PSA Competition Discussion #5

These are the judges comments for Sharon’s photograph “Wild Beauty at Sunset”

Picture as submitted…

Edited for discussion….

My comments:

This is a perfect time to have a discussion about the rule of thirds. Now I’m certainly no great portrait photographer, people or animals. I don’t have the patience to shoot wildlife photography, and I feel guilty asking humans to sit still long enough for me to analyze the pose, lighting and everything else important in a portrait. But it has never made sense to me when the subject of the picture is so clearly the person or animal, why it’s wrong to place him at or near the center of the frame. And then make it a square crop to hold attention on the subject. Everything else mainly provides context, but the horse, the bird, the person, or whatever is clearly the subject. In this case, I placed him just to the right of center. I made pretty much the same crop on Debbie’s fox picture. We definitely need to hear more opinions on this subject.

Orange colors in a sunset like this are dramatic, and I think they could use a little more punch. The horse might be brown, but I’m pretty sure even the horse is gonna look more orange in that light. If not, then I’ll admit to having overcooked him a little in my editing. Regardless, I’d still like to see more pop in the sky and ground. The easy way of doing that is simply adjusting color saturation, but I think there’s a better way which enhances contrast too. Used with restraint, Photoshop’s HDR Toning is an extremely useful tool for enhancing saturation and mid-tone contrast, without blowing out the sky. If anyone’s interested in how that process works, post a comment here and I’ll expand on it.

Ed Kunzelman

2 responses on “PSA Competition Discussion #5

  1. Randy Smith

    I like horses and wide open spaces. So, I am drawn to this picture. I like the horse being near the horizon. The head is clearly defined by the clouds. There’s no clutter around the body of the horse, except the foliage around the lower legs. This is great, it outlines the shape of the horse and its beauty. The angle of the horse is wonderful, giving depth to the horse. It doesn’t look flat and makes it two dimensional. The horse is the main subject, but a tight crop seems crowded and puts you on top of the horse. The original crop has the horse looking slightly left and over the hill; and because of that, I think the extra space Sharon provided helps the overall scene. It also gives the viewer a better sense of the area. Cropping at the bottom and lowering the horizon wouldn’t hurt the picture. There would be enough space. You don’t want to take off too much at the bottom, the horse needs a solid base to stand on. But it is going to put more emphasis on the sky, if that’s what you are wanting to achieve.

    I am inclined to vote for a sky somewhere between the two pics. The overall saturation in Ed’s edited version might be a little much. The orange in the sky is pretty strong but Sharon’s version could possibly use a tad more color. I wonder what a little blue in Sharon’s sky would look like? Pastel colors in the sky would add beauty without taking your eye away from the horse. But a little punch of color would be good.

    Adding overall saturation to the picture caused a significant change to the color of the horse and foreground. The color of the horse in the edited version almost made it appear as though it is a photograph of a painting. I like the original color of the horse, which is not quite so saturated with orange. The foreground in the edited version seems a little oversaturated for a desert too. I think the original does look a little dull though and does need some added color, just don’t over do it. Sharon can’t go wrong with this photograph, it’s nicely done.

    Randy Smith

  2. Marina Schultz

    I usually like my animals centered . I’m not a fan of 2/3 rule but in this picture the horse is looking forward . I would actually have added a tad more to left . Having him looking over his domain .. and I agree with Randy need something a tad less saturated.. I would have just brighten sky a touch and just color matched in highlighted areas of horse ..

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