Something from the weekend, sir?



S

Steve

Guest
Hot on the heels, or should that be last but not least? Anyway, cliches aside, I've managed to put
up some of the photos I took at the weekend.

Perhaps they may be of interest, especially under the "not Wales" category ;-) (/me ducks and hides)
I'd also, genuinely appreciate a little feedback if anyone feels so motivated.

One or two of the pics I'm happy with, some less so, others confuse me; I think its a case of can't
see the wood for the trees, not knowing if I'm barking up the wrong tree (gosh, more [unintended]
cliches, sorry). Its only recently that I've delved (again) into anything more than climbing
"snapshots", partly inspired by simply getting out more when I can't climb and hence need something
to do, also inspired by "discovering" panorama shots. I also owe Paul a thanks for explaining about
"contrast masking" in Photoshop, a technique which has rescued a great number of my photos. Ta!

These are from this past weekend, although they are bundled together with other, older pics;

http://thenmc.org.uk/pages/gallery/Northumberland

The first two pics on the page. Both of these are taken at a local Country Park, Plessey Woods which
was about as far as I could get in the conditions on Saturday, popping in on my way back from the
shops! Both are panoramas but you won't get swamped with the full image straight away, it goes
thumbnail > intermediate pic > "full size" pic.

(Winter's Gibbet was taken a few weeks ago - it was a nightmare to try and rescue the foreground,
only made remotely feasible with that PS contrast thingummy)

On Sunday I headed up into the Cheviots, trying to get up toward the head of Coquetdale but the
roads were not having it. So I revisited Clennell Street, and hence have bundled a few pics in with
those from an earlier trip;

http://thenmc.org.uk/pages/gallery/Clennell_Street

The first 7 on the page. Two are panos, the remainder, er, aren't ;)

As I said, feedback would be appreciated if you've a minute, on both technical (loadsa errors, I
accept that) and arty fartyness.

I reckon I've "pano'd myself out" ;-) having recently gone mad and taken everything, well almost,
as a panorama... well, at least you learn the limitations quickly (both your own and of the
technique) !!

Cheors,

SteveO

NE Climbers & walkers chat forum; http://www.thenmc.org.uk/phpBB2/index.php

NMC website: http://www.thenmc.org.uk
 
P

Paul Saunders

Guest
Steve Orrell wrote:

> http://thenmc.org.uk/pages/gallery/Northumberland
>
> The first two pics on the page. Both of these are taken at a local Country Park, Plessey Woods
> which was about as far as I could get in the conditions on Saturday, popping in on my way back
> from the shops!

The first one is a nice mixture of tree shapes and colours, a pleasing arrangement. Surely not a
pano though? The only problem with this shot IMO is the magenta cast in the shadow. I'd use Replace
Colour to select the magenta shadow and alter the hue or reduce the saturation to give it a more
neutral shade (or blue).

The Plessey pano is also pleasing on the eye, nice lines in the picture. I'd probably chop the
left hand edge of the pano off, so that the fence leads directly to the corner of the pic. The
mess of trees on the left hand edge doesn't add anything IMO and the pano would look much neater
without I think.

I know it's hard to crop panos after you've taken them, because it makes them less panoramic. I've
tried to get into the habit of taking a wider pano than I actually want, because on a number of
occasions I'd wished I'd taken more shots than I had. The logic being that if I take more than I
want I can always crop it later, but I've then found that it's tempting to keep it, because it shows
more of the area. Question is, do you want to show the maximum area, or do you want the best looking
image? Often a hard choice, but shorter panos make better prints.

> (Winter's Gibbet was taken a few weeks ago - it was a nightmare to try and rescue the foreground,
> only made remotely feasible with that PS contrast thingummy)

Nice sky. Always a problem shooting into the sun as part of a pano.

> On Sunday I headed up into the Cheviots, trying to get up toward the head of Coquetdale but the
> roads were not having it. So I revisited Clennell Street, and hence have bundled a few pics in
> with those from an earlier trip;
>
> http://thenmc.org.uk/pages/gallery/Clennell_Street

Some of the pics don't have thumbnails.

