on this a little more, however.
If you examine the histogram you'll find quite a bit of room to manoeuvre as you've not made the best use of the full tonal range available to you, resulting in a rather drab, monotonic, grey image.

If you use levels and hold the alt key whilst adjusting the black or white sliders, you will see where the image starts to clip the shadows or highlights respectively. I would make that adjustment and then back the sliders off a little.
Result: you get a large tonal range than is visible here with punchier shadows and stronger highlights.

Personally I would also use masked curves layers too, to separately adjust contrast for the sky and rocks. I'd also do this before using the levels tool.

It's worth a try and would move this into a different league, imo Grin

10/11/2012 - 8:11 PM


OvergrownI think some deepening of the darkest tones using the black point slider in levels, and a strongish vignette would pull the viewer into the very short Do F you've used and emphasize the sense of mystery and concentrate the eye on the leaves.
It's very nice idea and well shot.

A few thoughts, anyway....for your consideration.

08/11/2012 - 10:21 AM

In the Spotlight ...

In the Spotlight ...Defintely better in mono, I reckon, Paul!
The brightly lit hillside at the left is a tad distracting in this composition. Perhaps burning it down or cropping it out may lessen its impact?
It's a beaut, despite a very minor niggle Grin

08/11/2012 - 9:46 AM

Through the Arch

Through the ArchTerrific, Jeanie!
Works superbly in mono, and you've pulled off a lovely conversion.
Hard to improve on this.
At the shoot it may have been slightly better to frame up to exclude the rock at the right hand edge, perhaps. It may be worth re-cropping to achieve this; don't think you'd lose any significant detail and it could make the composition even more powerful.
Think I prefer this to the colour version.
Really good stuff!!

05/11/2012 - 7:10 PM


RemorseAs Willie says the pose and expression can't be faulted.
I also agre that your processing has dulled the tonality rather than enhancing it. Willie's suggestion goes a ver long way to addressing this issue.
The other problem for me is the framing: he's much too central in the frame. You would do well to consider and make use of "negative space" He's looking left so include a bit of space there, whixh would also emphasise your title.

I did pretty much the same with the tones as Willie, but also punched up the blacks and gave a very slight toning to the greys using the Selective Colour tool. I also increase the canvas size by 50% to the left, painted out the slight white lines and then re-cropped to a 5x4 ratio and gave it a little smart sharpen (100%, 0.4 pixels).

It's a really good portrait that just needs a little fine tuning.


02/11/2012 - 1:36 PM

lost hope

lost hopeNice one, Mark. Smile

I think you could easily afford tor crop this as the top of the sky is not really adding much and is a little noisy.
Try a 16:9 crop from the bottom up.
I think you'll be surprised at how much it will improve the composition - would make the the posts much mor prominent an dynamic to counter balance the long exposure.

A though, anyway!
Congrats on your GEA Grin


ps: Just noticed some are suggesting a square crop - erm...I just like to be different! Wink
12/09/2012 - 9:54 AM

The music of colour

The music of colourI'm only looking at this on a crappy work monitor, Mark, so my view isn't as precise as could be.

I think you have produced a fine image.
It has a lovely composition with a graceful curve lead from foreground to moon. And it looks also that you have nailed the exposure without blowing the moon - a difficult thing to achieve, I think. The lack of clouds will always present a problem but I think you have handled it very well by reducing the amount of featureless sky in the frame and with the placement of the moon. Although it's not quite on a thirds intersection, it's nevertheless at the intersection of the f/g sweep of rocks and the distant headland.
Good job, I think, given the situation.

There are several things you could do to improve this, in my opinion.
Firstly at the shoot:
You could easily have used a second exposure, say 1 (or perhaps 2) stop over to give you better f/g values to work with, by blending the two in post-processing. I (and others) frequently use this method, despite using grad filters, and will always hand-blend the frame (rather than relying on HDR software, which I loathe), prior to any further adjustments - basically creating a single, balance image from two (or more) unbalanced images.

Secondly, as you look to have nailed the exposure, your next choice would be in the RAW converter. I only have experience of Adobe ACR version 4.6, but here's what I would do. Start with a flat tone curve (not the "medium contrast" which is the default value). The biggest issue with this image is the lack of tonal separation in the darker, shadowy tones. These need to be opened up a bit without losing their essential sihouette nature - i.e that need to still be fairly dark, but also separate, which will give them greater definition and therefore impact. The parametric "darks slider" in ACR can, surprisingly, recover and separate the lower tones very well. I would aim for a balanced starting image here, not a finished image, and generally I'd only adjust WB (and possibly "tint"), black points and white points, noise, and chromatic aberation in ACR, leaving any further tonal adjustment to be done in Photoshop because of its greater precision. You'll be surpised what can be achieved with this technique, but what you will end up with may look very flat and possibly uninteresting, lacking contrast: don't worry, that's ok as you can fix that in Photoshop.
As I said, Photoshop's curves tool is probably the single most useful tool in Photoshop's arsenal and is certainly the one that I make most use of. I would strongly suggest that you investigate luminosity masks (you'll have to google them, I'm afraid, as there is insufficient space here to fully describe them), because you can then address the needs of specific tonal ranges in your image. In this case, the darker tones.

Another option to think about with this particular image is a mono conversion, which I think would work well. All of the above would still apply. Again, I'd do this in Photoshop rather than the RAW converter (or, heaven forbid, in camera!!) Using luminosity masking to target specific tonal ranges for adjustment is particularly important in mono images, so it'd be very useful to do a bit of research.

