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Kandid Letters's picture

Which sky is the best?

Hello everybody,

would someone take the time and tell me their opinion which of the photos looks best?
Tips on how to improve the pictures besides the sky are also welcome.

Thank you very much.

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Brian Cover's picture

Shadows don't match the light source, looks too fake for my taste.
Colors are not balanced, the green seems artificial to me.

Kandid Letters's picture

Thank you for your opinion. That's what I felt but the actual situation in the field was boring with very flat light that came from all directions with the same intensity. But adding a sun in post is hard to make look real.
So, I decided to drop the sun and go with a cloudy sky, reduce the green and change the composition by removing the ridge to the left.

James Lee's picture

Have a vision, have an opinion. We want you to tell us which sky is best.

Kandid Letters's picture

I have a vision: It's adding an extra like a sunset. The problem is the technical realization that doesn't seem to work. I could darken the areas where the shadows should be but but I don't think it would look natural.

Vijay Mewada's picture

Image 2 among the given lot. For its tonality.
For the same reason Image 3 identified for its sky replacement, the landscape does not respond to the light/colours of the sky.
My opinion

Chris Jablonski's picture

Sometimes a beautiful scene just does not make a captivating photo in my opinion, landscape in flat contre-jour light being a frequent case in point, Kandid. Sometimes our efforts can lead to the proverbial over-processed appearance.

I agree with the others' comments about the mismatch between the scene and tha lighting, which I think is inevitable and ultimately insoluble. I think the image would only work if you made the most of what was there, perhaps emphasising a brooding atmosphere (if that's what you felt) with a low-key approach. The blue and cold emerald green colours dominating doesn't help its attractiveness to my eye either, having a somewhat repellent effect..

To me, it looks like a stitched pano, unless that landscape is truly extraordinary, and that adds to the unnaturalness of the whole thing for me. I know it's a very popular technique, but the results of it don't "take me there" - they're not immersive in the way a straight wide-angle lens image can be. Even the more extreme wide-angle lenses start to create an unnatural and off-putting feel; if you think about it, they require the viewer to stand inches from a large print to get the correct perspective.

I admire your hard work to realise your vision, Kandid. Posting these variants points to the difficulty you faced. Sometimes it's better to wait for the next opportunity with a scene that's more promising to begin with. We're at Nature's mercy with landscapes.

All just my opinions, and thank you for your openness. You've certainly provided fuel for discussion! :-)

Kandid Letters's picture

Hi Chris,

thank you for your long and thoughtful comment.
To photograph this scene was a wish I nurtured for more than a year. Finally the day had come. I paid a lot of money, blew a lot of a CO2 into the atmosphere which causes me to have a bad conscience and after all this waiting and efforts I eventually stood on the parking lot close to the trail head and saw nothing but low hanging clouds.
I hiked up the mountain hoping that the clouds will go away at least for a while. I waited two hours on the mountain top with zero visibility and light rain and unpleasant wind. I hiked down with nothing on my SD card.
Several hours later the clouds were a lot higher and the landscape unfolded before my eyes. So, I hiked up again. Around midnight I took my pictures in a blue hour light, and that's what I tried to improve on the computer.
(I'm not so obsessed with the photo to be unable to enjoy the scenery and the hike and the whole vacation.)

You are right about the stitched panorama. I prefer this over a wide angle lens because the wide angle lens dwarfs the mountains too much. In reality you see majestic mountains but on the photo they seem far a away and small. The pano tends to convey the real impression better.

Your remarks on the blue and green colors gave me the idea to try a black and white version. I think it's a good alternative to all the other attempts.

Chris Jablonski's picture

You were literally trying to turn night into day here, which is a big ask! No wonder you had flat light. Not even contre jour.

This version is far better to my eye, Kandid! When there is a "boring" sky, monochrome often comes into its own. I say this as someone who does little mono; it can be a saviour.

The sky still looks too dark for the reflections, which are always darker than what they reflect. This is especially so at the left. This is only an issue if you want a natural, plausible appearance, of course. There's no limit to photographic creativity.

Kandid Letters's picture

Thank you again for the encouragement. I'll stay wit the b/w version.