RAW file provided. Good exposure. The histogram covers the full range from highlights to shadows with the majority of pixels being in the midtones. Sharp. Appropriate shutter speed to arrest movement. The wave is running downhill (tilted horizon). Composition is arbitrary. INTERPRETATION by Rob in Lightroom: Leveled horizon. Tried various crop options and settled on two (A & B) with A being most favoured. The processing steps below refer to A. Decided that the high key of the original should be preserved. I didn't see any value in grungifying the image with a (fashionable?) dark and dramatic interpretation. The brightness is wonderful. Boosted whites and midtones and darkened some shadows.
CRITIQUE: Well, Marg, I'm pleased with my interpretation of your well exposed original; feeling a bit like I've pulled a rabbit out of a hat! You captured fundamentally good raw materials and it's obvious that zooming in and levelling the camera would have improved the ability to make a large print from the image. On location, and also in my presentation at Northern Zone, I spoke about observation being a key to making good scenery images. With dynamic scenes like seascapes, anticipation is another key. I believe that the zoomed in version of your image could have been anticipated through attentive observation. Big waves would have been breaking at intervals in that same spot. It's worth cultivating one's ability to consider compositions that rely on the right wave in the right place, balanced with another element that can reasonably be expected to appear as well—in this case, the foam-isolated little black rock. I cropped your image to simplify the composition and capitalise on the wonderful design it encapsulates:
- using the local adjustment brush, painted about -0.4 stops exposure on some of the dark patches in the wave face to increase contrast against the foam and provide a foil for the black rock.
- painted about -0.7 stops exposure on the little black rock.
- added a couple of +positive exposure (+0.3 & +0.5 stops), diagonally orientated, graduated filters to brighten the sky from top right corner down and across to wave crest, at an angle matching the pale streak in the clouds.
- painted +0.5 stops exposure with a low opacity setting on the pale streak in the clouds to accentuate it.
- converted to B&W and added split-toning (yellow highlights and blue shadows). I like this effect, with the warmth of the wave highlights reminding me of Blue Ribbon ice cream!
Call me weird; I love how the small wave peak (P) has popped up directly above the rock. It's a strong image in my opinion. I darkened parts of the wave face to echo the little black rock. Equally, though, I could have left them alone and made the little black rock the only dark thing in the image. I can imagine faces in the breaking wave (one a sad face looking at the rock) and they appeal to me as well. Cropping. As you can see, there are a few options. I like A in its entirety because it includes the dynamic of the pale streak in the cloud. But a 2:1 crop also looks good to me. Warning, if you submitted the 2:1 version in a camera club competition the judge might say "Tut, tut...centred horizon." I would say, "Judge, get over yourself!" That judge might also say that the 3:2 crop has "...too much empty sky." Sigh! ®
- a big wave diagonally opposed and balanced by a little black rock
- the slope of the back of the wave leading down and across to the little black rock
- the pale streak in the cloud parallel to the back slope of the wave, coming from top left corner and diagonally opposing the little black rock
- the bulk of the wave break followed by its 'bridal train' sweeping across the image
- the white horses in the background.