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Archive 2012 · the gardener
  
 
fracas
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · the gardener


I took this picture in Tuscany, by the garden of an ancient monastery

Do you like it? Any idea for improving PP?

Thanks
francesco







Feb 23, 2012 at 04:05 PM
pdx_B-Rad
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · the gardener


I love the shot and the location looks amazing! To me it seemed the highlights were to high and it almost seems over sharp. The man working seems out of place with his gloves and some sort of spray in a wonderful old location.

Because of all the texture I went with a B&W something like this:
I am really new to photoshop (two weeks now) so I know I have a ton to learn.









Feb 24, 2012 at 07:52 AM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · the gardener


Looks over-processed to me.


Feb 24, 2012 at 08:32 AM
Dougo
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · the gardener


Hi Francesco, I took the highlights down a bit and added a small glow to diffuse it a bit, I hope it works

Cheers Ray







Edited on Feb 24, 2012 at 09:58 PM · View previous versions



Feb 24, 2012 at 10:29 AM
Bob Jarman
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · the gardener


I agree with Karen, to me all versions look over-cooked.

I think it would be better if the gardener were entering the frame rather than leaving. Maybe someone can 'flip' him and make that happen.

My general feeling is it is way busy - visually appealing? Yes. But way busy NTL. Perhaps a bit of de-saturation might lessen that feeling.

Bob



Feb 24, 2012 at 12:43 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · the gardener


This is a wonderful image. The message I took away from it is "separate world" above the rest. To increase that impression in the edit below I tried to create a more impressionist vs. literal rendering:







The crop is based on finding the roofs on the top distracting and creating an intentional ping-ping dynamic between the gardener and the gate by placing them in opposite corners on the diagonal that matches the angle of the wall separating his world from the rest. To create the impression of two separate worlds and to make the background less interesting and distracting I blurred it with lens blur.

Next I wanted to emphasize the path between the gate and the figure. To do that I blurred and darkened the edges of the photo on the bottom and right but kept the gate and back wall sharp and actually brightened it a bit taking creative license with the laws of light and optics.

As a final accent I use screen to pull more detain out of the pond in the middle so when exploring the eye will better notice there a fish heading towards it's dinner swimming in it. The stuff floating on the water was in the original, but hidden in the shadows. That pond adds a third focal point that forms a triangle and once noticed it breaks up the linear ping-ping dynamic of gate <> gardener creating two different eye paths in the the same photo.

The only thing that could be better in the shot would be seing something in the flower beds.

This would be an excellent setting for a sequence of shots, taken at a similar time of day with similar angle of lighting, over a period of weeks as the garden matures with the gardener seen in different parts tending the plants. Then in the last shot of the sequence have the gardener, with is girl friend blinfolded standing near the gate as a surprise "punchline" to the story.



Feb 24, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Bob Jarman
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · the gardener


With all due respect Chuck, I think we're tipping into the world of gimmicks and losing sight of the photography involved...far astray from critiques.

Too heavily processed? I plead guilty myself, but now I try, not always successfully, to avoid it.

Bob



Feb 24, 2012 at 08:23 PM
 

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RustyBug
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · the gardener


Took a stab at it.

Lots of lines to play with on this one, Tried to get rid of the overhead sky blues in the shadows, and then some selective work @ shadows and lines. Tried to find an aesthetic WB vs. neutral.












Feb 24, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Bob Jarman
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · the gardener


Guess if I'm going to comment on others, I need to step to the plate too

Here is my version - lots of adjustments, dodge, burn etc., somewhere near a square format to play off the diagonal and parallel cistern.

Regards,

Bob







Feb 25, 2012 at 01:16 AM
fracas
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · the gardener


lots of helpful comments!

thank you very much, francesco



Feb 25, 2012 at 09:09 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · the gardener


Bob Jarman wrote:
With all due respect Chuck, I think we're tipping into the world of gimmicks and losing sight of the photography involved...far astray from critiques.

Too heavily processed? I plead guilty myself, but now I try, not always successfully, to avoid it.
Bob


I had to chuckle reading that because most shots are PP'd to death in an attempt to "improve" them in PP and in this case the shot as posted already had heavy PP

In most cases, as here, my objective in editing is to show the OP how the entire process could have been done differently, starting from the pre-visualiztion of the message and emotional reaction the photographer wants the viewer to take away.

For example my crop decision was based on the idea of a ping-ping dynamic between the gate and the gardener. Making those two points in the photo the two most dominant eye catching features is what creates the eye path between them which causes the viewer to literally walk across the garden, retracing with their eyes in reverse the path the gardener took when he entered from the gate.

