Back Modifications (10)
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Abandoned Estate

By mbp
Here is another one to bore you! It's a picture taken in the Vinters Valley nature reserve that contains the ruins of an Estate of an that was sacked in the Maidstone rebellion of 1648. I've used a soft focus filter on the camera and tried to create a 'Gothic' image and tried to emphases nature taken over from when man left off.
Martyn

Tags: Nature reserve Wildlife and nature

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Comments


mrswoolybill Plus
16 3.5k 2563 United Kingdom
8 Jun 2021 8:22AM
Thanks for getting back to us on your previous upload, and it's good to see another one. And speaking personally I never get bored with trees, they have so much individual character. And this one is a cracker!

Thanks also for telling us how this happened, the soft focus filter effect.

A few comments here:

Wide angle has suited you better here because the tree is fairly central and dominant. (In your previous upload, wide angle exaggerated the empty space in the foreground).

This was a situation for a larger aperture , no smaller than F5.6 I think, to isolate the dominant tree against background.

I don't think the soft filter focus effect has served this well, I guess you were intending a feeling of mystery, but tree trunk textures aren't soft, they are crunchy and abrasive. I think we need that tactile feeling in the nearest trunk. And because the effect was done in camera you cannot get rid of it... Better to avoid in camera effects, and look at options later when editing the file.

There's massive purple fringing around the branches in the top right corner - the camera hasn't coped well with detail against a bright sky background. The effect may have been exacerbated by the filter, I don't know. The sky itself is also overexposed I think, you can see a hard line across the top of a section of background tree where that cuts in. Again this was taken near to midday, with strong overhead light. Best to avoid such problems, go out much earlier or later in the day.

And while the tree has a very strong shape, that branch cutting in on the left is a real distraction, it drags the viewer's eye away from the real interest in the frame.

So I have uploaded a modification (again it's under that blue Modifications button), with some suggestions:

A much tighter crop to use the strong C shape in the tree as a frame, excluding the intruding branch on the left; I tried to soften that hard cut-off line on the background trees; a Levels adjustment moving the left slider in to strengthen dark tones; a contrasty black & white conversion, which disposes with the purple fringing; a frame and a hint of dark vignette to contain the scene, give a sense of intimacy.

These are just suggestions, ideas that you can consider. My main message on this would be - avoid in camera effects, they limit your subsequent processing options too much!
Moira


dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1965 England
8 Jun 2021 10:29AM
I have a fondness for soft focus filters, and I also use them in the darkroom, where they have the opposite effect - spreading shadows around my silver prints, rather than highlights.

And that's how I'd be doing it here, I think - and while there's got to be a digital route to achieving the same thing, I don't know what it is. My point is that this should, I think, look dark, mysterious, and even threatening. I've had a go at an edit, using a Levels adjustment in Photoshop. I also tried to reduce the colour fringing with the RAW converter - sort-of worked, but far easier when you're converting from RAW in the first place (I suggest you start shooting RAW if you're not doing so already, because it offers far more adjustment in many ways when you edit).

Crucially, though, I corrected around a two degree tilt - the walls and a wideangle really show that off. I feel that straight verticals increase the spookiness...
mrswoolybill Plus
16 3.5k 2563 United Kingdom
8 Jun 2021 11:12AM
One further thought: two members' portfolios, here and here , that may give some ideas for composing for characterful trees.
mbp 1 16
8 Jun 2021 11:15AM
Thank you mrswoolybill and dudler.
Have looked at all your modifications and all I can say is 'Wow'!
I have been a member of this site for a very short while, but am learning so much already from you more experienced Ladies and Gentleman.
I have gratefully taken on board all you have said and will take it forward and be much more careful about my composition and not try to rush a shot, which is something I am very guilty of. Fully understand what you advise about 'in camera filters' but don't know how to apply the effects I want in Lightroom, and as for Photoshop, well, that may as well be a lecture on quantum physic's from Einstein himself! I have also noticed the purple fringing, and the lens I used to take this shot was traded in for the far better HD version.
Thank you both for taking the time and trouble to advise and educate me.
Martyn.
mrswoolybill Plus
16 3.5k 2563 United Kingdom
8 Jun 2021 12:29PM
Thanks so much for your feedback, it makes it all worthwhile. If we are giving you ideas to try out, that's the important thing.

I don't use Lightroom, others can advise you there. But my advice would be - always start with the light, get that right before you move on to other effects. Don't go for extremes, keep adjustments discreet, and every so often go back a couple of stages and ask yourself 'Am I really improving, or just changing for the sake of change?' Think about cropping, which can strengthen an image by concentrating on what matters. Remember that it's only what is in the frame that matters, the audience isn't to know about what you have cut away.

And always use Save as, so that you go bck to the original later if you want to try something different.

