Back Modifications (3)
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The Aerial Roots of the Mangrove Trees

By Wireworkzzz  
I wanted to make the aerial roots my subject. I had a problem finding anything to use in the foreground as the area is pristine with no signs of humans at all. All signs of life are hiding under the rocks.
It looked so bland that I used Adobe Elements to add a bit of greenery in the foreground but I am wondering now if that was a good idea.
I may have a focus problem bottom left and right.
The original was very dull and grey toned so I have enhanced the colors and exposure.
With this photo I am more concerned about composition etc

Tags: Wildlife and nature tidal pools Mangrove Trees

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dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1777 England
26 Oct 2016 10:16AM
Hi, Rae, and welcome both to Ephotozine (quite recently) and the Critique Gallery (this is your first post here, I think). I hope you're enjoying the site, and are finding things useful and interesting.

I think you're having a problem making the picture do two jobs at once: show off the structure, and have stnadard pictorail appeal, and I'm not sure that they are compatible.

Adding the greenery makes it the subject, because it's so bright. The roots disappear, overpowered by the brighter colour. I think it would be interesting if you uploaded the unprocessed original, either as a version, or as your own modification of this shot.

Did you take other shots from different angles? Particulalry, with the bright top lighting coming off hte roots, I wonder how a really low-angled image would work, viewing the roots horizontally... This would get rid of the bright background provided by the water reflecting the sky, and leave a stark, bright shape against (I hope) a darker background.

My modification cloned out the green area, cropped a lot, and also involved converting to black-and-white, to bring out the lines a bit. I think the lower angle might remove the need for doign this by making a higher-contrast image in the first place.

Please note that cloning a natural history shot is likely to mean it's not elegible for nature competitions, though it should be fine for camera clubs, where the emphasis is on the pictorial.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2345 United Kingdom
26 Oct 2016 12:19PM
Hi, a warm welcome from me too. I see that you are keen to progress in photography, stick around here, it's a great site for learning. I hope you will find the Critique Gallery useful.

This is a problem that photographers often face, finding a subject that's great to explore 'in the flesh' so to speak, but then how to compose an image that will convey the scene to an outsider, get them interested? You've made a good start in that you are actually thinking about that, a lot of people never do!

You tackled it by adding the foreground leaves, and you have made a very neat job of it - but does that actually tell us anything about the mango swamp or is it a distraction from the real story? What do you think?

I would prefer to go in closer and look for a tighter composition using the twisting lines and the textures. John's modification does that, I will try a different crop for variety.

As regards the focus bottom left and right, you were I think focusing on the middle of the frame or very slightly above. Remember that your depth of field (the area in which things will be acceptably sharp) in front of the point where you focus is only half of the depth of field that you get behind that point. Also that the larger the aperture (ie lower the F number) the shallower the depth of field overall. Also that the point where you focus, the shallower the dof.

I would say that the settings you used here were pretty sensible, except that I'm not sure that you needed the plus 1/3 stop exposure compensation. Something important to bear in mind, the shutter speed was amply fast enough to avoid camera shake, that matters. But outside the controlled conditions of a studio, camera settings generally involve compromises!

I shall go and try a crop. I hope we shall see some more of your work here!
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2345 United Kingdom
26 Oct 2016 12:35PM
OK I've uploaded two modifications (to view mods, click on the blue Modifications button below your upload, then on the numbers).

I got rid of the added leaves, then cropped tighter. I like the feel of a jungle-in-miniature when you go in close. I also used the dodge and burn tools very gently to enhance the 3-D quality. And I added a hint of dark vignette, to give the sense of a secret, private place.

Then I added a b&w conversion, with much heavier vignetting, for a spooky, disturbing feel.

This is really to show the possibilities that can exist in a good quality image file.

mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2345 United Kingdom
26 Oct 2016 1:35PM
Sorry for a typo above, I was thinking faster than I can type.

