Back Modifications (7)
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Some details of the critique I am seeking.

What I like about it:
- the drama of the splash
- the separation of the three subjects on the sea wall
- the dad in his red coat, standing firm against the wave - protective but not inhibiting his boys' fun.
- the artistic 'realism' vibe of it.
- the definition the new camera produces is a lot better compared to my phone

What I like less:
- the boy in the middle moved to take a picture on his phone as the wave hit and his hands are a little blurred as a result
- there does feel there is sufficient contrast between the wave and cloud/sky to emphasise its power

Further information:
The photo was taken handheld in quite challenging wet and windy conditions. It has been edited in LR and cropped. I have adjusted the exposure, colour, contrast, clarity, and haze, but have struggled to find a way to adjust isolated parts of the particularly separating the wave from the sky.

My questions are:
- Do you like the composition and can you feel the tension between man and nature, and the excitement of the boys, I have tried to capture?
- Can the distinction of the wave be improved in post editing (and how) to increase the drama?
- Would you have cropped it differently to achieve this? The original (which I will upload) is wider. I tried a wide-screen crop, but felt it left the subjects hanging, a little.
- Would a BW version work, again, I tried this but felt the red coat was a loss to the picture, and without adequate separation of the splash and the sky it lost some appeal in B&W. However, putting the figures in silhouette helped with the blur on the hands of the middle figure.
- Would changing the camera settings particularly the metering have helped? Not entirely sure why the ISO came out so low, although I think this perhaps helps the detail.
- There are many choices on my new camera for focus, I think I left this on auto, as there was too much else going on. I sense it chose to focus on the wall, would focusing manually on the wave, or further in the distance have produced better clarity in the wave?

I hope you don’t mind such a detailed question, your thoughts and advice are as ever, gratefully received.

banehawi Plus
18 2.8k 4321 Canada
8 Jan 2022 7:14PM
Happy New Year Hannah! Congratulations on the new camera too!

Thanks for all that great information, question, etc; its a pleasure to work with you.

I downloaded you original image to asses and work on.

First, well done to see the opportunity here; your closer crop work well to bring attention to the people on the quay.

Stepping back to the original scene, and we see only part of it here if it was originally wider? The camera is "seeing" a very complex scene, with a very bright light in the clouds, and quite dark lower down; ideally not having that extra bright strip would likely provide a better exposure overall. You crop removes it nicely, however the out of camera image had to expose according to the larger scene.

The splash lacks some presence and detail, and some of that is due to the shutter shutter speed, - the water splash was likely moving for at least part of that time, so a little movement blur. Your -0.7 exposure adjustment actually ensure the speed was faster than the camera would have wanted, so a lucky break! As a general guide, a positive exposure compensation is far more common in photography that a negative, and for certain you would have had a "blown" bright strip, but a better exposed lower area.

The overall white balance is biased quite a bit towards blue, partly due to how Auto WB works, and partly due to underexposure of the lower area; set you white balance to daylight when its actually daylight, like here, the overall tone will be less blue. Ive tweaked this in the mod.

Some of the challenges you have in post processing are much easier to deal with in Photoshop, or similar, rather than Lightroom, but I will provide some LR tips to allow you to adjust targeted areas.
LR has an adjustment brush, with adjustable size and density; I will upload some Lightroom grabs after to help locate this brush; the brush can adjust a very wide range of exposure, contrast, colour, shadows, highlights. The brush has a learning curve, since after each adjustment, you must sec the NEW button to perform a separate adjustment,

If the exposure is tweaked, it can certainly be a candidate for mono; as it is, theres not a huge contrast range in it to take advantage of mono. I will convert my mod to mono also.

I mainly concentrated on increasing exposure in the areas that needed it, thats all except the bright strip; for the slash detail,, a little sharpening and an adjustment in highlight detail, easy enough to do.

So metering mode was fine, exposure compensation not needed, and regarding the ISO, check the cameras ISO base settings; ISO 50 would normally be a setting, outside of the normal range, so use Auto ISO, and limit the range to star at no lower than ISO100.

Auto focus should be fine with this camera, its a very advanced type of focusing, - though as always, select a single point or area to use for focus rather than letting the camera decide whats important..

I will upload some modification shortly.



Hi Willie,

Happy New Year to you too!

