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Thread: One landscape and a portrait for critique

  1. #1

    One landscape and a portrait for critique



    Hello,
    I would like to submit two photos I took last year for critique. They arethe best I could do at this stage of the game, but they are far from perfect. Please be honest, I welcome feedback.


    The first photo ws from June in Grand Teton National Park. It is probably one of the most heavily photographed spots in nature photography. What you don't see is all the mosquitos that you have to put up with. They were so thick I was swatting my hat trying to chase them away, and they were so big I heard one of them say, hey watch my tripod. Just kidding, lots of photographers too.








    Here is a portrait of my son Michael:


    I am more concerned aboutit technically. It was just a quick test with shallow depth of field.





    Please feel free to post your own images in this thread as well to demonstrate a technique, and feel free to manipulate the photos I have posted if you like.

    Tetons Large sized http://www.flickr.com/photos/talicoa/2917843138/sizes/l/


    Michael Large sized http://www.flickr.com/photos/talicoa/3124333462/sizes/l/


    Thanks in advance for looking and for the advice.


    Tom

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Re: One landscape and a portrait for critique



    Regarding the portrait, the DOF is too shallow, but you said that's what you desired so I guess it's ok. All in all it looks very nice and sharp to me. The exposure is also very good IMO.

  3. #3

    Re: One landscape and a portrait for critique



    Hi Tom,


    It's good to see people genuinely asking for input, so here's my penny's worth.


    [img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.23.67/after.jpg[/img]


    I used Adobe Camera Raw capture to increase saturation, contrast and exposure a tad. I then added a levels adjustment layer, made the blacks blacker, the whites brighter and shifted the gamma to about 0.94. I finally added a curves adjustment layer with the linear contrast setting. Digital cameras can take very "flat / colourless" landscapes, IMO, which is what I think your image suffers from. (I used your small image file and the differences may not be so noticeable on this post, but try it at home).If you use a recent Canon dSLR, you'll note there is a picture style called "landscape" where colours are 'boosted' to offset the problem. The above is my attempt at doing the same in Photoshop. There's probably an easier way, but that's how I do it. In any case, I suggest using RAW in landscapes for the extra latitude and ability to tweak things later.


    Your image looks quite sharp, but I'll add one sharpening tip that works great for rocks and water (but can easily be overdone). It should be the first thing you do after opening the file in PS. Make a copy of the background layer, set the blend modefor the copy to Overlay (ignore horrible interim result) and then select highpass from the Filter>Other menu. A 10 pixel value is usually overkill, which you can still offset by adjusting the opacity values.


    Cigars go some way to getting rid of mosquitos and definitely make the smoker feel better.


    I rather like the shallow DOF in the portrait although the earphone wires inevitablye lead to the OOF ears, so perhaps a tad less wide next time. You've captured an interesting expression. However, I find the light source too hard (note hard nose shadow and earphones). Another time of day, location or softer light source. There are thousands of books on portrait lighting, some incomprehensible, others highly entertaining, so I won't recommend any. But I do think that portrait photography is most like learning to drive a car (I'm European); there are so many things you have to learn to do simultaneously and not crash...


    I hope you don't mind my taking you at your word and that these techniques help a little. Feel more than free to reply in kind.



  4. #4
    Junior Member
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    Re: One landscape and a portrait for critique



    Hi Tom,


    Let me comment on the gorgeous Tetons shot, which caught my attention. I used Lightroom to find ways to accentuate the mountain and the (morning?) atmosphere. Here's what I came up with:


    [img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.23.63/2917843138_5F00_3a9539d0c6_5F00_o.jpg[/img]


    My changes were: Adjust white balance (increase magenta) to get more morning atmosphere, cropped off a bit from the left and darken the top and bottom of the picture (graduated filter) to draw attention to the mountain, and increased contrast a bit to increase clarity of the mountain. The details on the bushes block up here but they had enough detail to my eye in Lightroom.


    - Ken



  5. #5
    Junior Member
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    Re: One landscape and a portrait for critique



    Tom,


    Thought I'd give the portrait a try, too. You've got nice sharpness on Michael's eye and softness everywhere else, which is very attractive. I wanted to find a way to reduce the sense that the photograph is taken looking down and to generally tweak the shot. In Lightroom, I used auto white balance (which increased yellow and magenta a bit) to fix up skin tones, reduced contrast and increased vibrance (enhances youthfulness), increased exposure a third of a stop, rotated to put the eyes on a horizontal line, and cropped to a square format (a great shape for headshots--people will think you shoot with a Hasselblad) and added some vignetting (to draw attention to the left eye). What do you think?


    - Ken


    [img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.23.63/3124333462_5F00_88144a856b_5F00_o.jpg[/img]

  6. #6

    Re: One landscape and a portrait for critique



    Oren, Stefan, And Ken,
    Thank you for the feedback. It seems like the Mt. Moran picture needs to be more vivid. I like both of the versions that you have made. Also thanks for the feedback on the portrait. I never saw the harsh shadow on the nose, and the color is a little cold. You also cropped out his messy hair which is a good thing. One of the best things about this type of feedback, is that you get to see different methods of doing things. I am self taught in Photoshop, and while it isn't difficult to use, there are a lot of things I have never thought of doing, or even knew existed.


    Thank you very much,


    Tom

  7. #7
    Junior Member
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    Re: One landscape and a portrait for critique



    You're welcome. I find some features of Photoshop, such as perspective correction, indispensable, but in general I try to avoid using it in favor of Lightroom. It seems to me that 99% of the features of Lightroom can be counted on to make a picture look better, whereas 99% of the features in Photoshop will make it look worse! At least they do in my hands. Seriously, LR is sooo easy to use...I recommend it without hesitation!

  8. #8

    Re: One landscape and a portrait for critique



    It really was entirely my pleasure. Other people's enthusiastic, informed advice can't fail to make our pictures better. I learnt a lot from Ken's approach and, as another self-taught Photoshopper, I agree wholeheartedly with its amazing ability to make things worse! If only I knew how to put my copy of LR to good effect...

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