Glen Etive - Re-worked

Tim Tucker

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I didn't pay much attention to this at the time, but a few people liked it more than I thought it was worth so I've spent a little more time on it. It was shot on a windy day (kept blowing the tripod over :eek:) in a gap between very heavy showers (just before a mad dash back to the car ;)).

_DSC6150_sRGB_sm.jpg




Now I've been warbling on about tone-mapping and equalising values in another thread, so I decided to tone map this image to see the effects below.
See how the impression of light almost disappears from the foreground water in the tone-mapped version. This impression of light is created, in the original, by the light tones of the water against the darker tones of the banks. It's the interplay of the light area against the dark and there's a rhythm of shapes. Tone-mapping has not only raised the values of the tones on the banks, it has also lowered some of the tones in the water. Now the water is composed of similar tones and values to the banks with the result that they begin to look similar. They've been equalised in value, there's no longer an interplay between light and dark. The rhythm between the areas has been replaced with a pattern of micro-contrast that spans the whole foreground, the stream itself is no longer a separate shape.

EDIT: It's not all about seeing detail in everything. In the original I saw the shape of the bright water as reflection the light areas of sky and the area of dark middle bank in the lower left mirrors the mountain ridge behind. This is what I mean when I talk about the interplay and rhythm of light and dark, the separate and distinguishable shapes. See how they disappear in the tone-mapped version and the rhythm becomes an unfathomable one of random micro-contrast.


Original:
original.jpg

Tone-mapped:
mod-1.jpg
 
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Designer

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What you've done is excellent!

Can you do anything to increase the separation between the distant snow-covered mountain and the sky?
 

WesternGuy

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I like what you are doing here. I would like to know how you are doing the tone mapping and why - my curiosity gets the better of me. If I was approaching this sort of thing, I would simply select the "darker areas" (there are many ways to do this) and lightened them a bit.

WesternGuy
 
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Tim Tucker

Tim Tucker

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What you've done is excellent!

Can you do anything to increase the separation between the distant snow-covered mountain and the sky?

Thanks :), and already have. In reality the mountains have a similar tone and contrast as the sky and if you really look at them you'll see the snow does stand out as a bit bright. If I push it any further they begin to look luminous. ;) The problem is that rain and overcast conditions are very similar to fog in that the black point disappears with distance, so to separate them by contrast means you have to raise the white point. If I gave the distance more of a black point it would tend to merge with the foreground and the impression of depth would be more consistent with a clear atmosphere, if you see what I mean. If I printed this though I would add some clarity to get a little more black in the image.

I like what you are doing here. I would like to know how you are doing the tone mapping and why - my curiosity gets the better of me. If I was approaching this sort of thing, I would simply select the "darker areas" (there are many ways to do this) and lightened them a bit.

WesternGuy

As little as possible in Camera Raw. If you tone map first then you equalise the contrast across the entire image and it becomes a lot more difficult to separate the darker areas from the lighter ones in PhotoShop. For a tone-mapped image your luminosity masks become a map of the micro-contrast. Think of a luminosity mask for the tone mapped example, the "lights" would be evenly distributed across the foreground. If you don't tone map then the "darks" become the whole foreground area minus the stream, you have maintained separation. Here is a screenshot of the raw editing, by bringing the highlights down I am able to increase exposure and bring the shadows up without "equalising" the natural variations in local contrast between the land and the light reflecting off the water. With better ETTR exposure I could probably improve upon this as I don't like to do even this much in raw editing.
You have to resist the urge to make everything visible because with it comes the urge to give everything contrast and the inevitable result that all things become more equal. By increasing any of the foreground values you add light which decreases the visual separation between areas and shapes. It also decreases the illusion of depth in these conditions as the black point would not be able to raise with distance.
The crop is because of the "vandalism" by certain visitors. They park their cars by the water so they don't have to walk so far (saving all of 20 yards) to a spot where they can leave all their rubbish behind. It also allows them to churn up the ground with tyre tracks. See here: Highland tourists ‘destroying’ Glen Etive - The Scotsman and here: Glen Etive the dirty truth. Annoys the hell out of me. :mad:

Raw edit:
raw-edit.jpg
 
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Derrel

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Tim Tucke said:
SNIP>>>>
EDIT: It's not all about seeing detail in everything. In the original I saw the shape of the bright water as reflection the light areas of sky and the area of dark middle bank in the lower left mirrors the mountain ridge behind. This is what I mean when I talk about the interplay and rhythm of light and dark, the separate and distinguishable shapes. See how they disappear in the tone-mapped version and the rhythm becomes an unfathomable one of random micro-contrast.

As one of my favorite photo bloggers has often said in regard to the work many people produce when doing heavy tone mapping: "Light from everywhere, light from nowhere". An utter mess of lighting, with light that appears to have no logical source of origin, little or no lighting direction, and absurd quality of light, at least to people who have been keen observers of light in the natural world.
 

thereyougo!

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What you've done is excellent!

Can you do anything to increase the separation between the distant snow-covered mountain and the sky?

Thanks :), and already have. In reality the mountains have a similar tone and contrast as the sky and if you really look at them you'll see the snow does stand out as a bit bright. If I push it any further they begin to look luminous. ;) The problem is that rain and overcast conditions are very similar to fog in that the black point disappears with distance, so to separate them by contrast means you have to raise the white point. If I gave the distance more of a black point it would tend to merge with the foreground and the impression of depth would be more consistent with a clear atmosphere, if you see what I mean. If I printed this though I would add some clarity to get a little more black in the image.

I like what you are doing here. I would like to know how you are doing the tone mapping and why - my curiosity gets the better of me. If I was approaching this sort of thing, I would simply select the "darker areas" (there are many ways to do this) and lightened them a bit.

WesternGuy

As little as possible in Camera Raw. If you tone map first then you equalise the contrast across the entire image and it becomes a lot more difficult to separate the darker areas from the lighter ones in PhotoShop. For a tone-mapped image your luminosity masks become a map of the micro-contrast. Think of a luminosity mask for the tone mapped example, the "lights" would be evenly distributed across the foreground. If you don't tone map then the "darks" become the whole foreground area minus the stream, you have maintained separation. Here is a screenshot of the raw editing, by bringing the highlights down I am able to increase exposure and bring the shadows up without "equalising" the natural variations in local contrast between the land and the light reflecting off the water. With better ETTR exposure I could probably improve upon this as I don't like to do even this much in raw editing.
You have to resist the urge to make everything visible because with it comes the urge to give everything contrast and the inevitable result that all things become more equal. By increasing any of the foreground values you add light which decreases the visual separation between areas and shapes. It also decreases the illusion of depth in these conditions as the black point would not be able to raise with distance.
The crop is because of the "vandalism" by certain visitors. They park their cars by the water so they don't have to walk so far (saving all of 20 yards) to a spot where they can leave all their rubbish behind. It also allows them to churn up the ground with tyre tracks. See here: Highland tourists ‘destroying’ Glen Etive - The Scotsman and here: Glen Etive the dirty truth. Annoys the hell out of me. :mad:

Raw edit:
View attachment 113818

Great thread. I think the obsession with dynamic range can go too far (says he with two cameras with about 14 stops). If you you have no shadows, then there are fewer shapes and textures.

I also agree with what you say about the state of Glen Etive. I was there 18 months ago, and drove sown to the car park close to the loch. I'd like to say that it's unbelievable how inconsiderate and lazy people are, but it's all too believable. If I have a spare carrier bag or similar with me I try to pick up what I can. It's easier than cloning it out afterwards sometimes!
 

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