Thanks for your kind comments. The original I uploaded is pretty much the full shot with the exception of straightening it. I had others with the lit up pier and murmurating starlings on the left...but it was all too much for the camera and me, especially as it was my first big outing with the new kit.

Your comment regarding what the camera is seeing and the impact this has when cropping is helpful, I will make a conscious effort to remember this and try to better isolate the detail I want whilst shooting.

It is helpful to understand that the issue with the wave was the shutter speed not the focus. What speed would I have ideally wanted to freeze the water?

Would an ND filter have helped with this and to balance the exposure? I do have one of these now. I have also now experimented with bracketing as John had suggested (previously), and thought the camera would do this automatically for each shot and then consolidate the image, but it required me to press the button each time and since I was hand holding the camera, the alignment was not sufficient to consolidate the pictures.

I will make the changes to the WB as you suggest, I can see the difference this has made in the mod you provided and limit the ISO scale to 100 at the lower level.

Thank you also for suggestions re: LR. Your version looks different from mine, but I have located this feature and will explore some more.

And finally...I am still a little confused regarding the focusing, I am unsure how I select a single point or area, if it is on auto? On my phone I just pressed the area I wanted it to focus on, on the screen. I will consult my user guide again and practice some more...

Thank you so much for your help, much appreciated Smile
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1950 England
8 Jan 2022 9:23PM
Hi, Hannah -

I'll echo Willie's comments - you are sheer delight to work with, and ask detailed, precise, and clear questions, very honestly. And my congratulations, too, on the new camera.

I'll not say a lot, but I hope it's useful.

I suggest raising the ISO. 50 has led to the low shutter speed, and 200 is fine, and higher quite acceptable. That would have frozen the lad's hand with 1/100 or faster. I am a fan of trying the full ISO range, and using it freely. Sometimes, it's better sharp and noisy than blurred. To freeze the water, you'd need to go to 400 or 800 - or maybe try a non-zoom lens with a far wider aperture. (Sorry - far too soon to help you spend more money on kit: as a relic of the film age, my lens of choice on an Alpha 6000 would be a 50mm f/1.8, because that works for so much of the stuff I shoot, including landscapes.)

Rather than always having to alter the white balance in processing, try moving from AWB. I mainly shoot with sunlight balance myself (so a cold, blue day looks cold and blue) but sometimes use other settings to warm things up. And I still finesse in editing when it doesn't look the way I want it!

Big thing with the presentation - a white border applied before you check Levels often fools you into thinking that you have full contrast and good highlights when it's actually the border providing them. (I edit in Photoshop, and I've never got to understand how on earth to edit in Lightroom, as things work so differently, with a whole new set of menus. Willie understands both...)

Finally, if you have a choice of background colours, black or dark grey throws up both colours and tones wonderfully. Contrasting borders matter, and it's easy to get lost in using elaborate borders which are good in a print, but a bit lost of the web.

Great to have you back here!
banehawi Plus
18 2.8k 4321 Canada
8 Jan 2022 9:25PM
You can select single focus points and various small areas, all using auto focus. What’s happening is you are telling the camera where to auto focus. This is a bit different from allowing the camera to decide where to focus, as it could focus on an area you weren’t interested in. Think of auto focus as not manual focus; so the camera always autofocuses, your input decides where in the frame is important to you. It’s essentially what you are doing with your phone.

ND filters are useful, but a graduated ND filter is what’s needed here; graduated will reduce light in the sky mainly, leaving the non sky alone. An ND filter thats not graduated reduces the light over the entire frame .

Hope this helps

mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.4k 2543 United Kingdom
8 Jan 2022 9:45PM
Hello again! Thanks for asking such clear questions, you really give us something to work on.

This is all about timing, and you got that spot on. And the red jacket is a gift.

I'm going to pick up on a few points. First of all, I have no problem with the boy in the middle, he's showing a very human reaction to the scene and he contrasts with the adults.

Composition... This is about the height of the wave, and the wall gives a sense of stability to contrast with the wave. But overall I think the height of the frame dilutes the impact. I've tried a square crop to balance height with breadth, I'm not satisfied with it though. I'm still thinking about that.

