Critique B&W : Crossraguel Abbey

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#1
I'm trying to get to grips with the basics of editing and would appreciate any constructive criticism on the two attempts below. I've decided to stick with using Nikons View NX-i and Capture NX-D until I get a working knowledge of editing before I start looking at more complex editors with layers etc.

In the first pic I was trying to keep some of the natural light (which was exceptionally bright on the day I shot this) to the right of the picture whilst trying to put in some shadow and pick out the stonework a little better. I also tried to darken the door frame to the left as much as possible but still show a little hint at the depth of the (cupboard?) by picking out a tiny bit of the back wall without losing the blackness. The idea was that your eye would switch from the light on the right to the darkness on the left and then be drawn round to the chink of light and the stairwell in the middle of the pic.

I used Capture NXD, put in a green filter, increased the sharpness a little and put the clarity and contrast up to 2.75 (pretty much maxed out in Capture NX-D). I didn't crop the picture.


In the second pic I didn't put a filter on (I did try them all to try and darken the sky), put clarity and contrast around 2.75 again, increased sharpness and I also cropped it from the right and top of the picture to lose a rubbish sky! But mainly I was trying to remove two signs from the front of the ruin without it being too noticeable.


As I say, any comments on the photos (I quite like the first one, not so much the second one) and/or tips to improve my editing would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.




Crossraguel Abbey_00001.jpg Crossraguel Abbey_00001_01.jpg
 
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Ian
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#2
Hi there,

I'm struggling to see a subject in your first image and the whole thing looks soft on my monitor (to my eyes), so processing is the last thing I'm thinking about. Perhaps this is just me though as it does have a nice range of tones. I just don't get the "why" behind the image - which makes my eye move on quickly. Perhaps as part of a series, this would be a different story...

The second one kinda has a subject, but if it's the castle it's obscured by the tree and if it's the tree, it's lost in the castle. Again, this image seems a little soft throughout and the tones feel a little muddier than in #1. The sky in particular is grim, with the clouds being grey and the non-clouds being white. Did you have to recover much here?

I do like the tones in #1 (hence my stopping by to comment) but I'm just not getting the story behind it so my brain moves on.
 
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cj4now
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#3
@Harlequin565 Thanks for the comments. (y)

I was really only trying to get a feel for the place before I went back and took some shots in better light (hence the crap sky....I'm hoping for dark clouds with a bit of movement). It was sort of a scouting trip if you like. I took a few shots in other rooms that would maybe provide a narrative, or maybe not. lol. The shots I took in the actual stairwell didn't turn out unfortunately (shaky hand/no tripod at the time), perhaps that would help with a narative?

With the first one I was trying to get a feeling for what was around the side of the darker doorway and down the stairwell. Guess I failed there :LOL:. When you say 'soft', would that mean increasing sharpness more to combat that? I'm a novice and trying to pick up as much from others as I can.

Would the second one (Abbots quarters) maybe have been better if I had moved to the right and tried to capture a slight gap between it and the tree do you think? Would the muddy tones be as a result of me trying to darken the image to combat the light in the crap sky do you think?



Sorry, a million questions to your response here. :)
 
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Ian
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#4
Softness could be down to whatever is hosting your image. Flickr kills the fine sharpness on my images. It could be down to missed focus (less likely but can't even guess without exif data), or motion (depends on shutter speed/tripod yes/no), or a crappy lens (e.g. kit lens wide open) or a combination of any/all of them.

A narrative is only important if that's *your* intent. I prefer images with a story. I don't really like pretty landscapes because they bore me, but there's thousands out there that love them! And no-one's right or wrong. I think trying to find a narrative helps make your pictures better because you have to work harder at the whole process. However the end result isn't always "pretty".

With the first one I was trying to get a feeling for what was around the side of the darker doorway and down the stairwell.
I can't see any stairs, so there's no sense of depth for me. At this level of detail though, things like calibrated monitors to get the same level of brightness become more important. Your bright monitor might show it, whereas mine doesn't. It's not a processing issue, or a creative one.

aybe have been better if I had moved to the right and tried to capture a slight gap between it and the tree do you think?
Yes. (My opinion)

Would the muddy tones be as a result of me trying to darken the image to combat the light in the crap sky do you think?
Entirely possible. Using layers to affect certain parts of the image is a key skill that was used even in the darkroom. Dodge the darker areas and burn the brighter ones. Google to see if there are any dodge/burn tutorials for your software (I've never used Nikon stuff).

I was really only trying to get a feel for the place before I went back and took some shots in better light
In that case - this is a great start. You could even return with a phone camera to try out compositions and such so that when you go back with tripods and stuff, you're going straight to where you want to be rather than wandering.

:)
 
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cj4now
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#5
Thanks @Harlequin565

Plenty food for thought there, which is what I'm after. (y)

I thought about using my iPhone but I'm still getting to grips with my camera, so it made sense to take it with me. I should use my phone a bit more when I'm out and about to capture ideas though.
I used my kit lens for the pics and shutter speed was 1/13 (no tripod), could be the answer to the softness.

Thanks again for the input. Appreciated.
 
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Ian
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#6
I used my kit lens for the pics and shutter speed was 1/13 (no tripod), could be the answer to the softness.
Almost certainly. Good luck!
 
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