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Old Mar-21-2008, 11:53 AM
#1
schmoo is offline schmoo OP
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Muench University
This is your chance to have a one-on-one critique with master photographer and all-around great guy Marc Muench. We've all seen him active in this forum, been awed at what he can do with his camera, read his publications and we know that he has no fear dishing out honest feedback.

To take Muench University's course in landscape photography, here's what you do:
1) Choose up to 3 landscape images of your best work. Post-processed, edited, what you consider to be finished and polished images.

2) Resize your photo to 1024 pixels on the longest size. This is just to be sure that we're working from display copies. If you use Smugmug, this is the XL size.

3) Submit your image to our gallery using the new Guest Upload feature of Smugmug. To do this:
  • Point your browser to this URL: http://www.smugmug.com/photos/guest/6vRJZW/MuenchU
  • Drag and drop, or use the Browse feature to add your photos, then press Done.
  • Post a Comment for each of your images containing your Dgrin username, and a title. I (kdog) will move your comment to the caption field of the photo.

4) You may want to subscribe to this thread so if your image is selected, you'll know about it. You can set up subscriptions and notification methods in your Dgrin control panel.
Marc will choose an image from that gallery to critique. If your image does not get chosen, you can always submit more entries for the next round. Remember that we can all learn from the conversation - even if the image isn't our own! When Marc is done, he'll move on and choose the next image, again at his choosing.

The conversation that will follow is between Marc and the chosen photographer. You are invited to follow along, but it is a dialog between the two. We have an open forum right here where you all can chit-chat all you want about what's going on in the main critique. We will move any stray posts in this thread.

This is the big time, folks! Please no whinging, sour grapes, or drama. Have fun... and go learn something!

View the full array of stunning submissions right here in the archives:
Also you can see the entries for the current round here: Round Seven Gallery

Last edited by kdog; Aug-07-2012 at 11:28 AM. Reason: New upload procedures and fixed up links to preserve user logins.
Old Mar-24-2008, 10:48 AM
#2
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
Artist in Residence
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Crit time

Some of my most fond memories of school at Art Center in Pasadena CA are of the instructor throwing my completed mounted black and white prints on the floor That only occurred when something was not done right, but that was not my fault on the other hand, when I got it right and my piece was held up as an example I thought for a few brief moments that I might actually make it. Crits were a major part of the learning process for photographers, and still are. No they never ended with college, but just occured behind closed doors or worse closed minds However, now we have the internet and forums

Most of us know almost instantly whether we like an image or not. The difficult part is understanding why, so we can repeat. I encourage everyone to get as many opinions as possible. But dont shoot for the opinions of others or photography will become as illusive as chasing rainbows
So not to be confusing to everyone I will critique based on technique first and then inject my subjective opinions. I may not get to everyones images in fact I don't plan on it. That does not mean I don't like you, but rather had nothing to say about the image you presented. If that happens or worse yet I choose your image because it is terrible you MUST NOT take it personal. Just post another one until you get it right or simply cant take it anymore
I have realized over the years that there must be many more folks that are not impressed with my work than those that are, or I would be a billionaire. So I listen, sometimes, and then shoot some more.

Best
Marc Muench
Old Mar-24-2008, 11:03 AM
#3
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
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Here we go

anwmn1
White Sands


[FONT=Arial]
I don't like the foot prints on the distant dune nore the ones near the FG
The sand is not bright enough
The composition is split into thirds which does work well

I don't see a subject in this composition, so it could be used as a background because of the rather beautiful sky. Since it lacks a subject I do not find it as compelling as it could, given the wonderful mood and location.

What were you thinking
[/FONT][FONT=Arial][/FONT]

Last edited by Marc Muench; Mar-24-2008 at 04:23 PM.
Old Mar-24-2008, 04:52 PM
#4
anwmn1 is offline anwmn1
Wandering the Desert
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Muench
Here we go

[FONT=Arial]
I don't like the foot prints on the distant dune nore the ones near the FG
The sand is not bright enough
The composition is split into thirds which does work well

I don't see a subject in this composition, so it could be used as a background because of the rather beautiful sky. Since it lacks a subject I do not find it as compelling as it could, given the wonderful mood and location.

What were you thinking
[/FONT]
Marc-

First of all thanks for choosing one of my photos to start this off.

I agree about the footprints in the sand but did not try to remove them because 1. I am not very good in photoshop and 2. I prefer to leave the scene as it was and not remove or add anything to it. Just my personal view. As far as sand being bright enough- I feel it is acurate to what I saw and fits the mood of the area when I shot it.

To set the scene I was in the National Monument for a few hours in late July. Having never been there I did not know where to go or how far I might need to walk- I was also racing the approaching thunderstorm.

