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#1 TknoGeek

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 04:23 PM

We've all heard the refrain: Simplify your composition to improve your image. Here is an example of that mantra I recently handled that I thought may benefit the community.   :)
 
The Scenario:
Our vacation this year was "Colorado" (another installment in our "See America" series) and Great Sand Dunes National Park was one of the locations we visited. I researched this location rather extensively before departing so that I knew the approximate location I wanted to be at the correct time to get the desired angle of sunlight (in this case ~5p-6p). The weather was great (temp ~74°F/23°C, very slight haze) and due to our status as empty nesters, we were there at the close of the season after most schools in the US had started their new year, so we had very little in the way of crowds to get in the way. 
 
We hiked south for a mile or so, then my friend and I left our wives behind and turned west to start our climb up the ~700ft/213m sand dunes. The good news was that we were indeed all alone on the dunes in this area. The bad news was the dunes were 700 feet high piles of loosely packed sand. Put a foot down, it would slide back about 1/3 of your normal step, rinse and repeat. Oh, and the base of the dunes is over 7500ft/2280m, so for us East Coast flat-landers, it was a grueling hike. 
 
But the payoff at the summit was worth every ounce of effort.
 
Now all I had to do was capture that beauty.
 
First Image:
Here is one of my images highlighting a nice set of side-lit dunes (part of the 30 square miles comprising the highest dune field in North America). While I think this photo is satisfying and I rather appreciate the tonality I was able to extract (particularly with the help of Nik Color Efex), I still thought it was too...busy.
 
Tabor_20170901_174134-Edit-X3.jpg
 
 
Final Image:

  • ​​Crop in tighter to the main element - the arabesque dune in the lower center.
  • Use Lightroom's HSL panel to convert to monochrome.
  • Adjust the color sliders to achieve the contrast and tonality desired.
  • Adjust contrast a bit.
  • Gradient filter on the upper left to pull down the exposure a bit.
  • Just a touch of post-crop vignette.

I think this is a much stronger image. It also demonstrates that B&W can be a wonderful way to capture the beauty of a scene.
 
Tabor_20170901_174134-Edit-X3.jpg


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John

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#2 Kerry Gordon

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 04:54 PM

Very nice indeed.  Excellent choice to go B&W - really accentuates the shapes and contrast, which is what this image seems to be all about.  However, my feeling is that you've cropped a little too tight on top, it feels a bit cramped.



#3 MarkM

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 05:09 PM

Congrats on making that climb! That’s dedication to your craft!
I like both images. How did you stabilize your tripod legs (assuming you used one)? And focal length looks good...Wide angle? Very beautiful scene.

#4 TknoGeek

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 07:36 PM

However, my feeling is that you've cropped a little too tight on top, it feels a bit cramped.

Thanks for the feedback. It's always a judgment call on composition and final cropping. Playing with different gaps between the top of the dune and the edge of the frame, I think this is the best balance to keep the eye from wandering into the distant dune field (the original problem I was trying to "fix").

I like both images. How did you stabilize your tripod legs (assuming you used one)? And focal length looks good...Wide angle? Very beautiful scene.

Thanks. This was hand-held.

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#5 geedee

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 08:46 AM

I prefer the B&W and the crop you made. Looks to be a really interesting location. Given your description of the climb.. WELL DONE, at least I think it was well worth the effort...(-:

 

BTW Thomas Heaton has just posted a vlog on Youtube about his visit to Namibia which has some sand dune images and tales..


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#6 David_MC

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 11:57 AM

That black and white is perfect for this type of image.  Well done.


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#7 John W

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 03:36 PM

Very nice indeed.  Excellent choice to go B&W - really accentuates the shapes and contrast, which is what this image seems to be all about.  However, my feeling is that you've cropped a little too tight on top, it feels a bit cramped.

Agreed. The B&W is a beautiful image and I prefer it to the color which seems a bit washed out to me, especially the greens. I would like to see a B & W cropped version but with more space at the top as well. It is easy to see the different cropping possibilities by scrolling the top image on the monitor. Congratulations on doing your research and putting in the effort to achieve a compelling image. 


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