Back Modifications (6)
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Mountain in clouds

By FloKl
A shot down from the 2700 meter high mountain "Serles" in Tyrol (Austria). I was trying to capture the mystic atmosphere that the clouds provided.
The foto is unedited.

Since I'm a newbie to photography and still working on the very basics, I'm happy for any suggestions, tips and ideas on how to make my photos better - when shooting as well as when processing afterwards.

Funny sidenote - when we started our descent it started to snow heavily Smile

Tags: Mountain Clouds Mystic Wildlife and nature


Mike43 9 176 21 England
21 Aug 2014 7:34AM
The major problem with mountain photography is getting what you see and feel onto the photo through the camera, and unfortunately as in my case I have a awful lot more failures than success.

So overall on the tech side there is not to much wrong with your photo in fact I like the shot, but bet the scene was a lot more impressive in real time than what your camera was able to produce.

Still it is a very good start you just need to keep plugging away.


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paulbroad 13 131 1289 United Kingdom
21 Aug 2014 8:52AM
Not a bad effort. There is interest here, due to the cloud effect. Slight under exposure I suspect due to all that white. The snow is a touch gray. Just brighten things up a bit.

pamelajean Plus
14 1.4k 2149 United Kingdom
21 Aug 2014 7:12PM
Firstly, FloK, welcome to the Critique Gallery. I see that this is your first upload here.

I hope you will enjoy it and find it a good place to learn. We try to give advice that will help people to improve their photography both the taking and the editing of images.

Remember that the more information you give us as regards your photographic aims and intentions, the better.
It also helps us if you respond to critique and indicate which ideas you found helpful. That means we can tailor advice according to your needs and abilities.

I've had a look at your portfolio and noticed that you have three other pictures there, and you have always asked for advice and critique, but have received none, apart from one comment on the first.
No doubt you found this quite disappointing, and I hope that now you have found the Critique Gallery, you will receive the type of comments that you have been seeking.

This is a very atmospheric image.
It shouts mono to me because there is so little colour, so I have done a black and white modification with adjustments in Levels, to give some strong contrasts. I also used the dodge tool on some areas, especially the path, to accentuate them.

My second modification, the one I like best, has a crop to the top and right, maintaining your aspect ratio. This removes the bit of dark sky at the top and places the pathway two thirds across the frame.

mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.2k 2247 United Kingdom
21 Aug 2014 8:04PM
Hi, a warm welcome from me too, I see that this is your first upload in the Critique Gallery. I hope you'll enjoy it here, and find it useful. We try to advise with both the taking and the processing of images, and it always helps when people tell us a bit about themselves and what they are trying to achieve - so well done there!

Mike makes a good point above:

Quote:...but bet the scene was a lot more impressive in real time than what your camera was able to produce.

This is the story of our lives isn't it. The complaint that I hear more often than anything else is 'The picture doesn't do the place justice'.

Here's something to think about. I've mentioned it recently in the CG but it's worth repeating. You were there. You could turn through 360, feel the breeze, see light dancing. The viewer is seeing this as a small 2-dimensional rectangle on a screen. The photographer's job is to find a picture that will take the viewer there, convey the experience of being there. That's what composition is about. Putting the experience into a little rectangle. There needs to be a route to follow, into the frame and exploring it.

There's a route here, that gully, which I assume is a glacier. We can follow a winding path up it, towards the peaks and the haze. I would be much more inclined to use portrait - vertical - format for that. It leads the eye upwards more naturally. I'm going to have a go at various crops and see what I can do.

The other thing that jumps out is that, as Paul says above, this is slightly underexposed. Snow is difficult! It can deceive the camera's 'brain' into thinking that the scene is much lighter than it actually is. So the snow here looks a bit dingy, it doesn't sparkle.

I've downloaded the picture and checked the histogram and it's much as I expected - the graph rises and falls some way inside the edges.

Are you familiar with the histogram? You will be able to call it up on the viewing screen of your camera as you take shots, and it's worth checking. Depending on your software you should also be able to check it out when processing.

