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Dylan Miller's picture

So small, yet so big

This is a scene from a piece of wood that had cup lichen growing on it. Any advice on how I could make this more effective, or appear like a full size landscape?

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Chris Jablonski's picture

I think the give-away that this is small-scale is the shallow depth of field which is traditionally characteristic of macro images, Dylan. Today, with digital capture, focus stacking could get you front-to-back sharpness. Obviously, this would require a re-shoot. I note you're a macro man, and have some great images in your portfolio, where the shallow depth of field is not a problem in itself. However, given your stated aim here, I'd be using the stacking technique.

Given adequate overall sharpness, you could then create atmosphere and a sense of depth with tonal changes, haze and lowered clarity (micro-contrast in fine detail & texture) in the ore distant parts to mimic the effects of distance and aerial moisture

Dylan Miller's picture

Thanks Chris, believe it or not, this image is stacked with about 40 images already. In many of these "landscapes," however, I've noticed that making the entire photo in focus eliminates the feeling of depth and makes it feel flat and lifeless. I suppose I could re-edit and add fog and haze (like I did with my moss pine trees in my portfolio). I could also be on the lookout for size differences, leading lines, color, etc. that can contribute to a sense of depth. This is my challenge!

Chris Jablonski's picture

My apologies, Dylan! I had no idea. You obviously know what you're doing. I've never used stacking yet. I'm curious that your EXIF here suggests you used f/2.8. Would you have used that for each "slice"? I'd have thought you'd start with something like f/11. Just curious.

As more of a landscaper, it immediately struck me that even using the widest available aperture on any real-world lens, there would never be such marked blurring in the distant parts if the foreground was in focus. So I think you've simply gone a bit far.

But I still suspect that lower contrast, rather than sharpness, is what characterises distant parts of a landscape scene. I like using long teles, and the detail is stil there to a reasonable degree in the distance, but harder to discern because atmospheric haze lowers contrast.

And I must start stacking myself...

Vijay Mewada's picture

Hi Dylan. I hugely admire and appreciate your technics and skills through your glaring achievements.

However, at the risk of being loner, expressing my opinion. I could not identify any central thought in this frame. Story, concept, reason, purpose are other words. This can be interpreted and achieved differently by creative minds.

"like a full size landscape", too is ambiguous and unclear.

Chris Jablonski's picture

Pretty clear to me, Vijay: this is like a cliff covered with vegetation up top, with the precipice on the left.

Dylan Miller's picture

Thanks Vijay, that is something to consider. For my pieces I want to draw the viewer into the piece for them to use their imagination to explore my tiny landscapes. I want the to landscape feel familiar, yet alien. All of these scenes can fit under a footprint, so I hope it will increase the viewers appreciation of what lies under their feet every day. I want to inspire mindfulness. But, I agree. Giving the sense of story or something more to be discovered would give more weight to these scenes.

Alan Brown's picture

In general I would agree with Chris, but I also feel the image offers a lot as-is.
Focus-stacking would definitely allow you to have greater depth of focus throughout the image.

Just as a test I tried cropping your original a little as I feel the dead space adds a little heaviness on the left. Just adding for comparison.

Dylan Miller's picture

Thanks, that also brings the composition together quite nicely. It brings focus to the diagonal lines that follow the light rays, and the row of large cups on the left third, while being intersected by the abrupt ending of the "cliff."

Chris Jablonski's picture

It's a point of principle that I have to disagree with Alan (very politely, of course!). ;-)

I like that void on the left over the precipice, and Alan's crop feels to me cramped on the left. I would like more of a hint as to what's "over the cliff", which is why the blurring is frustrating for me.

Just my own subjective reactions.

I really like the idea you're pursuing here Dylan, which is more evident in your portfolio than I realised. Keep showing us what you come up with.

Alan Brown's picture

That's fine Chris, in no way do we need to agree. I do see your point and in some ways agree, but feel the extra weight tugs the eye from the interesting foreground.

Perhaps both have their place, formulating slightly different stories