Settings: This for me is a case for shutter speed priority and a much faster speed, 1/160 or faster, because the important thing is to freeze movement (subject and camera). A faster shutter would give more weight to the water. If using aperture priority, watch that shutter speed like a hawk! From your comment I assume that you were on auto ISO? I don't think it has worked for you here, the additional quality that ISO 50 gives is negated by the effect of the slow shutter. And the minus exposure compensation was counter-productive. So I would aim for a faster shutter speed, higher ISO, and no exposure compensation.

For my modification I increased exposure by 0.7 stop, made small plus adjustments on clarity and dehaze, lifted shadows, added brightness, made a Levels adjustment and then did some very gentle dodging and burning on the water. I didn't touch colour temperature, this is about December cold!

Then I flipped horizontally, just to illustrate the change in mood that happens when the composition leads from left to right. That's the direction that we read everything, images as well as text, so it seems to me to flow more naturally.

After uploading I noticed that a small anti-clockwise rotation is needed to level the horizon. But it's hazy so that doesn't jump out.
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.4k 2543 United Kingdom
8 Jan 2022 9:56PM
PS Just to clarify re straightening the horizon - my flipped mod needs an anti-clockwise rotation, the original of course needs clockwise...
8 Jan 2022 10:54PM

Hi John,

Thanks for your kind comments. I will make the changes to the ISO as you suggest.

Yes, far too early think about fancy lenses, I know the lenses I have are basic, but I wanted to understand better how the camera works and to iron out some of the basics before investing further - no point having a ferrari if you are still on L plates! Wink

Willie seems to be suggesting getting off Auto, and I would tend to agree, as the camera (certainly in those conditions) did seem to produce an odd blue tint. I think, however, if I shoot in RAW, this can be adjusted in post processing, although I confess, I did not do this here.

I didn't apply the border until the end, so shouldn't have affected the levels - but certainly something to watch for, which had not occured to me. You are also right regarding the border colour, which I can see from your mod.

I will check out the Nik software you recommend, thanks for the tip.

Thanks very much for your help, John, much appreciated.

8 Jan 2022 11:08PM

Hi Willie, thanks for your patience with my very basic questions, I have checked out my Busch guide, and now understand how I can achieve this via the touchscreen, as I did with my phone. Your advice is also helpful on filters, much appreciated. Wondering if maybe I should spend some time photographing in less challenging conditions whilst I find my feet, I do love the drama of a sunset though. Thanks again for your help, Hannah.

9 Jan 2022 12:07AM

Hi Moira,

Thank you for your kind comments, much appreciated. I agree timing is everything, and there is great pleasure in capturing a decisive moment, which is tricky when you are not yet in full command of your camera!

I did try a 9x16 including just the top of the wall, the wave and the darker sky in thirds - it looks ok compositionally, but I don't think the loss of detail is acceptable.

Aha, of course, I was in the wrong mode. I had previously been shooting the sun setting under the pier and experimenting with the settings, I then moved locations, but didn't change the mode or the settings (I know, school boy error!), but perhaps I get some latitude as it was my first attempt with the new kit, off auto.

I am not sure what is happening with my auto straighten in LR it seems to be well off, which requires manual adjustment which I though I had achieved, but you are right, it is slightly off.

Really interesting to see how the mood changes in your flipped version, it feels much lighter and freer and a more natural direction for the eye.

Thanks so much for all your help, it is as always, very much appreciated.
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.4k 2543 United Kingdom
9 Jan 2022 8:32AM
Thanks so much for your feedback, it makes what we do worthwhile.

As an afterthought I've added a further mod, my previous effort but with saturation reduced on blue and cyan and slightly increased on red.

I still forgot to level that sea horizon... Blush

dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1950 England
9 Jan 2022 10:45AM
Auto-straighten probably used a different horizontal from the horizon...

You win extra points from me for the phrase 'I wanted to understand better' - these days, it's as if splitting an infinitive is the more acceptable grammatical form, and it's nice to see someone respecting the traditional rules. Splitting infinitives is for rhetorical purposes, not ministerial statements...

