Shasta: Results


Dan Margulis
 

I’ve posted the results of the Shasta exercise, the penultimate in a series of ten case studies.

Reviewing: This photo of the iconic Mt. Shasta was taken on a sunny day, but the massive mountain was almost completely obscured by smoke from wildfires. We have 29 entries; one was rejected for being at the wrong aspect. Most people also submitted a list of their steps, thanks very much. I haven’t read these, because I’d rather get a sense of who was successful and who wasn’t before investigating why.

The files don’t have people’s names on them, and were random-generator numbered from #901 to #929. As with past studies, we also have a “par” version, #930. To get it, I chose five that I thought were among the best entrants, and averaged them, each one weighted 20%. This often creates a version that is superior to most if not all of its parents.

Normally I don't comment on results for two days after they're posted. Meanwhile, if you’d like to know how your own version stacked up, download the par version and compare the two directly. Do you think you got the same kind of quality? If not, I hope you’ll find further discussion useful.

The Folder is in the group's Photos section, 2021 Case Study: Shasta,
https://groups.io/g/colortheory/album?id=262071

I also have zipped all entries and uploaded a file to our Files section,
https://groups.io/g/colortheory/files/
Search for 032921_Shasta_entries.zip
If you are going to study these versions I strongly encourage you to download these files. Many of these entrants vary only in a minor way and it is hard to see the impact of a change without toggling back and forth between them.

I look forward to your comments.

Dan Margulis

P.S. Our tenth and final case study will be posted today; look for a separate post. As advertised, there will be an eleventh, but it is unusual and it is unclear when it will appear, probably not next Monday.


Kenneth Harris
 

Choosing my top four was easy, but I've got six competing for the last slot. There's some disagreement here between those who conceived of this as a picture about seeing Mount Shasta and a few who think it's a picture about trying to see it.

Ken Harris


Gerald Bakker
 

The main challenge for this image was of course to give the mountain shape, while keeping believable color. Standard actions like the bigger hammer evoke a lot of bad artifacts (mainly banding). I think good painting skills are required to convert the hazy original to a well-defined background. The foreground is a different story: some basic PPW steps are enough to make it look nice.

The one version that I like very much is 926. It's the only one that has the mountain considerably darker than the sky which gives a very realistic look. (Why didn't I think of this?) I also like the smoky mountain slopes. Maybe the foreground could use more detailing (sharpening?), but this may have been a deliberate choice, to get more focus on the mountain.

My correction is 919. In hindsight, I've been far too conservative in my sky and mountain processing. I remember at some stage having a bluer/darker background, and rejecting it because I thought I went too far.
--
Gerald Bakker
https://geraldbakker.nl


Roberto Tartaglione
 

I really agree with Gerald, 926 is an impressive result for a very “difficult” original.
Mine is #920, not a job to be proud...

Roberto Tartaglione

Il giorno 29 mar 2021, alle ore 17:41, Gerald Bakker <gc.bakker@...> ha scritto:

The one version that I like very much is 926. It's the only one that has the mountain considerably darker than the sky which gives a very realistic look. (Why didn't I think of this?) I also like the smoky mountain slopes. Maybe the foreground could use more detailing (sharpening?), but this may have been a deliberate choice, to get more focus on the mountain.



David Remington
 
Edited

Gerald,

"The one version that I like very much is 926. It's the only one that has the mountain considerably darker than the sky which gives a very realistic look. (Why didn't I think of this?)"

I agree! Why didn't I think of that? The sky should be lighter than the mountain.

Edit:

After trying this I see it is not that simple. There should be more difference between the sky and mountain is the start though.

David


Bill Theis
 

All the exercises of blending are enlightening.  Mine=807.  
However, unless you have access to a sufficient number of such corrections to hand, you cannot do it without being in some kind of study like this one.  Invariably when I attempt to make multiple attempts on my own work that are intended to be significantly different to blend, I make the exact same mistake in each of them.  When I see what someone else's taste and artistic choices produce, my eyes are suddenly opened and improvement is possible, sometimes dramatic.  I am the same person doing the same image, giving myself weeks between the attempts with (hopefully) a changed attitude in-between, but end up with a set of images to blend that do not span the spectrum to tip me off about something amiss.  I attempt to keep a conservative image that has no lab but reasonable correct colors available as one of the images to blend, although clearly it may not be conservative enough! Now add to that AutoTone due to this study. But working by one's self is tough. Anyone want a long term relationship?  I'll do yours if you do mine--then exchange.  This is the reason why in my first response to the pagoda's I was trying to mix with what I had on hand, which was the original and a conservative version.  And yes, I know not every image is worth spending this much time and effort for.  But there are some....


