Crosby beach / Iron Men

Forums Critique Requests Crosby beach / Iron Men

This topic contains 16 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  D. Williams 4 years, 3 months ago.

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    I’m going for a double whammy here! Not only are these the first photos I’ve posted they’re also scenic shots which, from what I’ve heard, fly in the face of fashion at the moment.

    Anyway, I’ve posted a couple of pre/post manipulation shots. They were taken about a month ago on Crosby beach (first time I’d been) and I was lucky enough to be provided with a lovely overcast sunset.

    As I’m only beginning to get to grips with the non-automatic functions of my camera, any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Oh, and if anybody sees any stray HTML code knocking about please forgive me, I’m very rusty!



    Wow, the difference between the first two images is barely noticeable on here … they are different, honest.



    Mervin-well done for posting-lovely sky will leave to experts re composition-very well done , let’s have more. Ken


    Ian McNab

    You’ve got off to a good start with these, Merv. You’re right that the first two are not very different here on the forum. One problem is that the forum pages put the photos on a white background, which doesn’t really do them justice, as it’s too bright.

    I can see the second of your two shots has a somewhat warmer tonality. I wonder if making it a bit brighter would help? In terms of composition, perhaps if you were doing it again, you might try moving a bit to the left, so that the Gormley figure was a bit further in – say about a third of the width of the frame from the left, and about on the diagonal from the bottom left to the top right corner?

    I think the way you’ve cropped the last picture is a big improvement on the original, and the golden sky works really well, too. Again, though, I wonder if you might want to try giving the boat a bit more space on the left, as it’s rather close to the edge of the frame – in that regard, it seems in a better position in the original shot.

    Great to see your photos appearing here already, Merv. Do please post more!


    Ian McNab

    Merv >>> Just out of interest, what photo editing software are you using?


    meg cumming

    Well done for posting your images Mervyn and welcome to the society. Great to see what you do, of your Iron Men I prefer the second because the warmth and tonality is better and the lighting doesn’t seem as muddy either. I agree with Ian that images are better suited to being set against a black background.

    Again like Ian I prefer your original image because it allows the ship more room.Though the second crop is better taking some of the foreground away is a better composition. So if you can re crop it again but leave in more of the wake of the ship it’ll look the better for it.

    Keep posting we want to see more of what you can do.


    Ian McNab

    Meg’s comments move us on really nicely, and help us appreciate what the important elements of Merv’s third picture are – i.e. the things that ‘tell the story’ or ‘carry the meaning’. These are the boat, the windmills and the lovely sky that the windmills are silhouetted against. The figures on the beach are also supporting elements.

    So I wonder if it would help to make these things really salient in the picture, by removing the things that aren’t contributing much to the story – the upper part of the sky; the lower part of the foreground. That moves us towards thinking about a ‘letterbox’ sort of format that will also emphasise the horizontal layering of the visual design.

    Apologies, Merv, for editing your picture, but it seemed easier to show everyone what I had in mind, rather than trying to describe it in words. So, here goes…



    Could perhaps do with being a bit brighter now, and the colour needs adjusting in the lovely way that Merv has achieved in his last version. And I didn’t really have enough pixels left from the small JPG on the forum to do the picture’s sharpness justice. But I hope you all get the idea. What do you reckon???




    That has really transformed Mervins photo into a very good image and a nice little tutorial. Will just throw in another pennyworth Mervin.As Ian has explained to try and place things on the thirds for composition–and if you can when taking the photo arrange that the subject is looking into the photo and not on the edge looking out.Tell you what Mervin–crop your  full size file of boat and mills like Ian has –and you have a smashing photo.KEN


    Ian McNab

    Merv said

    As I’m only beginning to get to grips with the non-automatic functions of my camera, any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.”

    I’d suggest you have a play with Aperture Priority (called ‘A’ mode on a Nikon camera; ‘Av’ mode on a Canon). This lets you decide the aperture value, and the camera works out the right shutter speed for the ‘correct’ exposure.

    The aperture value determines the ‘depth of field’ – how much of the area in front of and behind the subject will  also be in focus.

    Wide apertures (1.4, 2, 2.8, 4) have narrow depth of field (especially if the subject is closer to you, and you’re using the telephoto end of a zoom lens). So not much will be in focus in front of and behind the subject. (Great for portraits, for instance.)

    Small apertures (8, 11, 16, 22) have much wider depth of field (especially if the subject is further away from you, and you’re using the wide-angle end of a zoom). Everything will be in focus from a good way in front of the subject to probably as far away as you can see. (Great for landscapes, of instance.)

