A Spot of Landscaping

So, a few weeks ago I attended a meeting at our local camera club.. it was a competition night for Printed images, and I along with many others sat anxiously as our entries were raked over by the external Judge. A somewhat disapponting night for my shots but that's not the point of this post.

During the competition, i did spot some beautifully landscapes from one of the club veterans - both of which were very highly rated, and rightly so. One of of an early morning vista of hilly countryside, not dissimilar to the image below (minus the castle and Sun beam).

Getting home, I looked up the photographers portfolio and took the decision to that I needed to use this as a opportunity. Here was an opportunity to glean some valuable tips from experienced landscape photographer. After all, that was reason for joinng the club in the first place.

The very next week, I ambushed Gerald, and presented a few of my images. Gerlad was very keen to offer advise, and offered to setup a call to talk through each of my images.

So here's wat I learned in the following conference call.. Below is an Image I covered in a previous blog about 'Sharpening'. An Image I was very happy with, but much to my dismay, Geradld ran through a litany of changes that the image needed....

  • Cropping. Now, bear in mnd this was already a crop of a much wider image. The key intent here is to identify the focus of the image.. and this has a few too many... The castle on Centre Right, The forest in the foreground, the Canopy Building on Centre Left... ? The viewer is confused where they shoud be centering their attention. So the first task was to crop out the Canopy and a significant portion of the foreground trees. Leaving enough to frame the bottom line and provide a solid base.

  • Remove random distractions. Gerald immediately spotted 2 white artifacts sitting in the grass within the mid-ground. They look lack Metal boxes or Headstones. I hadn't even once spotted these through all the work I'd done on his image, but now tI couldn't see past them. So these needed removing.

  • Narrowing the Focus. Although we had already cropped to remove distracting elements, there was still somthing about the row of gree trees in bottom left. The provide a pleasing counterbalance to the castle, However their effect was diminished due to the additional trees behind them. So task was to clone out the mid ground trees directly left of the castle... This also has the effect of cleaning up the diagonal horizon line of the central hill.

  • Careful Cloning. The above was pretty tricky, and required careful work in PS to prevent any repeating patter appearing through the cloning process. Trick is to sample from multiple different areas. Another trick here was to improve the canopy of left-most of the 4 trees. In the above there is a 5th tree just behind and too the left. However, to remove this would be very difficult without damaging the tree in the front. So I applied cloning of the bark to connect the trunk of the rear tree to the branches of the front, giving the impression it's all 1 tree.

  • I think this is now a much stronger image. Though I'm still in 2 minds about the limp looking flagpole in the background, but have held it in for now. The next PDI comp is coming up and will see how it fares.

In similar vein, we went through a series of other shot's with significant amounts cropping, a cloning. I must admint I was very surprised at just how much cloning was involved in these landscape shots.. far more than I had been comfortable with, but I now see the genre in a different light. I certainly would not let Gerald out loose in a UNESCO site with a digger... there'd be very little left after he removed walls, buildings, trees, people, and even mountains !! :-)

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