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Looking for improvement This is the e-group critique board. If you post a picture here it will be assumed that you are looking for comprehensive technical feedback - both good and bad, but always respectful. Only post pictures here if you can deal with potentially negative constructive criticism. Anyone is qualified to comment and post feedback, and everyone is encouraged to do so. NB: "Looking for Improvement" is the place to post any pictures you would like advice on improving, no matter how bad you might think they are.

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Old 8th August 2011
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Trouble at Mill

Some of you may remember that I recently posted this image of a windmill near where I live.



The general consensus was that the processing was OK but I'd had a bad day at the office with the composition, so I decided on a re-shoot. On this occasion I arrived with more time to spare before the sunset and could see where I'd gone wrong. I'd stationed myself on a raised bank above the road, hemmed in by a wheat field to my left and a telegraph pole immediately behind. I was limited on how much to the left of the mill I could include by a 30mph limit sign which was threatening to encroach within the frame. OK, I could have cloned that out but it's not something I like to do.

More to the point, I could have given myself much more room by crossing the road and entering a field in which the wheat had already been cut, which is exactly what I did this time. I'm still not sure I nailed it, however, and I very nearly blew it completely.

For each composition I took a series of bracketed exposures, each on a 4 second delay to avoid shake, with the intention of tonemapping later. I had failed to take into account just how fast the clouds were moving and that delay between exposures was crucial, they just didn't line up well enough to prevent blurring when processed. This was a stupid mistake because the shutter speed was easily fast enough to prevent camera shake without the delay. Luckily, it's amazing how elastic a low ISO raw file is, especially when you have plenty to choose from! Who says 4/3 sensors have a limited DR?

But what about the composition? I think I achieved better positioning of the mill in the landscape shots. I also tried a portrait composition and a square crop, as was suggested last time I posted but I'm not so sure I got the optimum placement of the mill in these. Comments will be most appreciated and I can always do another re-shoot!









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Old 8th August 2011
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Re: Trouble at Mill

I actually prefer the original one John.

I have to ask, is there not a better viewpoint you can get where the hedgerow is not in front of the subject?

Possibly from the front with a wide angle looking slightly upwards to put it against the evening sky. For for me the hedgerow is the thing that spoils the composition and stops it being a great picture.
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Old 8th August 2011
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Re: Trouble at Mill

Hi John - I have so much trouble with composition that I probably shouldn't even comment.
But just from a viewer's point of view, I like the original one better too, although possibly the windmill being on the right of the other photos is better.
I like the first one because my eye is drawn into the patch of sun by the windmill and thus to the subject whereas with the other photos the sky seems to become the main POI.
Just my thoughts.
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Old 8th August 2011
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Re: Trouble at Mill

I can appreciate the constraints on the original shot, posts, signs roads etc. It's a case of "you had to be there" to get a feel of the limits and possibilities.

However: Composition: I don't prefer the first one, I think the windmill is "looking out of shot" to the left, rather like a person walking out of shot. The colours are, however, just excellent.

With that in mind - I go for the first one of the re-shoot, even if the colours are not as intense as the original. I think it's the stongest of the second set of pictures, followed closely by the fourth one.

On a technical note, and looking for perfection, do I see the hint of halos around the trees? These are difficult to avoid with HDR or even with the Shadows and Highlights adjustments. Still, think how bad the halos would be if you had tried to dodge and burn it under the enlarger :-)

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Old 8th August 2011
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Re: Trouble at Mill

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Originally Posted by OlyPaul View Post
I actually prefer the original one John.

I have to ask, is there not a better viewpoint you can get where the hedgerow is not in front of the subject?

Possibly from the front with a wide angle looking slightly upwards to put it against the evening sky. For for me the hedgerow is the thing that spoils the composition and stops it being a great picture.
Thanks Paul, maybe I'm trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear! This seems to be the only location to get a clear (apart from the hedge) view of the mill. The approach to the mill is along a short lane hemmed in by trees and on the other side from where I was standing there are houses, but how close to the mill I'm not sure. I've been assuming that the lane to the mill is private, as it's now a private dwelling, however I see from the map that the lane continues past to another house and I might be able to gain access. It's certainly worth extra investigation on foot, but I'm not too hopefull.
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Old 8th August 2011
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Re: Trouble at Mill

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Originally Posted by Floribunda View Post
Hi John - I have so much trouble with composition that I probably shouldn't even comment.
But just from a viewer's point of view, I like the original one better too, although possibly the windmill being on the right of the other photos is better.
I like the first one because my eye is drawn into the patch of sun by the windmill and thus to the subject whereas with the other photos the sky seems to become the main POI.
Just my thoughts.
Lynn, I think we all have trouble with composition from time to time, probably because what makes a "good" composition is so personal and inexact. Great light is easy to identify, exposure is either good or it isn't (within certain tollerances), sharpness if easy enough to spot but composition has no such definition, other than a few "rules" which, if we slavishly followed them would make for very boring photographs and often don't suit a landscape because of other compositional restraints anyway.

So of course you should comment. In fact, commenting on the composition of others is a great way to learn and develop your own style. It makes you think about what you like and don't like and it's easier to be objective about the work of another photographer rather than your own, which often comes with emotional ties and a clouded judgement from having been there at the time of exposure.