    A small caveat, however. When I said the camera works out the right shutter speed for the ‘correct’ exposure, it’ll only really be right for scenes of even brightness. The bright sky in your first shot above, for example, might trick the camera into choosing an exposure that’s a bit too dark. So you have to use ‘exposure compensation’ to correct it: turn it up to +1 perhaps for your first picture above. (And check your shot on the back of the camera, or with the histogram display, to see if it’s now about right or if you need to turn it up a bit more.)

    This has also happened in your boat picture – the camera’s light meter is trying to keep the sky properly exposed, and not blow out the highlights; so it has told the camera to lower the overall exposure, and this turns the boat into a dark silhouette. However, here that actually works quite well, so no need to compensate.

    On the other hand, if you’d photographed a black cat in the open doorway of a dark cellar, the camera would have tried to adjust the exposure to make the scene look averagely bright – and that would have made your cat and the doorway look grey instead of black. So in that sort of case, you need to turn the exposure compensation down to -1 or -1.5 (and check your shot to see if it needs even more).

    (As you probably already know, there are lots of tutorials on the web about the ‘exposure triangle: aperture, shutter speed, ISO’. And there are others about using the camera’s different exposure modes: aperture priority, shutter priority, manual. Ask any questions you have on the ‘All about photography’ forum, and I’m sure you’ll get helpful advice!)

    Hope this helps!

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by  Ian McNab.

    D. Williams

    Well done for posting Mervin. I really like both of these and can see a difference between before and after.

    There is nearly always a ‘but’ 😉 …. and I do agree that the main point of interest (figure / boat ) needs to be further from the edge of the picture. I like the figures on the beach in the boat photo which add a sense of scale.  Ian I agree that losing some top and bottom is an idea but I think you’ve possibly overdone it a bit. The boat seems too high up for me in your version and I still would like a little more of that beautiful sky left in.

    The Gormley figures are something I have always wanted to have a go at and have never managed.  So many angles … so little time!  If only my knees weren’t wrecked.

    Keep up the good work.  We are looking forward to seeing more.


    Ian McNab

    Dee >>> Yes, there are several other possibilities; and, as you say, Merv has captured a lovely sky. So I guess you’d prefer something more like this…



    Merv >>> I hope you’re finding it helpful to see that there are no ‘right’ answers!!! 😉


    D. Williams

    Yes Ian I find that much easier on the eye and the boat position works for me. In the slimmer version the sky and foreground have become just a top and bottom stripe.  I can hear a judge saying this could be cut through the middle (especially in the narrow version) and be two pictures.  All in all I think it is lovely and has great potential.

    All just individual opinions Mervin … in the end the only one that really matters is your own because you have more personally invested in the image.

    It’s all just for fun at the end of the day! 🙂




    Ian McNab

    It’s a bit ‘off topic’ (apologies to Merv!), but I just came across some interesting examples of very long letterbox format / panorama-style shots in the work of the world-renowned Chinese photographer, Fan Ho:

    (They’re interspersed among stuff in more usual formats, so you’ll have to click through – tho’ don’t click too fast, as the photographs are very impressive!)

    It’s an unconventional format, but it can be dramatic.



    Wow-knock me down with a fan. Back Alley-the contre joure lighting-who needs colour. Great set Ian makes you want to get out with camera.



    Wow! Thanks very much everybody for the feedback, tips, etc … greatly appreciated. So, in response … and not necessarily in the correct order … but here goes:

    Ian: I have a copy of Photoshop CS5, which I’m also on a steep learning curve with. Thanks for the info on exposure and compensation. I’ve read a few pieces about this, as well as aperture priority vs. shutter priority. I understand the fundamentals of the technical aspects but it’s a bit like learning to drive I think … you want to be able to do the technical stuff automatically, or with little thought, so you can concentrate on capturing good shots. All in time, and with practice I guess. I’m also a great believer in not limiting myself when it comes to cropping images … if I think it works and I like it, I’m all for cropping things wide and low or tall and thin … whatever suits the subject.

    I’ve also heard of, and try to stick by, the rule of thirds … though I may be interpreting it slightly differently to others! I’ve done a little work with the ‘sky’ shot (following some of the suggestions, and also altering the manipulation a little) and I’m happy with the outcome. I think I’m going to leave it at that as I also believe in not ‘over trying’. It’s at the end of the post so you can make your own minds up.

    As regards my shot of the statue, I can see what people are saying about the composition but I’m still happy with the way it looks bar the levels. What grabbed me originally was the long shadow cast behind the statue, and I composed the shot with this in mind. Unfortunately I missed the perfect lighting by a couple of seconds and the shadow didn’t stand out as I wanted it to. Briefly, the sky was the top third and the beach was the bottom two thirds. The line between the two was the sea wall and this met up nicely with the shadow from the statue on the right of the image. I liked the way the statue was on the periphery and seemed to be ignoring me whilst looking wistfully out to sea.

    Anyway, thanks again for the feedback, and here comes my final ‘Crosby Sky’ image:


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