Critique #6

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autzig
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Critique #6

Postby autzig » Fri Dec 02, 2011 8:39 pm

Here's something a little different for me. I photographed this Japanese Maple at the University of Minnesota Arboretum. I decided to use HDR (High Dynamic Range) tonemapping for this photo to apply a bit of artsyness (if there is such a word). While it looks pretty photo like, the impact, particularly on the wood, gives it a unique character. I also tried another technique in Photoshop. I made a circular selection around the red tree and then created a curves adjustment layer. When there is an active selection, PS automatically applies a mask, so the adjustment only applies to the area selected. Of course when you do that, you end up with a big obvious circle with the adjustment only applied to the selected area. Photoshop has a really cool feature on the adjustment panel. If you click on the Masks tab, you can control the density and feathering of the mask. I reduced the density to eliminate and the circle and apply a larger percentage of the adjustment to the circled area.

I like the effect but I would be happy to hear any comments.

Al

Image


Andy
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Re: Critique #6

Postby Andy » Tue Dec 06, 2011 1:17 pm

Hi Al: Meant to get back to this and forgot. I, like you, don't use HDR much and when I do, I see it as more of a blending utility. I like the "photorealistic" result you have obtained here. It seems real, and believable as a photograph.

Compositionally, I like the balancing elements. The small area of red color in the middle is nicely balanced by the much larger area of complimentary green. I also like the way the subject is only slightly off-center, but the different sized/perspectives of the rocking chairs lends some "weight" balance to that, with the offset chair being slightly larger. I also think the repeating patterns of the roof rafters on either side of the main subject "works."

I might be inclined to either crop off part of the bottom of the frame, where the posts come to the ground (they look "junky" in comparison to the neat and tidy look of the balance of the image), or may do some cloning.

I also wonder if there is something going on the sky? It looks kind of strange, to me.
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

autzig
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Re: Critique #6

Postby autzig » Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:36 pm

Andy, you are right about the sky. One of the issues with HDR tonemapping is what it does to the sky. On the original, it was a very dark grey. I think the sky still has too much black in it. The trees along the skyline are actually in the shadow of a big cloud.

brandtb

Re: Critique #6

Postby brandtb » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:17 pm

Beautiful setting, tree, treillage. Did you happen to take shot straight on of the tree? When I look at this the first thing I get is there is "something centered", a brilliant red maple (which it happens to be) in a "lane" created by the trellis columns. The second thing I see is the "lane" that receeds to the bg in nearly one point perspective. I would have given a little more attention to these two "subjects" and played them up by shooting straight on...and honor the "centering". The area or void on the right I wouldn't consider is a subject, and doesn't provide any balance to the maple tree...for one reason the chair is unremarkable and uninteresting...and the whole void with chair and planter is dead. All this takes my eye away from what is remarkable in the picture. Shot straight on with brilliant red tree and receeding rafter tails pointing inward TOO the subect...well it's as good as any House Beautiful or Arch Digest shot I think. I like the concave curve of the tree line with sky and how it mimics the concave curve of the Maple top...put gray lines to illuminate this. I don't like HDR per se...and in this instance what it does is work against the overall power of the image by highlighting all the detail in the wood...to the detriment of the maple...which is the principle subject. Crop like I would have done, BUT shot straight on...so there is a one point perspective effect...with bilateral symmetry in the trellis work. I wouldn't go crazy with all the color controls on this either...I would use brush in ACR or LR3 and bring brighness down in fg shrubs and whatever the ground cover is...and got rid of left chair with CA fill.
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JapanMaple-2-2.jpg
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brandtb

Re: Critique #6

Postby brandtb » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:38 am

Another thought on trellis columns in immediate fg which in my mind are not the principle subjects...I might have used brush in ACR or LR3 set to -5 sharpening, -5 contrast (maybe less- this is always trial and error)...to make the wood grain "lay back" a bit...this would help to make the red maple stand out more.

autzig
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Re: Critique #6

Postby autzig » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:43 am

Brandt, thanks for your interesting comments. I will have to look at the shots I took to see if made any straight on. I have photographed this spot at least twice. I didn't particularly like the rocking chairs in the photo and I tried to move them but they were tethered with a chain. I could move them but not very far. I didn't notice the concave curve at all until you pointed it out; very observant of you.

Clearly, the maple tree is the subject of the photo. I think the posts and overhead boards frame it very nicely and and created the "lane" as you described. I have observed this place many times and have tried to figure out how best to capture it. You've given me an interesting perspective. I will look through my archives to see if I made any straight on shots. If not, I'll have the opportunity to photograph this again next summer. The tree isn't winter hardy here in Minnesota, so it is kept in a greenhouse all winter long and placed back in this garden every spring.

Again, thanks for your input.

