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Chad Wanstreet's picture

Feedback Requested

This photo and I are doing a sort of a battle and I feel I have lost perspective on it as a whole. The image commemorates an emotional time in my families life and I would like to do it justice. I am thinking most of the bones are there, but keep going back and forth editorially and am curious some outside thoughts. Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts.

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joseph cole's picture

it depends on what your end vision is are you going for a dark vs. light situation if so i would just exaggerate the light side a bit more...maybe something like this

Chad Wanstreet's picture

Hey Joseph, yeah I like that little push on the lights. Thanks for the suggestion.

Andrew Williams's picture

A. It looks a bit off-level.
B. What is the subject? Is it the water or the rocky shoreline?

Chad Wanstreet's picture

Hey Andrew, yeah I feel it looks a bit off level as well and have adjusted it over and over. I think is just the image is unevenly weighted and that is throwing it.
Really the water should be more of the emphasis, but the rocks really are stealing the show.

Andrew Williams's picture

I expect this was shot with a wide-angle lens and some downward tilt. This will naturally make the trees near the top right lean toward the right, and there isn't anything to be done about that. Its physics. That makes it doubly important to get the level right and show enough of the upper left corner leaning left to balance things. I'm not saying that everything has to be level all the time. But my rule is to follow the rules unless there is a clear and reasonably evident reason why not. For example, the obviously tilted camera angles in Kazan's "East of Eden" bothered me for years until I came up with a reason to have shot it that way. (I never did find out Kazan's reason.)

Chad Wanstreet's picture

Hey Andrew yeah you are totally correct about wide angle and tilted down. I had been experimenting with that the past couple of times out and have moved away from it due to the issues it creates.

Alan Brown's picture

Hi Chad, it is easy to get so emotionally invested in an image that you lose sight. In this case I typically put to one side and revisit with a fresh perspective at a later date.

The issues I see;

1. the horizon is not level - a simple fix
2. The water takes up a large amount of real estate, but is bright and offers little detail or interest (draws the eye from the wonderful rocks.
3. The image is unbalanced - you can almost split right down the middle.

I would try cropping some of the 'heaviness' away from the left and perhaps darken the trees on the right to provide some balance.
You may want to play with dropping the exposure a little on the water also as the intensity has such a pull on they eye.

The rocks lower right form a great lead-in to the image, so be sure to keep them.

I hope this helps, and is of course entirely subjective. Looking forward to seeing the final result.

Chad Wanstreet's picture

Hey Alan,

Thanks so much for all of the feedback I will implement these ideas.

I have come back to a few times over the past months and have just not been totally happy with it any time. There are parts I like, but other things I just shot wrong. In hind sight I should have sped up my shutter and got more detail out of the water...

Thanks again!

Chris Jablonski's picture

Alan has put it well. The image is nearly there, Chad.

The image is rotated about 3 degrees clockwise, although lens barrel distortion may be part of the problem (look at the top of the river). Fully correcting this by rotation unfortunately chops off a bit of the mossy rock that nicely anchors the bottom. Depending on your skills, I'd bend just the top of the river with "warp" or whatever your software offers.

My edit uses "Liquify" in ACDSee to do this. Andrew is right about the wide-angle lens pointed down introducing the apparent tilt in the trees top right. This could be corrected the same way if desired.

I've darkened the bright areas, increased mid-tone contrast slightly using "Curves", and reduced contrast and clarity in the top left as those twigs are just a little too eye-catching near the corner. Finally I've added a weak vignette.

Hope that stimulates your own creativity.

Chad Wanstreet's picture

Hey Chris,

That's looking cool, thanks for all of the suggestions. I can take care of the distort in the image with Nuke easiest I think and will do so. I will adjust. Thanks so much for taking the time!


Chad Wanstreet's picture

Made adjustments as suggested as well as a few others.
I tried to balance things out a bit more and the boosted the saturation on the rocks as well as punched the highlights just a touch in the foreground to try and hold your eye down there. Cropped out the distracting stuff on the side of the image as well as correcting the lens distortion and rotating images.


Thanks everyone!

Alex Harrison's picture

For me, the rocks are now too bright... sorry ;)

Wondered if you have you tried a vertical crop, starting about 1/6 from left edge? Most of the interest in the photo is in that part of the frame. I guess you probably want to keep the eddies in the water though...

I think this may just be one that is a near miss.

If it was mine I'd have maybe done it like this, top area burned a bit, more contrast, more saturation and brightness reduced a tad. You probably hate it ;) :D

Chad Wanstreet's picture

Hey Alex,

That is really close to something I had a little earlier this morning, so no I don't hate it. I was just trying to push the eye over to those rocks with a little stronger highlight on them. I had the sky and background blown out more like this and changed it right before I posted it. I think I will revert and lay off the highlights some.

With respect to the crop.. yeah it did cross my mind and I may ultimately, but yeah I was trying to keep the little eddies in the water.


Chad Wanstreet's picture

OK... so I took everything into consideration and then went my own way on this a little. I realized I was really choking the reds of this location, which is one of the best parts of New Hampshire, so I adjusted that and then generally made a number of value tweaks. Big note from everyone seemed to be whites needed to be brought into check. I have done that and still tried to keep the image feeling a little optimistic.

I have resisted cropping to much because that will happen a little later, but I am preferring something that is a little more unapologetic about it being wide angle overall.

I am feeling better about it...

Thanks everyone for chiming in! I really appreciated the feedback.

Chad Wanstreet's picture

I actually didn't stop there and made a few more tweaks.