[C&C] Is this still believable?

Discussion in 'Photo Critique' started by bartjeej, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    I've been having some fun with LR3 and Color Efex, and I've used them to tackle a photo I've been struggling with for a while now. It's a shot from a tall building at my university, and it shows my hometown of Rotterdam, just before it's enveloped in fog (10 minutes later, I couldn't see anything out the window anymore).

    In the original, the foreground is too dark for my liking (also holds much less detail than what was visible with the naked eye), but when I lifted the shadows, the fog also disappeared. I've tried to rectify this by using local tonal contrast, combined with a graduated fog filter in Color Efex, but I don't know if it still looks believable... it has a bit of an "overdone HDR" feel about it, I'm afraid...
    Here's the original:
    6460796851_3224efa4e9_z.

    and this is what I made of it now:
    6460687257_31b7a9b1b8_b.

    please note it was shot through a very dirty window so there'll always be some smudges here and there, particularly in the trees in the foreground.
     
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  2. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    I don't know if it's "believable", but I quite like it. A lot!
     
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  3. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I think it's pretty cool, too. You could always put up a large version on let us all have a go at it, but I like as it is.
     
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  4. Tord S Eriksson

    Tord S Eriksson SC Regular

    59
    Aug 16, 2010
    Gothenburg. Sweden
    I prefer the original version - a bit of Blade Runner to me ;-)!
     
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  5. Crsnydertx

    Crsnydertx SC Top Veteran

    758
    Jan 21, 2011
    Houston, TX
    Chuck
    I ran it through Snapseed just to see what would happen. There's a LOT of detail in those shadows! (Didn't want to post it as it's not my photo...)
     
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  6. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Did you consider trying the Detail Extractor option in Color Efex 4 on your original first?

    I like both your first and second, though as for looking "real" I'm not too sure...maybe if there were a light dusting of snow with some fog? It's very pretty.

    I'm guessing you've tried quite a few options already including my suggestion...as well as fill light. If I had to choose which looks the most realistic, I'd have to vote for #1, bartjeej.
     
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  7. thekeddi

    thekeddi SC Top Veteran

    539
    Aug 15, 2011
    South Australia
    I do like it but I don't think it's believable, but it's very good!
     
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  8. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Mark
    First breath - Hmmmm and second breath - wowwww!
    Hmmmm...it doesn''t look believeable.
    Wowwww...it looks amazing.

    But why does it need to look believable? If we remove that criteria we're left with an awesome image. Having said that it looks no less real than more than half the HDRs I see on flickr.

    As Tord says, very Blade Runner (or as a Philip K Dick fan, more accurately, "very Do androids dream of electric sheep-esque" :wink:) Very futuristic or post-apocalyptic. I like it the more I scroll up to view it! Love the ominous feel of the construction equipment in the bottom left....sort of like they might erect another installation or rows of pseudo-trees.

    :2thumbs:
     
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  9. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    thanks for all the comments, much appreciated :smile:
    Crsnydertx, feel free to post your results, I'm curious to see what you did with it. BB, I did try the detail extractor but didn't like its effect as much as the tonal contrast (their effects were pretty similar but I felt tonal contrast fitted a bit better with the foggy feel). Like you said, right now it looks as if there's been a tiny bit of snowfall, rather than fog. I haven't tried fill light yet, do you mean the one in LR's basic lighting options? I'll give it a go. Thanks!

    For Luke or anyone else who wouldn't mind having a go at it, here's the 1024x768 version of the original.
    6460796851_3224efa4e9_b.
     
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  10. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    I took the liberty... The first one, I dont think is vastly different to your original, perhaps a bit more shadow detail.. I used the graduated neutral density in CEP3, then levels in PS (easily done in LR too) and then I used the autocolor/autotone from PS as well. Finished up with a tiny bit of sharpening. Not knowing what it really looked like made it difficult. I like what you did in that second one, its sort of IR-ish.

    [​IMG]

    The second, I followed much the same process but used levels a bit more liberally to bring more detail into the shadows. Of course, the sky blew out more, I should have gone back to CEP3 after this, and increased the sky tonality. Again, though, not vastly different from your original, but fun to play with... thank you :)

    [​IMG]

    I'm with the others, too, in the matter of whether its believable or not. I think it looks great, and I've made my adjustments not because I think yours is somehow not right, but just because I wanted to see what I could do, if anything.
     
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  11. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Yes, it's one of LR's basic options over on the right in the Develop module.

    I'm with Mark AKA stillshunter - who says it has to be "realistic"? I'd like to coin a variation on a phrase by proposing that "Beauty is in the eye of the photographer." You may insert for "beauty" - the word "the image" and that is what I truly mean. Personally, I have no problems with post processing changing "reality" on one level to bring it to another level of "reality" and practice what I am preaching - suggesting:wink: - here myself, quite often. I believe in enhancing images to bring out what I see, in hopes that others will see what I saw. Hope that makes sense.

