Monday, 4 May 2009

Overdone or not?

In my last post there's a picture of the clouds at sunset over Mauna Loa. I have another picture, same photos but processed on my old PC, which I think is far more dramatic and is shown above. The problem is that I like this picture, the colours are much more dramatic, but they don't reflect reality. The picture in my previous post looks much more like it did to my eye at the time. There's also a problem with saturation (some of the brighter regions are clearly blown out too much) yet I still like it.

What do you reckon? A picture that reflects what you actually see or one that changes the colours and intensity to make it look more dramatic? I'm not sure I can decide.


Zuzana said...

I think the best is when one manages to take a picture that needs no re-adjustment and reflect the reality as we see it.;)
I have to admit though that I love the picture above nevertheless.;))

Anonymous said...


This is very much a subjective thing. "Eye of the beholder" and all that. Apologies - I'm going to get all hoity-toity speak with a stick up my a%$e for a bit.

Your harshest and most important critic should be you. But in saying that it's absolutely important to ask others for their opinion - to learn from, get advise from, and understand what it is that others who look at your pictures see in them. They might point out something that you didn't see in your pictures before, or they might suggest something you didn't originally think of. That way you improve. But at the end of the day, the image that you like is the best image. If you disagree with your critics, then that's fine - its your picture dammit! You can do what you want with it!

So here's my take on your MK sunset pictures. They're great. But I think that the one in your earlier post is the better one. You see, from my point of view, no matter what you do to a picture it has to be technically correct. Whether that means getting into the shadows in HDR images and not oversaturating them, or seamless panoramics (yeah-yeah, I know, yellow fields, grrrr!!), or black & whites with great tonal range. To me, the top picture is blown out (as you say) and because of that, your eye is just drawn to that region and you don't follow the nice lines in the horizon or the detail in the cloud. The eye keeps coming back to that bright spot in the middle. So technically, it's flawed. In the other image however, the highlights are under control and I can take in the whole scene and let my eye wonder around it without being distracted and drawn by a big bright splodge. So from that point of view, the first image you posted is much better. There are other things that might be improved with the composition, for instance, (my opinion only!) but no need to go there.

Right this is getting uncomfortable. I have to remove this stick. But before I do, the great Ansel Adams once said, "You don't take a great picture, you make one." He would've loved this digital world.

(Oooh - that's better....)

Keera Ann Fox said...

I liked the retouched photo's contrast (easier to tell what is mountain and what is sky), but the colors got a little too bright.

My biggest problem, however, is dealing with pictures of total winter at this time of year. :-)

Andrew Cooper said...

I have to agree, the colors are a bit much. I thing that a slight decrease in saturation and a slight boost in contrast would be the way to go.

There are sunsets up there that are that colorful, but in this case the colors are present in an otherwise quite subtle scene.

Tom said...

All - I really appreciate the comments, thank you! Ant's comment, however, is great! That's exactly the sort of criticism I'm after, so please, Ant, don't hold back! I won't be offended!

I still regard myself as a beginner when it comes to photography and most of the stuff I'm learning is out of books, and translating that to actual pictures is quite tricky for me. The technical stuff you mentioned, Ant, is so helpful you won't believe it!

I think it's time I thought about taking a lesson or two somewhere. It's just like golf - you can become a decent hacker learning from books, but nothing compares to learning from someone in person!

Thanks again everyone.