Nature Photography Photo Critique
gold dust in sky
by barry dady
Category: Nature Photography
Fujifilm FinePix HS10
Lens: Zoom: Variable focal
Exposure time: 1/300 ,
Description: i take many shots of sun sets and cloud formations. i love to be able to show other p see all >
i take many shots of sun sets and cloud formations. i love to be able to show other people the beauty and complexity of cloud and sun arrangements.
Subject of photo
Composition & Perspective
Use of camera, exposure & speed
Color & Lighting
I am very much drawn to sunsets and sunrise images, simply because I love color so much. Obviously this is what drew you to this image, the color and cloud formations. These are indeed very compelling and beautiful. One of the biggest tendencies in photographing sunrises-sunsets is that sometimes, we focus completely on the color and forget about everything else. Some sunrise-sunset images end up simply a patch of saturated color and not much else. Sort of like an abstract background. Such an image is often compelling solely by the intensity and saturation of the colors. But after seeing several such images, they all begin to look much the same. On the other hand, a great sunrise-sunset image usually integrates the sunrise-sunset with other elements to produce a strong impact, a picture with a story so to speak. A really great sunrise-sunset image is generally a strong image that has a sunrise-sunset as one of its elements. This I think is a case of color and striking first impression trumping the other necessary requirements of a good image.
Barry, aside from the splendid colors and clouds, there is very little else in the frame to help make this image truly remarkable. It is essentially a flat image that could benefit from some foreground detail or other form element that would draw you into the image more, and provide movement and leading line and also perspective as well. I think you've attempted that with the tree silhouette in the lower left of the image. While helping to provide a sense of depth and scope, the tree is basically formless and looks to some degree like a large black blob that helps distract from the overall composition. A gnarled oak, or something with a more compelling and discernible shape and form would have provided a level of interest that is not present with the tree form in this image. Also it is so very close to the left side of the image that the viewers eye sort of gets trapped there and doesn't move around the composition freely.
I think the focus of the sky looks good. Its always difficult to tell from such a low resolution image here on the site.
Although I love the colors in this image I think the color cast could be corrected just a bit to provide a bit of contrast between the very interesting layers in the clouds and to set them off from the mountains and horizon just a little. As it is, the image is cast towards red/orange (which is not undesirable per se in a sunset image, but in this case its a bit overpowering. I think if you were to correct the color balance settings in a post processing editor such as Photoshop you'd see the white areas of the clouds pop and the blue of the sky brought out considerably while maintaining the red, yellow and orange colors in the deepest part of the clouds.
As I mentioned earlier, the colors in this image are its best qualities and do convey a sunset quite well. Despite my comments above regarding white balance and color correction, it is nonetheless a very attractive color combination for the image. But I think that it could be improved by removing some of the color cast.
Barry, I think that the image is pleasing and captures a moment that you found beautiful. If it is your intent with this image to share what you saw then you carried that off quite well. My comments regarding improvements however relate to the more technical aspects of the image and the way that a change of composition could help this image be more of a dynamic forceful experience rather than a static moment of beauty.
How to improve your photo
Consider using a tripod. Despite its tendency to slow you down and the cumbersome nature of one, it will improve your ability to capture sharp, well exposed images without fear of blurring or suffering from under or over exposure in an area you wish to capture.
Also consider using a graduated neutral density filter to darken the bright sky while allowing for an exposure of the foreground that provides detail without blowing out the highlights and detail in the sky. This will allow you to include other object elements in the sunset or sunrise image that actually contain depth,detail and form and thus lessen the flat appearance of your image.
Use a post processing application like Photoshop or Lightroom (or any other you like), to minimize the strong red/orange color cast. This color cast is present in all sunset images and sometimes the color cast is desirable and can be left alone. In this case I think it is so strong that it detracts from and obliterates much of the detail that your eye probably saw in the clouds. I think if you reduce the cast, you will see other color layers in the clouds and sky that are not apparent in the current image. Keep up the good work and continue to hone your skills in capturing such images. I have to say that sunsets and sunrises are very very difficult to get right straight out of the camera because the dynamic range of the image is so great and almost impossible for your camera to capture it and express it the way your eye saw it. I also think you can improve the clarity of the image by making a levels adjustment and perhaps even a brightness and contrast adjustment.
Just for your information, here is a link that talks some about correcting color casts in Photoshop. It might be of interest to you: http://www.zuberphotographics.com/content/photoshop/curves-color.htm
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