Hal’s First

Hal’s First smallHal’s First med

My Flickr friend Hal is the first brave soul to test the critique system.

This is a pleasing image of a farm…I can see right away what attracted the eye.

At the same time, it somehow lacks focus…I am not sure what it is about. The elements are well balanced, and the composition on the large scale is good, but no one element stands out and demands my attention. I find the glimpse of the horses over the fence interesting, but the white of the shed roof, and the shed in general, keep pulling my eye away from what I want to look at. And then I think…no, it can’t be about the shed. In an ideal world the shed wouldn’t be there.

Perhaps moving to the photographer’s left a hundred yards or so would have put the shed more firmly against the bar and made it less distracting? I can’t really say as I was not there.

Then too, there might be a missed opportunity in the fence. It is a particularly attractive image element, as it is, it runs too close to the bottom of the frame. It is crowded down there. I wonder how that nice gentle sweep of white would have looked at the bottom horizon line in a suggestions of thirds (SOT) composition. That would also have put the tips of the trees at the upper SOT horizon line, and all we would have lost is some relatively uninteresting sky. Finally, it would have placed the horses at a SOT powerpoint where the eye would have been more drawn to them.

Of course I don’t know what was down below the fence…it may have been ugly…in an ideal world it would have been a nice slope of grass. Even a gravel track might have echoed the fence line and added some foreground detail without distracting too much.

Reframing the image would have meant either getting down lower, closer to the ground, or tipping the camera down. Tipping the camera would have distorted the verticals of the barn, but I’d still like to have seen that composition…just to see if it worked better.

When working in this kind of light, it is sometimes better to play it for the drama…overemphasize the dark and moody atmosphere for effect. The difficulty is that this requires a darker sky, and the foreground of this image is already tending toward too dark. The conventional solution is a graduated neutral density filter. A similar effect can be achieved in software. LightZone and Lightroom both have the tools to do it easily, and, with some work and trial and error, it can be done, more or less, in Photoshop or any editing program that uses layers and curves (Elements, PaintShop Pro, GIMP, etc.).

Hal’s First med Hal’s LightZone Hal’s GIMP3

original, LightZone, GIMP

Of course, postprocessing is as much a matter of taste as image making.

So…a pleasing image, but one that might have benefited from a slightly different view…and that almost certainly could use a bit of postprocessing.

One Response to Hal’s First

  1. Hal says:

    Thanks for the critique. I learned quite a bit from it. I know I should have walked down the road 100 feet to scale down the shed in the photo; also suggestion of thirds makes a lot of sense maybe more white fence in the bottom of the picture. I will retake the photo from a different point and pp before posting.

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