> As I said, feedback would be appreciated if you've a minute, on both technical (loadsa errors, I
> accept that) and arty fartyness.

feint to the east

Interesting minimalist approach, but a bit too much detail in the background. Unfortunately the
background shapes seem a bit formless to me, they don't seem to make an interesting composition. A
simple line of trees might have worked better, or a featureless ridge. Foreground snow could be a
bit whiter. Promising idea but it just doesn't seem to work in this case.

February 29th crusted snow

Nice, good exposure. I don't like the trees on the right though. Some may argue that it gives the
picture balance, but I find them distracting. If you cloned them out or chopped them off you could
be in the arctic tundra somewhere. The trees spoil the impression of bleak icy wilderness IMO.
Nice textures.

February 29th - toward Coquetdale

Good exposure, nice textures and colours. Doesn't seem to be anything strong in the composition
though. Perhaps if you'd taken it more to the right and lower down you could have made the path
sweep through the picture from the left hand edge. Maybe a telephoto shot of the interesting slopes
in the middle of the pic would have worked well, with a better foreground.

leeward cornice

I'd have gone closer to the edge to see more of the slope, and to make the foreground edge go
into the corner of the frame, and to get rid of the footprints. I don't like footprints in the
snow. Some do.

scalloping

Very nice, I like this one. Good clean composition in the foreground with the gate and shadow. Only
thing that spoils it are the formless clouds, no real shape in them, just a random mess (boring
clouds are often a problem). Of course, if you'd stayed there a few hours and watched the clouds
passing you might have been able to capture a really interesting cloud pattern which would elevate
the photo to another level. Or you could paste a different sky in, or perhaps even chop it off
completely to make a square composition (cutting it just above, or even below, the tops of the
trees). Snow could be a bit whiter too.

whiteboard?

Very nice also, and no problem with clouds. Cropped a little too tightly on the left hand edge for
my liking. It's nice the way the gate shadow leads to the bottom right hand corner, but a pity about
the marks in the snow (which you could clone out with a bit of effort).

hare today

Hmm... Interesting "sod the rule of thirds" composition. Very minimalist but there are some small
details spoling it, like the little jet trail and the small cloud. You really should clone those out
for a pure blue sky. Also there's a couple of marks touching the bottom edge of the photo, I'd get
rid of those, and those odd blades of grass on the left hand edge. Whiten the snow a little and
you've got a very arty minimalist shot. Pity the horizon isn't completely straight, that would make
it very arty indeed. I'm sure some art connoisseurs could read a lot of pretentious ******** into
this pic, perhaps something to do with balancing tranquility with purity or whatever. It might even
work better with no tracks, no grass, no nothing, just pure snow.

Paul
--
http://www.wilderness-wales.co.uk
http://www.wildwales.fsnet.co.uk
http://www.photosig.com/go/users/userphotos?id=118749
 
P

Phil Cook

Guest
On Wed, 3 Mar 2004 14:44:12 -0000, Paul Saunders wrote:

>Steve Orrell wrote:
>
>> http://thenmc.org.uk/pages/gallery/Northumberland
>>
>> The first two pics on the page. Both of these are taken at a local Country Park, Plessey Woods
>> which was about as far as I could get in the conditions on Saturday, popping in on my way back
>> from the shops!
>
>The first one is a nice mixture of tree shapes and colours, a pleasing arrangement. Surely not a
>pano though? The only problem with this shot IMO is the magenta cast in the shadow. I'd use Replace
>Colour to select the magenta shadow and alter the hue or reduce the saturation to give it a more
>neutral shade (or blue).

I notice that Auto Levels and Auto Contrast have little or no effect...

Paul is a great fan of manual and so am I. At least then you know who to blame if the pic is
****. [ :) ]

>> http://thenmc.org.uk/pages/gallery/Clennell_Street

>hare today
>
>Hmm... Interesting "sod the rule of thirds" composition. Very minimalist but there are some small
>details spoling it, like the little jet trail and the small cloud. You really should clone those
>out for a pure blue sky. Also there's a couple of marks touching the bottom edge of the photo, I'd
>get rid of those, and those odd blades of grass on the left hand edge. Whiten the snow a little and
>you've got a very arty minimalist shot. Pity the horizon isn't completely straight, that would make
>it very arty indeed. I'm sure some art connoisseurs could read a lot of pretentious ******** into
>this pic, perhaps something to do with balancing tranquility with purity or whatever. It might even
>work better with no tracks, no grass, no nothing, just pure snow.

