What Makes A Photo Work?

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Lighten Up! Just Lighten Up!!

The original image as presented for feedback.

Our Anonymous Photographer has captured a marvelous bank of fog and we're guessing it's the early morning. However, while technically speaking the exposure is correct (because there is detail in the highlights and nothing is burnt out), aesthetically it's a little dark and muddy on the main subject (the fog). Where does your eye go? Turn the photo upside down...

To my mind, the eye goes to the really bright sky, but I'm thinking the photographer wants me to look at the fog. Turning a photo upside down can help to analyse which areas you need to lighten and/or darken. In this case, I will darken down the sky so it's not overpowering.

Okay, that's better, but the foreground is still too dark...

A little more detail has helped in the foreground, but I'm still not looking at the fog... Let's lighten that up more...

Now, that's better! However, to be really successful, I think our Anonymous Photographer needs to hang around a little longer for the sun to pierce the fog and perhaps light up the foreground naturally. Looking into the light like this was always going to be a challenging image. 

Hopefully this has provided some suggestions on how tonally re-mapping a photograph (dodging and burning-in in the old terminology) can improve the way we view it.

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