Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Landscape & Nature Photography => Topic started by: dwdallam on October 23, 2012, 04:17:04 AM

Title: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 23, 2012, 04:17:04 AM
After a long hiatus from landscape into commercial portfolios for models and the like, and commercial photography, I'm feeling myself wanting to do more landscape. It's been so long since I've done it seriously, I feel less than adequate in doing it again. (Not that when I was doing it I was any good then either--lol.)

I have learned a lot of things I would not have learned doing landscape though, and those lesson carry over into landscape. Instead of writing why or what I'm doing, I'll just ask a couple of questions with examples.

The bottom of the image. Do the rocks coming into the frame ruin the image? Compare it to the image below that, which is similar, but without rocks at the bottom of the frame.

(http://dwdallam.com/WP/wp-content/gallery/landscape/2006_04.28_TrinidadFog003.jpg)

(http://dwdallam.com/WP/wp-content/gallery/landscape/2006_04.28_TrinidadFog016.jpg)


Same thing here. Boats on the left chopped in half.

(http://dwdallam.com/WP/wp-content/gallery/other/2006_06.03_TrinidadBoats005.jpg)

Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: stamper on October 23, 2012, 04:40:27 AM
Personally I would keep the rocks in but remove your lettering from the images. It detracts from any merit the images have.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 23, 2012, 04:49:33 AM
Personally I would keep the rocks in but remove your lettering from the images. It detracts from any merit the images have.

Can't do the letter removal. People end up using my images without paying for them. I know it does detract, but what can you do? I can try to add a mark that is less obvious. Any suggestions?
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: stamper on October 23, 2012, 04:56:39 AM
From my understanding of the issue there isn't anything you can do. This is a hazard of displaying anything on the web. Keep displaying your images without the lettering and forget about what others do.  :)
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 23, 2012, 05:12:24 AM
If you see my site, those images are for sale commercially and for personal use. I can't just let them fly. The way I figure it, I work hard on my photography and I need to get paid. If people like art then they can pay for it. Otherwise, they can go without.  really wish it weren't that way becsaue it's counter to my intuition-that we should share and rejoice in all our humanity. Sadly, that worldview is not in vogue, nor does it afford a living.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: kikashi on October 23, 2012, 02:41:22 PM
If you see my site, those images are for sale commercially and for personal use. I can't just let them fly. The way I figure it, I work hard on my photography and I need to get paid. If people like art then they can pay for it. Otherwise, they can go without.  really wish it weren't that way becsaue it's counter to my intuition-that we should share and rejoice in all our humanity. Sadly, that worldview is not in vogue, nor does it afford a living.

Point taken, although I wonder if given the tiny size of these images you aren't being a touch hypersensitive. In any event, I can't exclude the distraction of the lettering, which is enormously more intrusive than anyone else has ever used here, sufficiently to form an opinion of the shot. If you watermark images like that on your site as well, I rather suspect you lose a significant number of sales.

Jeremy
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: rgs on October 23, 2012, 05:49:23 PM
I don't object to the watermark too much and it does seem to be necessary at times. I generally only post smaller images online and watermark any full size ones.

As to the rocks, I like the clean look of the second shot but the perspective of the first. Maybe cropping (or cloning out) just the smaller rocks at the very bottom would be the best of both worlds.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on October 23, 2012, 08:32:41 PM
If you see my site, those images are for sale...

Out of curiosity, how many have you already sold of those rocks?
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 24, 2012, 03:59:37 AM
Point taken, although I wonder if given the tiny size of these images you aren't being a touch hypersensitive. In any event, I can't exclude the distraction of the lettering, which is enormously more intrusive than anyone else has ever used here, sufficiently to form an opinion of the shot. If you watermark images like that on your site as well, I rather suspect you lose a significant number of sales.

Jeremy

I thought about the size, but they are 800px wide too. That's more than enough to pirate and use in a website by shrinking them down to 400px or even 200px wide. I've given the watermarking a lot of thought, and I'm not set on anything yet. I can change it site wide quite easily. You have me thinking about it again.

And if I had them at 1400px wide with no watermark, yes, they would be more impressive, but. . . .
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 24, 2012, 04:05:19 AM
Out of curiosity, how many have you already sold of those rocks?

An interesting question, although not relevant to the post. I haven't ever tried to sell it, and no one has ever seen it before now. Nor is the site ever been marketed. It's brand new. I uploaded anything I had that I thought might be even just some what appealing to someone, since if I only uploaded what I thought were my best images, I'd have maybe a total of three images on my site.

