Back Modifications (15)
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Severn Scenes - Two Bridges, Two Power Plants

By ctxuk  
I have been trying to get shots of this area for awhile now, I have tried various lens and apertures but mainly zoom lens, these with a Nikon 75-300 1:4.5-5.6.
My vantage point is pretty consistant but limited.
I attempted shots today with a CPL Polariser to see if that made a differance with no benefit.
I set a custom wb each occasion.
Unhappy that they lack contrast, well exposed elements and wondering where I am going wrong at time of capture, what you see here really a fair amount of PP in ACR to get this result. Skies mostly washed out, distances insubstantial for the elements/details there.

I have uploaded extra frames as mods the raw unaltered but sharpen and noise suppressed for this, all else default, others as that also, some no sharpen or supression. This so you can see what I am capturing.

Tags: Water Vista Scenic Riverscape Landscape and travel


skram 4 5 8 Italy
30 Sep 2015 1:41AM
Nice picture, the sheeps gives at the image a good character. I would have tried to crop a little bit the sky, it doesn't add nothing at the frame, there is no cloud, no dramatic sky, regarding your observation "the sky results washed out" I think in this one it doesn't depend from you, unfortunately the weather wasn't really good, sometimes weather can make the difference.....then, and I'm going to finish Smile, I would have lighted a little bit the shaded part on the left side of the frame to bring out the sheeps and I would have like to see more depth of field, maybe with a length focal f 11 you would have more sharpness.

cheers and good light Smile

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skram 4 5 8 Italy
30 Sep 2015 2:09AM
*** lens aperture f11...not "focal lenghts" sorry Smile
mrswoolybill Plus
12 1.7k 2093 United Kingdom
30 Sep 2015 9:49AM
I suspect that this was a view that really grabbed you, you wanted to capture the experience - and then you struggled with it...

I have looked at your various images, there's a lot here for one CG upload so I will concentrate on the main upload - it stands for them all in a way.

What I am seeing is a very difficult scene to convey adequately, and I think you have done it pretty well. The light is subdued, subtle, there's a lovely glow through the mist on the horizon and on those sheep bottom right. Morning warmth just starting to filter through the cold blues of night...

Now something important to consider is the difference between being there, with a 360 view, the breeze in your hair, the movement of light sparkling on water, the song of birds; and the experience of the viewer who wasn't there, who is just looking at a small 2-dimensional rectangle on a flat screen. Somehow you have to convey the whole big experience within that rectangle.

First thing - the sky was huge, empty - that's impressive in reality, in the image it risks diluting the detail, the sheep and the industrial scene. It's not so much about processing as proportions. We need to sense the atmosphere where we are standing in all this, so make sure that we are looking at that level.

I have cropped the sky to place the horizon on the upper third and create a letterbox frame. This loses the cold blue area at the top but allows the horizon glow to be a more significant element. I think this really is a case of less is more.

I also added just a bit more brightness and contrast - I didn't want to detract from the subtlety, but the original seems to me to lack the glimmer of early light catching the water, I have tried to add that.

The second modification has a small boost to saturation.

Just suggestions, I'll be interested to see what others add.
mrswoolybill Plus
12 1.7k 2093 United Kingdom
30 Sep 2015 11:20AM
PS I also made a very small anti-clockwise rotation and cleaned a faint dust blob from the sky - it's immediately above the (I think ) power station.
dudler Plus
16 971 1533 England
30 Sep 2015 11:41AM
Adrian, Moira has said a lot of what I'd want to say. A big vista doesn't translate well to the little screen on the back of a camera. It's much smaller, and it lacks the breeze, the bird calls, the warmth or cold.

And while the range of tones is pretty complete on the histogram, I think that pictures sometimes need the same sort of exaggeration as stage makeup. Don't be too subtle.

I've therefore used Levels in Elements to darken the midtones and brighten the highlights. some might say it's inaccurate (and they're right), others that it's a cheap trick (they're right, too). But it's often effective. What do you think? Does either of my mods look more like the scene you remember?
banehawi Plus
15 2.2k 4044 Canada
30 Sep 2015 1:01PM
At the very basic level, looking at the scenes, and the histograms, you are taking an image of a whole lot of mist.