In all situations ask yourself this: "What does this image need?" and "How do I then achieve it?"

Hope this is helpful Smile


10/05/2012 - 3:15 PM

Flat Out!

Flat Out!Great action shot, Martin.
Shutter speed looks spot on.

I'd be tempted to move the white point a little for some extra zing to the highlighted spray. It could be my crappy monitor here at work, but they look just a tad dull. You'd probably need to mask the guy's hat though Wink

10/05/2012 - 11:06 AM

World in motion

World in motionAha! That's better Smile

Interesting suggestion from Stuart about a crop, which I wholly disagree with!
I think your composition is spot on and there's a lovely echo between the blurred clouds and the f/g sea.
If it was possible, I think a little more room on the left would have been better (although I suspect you are already making use of the full width of your frame) and perhaps a little more room below the bright pebble at right f/g, but that's being really picky!
An excellent shot, imo.
10/05/2012 - 10:29 AM

World in motion

World in motionLooks like you hit on the right recipe, Nick.

Another superb, minimalist mono.

Personally, I don't think the grey background and the thin white stroke are particularly flattering for mono images as they are a little distracting from the beuaty of the tones contained within the image itself, although I can see why you chose them. IMO, simplicity is where it's at with mono, as you have so ably demonstrated with this and your last.


09/05/2012 - 5:47 PM

Boats, Boughs & Bindings ...

Boats, Boughs & Bindings ...Interesting (and weirdly unconventional) composition, Paul.

Great blending, too.

I'm not sure about the blue rope, though. It's so very blue that it immediately attracts the eye and then leads out of the frame, away from the light and boats.
No doubt that's exactly what you intended Tongue Wink

17/04/2012 - 6:08 PM

Black Ice...

Black Ice...Think I might have to start calling you Ansel Wink

Tremendous shot, Ed.
A very solid composition emphasizing the great weight of the mountain.
The tonal spectrum is really breathtaking.
Personally I think you could easily get away with darkening the sky and the brighter reflections a bit. They seem just a tad too light in comparison to the weight and granduer of the mountain itself.
I just tried a duplicate layer: multiply, 50% opacity with a hide all mask and painted the greater tonal definition back in with a low opacity white brush (with particular emphasis on the sky). It did seem to make this even better than it already is and gave a better tonal balance.
Only an opinion, of course, but perhaps worth a try to see if you agree. Smile

17/04/2012 - 9:20 AM

In Arduis Fidelis

In Arduis FidelisWonderfully atmospheric, Andy.
Last time I was in Snowdonia the sky looked like this most of the time!
I just love big, brooding skies

I'd be very tempted to darken the white rock on the left if possible as it tends to pull the eye away from the main thrust of the image. Or possibly (uh oh) clone it out if that isn't against your religion Wink


13/04/2012 - 9:53 AM

Ogmore Rock at Sunset

Ogmore Rock at SunsetLovely shot, Al!

Gorgeous sky (I'm a big fan of gorgeous skies!)

I'd suggest a little gentle sharpening on the f/g rocks to amplify the sense of depth. Smart sharpen: amont around 100, radius around 0.2 would be a good place to start, I reckon
If you did it on a separate layer with a hide-all mask, you could just paint it in where it's needed using a low opacity white brush. Probably 30% - 50% would be my choice for the greater control it offers.
A thought, anyway Smile

12/04/2012 - 7:41 PM

Welsh Water ...

Welsh Water ...Lovely job, Paul.

A slightly better balance to this composition that the last (although that was a belter) I feel. The last seemed a trifle naked on the left - weird, and probably unavoidable, I reckon!

Can't help thinking this would be even better with just a tad more contrast; would give it a bit more Welsh bite and definition.
Duplicate layer: soft light, 40% looked perfect to me without detracting from the lovely luminosity.
Maybe worth a look? Maybe not? Wink

Glad your wife is still alive Wink Wink Smile
11/04/2012 - 6:58 PM

little water

little waterNice one, Ant!
Shutter speeed looks spot on to me.

The sky looks a bit noisy to me.
Probably the best place to address this is in your RAW converter - zoom in on the sky to 400% and reduce the luminance noise until it just disappears. You may need to reduce chroma noise too, although it's hard to tell at this size.
I often find catching the noise before any further editing usually easier than afterwards.
And if you're in the RAW converter you may find it interesting to push the WB up, to warm up the sky and the cliffs a little. I'd be very tempted to use the "shade" preset or even higher, perhaps. Worth a look as it can yield very pleasing results. Smile

05/04/2012 - 10:18 AM


Pap..Delicious colours, Phil. Particularly the f/g.
And a strong composition.

The horizon looks a bit wonky to me - could be a bit of barrel distortion of just a slight shooting error; either of which could be easily corrected.
If there is any real issue for me, it's the top half of the image, which seems a tad too dark; specially the snow covered mountains.
I think I'd investigate the posibilties of lifting the whites somewhat. A white point adjustment using the levels tool ought to do the trick, I feel and the use of a gradient mask and some gentle mask painting can then limit the adjustment to where it's needed - from the close shoreline and above.
The pebbles on the close shoreling seem a tad dark also. Is this where your blend for the sky stopped? I'd suspect so.

Nothing major, really; just needs a little tweaking, imo, to really make it sing! Smile

I it were mine I'd be very pleased with this, but would definitely take it that extra inch...