It shows the relative distribution of tones in the image, from true black on the left to true white on the right. If, as here, the curve of the graph doesn't rise and fall at the outer ends of the baseline it means that the image lacks black and white. The further from the edges that it rises and falls, the narrower the dynamic range.

Almost always, images need real dark tones for background shadows, a sense of depth and distance; and white for sparkle, life. Look at an Old Master painting, look at the flecks of white paint, used strategically as highlights. It's the flecks of pure white that are missing here.

If you have Levels in your software, the simple procedure, which works in at least 90% of cases, is to move those outer sliders until they touch the points where the graph curve rises from the base and drops back to it. That will introduce true black and true white. Some experiment and flexibility is needed, try and see what works; but the principle is that moving those sliders inwards increases contrast.

The middle slider controls midtones. I often move it a little bit to the right, to darken, less frequently to the left. Again, experiment and see what works.

I should have asked what software you use for processing. Whatever it is, the area that deals with light enhancement is the most important to get to grips with!

I shall have a go at a Modification - crop plus light enhancement. Modifications appear under the button below your upload, click on the thumbnail to view. (I agree with Pamela that this cries out for black & white - but she's covered that aspect.)
mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.2k 2247 United Kingdom
21 Aug 2014 8:20PM
I've uploaded two Modifications. Looking back in your portfolio I see that you use Elements, so you should be able to make similar adjustments to mine. I made a Levels adjustment as described above, also added a few % brightness and contrast, and used the dodge and burn tools - dodge set to highlights, burn set to midtones and shadows, both at just 3% exposure and huge brush sizes - on the foreground snow and the clouds.

Slightly underexposing an image is not in itself a bad thing by the way, an underexposed file gives much better scope for improvement than an overexposed! But you do need to do that work.
dudler Plus
17 1.2k 1679 England
21 Aug 2014 10:44PM
And welcome from me, too. Pamela and Moira have said everythign there is to say about the Critique Gallery, except, perhaps, that the Critique Team is made up of a number of people with differnet interests, skills, and tendencies.

Moira has already shown you her love of square pictures, and deep insight into the way a picture is just a little slice of tiem and space isolated - from the nn-visual delights of hte world, as well as the bits outside the frame.

One of the best pieces of photographic advice was given by a press photogrpaher who was asked what exposure he used for his brillint news shots. The answer: "f/8, and be there!"

And you were there (coincidentally, not too far from f/8!) A pity it snowed as you left, and not the day before - but my advice is to tkae the picture you can, rather than regretting the one you can't. Make the most of what you can see, and this means that the more ideas and techniques you have, the better the chance of making a really good picture of any subject. Someitmes, circumstances will mean that you can't possibly have the perfect picture, but you can always make a decent and workmanlike ob of things.

As, indeed, you have here. Your post is perfectly competent, especially as it's unprocessed.

I've done a letterbox crop (my personal tendency), and increased the contrast in Levels, as Moira suggsts.

This is mostly about options... There are relatively few right/wrong issues, but lots of choices. I hope we're opening a few up for you!
FloKl 6 73 Austria
21 Aug 2014 11:26PM
Pamela, Moira, Mike, Paul, dudler ... I've got to admit, I'm a little speechless. Your feedback, your suggestions, ideas, tips and the modifications you posted are absolutely awesome.

Please take a second and put yourself in my shoes. It's only a few months now that I have a DSLR and it took me the better of June and July to work my way through David Busch's D3100 book. Ever since then I tried to shoot when I had a bit of spare time. However, since I don't know anybody that has at least a basic understanding of photography I'm quite reliant on books you guys to help me take a few steps forward. And let me say this again - with all your ideas above you've really done a wonderful job!
Especially the mindset towards photography that you're suggesting is a great inspiration. I doubt that any book, literature or website is able to deliver the devotion and passion you show and try to deliver.

