Request for critique. Long Beach Landscape.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Puckman, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. Puckman macrumors 6502

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    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    Yorba Linda, CA
    #1
    Another request for feedback for you guys (I learned a lot from the previous thread I posted).

    This week, post-sunset landscape. Spent an hour or so around sunset in Long Beach. Was relatively happy with the lighting, exposure, and various technical aspects of my shots. Less so with my composition (that's still where I seem to be struggling the most). Hence my request for feedback/pointers.

    I'll only preface by saying that I had to do a lot of cropping in PP, due to busy foregrounds (pavement, bikes, pedestrians) when I couldn't find a better vantage point.

    Anyway. Have at it!

    Long Beach, CA - Saturday night.

    [​IMG]
    IMG_5865 by Puckman2012, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    IMG_5872 by Puckman2012, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    IMG_5873 by Puckman2012, on Flickr
     
  2. Bear macrumors G3

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    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Sol III - Terra
    #2
    Image 5865: Seems a little flat to me. Too much dark in the the lower right quadrant.

    Image 5872: The ground under the building (rocks) could use a bit more contrast.

    Image 5873: I think a little more sky above the lighthouse would be an improvement. Maybe double the sky above the top of the lighthouse. And if it's possible, a little more contrast on the ground would help.
     
  3. Puckman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    I assume by "a little more contrast", you mean I should bring out the shadows?
    If so, yes, I think you're on to something there.
     
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #4
    No. 1is a good use of lines, but they don't lead any place. beter compositions use lines to lead the eye to a main subject. I think cropping 1/4 of the bottom would help too. Quite a bit of unetailed mass down there, especially the rocks
     
  5. Bear macrumors G3

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    #5
    And possibly a little bit off the left as well.
     
  6. sjinsjca macrumors 68000

    sjinsjca

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2008
    #6
    I'd agree. Dodge those shadows a little; bring out some detail in 'em.

    Lovely photos. I'd like to add them to my rMBP's rotating collection of desktop photos, if you have 'em in the necessary resolution once you're done. :)
     
  7. Puckman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    I'll play with them some more tonight and see what I can do. Thanks.
     
  8. kingalexthe1st, Oct 21, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013

    kingalexthe1st macrumors 6502

    kingalexthe1st

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    #8
    All in all I'd say you've got a good set of photos here, Puckman. I like the bright lights of the building contrasting with the dark areas of the quay, and the sky is superb! What I'd say about each photo is this:

    Photo 1. When I saw this I immediately liked the lights of the building, and the sky. Then I was drawn to the bollards which seem quite 'sharp' and rigid for a picture that, to me, has a warm feel to it thanks to the sunset. They sit in contrast, which I personally found a bit 'off'. The direction of the bollards, quay front and building all draw your eye to the rear of the photo where it ends in a mall(?). I know you can't replace an entire building with a bit of eye-candy, but can you see what I mean there? It draws your eye in and then...not much. I don't like to write all negative, because I really like the rest of this picture. The colours are awesomely vivid!

    Photo 2. I really dig the lighthouse in one corner and the restauarant in the other. Looks like a good use of the rule of thirds coming in to play here :) Those two structures point upwards, and sit on a level ground that make my eye roll from left to right. But those darned bollards are at it again! Their vertical nature at the bottom of the picture breaks up the horizontal 'feel' in that area. It's a shame that they're just there, you can't move them out the way and I think you'd have a tough time finding a spot where these wouldn't be in the picture. Other than that, it's a very nice pic.

    Photo 3. Ok, no bollards! The subject is the lighthouse, but I think there's too much open water in the photo. It's almost like the lighthouse is struggling against the water for pride of place, with the lighthouse being the more interesting subject, but the water being a large part of the picture and getting some dominance from that. Try cropping up from the bottom and seeing how the picture feels with a little less open space there.

    Anyway, I'm not an expert photographer, or even a decent critic. I write what I see and by nature we're more critical of others than we are of ourselves, especially on a faceless forum. You have good pics! It would be great to see some more, and see your progression :)

    Alex
     
  9. Puckman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Redid a couple based on the feedback. Let me know what you think.
    Better crop (I think), and brought out the shadows in the rocks.

