Back Modifications (5)
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By mbp
Hi folks. Nothing exotic I'm afraid, Just a beginner looking for constructive advice. I saw the light coming through the trees, opened it in Lightroom and thought It looked better in b/w. I know it may be dismissed as 'snap' but am still learning, so please be gentle with your constructive criticism
Thank you

Tags: Black and white Just some trees

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DaveRyder Plus
8 6.5k 17 United Kingdom
7 Jun 2021 4:51PM
Hello Martyn,
For my two peneth.... It's better than any of the woodland shots I've attempted.
The framing of the trees either side on an clear 'pathway' is good, leads the eye through to the background.
The slight offset of the foreground trees ensures this is seen as a natural image rather than a formally planted area.
For processing there is a good tonal range and the B&W output suits the subject.

If I'd change anything I'd have stopped down one or two away from wide open.
I've not used that particular lens but the best performance is likely away from maximum at either end of the range.
mrswoolybill Plus
16 3.5k 2563 United Kingdom
7 Jun 2021 5:52PM
Hello Martyn, you made it here! Welcome to the Critique Gallery, I hope you'll find it useful. As you have already found, this is a very friendly site, a good place to share and to learn. Take time to look through the non-gallery areas, there are articles, reviews, tutorials, tips...

This is right up my street. Normally my main passion is photographing people, but in the last year or so, with people being rather thin on the ground, trees have largely taken over. They have their own individual characters and presence...

As Dave says, this creates an avenue for the viewer to walk through. The downside of the composition in my view is that it also leaves a big empty patch in the middle foreground, which looks a bit sterile. An alternative is to look for a diagonal view along a gap.

It's a nice crop and b&w conversion. What software did you use? Assuming that the conversion was done in post-processing, you can add the colour original as a modification, so that people can look at alternative conversions - click on the blue Modifications button below your upload, then on Upload a modification, and follow the instructions.

A few more points: the Exif shows this as taken in late morning. That gives pleasant light- but for drama, strong shapes and lines, try going out earlier or in the morning or in evening sun.

And another option is to move away from wide angle, stand back, use a longer focal length. That will bring the background closer, make the trees crowd together. It will also give you shallower *depth of field, if you use the largest aperture available (lowest F number). It means that you will isolate the foreground shapes against softer background shapes. That creates a sense of mystery. (Here the low F number doesn't give such shallow dof because it is used with wide angle).

You used a program mode, and it's given you sensible settings. In particular the shutter speed is fast enough to freeze any camera-shake when hand-holding (that's important!), and it increased ISO - light sensitivity - to accommodate the necessary settings. Program does relinquish a lot of decision-making to the camera. In time start to explore the options, particularly aperture priority for a shot like this, to give greater creative control. The camera has a good calculating brain but absolutely no intuition or imagination, you need to bring that.

I don't know how much you already know about aperture, ISO, *depth of field etc, all this may be familiar to you already. But I hope it gives you ideas to play with.

* Edit - an explanation. Depth of field ('dof') refers to the distance between the nearest and furthest area in reasonable focus).
pamelajean Plus
16 1.8k 2275 United Kingdom
7 Jun 2021 6:39PM
Hello, Martyn, and welcome to EPZ and its Critique Gallery.
Thank you for the full Exif Data and for telling us about your image.
I hope you will further communicate with us in this, the comments section.

I don't see this as a "snap" at all. It looks as if you gave your composition some serious thought and set about taking us through the rows of trees and into the light in the background. I like the long tree shadows, too.

I have considered brightening the image and also cropping some from the bottom, and so I will do a modification, which you will find by clicking on the blue "Modifications" option beneath your picture.

I brightened the image and darkened the shadows, then applied a Levels adjustment to the contrast. I then cropped a little from the bottom, to contain the trees, which resulted in a square format, which I think works with the path being in the centre of the frame.

chase Plus
17 2.5k 668 England
7 Jun 2021 7:22PM
Hi Martyn, good to see you found your way here.
I think you are under selling yourself here, you have obviously put some thought into your composition to include a pathway through the trees.
Mono looks a decent choice but it would be nice for us to see the original, in colour too just so we can appreciate your starting point.
I like the shadows on the ground, leading us further into the frame.

I did do a modification for you to have a look at, I went the other way from Pamelas' mod...out of the darkness, into the light.
I cropped and straightened, using the very distant tree line as a guide, that did result in a fair crop tbh.
I darkened the outer edges and lightened the centre, trying to give the impression the viewer is coming from a dark woodland into beautiful light.
I converted the colour profile to sRGB, which is the one recommended for uploading onto the site.
Added a frame, simply to contain the darkness but that really is a personal thing.

Please do join in the conversation, it is always good to know what you think or if you have any questions you would like us to help with.
I look forward to more from you.
dark_lord Plus
18 3.0k 835 England
7 Jun 2021 8:28PM
Welcome from me too.

I'm in the 'it's more than a snap' camp, and it's the sort of shot I would have taken.

I see in Janet's mod the trees are strightened, is that more like how they are or do they lean naturally? I ask because some woodland shots I've taken myself do have lening trees and it's a judgement call whether to 'correct' them or not.