Please allow me a bit of time to work through your ideas and comments (plus I'm away for a long weekend starting tomorrow until next Wednesday Smile ). I'll work on the shot with Elements and see where it gets me. I hope you don't mind if I contact one or the other if I have any follow-up questions on your suggestions and ideas.

One last thing - Pamela, I really love the black and white adjustment. Takes the shot a bit closer to how it really was up there on the mountain.

Oh, and if you're interested in a few other photos that I took up there, I posted them on my flickr account. Just look up the username FloKlinge and take a look at the album Serles. Hope you enjoy them Smile

I wish you all a nice weekend and am looking forward to discussing this and other shots with you in the future!!!
dudler Plus
17 1.2k 1679 England
22 Aug 2014 7:32AM
Well, that's a "wow!" for feedback from us, as well!... Thank you for an honest resonse, and particularly for sharing so much of your own photogrpahic journey.

I don't know about the rest of the Citique Team, but this kind of feedback always reminds me of being 13, and starting to develop my own films. I had the amazing advantage of living around a hundred yards from the little shop where Fred Jackson ran the local photogaphic shop, so I could run down the Market Place in Leek with a stilll-wet print to find out what I was doing wrong. I did a lot more wrong than you seem to be doing!

And that means that I also uderstand the need to work at your own pace, and in your own way. Too much advice can be confusing. It's the options thing - too many can be very confusing, so please tell us if you want to concentrate on one area - camera settings, processing, cropping and composition.

Most of all of course, enjoy taking pictures. Don't expect perfection every time, but do revel in the pleasure of pressing hte shtter release every single time!

I shall see if I can come to terms with Flikr - something that I haven't looked at yet!
mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.2k 2247 United Kingdom
22 Aug 2014 9:12AM
Thanks for great feedback! It's always good to know that someone out there is reading what we write and that it might be helpful.

When a picture is uploaded for critique we do try to cover all aspects - camera settings and technique, use of light, composition, processing... Which can risk overwhelming a beginner with information. We just don't like to leave any potential questions unanswered...

So yes there is a lot to take in. And we all I think remember how long it took to reach a reasonable level of proficiency. Take time, work through advice, maybe make a checklist of things to remember and things to try out. I hope we'll see more of you images here.

You could consider asking specific questions, one aspect of photography at a time, that way you should hopefully get more targeted advice rather than the splatter gun effect. Easier to digest!

You've got David Busch's book. He's pretty thorough. Two other recommendations if you want to take your new hobby a stage further. My son-in-law, who is a cheeky ******, recently gave me a copy of Digital Photography for Dummies. It's actually very good. It gives clear, well illustrated explanations of all the key basic principles, plus some more advanced stuff. I am passing it round my U3A Photography group.

Totally different - Michael Freeman's The Photographer's Eye is about composition, how to make images that people will be interested in.

That's the bedtime reading. But getting out and actually using the camera, trying out its possibilties, is how we really learn.
FloKl 6 73 Austria
22 Aug 2014 2:12PM
I figured I start off with the splatter gun principle because I'm not sure I could ask really specific questions yet. I'll work on that though of course. Smile

Thanks for the book tips, the Photographer's Eye is actually already on my to-read list. Currently on my shelf are "Understanding Exposure (Bryan Peterson)" and "Mastering Aperture, Shutter Speed, ... (Al Judge)". Being halfway through I can recommend the latter - an easy read and understandable even for newbies.

I'm off now ... enjoy the weekend!
banehawi Plus
16 2.2k 4149 Canada
24 Aug 2014 1:18AM
Hi from me too FLokL.

Im late arriving, so I will just upload a modification. See what you think. and I will be happy to provide loads of details, if you like.


FloKl 6 73 Austria
28 Aug 2014 8:37PM
Thanks for the modification, banehawi.

Would you mind letting me know how you managed to create such a bright, strong green? If it's too complicated to explain here rather quickly, then please don't mind. I know that my Paint Shop skills are basic and that I'll get there when I work with it more frequently.


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