And I've learned from doing model stuff that many people like the shots I hate. I'm very hard on myself, to a fault.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: bill proud on October 25, 2012, 11:57:51 AM
Hi,

Yes I would crop out the rocks running through the middle bottom of the frame but there is more than just this for a good landscape. You changed the comp slightly in the second and eliminated the larger rock on the right altogether, which had served as an anchor to the image. All your corners are floating in space, if this makes sense?

I find nothing compelling about either image. What makes me want to go further? What draws me in? Things such as extraordinary lighting such as sunset/sunrise, or mists, or sun in frame. You aren't close enough to the beach to use the waves coming ashore as a draw either. Nor are they crashing ashore as a dynamic.

The boat shot is similarly composed. Nothing going on there either. And they are facing away from the camera. It is like photographing wildlife someone told me. "No one buys a butt shot". 

I saw some of your model images and they are much better composed. Use the same techniques. Get closer.

Hope this helps.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: sdwilsonsct on October 25, 2012, 01:07:03 PM
I like the composition of #2, the edge of the surf draws in my eye. OTOH the colours are also a bit different.
I do not like the watermarks, though I understand your concerns.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: Wim van Velzen on October 25, 2012, 02:31:59 PM
The chance that people who don't mind to steal the use of an image, will be paying costumers because you watermarked the image, is fairly small.
The number of potential paying costumers that are too annoyed to consider the use of your watermarked images might be higher. Most designers, publishers etc use small res website images in the first phases of their projects.

Therefore I do not botherntoo much about protecting my website images.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 25, 2012, 06:20:18 PM
Hi,

Yes I would crop out the rocks running through the middle bottom of the frame but there is more than just this for a good landscape. You changed the comp slightly in the second and eliminated the larger rock on the right altogether, which had served as an anchor to the image. All your corners are floating in space, if this makes sense?

I find nothing compelling about either image. What makes me want to go further? What draws me in? Things such as extraordinary lighting such as sunset/sunrise, or mists, or sun in frame. You aren't close enough to the beach to use the waves coming ashore as a draw either. Nor are they crashing ashore as a dynamic.

The boat shot is similarly composed. Nothing going on there either. And they are facing away from the camera. It is like photographing wildlife someone told me. "No one buys a butt shot". 

I saw some of your model images and they are much better composed. Use the same techniques. Get closer.

Hope this helps.

First let me say that I didn't post these images because I thought they were great images, although I think they are pleasant to look at. I posted them because I thought they were good examples of the question I had.

Yes, all of what you say makes sense, although I don't believe any of it can be applied like a "rule" is applied, as your critique seems more specific to what pleases your senses--and that's not a bad thing either, since photography isn't all about a rule but how it affects people. So I appreciate your critique, which causes me to rethink things in a different manner.

Addressing your issues, for instance, you can't always anchor a corner with information, nor should you want to in many instances, where something coming into the corner of an image may detract and not add to it. I mean landscape 101 is foreground/mid-ground/background, for sure, but not necessarily a rock vs the froth of the breakers on the beach. In image two, for instance, and contrary to your evaluation, the froth of the beach is an extremely visible diagonal line leading the eye directly to the midpoint of the image.

As for the boats, for sure shooting the butt of an animal isn't going to do anything for anyone. But the front of those boats is about as interesting as the back of a rabbit. Shooting them from behind like that shows their names, first off, and then some detail about them, such as fishing poles, engine stacks, lifeboats, etc. None of that would show if they were facing the camera.

And I'm again not saying that the images are successful, only that there is another legitimate evaluation based on your criteria.

Which brings us back to the cropping issue of the boats on the left and the rocks below the beach image, which might be a rule that needs not be broken most of the time, and maybe in these images, which is what I am asking.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 25, 2012, 06:21:17 PM
The chance that people who don't mind to steal the use of an image, will be paying costumers because you watermarked the image, is fairly small.
The number of potential paying costumers that are too annoyed to consider the use of your watermarked images might be higher. Most designers, publishers etc use small res website images in the first phases of their projects.

Therefore I do not botherntoo much about protecting my website images.

I'm rethinking the watermarks. Thanks for bringing it up again. It is important.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: IanBrowne on October 25, 2012, 11:08:07 PM
.

