Black and White Critique

Living in Arkansas I do not get many opportunities to shoot scenes like this. Part of me is torn between capturing the scene and simply enjoying what is around me. The fog we had today help blanket out the background and add some mood to the scene. I liked the solitude of this one rock structure. I noticed as certain waves would wrap around it that it created a nice white foam that contrasted well with the sand. Curious as to what you all think.

Shot with a Sony A7rii, Canon 16-35.

F13, ISO 400, 1/500th

I’m open to any input but more specifically interested in if I could have improved the composition.

I think the lines lead you in well and the foam does contrast very nicely. What I would like to see is more space above the sea stack, content aware crop should take care of this quite easily.

Bobby, the leading line of surf looks great as do the details in the water. The darkness of the stack makes it a looming presence, that I think contrasts with the dynamic water. I wonder about dodging the stack or adjusting the b&w conversion to enhance the contrast in the stack. That way a viewer would spend more time looking the stack.

I am really enjoying the scene and the foam leading line works quite well. I would be inclined to select the stack and add a little contrast, bring up the mids and deepen the deep blacks. I like David’s idea of adding a little sky at the top, too. Real nice take from the beach.

1 Like

I love the simple, clean composition choice here, Bob!

Like David said, I also agree some more space above the sea stack would be nice even though you probably wanted to avoid that since the sky is pretty plain. The extra room above the seastack would add some nice breathing room though and it wouldnt feel so smashed in. Right now it just feels like you tried to get too much into the frame. Like DK said you can use a content aware transform or you can use the crop tool to add a bit of space to the top and then select the entire area above the seastack with a rectangular selector too and then stretch it up or use the content aware fill after selecting and it will clone in the sky for you.

Hope this could help!

Your friend,
Eric

Great suggestions so far. As mentioned the surf leading in is really nice. A couple other things I would try… As an alternative to adding more room at the top, maybe using a 4x5 aspect ratio and cropping off some of the bottom. The more “squat” 4x5 aspect ratio might help solve the heaviness at the bottom and wanting for more room at the top. But be wary of ruining that great leading line! You want to keep that. The other thing I usually try with a monochrome bright sky is a bit of vignette. It can give it an “old fashion” feel since older lenses tended to have more light fall-off.
This is definitely worth working a little as the surf and beach foreground is so nice!

1 Like

I really love whats going on in the bottom half of this image, the leading line of the sea foam is excellent, and I really like the contrast between the white sea foam and the dark sand. I would recommend not cropping anything from the bottom, it’s great as is. The top half of the image presents more of a challenge, and I think the suggestions you’ve received to add space at the top, add more detail in the rock, and add a vignette would all help. Wonderful subject for B&W in these difficult conditions.

1 Like

Wonderful subject, especially with that amazing line of foam. The B&W treatment works great with the foggy atmosphere. I agree with the suggestions to add some contrast to the stack itself, as long as that is what you want to go for. I think that adding contrast just to the rock might make a more exciting image, but I don’t know if that would be altering reality (which you may or may not want to do). If the personal memory that you want to convey is that the stack was in the fog, then you nailed it.
I think your composition emphasizes the vertical shape of the stack, but since you asked for alternative composition suggestions, here’s one: How about going to a classic 4x5 vertical AND adding just a little more space on the top, but I would hate to part with even an inch of the foreground! It looks like you may have cropped the sides, so unless there are distractions on the sides, I think giving the subject a bit more room on the sides – especially on the left – would de-center the stack and also emphasize the foggy atmosphere even more. Great shot to start with – just some ideas to consider.

Thank you everyone for the feedback. I have added some of the suggestions and came out with what I prefer at the moment. Once I sleep on it for a while that might change :slight_smile: The only thing I might do is back off the vignette slightly.

Bobby, I think you did well with the composition. Really, with such a static subject as the sea stacks are, you really were able to enhance the comp with the use of the foam line - as well as the convergence of the water at the base of the rock. These added some dynamics to the scene. Also, the marine layer works well - not only for mood and atmosphere, but allowing the rock to clearly stand out. The only other suggestion I might have for composition is other possibilities which I’m guessing you may have explored. ie. wider angle horizontal where the sea stack is just a supporting element, more wave lines, etc. - But that’s not a suggestion to improve this one, just alternate views to explore.

Technically, nice job on the rework. I think you added just the right amount of contrast in taking in the suggestions. I also think the vignetting is not so overpowering, but actually nicely effective.

Oh, one last thing about the comp. I mentioned the rock as static. Some times, I think the best option to show off your subject is the straight on, centered, bold composition. Works well here.

Wow, not much to add to the wonderful critiques you’ve already received! Fine job on the repost.

With scenes like this I always spend a bit of time experimenting with the reflection. Here, both the water and sand provide a bit of reflected light that you might try to accentuate further. I’m not sure there’s much to gain by applying that approach to this image…it feels quite natural and any adjustments would have to be minor…but I thought I’d put it out there.

The foamy leading line is a very good way to get into this image. The water looks terrific. That said, the composition feels a little tight and some room at the top would be beneficial. I could also see a little more detail in contrast in the stack itself. These are very difficult images as done in black-and-white with the lighting that you appear to have had at the time of shooting.

The vignetting was a great idea. The glow around the rock makes it look as though it’s coming out of the fog. You could try it even stronger above the horizon.

I agree with the others. This is a very nice image with a strong leading line. I concur that the bottom is very strong and should not be cropped. My eyes want more on the left if it is possible. Centered stack seems less powerful than it might.

Now you have a wide variety of opinions on a very subjective subject. Thanks for posting.

I agree with Patrick. Also, I really like the way the jagged edge of the foam compliments the edges of the stack. If you have it, it would be interesting to see the image shot more from the left side to show more of the ‘V’ shape in the foam as a leading shape to the stack.

I thick it’s been pretty much said: More room at the top and on the left, more contrast in the stack. There are many waqys of accomplishing both, some of which have been cited and explained.

Good work. If there were more room on the left, I still think the composition would be more dynamic. I was just about to suggest shooting me an email if you would like to see a sample of what I was suggesting, but I don’t see email links at the bottom of posts anymore. (Still getting used to the site – maybe we need to click on a member’s icon to send them an email?)

That’s correct Wayne, just click on the avatar and there will be a message button.