Get out there, take some more pictures, let us see them!
Moira
mbp 1 16
8 Jun 2021 12:55PM
Thank you Moira, It's refreshing to find such a friendly forum without a hint of 'Look at how good I am, and what equipment I can afford'. I know from experience they exist.
Enjoy the rest of your day.
Martyn.
banehawi Plus
18 2.8k 4331 Canada
8 Jun 2021 1:46PM
Was it a physical filter you attached to the lens, or something you applied digitally in processing?


W
dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1965 England
8 Jun 2021 2:16PM
Now I'd assumed that you used a filter attached to the lens, but as the Lumix includes a digital effect filter, that's a good question from Willie...
mrswoolybill Plus
16 3.5k 2563 United Kingdom
8 Jun 2021 2:24PM
From a review of the G6:


Quote:A host of imaging features is available... For more aesthetic applications, Creative Control mode is available and provides 19 different settings for modifying the appearance of imagery. These settings include Expressive, Retro, Old Days, High Key, Low Key, Miniature Effect, Soft Focus and more.
mbp 1 16
8 Jun 2021 2:40PM
Hi all,
Moira beat me to it, It was an 'in camera' filter, sorry - should have made that clear in my description. I now know from advice given that this was probably a mistake as far as this picture is concerned, and having looked at some of the modifications you boys and girls have made, almost feel embarrassed to have the original on show!
Martyn.
pamelajean Plus
16 1.8k 2274 United Kingdom
8 Jun 2021 4:12PM
Hello again, Martyn.
Sorry to be coming in here so late.

I have one suggestion to make. That is, take several pictures of each subject that attracts you, and then, when you get home, you are less likely to tell yourself there was a better way to take this. Go wide, go close, move around the subject, change angles and viewpoints, and if the sky is going to give you problems, then decide whether or not to include it.

For me, the subject is the wonderful tangle of roots, where I see bodies in an embrace. So I have done a modification where I cropped drastically, eliminated the problem that the sky is causing, concentrating on those roots. I straightened the image using the top of the wall on the left, enhanced that green a bit, and also brightened, even though others felt a more dark and mysterious look might be best.

I understand why you are trying out filters, and why you prefer to do that rather than edit later, but you are then stuck with only one result and further processing might prove difficult.

I like your chosen subject, keep "snapping".

Pamela.
dark_lord Plus
18 3.0k 832 England
8 Jun 2021 5:27PM
It's a good subject with those twisted brnches and straight lines of the wall. Then on another level it's nature reclaiming the site.
That's the first hutdle, and sometimes the hardest.

The next thing is how to capture it. It's a good idea to use an effect, it shows you're thinking about the subject and how you want to portray it. However, by applying effects afterwards in software you have more control and finesse than what's avilable in-camera.
There's no harm in tking one image with and one without, using the effect one as a visual note in oder to experiment in software. The same would be true if you adopt John's approach, take one with and one without the filter. That way you have options.

This has a cold look, which may be what you want or like, but I'll do a warmer mod. Just because you shoot at a particular white balance doesn't mean you shouldn't change it later. Auto WB often gives a cooler look and can ruin the wamth of a late evening scene for example.

This image is all bout shapes, amd given the lack of colour, lends itself to mono. I'm not suggesting colour is not appropriate. Conversely, we see numerous mono images on this site that have just been converted to mono because they can and they have lost impact. That's not the case here.

I cropped my mod from the left for a couple of reasons. The branch top left is intrusive and a distraction. If it were right in the top corner it would be much less so and act as a framig tool. This brings the tree off centre and in a more balanced place in the composition. I hate referring to the 'ule' of thirds but it does help here, and the area cropped out doesn't have that much extra information for the viewer anyway.
I removed the colour fringing using a combination of the Chromatic Aberration and Defringe adjustments. Normally the first is sufficient but I suspect the in-camera effect made the fringing worse. There are chromatic aberation adjustments in the Develop module in Lightroom, both manual and automatic which is applied where LR picks up the lens used, but you need to tick the checkbox.
I warmed the image and increased Saturation.

For my second mod I applied Gaussian Blur to a duplicate Layer at reduced Opacity. That's wy you have so much more control when using software.

My third mod is a mono conversion using Nik SilverEfex, but it can be emulated in LR, PS, Affinity, etc., and to be honest so many differnt efects all had their own appeal.

