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07/29/2003 12:53:28 AM · #1
Hi! Before I delete these images of Craters of the Moon National Monument to make room for other images, I need some advice. I like the IDEA of many of these shots, but I'm just not all that thrilled with the execution. I consider myself pretty decent at most landscape photography, but this posed a real challenge. I plan on going back soon and doing it right. Perhaps it's something about the dark ground and bright sky, and maybe I just need to wait for better light on some of these, but I'd sure love your advice on how to shoot this area better when I go again.

I've been through the *Nice shot. Lovely area* comments, so could use some real critique. Help anyone?

Message edited by author 2003-07-29 00:55:13.
07/29/2003 01:00:52 AM · #2
David,is it my monitor broken or all this images are little too dark,did you change camera or use new lens or what?
Images are very good otherwise!

By the way I'm also out of space ,have to remove some unfavorable stuff too!

Message edited by author 2003-07-29 01:03:20.
07/29/2003 02:12:46 AM · #3
yep the cinders make the ground very dark you may have to cut the sky out or bracket the photos and replace the skies with the darker photo. Also your 'Sentinel of Cinder Mountain' shot seems focused a little far away so the foreground is very soft (either that or it's just the compression)
07/29/2003 02:31:12 AM · #4
Originally posted by dsidwell:

Hi! Before I delete these images of Craters of the Moon National Monument to make room for other images, I need some advice. I like the IDEA of many of these shots, but I'm just not all that thrilled with the execution. I consider myself pretty decent at most landscape photography, but this posed a real challenge. I plan on going back soon and doing it right. Perhaps it's something about the dark ground and bright sky, and maybe I just need to wait for better light on some of these, but I'd sure love your advice on how to shoot this area better when I go again.

I've been through the *Nice shot. Lovely area* comments, so could use some real critique. Help anyone?


Hey David, I do like your work. Here are some filters I use on a regular basis. Its a good cure for your problem in some of these shots. //mountainlight.com/filters.html

By-the-way, I enjoy your footnote. If you are a fan Of Galen's work, You should look into these filters.
Good Luck - Gotcha
07/29/2003 05:26:18 AM · #5
Hi David,

First of all, as a general comment, I would agree with pitsaman that all of these shots look rather dark (at least on my monitor). 'River of Cinders' is the best example of this - the river looks like a swathe of flat black, with no detail in it. I think Gotcha's suggestion of using ND-Grad filters may help. Also, this looks like it might be an interesting place for a spot of infrared photography. Having said that, some other comments:

'Keeping Watch at Cinder Mountain' - I like the composition and the subject, the darkness makes it hard to see what's there, though. The top right of the shot is rather flat and featureless, though - perhaps reframe to get a mountain in there, if possible. As it is, the mountain which can be seen in the distance is half-hidden by the tree and the edge of the shot. I also feel I'm rather 'on top' of the stuff in the foreground - perhaps reposition the camera a little lower (although you may lose some of the view in the distance if you do that).

'River of Cinders' - looks like a good composition with the 'river' leading the eye into the picture, but too dark to see anything in the river. There is detail in there (I checked), I just can't see it. I would again perhaps rotate the camera slightly to the left, to avoid cutting off the larger of the two hills.

'Devil's Orchard' - the empty space on the right of the picture is doing nothing for me - change the orientation so that we can see more of the shape of the wood. Alternatively, adopt a lower viewpoint so that the shape of the wood is thrown into relief by the sky. For me, in this shot, the scrub is just noise. I would also play with contrast/brightness/saturation to try bringing out the textures in the wood.

'Log' - get in closer so we can see more of the wood's texture. Use it to fill the frame and let some negative space hint at it's overall shape. In this case, I think less would be more.

'Approaching Cinder Mountain' - rotate camera right and pull back a bit to get the whole of the hill/mountain/dune thing and lose the bushes - emphasise the bleakness of the place and the shape of the landscape.

'Sentinel of Cinder Mountain' - not much to suggest here, it's a nice shot. Just too dark.

'Lava: Up Close & Personal #2' - great textures, but again too dark. Try tweaking the contrast/brightness/saturation settings to bring out colours and textures. Composition and subject are great.

'Life on Volcano' - once again, it's too dark. I can see that the light is getting interesting, though. There doesn't seem to be a single item in this shot to hold the viewer's attention, though - what is it you want us to look at?

'Limber Pine Grove' - as for 'Life on Volcano'. It might be interesting to once again pull back so as to isolate the trees in the expanse of lava rock, emphasising the hostile environment.

These are just my thoughts, and I'm no expert. One final suggestion - I've had some success in low-contrast situations with auto-bracketing shots (usually by 1/3-2/3 of a stop) then compositing the three bracketed shots to increase the dynamic range. Misty is a shot which uses this technique. It doesn't always work, but it might be worth a try. Let us see the results of your trip.

Hope this helps.
07/29/2003 07:50:46 AM · #6
3 choices:

1) meter on the ground to increase the overall brightness of the scene. if you don't have a spot or center-weighted meter, up your exposure compensation to taste. Con: may lose you some sky details if the sky blows out.

