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11-05-2012, 06:27 PM   #1
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HDR Seascape
Lens: Tamron 17-50 F2.8 Camera: Pentax K-7 Photo Location: Phillip Island, Australia ISO: 100 Shutter Speed: 1/6s Aperture: F8 

Hi guys,

I am not really a good landscape photographer and thus don't shoot many, but it is something that I really want to improve. Basically decided after I came runner up in the "fences" competition this year and thought I should really consider focusing on this style to see what I am capable of.

I took the oportunity the other night to do some work on it and I got this result. Overall I am happy(ish) with the shot, but I feel that there is room for improvment. I am looking for critisims from PP to composition and technique.

A bit about the shot:
  • It's a HDR from 5 bracketed shots (-2 through +2 exposure comp).
  • ISO 100, F8, various shutter speed, Focused to just shy of infinty
  • Merged using the Automate feature in photoshop. (I need to work on my PS skills)
  • Tripod set low to the ground
  • I actually placed that piece of corral in the frame to give somthing to look at in the foreground.
  • I wished I had timed it for high tide, but I had to work with limited time.
What are your thoughts?









Last edited by Chaos_Realm; 11-07-2012 at 01:16 AM.
11-05-2012, 11:23 PM   #2
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Hello
I think you had the right instincts here. Low angle and putting the coral in the foreground for interest, 5 exposure bracket, f8. However it doesn't quite come together. As you already have noted high tide would have been better as the low tide has left an untidy jumble. The sun reflecting on the smooth boulders is good. The piece of coral you placed to add interest looks unnatural as it's up on edge on the rock and was obviously placed there. I like the sun back lighting it. Myself, I would like to have that to photograph close up because I like details and macro. I don't live near the ocean so I don't know if these wash up on shore or not but to me I think it might look more natural lying on the sand and having gotten the camera down even lower. It's easy to offer suggestions but these things might not be practical in reality. Other observations, the ocean is running downhill to the left. In landscapes with water it's vital that the horizon is level. I might suggest slicing 5 percent off the top to raise the horizon line. As for pp I would mask the foreground and brighten it a bit (it's a bit dark, add some contrast (it's a bit flat). I would also warm the the foreground. It looks very cool, this might be accurate but it recedes and doesn't hold your interest. Also warming it up would boost the sunlight hitting the rocks and sand and help tie the foreground to the sun in the background. Hope that gives you some ideas to consider.
Cheers
Greg
11-06-2012, 05:42 AM   #3
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PP: as Gregory says, level the horizon. I'm not so sure that warming is needed but I do agree that the foreground should be brighter. If the sun weren't in the frame then subdued tones like this would work, but as it is the sun draws the eye very strongly, with nothing else bright enough to draw it back out again. This is a nice, very subtle, use of HDR software, very naturalistic. A more aggressive HDR treatment would bring up the foreground but would also probably make the sky look unnatural. But you have various options for bringing up the foreground. I don't know what options you get from PS, but if nothing else a simple layer mask for a brighter foreground layer would work well here, because the masking would be quite easy -- just a simple gradient on the diagonal of the shoreline should work.

Technique: Might want to go with larger EV steps with the exposure bracketing here. And of course best to level the shot at the capture stage.

Composition: You had the right idea with the coral, because foreground interest is vital to landscapes. But in this case the coral isn't standing out enough from the rocks -- same sort of size, hard to make out in the dim light. Actually, the rocks alone are enough for good foreground interest. Again, brightening the foreground will help. The pattern of the rocks where they end at left is an important part of what makes this interesting -- look for a framing that emphasizes this a little more.

All in all a very nice image.
11-06-2012, 03:56 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gregory_51 Quote
The piece of coral you placed to add interest looks unnatural as it's up on edge on the rock and was obviously placed there.
Now you mention it, this it really annoys me... I didn't really consider how natural it looks in the frame, I just saw the "glow" it had from the sun backlightings it and thought get as much of that as possible.

QuoteOriginally posted by Gregory_51 Quote
it's a bit dark, add some contrast (it's a bit flat)
QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
the foreground should be brighter
QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
the sun draws the eye very strongly, with nothing else bright enough to draw it back out again
This area is probably the most difficult task I had in PP, I really struggled to get a decent balance between sky and foreground. But I will get the gradient thingo a go... Once I work out how to use it :S lol

QuoteOriginally posted by Gregory_51 Quote
also warm the the foreground
I've already warmed the entire image a little as I felt the original quite cold. I will give it a little bit more in the foreground and figure out this masking thing as well... As I said I need work on my Photoshop skills, but until now I would do ALL my work in lightroom.

QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
Gregory says, level the horizon
Silly mistake... I know this old chestnut. Thanks.

QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
very subtle, use of HDR software, very naturalistic.
I personally don't like the extreme HDR look so I have put every effort to minimise it.

QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
Might want to go with larger EV steps with the exposure bracketing here. And of course best to level the shot at the capture stage.
What kind of limit should I be going for in relation to the EV steps? I think it allows for +/- 5 EV from memory. What are the drawbacks and benifits of the larger steps?


I really appreciate the tips, and I will have a look at the shot(s) again and make adjustments so I can see if I actually understood everything you guys were suggesting.