The bottom of the image. Do the rocks coming into the frame ruin the image? Compare it to the image below that, which is similar, but without rocks at the bottom of the frame.

i prefer the second image. IMO such objects should be all in or all out

I will add my dislikes of the over the top water mark. And yes I have done similar in the past. I really think we get too hung up on the "stealing my images". If the images are so precious   don't post them on the WWW.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 26, 2012, 05:44:31 AM
New watermark.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: michaelwm on October 26, 2012, 06:00:45 AM
Hi, just my 2c as always,

I agree with Bill, your model shots are inviting and good because you are close. When I look at your site, the landscapes that draw me in, 2006_09-026_lufbchss044 and 2006_12-03_hdptss_001, for example, your are close, I feel like I am there.

With the two you posted, The top one is better IMHO, because the rocks make me feel closer to the image. However, they also lead me out of the image because they are on the border. I also find them distracting because they are cut in half, BUT, without them (the 2nd image) I feel like I am looking at the scene from a long way away, I have no relationship with the landscape anymore. So, the rock are good and bad?

"And I've learned from doing model stuff that many people like the shots I hate. I'm very hard on myself, to a fault."
This quote of yours is telling. Do you want to sell stuff you don't like? I find that when people like shots of mine that I don't, they are postcard type shots, not what I want to be creating, or known for. My advice would be to create image that you like, and continue to be (constructively) hard on yourself, its the best way to grow and become your own artist. Also, when I struggle, I try to break down why I like the images (of mine and others) that I like to see why I like them, its a great exercise. Another one I heard that Annie Leibovitz did, was make a contact sheet of your best images, and get a photographer or artist to pick there best 10% or so without telling you why - then you have to work out why they liked them (an artist works better than a photographer for this, photographers get caught up on technical issues too much, and forget its about aesthetics).

[aside - I don't actively sell my images, my view might be different if I didn't have a day job]

Thanks for sharing your work,
Michael
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 26, 2012, 06:32:32 AM
michaelwm

As stated above, I didn't post those becsaue I thought they were great images. I posted them specifically because they illustrate a problem, or perhaps a problem.

When I look at these images, I think something like, "Hmm, yeah, pretty nice, nothing special." But those types of images will sell to people looking for a postcard, which I sell from my site in the shopping cart. So I decided to include a lot of those. Now in my portfolio, which I still haven't organized and have just a bunch of random images in for now, I will post what I think is my best work, or at least work that demonstrates a breadth in photography.

To answer your question, the reason some people like what I don't is because they're right, period. Sometimes people just see a better image after I really think about it. I might have been caught up in some specific lighting pattern I wanted to get and had too much focus on that aspect of the image, for instance.

Another reason is becsaue I usually have several variations of the same shot, as you see above, and even if there isn't anything technically wrong with the variations, tastes differ, and even good tastes differ.

To address your last question, the far away feeling was definitely on purpose. If it makes you feel far away, then it has achieved it's goal. I don't always try to make images that make people feel good. The day I shot those images, it was overcast and low contrast. I was in a very isolated emotional state, and the scene reflected my feelings, so I tried to capture that emotion in the images.

Another thing I've learned about photography is that there are many way people relate to an image, none of which are necessarily wrong.

I think many people misunderstood why I posted these images. It was for technical discussion about edge of frame objects, not as a critique of the images themselves. (Not that I mind at all because the other side is even more fun than the tech side, but the tech side is important.)

If I had wanted to impress people with my ability, I would have posted something I think is more worthy, like the below image, but with different post processing .

(http://dwdallam.com/WP/wp-content/gallery/portfolio-landscape/2006_12-03_hdptss_001.jpg)
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: stamper on October 26, 2012, 07:09:31 AM
This is my kind of image. Artistically possibly too much blue but a member of the picture buying public will happy to see it hung on their wall. Maybe a little more yellow/orange saturation to balance it out?
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: bill proud on October 26, 2012, 11:16:17 AM
I didn't see this last image on your site, which of course is much better, and makes me wonder what the point of the first image is? I really thought the rock question was a 'no brainer'. This led me to think you were just a beginner and that is where I started on my comments.

Obviously you are not a beginner.

Back to the first image. I thought possibly you were heading for the serenity aspect of it, I just didn't feel it. And maybe from your standpoint asking a bunch of jaded photographers, (at least myself), is not the best study group to query. Perhaps you should look for people who take Carnival cruises as a better feedback source?

Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: kikashi on October 26, 2012, 02:12:08 PM
New watermark.

Big improvement. Now I suggest you move it down a bit, so it's obviously there but not blindingly in the way: somewhere near the junction of the lower and middle thirds would be reasonable.