It is in thirds across the picture and the bottom half is almost in thirds horizontally. That
cloud and the tracks 1/3 from the right and the grasses on the left in the foreground and on the
horizon give a
1/3 from the left.

Crop it at 40 pix from the left to remove the grasses and trail, then 5 pix up from the bottom to
take the tracks away from the bottom edge and bingo. I kind of like the clouds up there accentuating
the blueness of the rest of the sky.

Summits and Secrets.

That age old problem of the photographer's shadow. For web use you can do a pretty good job of
making it less intrusive. http://www.p-t-cook.freeserve.co.uk/temp/DSC00581_a1.jpg
--
Phil Cook
 
S

Steve

Guest
On Wed, 3 Mar 2004 14:44:12 -0000, "Paul Saunders"
<[email protected]t.co.uk> wrote:

>Steve Orrell wrote:
>
>> http://thenmc.org.uk/pages/gallery/Northumberland
>>
>> The first two pics on the page. Both of these are taken at a local Country Park, Plessey Woods
>> which was about as far as I could get in the conditions on Saturday, popping in on my way back
>> from the shops!
>
>The first one is a nice mixture of tree shapes and colours, a pleasing arrangement. Surely not a
>pano though?

Pano = wrong choice of terminology on my part but it is a mosaic compiled from 9 shots.

>The only problem with this shot IMO is the magenta cast in the shadow.

<doh!> I didn't even see that colour cast; I was so wrapped up in trying to eliminate a problem with
the "sky" caused by sun/no sun between one shot to the next

>The Plessey pano is also pleasing on the eye, nice lines in the picture. I'd probably chop the
>left hand edge of the pano off, so that the fence leads directly to the corner of the pic. The
>mess of trees on the left hand edge doesn't add anything IMO and the pano would look much neater
>without I think.

<doh!> agreed; so bliddy obvious!

>I know it's hard to crop panos after you've taken them, because it makes them less panoramic. I've
>tried to get into the habit of taking a wider pano than I actually want,

Akshally, I've started doing that myself; trouble is remembering that aspect when processing ;-)
The crop you suggest above is so obvious once your attention is brought to it! But tht's why I
was asking for feedback; I was definetly feeling that I just couldn't see what I was looking at
(make sense?)

Thanks for your review and comments on the other photos too, given me quite a bit of food for
thought. Ta!

SteveO

NE Climbers & walkers chat forum; http://www.thenmc.org.uk/phpBB2/index.php

NMC website: http://www.thenmc.org.uk
 
S

Steve

Guest
On Wed, 03 Mar 2004 19:05:16 +0000, Phil Cook
<[email protected]> wrote:

>I notice that Auto Levels and Auto Contrast have little or no effect...
>
>Paul is a great fan of manual and so am I. At least then you know who to blame if the pic is
>****. [ :) ]

I'm still finding my way with the finer elements of Photoshop (I _hate_ that program, its just so-oo
damned powerful!! ;-) I've lately been avoiding auto-anything, except as some form of "back check"
(??) to see if my machinations had grossly distorted anything... mind you I've seen auto-levels make
more of a dog's dinner of a pic than I ever could.

>>> http://thenmc.org.uk/pages/gallery/Clennell_Street
>
>>hare today

<sniip>

>Crop it at 40 pix from the left to remove the grasses and trail, then 5 pix up from the bottom to
>take the tracks away from the bottom edge and bingo. I kind of like the clouds up there
>accentuating the blueness of the rest of the sky.

Ah, interesting bit of fine tuning there, good stuff! I wasn't sure if this shot would actually work
(at all), I'd seen quite a few tracks around but it took me a while to find some that were
uphill/away from
me. The scene initially suggested how bleak it had been the previous few days, Sunday itself was
amazing, full sun, no wind but I'd been up there two weeks previously when its was the exact
opposite. Looking at the wind-sculpting of a lot of the surrounding terrain I guess it had been
fairly inclement in the preceding couple of days. I wanted to try and encapsulate some of that
"history" in a photo of some description. There was I, out enjoying the walk and the weather,
yet for Mr. Hare it was a different ball-game.