And - big learning point - loads of practice in no-pressure situations is a wonderful idea. As they say in the SAS - 'train hard, fight easy'! (I was taught accountancy by army instructors, and they apply the same techniques there as they do to training soldiers. At least they did in the late Seventies/early Eighties... For a civil servant, it was enlightening and often unpleasant, but it got me through the exams very rapidly.)
chase Plus
17 2.4k 638 England
9 Jan 2022 1:55PM
Hi Hannah and a very Happy New Year and new camera ...yay, Santa came Smile

I reckon you have started with a really hard one, you have faced a very difficult situation here, which has tested you probably to the limit with a new camera, a pat on the back for giving it a go.
Lots of good info above for you to consider and some super modifications so, I'm not going to repeat what has already beed said.
Learn everything you can about how your camera works. Take a simple subject...something that is stationary Wink and give your camera a real test, use lots of different settings, then perhaps move on to a moving target.

Here is a link to the free Nik collection (I hope the link works). There is a work around that stops Photoshop crashing whilst using Nik. I will try to find it and drop the instructions here for you.

The Fix
First, you will want to open a photo in Photoshop, and from there open the photo using your Nik software of choice. When the photo opens in Nik, you will see a settings box in the bottom left corner of the screen. Open the settings option and navigate to the tab labeled “After Clicking OK.” In this tab, you will want to change the setting from “Apply the filtered effect to a separate layer” to “Apply the filtered effect to the current layer.” Save the changes and it should apply to all further uses of the Nik software.

This setting is the root of the error. Photoshop will often crash when Nik Collection tries to create a new layer in the software. This workaround allows you to save the changes to the layer you were currently working on, rather than create a new layer. The only addition I will add is that you should create a copy of the layer in Photoshop before you open in Nik, in case any further adjustments such as masking are required after the effects are applied.
I duplicate layer first, use the above settings within Nik ie: apply filtered effect to the current layer....sorted.
Hi Moira,

I really liked your final mod which brings out the red focal point, thank you. You comments and modifications have helped my understanding of the composition and highlighted adjustments which can be made to improve the photo, without over doing it.

Your help is much appreciated, thank you.


I am guessing from your comments you are not a Star Trek fan? Wink

I am not sure I am ready for the SAS School of Photography, but I understand the analogy and agree more practice in less challenging circumstances is the way forward.

Many thanks,

Hi Janet,

Happy New Year to you also.

Your advice to take it one step at a time is sound and understood.

Thank you also for the helpful advice on NIk and the link, much appreciated.

dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1950 England
9 Jan 2022 6:33PM
I am a fan, but not a fanatic!

And 'To boldly go' (I used it as the title for a blog a few days ago) is rhetorical, so a valid use, I reckon.

Rules are there to be broken, including the Rule of Thirds and all the other compositional stuff (this still has a toe in the photographic water, though I'm rambling on, because I love the language). And the same goes for splitting infinitives. But I have grown very weary of the apparatchiks who say that they plan to do X or Y 'to better understand the position'. They are reporting, and I used to write audit reports for a living. Auditors have to be measured and honest, and clear. So split infinitives were something up with which we did not put, to misquote a great master of the English language.

Your clarity is Churchillian. Most people who split the infinitive we started with want to be Churchillian, and fail miserably. It's not a matter of extended vocabulary or Latin phrases. It's about having a feel for it.

And that goes for pictures, too. The feel of this one is good, as Moira said in her second paragraph. (Auditors are supposed to be good at cross-references, as well.)
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1950 England
10 Jan 2022 11:00AM
Hannah - it's worth mentioning timing for any action shot.

You may want to have a look at THIS picture, where 1/125 froze a lot of the action. When things are in the air, there's a point, at the top of the trajectory, when the velocity is very low, and a slow shutter speed is enough.

Like PMW, you took the picture at the peak, so the water drops are more or less frozen. Other water is moving faster and blurs more - the outfall from the side of the wall, for instance.
10 Jan 2022 12:06PM
My goodness, that is an impressive shot. A helpful explanation of the physics, John, thank you.
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1950 England
11 Jan 2022 11:00AM
My pleasure, Hannah - it's something that comes naturally, because I started taking pictures seriously while I was at school, and the physics and chemistry were a good fit with what I was learning for my O Levels... And it sticks, but doesn't necessarily come as easily if you're doing the photographic learning later in life!
11 Jan 2022 5:42PM
Thanks John. I am learning a great deal in photography depends on knowledge of these subjects, which are (as you have probably gathered) not my strong suit. Good to know you have expertise that you are willing to share. Best regards Hannah

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