Al

brandtb

Re: Critique #6

Postby brandtb » Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:30 pm

I think those two concave "lines"...slightly off-center help a one point perspective shot like this...gives it a little dynamism...a very subtle counterpoint to the hard verticals and horizontals.

autzig
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Re: Critique #6

Postby autzig » Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:14 pm

Brandt, I searched my archives and found this photo, taken on a different day. While it is not perfectly straight on, it is pretty close. I did not apply any HDR toning and I didn't sharpen the wood.

Image

deaner1971
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Re: Critique #6

Postby deaner1971 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:52 am

Al, I like the colors much more in this photo. The depth of the red is much more compelling to me. I do feel like the base of the tree is more "cluttered" in this closer shot but they would probably frown upon folks clipping plants to improve photographic options...

This is one of those photos where you, when standing there, know there is a shot there and you love what you see in person. But it seems like it is tough to get a perfect shot when you need to commit it to "memory card" (saying "film" seemed more natural but was incorrect). Maybe zoomed out just a bit to get all of the plants directly in front of the planter box would have reduced their apparent "clutter" factor but it is really had to say when someone has no idea as to what the limitations were at the time (were there other items you zoomed in specifically to crop from the shot and would not come back into play were you to get more of the foreground, etc...).

You did a good job with the HDR in the prior version but this, more natural, shot is more my cup of tea.

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Re: Critique #6

Postby Andy » Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:43 am

Guess I'll be the contrarian on this one :lol: . I like both images. Being "that guy" who likes highly saturated images, I like the color in the first one better. I also like the chairs (if they were equi-distant and the same size on each side, I might not -- but for the reasons stated earlier, I think the give the image compositional balance). I think it goes to Brandt's comment elsewhere about what is the "subject." If the subject is the tree, the second version certainly does a better job of focusing the viewers attention on it. And, because of the framing of the lattice work and the repeating patterns, being centered in this image "works."

In the first image, I think the subject is more, the "formal garden" and the tree is just a central element of the garden.

And, I like the detail that the HDR brought out in the wood.

So, if we were the judges on America's Next Celebrity Photographer, would we be yelling at each other???? :mrgreen:
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

Fourbit
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Re: Critique #6

Postby Fourbit » Sun Dec 11, 2011 10:56 am

Howdy Folks,

Being new here, I was just cruising on the posts. And, thought I'd toss in a reply. As for an actual 'critique', I may be the least qualified. I have not been in photography for some years. Pre-digital (PD) 35mm SLR film and slide to be exact. Way back in the 60's and 70's.
Anyhow, I would just like to say Kudos on the manners here. Very constructive and mostly edifying.
I personally like the "HDR" better. Obviously the composition is more interesting. But, I like the way HDR seems to have reduced the busy background and allowed more peacefulness when looking at the scene. The background etc. around the 'garden' seems to scream at me to look at it. When I really want to look at the garden, instead.

For what it's worth (4 bits won't even get you a cup of coffee anymore).
Paul

autzig
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Re: Critique #6

Postby autzig » Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:22 pm

Greetings Fourbit. Thanks for joining the forum and participating. We welcome all and appreciate any comments. I don't think you need to be a lifelong photographer to be qualified to write a critique. While many of us focus on technical issues, it is always nice to hear what others like or don't like.

Thanks again for visiting and please join in the discussion any time.

Al

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Re: Critique #6

Postby autzig » Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:31 pm

deaner1971 wrote: Maybe zoomed out just a bit to get all of the plants directly in front of the planter box would have reduced their apparent "clutter" factor but it is really had to say when someone has no idea as to what the limitations were at the time (were there other items you zoomed in specifically to crop from the shot and would not come back into play were you to get more of the foreground, etc...).


"Even" Dean, thank you for your comments. The problem with zooming out is that it would get more of the plants in front of the planter box but zooming out will also add space to the right and left of the posts. It was for exactly that reason that I cropped it as I did. If only the posts were a little wider and the tree a little larger.

Al

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Re: Critique #6

Postby deaner1971 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:56 am

I suspected that there was a reason for the shot as it was cropped.

I think this is just one of those photos where you have to appreciate that it took skill to get a "good" shot but that circumstances beyond your control will prevent eliminating every possible imprefection from being removed. That is the issue with others issuing critiques which is that we were not right over your shoulder at the time so we have no idea that perhaps you had to wait for crowds to pass or the location didn't open its gates until after the good light had passed and would close before the good light returned.

Darn you Reality and your intrusion into our photography!


Thanks.
Even Dean (and no, we will not be shortening that to "E.D." as that brings up a malady that we shall not evoke...)

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Re: Critique #6

Postby Andy » Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:00 pm

"E.D."?? Ektachrome Dysfunction? Elitechrome Dysfunction?
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .



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