What Makes A Photo Work?

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When Is Too Much Colour Too Much?

Kings Canyon at Sunset

Our Anonymous Photographer has sent in a photo of Kings Canyon taken from his camp site. "One afternoon when we returned to the camp I was very impressed with the clouds, so I setup the camera and waited to see what would happen at sunset."

There's no doubt it is an amazing sky, I also like the simple composition, the fact the photographer has found a clear area of grasses to lead the eye into the ranges behind. However, I fear that what most photography judges will object to is the strong colouration.

Entering sunsets into a photography competition is fraught with danger because very often the judges give the credit to Mother Nature, not the photographer. Here, the colour saturation has been pushed beyond normal expectations. My first suggestion (and I know some people will think this is a bit rich coming from me), is to reduce the colour saturation. This would be better done on the raw file, but I have approximated the effect on the JPG below.

In photography, everything is subject, but to my eye, these are still very rich colours, but not overly saturated. However, if you want to bring the richness of the colour back, rather than using the Saturation slider, try darkening down the image a little instead. The image below is simply darkened.

Now, on some screens, I'm thinking this might look a little flat? If so, the next stage is to lighten up the foreground a little, but keeping the richness of the sky - and that sunset. In terms of photography competitions, I think this will stand a better chance of success - but do you agree?

Check out our e-book on How To Win Photo Competitions - you can find it here.

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