Jeremy
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: Wim van Velzen on October 26, 2012, 02:36:30 PM
Much beter indeed!
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 26, 2012, 06:39:03 PM
This is my kind of image. Artistically possibly too much blue but a member of the picture buying public will happy to see it hung on their wall. Maybe a little more yellow/orange saturation to balance it out?

Yes, it is too much blue. I like the original version better. I'll update that when I get a chance. It's a product of post processing that after so many hours I get a sort of "yeah that looks even better" when in fact, it's because my mind gets use to more contrast and other digital manipulation, and thinks it needs even more. Ironically, the opposite happens too, and results in too little adjustments.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on October 26, 2012, 07:01:00 PM
Splendid capture! Have you tried flipping it horizontally? I know it would not be location-realistic, but I think it would work compositionally better.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: John R on October 26, 2012, 07:57:52 PM
Over the years I have attended many seminars given by professionals and many great amateurs. What I have gathered is, of all the principles in visual design, I think the most important is balance.  So while lines and shapes and where they are placed in a space, are important, they are secondary to Balance. This is why we often see images that seem to work visually but appear to break  the "rules." I think we as individuals are also prejudiced to wanting things a certain way, even if an image looks perfectly fine. The fact you have cut boats or placed objects or other shapes at edge of the space, does not alter the fact the images work and look fine. By the way, very nice work.

JMR
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: michaelwm on October 26, 2012, 08:44:12 PM
michaelwm

As stated above, I didn't post those becsaue I thought they were great images. I posted them specifically because they illustrate a problem, or perhaps a problem.

When I look at these images, I think something like, "Hmm, yeah, pretty nice, nothing special." But those types of images will sell to people looking for a postcard, which I sell from my site in the shopping cart. So I decided to include a lot of those. Now in my portfolio, which I still haven't organized and have just a bunch of random images in for now, I will post what I think is my best work, or at least work that demonstrates a breadth in photography.

To answer your question, the reason some people like what I don't is because they're right, period. Sometimes people just see a better image after I really think about it. I might have been caught up in some specific lighting pattern I wanted to get and had too much focus on that aspect of the image, for instance.

Another reason is becsaue I usually have several variations of the same shot, as you see above, and even if there isn't anything technically wrong with the variations, tastes differ, and even good tastes differ.

To address your last question, the far away feeling was definitely on purpose. If it makes you feel far away, then it has achieved it's goal. I don't always try to make images that make people feel good. The day I shot those images, it was overcast and low contrast. I was in a very isolated emotional state, and the scene reflected my feelings, so I tried to capture that emotion in the images.

Another thing I've learned about photography is that there are many way people relate to an image, none of which are necessarily wrong.

I think many people misunderstood why I posted these images. It was for technical discussion about edge of frame objects, not as a critique of the images themselves. (Not that I mind at all because the other side is even more fun than the tech side, but the tech side is important.)

If I had wanted to impress people with my ability, I would have posted something I think is more worthy, like the below image, but with different post processing .



Thanks for the reply, I understand the images you post are because you have a problem with them some how. This is also why I post to forums such as this, there is a wide range of expertise and opinions! I pointed out your other work because there are features that work in them, the hard part is working out why. I didn't mean to imply that you should have posted them, why would you, you know they're good!

I suppose in a round about kind of way, I was trying to say this:

Image #1, the rocks are in the foreground but far away, so I'm kind of torn between being in the image, and viewing from a distance. They kind of contradict there own existence in  a way(?).

Image #2, I get the sense that I am looking from afar, and some of my favourite landscaped have this feeling, especially some from AA.

Image #3, I find too cluttered, no real comment.

Thanks again for posting them,
Michael
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 26, 2012, 08:56:34 PM
Splendid capture! Have you tried flipping it horizontally? I know it would not be location-realistic, but I think it would work compositionally better.

You know I haven't. I'll try it. Since western people read left to right, that does have an impact on how we see an image.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 26, 2012, 09:06:54 PM
I really thought the rock question was a 'no brainer'. This led me to think you were just a beginner and that is where I started on my comments.

We have contradictory responses on whether or not the rocks should or should not be there, however.

Back to the first image. I thought possibly you were heading for the serenity aspect of it, I just didn't feel it. And maybe from your standpoint asking a bunch of jaded photographers, (at least myself), is not the best study group to query. Perhaps you should look for people who take Carnival cruises as a better feedback source?

Not "serenity" in the least. I think I used the word "isolated," which I guess could produce serenity, or anxiety too. The image was suppose to depict silence, calmness, isolation and then whatever else the person viewing feels, or does not feel.

Perhaps you should look for people who take Carnival cruises as a better feedback source?