You make a couple of good points about the bright patch of sun drawing the eye to the subject in the original; the point of greatest contrast in a picture often acts as a focal point and if it coincides with a physical focal point the effect can be very strong. Does it compensate for the mill being wrongly placed too near the left of the image? Hmmm, I'm not sure if it is that strong.

Your other comment about the sky in the other shots being the main POI is also good. I think you are right, the sky is strong and does overwhelm the mill, which is partly in silhouette anyway, reducing it to a bit part within the composition useful only for providing a sense of scale and an anchor point for the sky. But does that matter? From my point of view on a personal level, no it doesn't - were back to personal preferences. However, if I ever want to try to sell an image like this it certainly does matter how others percieve the composition so thank you very much for sharing your thoughts.
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Old 8th August 2011
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Re: Trouble at Mill

Quote:
Originally Posted by snaarman View Post
I can appreciate the constraints on the original shot, posts, signs roads etc. It's a case of "you had to be there" to get a feel of the limits and possibilities.

However: Composition: I don't prefer the first one, I think the windmill is "looking out of shot" to the left, rather like a person walking out of shot. The colours are, however, just excellent.

With that in mind - I go for the first one of the re-shoot, even if the colours are not as intense as the original. I think it's the stongest of the second set of pictures, followed closely by the fourth one.

On a technical note, and looking for perfection, do I see the hint of halos around the trees? These are difficult to avoid with HDR or even with the Shadows and Highlights adjustments. Still, think how bad the halos would be if you had tried to dodge and burn it under the enlarger :-)

Pete
Pete, I like the colours on the original too! Unfortunately sunsets never repeat themselves exactly and the more I view this one the greater my shame at such a compositional glitch! Your preferences for 1 & 4 from the re-shoot echo my own thoughts.

I think you are right about the halos. I tried to be as restrained as possible with the Highlights and Shadows adjustments but once you start playing with those tools it is in effect an HDR image. When I enlarge the image on screen the haloing (is that a word?) seems to disappear so I'm hopeful it won't notice on a print. The question is, of course, are they good enough to print?
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Old 10th August 2011
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Re: Trouble at Mill

John, I prefer your second shot for catching the sunbeams which last just a few minutes. From my perspective I am seeing too much sky in every shot which overwhelms the mill, which is your subject. Try cropping half the sky in the last 4 versions. Exposures in all are excellent.
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Old 10th August 2011
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Re: Trouble at Mill

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Originally Posted by pandora View Post
John, I prefer your second shot for catching the sunbeams which last just a few minutes. From my perspective I am seeing too much sky in every shot which overwhelms the mill, which is your subject. Try cropping half the sky in the last 4 versions. Exposures in all are excellent.
Thanks Mark, I see what you mean. The sky does lend itself to cropping on most of them, putting more emphasis on the mill.
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Old 10th August 2011
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Re: Trouble at Mill

Quote:
Originally Posted by pandora View Post
John, I prefer your second shot for catching the sunbeams which last just a few minutes. From my perspective I am seeing too much sky in every shot which overwhelms the mill, which is your subject. Try cropping half the sky in the last 4 versions. Exposures in all are excellent.
Or try cropping the foreground, that way the bottom border is the line of bushes/trees. To my eyes this pulls the emphasis onto the sky against which the windmill becomes a feature.

For the 2'nd one (30_e_r...) I'd leave the bottom alone and make a small crop at the top, but more importantly I'd slightly darken the image so that we lose most of the foreground colour/form.

Nick
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Re: Trouble at Mill

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Originally Posted by Nick Temple-Fry View Post
Or try cropping the foreground, that way the bottom border is the line of bushes/trees. To my eyes this pulls the emphasis onto the sky against which the windmill becomes a feature.

For the 2'nd one (30_e_r...) I'd leave the bottom alone and make a small crop at the top, but more importantly I'd slightly darken the image so that we lose most of the foreground colour/form.

Nick
Another good suggestion, Nick. My original thought was to include a narrow strip of stubble at the bottom to help define the silhouetted hedge. Cropping would stop it drawing the eye below the mill, focussing all the attention on what's happening above.
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Re: Trouble at Mill

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Originally Posted by Zuiko View Post
Thanks Mark, I see what you mean. The sky does lend itself to cropping on most of them, putting more emphasis on the mill.
6:50AM - John, I am presently on the second day of a 2 week getaway so this is from my laptop.
Our weather is cold, wet and utterly miserable, which yesterday didn't stop me making the most of what I could under gloomy grey skies!
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Old 11th August 2011
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Re: Trouble at Mill

Is this the mill at Thaxted, John?

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Old 11th August 2011
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Re: Trouble at Mill

John
I think the last one has some rather subtle but beautiful light around the Mill. If you were to crop the gaps in the clouds at the top and the much of the darks at the bottom then you end up with a letter box/panorama shape and I think nice balance. But then, just an opinion.
Jim
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Re: Trouble at Mill

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Originally Posted by pandora View Post
6:50AM - John, I am presently on the second day of a 2 week getaway so this is from my laptop.
Our weather is cold, wet and utterly miserable, which yesterday didn't stop me making the most of what I could under gloomy grey skies!
Hi Mark, sorry to hear your weather is not up to much, but glad you are still making the most of it. Hope it improves for the rest of your holiday.
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