Theres really little here that has an contrast, as mist scatters light. The polariser wont really do a lot with mist, as you have discovered.

Then, including the lower higher contrast grassy area with sheep, you have essentially two different images, which you are taking with one set of camera parameters.

The histograms show this quite clearly, as you can see two separate peaks and throughs, typical of a scene with two images in one.

In mod2, Ive shown only the sea, and you have a better impression of what it is you are challenged with. Its very difficult to shoot this scene with any decent contrast, unless you use Photoshop to "cheat" as suggested, by treating the upper image separately to the lower.

Ive done this without being too obvious in mod1 and mod3.


TanyaH Plus
16 1.3k 395 United Kingdom
30 Sep 2015 2:47PM
If you were a film user, I'd suggest a UV skylight filter to help reduce atmospheric haze to a degree, but they're pretty useless with digital cameras because sensors aren't sensitive to UV light in the same way film is.

And a polariser won't necessarily help you out either, as you've found - it could also give you too much of a contrast difference overall as well, which won't help.

A graduated neutral density filter might have allowed you to balance the exposure between the foreground and distance, but again it's one of those trial and error approaches with a scene like this.

The best way of reducing haze (which is nearly always around large bodies of water, which you've got here) is to do it in post processing. There's some very good software packages around nowadays, specifically for this exact problem. Alternatively, if doing this in Photoshop the 'Selective colour' adjustment filter is apparently one of the best techniques.

So other than suggesting that you go back time and again, in different lighting conditions, different times of the day etc, I'm not sure what else to suggest.

I've done two quick mods - one where I've firstly adjusted the shadows and highlights in the image before playing with with the Hue, Saturation and Lightness of various colours within the image, and another where I took some inspiration from something Willie did on another upload in the CG, and given you more of a "if you can't get what you want at the time of taking, go outrageous" kind of abstract approach ... I think they're still just about recognisable as sheep! Grin

paulbroad Plus
12 131 1285 United Kingdom
30 Sep 2015 6:55PM
A polariser needs polarised light and there is very little if any here.

This is going to sound a bit severe, but I really do think you are going to struggle to get a good image here. You need a specific focal point, possibly much nearer a single sheep, some decent dramatic lighting and something to add compositional strength.

ctxuk 10 7 1 England
30 Sep 2015 8:29PM
Hi folks, first off a big thanks to all replying and doing mods it is appreciated.

The scene, this is not the sea, this is The River Severn at pretty much its highest navigable point to large ocean going vessels as it is adjacent to Sharpness Docks. Ships can indeed get higher upstream but it is littered with wrecks on the bed, lives have been lost (around 300 in 20th century) and the river is very tidal. The River Severn has one of the top 3 tidal ranges of all the earths rivers rising 48 feet. Most traffic going further upriver use the Sharpness Gloucester Canal to avoid the treacherous section north of where I stand.
I am actually where I currently work, stood on what perhaps is an earth defence against flooding standing perhaps 20 feet above those sheep at most. I can only get access to it whilst at work, and whilst they are aware I carry my camera it has prompted questions on a security issue, cell or mobile phones though a far greater risk. The shots are all taken prior to the start of my shift and have varied between 5 am an 8 am. I find the river fascinating as I get older and begin to appreciate it more with the life that is on and in it or surrounds it and just wish to capture some of its current history.
I probably fail to convey all of what I wished to know in my post, I seem very good at that despite trying to give good information for you. The main shot was processed in acr and I did use a graduated filter in there to achieve the sea and sky, basically it was angled stretching from the top down to the lands edge and was applied after doing my main processing to try to get what I want. The composition is dictated by foliage in front of me and also the fact the water really is not very far so a limited amount of foreground to play with. Colours and look to the main image is far better than I expected to get from seeing previous days shots so I am not unduly displeased, and it perhaps has a watercolour softness to it. Surprisingly more often than not The Severn is almost devoid of water here leaving a channel and some other areas only most of the time, that wide expanse mud or sand flats, I was ecstatic to see it both with the tide in, and vessels on it. If you look to the left of the ship, you see a single spike, look further left, another, left again and the power station, Oldbury , those spikes? The Old Severn Bridge. In the mods you can see Berkeley Power Station, the countrys first nuclear reactors, now decommisioned.
My reason to post is attempting to capture the scene and not having the water and above as haze, hence my trying a polariser to see if it would aid matters. I do have some grads which I could use but in honesty to do so would probably require a tripod, the camera frowned on, a tripod? I don't think so somehow, I have to keep it low key or risk comment and action taken. That then rules out HDR to achieve my aims also. Tanya points out Skylights and UV's of little use to digital and suggests what I have already applied in the main image. I have tried this lens, a 75-300, a 35-135 and a wide angle so far, all give varying results but the latter are just not long enough to show the bridges in any size. I was really hoping to find an idea of how to capture it in one take, Willie as usual being the closest to understanding what I am asking in his responses. Maybe I am asking far too much with posing the question about it, but it is I suspect possible to get a better result than I currently manage is just how! I will probably try my 300/4 prime, just to see how it handles the image and i also have a manual Tokina zoom that goes to 205mm to try also. Even if I handheld and used a grad, I dont expect it will give a better result than adding it in acr after the shot.
dark_lord Plus
15 2.4k 598 England
30 Sep 2015 9:51PM
In those lighting conditions you're not going to get anything dramatic.
The sky is very bland but you're there at the right time so one of those days you'll get the sky you deserve. you may well then need a grad to help balance forground and sky, but you could take two exposures - even handholding you can get them more or less in register and blending them with a strongly feathered layer mask should ensure a seamless looking result.