That was the concept I had in mind before starting the edit. How do you pull that off? If I took the shot it would have started at capture, resulting in a different starting file than the one the OP presented for comment. Mine would have looked more like the edited version out of camera, I just would have executed it differently.

To get the viewer to follow a specific eye path you want them to you must eliminate and minimize anything in the photo that will pull attention off that planned eye path. Here I wanted the path to be a straight line between gardener and gate.

The color contrasting blue clothing of the gardener in the overall warm tone background and his size and position in the foreground on the left side all predict that he's the first thing that will catch the eye of the viewer. Its a instinct to find people in photos first. The "problem" to solve is then how to get the viewer over to the gate in the opposite corner.

The solution? Try to eliminate all the eye catching detours. Cropping off the eye catching red roofs on top was step one which could have been done at capture. Step two was blurring the background buildings beyond the rooftop garden to isolate it that also could have been done similarly with DOF control at capture to some degree.

In the good old days with a filter over the lens and a bit of Vaseline to blur the edges would be used to eliminate distracting eye catching detail on the edges of the frame. The same is true with vignettes. In the days before Photoshop I always carried a roll of black masking tape in the camera bag to create "as needed" vignettes by apply it to the bottom and sides of the lens hood. That was pretty much standard procedure for creating vignettes on dark background window-lit portraits I took back in the day...

The rest of what I did, such as pulling more detail out of the fish pond in the middle, isn't much different than what I'd do in the "good 'ol days" under the enlarger with the dodging paddle when making the print.

Different time, different tools, but the biggest difference in the look of the image was having a different story line in mind when starting the process which is always the "bigger picture" point of all the edits and C&C I do here. I encourage those whose photos I edit to think more about the message and emotional reaction of the viewer before raising camera to eye, then using that message to define the goals and strategies for capturing and editing the shot as a single holistic process leading to the desired result. That's exactly what my first "expert" mentor did via the Introduction in his book "Camera and Lens" 40 years ago. It seemed to work well for Ansel so I've been following that approach ever since. All that has changed is the tools.

With Photoshop "in the bag" in most cases it is much easier and quicker, all things considered, to capture images on the basis of necessary technical parameters for perceptual "normalcy" in the final image, then make most of the artistic manipulations in Photoshop vs. using graduated ND filters, saw toothed vignetters on monster lens shades, and the dozens of other modifications made possible by the Conklin bag to add-to-lens tricks.

So when shooting I try to capture a full tonal range, at least in the foreground, so I have "clean" bits to manipulate in PP, and either set WB off a gray card or use Daylight WB preset outdoors regardless of time of day so I have the same consistent baselines at capture in my images for tonal range and color. On the technical side that's analogous to how the Zone System works always tailoring the negative to fit a full range of detail to the print as a given underlying anything creative that is captured by the camera. Fitting scene to sensor is what makes a photo seem real. Arranging what winds up in front of the lens in a creative way is what makes a photo interesting and thought provoking to look at. Without doing the first competently the second usually suffers to some degree, varying in proportion to how interesting the content is. The more ordinary the content, the more important it is for the reproduction process to trick the brain of the viewer into thinking it is real, and that starts with a full tonal range and WB that seems "seen by eye" normal based in the way the eye would scan the scene in person, shifting focus and exposure selectively as it scanned, seeing far more in person than the camera sensor can record in a single exposure.

It is necessary to "fake it" (alter what the camera can capture) to match what is seen by eye in most situations.

Is a holistic "generic" digital capture and Photoshop manipulation workflow a less "pure" form of photography? Certainly, but so is using a digital camera vs. lugging around an 8 x 10 view camera. Using 35mm or med. format roll film is a compromise compared to that baseline, so it could be argued is dodging or burning or using a lens shade to minimize flare.

Finding ways to make the last photo we took better in some incremental way is how we grow. When we start thinking every photo we took is perfect because it seemed perfect when we took it, we will often miss in the photo the same distraction missed when it was captured.

Physiological reactions to things like contrast gradients are predictable because our brains are wired similarly. But emotional reactions to a scene like a lonely rooftop gardener are subjective and rooted in personal memories. So a dozen different people may imagine a dozen different storyline scenarios on that photo from the romantic, to "gee that guy needs some better fertilizer so something will grow there.... "

C&C is the fertilizer for the mind... Wellies optional as Doug will no doubt opine shortly






Edited on Feb 25, 2012 at 02:43 PM · View previous versions



Feb 25, 2012 at 02:02 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · the gardener


+1 @ "The Pendulum" ... it only stops to reverse course, yet progresses in both directions.


Feb 25, 2012 at 02:26 PM
fracas
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · the gardener


cgardner, I really appreciate your comments and suggestions! thanks a lot!

cheers, francesco



Feb 25, 2012 at 10:21 PM





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