Photo Feedback

The original image as presented for feedback.

 

Our Anonymous Photographer has visited the United Kingdom and I seem to remember something about this art instalation on TV! But I'm showing my age because no one watches TV anymore! I like the camera angle, using the diagonals of the wall to cross the motion of the flowers. And although a great record shot, the camera angle remains challenging even though I think the photographer has gone to great efforts to obtain a clear angle. Zooming or walking into position, we have a good view of the flowers and the castle wall, but unfortunately, there are some compositional intrusions!

 

 

At the edges of the frame are little bits of castle wall that impinge on the image. The left could be easily cropped off, but the stonework in the foreground overlaps the flowers. A slightly higher vantage point may have solved this issue, but perhaps the photographer didn't have a ladder? And moving left or right could have introduced other obstacles. There's also a yellow crane or frame in the background that stands out and grabs the eye. What to do?

 

 

While my retouching here has been inexpertly done, you can see what the clone tool can do, removing the foreground stonework. Done with care, the result can look completely natural to the eye, but it will take time. That's why it's best to get the angle right in camera, but if you can't post-production can sometimes help. The edge of the wall on the left has also been cloned out with extra grass, but it could as easily have been cropped out.

 

 

On my screen, the wall is a little light, so I have darkened it and the town down, bringing the emphasis back onto the grass and flowers.

 

 

Next I have desaturated the yellow frame work in the background. It's just a small point, but in competitions and exhibition work, small details are incredibly important.

 

 

Finally, I have darkened the background hills just a little more. At this stage, I have kept the overall tonality the same as presented, but I wonder what it would look like if I lightened the whole image?

 

 

Personally, I think the lighter version is more satisfactory, although I wonder now if I should re-darken the wall... 

 

Our e-book on How To Win Photo Competitions isn't just for making better competition entries, it's full of great advice on improving all your photos - you can find it here.

 

The original image as presented for feedback.

 

Our Anonymous Photographer appears to be well off the beaten track! Shooting in poor weather can be challenging, but this is a pleasing scene and the reflections work well. I wonder if a slightly different camera position could have isolated the trees within the reflection, like the trees themselves are isolated against the white sky. Looking at the objects through your viewfinder like shapes on a drawing board and moving them around is part of the art of composition.

 

So, what are the main challenges in the image as presented?

 

 

Overall, I think the image is lacking a little contrast, the grasses in the bottom left are a little light and the white sky very domineering! Some of these issues we can fix, others we cannot.

 

 

Look at how an increase in contrast and a slight lightening of the image has given the foliage a real lift! It has also made the reflection much stronger, if this is in keeping with what you want to do.

 

 

A little darkening of the grasses in the bottom left allows the eye to jump over to the wonderful reflection, but what can we do about that bright sky?

 

 

Sometimes there is no real answer to a white sky. Sometimes a white sky is exactly what the photographer wants. However, my main objection to a white sky is that it allows the eye to easily leave the composition - white areas tend to attract the viewer's eye. One solution is to put a black border around the image, thus containing it. Does this help the image overall?

 

Our e-book on How To Win Photo Competitions isn't just for making better competition entries, it's full of great advice on improving all your photos - you can find it here.

 

The original image as presented for feedback.

 

Our Anonymous Photographer sent this image to us some time ago and he or she may now be possibly thinking exactly the same way as I do. Living with an image and letting a little time pass allows us to better observe and edit our own work.

 

The composition is strong, colour palette pleasing, subject matter quiet and restful. It's an excellent image already, so my suggestions are only subtle. And the first suggestion is to make the foreground a little darker than the sky because, to my eye, this gives the image more of a base, more solidity.

 

 

Contrast can also be used to bring the foreground forward and send the sky back a little, so the bottom of the image has had a curves adjustment layer applied and the contrast increased slightly. Compare the image below to the first image at the top and compare. Is this to your liking?

 

 

Given the water in the centre of image is so well framed by the rocks and the sun, another adjustment layer has lightened this area of water a tad more, emphasising what I suspect the photographer found appealing. I hope the eye goes there more immediately now.

 

 

So far, all the changes have been very subtle compared to the original, and so are the final adjustments - darkening the sky right at the top, and vignetting the bottom of the image just a little too.

 

 

Sometimes our computer monitors are not good enough to show subtle changes like these and so if this is your challenge, rather than purchasing a new lens, think about buying a better monitor (I use and recommend EIZO). It will make a world of difference to your enjoyment of image editing.

 

Our e-book on How To Win Photo Competitions isn't just for making better competition entries, it's full of great advice on improving all your photos - you can find it here.

 

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