Raw image supplied, as well as a JPG with Helen's interpretation (H). Exposure good with histogram biased to the right (bright) side, giving latitude for processing the shadows. Most of the rocks are in good focus (f10) or close enough so that there are no distracting out-of-focus areas. The tide is going out!...my term for a tilted horizon. The composition is crowded at the top of frame. Shutter speed of 1/6th of a second has produced pleasing spraybursts. CRITIQUE
For Helen's interpretation (H): Helen, your crop has cut to the chase and dismissed much of the foreground that wasn't adding value. I feel that it's a shame that you didn't include more headroom at the time of shooting to give the thrown up spray some room to move (even if you ended up cropping dead space from the top). You could have anticipated that? Overall, you've made a good capture, though. You've given yourself plenty of options.
I feel that your processing is a bit heavy handed: there are some dense blacks and the tone-mapping effect on some of the water (P) has rendered parts of the image more like a coarsely brushed painting than a photograph. I recommend erring on the side of restrained processing because many people go the other way and it can become same-same (clichéd).
Your processing has spread the histogram wider across the range (bottom left histogram) and that's a good thing. The processed image has a wider dynamic range than the raw original, as expected, but there's crushing at the dark end indicating loss of shadow detail that can enhance the rock texture.
I like the idea of adding a digital frame to finish an image off. I don't get it when some judges criticise the practice yet are accepting of the tradition of presenting physical prints in a mat board! Discrimination.
Having complimented your use of the digital frame, I feel that the white inner border is too thick and competes with the image. Of course, such things are a matte of taste.
The tide is still 'going out' but it's less disconcerting in the cropped view because it can be passed off as an angled crest of a swell. INTERPRETATION by Rob in Lightroom:
I made a less radical crop, Helen, because I liked the idea of balancing the mass of the large rock on the right with the smaller on the left, and placing the slot between the rocks in a more traditional location (shhh...rule of thirds). Also, I didn't want to lose so much of the wave spraying behind the big rock. Impertinently, I showed King Canute how to do it and stilled the tide! (straightened the horizon).
There's a wealth of detail in the dark rocks and I didn't want to crush it with heavy-handed processing.
Increased exposure by 1/3 stop to push the whites further to the right (The image could have been exposed further to the right at the point of capture without clipping the highlights). Using the basic sliders, I brightened the whites and darkened the blacks, spreading the histogram across the range.
Increased clarity to enhance texture in rocks, water and spray. Played with the tone curve to enhance contrast in the rocks. Darkened aquas and blues using the luminance slider. Used the local adjustment tools to finesse particular areas...
- Added a couple of stacked -0.5 stops gradient filters from top down, biased to top left by tilting slightly anticlockwise to darken sky
- Added one -0.75 stops gradient filter from bottom up, biased to bottom right by tilting slightly anticlockwise to darkened bottom right foreground
- Used local adjustment brush and sliders (contrast, highlights, shadows, clarity) to enhance the spraybursts against the darkened sky
- Used local adjustment brush and sliders (+1.0 stops exposure, +67 contrast, +38 highlights, +43 clarity) and a yellow tint, to enhance impression of reflected light on some of the flat rock surfaces
- Used local adjustment brush and sliders (-0.7 stops exposure, +66 contrast, +28 highlights, -4 shadows, +52 clarity) to darken some rock areas to contrast with and support the idea of reflected light in step 4 above
I have included the fine details (numbers) of the steps in 4. and 5. to show how multiple adjustments can be made with a single application of a local adjustment brush tool. The same goes for gradient and radial filters. ®