Quote:Also that the point where you focus, the shallower the dof.

should read:

Quote:Also remember that the closer the point where you focus is to the camera, the shallower the dof.
Thank you dudler. Yes I did worry that the leaves could become the subject. I did take other shots but I didn't get any that were usable. I love what you did in the modification. The whole site has an eerie feeling to it because it is so deserted and barren. Even the mangrove swamp is eerie. By cropping in close & really wide and then converting to black & white you gave it the look that I have been trying to achieve.
Hi Moira. It certainly looks much better cropped in nice and tight. I was a bit wary of cropping too small in case I lost quality when posted. Your modifications look great and showed me it's OK.
I was focusing on the middle of the frame. I thought that it is where I should be focusing.
Should I just lower the aperture to get better depth of field whenever I'm doing closeups like this?
I am still a novice with my camera settings and I still have a lot of trial and errors at this stage.
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1777 England
26 Oct 2016 4:38PM
The rule of thumb is to focus 1/3 of the way into the zone that you want sharp, rahter than halfway through it. (There's shedloads of theory behind this, but that's the practical side. You can download tables that tell you precisely how it works for every focal lenght and paerture...)

A smaller aperture (higher number: in this case, say f/11) will increase the depth of field, as it's called. To keep a decent shutter speed, you'd need to raise the ISO a bit.

THIS and THIS may help - preferably along with lots of trial and error in the garden or on your local street.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2345 United Kingdom
26 Oct 2016 4:43PM

Quote:Should I just lower the aperture to get better depth of field whenever I'm doing closeups like this?

This does depend partly on the light that's available, and I suspect that here it was reasonable but not wonderful. It involves the three-way equation between aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

Smaller aperture will need either slower shutter speed (greater risk of camera shake unless you use a tripod, and also risk of subject movement if there's a breeze and you have anything that might be caught by it), or higher ISO (gradually diminishing image quality). As I said I think your settings were pretty sensible. You could have gone down to 1/100 second so long as you hold the camera carefully, and you could increase the ISO a bit. That would allow a smaller aperture.

But you can also think about selective focus, deciding very carefully where you want the focus and allowing other areas to soften around that point. That allows you to concentrate attention on a subject and distinguish it from the rest of what's in the frame. Partly it's a matter of taste. I would like to see more roots in the middle of the lower section of the frame, filling the space, but I don't feel a need for the whole frame to be analytically sharp.

Try a little exercise. Look for a wrought iron fence, say, or a row of similar items such as plant pots. Position the camera at an angle so that the line-up recedes diagonally from the camera. Then take a series of pictures at say F5.6, focusing in turn on each item. Then try the same exercise at say F11, being careful to use the same focal length. Compare the results, and see which effect actually appeals to your eye.

It's really about getting the effect that you want.
paulbroad 13 131 1290 United Kingdom
26 Oct 2016 4:59PM
What are you actually trying to do? Pictorial or record? Your title says record, so composition is less important than accuratly showing the roots. For me, this is a perfectly good pictorial record, but then you should not enhance the colour, but may need to correct it. The colour should be accurate, thus NOT mono.

If you are trying to be arty, then a more dramatic composition. Close with a wide angle, dramatic lighting, etc.

For me, this is a record. Treat it as such. Correct exposure, correct colour and what needs to be sharp, sharp!

Hi Paul. Thank you for your comments. I am a beginner to ephotozine and a novice photographer. I am still finding my way so I am just trying to learn as much as I can. At this stage I am not particularly concerned about whether it is a record or a pictorial. I just need critique on the photo so I can learn and grow as a photographer.
Thanks Dudler and Moira. I will be putting all this into practice over the next few weeks. I am finding all the comments extremely helpful.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2345 United Kingdom
27 Oct 2016 8:27AM
Thanks for joining in a conversation here, it's how the Critique Gallery works best.

There are two aspects involved. You want to get to grips with technique. There's nothing more frustrating than a fuzzy picture when you cannot go back and reshoot it... You also want to make images that will please you and interest other people. There's no point that I can see in taking pictures that people won't want to look at.

The two aspects are not separate, distinct, they overlap. If you look carefully at focus and depth of field, the different effects that can be created, you move towards taking control of the mood and atmosphere that an image conveys. Composition is about drawing the viewer in. And that can be very important in close-ups, where you are trying to convey a much bigger picture, such as a mango swamp, by homing in on a small area.

I hope we'll see more from you. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Remember that in the end you are looking for answers that work for you.

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