Tafoni Lite

The Pacific Coast around Pescadero, CA has multiple composition opportunities. I didn’t expect the tafoni to be there when I explored the area but they did stand out from the rest and I quickly warmed up to them. I had trouble with color in this image. My instinct told me to reduce it, which I did. I later tried to make it stand out more with the color and it looked really artificial to my eye. I’m wondering what you think on the matter.

Ed’s rework:


Great textures and diagonals in this unique image Igor. I really like the soft and muted color palette with a slightly bluish tint to it. This is really well seen. Even the protruding rock about 2/3 the up the right side of the image doesn’t distract that much from everything this has to offer. Love how you incorporated the three main features (I don’t even know what to call them) with the larger one up front and the two smaller ones falling off in just the right area of the image to draw the eye through the entire scene.

I especially like your high key presentation Igor. The textures and diagonal motion are amazing. No nits from me.

This is a great abstract composition Igor. I like the layering of the web-like formations and the diagonal lines give the composition some rhythm. I don’t know what the color was like in the scene, but your presentation looks natural to my eye. I think this might be a good candidate for black and white to place even more emphasis on the lines and textures.

You know what? The next day I went back and shot this, actually the next one I’ll post from the side so that the lines ran horizontally rather than diagonally. When I came home and saw it on the big screen, what a disappointment. The image was dead. It had lost it’s vitality. It was plain boring.

You’re probably right. I haven’t even thought that far along. I didn’t see it in b&w. I liked the faint subtle colors. I thought they complemented the gentle nature of this image.

Note the similarity between the above image and this image:


Oh, I love the color and the way the rocks look like waves. Perhaps you could saturate the color just a tiny bit more, but maybe that would interfere with the textures and shapes. I rather like seeing these in color vs. b&w, in that we’ve seen these in b&w before (a la Edward Weston).

Igor, this is wonderful, it has a very effective composition. It has numerous strong diagonal lines, and I absolutely love the echoing of the tafoni shapes as you recede into the background. The brown tootsie roll shape in the middle adds some nice visual interest too. There are a lot neat details for the viewer to enjoy here.

While I think this would also make for an interesting B&W image, I am really enjoying the soft color palette in the version you presented, the colors are very soothing. The subtle blue grey and the light tan are a very nice combination. I thinks the subtle colors work very well. I would not increase color saturation, your instincts were good on that. My only suggested tweaks would be to darken the dark tones for a little more contrast and definition in the rocks, and then I would burn the midtones to the right and below the tafoni formation in the foreground. Here is a rework reflecting my comments.

Thank you Ed. That was not the direction I thought I wanted to go but now that I see your changes it’s hard to understand why I was so reluctant. The added richness in tonality at the bottom area has added a great deal of beauty. I like it very much. It’s interesting in that I had actually dodged the ‘tootsie roll’ to make it compatible with the rest. The rework is definitely a more arresting interpretation.

This is beautiful and I love the rework

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Pretty cool image, Igor. I love this kind of soft color pallette. @Ed_McGuirk’s rework is subtle and pleasing.

This is gorgeous, Igor. The diagonals work really well and I love the soft pastel color palette you chose for this intriguing landscape. I have never seen anything quite like the rock formations here and I have to say they are very fascinating. I like how you placed the three similar formations in the frame to draw the viewer into the scene. I like @Ed_McGuirk’s subtle tweeks, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with your version either.

I’ve got nothing to add, very well balanced composition and the subtle colours are magnificent.
Really like Ed’s rework as well, but it didn’t really need it in my opinion.

Igor, I’m liking the original rendition, gorgeous pastel colors and a lightness that appeals to me. Ed’s rendition is also very well done, image looks sharper and colors stand out more…I like them both, but favor your original.

Late to the party here but I really enjoy this image. I love the textures, lines and really like there is three sets of the “webby” looking areas. Great find!

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This is beautiful, Igor. Your composition is perfect, but I prefer Ed’s slight darkening. I love the muted rust color and all the details.

@Ed_McGuirk, @Bonnie_Lampley, @Reno_DiTullio, @Ed_Lowe, @Bill_Chambers, @Michael_Lowe, @andrew_hertel, @jurre, @Eric_Bennett, @Brian_Schrayer, @Eva_McDermott

Thank you for your comments. I believe that I figured out why bothered me about this image. It’s out of focus. It’s out of focus by a very small amount so it’s hardly noticeable. However, when you try to sharpen it in ACR it won’t sharpen. And it’s not a DOF issue because it out of focus the same from near to far. It’s unclear how that happened but even though this was not intended to be razor sharp it’s a wasted image.

Igor, with all due respect, this is not a wasted image. This is one of my favorite images from you. I looked really hard and it’s difficult to see any significant OOF issues, at least for web display. Some added clarity in LR, using TK Clarity, or Topaz Sharpen AI can salvage this for web display. ACR sharpening leaves a lot to be desired IMO if that is what you tried. Whether it can do the trick for a large print may be another issue, but one would need to see the raw file to evaluate it.

But lets assume there is some softness here. Looking back at this, it may have been a candidate for focus stacking given the layers of depth in the scene.

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I agree with Ed. Try Topaz Sharpen AI, it can work miracles on images that are just slightly OOF. Download it on a Trial basis perhaps and try it out to see if it can help.

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Igor, when you posted this originally, you did not list any technical data, such as focal length. If you used a longer focal length on this image, such as > 70mm, then focus stacking would have been needed for sure. This situation is analogous to shooting the surface of a pond with a telephoto lens, you are shooting at enough of an angle that focus stacking is needed to expand DOF.

I agree with everyone else on this, it is a fascinating and intriguing image of a fascinating place. I am always curious as to how you feel about your original post. I quoted you above, as you use the word “instinct.” I am very fond of intuition, gut feeling and the self-actualization of doing things for ourselves.

As we add contrast to the scene, we can affect the color to a lesser or greater degree depending on the techniques used. But at the end of the day, your initial interpretation is unique, as only you can feel that “yes, I love that for me” moment.

I love your original, we can reprocess all day long and some may resonate more or less than the original. Each one is unique and says something different. Only your words can actually express your preference :slight_smile:

Great image - a beauty.