>Summits and Secrets.
>
>That age old problem of the photographer's shadow. For web use you can do a pretty good job of
>making it less intrusive. http://www.p-t-cook.freeserve.co.uk/temp/DSC00581_a1.jpg

Another <doh!>, well sort of; I originally "included" myself in the shot just to give width to the
pano, with the intention of cropping out later. Trouble is, I couldn't see an immediate point to
crop to. The photo loses a lot of what I actually "saw", perspective at the time gave quite a superb
feel to the vista. Unfortunately it doesn't look as if any of tis has transferred into the image...
hence me leaving it as wide-angled as I have, trying to avoid losing whatever perspective is in the
photo. Looking at it again just now, I could perhaps cut in from the left-hand border right up to
the track (about 25% of the width of the pic), perhaps pinning it to the edge and "forcing the
perspective". Interesting stuff, something that so obviously worked on the ground but didn't
translate at all into finished piccy.

SteveO

NE Climbers & walkers chat forum; http://www.thenmc.org.uk/phpBB2/index.php

NMC website: http://www.thenmc.org.uk
 
P

Paul Saunders

Guest
Phil Cook wrote:

> I notice that Auto Levels and Auto Contrast have little or no effect...

Often doesn't if they're already maxed out.

> Paul is a great fan of manual and so am I. At least then you know who to blame if the pic is
> ****. [ :) ]

Indeed. I took all my shots hand held on Sunday because the light was so bright (fast shutters and
good depth of field), but in retrospect I can see a few situations that would have benefited from
tripod use. The most obvious were the panos which would have lined up better, but there were also a
few in which the foreground was a little out of focus because of insufficient depth of field.

I guess I got so used to the massive depth of field of the digital compacts that I forgot that the
300D isn't quite so forgiving. There is a DOF preview on the camera and I did try using it once but
couldn't see the result properly through the dark viewfinder with all that sunlit snow around me. I
guess I could have tried using that A-DEP mode. What would have been really nice is a lens with
distance markings on it.

>> hare today

> I kind of like the clouds up there accentuating the blueness of the rest of the sky.

See, there's always a different opinion.

> Summits and Secrets.
>
> That age old problem of the photographer's shadow. For web use you can do a pretty good job of
> making it less intrusive. http://www.p-t-cook.freeserve.co.uk/temp/DSC00581_a1.jpg

That scene looks rather familiar...

Paul
--
http://www.wilderness-wales.co.uk
http://www.wildwales.fsnet.co.uk
http://www.photosig.com/go/users/userphotos?id=118749
 
P

Paul Saunders

Guest
Steve Orrell wrote:

>> The first one is a nice mixture of tree shapes and colours, a pleasing arrangement. Surely not a
>> pano though?
>
> Pano = wrong choice of terminology on my part but it is a mosaic compiled from 9 shots.

Really? Impressive, I couldn't tell. Was it difficult to do?

>> The only problem with this shot IMO is the magenta cast in the shadow.
>
> <doh!> I didn't even see that colour cast; I was so wrapped up in trying to eliminate a problem
> with the "sky" caused by sun/no sun between one shot to the next

One of the problems of panos, you need to get it all planned in advance, wait until the light is
stable, then take them all as quickly as possible.

>> I know it's hard to crop panos after you've taken them, because it makes them less panoramic.
>> I've tried to get into the habit of taking a wider pano than I actually want,
>
> Akshally, I've started doing that myself; trouble is remembering that aspect when processing ;-)
> The crop you suggest above is so obvious once your attention is brought to it! But tht's why I
> was asking for feedback; I was definetly feeling that I just couldn't see what I was looking at
> (make sense?)

Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. It's hard to see your own photos the way that others do, that's why
it's always good to get feedback, even from non-photographers. In fact, I sometimes get the most
useful comments from non-photographers because they don't look at photos with the preconceptions
that photographers do.

Photos look different at home to the way the scene did when you photograph it. At the time you take
the photo you're surrounded by the whole scene, but when you look at the photos later, you are just
looking at tiny sections of it. Things that seem boring at the time because there's so much around,
can seem important later when you realise you didn't include them. For example you might zoom into a
waterfall because it's the most interesting thing, but later you may wish you'd included more of the
surrounding area.