The mention of security issues intrigues me as surely those sheep are owned by a farmer who has access to that land? What if he had a camera and tripod with him? Rhetorical questions I don't expect you to answer but thought provoking nonetheless.

The bridge and power station in the distance may be interesting landmarks in themselves but are far too small to have any impact in the scene, whatever you may feel as a viewer at that location.
That's the issue I fear, holding interest for the viewer.

Using a longer lens would not help. You'd cut out any help from a good sky or foreground as well as having to shoot through a lot of atmosphere.
Stitching together two or three images taken at 300 mm into a panorama would be worth a go but you'd need to wait for the right lighting conditions, which as we are in the autumn months you may well get.
Some stronger sidelighting across the foreground on the sheep would be very appealing.
ctxuk 10 7 1 England
30 Sep 2015 10:02PM
Among other things, its a Bonded site. They have incredible cameras all around the site, 24 hour security and you do not wander as you please. If a door is open, and you walk in, security know. The farmer can have any camera he wishes, he cannot get up the bank and there is also the fencing etc.

I have thought of two handheld frames but the focal point was on the ship, or a building in the distance in others, always it meters to make the sky that nondescript featureless grey no matter what I have tried., hence the post.
celtxian 15 6 United Kingdom
1 Oct 2015 4:27PM
I don't want to repeat what others have said so I will just say that for me, getting a great image out of a scene like this is not easy. My view is that cropping half the sky out and tweaking the contrast would enhance the image, but it would still not be a fantastic image for all the hurdles you faced.

Maybe a longer zoom next time to focus more on the sheep and edge of the coast with less sky?

ctxuk 10 7 1 England
1 Oct 2015 6:20PM
Ty celtxian ... the sheep are the closest, a longer zoom wont really be that useful on them. I also mention in my reply above that the composition is limited by foliage in front of me which dictates the foreground limit.

mrswoolybill - all those extra frames are in fact just to show its not a single frame error, but how the scene captures. That capture the whole point of this, and seeking a way to improve everything thats not immediate foreground land.

TanyaH - nice to see your reply, I do have fractalius, rare its used, too much of a gimmick imo.

banehawi - Appreciate your reply and that you grasped more of what I am asking here.

Today, lots of fog/mist ... the images not much differant to these though. I did try under and overexposing, no improvements really.
celtxian 15 6 United Kingdom
2 Oct 2015 2:04AM
Appreciate the problems. BTW have you tried dehaze in Camera Raw or Photoshop? I had a play in Camera raw with dehaze and some other settings to see if I could improve it. I think its an improvement but I think the light and haze on the day itself, plus all the other factors already mentioned were working against you to be honest.

Persevere and never give up. There is no such thing as our perfect image - just the one we haven't taken!


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