Back Modifications (2)
Views: 65 (28 Unique)  Award Shortlist   

Under the bridge.

By JJSmythe
Hi folks, I am wondering what you all think of the basic idea for this photo and, of course, the composition. I am trying to use the lights and the lines in the bridge to draw one in. I need to include the notches for a commission and am hoping to have enough depth of field. Noise was a bit of an issue. I have no experience of black and white conversion but did this with Nik Silver efex. Views on structure and contrast? How much pure black would you find acceptable in the shadows?

iso 200, f number 20, approx. 17 mil, 20 sec exposure.

Stupid question but I am wondering is it better to opt for iso 400 and halve the exposure time to avoid long-exposure noise. Someone suggested this for night photography.

Tags: General Architecture Black and white Flash and lighting

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


ErictheViking 5 124 102 Scotland
7 Apr 2013 12:24AM
There are a number of questions you have posed so I'll try and give my opinion to them.

I like the basic concept of your image, for me there is a bit too much tunnel wall its taking up almost 1/2 the image so I'd be looking at possibly moving the frame over to the right. This would also bring the canal down towards the bottom right corner which I think would help you lead in lines.

Your settings have produced a reasonable image, however at night I would recommend the smallest aperture should be f/11 this is the because most lenses are at there sharpest and best between f/8 and f/11. For night photography I would say the amount of light reaching the sensor is your most important priority so I would use an aperture of about f/5 to f/5.6 and use an ISO of 100 to help reduce noise as much as possible. Other people commenting on these settings will have their own formulae and preferences just because you are adjusting 3 variable, the best thing to do is take a series of images at different settings and choose the best.

You ask about B+W, this again is down to personal preference, how dark should shadows be answer as dark as you want them to best compliment your image. using Silver Efex is a good way to create a B+W as many adjustments are made in the presets so its choose the best looking. Away from Silver Efex converting in Photoshop etc, I would make sure Black is black and white is white then set a midtone level which pleases you.

Sorry I can't be more helpful with B+W but it is all personal taste and ensuring you have good contrast.

One final point I think your lights are quite over exposed for this shot so it may be possible to reduce the exposure slightly. If you shoot in RAW take a slightly overexposed shot and then reduce the exposure in the processing to get the level you like and only convert to B+W after you have set the levels in a colour image.

Erik Grin

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paulbroad 10 123 1250 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2013 7:50AM
Your comments suggest the tow rope cut notches are the reason for this image. As such, you have done a good job as they were the first things I looked at, and mono suites the idea that these will go back years to the days of horse drawn barges. As such, the lack of sharpness further back in the image is no problem as this is a foil to the notches.

I think you would have seen little difference at ISO400 in a mono conversion such as this, thus might be worthwhile to keep shutter speed faster. In such a case, tripod I must assume. Why not shoot a series varying settings?

mrswoolybill Plus
11 1.2k 1929 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2013 10:38AM
I see the same problem with the composition as Eric, too much tunnel wall centre/left. The notches were your reason for taking the picture, but I would suggest that you should place the tripod just a step or two to the left. That will still give the notches, and the view under the bridge, with that very satisfying combination of curves where the edge of the canal hits the arch of the bridge, but the different angle would reduce the width that the wall occupies in the frame, bring the notches and the river view closer together. I shall have a go at replicating that in a Mod, not sure if it will look convincing.
Re Silver Efex Pro, the structure slider is brilliant for bringing out midtone detail but remember that it is essentially a sharpening process and over-enthusiastic use can make surface textures break up. This looks a pretty good conversion to me.
mrswoolybill Plus
11 1.2k 1929 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2013 10:49AM
Mod uploaded - I've tried to show the effect of moving the camera a bit to the left. I've also burned in the notches a bit to give them more impact, and cloned out some wires hanging across the sky.
iancrowson Plus
8 211 146 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2013 1:14PM
Following Paul's thinking if the main reason for the picture is the notches then your composition works. I might be tempted to crop some from the right hand side to encourage the eye to follow the tow path. This would also place the notches further into the frame and then beyond the associated towpath.
I'll try a mod too,
iancrowson Plus
8 211 146 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2013 1:30PM
Working on the assumption that the image is about notches made by ropes when towing barges and the tow path used by the puling horses.
I have made a mod to concentrate the eye on a. the notches, b the towpath.
Why this works well is because the important notches are further in the frame and therefore more noticeable and the diminishing towpath is emphasised with out the lumpy bit on the right.

This is my view based on what I think you are trying to achieve, you details regarding the purpose of the image are a little vague,
JJSmythe 10 1
7 Apr 2013 3:03PM
Thank you one and all for taking the time to comment comprehensively and do modifications. You are all correct that the historically interesting rope notches are the reason for the photo and the rest is to give it depth using the various curves and lead-in lines (the canal, the stones, the towpath, etc. Eric, I guess I was afraid of having the background look too soft and losing the "starlight" effect in the streetlamps by opening up the aperture significantly but I will give it a try. I think also I was afraid of abstracting too much by blurring the background somewhat and was overly conscious of sharpness, thus restricting my creative possibilities. Mrswoolybill, thanks so much for the mod. The burning of the notches certainly works for me and I am coming around to reducing the redundant space on the left! Ian, thanks also for the mod. It works and I love how it has cleaned up the right hand side of the frame. I will return tonight and try a series of angles in the short time available and try a series of exposures, as per Paul's helpful comment. I'll be back ...

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