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Bill Theis


Dan Margulis
 



On Mar 29, 2021, at 1:39 PM, Bill Theis via groups.io <williamtheis@...> wrote:

All the exercises of blending are enlightening.  Mine=807.  
However, unless you have access to a sufficient number of such corrections to hand, you cannot do it without being in some kind of study like this one.  

You appear to have picked up numbering from the Pagodas exercise, where you were indeed #807. This time you are #921.

Dan


Dan Derousie
 

I did not submit a version. But I have to say I relate to Bill’s comment. I deal with the same issue by using completely different tools in separate versions and that always gives me something different. I also admit to sometimes using something like Topaz Studio to give me different looks and therefore creative ideas. I admire Dan’s (and others’) ability to identify the issues in each photo. Bottom line for me though is that I need the “outside” help I have described to make up for my lack of analytical ability and artistic creativity.

 

Dan Derousie

 

From: colortheory@groups.io <colortheory@groups.io> On Behalf Of Bill Theis via groups.io
Sent: March 29, 2021 1:39 PM
To: colortheory@groups.io
Subject: Re: [colortheory] Shasta: Results

 

All the exercises of blending are enlightening.  Mine=807. 
However, unless you have access to a sufficient number of such corrections to hand, you cannot do it without being in some kind of study like this one.  Invariably when I attempt to make multiple attempts on my own work that are intended to be significantly different to blend, I make the exact same mistake in each of them.  When I see what someone else's taste and artistic choices produce, my eyes are suddenly opened and improvement is possible, sometimes dramatic.  I am the same person doing the same image, giving myself weeks between the attempts with (hopefully) a changed attitude in-between, but end up with a set of images to blend that do not span the spectrum to tip me off about something amiss.  I attempt to keep a conservative image that has no lab but reasonable correct colors available as one of the images to blend, although clearly it may not be conservative enough! Now add to that AutoTone due to this study. But working by one's self is tough. Anyone want a long term relationship?  I'll do yours if you do mine--then exchange.  This is the reason why in my first response to the pagoda's I was trying to mix with what I had on hand, which was the original and a conservative version.  And yes, I know not every image is worth spending this much time and effort for.  But there are some....


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Bill Theis


--
Dan Derousie


Bill Theis
 

sorry.  Yes mine=921 for shasta.  I meant to post in the pagoda thread but the comment that I made applies to every one of the images.  Working without comparison feedback is tough and I try hard to get the variation I need for blending.  I might have to resort to non-photoshop corrections like Dan Derousie suggests...
 
So comment about Shasta:  I personally like a less blue sky since I think it detracts by making everything too colorful.  My cedar trees are also less colorful and maybe too yellow so the par beats me there.  So the emphasis in color in this image, IMHO, should be the foreground bushes and grass with whatever you can get out of the mountain luminosity (it is smoky after all).  The very nearest bushes I burned to give more weight to separate from the central grass but made more golden (red) than par.  So besides blends with par, I believe that I might benefit from blending the color from 904 which has nice green in the cedar (but masking the sky).  I also have a noise problem from pushing too hard.


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Bill Theis


David Remington
 

My version is 914.

The tricky part for me with this image was building up Mt Shasta without overly affecting the sky which is prone to posterization. I wanted my image to be "believable". I thought my foreground was okay, but comparing it to the par, and its lineage, I see that it is a bit flat, maybe a bit green. Layered with the par in luminosity mode anywhere from 40 to 60% adds snap and definition. 30 to 50% color mode takes some green out of my foreground and cyan out of my sky. I find these changes are an improvement.

Thinking about the sky/mountain separation, I think color helps. I find the par's Shasta a bit stark though. Looking back at my Camera Raw adjustments only exported file, Shasta and the sky start out at the same hue with very little color in the mountain. Where to go from there.

David


John Furnes
 

Mine is 929,

 

I like the par version. I have not been bold enough. My foreground is somewhat bleak and lacklustre, but I think my background is OK. Having seen the different entries, and the par, I understand that splitting the image, as Dan sys, would force me to do something more with both – the foreground would get more luminosity and perhaps saturation, and the background some blending to (R to B) to emphasize colour and contrast.

I used the snow for whitepoint, and having read Dan’s comment on this, I am not sure I agree. I don’t think it would be correct to blow out the whites. But it works, obviously.

 

I did the experiment that Gerald mentioned, and it came out very well, and much better than my attempt.

 

John Furnes

 

 


John Gillespie
 

My version is 915. I was keen to avoid too much banding and haloing (which I can still detect in the par) but the cost of this is less definition in the mountain in my version. Plus as usual the saturation is too low. 
But getting rid of the smoky effect in its entirety in some ways reduces the interest of the image.
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows defines "vemödalen" as "the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist—the same sunset, the same waterfall" -  the smoke provides a chance to have a different take on a familiar image.  Blending some of 925 (which has the most extreme "smokiness") in luminosity mode using "blend if"  into the par produces an interesting take along these lines.