Photo Feedback

The original image as presented for feedback.


I'm pretty sure our Anonymous Photographer has been photographing in Norway and, for Australian viewers at least, this must be an exotic location most of us would like to visit. This is a great photograph, very competently presented. It would score well in a photo competition, but is it a competition winner?


A few years ago, scenes like this would fare very well, but today with so many more photographers visiting the far north, images of this and similar locations have become a little more commonplace. So the photograph should get a good score, but may not be a winner.


At this stage, my suggestions are all refinements. Firstly, when I carefully look at how the photographer has cropped the image, I wonder if a slightly tighter crop might remove some window frames on the right (barely visible at this size, but would be visible in a print), and simplify the framing on the left by removing the building. Of course, some people might like to keep the building in as a natural border.



I also wonder if the image could be a little darker. In the image below, I have darkened the entire image to put more colour and detail into the building facades. Is this better? Personally, I find it more pleasing for the buildings if not the surroundings (which are now too dark), but is it just a matter of my monitor presenting a lighter image than the Anonymous Photographer's?



A quick look at the histogram of the original file (see below) shows that there are some whites clipping, just a fraction, so I am probably correct in suggesting the image could be darkened slightly to bring more details into the highlights.



However, if you don't like the darkening on the surrounding mountains, mask out the top so you just darken the buildings and leave everything else as it is.



Finally, I find the mountains on the left a little too light, possibly from a little flare (the sun is over that way somewhere). 



My suggestion is to darken down the mountains on the left side of the image so they balance the rest of the mountain range - and I think that's about it!



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The original image as presented for feedback.



Our Anonymous Photographer has expertly used the frame of an archway to frame the subject in the background. Photographically, this device attracts our attention, giving us the impression we have a special window into the scene. However, the image is not without its challenges. Personally, I would prefer to see the church spires in or nearer the centre of the archway, but this may not have been possible. There could have been other structures just outside the archway that blocked the view. However, given I might also have framed this photo with slightly less archway (moved my camera into the archway further), this could have allowed me to better position the spires within the frame at the same time. 



But this is just how I respond to the image and maybe the photographer has intentionally challenged me with an off-centre subject. I can accept that! The other issue is the sunlight on the wall of the archway. Because it is so bright, it distracts me from the main subject which is in shadow.



Fortunately, a little darkening down of this area is easily achieved and the tonality quickly brought under control.



The final technical observation is the white clouds. With the JPEG file supplied, I couldn't find any detail to add in and all I have really done is create a light grey tone in the clouds. No doubt the raw file has a little more information which would produce a better result.


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 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.


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