When I shot this the subject in my eyes was the almost bright white curve of the dune near the peak as well as the contrast of the sky vs the dunes. It was also about the feeling and emotion of being there - the vast emptiness of the dunes but yet very peaceful and beautiful sky. The irony or natures balance (depends on view) of a normally very arid area about to be pummeled by a very large thunderstorm.

I feel the major lines of the dunes lead you towards the peak as well as lead you around the rest of the photo without being stuck on one particular area or being led off the frame in any direction.

Thanks again for your view and feel free to disagree with what I have just said. That is the beauty of art- isn't it?

Your thoughts on how to better shoot or edit this shot would also be appreciated- though I may not use it.

Regards-

Aaron
__________________
"The Journey of life is as much in oneself as the roads one travels"


Aaron Newman

Website:www.CapturingLightandEmotion.com
Facebook: Capturing Light and Emotion
Old Mar-24-2008, 09:54 PM
#5
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
Artist in Residence
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"When I shot this the subject in my eyes was the almost bright white curve of the dune"

I believe you whitnessed some very bright white sand, as I too have been to White Sands and was blinded. In order to share that blinding white light you experienced you will need to alter the luminance in that region of the image. This is not cheating but rather recreating Here is what I would do,

View the density numbers in the info palette of photoshop. The average of the numbers in your file is 160. With black being 0 and white being 255, you have a ways to go before it becomes bright white realative to the sky.

here is what it looks like with the density up around 220. I used the quick selection tool to isolate the dune and then bumped the curve up with a curves adj layer. If you dont understand these moves in photoshop, no worries I really want to illustrate the importance of the relative luminance.



Regarding composition, I think a change of position would solve two issues, providing you could find the correct location in the vicinity. If you moved around to get away from the tracks it would appear more desolate. Also, If you included the distant horizon, for example something 50 miles away, than the VAST would be more obvious to the viewer. I am glad you explained what you felt and viewed when you were there, as I think your image is close but needs these embellishments for others that were not there to feel when viewing your image.

Last edited by Marc Muench; Mar-24-2008 at 10:06 PM.
Old Mar-25-2008, 06:41 AM
#6
anwmn1 is offline anwmn1
Wandering the Desert
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Marc-

Thank you- that helps quite a bit and I see the difference.

White Sands is one of those locations on my 'to return to' list hopefully with more time and now I am atleast somewhat familiar with the park. I do have other shots from there with a much further horizon line but they will need some photoshop adjustments as well since they are even darker.

Guess it is time for me to really focus on learning photoshop- which I have been avoiding like the plaque. I'd rather be out shooting than cooped up editing

Thanks again!

Aaron
__________________
"The Journey of life is as much in oneself as the roads one travels"


Aaron Newman

Website:www.CapturingLightandEmotion.com
Facebook: Capturing Light and Emotion
Old Mar-25-2008, 09:09 AM
#7
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
Artist in Residence
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anwmn1

Guess it is time for me to really focus on learning photoshop- which I have been avoiding like the plaque. I'd rather be out shooting than cooped up editing

Thanks again!

Aaron
As much as I agree with you about the cooped up feeling, I have found that the time spent learning photoshop or for that matter any post work, as in the old days it was dark room stuff, has paid off exponentially My work if effected in very positive ways by what I learn in post.

Thank you as well for being a good sport as the first to be critiqued
Old Mar-25-2008, 04:06 PM
#8
anwmn1 is offline anwmn1
Wandering the Desert
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Muench
As much as I agree with you about the cooped up feeling, I have found that the time spent learning photoshop or for that matter any post work, as in the old days it was dark room stuff, has paid off exponentially My work if effected in very positive ways by what I learn in post.

Thank you as well for being a good sport as the first to be critiqued
I know you are right and thanks for telling me

See you in Moab!


On to the next picture-
__________________
"The Journey of life is as much in oneself as the roads one travels"


Aaron Newman

Website:www.CapturingLightandEmotion.com
Facebook: Capturing Light and Emotion
Old Mar-26-2008, 08:14 PM
#9
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
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Tessa HD
Misty Morning



This image has been exposed and processed perfectly
I would not change anything

This breaks some of the rules in post though by not having a black point or a white point it lacks the full range possible and thus contrast. However, there is enough well composed subject matter that becomes more intriguing with the fog and low contrast.

I do think something else in the image would have set it off. Obviously an animal would have worked providing you were lucky enough, but it could have been anything. Still, this is such a beautifully composed image that it holds my interest as is, making it a step above the normal foggy forest scene.

What were you thinking
Old Mar-27-2008, 07:23 AM
#10
Tessa HD is offline Tessa HD
Major grins
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Marc,

Thank you for critiquing my photo!

