Trying to decide ...

Discussion in 'Seeking Critique' started by kmac, May 8, 2021.

  1. ... whether to keep this or not

    The shot was hurried, I needed to get to another location not far away for a scene I was more anxious to take, but this "less important" shot has me intrigued, I keep looking at it because of the unusual array of different clouds and lighting effect. The only post processing was darkening for a more dramatic scene, the original scan was somewhat flat.

    I did experiment by cropping the dam out, leaving just the cloud filled sky and some background landscape. The crop worked for me, but what do you think ? Does this shot have any redeeming features ? Your critiques would be helpful

    Dramatic sky.jpg
  2. The lone tree is stark against the sky, meditative in a way. The water seems to add to that sense of isolation and stillness. The scene is a peaceful one, elegantly lit.

    I’d be curious to see the undarkened version. The lighting as you’ve presented it feels a bit off and imposed upon. My eye keeps wanting to feel the texture and depth of the landscape. The background layer of mountains could play well with the single tree and water but is getting lost and there’s a heaviness to the darkened landscape which, rather than merely contrasting with the light, seems a bit oppressive to the photo as a whole. The water feels like it has a false shadow cast over it.

    I think the drama you’re seeking can be harmoniously matched both to the scene itself and to what could still feel like natural light. More selective darkening might offer possibilities.

    Something seemingly rather minor but interrupting the stillness and flow of the scene are the three vertical posts against the water. They take on a prominence that feels outsized.

    I can see why the scene and lighting drew you to it and there may be more here than currently meets the eye.
  3. Agree with Sam about the posts. Cloning them out doesn't look like it'd be a fairly easy thing to do and would (I think) result in a better composition. I'd probably crop in a little from the right. Not much mind you. Just somewhere between a small and medium small nudge (please don't ask me to explain that). The whole scene seems to have some kind of dark brooding sense to it. Like Sam sez maybe some selective lightening and\or darkening might be in order. It definitely has possibilities.
  4. I like those suggestions guys. Now that I've read your posts, I can see it through your eyes and I think with further progress something could be made of it.

    This is what it looks like following your suggested changes. The scan is now the original tone, I "nudged" the right side in a bit (know exactly what you mean sizzy), slightly darkened the very top clouds, and the fence cloned out.

    Two things I'm looking at to improve it further are: More selective darkening, but where?, and cloning the ground in a bit at the left end of the dam so the dam is not so close to the edge of the frame.

    Any further ideas are very welcome.

    Dramatic Sky (2).jpg
    dcstep likes this.
  5. I’d try several areas and, most likely, one will accomplish the feel you’re going for.

    The sky in the latest attempt has lost quite a bit of its drama.
  6. I see some natural patterning in the land to the back side of the water. Perhaps some selective work on that could bring that element out as a textural development. The grasses in the foreground also seem to have some potential for textural interest. I think without over-exaggerating, some of these natural details can have quite a visual effect on the scene. There's also an opportunity to separate the tree's dark tones from the treeline behind it which might provide some depth and sense of space. Many directions this can go, keeping in mind both the forest (bigger picture) and the trees (smaller details).
  7. Oh yea! Lookin good. Gettin there.
  8. Yes I'm getting there but I may have over-done this one. What do you think about it? I've brought back the dramatic look of the sky and clouds. shortened the dam on the left end, did various lightening and darkening of the land but perhaps the landscape itself overall is too dark. I don't mind if you get down to the nitty gritty for suggestions, I'm happy to make further changes.

    Dramatic Sky (3).jpg
    dcstep likes this.
  9. First thing I notice is that it now has what I'd call a Pictorialist look, leaning a little more in the soft focus, lyrical, painterly direction. That's especially born out by the background mountains which now are blurred.

    I'd go with your instincts about "overdone." I know I've often reached something I like by going too far and then pulling back. It helps me see the possibilities available, and often those possibilities are best when nuanced. Unless you're really going for an "overdone" look with abandon (for instance, I can imagine this going in a hard contrast Japanese, brooding direction), you don't want what feels like a more refined approach to "mistakenly" come across as overdone. I think once you sort out how you want this to feel overall, things will fall into place as you refine it.

    Sometimes it's best to step back for a day or so rather than rush into various versions which can prevent your being objective. Nothing wrong with consideration and picturing it in your mind for a bit, then sleeping on it and coming back to it.
  10. Amen!!!!!

    Aside from that. Looks like you've got the land and lake part pretty much just right. As for the sky. I suppose it's possible that a very slight tweaking (and I do mean very) might add a little more drama but! considering the possibility of maybe going to far (unless you're very careful and go very slowly (maybe in stages)), it might not be worth it.
  11. I think that's what I've been subconsciously wanting all along, a "pictorialist" look about it, but without deviating too far from the original photographic image. It'd be nice if I could add some faint sunrays though, for effect. The blurring of the background mountains was unintentional while trying to darken them, I'll do better next time, I'd like them to remain sharp.

    Yes I'm at this stage, and thinking likewise.

    Good advise Sam, I'll do just that.

    All the changes were done hastily for posting for comments to get direction. I'm treating those changes as "preliminary" and I'll now work towards the refinement of the changes. Like Sam, you've been a great help sizzy, thanks. I'll be back in a few days with a more refined version.
  12. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Moderator Note -

    This is a truly excellent conversation which works on a multiplicity of levels and it and three participants are most deserving of the highest praise.

    dcstep likes this.
  13. (G) Thankyou!!! (nother G)
  14. I re-scanned the neg and played around with "curves" in the scanner software. I didn't really know what I was doing with that but it enhanced the detail quite a bit. The detail in the foreground is more defined, and the landscape at the rear of the dam is more defined as well, and more contrasty. This image was shot on expired '83 Plus X Pan and that's why the original scan was flat and murky. I did a lot of dodging and burning to get the pic where it is now and I've included some rather amateurish sun beams trying to establish if it was worth the attempt to include them. I think it was and I'd love to get your opinions on it, as well as what you think of the final refinement of the whole picture, and if I achieved the dramatic look too little or too much.

    Dramatic Sky (5).jpg
  15. Looks to me like it's right in there!!!
  16. I'm happy with it overall, except the sun beams. They look more like a shower of rain than sun beams. I've been watching tutorials about how to add them in Photoshop, but that in itself would be daunting exercise for me, and would take time. However I must learn how to it, to add that finishing touch and to make them look a bit real at least.

    Thanks to everyone for your help. I hope to finish it off with some genuine sun beams and save what I initially felt was just another of my expired film, camera shake rejects.
  17. Don't know about that! I've seen sunbeams, and I've seen showers of rain. It's been a while, but near as I can remember it was pretty hard to mistake one for the other.
  18. Beams appear to sort of come from a point (which they do), fan out as they get lower, and have sort of spaces between them (like these do). Rain is darker, appears to come from an area (as opposed to a point), and falls either straight down or slants in one direction or another (parallel).
  19. Well it's a moot point now because I've dived into Photoshop searching for all the right buttons to click on to add some authentic look-a-like sun beams. You-Tube tutorials have been great, I've learned how to create a "New layer", about "Gradient", then "Style - Angle", "Noise", "Opacity", "Soft Light". Now I need to learn how to brush out unwanted beams on the layer. Here's where I've got to so far, utilizing an old scan to practice on. I'll post the refined image with it's new sun beams when it's finished, it's only a matter of time.

    The sun beams can be rotated to get the effect you're after, and the center of the beams can be dragged to where it's needed, trial and error gets you there after a while.
    Sample sun beams.jpg
  20. Alright!!! Way to go!! Congratulations!!!!!

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