    [​IMG]
    IMG_5873 by Puckman2012, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    IMG_5872 by Puckman2012, on Flickr
     
  10. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    #10
    The new 5873 is much better.

    In my opinion the new crop on 5872 is a little too tight.

    Both nice photos though! keep it up!
     
  11. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #11
    It would be nice if the lighthouse had a bit more sky but I'm guessing that is the top of the frame. It just feels a little cramped and I suspect that is in part due to the fact that the horizon line runs through the center of the frame.

    Overall the landscape crop works well.
     
  12. Shhmmooove macrumors member

    Shhmmooove

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    Feb 8, 2012
    #12
    The re-crop is certainly better - follows the rule of thirds a little more. I agree with Laird Knox that a little more sky might help. Also, a long exposure with a ND filter should help reduce pedestrians, etc and also give the water a nice smooth effect - but that just might be personal preference!

    Good work!
     
  13. Puckman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #13
    Yeah. At this point, this has been cropped beyond acceptable (I'd say what you're looking at it 25% of the original image).
    I composed for the water because the sky was uninteresting, and then ended up cropping most of the water, so the whole damned thing is pretty constrained. Not much more I can do with this particular shot.
    Will have to go back eventually and redo this shot with all the feedback you guys gave me in mind.

    Here's the unedited, uncropped, original, just to give you an idea.

    [​IMG]
    Original-2 by Puckman2012, on Flickr
     
  14. Bear macrumors G3

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    #14
    Try a crop where you don't cut any off the top and maybe about 25% of the image from the bottom. Adjust sides as you feel looks right.
     
  15. Puckman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    See original posted above. This is as much sky as you can get.
     
  16. steveash macrumors 6502

    steveash

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    Location:
    UK
    #16
    I think we all have times when there are a few things at a location that we are not happy about or cause problems in our pictures that are out of our control. I think these pictures are an example. For example, I think they would all have looked better with a higher water level thus covering some of the rather dominant rocks.

    The lighthouse location in relation to the restaurant is a bit tricky and the buildings on the horizon don't look really nice. Lighthouses are usually on headlands and you expect to see them surrounded by sea rather than buildings.

    From a composition point of view. The first shot is nice but you are too low down. I'm sure you didn't have a ladder with you but a higher view point would have helped this shot a lot. Personally I would clone out the rope/pipe in the water in the foreground, which is quite distracting. I'd also be tempted to remove the buildings on the horizon and let the sea meet the sky or add some fog to hide them away and clean up the picture.

    The second shot would probably benefitted from you standing a little further to the right. This would bring the restaurant and lighthouse closer together and help the hide the two tall buildings that are peeking out to the left of the restaurant. I'd also be tempted to clone out the wooden beam that is breaking up the water.

    For the third shot I can see that you wanted to show the water reflections but without a strong foreground element, raising the horizon line like this always looks a bit strange. As the the lighthouse is vertical I would have tried this as a vertical/portrait composition with the building on the right third with the horizon lower down to include 2/3 of your reflection and a lot more sky. Again, I'd remove the distracting horizontal boom in the water in photoshop.

    These are just suggestions. There is no right or wrong and it is certainly much easier to criticise than to do. I think you made a great job of capturing the still, clear evening and twinkling lights. The pictures have a lovely mood to them.
     
  17. Puckman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Good input, thanks Steve...

    For the record (and this is no knock on your comments, or anyone else's), but I often read sentences like "you should clone out the buildings to the left" or similar on various forums (not talking about my shots in particular, but advice people give each other).

    I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of that approach. I get that to some, who are after the perfect landscape, and want to translate what they see in their mind's eye (ie, the scene the way they wished it looked vs. the way it actually is). I, personally, do not like the idea of that degree of editing.
    It's one thing to spot removal some sensor dust, or even clone out a blemish, or piece of trash on the ground, but to artificially modify the overall scene into something else by removing (or adding for that matter) buildings, trees, etc just rubs me the wrong way.
    I get that it's quite common practice. I guess it's just not for me.