I covet many of the 'broad' landscapes that people have taken from beautiful places around the world. With this photo I had actually been on a mission that morning to find a broad view of our local area. I live in an area of rolling hills, lush with trees and vegetation. I had driven to the end of a dirt road up a fairly steep hill in search of an overlook to find an eye appealing 'broad' view of the valley. As usual, I just couldn't find a broad view that grabbed me, but this narrower scene did.

What drew me first was the feeling, jungle-like. As I scoped it out I found a natural composition with nice depth, starting with the overgrown, dewy brush in the foreground to the overlapping trees that gradually descended down the other side of the hill. One of my neighbors romantically calls our fog "mist". And, of course, without the mist, this would not have been interesting. Also I felt the brush and trees framed in the scene, yet the darker foreground leading to the bright light in the background provides an exit from the wilderness.

I must confess, shame on me, I did not have a tripod, so shooting two exposures was out of the question. I set my exposure based on the lighting in the middle-upper part of the trees, hoping the foreground could retain some detail. As you pointed out, there really wasn't a white and black point, so the conditions were in my favor to keep the foreground from being too underexposed. I used the dodge tool on selective areas in the foreground to brighten it, bring out some detail, and help with the depth. Overcast misty days also give a bluish cast, so I had to compensate for that which helped warm up the scene.

There ARE lots of deer around here, but I just couldn't get any to cooperate with me that morning.

Thank you again for critiquing my photo! I have much to learn about landscape photography, (my landscape portfolio is quite small!) and I am eagerly awaiting your additional critiques on the other submissions! [FONT=Arial] [/FONT]
__________________
Love to dream, and dream in color.

www.tessa-hd.smugmug.com
www.printandportfolio.com
This summer's wilderness photography project: www.tessa-hd.smugmug.com/gallery/3172341

Last edited by Tessa HD; Mar-28-2008 at 06:58 AM.
Old Mar-27-2008, 09:12 PM
#11
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
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You adjusted well to the unexpected conditions, looking for a vista was not to be this particular morning. However, two exposures would not have done anything. Unless a scene has more than 5, yes FIVE stops of contrast, you do not need to take additional exposures for high dynamic range. This is the second most mystifying concept in photography, second only to print resolution.
So dynamic range is the difference between the brightest point and the darkest point in your scene. The best tool to manage this concept is the histogram that is most likely built into your digital camera. I always shoot and preview the first shot to see where the histogram is in comparison to the 5 stops. If the histogram is protruding both sides of the 5 stop scale than additional exposures will be needed for blending later.
In this case there was about 4 stops of contrast according to the histogram in Photoshop.


After looking at the image some more, I think it is still lacking definition, or as I mentioned earlier, a spark
So, I did some "light shaping" in hopes of adding definition. I do think it improves it a bit, but could be better with more time. The point is, this scene needs something else for the spark.

I don't plan on adjusting every image I critique but it helps to make a point on occasion. I think it would help you to understand dynamic range so that you can then apply it to specific regions of your landscapes. The best way to do this in Photoshop is with quick masks and curves adj layers. I do like the mist


Old Mar-28-2008, 07:16 AM
#12
Tessa HD is offline Tessa HD
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When I started shooting a few years ago I didn't use the histogram at first - I didn't realize what a useful tool it was. I try to always use it now. Good advice on the 5 stops of contrast. Working with dynamic range in Photoshop is obviously another key factor - which I need to be more concious of. What a difference that can make in the quality.

I'm glad you played with the lighting, I need visuals. I think the foreground is kind of sensual! edit: after I typed sensual, I thought that sounded corny, but I still can't think of another word. I like the effect of your changes on the foreground!

Tessa
__________________
Love to dream, and dream in color.

www.tessa-hd.smugmug.com
www.printandportfolio.com
This summer's wilderness photography project: www.tessa-hd.smugmug.com/gallery/3172341

Last edited by Tessa HD; Mar-29-2008 at 06:47 AM.
Old Apr-02-2008, 11:03 PM
#13
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
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wfeller
Another sunset




Great composition
Good depth of field
Good subject
Post processing is too dark
Color balance does not appear natural


I like the mood, location and choice of lens in this image. However, there are three things bothering me about this image. The most important is the dark rocks, which may have been dark in reality but appear too muddy in the presentation here. The other is the color of the rocks, which is spilling over into the clouds, and I think is also contaminating the blue of the sky. I do enjoy the small boulder balanced on the top of the large one which is part of the reason I appreciate your choice of composition. The third problem is the point of view, which I think could have been lower. This would shrink the amount of mid ground, forcing the quartz vein in the foreground closer to the large boulders on the horizon.

Old Apr-03-2008, 07:42 AM
#14
wfeller is offline wfeller
-
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Muench
wfeller
Another sunset


...