I don't have any association with people who take carnival cruises, so I don't know what "kind" of people they are. I would be considered a "poor" person by USA standards, although not destitute. What I do know is the kind of people who use this forum, which has always, without exception, produced positive results for me.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 26, 2012, 09:11:30 PM
Big improvement. Now I suggest you move it down a bit, so it's obviously there but not blindingly in the way: somewhere near the junction of the lower and middle thirds would be reasonable.

Jeremy

Oh I wish it were that simple. The watermark is applied automatically to over 1000 images at a time, many of which have different aspect ratios and orientations. That's why it doesn't matter where I put it really, unless I tell the script to put it near the bottom using x, y coordinates, and the software I'm using doesn't allow you to position a png watermark, only text. Can you imagine adjusting the mark for each image? See you in 2050.

Believe me, I've been all over this watermark thing since "watermark" was a word. There really just isn't any good solution, barring creating a custom watermark for each image and positioning it likewise.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 26, 2012, 09:13:43 PM
Over the years I have attended many seminars given by professionals and many great amateurs. What I have gathered is, of all the principles in visual design, I think the most important is balance.  So while lines and shapes and where they are placed in a space, are important, they are secondary to Balance. This is why we often see images that seem to work visually but appear to break  the "rules." I think we as individuals are also prejudiced to wanting things a certain way, even if an image looks perfectly fine. The fact you have cut boats or placed objects or other shapes at edge of the space, does not alter the fact the images work and look fine. By the way, very nice work.

JMR

JMR this reflects my sentiment perfectly, but I'm always compulsive about it. Nothing is ever "good enough" and always deserves to be challenged, and thanks.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: IanBrowne on October 26, 2012, 09:21:38 PM
JMR this reflects my sentiment perfectly, but I'm always compulsive about it. Nothing is ever "good enough" and always deserves to be challenged, and thanks.
and there was the thought at pro print awards that there is never a perfect photograph so no photograph could receive 100 points.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 26, 2012, 10:02:00 PM
Splendid capture! Have you tried flipping it horizontally? I know it would not be location-realistic, but I think it would work compositionally better.

Forgot to say that you bring up another interesting topic, which is changing the scene after the fact. I'm gradually moving in the direction that anything I can do to an image that makes it better is just damn well fine, unless you're trying to capture a landmark and wish it to represent the landmark as closely as possible to how you saw it. But there's the problem.

Sometimes I see sunsets that are so saturated and the sky so blue that it looks fake in real life. So when you get home you need to desaturated them and turn down the contrast. So that brings up the next question: What if you have a very nicely composed image that is under saturated and lower contrast in real life, but when you bring it into Lightroom and make a few small adjustments, the colors and contrast pop and you have a really nice image--the way others "have" seen it, although unlike how you saw it at that time?

The same thing goes for cropping rocks when you can. Should I miss the shot simply because my camera is x aspect ratio instead of y? And if cropping results in a lesser image, what about simply cloning out the offending object while leaving the space?

So I'm beginning to be ok with all of that above, but where I stop, for landscape, is cutting and pasting, for example, a sky/cloud scene into an image because the sky was devoid of anything interesting. But why not? The same argument can be used that I used above. Conversely, I would have no problem cutting and pasting elements into commercial work in order to illuminate the product better--and that's good commercial technique.

But back to the "natural" landscape, if one wants the image to look "natural," as long as it looks natural, why not manipulate away? I mean manipulating images gives the photographer more latitude to express his or her creativity, regardless of whether or not that creativity results in a winner or a loser. Photographers have been doing it since film was invented, cropping, vignetting, letting the image sit in solution longer to pump up the contrast, using Velvia film for those over saturated scenes, light filters, graduated filters, everything.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: dwdallam on October 26, 2012, 10:02:48 PM
and there was the thought at pro print awards that there is never a perfect photograph so no photograph could receive 100 points.

True enough and I agree.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: IanBrowne on October 26, 2012, 11:55:54 PM
Splendid capture! Have you tried flipping it horizontally? I know it would not be location-realistic, but I think it would work compositionally better.
rof lol that's my trick thank you very much ;D. And I don't feel it improved this image. When particle, I rotate most images when editing just see if it looks better.
Title: Re: Revisiting Landscape: Techniques and Good Practices?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on October 27, 2012, 03:10:06 AM
Hi,

I looked at your pictures, now that you don't have a watermark over them and I find them quite good. I don't think the rocks at the bottom of the first picture distract. I like all the pictures. So just keep on the good work at improve your skills.

Best regards
Erik