2) get a graduated neutral density filter. what these do is cut light in the top part of the scene and even out the overall exposure, so the ground can be lighter without blowing the sky.

3) in an image editor, select the non-sky part of the photos and adjust the levels for them separately (i.e. 'dodge' the ground). This should allow you to individually tweak the tonalities of different parts of the photos to taste.

good luck!
07/29/2003 08:19:35 AM · #7
OK, Hope you don't mind, but I took the liberty of tweaking a couple of your shots as suggested in option 3. Really made a huge difference!

Here's one:
' . substr('//www3.pbase.com/image/19746143/original.jpg', strrpos('//www3.pbase.com/image/19746143/original.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

The rest here:
//www3.pbase.com/magnetic9999/crater

Message edited by author 2003-07-29 08:23:57.
07/29/2003 08:24:43 AM · #8
These are some really good ideas. The problem, that you have noted, is that the ground in these shots IS dark--almost totally black, in fact. It is composed of black sand or chips of lava (very sharp too, if you happen to fall on your knees!). So there is no detail in the black, or if there is detail in the black then the sky is too bright and the nice blueness is lost.

The neutral density filter sounds like a good idea in these situations. Galen Rowell used them quite often as I recall and as Gotcha mentioned. I'll see if I can get hold of one--a graduated one as Magnetic9999 suggested. I suppose I should also remember that since this is not a challenge, I can spot edit! I've seen some composite photos with lighter and darker images put together, so that also is a great idea.

Lots of experimenting to do! Thanks for the help! Any more suggestions?
07/29/2003 08:26:43 AM · #9
you posted same time as i did my example. you should look at these side by side with yours. some of yours had a blue cast that came out when i ran them through 'Levels'.

and the detail in the black comes out quite nicely. i think the compositing is a lot more hassle than just dodging the darker areas, myself.

Message edited by author 2003-07-29 08:27:44.
07/29/2003 08:33:19 AM · #10
That's pretty cool, Kollin! I do like the blackness of the *river* contrasted with the deep green of the shrubbery, but it was a little hard on the eyes! I think your example, so thoughtfully done, eases the eye strain, but preserves the contrast I want.

Pinback, and others--thanks also for your detailed critiques. I learned a lot today!

07/29/2003 11:16:42 AM · #11
I Swear by my cokin graduated gray. Although, with my camera, it causes vignetting, I have tried to compensate for it when I compose the shot so that I can get a good crop. This photo though, I didn't have my filter with me so I shot two exposures and blended them.

' . substr('//www.nordarts.com/snoqualmiepass2thumb.jpg', strrpos('//www.nordarts.com/snoqualmiepass2thumb.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
07/29/2003 01:42:50 PM · #12
I'm glad you included this image, Jo Ann, because this is the first image I heard of in which this blending took place!
07/30/2003 02:45:20 AM · #13
It almost looks as if you shot these in the middle of the day. Maybe try using a morning light or an evening light, and it may create a different effect for you. Good luck and happy shooting!
07/30/2003 04:05:19 AM · #14
What I tend to do when I get back from a great trip with photos that I'm not really all that happy with is try to work them in a more interesting way that doesn't require them to be perfect, colorful, etc. Hope you don't mind but I just played with one of your images which I thought would look nice in black and white. I'm not sure if you like this kind of thing, but I find it a nice way to save a less than perfect shot and making it something presentable.

HERE

Message edited by author 2003-07-30 04:08:07.
07/30/2003 10:02:22 AM · #15
Originally posted by PSUBecker:

It almost looks as if you shot these in the middle of the day. Maybe try using a morning light or an evening light, and it may create a different effect for you. Good luck and happy !


So true! I do have a couple of shots from the sunset time. The essential problem, it appears, is the lack of detail in the darks and the washing out of the lights. This is made even more challenging by the fact the ground in most of the shots really is black. So at sunset may lessen the difference between the darks and lights in a shot, enabling me to get more detail in the darks while preserving tone in the lights. My camera evened things out, which was okay, but only okay. Next time I go, I'll do better, I think.
07/30/2003 10:07:14 AM · #16
Originally posted by JasonPR:

What I tend to do when I get back from a great trip with photos that I'm not really all that happy with is try to work them in a more interesting way that doesn't require them to be perfect, colorful, etc. Hope you don't mind but I just played with one of your images which I thought would look nice in black and white. I'm not sure if you like this kind of thing, but I find it a nice way to save a less than perfect shot and making it something presentable.

HERE



This is a good idea, Jason, and you selected the right photo to do it with. As always, you show your talent with getting B/W tones just right. What struck me most about most of my other shots was the striking difference between the deep colors of the vegetation against the black earth, so I really wanted color. What I needed was a good balance like that found in your Almost Gone, which succeeds in getting the rich colors of the cheetah while preserving the details of the shadow and fence behind (one of my all time favorite shots, by the way!).

Message edited by author 2003-07-30 10:08:22.
07/30/2003 10:11:31 AM · #17
If I can't get an exposure right, I often do either Paint Shop Pro's "arithmetic" and average/multiply/add them together or I clone in the sky from one to the ground of the other (exposures). (gotta go to work but I'll show you one from korea later)

Message edited by author 2003-07-30 10:12:16.
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