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03-05-2016, 07:17 PM   #1
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New to landscape, please critique
Lens: DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR Camera: K-50 Photo Location: Death Valley ISO: 100 Shutter Speed: 1/80s Aperture: F10 

I wish I had used a slightly smaller aperture. And of course I wish I could afford a better lens. Any other suggestions? Do you think a polarizer filter would have helped? Should I crop some more sky? Post processing is fairly minimal, just a bit of levels correction in Lightroom and cropped a bit off the top.

03-05-2016, 07:26 PM   #2
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The road takes your eye away from the picture.
03-05-2016, 08:37 PM   #3
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A polarizer would not be a good idea--as it would likely give a variation in brightness across the sky. Generally not useful with a wide angle and lots of blue sky.
Also don't see how a smaller f/ stop would change much--no foreground that you are trying to show.
Also a better lens is not likely to make a better picture.
Only you can say if the picture captures what feeling you wanted to express, but to me the picture does not have a strong subject. There are the mountains, the road, blue sky, sandy and rock strewn foreground(s), and a sweep to the left with intersecting triangles----but none take center stage.

Last edited by dms; 03-05-2016 at 08:50 PM.
03-05-2016, 08:49 PM   #4
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Maybe a little to much sky and a bit more foreground on the road left hand edge aligned with the corner. Overall its good photo, if you could take it again would be interesting to see.

03-05-2016, 09:19 PM   #5
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I have come back a few times to look and I think my critique was too harsh. The photo has merit and if it was mine: (1) I would be pleased, (2) I would print/look more often to make a final assessment.
03-05-2016, 10:41 PM   #6

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You have a ton of Chromatic Aberration occurring in this image.. even zoomed out I can see it.. You can correct that in Lightroom -- it is in the module with the lens profiles.

Composition wise, that is a really interesting road and it is only taking a minor role in this image. I'd have focused more on the road or tried to have composed the scene where it was a larger interest closer to the middle of the scene. It could help give more of a sense of it being desolate out there (nothing on the road, rocky terrain, arid mountain). And there is nothing in the sky either.. so ti is a little boring up there. It is nice to have SOME sort of cloud cover imo. But beggars can't be choosers if you're only able to be in an area at a certain time.
03-05-2016, 10:54 PM   #7

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I think it becomes stronger if you crop off about 20% of the right side. Basically, the dark, right-side mountain completely out.

This gives a more even tone to the whole photo and creates a couple stronger diagonals with the remaining mountains and the road, which then becomes more of a major player, sweeping from right edge to left edge.
03-06-2016, 12:53 AM   #8
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I think your colors are very nice in this photograph. The sky is just right and a polarizer wouldn't improve on it. If there had been a lot of clouds, then perhaps a polarizer would be helpful. But, nice blue sky above a varied set of colors in your hills shows up well. I am viewing this on an Ipad and, interestingly, there is no chromatic aberration visible to me, as another poster has mentioned.

Where I think you might improve on this is your composition. The problem with landscapes is that we see them in real life using an extremely wide-angle view - including our peripheral vision - so we're taking in so much more than the camera can. We see an interesting view and think, "Beautiful!" But the view from a camera needs a focal point, something you've chosen to lead our eyes in a certain direction. When we make a landscape photograph, we have to decide ahead of time (or sometimes in the cropping) what it is we want the viewer to be looking at and show them where to look. You may have intended the road to play that role in this photo, but the road is leading our eyes away from the scene. So we are left with a kind of visual confusion. The brain, when presented with such a dilemma, will take the path of least resistance and become disinterested.

Try next time to find something in the scene that brings us into the picture and make that prominent. It takes a while to practice seeing in that way, but you will develop a good eye soon enough. You already have the basics down really well.

And, by the way, you don't need a better lens. I still use this lens for many landscape shots, though I have "better" ones. It's a very capable lens for landscapes and renders colors nicely, belying its humble pedigree. Keep taking pictures with this lens and two years from now, you'll amaze yourself with what you've done.

03-06-2016, 06:12 AM   #9
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Someone says you ought to crop out some of the right side..I agree in a way, but wonder what´s hidden to the left of the road, sort of wishing to get the road a little more into the pic..
03-06-2016, 07:07 AM   #10
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Much is said already. I think Death Valley is not the easiest place to start landscape photography: not much colour (except at the golden hour!), fairly low hills, large plains... But then: there is lot of structure/texture, and that is what I would be aiming at if I would revisit the place.

Two options here: focus on the hills more to bring out the wonderful forms, or to the road, to let it lead you into (instead of out of) the picture.

And: don't worry about the lens, I think Pentax's kitlens is a very good performer and rather versatile in landscape photography. If you would like to buy a budged prime go for a Pentax- or -M 28/2.8: neither ever dissapointed me in landscapes!
03-06-2016, 07:11 AM   #11
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Read this, then we have something to talk about.

Over all, all lines lead to a point outside the frame, the road , the line of ridges, even the approximate line between the ridges and the sky. The image makes me wonder "what's just outside the frame that is so important everything points to it?

In response to some of what is written above, I shoot many of my landscapes with polarizers. But from my point of view they are largely a lens protecter. I've been in a couple of situations where turning the polarizing reduced lens flare and regardless of what folks say, in some situations ambient light entering the lens at odd angles can be an issue in some images, and polarizer help with that. I'm not going to take mine on and off, so the choice is occasional banding and un-even skies with it on as opposed to occasional loss of micro-contrast and flaring with it off. From my perspective, the balance weighs in favour of the filter. When it does what it is designed to do it results in better micro-contrast, contrast and colour. But one way or the other, it makes a difference very rarely. Most of the time it's lens protection.

Last edited by normhead; 03-06-2016 at 07:19 AM.
03-06-2016, 10:17 AM   #12
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I think I agree with most, I want to either see more of the road, or more of the mountains. One of things I tend to do is question why I find the scene interesting, is the light on the mountains, or where the road leads, or all together.
03-06-2016, 04:40 PM   #13
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Overall, a good place for a picture, it's really just composition and maybe some PP that would make it a winner. IMO. This is tough, the sun is practically overhead, on a cloudless day, the light is not helping much.

The first thing you need to consider when taking a landscape is "what was it about this scene that drew me in? " make that your focal point to compose around. That little cloud at the left side of the frame breaks up the blue sky, for example. The road runs almost straight and true dividing hin from sand towards the distant mountians. the humpback hill at the end of the foreground ridge is not shaped like the others, etc

Also, the POV seems to be at eye level,, consider getting 3 feet off the ground to make the hills more prominent, or get up higher ( the bed of a pickup, for example, or just the camera handheld overhead or on a monopod)
03-06-2016, 08:28 PM   #14
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Another POV that might have worked is to get off road to the right. Split the difference more between road and hills and perspective draws you into the image instead of drawing you out of the picture to the left.

Of course that's assuming there's not a fertilizer plant just out of view.
03-07-2016, 04:34 AM   #15
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I think the others are right, the road should be a more integral part of the photo (or left out entirely). As it is, the road is a leading line that goes off in the distance, but draws your attention away from the mountains, which I think are the main subject of the photo.

I would get a lot lower down to the ground and try to include a little bit more foreground -- either on the road or in the mountains. As far as the image itself, I would brighten it just a little and bump the contrast more.

Hope that helps.

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