I often look at photos later and wonder why I didn't do this or that. It's so obvious when you are
looking at the photos, yet not at all obvious when you are taking them in the first place.

Also, as a photographer I might attach importance to something in the picture that means something
to me for some reason (perhaps because I spent a lot of time working on a particular aspect of a
picture, or because I tried hard to include something in a composition) yet it may be of no interest
to other people who look at the photo.

As for cropping, I find it easy to crop when I take photos but I hate cropping afterwards, it's as
if the photo I took is somehow sacred. Those extra details don't seem important when I exclude them
at the time of shooting, but if I include them to give me more cropping options later I find that I
often don't want to get rid of them anymore. Maybe I'm just so used to in-camera cropping with a
zoom that I'm just not used to cropping later.

Paul
--
http://www.wilderness-wales.co.uk
http://www.wildwales.fsnet.co.uk
http://www.photosig.com/go/users/userphotos?id=118749
 
P

Paul Saunders

Guest
Steve Orrell wrote:

> I've seen auto-levels make more of a dog's dinner of a pic than I ever could.

Very true, and I always used to avoid it for that reason. I use it a lot more these days though, but
don't just click auto-levels, open the Levels window then click Options. It gives you a choice of
three modes, the first doesn't alter the colour balance, the other two do, but the last option (find
light and dark colours) usually gives the best result.

Checking the Snap Neutral Midtones box can often improve the colour balance, especially if there are
neutral grey objects in the photo, but often it doesn't work either. You can click on the grey box
and use the eye-dropper on the photo to select a midtone area to snap to. Sometimes this works well
in removing a colour cast (as with snow or water) but often it produces dire results.

Finally, there are two Clip boxes which clip a certain percentage of highlight and shadow detail
(i.e. over and underexpose). I don't like to clip too much so I set the values low, but a small
amount of clipping is often acceptable. Setting them to zero often gives a flat result, but does
prevent over and underexposure. It's often better to get a flat result and then boost the contrast
using Curves instead (which doesn't over or under-expose) or preferably use the USM contrast boost
technique which I much prefer.

So what I'm saying is, instead of using auto-levels, use the levels options and play about with
them until you get a good looking result for the photo in question. There's no single set of
settings that work for every photo, you just have to experiment, but it's often a quick way of
getting rid of a colour cast and making a photo look quite decent without a lot of fiddling around
doing other things.

A word of warning if you like using the USM contrast boosting technique (radius 250, amount
percentage 10-20%), it causes over and under-exposure if the light values are right on the edges of
the histogram. For this reason I like to leave a bit of space at each end of the histogram to allow
for this. If there isn't any, you can create some using Levels, just drag the slider on the bottom
right (underneath the slider you usually use) left a bit to darken the white values a bit. You can
always fix the levels later if necessary.

> The photo loses a lot of what I actually "saw", perspective at the time gave quite a superb feel
> to the vista. Unfortunately it doesn't look as if any of tis has transferred into the image...

Often a problem with panos. They look impressive in real life but don't look so good as a narrow
strip on a computer monitor. They would probably look good as a huge print wrapped around you, but
most print sizes are so small that panos lose impact.

The best way to prevent this is to take the shots vertically using a wide angle in order to get as
much height in the pano as possible. This makes the pano seem less wide, relatively speaking. The
wider the angle the shorter the pano and the greater the height. Short fat panos tend to look much
better than long thin ones, but if the foreground and sky are boring the interesting bit may end up
quite small and distant.

Panoramic paper made by Epson (two A4s joined end to end) has a ratio of approximately 2.8:1, while
my panoramic camera has a ratio of just
2.4:1. These look good, but anything wider than 3:1 tends to look excessively thin IMO. There is
one MF pano camera which has a huge 150 degree angle of view yet has a ratio of only 2:1, so
there's a massive amount of height in the image. This is very good IMO, I like 2:1.