It's one thing about the Critique Gallery that I enjoyed doing these different mods, so I have to say thank you for this opportunity. It's also made me late geting the tea on...
dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1965 England
8 Jun 2021 6:36PM
I have a suspicion, by the way, that if you use RAW files, in camera effects filters are not applied to the RAW version, only to the JPG. That's certainly true of both Olympus and Sony, and probably holds good for Lumix. Yet another reason to shoot RAW, even if you're not sure that you need to yet...
mbp 1 16
9 Jun 2021 9:30AM
Thank you all for your extremely helpful advice and comments. I have taken it all on board, will go back to the site and try again, bearing in mind what you've all said. Thanks again and sorry about your tea dark_lord!
Martyn.
9 Jun 2021 10:58AM
Hi Martyn,
Again a bit late by me, I have commented on your previous image too.
Firstly I really like this, a great location one to keep going back to.
I have no idea what is happening with filters etc, I'll leave that to those much more technical savvy than me.
I did get rid of the purple fringing in Lightroom by using the Lens Correction, manual, defringing tool.
Also obviously I converted to B&W as I feel this image lends itself to a dark look. I have no problem with a touch of softness but perhaps it is best to apply when processing, you have more control.
I like the composition but I cropped just a little of that left top branch leaving just a bit of it to hold the eye into the frame.
I have used Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex ( but as I said in the previous mod upload I'm sure you do not need Nik to do these things ).
In NSEfex I used the vignette tool to darken the outer edges, I reduced the brightness in the centre and darkened the outer edges of the walls. I also used the coffee tint to just take a bit of the contrast off, you may hate tints!
I like your compositions I look forward to more.
9 Jun 2021 11:26AM
Hope you don't mind here's a square crop too. The missing wall block, right, was bothering me so knocked the wall down!
All the same but no tint.
mbp 1 16
9 Jun 2021 1:02PM
Thank you gerainte1.
Your adjustments have produced exactly the type of atmosphere I had in mind. Thank you all who have taken the trouble to 'play' with the image - they are all a marked improvement on my original.
I'm going back to Vinters at the weekend and will shoot the tree again using all the advice I have been given, and will post it some time next week. It's very revealing to have a photograph, that you thought not half bad, then have it looked at by fellow photographers, who constructively point out issues with it, which when looked at again by me I see instantly, slap my forehead and say DOH!.
Enjoy the rest of your day my friends.
Martyn.
mrswoolybill Plus
16 3.5k 2563 United Kingdom
9 Jun 2021 1:49PM
Thanks for your very entertaining feedback Martyn!

As I've said before, this isn't about shooting down you images, it's about giving you ideas. It's a good subject, well done for spotting its potential; and it's a good image that could be better. That's the next stage!

Incidentally it's generally the good CG uploads that get the most modifications... Wink

Let us see what you get from your next visit.
Moira
9 Jun 2021 1:51PM
Hii Martyn, no probs I enjoyed it, I look forward to seeing the results of your next visit remember to use RAW, i found it made a big difference for me and it's easier than JPeg.
mrswoolybill Plus
16 3.5k 2563 United Kingdom
9 Jun 2021 4:11PM
Following on from Geraint's comment, I suggest that you set your camera to capture both Raw and jpeg files, that gives you the choice. And do a bit of reading up...

The advantages of Raw (it's a word not an acronym by the way) is that it is just that - it records all the available raw data. For jpeg files, the camera automatically edits and processes the image, quite heavily, and records no more than about 30% of the available date - the rest is lost, you cannot access it. So Raw files give you much more to work on, and that can be particularly useful in tricky light situations. The top right corner of the file here, for example, and the dark shadows below.

Plus jpegs are 'lossy' files - every time you save a new version you lose a bit from the file. Save your Raw files as TIFFs or PSDs and you can work on them again and resave without losing anything.

Disadvantages - the files have to be processed, and then also saved as jpegs for practical use such as uploading here; you need to use appropriate software; the files are much bigger, so they take more storage space, on your memory card and on your computer hard drive.

Do some reading - and take both sorts of files in tandem so that you have the jpegs if you need them.
chase Plus
17 2.5k 663 England
10 Jun 2021 10:01AM
Good to see another from you Martyn with lots of good information ad an idea of your intentions here.
This looks like a great place for a few frames, that tree and its tangled roots is amazeballs !
A couple of things that have been mentioned above....sorry, I am a bit on the late side here....the purple fringing is a real distraction for me, so I removed it. I used Photoshop and the Camera Raw filter to get rid.
The other thing is, like a few of my fellow critiquers, I think, this time you have included too much in the frame to get the 'Gothic' feel that you wanted, its the tree that holds the mystery. Gothic for me shouts, dark, mystery and a bit on the scary side of sanity.

I did do a mod...
Cropped into the tree from the left.
I did a B&W conversion on a separate layer ( another thing on your list to get to grips with, sorry ) but then I reduced the opacity of the B&W layer to let some of the colour come through.
Really went for the darkness around the edges with a soft vignette and added a frame to contain the blacks.
The birds......well, I do that kinda thing, a simple brush effect but that really is just me Wink

I'm not particularly a fan of the soft filter it does remove some of the natural textures on the tree so, if you are going to play with that in camera, perhaps take a few frames WITH it applied, and a few WITHOUT it, just so you have a choice at the end of your session.

Great to have input from you Martyn, the Critique Gallery is a two way street and hopefully you will try different things, lots of experimenting to do. Don't forget though, generally we on the CT have been around for a while and are quite conversant with the different post processing programs available so don't go full pelt at things, take it easy Smile

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