    One thing bartjeej that you might want to consider is trying control points... I'm not the most adept when it comes to these...but sometimes one can go into Color Efex and then into Silver Efex only to go back into Color Efex. I think it depends how much one wants to do... Some are also proficient at "brushes" in LR, and there I can't help you as I've never learned how to use them.:redface:

    Ultimately, I'd go for the image you feel the best about producing and not worry about realism - unless that is what you really want.
     
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  12. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    Thanks Sue and Chuck for showing me your versions! Sue, the second one is actually quite close to the way I saw it, nice! Chuck, that's very dramatic! Makes it feel even grittier than it was already...



    I hadn't read your post last time, but first of all, thanks for your compliments:smile: and secondly, I love your description! The university is thoroughly updating the campus, and it was actually quite surreal when I came back to it after the Christmas holiday last year; without any warning they'd cut down all the trees and bushes and broken up most of the streets and paths, with huge craters in many places where they moved trees, and all that was left standing upright were the super-stark, minimalist, bare concrete buildings of our uni; it really did feel like some apocalyptic war had just taken place!

    BB, I did try both control points and brushes, I'll need some more practice to become really effective at it, but it holds a lot of potential! I'll give the whole "is realism necessary or is an interesting image enough" thing some more thought, thanks for all your opinions!
     
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  13. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    I prefer the original in this case (I don't mind dark pictures). But to be honest, the blown out sky on the left bothers me more than anything else.

    I don't follow that believability is important in photography, unless perhaps it's a documentary project. A picture like this is to me about emotion and atmosphere. The dark city reflects the impending fog.
     
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  14. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    I've had another go, this time on your processed shot. I really like how the fog is visible, creeping and seeping down streets and around buildings, and thats not really visible in the other shots. At the same time, my preference is for a darker foreground. I used fairly much the same processes as before, excpet that I used the graduated ND to darken the foreground this time, having taken on board what Andrew said about the blown sky, though in a serious crop I think I would have taken most of the sky out below the blown areas (some still visible here), leaving the city itself as the focus..

    Its a wonderful shot, and nearly no noise at all when you look closely :) So well done.

    [​IMG]

    I hope you dont mind my second go on your processed shot... If so, apologies in advance
     
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  15. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Mark
    My absolute pleasure mate. The least I could do seeing as you shared, such a great image, so openly.

    Having read your original and residual impression of how you received the view from your window upon your return, then this - surely - affirms that your treatment was not only an appropriate, but a darn good, one. If it says to me now, what it also said to you at the time, then this is the best testimony you can get on how well you have interpreted the image.

    To me this is the universal language of photography and accounts for half the reason I love it so much (I say half, as the other half is that selfish and guilty pleasure :blush:). You could dream in your native Portuguese, Mandarin, Swahili or Inuit but if you take your art seriously you can talk to me, through photography, in a tongue that we can both understand. But we deal in feelings and emotions and here you have spoken it well...even if the way you have arranged the symbols are not so 'true to life'. Then again neither are dreams and sometimes they are more vivid than reality....well to my weirdly wired brain anyway....the very same one that consistently struggles to express the ineffable...but continues trying albeit in my pidgin photography :doh:
     
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  16. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    Sue, I don't mind at all, in fact I think it worked out wonderfully! That's a nice balance between detail and atmosphere...

    Streetshooter [oops, that should be stillshunter, ofcourse! Sorry!:doh:], I totally agree with your words about photography, and how it can be a tool to bring across hard-to-translate meaning and emotion in a universally understandable language.
    The thing is, when I took this photo, I mainly wanted to convey the delicacy and mysteriousness of the incoming fog, not so much the starkness of the construction site (and the city, which has a reputation in the Netherlands for being a bleak, rough harbor city).
    That being said, I've always kicked myself for not having taken a photo back when the campus looked its most apocalyptic, so in that sense it's quite a happy accident that the processed photo came out the way it did, missing some delicacy :wink:
     
  17. loddie

    loddie New to SC

    3
    Jan 27, 2012
    Not believable, but looks great! Something in the middle of the two images would be believable.
     
  18. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Bill
    no it doesn't

    go back and have another try - you can do better!!!
     
  19. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia

    I don't know how to describe it but I really like both. The first one is kind of moody I suppose but I don't know how to describe why I really like the second one.
     
  20. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    It's been a looong time since I took the shot, and back when this discussion was still running I tried a "middle ground" version that I think represents quite well what I saw. For some reason I never uploaded it at the time, but here it is:
    6915916164_76fc1bef88_b.
     
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