by Fay Renton
TECHNICAL: RAW image provided. Exposure good—maximising the amount of data in the RAW file by exposing to the right of the histogram. No clipped highlights or shadows. Sharp focus across the rocks. Focus is unimportant on the motion-blurred content, achieved by a creative 0.5 second exposure.
I feel that the composition was arbitrary—too wide and with too much foreground and sky. The subject matter is interesting but, by including so much, the potential of the image is not realised except by cropping.
That said, the image does work with an extreme panoramic 3:1 crop. For the purpose of this exercise, I'm sticking with, let's say, more traditional aspect ratios.
CONSIDER: Zooming in. The image was shot at 120mm on a 70-200mm lens.
INTERPRETATION by Rob in Lightroom: Enhanced saturation of yellows and oranges. Increased contrast by darkening shadow areas. Added vibrance and clarity to bring out the warm tones in sky, background wave, and foreground. Added -negative exposure (darkening)graduated filters from top down and bottom up, including warm tint to enhance subtle tones evident in the raw file.
Cropped to the action with a 16:9 aspect ratio that complements the arrangement of background wave and foreground rocks. I feel that the image now has better dynamic balance and is unified.
Added a +positive exposure radial gradient filter to main rock and enveloping wave. Added a subtle -negative vignette to darken periphery and keep viewer's attention toward the centre of the composition.
Some would say that I could have gone further with saturation and contrast to dramatise the image. Granted. I prefer not to overcook. Others' tastes may differ.
CRITIQUE: It's good that you shot a raw image, Fay. This gave me the maximum possible latitude to process and interpret your image. Your camera craft delivered good raw materials (that's so important), even though a heavy crop was required, in my opinion, to make a stronger image.
What I like about the finished image is the depth induced by the breaking wave in the background set off against the wave consuming the dark rock. This supports the idea of a relentless barrage of waves pounding the coast.
The warm light reflected in patches of the foreground and the matching hue in the bright overcast sky when you shot this. I have capitalised on that attribute during processing.
CONSIDER: Always be on the lookout for subtle light plays in the scene. They might not look like much but they can add life to an image, especially if helped along in post-processing (but not overcooked).
PREDICTION: If this image was entered in a camera club competition, some judges would say that the lack of texture in parts of the wave betrays overexposure. Such judges would be wrong. That's what you get with creamy motion blur. No parts of this image come close to being overexposed. The histogram doesn't lie. ®