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Experiment in Photographic Vision – Brock’s Results

First, let me say that I didn’t find this quite as easy as I expected!  As I’ll explain below, some images were easier to work with than others.  Anyway, I’ll insert my results below and offer commentary on why I did what I did and what I was thinking (or not thinking!) at the time.

The first image is John’s.  I’m including both the original and my result for comparison below.

John’s original image


Brock’s rendition

What struck my about this image first of all was that it was shot against the light and the best part of the image was lost in shadow!  I like the symmetry of the scene and I liked the brightly coloured doors – each a different shade.  So I decided that I wanted to concentrate on the symmetry and colours.  How to do that I really wasn’t sure.  But it occurred to me that this might be an opportunity to try out HDR.  The results I’ve seen from others playing with HDR software have often been a little over the top, seeming to be overly sharp and contrasty… but that might be just the trick for this image!  So after installing Luminance HDR from Sourceforge (free to play) I made a few attempts to get a result more in line with what I was seeing in my mind’s eye.  I honestly don’t know what I did exactly, but eventually I got something that seemed OK which  I then adjusted in Photoshop to the image presented here.

A few things I considered along the way… whether to keep the short pole on the right roof… whether I needed an odd number of buildings… whether the single gap you can see through between the buildings was important… how best to crop.

In the end, the gap was deemed necessary and interesting as you can sort of see the ocean through it, providing context (although a little less than I wanted).  The gap determined the number of buildings to include.  Cropping was done to give more of a panoramic feel.

It’s a little too ‘HDR’ for me to be entirely comfortable with, but it does present what I saw in my head… perhaps not as elegantly presented as someone with more digital editing skills would manage.

Next I went to the first image provided by Frank.  This one was trouble for me right from the start.  I suppose I wasn’t sure what vision I had for it and the wire fence was a problem to me aesthetically.  I didn’t want to spend all my time with the clone tool, removing the fence so I concentrated instead on what I liked about the image.  Before I explain further, here are the before and after shots.


Frank’s first image – unedited.
Brock’s take on Frank’s tree/sun image

The sun was of prime importance to me, so I worked with that first.  Cropping was done to discard the upper sky I didn’t consider as important, and also brought the sun out of the center of the final image.  I added some flare in Photoshop… not yet sure if that’s a bit over-done!… and played with the levels to bring the dark side of the trees into view.  What I’m not happy with yet is having the sun almost centered left-right.  However, the tree trunks seemed to balance better with the crop I settled on, resulting in the crop presented here.

Frank’s second image held more promise to me.  In my mind, this one was easier to work with and offered several different variations.  The images, before and after, are as shown below:

Frank’s original image
Brock’s rendering of Frank’s second image

I have to admit to being a bit lazy here.  I wanted the extraneous ‘stuff’ in the bright area beyond the door arch to be gone.  I could have carefully cloned it out, but instead I adjusted exposure and levels until much of the outdoor detail vanished.  What was left was then cloned out.  An unwanted result was the reddish tone in the stones at the very top of the arch.  Given more time, this could be better handled I think!  After that, I cropped to take the silhouette out of the center and over to the right and removed some of the darker shadows that didn’t contribute much.  The image was desaturated a little and the contrast was boosted with sharpening etc.  Depending on the final size it’s viewed at, it might present more ‘graphically’ than I intended.  But overall, I think the general idea of what I wanted to see shows through.

I noted that there were many options here… black and white was also considered and ultimately discarded (I just wanted a slight bit of warmth in the stones) and more of the stones could have held detail if the levels were dealt with differently.  I wanted the focus to be on the bright area and woman, rather than in the almost-visible details of stones in the dark shadows so I allowed some of that detail to fall to black.

My own image.  I suppose I should present what I saw in my own image, for later comparison with what Frank and John saw!  As I’ve done above, the following thumbnails represent the original file and in this case, TWO renderings.  I’ve included two because when I first worked with this image about 6 years ago, I ended up with two variations that I liked and found complimented each other when hung together.

Brock’s original image
Brock’s variation #1
Brock’s variation #2

The original raw file was shot with my old D1X, looking up toward the brighter sky, looking to add some detail in the flower petals.  I was discouraged when I saw the raw files on my screen, but after some Photoshop work to pull something out of the murk, I got an image that was closer to what I had seen in my mind as I shot the images.  In the end I added a watercolour paint effect and decided that was where to stop.  I’d like to go back to this one someday to see if I can do a better job six years later.

I will see what I can do to link these posts to the discussion forum so that we can discuss the exercise further if desired.

I’m happy to try this again in a while and I’d like to thank John and Frank for giving it a go this first time out!

One thought on “Experiment in Photographic Vision – Brock’s Results

  1. Profile photo of John
    John says:

    Ok Brock. Great job and I have enjoyed this exercise. Wasn’t sure I understood it and wasn’t sure I would offer any challenges to you and Frank. You are going to make me put my results into our new web site. Instead of the drop box. And it was so easy! LOL. So it might take me a little time to place my images into this forum but it will be done. It may take me an extra day but I will work it between now and Wed. Sorry if I have delayed. I am done. Just placing them here. Working on it! I expect I am going to be a little different and I expect you and Frank to question my methods as you both see fit. I do have several versions of Frank’s and your image but I shall only post the “final: choice. Afterwards, if I don’t get shattered by yours and Frank’s comments I would like to share my additional versions. Yes I did like the vision you have of my image. Recently saw it at the beach in April…why was I at the beach on a cold day? Anyway, as I drove away the last morning I drove past these little houses. Sun is rising behind them and I did shoot in RAW. So I liked the results.

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