    The way I see it, if I'm going to change the scenery so much by removing rather large and static elements, then where does one draw the line? Could I clone out all the buildings and make it look like the lighthouse is somewhere in the middle of nowhere? surrounded by antarctic glaciers (photoshopped in?) etc....At what point does it stop being a photograph and becomes akin to a painting/drawing/collage?

    Anyway...My 2 cents :)

    Thanks again to all that have offered feedback. Rest assured it has all been duly noted and will be put to good use on my next outing.

    I'll throw in one more from the same shoot. Different subject matter.

    [​IMG]
    IMG_5883 by Puckman2012, on Flickr
     
  18. Shhmmooove macrumors member

    Shhmmooove

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    #18
    I think this is a great shot! Very, very good.....the only thing is the wall or rock in the bottom left corner is too much of a distraction, drawing the eye away from the main subject matter as it is is brightly lit - were you using the flash? I would either crop or burn most of it out

    But at the end of the day, you are the photographer, and it is up to you how far you go with editing - you can always have more than one interpretation of the same image, something I have done a few times.
     
  19. Puckman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #19
    No flash. This was the ambient light (there was a street light not too far, I think, and that long of an exposure, it reflected off the rock quite a bit).
    I didn't even think to burn the rock in PP. Good idea. I'll try that tonight. I agree it's a distraction.
     
  20. themumu macrumors 6502a

    themumu

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    #20
    It's a fine line, and ultimately, at least you can pick where to draw it. The sort of editing Cheese&Apple did on a shot here: http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=18180367&postcount=25 is very interesting. It definitely warps reality in a somewhat artificial way, but at the same time I can appreciate the result, especially given the historical nature of the subject. This sort of thing can be very context dependent, and it's good to keep it in mind, as on occasion it can be quite appropriate.

    Sometimes it can be good to get out of the bounding box of "photography" and explore other artistic expressions.
     
  21. Puckman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #21
    I know what you mean, and it's certainly a personal choice for each person where to draw the line.
    I think the photo you just linked to is fantastic. Cheese&Apple's edit doesn't bother me in the least because, to me, all the objects that have been cloned out are small and do not change the overall composition. It's an old tower against a cloudy sky on an empty hill. Both before and after. It's not like he edited out skyscrapers sitting next to it. (That to me would be unacceptable, in my photos).
    Regardless, your point is certainly well taken :)
     
  22. steveash macrumors 6502

    steveash

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    #22
    Too many years doing commercial work I'm afraid. I've removed more acne and power lines than I care to remember! I do agree it is usually nice to keep things as they were if possible. However what we capture in camera can be very different to what we can see. It also depends if you are aiming to capture a subject or produce a piece of artwork. If it's art then there should be no limits in how far you go to express yourself.
     
  23. kingalexthe1st macrumors 6502

    kingalexthe1st

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    #23
    And it's this reasoning that allows me to happily get rid of distracting elements in a photo that weren't so distracting at the time I took it. I want people to feel the same about a subject through the photo as when I took it, and that may involve removing small objects / light pollution (and the rest). For me, it's about conveying the scene. There's always the possibilty of editing 'too much', but that's a boundary I set for myself. Every photographer has their own boundaries when it comes to how much they are willing to change the original photo.

    Alex
     
  24. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

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    #24
    Excuse my ignorance, but what do you mean by burn?
     
  25. Puckman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #25
    I was responding to this:

    For once, I'm the one explaining lingo! (Usually, I'm the newbie)
    "burn" means to darken the exposure on a given area of the photo (opposite to "dodge").

    In this case, it was being suggested that rock was too much of a distraction, and short of cropping it out, or cloning it out, I could simply darken it to the point where it quit being a distraction.
    Since this shot is already pretty heavily cropped, I will indeed attempt to burn the rock tonight and post the results later on.
     

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