Photo Critique 4/2/2021

I have decided that I am going to start doing a photo critique once a week and post it in my blog. This will be for both the benefit of myself and for the benefit of others to be able to see a collection of photos along with a brief analysis of why the photo worked out well or why it flopped. For now, this will just be done on random photos from my own collection. However, if there is interest, I may start allowing user submitted photos with which I will do these same short critiques with. But enough of me talking, let us look at this week’s chosen photo.

1/160 sec at F/8.0, ISO 100, 70mm (NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F/2.8 S)

This week's photo is one that I have recently revisited from my portfolio shots while looking for some new prints to put into some frames I have around my desk. This photo was taken on my way back from a morning of shooting, just at the end of the golden hour. I drove by this farm and caught a glimpse of the beautiful combinations of waning morning fog and the golden rays of sunlight poking through the clouds.


This photo was composed fairly well as a panorama along with the slanted leading line of the farming equipment with floating mist pointing off towards the complex sunrise. The farming equipment also works to add additional scaling references to the photo, not to mention the small flock of birds flying over the field on the left. The mountains additionally created a triangle shape slightly emphasizing the right-hand portion of the image, again where the sunrise is occurring. Luckily, there was plenty of cloud cover to add to the sky colors from the sun while also hiding the heavy coloring of the blue sky.


The primary weakness I had with this photo revolved around how it was edited at the time. I had desired to play on the golden hour coloring and try and make the lighting reflect what it looked like from my brief initial glimpse of the location before I stopped to take the photo. Unfortunately, this came out as making the photo a bit too soft in an effort to bring out the fog in the grasslands and overall making the photo color temperature too warm. This makes it look unnatural, with a peculiar orange haze over every portion of the photo.


So, when I desired to have a large print produced on some high quality Giclée paper I decided that I needed to redo the editing for the photo. I made many more adjustments to this run through, but with each adjustment being much milder and the results are much better for the composition. I used several layered graduated filters to slightly warm the sky, reduce highlights and saturation, along with increasing the contrast as to bring out more of the sky details. With the underside of the thicker clouds showing the truer to life darker coloring as the sun was caught behind it. I then used radial filter to reduce the intensity of the sunrays poking through the clouds, and to bring out the low-lying fog in the grasslands a bit more. Finally, I have more recently been moving away from using the Lightroom vignette adjustments and have instead moved to using a large radial filter instead. This can be used to allow much more flexibility in how the vignette adjustments are applied and I think it creates a stronger image. The resulting image is shown below, let me know what you think!

1/160 sec at F/8.0, ISO 100, 70mm (NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F/2.8 S)

Over time I have found that more localized, and less intense adjustments make stronger photos than more global and heavier set adjustments. This is because global adjustments tend to cause parts of the image to look less natural. The adjustments that are correct for the bright colorful sky are not always appropriate for the darker foregrounds, or the brightly lit but devoid of color fog covers.

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