What’s wrong with this picture?

So far on this blog, I’ve not really touched on technique. I know if you go looking on the net, you will find all kinds of people who are very good at explaining how their images work in ways that are really useful to those of us trying to improve. I’ve genuinely found such advice essential as I have been learning, but I want to try a different approach here, which also works for me.

In this post I am going to try to learn from my mistakes, so please be forgiving about these pictures. I intend to be extremely self critical about photos that I know basically look quite nice in order to consider how I could have got them to be stunning.

A few weeks ago, I discovered a new viewpoint close to one of my favourite spots in Eridge Green:

DSCF4778

I said then that I was not satisfied with the picture, so a couple of days ago I went back with the intention of getting a better one. I feel I failed, but I do think that exploring what I’m getting wrong will help me to get the picture I want in time.

First of all, what was wrong with the picture above? Well essentially it is all background with nothing interesting up front. I tend to prefer a landscape to work in three dimensions- something in the foreground, something else in the middle and then a background will draw the viewer into the view. This really just has distance.

So I went back and tried again:

DSCF4816

What’s wrong with this, then?

Well the sky is less interesting for a start, although the sun partly makes up for it. In this picture’s favour, it does have trees gradually becoming more distant, but they are not well composed- the one in the foreground, which is potentially the most interesting, is cut off and placed at the side and the result is that the viewer does not really know where to look. The image ends up being too complicated. A good picture should lead our eyes rather than leaving us to search all around for a route through it.

So a third try was needed:

DSCF4814

This is better because it is simpler. There is some unfortunate flare in the lens which is not as even and attractive as mist and might in fact be some smudges on the glass. I’m also not entirely happy about the bottom of the tree- the original picture was so dark down there that I struggled to bring out contrast in the development. I do like the ridges on the hill and the rays of the sun which I was able to capture by narrowing the aperture of the camera (unfortunately this is also what makes the lens flare worse.)

The truth is that I feel the whole picture would have been better if I had got closer down to the level of the trunk and created more of a distinct silhouette with the sun behind. So why didn’t I? Mainly because I was on my way to work and couldn’t get my relatively smart clothes all muddy by first climbing over a fence and then trudging down through the field!

I’ll get it right another day.

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