Great composition
Good depth of field
Good subject
Post processing is too dark
Color balance does not appear natural


I like the mood, location and choice of lens in this image. However, there are three things bothering me about this image. The most important is the dark rocks, which may have been dark in reality but appear too muddy in the presentation here. The other is the color of the rocks, which is spilling over into the clouds, and I think is also contaminating the blue of the sky. I do enjoy the small boulder balanced on the top of the large one which is part of the reason I appreciate your choice of composition. The third problem is the point of view, which I think could have been lower. This would shrink the amount of mid ground, forcing the quartz vein in the foreground closer to the large boulders on the horizon.
Thanks Marc,

I agree on all points, and thanks for taking the time to review my shot.

Just an overall lightening of the photo makes a major improvement and punches things up quite a bit. I'm not sure why the sky seems to have taken on some of the rock-color. Looking at the layers on the .tif, it was processed separately. I was trying to bring out some of the under-lit-colors I've seen clouds get at that time, and wanted the blue, rich, and deep.

I was hoping that I'd be able to bring out more of the shape and texture in the rock mid-ground to fill up the dead space, and maybe working with the lighter version that could possibly be done.

Again, thank you for your time, it is deeply appreciated.
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Old Apr-04-2008, 09:07 AM
#15
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
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wfeller,

I would like to see the lighter version.
I understand what you were attempting with regards to the color of the bottom of the clouds. I have seen this quite evident in two locations, the tropics and the southwest. On a sunny day with scattered low clouds the red sandstone in the southwest will turn the bottom of the clouds red and in the tropics the aqua water will do the same only of the color green. On occasion I have been told that I made a mistake in the post processing becasue the bottoms of the clouds look red or green To some it is more difficult to explain the reality.
I believe the cast in the bottom of the clouds will be retained in the lighter version.
Old Apr-04-2008, 07:10 PM
#16
wfeller is offline wfeller
-
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Muench
wfeller,

I would like to see the lighter version. ...
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Anybody can do it.
Old Apr-08-2008, 09:24 PM
#17
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
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Well this one is lighter but I dont think it is what I had in mind

The problem seams to be that the bushes and rocks are muddy. By muddy I mean there is a lack of contrast in this region as if multiple exposures were combined but where the masks overlapped contrast was minimized. I will often incounter this problem when i use the command to select all data over 128 by depressing command + opt + tilde (mac) If I then make a curves adjment on this selection often times the edges get muddy and I have to refine them with a brush.
So I must ask is this made of multiple exposures or were masks used to lower the contrast range?
Old Apr-08-2008, 10:22 PM
#18
wfeller is offline wfeller
-
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Muench
Well this one is lighter but I dont think it is what I had in mind

The problem seams to be that the bushes and rocks are muddy. By muddy I mean there is a lack of contrast in this region as if multiple exposures were combined but where the masks overlapped contrast was minimized. I will often incounter this problem when i use the command to select all data over 128 by depressing command + opt + tilde (mac) If I then make a curves adjment on this selection often times the edges get muddy and I have to refine them with a brush.
So I must ask is this made of multiple exposures or were masks used to lower the contrast range?
I didn't think I'd get away that easy. My lack of photoshop skills is showing.

One exposure. Masks, for the lack of a better word (actually, crude area selection), were used to create layers of the sky, the scrub area to the right and later, the top of the rock in the foreground. These selections were after curves and shadow/highlight adjustments were made to the overall image- Probably not the best processing flow.

The more I'm getting into this, the more I'm finding I need to learn. My best copout so far is to get more RAW data to work with, and going where the flowers are, and shooting more proper exposures wherever I'm at in the last few weeks. I've been hoping catch up once things dry up and slow down a bit. I purchased a copy of PS Masking & Compositing -Katrin Eismann, but just owning the book hasn't made me any smarter. What little I've read has helped, but hopefully, in a few days I'll have some more time with it. I do need to have something that doesn't look too horrific produced in the next week or so.
__________________
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Old Apr-08-2008, 10:44 PM
#19
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
Artist in Residence
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Katrin's books are great ones and will help you create the perfect masks
Old Apr-09-2008, 06:19 AM
#20
wfeller is offline wfeller
-
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Muench
Katrin's books are great ones and will help you create the perfect masks
I'm looking forward to learning and developing some pp skills with it.

Thanks for the comments on the sky, especially about how the SW turns in relation to other places. I've often wondered about that. Other than a somewhat forced trek to a beach every year, or two, or three, I prefer to remain provincial. There's a couple ~mini-phenomena~ I get called on, but there's a few desert rats that get what I'm up to. Maybe can't make everyone happy, but by knowing where I'm truly falling short, I can glean a few more from the fringe of whatever it is I'm following.
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