Paul
--
http://www.wilderness-wales.co.uk
http://www.wildwales.fsnet.co.uk
http://www.photosig.com/go/users/userphotos?id=118749
 
S

Steve

Guest
On Thu, 4 Mar 2004 12:55:02 -0000, "Paul Saunders"
<[email protected]> wrote:

(sorry for late reply ;)

>Steve Orrell wrote:
>
>>> The first one is a nice mixture of tree shapes and
>>> colours, a pleasing arrangement. Surely not a pano
>>> though?
>>
>> Pano = wrong choice of terminology on my part but it is a
>> mosaic compiled from 9 shots.
>
>Really? Impressive, I couldn't tell. Was it difficult to
>do?

Yes and no ;-) Time consuming for me, the hard part was done
by the stitching software.

I wondered if the collection of nine shots for this mosaic
would cause problems so I put them through three different
proggies to generate the final mosaic. The results were, I
think "to be expected" because one is very much hands-on
(Panorama Tools Assembler) and the other two (Photoshop
Elements and Panavue) are pretty much automatic in how the
final image might be compiled. The branches of the hawthorn
to the left, which was the major prompt to take the photo
as a mosaic/panorama, I thought would cause a lot of
problems for the "auto" systems. This proved to be the case
(although I've had good results with the others testing
them on "horizon-panos")

If you want a shufty, I've uploaded all three "raw"
panos here:

http://thenmc.org.uk/pages/gallery/rawpans

I used PTA to generate my final image, wherein needing to
choose your own "control points" meant that its finsihed
compilation was the better of the three. The hardest part of
the whole process was choosing the best viewpoint
(yaw/pitch) for the image. The hawthorn was quite
overhanging from my position (doesn't come across in the
photo) which meant I'd to adjust both yaw and pitch to try
and get the best from the individual pics.

Trying to sort out the wonky sky also took quite a bit of
eye-boggling time (hence missing magenta cast you first
missing). Ironically, now that I've revisted those raw panos
and resized them to put a little less burden on t'internet,
there's loads (!!) I don't like about my finished image
<doh!> ;-)

SteveO

NE Climbers & walkers chat forum;
http://www.thenmc.org.uk/phpBB2/index.php

NMC website: http://www.thenmc.org.uk
 
S

Steve

Guest
On Thu, 4 Mar 2004 12:55:02 -0000, "Paul Saunders"
<[email protected]> wrote:

(sorry for late reply ;)

>Steve Orrell wrote:
>
>>> The first one is a nice mixture of tree shapes and
>>> colours, a pleasing arrangement. Surely not a pano
>>> though?
>>
>> Pano = wrong choice of terminology on my part but it is a
>> mosaic compiled from 9 shots.
>
>Really? Impressive, I couldn't tell. Was it difficult to
>do?

Yes and no ;-) Time consuming for me, the hard part was done
by the stitching software.

I wondered if the collection of nine shots for this mosaic
would cause problems so I put them through three different
proggies to generate the final mosaic. The results were, I
think "to be expected" because one is very much hands-on
(Panorama Tools Assembler) and the other two (Photoshop
Elements and Panavue) are pretty much automatic in how the
final image might be compiled. The branches of the hawthorn
to the left, which was the major prompt to take the photo
as a mosaic/panorama, I thought would cause a lot of
problems for the "auto" systems. This proved to be the case
(although I've had good results with the others testing
them on "horizon-panos")

If you want a shufty, I've uploaded all three "raw"
panos here:

http://thenmc.org.uk/pages/gallery/rawpans

I used PTA to generate my final image, wherein needing to
choose your own "control points" meant that its finsihed
compilation was the better of the three. The hardest part of
the whole process was choosing the best viewpoint
(yaw/pitch) for the image. The hawthorn was quite
overhanging from my position (doesn't come across in the
photo) which meant I'd to adjust both yaw and pitch to try
and get the best from the individual pics.

Trying to sort out the wonky sky also took quite a bit of
eye-boggling time (hence missing magenta cast you first
missing). Ironically, now that I've revisted those raw panos
and resized them to put a little less burden on t'internet,
there's loads (!!) I don't like about my finished image
<doh!> ;-)

SteveO

NE Climbers & walkers chat forum;
http://www.thenmc.org.uk/phpBB2/index.php

NMC website: http://www.thenmc.org.uk