11-06-2012, 04:22 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chaos_Realm Quote
What kind of limit should I be going for in relation to the EV steps?
I'm guessing; looks like the highlight clipping has been handled quite unobtrusively (I reckon there's no way not to blow out the sun itself in this scene), so the question is do you have sufficient (and not overly noisy) detail in the shadows in your longest exposure? On my K10D I can adjust exposure bracketing up to 2 stops per step (-4 to +4 with 5 shots). As to drawbacks of larger steps, I don't know.
11-06-2012, 04:44 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
I'm guessing; looks like the highlight clipping has been handled quite unobtrusively (I reckon there's no way not to blow out the sun itself in this scene), so the question is do you have sufficient (and not overly noisy) detail in the shadows in your longest exposure? On my K10D I can adjust exposure bracketing up to 2 stops per step (-4 to +4 with 5 shots). As to drawbacks of larger steps, I don't know.
I think I have plenty of head room in the shadows as the +2 was quite bright from memory. I can always reduce a bit of noise with topaz if needed... noise reduction is one area where I have become quite proficient in PP with the K-7, especially when I shoot my basketball team in a seemingly candle lit gym lol.

I guess noise is one area you might find problems if you take too large of a step size when the software pulls the lower image up a stop to get the detail although the noise in a +1 EV increase would be pretty limited at ISO 100.
11-07-2012, 01:06 AM   #7
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OK so I had another run at it, and learnt a couple a photoshop techniques along the way. So I attempted to reduce the flare as well. what do you guys think?




Edit: I think I might have made it a little bit to light, and lost a bit of colour in the sky.... man I suck at this lol... more practice is needed I think

Last edited by Chaos_Realm; 11-07-2012 at 01:17 AM.
11-07-2012, 07:09 AM   #8
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The tighter crop and brighter tone curve makes the foreground pop beautifully. I think you may have gone a touch too far toward yellow/green, but that's a question of taste (if you ask me; I don't think the goal is realism per se here). But that is why the sky looks a little washed out now. Do separate color treatments on sky and foreground. I'd leave just a little more space at left, so that rock doesn't get cut off. Don't get discouraged, you're doing great here.

11-07-2012, 08:43 AM   #9
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I like the crop a lot. The colors pop and give the photo a surreal look. Very nice.
11-07-2012, 10:39 AM   #10
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Hello again
There are always things that can be tweaked and experimented with. I sometimes I will take a photo and run with it in different directions and be torn about which I like better. On some I have 3 or 4 versions that I like of the same image and they have a totally different look an feel. If you are working in lightroom you can do a lot with the adjustment brushes for specific areas. I don't know if you use presets or not but there are lots of them out there to download and try. They can get you in the ballpark quickly and you can tweak it from there. I done an edit (hope that's OK) and posted in on flkr. It gives an idea but the images really fall apart quickly when reworking a low res jpeg. I've brightened and warmed the rocks and cliff and such and added contrast. 2012-11-07_085635b | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Cheers
Greg
11-07-2012, 04:12 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
The tighter crop and brighter tone curve makes the foreground pop beautifully. I think you may have gone a touch too far toward yellow/green, but that's a question of taste (if you ask me; I don't think the goal is realism per se here). But that is why the sky looks a little washed out now. Do separate color treatments on sky and foreground. I'd leave just a little more space at left, so that rock doesn't get cut off. Don't get discouraged, you're doing great here.
Don't worry, I am not discouraged in by any means! If anything the more I screw it up the more I want it perfect! Vicious cycle..

It's probably also quite hard to get it exact, although it's calibrated I am still using a TN panel. Which I have been told will make landscapes difficult (reads: impossible) to get colours right. I still should be able to get it closer than I currently am though.

Again I'll have another crack tonight when I get home... I will get this right!

QuoteOriginally posted by Gregory_51 Quote
Hello again
There are always things that can be tweaked and experimented with. I sometimes I will take a photo and run with it in different directions and be torn about which I like better. On some I have 3 or 4 versions that I like of the same image and they have a totally different look an feel. If you are working in lightroom you can do a lot with the adjustment brushes for specific areas. I don't know if you use presets or not but there are lots of them out there to download and try. They can get you in the ballpark quickly and you can tweak it from there. I done an edit (hope that's OK) and posted in on flkr. It gives an idea but the images really fall apart quickly when reworking a low res jpeg. I've brightened and warmed the rocks and cliff and such and added contrast. 2012-11-07_085635b | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Cheers
Greg
Greg, I like what you have pulled from it, I don't mind at all if you tweak my images! It is easier to show than tell with photo editing.
- I like the deeper blues in the sky, and the more natural yellows orange and reds in the sun.
- Bringing out the details in the cliff really helps add another element to the shot.
- The rocks look significantly better, more what I was originally aiming for. I must have let my self run away with photoshop lol!

I have a heap of presets, I just need to organise them! they are all over the place to be honest and makes it really hard to find anything. Also I will post a higher res file when I make the edits tonight, if anyone else has some adjustments they wish to demonstrate.

On a side note: how do I show a before and after in photoshop like that of the lightroom development?
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