It would be good to see the original colour, and hear your conversion method, as there's so much that can be done to get to a mono image and so oftn just going black and white doesn't produce the most pleasing results.
Even after conversion, it's often a good idea to tweak contrast and brightness.
That said, because there's so many different looks that can be obtained there's a lot to do with personal preferences, as the mods show, and I'll have a go myself. That's something to consider for future conversions, some styles you'll like, others less so but it's ood to be aware of them.
banehawi Plus
18 2.8k 4333 Canada
7 Jun 2021 8:52PM
Hi Martyn.

I notice you said you saw the light! Thats a great start...

What do you use to view your images, - a PC, Laptop, tablet, etc?

Apart from Lightroom, do you use any other editing programmes?

When you say newbie, do you mean new to digital photography, as you have used the Canon AE-1..


mrswoolybill Plus
16 3.5k 2563 United Kingdom
7 Jun 2021 9:05PM
Not to be outdone, I've added modification 4. Here's what I did:

Rotated slightly anti-clockwise; cropped to landscape format to remove most of the empty foreground; made a Levels adjustment, moving the outer sliders inward, particularly the left hand slider for darker tones - that increases tonal range, gives more true blacks; used the burn tool very gently to strengthen the shadows falling across the ground; added a bit of dark vignetting, for an enclosed, private feel. This for me takes us deeper into the woodland.

The Critique Gallery is, as much as anything, about seeing your work through other people's eyes, and about giving ideas. I hope this has helped. Please let us know if we are working on the right tracks for you!
dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1966 England
7 Jun 2021 9:19PM
Welcome from me, too, Martyn.

If that's a snap, you have an excellent eye, and possibly what we can help with is giving you techniques that will equip you to capture what your eye sees really well.

The stuff Moira mentioned about apertures, shutter speeds and so on, and other modes than Program will allow you to make positive decisions about how the image looks. There are several hurdles to leap at the same time right at the start, but if you 'get' them, the rest is far easier, and you can concentrate more and more on what you want the picture to look like when you print or post it.
mbp 1 16
7 Jun 2021 10:21PM
Hi everyone. Thank you all for your kind comments. I have, In the past been accused of 'underselling my self' as far as pictures are concerned. I think the pictures you take are very personal to you. You see something, someone, a scene, et al and think it will make a good photo - other people in the big outside world may not agree. Without wanting to sounding to 'heavy' I think the pictures you take are an extension of your minds eye and how you see the world and as such am very cautious to whom I show my pictures to. Ha, ha, I would never make a professional photographer in that respect alone! I describe myself as a beginner, despite me mentioning in another post I had Canon AE1 Program as a teenager, but I never appreciated it as a photographic tool, I never appreciated the quality of light, composition etc. These things have only recently started to dawn on me and how much a camera, whether it be a 20.00 basic model or a 5,000 'NASA control panel' top of the range model, there is only three things that count, the shutter button, you being 'out there' with the camera and you minds eye. Have taken on board every thing you have all told me and will use it going forward in my photographic journey. Thank you everyone.
banehawi Plus
18 2.8k 4333 Canada
7 Jun 2021 11:29PM
What you use to view images in the digital age is also important, so that we, and you are "on the same page". So if you get a minute, please lets know the answers to my questions!


mbp 1 16
7 Jun 2021 11:58PM
Hello Willie,
Thank you for your reply. So that we are on the same page, I use the Lumix equipment you already know about, a very old, steam powered laptop that's on it's last legs and Lightroom that not only takes an age to load up but am still learning to use properly.
Have a very good evening my friend.
mbp 1 16
8 Jun 2021 12:18AM
Thank you DaveRyder.
I think woodlands and trees are quite tricky to photograph. Unless it's a stunning tree in isolation or amazing light it can look like a tangled mess, I know from all the shots I've deleted from my memory card!! I am lucky enough to live within reach of several woodlands, and one on private land that I have permission to walk on, and out of 50 shots or so, I reckon only about 10 make as far as my laptop, and then 5 of those get deleted!
mrswoolybill Plus
16 3.5k 2563 United Kingdom
8 Jun 2021 10:28AM
Thanks for getting back to us, the Critique Gallery works best when we establish a conversation.
dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1966 England
8 Jun 2021 10:38AM
Yes indeed - thanks for responding. Conversations matter, and they energise the Critique Team.

I'd say it's worth keeping all the images - later on, some may look different, and much more interesting!

What you shoot is very much an extension of how you see (and think), and that's what makes visual arts and crafts worthwhile. It's as much the inner as the outer landscape that matters.

You are among friends here, so feel free to share images that you are less certain about if you think we can contribute useful ideas.
9 Jun 2021 10:01AM
Hello Martyn,
A bit late to this.
Hope you do not mind my uploading a mod. I like the original ,though a colour vs would be good to see. And, I agree with your thoughts.
Using 14mm is hard in the woods, IMHO, as Moira says, a longer lens may be better in the woods.
I also like Chase's mod so not sure mine is adding much but...
I used Nik Silver Efx and Lightroom.
I have cropped the right foreground tree out as I felt it blocked my eye which wants to go down that line of light. Also I feel this helps move the pathway slightly out of centre.
I used LR to reduce the contrast and clarity a bit, a bit of softness in the woods, I think, helps, though I'm sure some others will want everything sharp.
I used NSEfx to really darken the edges which I think helps lead the eye through as it also gives the feel of lightening the pathway.
I also use the coffee tint in NSEfx just because I like it!
I'm sure these things could be done without NSEfx.
I look forward to more woodland scenes.

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