Extraction Advice

Steven Pearce Steven Pearce 23 posts

Lately I’ve been looking more into extraction and abstraction of the landscape… removing all but the essential elements including colour.

Was just wanting a bit of feedback as this image has much lower stats than my usual work… is it a dud or is it just not a consumable.

John Shortt-Smith John Shortt-Smith 5 posts

Might just be my computer Steve but can’t open the link. John

John Shortt-Smith John Shortt-Smith 5 posts

Checked it out on your page. I know you don’t want to be messing with these things too much but it is quite a dark photo, and what must have been great light and pattern don’t immediately jump out with great impact. At the risk of intefering with the delicacy of the photo I wonder if this particular one doesnt call for a little more light and possibly contrast and emphasis of the highlights

LaraLuz LaraLuz 925 posts

lets see if this works

Gareth Bowell Gareth Bowell 2 posts

Hey there Steve, for me it feels like there isn’t a clear focal point within the image, there appears to be three. In the top my eyes are drawn to the textured sand, then through to the diagonal light across the rivulets in the centre and finally to the lefthand corner where there is the darker patch.

What I’d try is a roughly a 25% crop off the top to clear away the textured sand, and maybe play with the levels to increase the contrast in the diagonal light to highlight that as the focal point.


Steven Pearce Steven Pearce 23 posts

GEEZ I just spent 20mins working out how to embed an image…

Reading comments.


just because I can now

Steven Pearce Steven Pearce 23 posts

Hows this

Gareth Bowell Gareth Bowell 2 posts

I personally think this is much better! It’d be interesting to get other people perspective.

John Callaway John Callaway 10 posts

Hi Steve

i’m with Gareth on this one. The crop and change in contrast does help to focus my attention on the darker patch bottom left. I know its ‘only’ light but it does intrigue me and make me wonder why this part is different. The apparent graininess in the ‘new’ version gives it an ‘other worldly’ feel which I kind of like too..

Definitely not a dud then in my humble opinion.



Ersu Yuceturk Ersu Yuceturk 190 posts

not to be different but I prefer the original, it’s more interesting. Especially the background. The foreground is your common sun dune patter but the background looks like water. Also for me the foreground dark patch on the left is too distracting.

Cerun Cerun 57 posts

I was going to post an example from another artist I watch but they have removed the image from their gallery. I will comment thusly however. It seems to me that your endeavors are not necessarily to show simple landscapes, you are treading into territory that is primarily going to be focused on light and textures. Be it a macro shot of a leaf, or a shot of sand such as this, your focus and interest isn’t neccessarily the object your shooting but the play between light and texture on its surface and the contrast and feel it creates. It doesn’t apply specifically to landscape either, it could easily be transferred into the macro photography as well, if you look at it that way then everything becomes your subject. From a rusty bucket, to desert, to glaciers, etc.

(On another note I couldn’t help but notice you’ve got a bit of dust and scratches on there. Nothing horrible but much more noticeable on an image like this where your playing with B&W and the light.)

BYRON BYRON 12555 posts

Rather dark and lacking contrast.

Settings: not supplied.

Exposure: It seems under-exposed, you could boost the contrast considerably in post-production. It is crying out for some black blacks and white whites.

Lighting: You seem to be shooting towards the light. I think you should have kept the sun closer to your left shoulder, that would have accented the shadows a bit more and created better lines and shapes.

When you shoot towards the sun it can wash out colours and contrast and result in a murky or cloudy image that lacks detail.

Colour Saturations: n/a But it does seem a little washed out, even in the darker version. ie the blacks aren’t all that black, which may be a result of light coming in to the lens from the sun.

Focus / Depth of Field: It all seems to be in focus, allbeit very grainy.

Sharpness: Hard to tell because of the grain.

Score: 5

INTEREST (10 points)
Aesthetics / General appearance: Not a lot within the image that lends itself to any aesthetic. There are some lines and shadows but they are not well defined. The visual area is quite small, and I think the POV is too flat. I would like to have seen more. Perhaps if you had tilted the camera up so we had a greater sense of distance/depth.

As a general rule, people view an image from the top LHS to the bottom RHS. By placing the lines in the sand at the angle you have, they interrupt the natural flow of the eye thru the image. Which feels (unconsciously) confronting. Also because the lines are so short they do not take the viewer any further into the image. We sort-of get stuck on that little rise.

Emotional Content: I don’t feel anything. Its some sand. ok.

Look at this photograph by ANNETTE BLATTMAN. No real elements but she has used the textures in the sand, the shape of the ridge, the curve of the leading edge and the gentle clouds to create a feeling of quiet beauty. Notice how the foreground is very close to the lens which strongly grabs our attention and starts leading us up the ridge. It has a “softness” about it which is enhanced by the gentle sideways lighting and gentle gradations in the shadow areas.

Storytelling ability / Creative communication of a concept or idea: Your photo does not tell me why you took the picture. What is it that moved you to take this photo? If it is meant to be a study of texture/design then perhaps you should have moved in much closer so we could really see the detail in the sand.

Originality: Not very original in execution. But sand-dunes have been done to death, and getting an original style with a sand dune photo is notoriously difficult.

Score: 5

COMPOSITION (10 points)
Framing / Cropping: As mentioned previously I would like to have seen more of the surrounding landscape. Give the viewer a sense of place. This could be in a backyard, a beach, the rubbish tip… Unless it is a study of the abstract, it is often a good idea to ground the subject in its environment.

Simplicity of Design: Very simple. Only one subject. But it is too general. See “Points of Interest” below.

Look at this photograph by CRAIG HENDER. It has no real elements other than sand, much like your photograph. But Craig has used the lines in the sand to draw us through the image as well as giving us enough of the landscape to really show us where it is. He has created fascinating lines and shapes (it looks like a giant sea-shell) by careful positioning of the sun (over his right shoulder). The small inclusion of the sky and the clouds really adds to this image’s intensity. Then when all is done, you suddenly see the little tracks made by the animal wandering through the scene. You automatically follow those tracks wondering if you will find the creature…

Points of Interest: Sand. Lots of sand, with some patterns. I think the main reason that your image does not grab the viewer’s attention is the lack of secondary POI. Landscape photography is also very difficult to get spot-on. But the careful addition and placement of secondary subjects/elements/POI that draw the viewers through the image and create a sense of distance/depth really help maintain interest.

A lizard walking across the scene, leaving its footprints, or a series of rocks or shrubs, some horizon, or the edge of the sand dune are all elements that could have been included and would help maintain the viewer’s interest.

Look at this photograph by HANS KAWITZKI. See how the shrub leads your eye to the lines in the sand which lead you up the dune to the peak and onto the cloud? Hans has also used the leading edge of the sand dune to show us that it is a sand dune. The leading edge also contrasts against the lines in the sand. Hans has included elements that create depth and distance and draw the viewer through the image, thereby maintaining interest.

Rule of Thirds: n/a

Lines & Diagonals: Nice diagonals from top LHS to bottom RHS caused by some shadow neatly splits the image in half diagonally. But it doesn’t lead me anywhere.

Balance / Use of Negative Space: No Primary or Secondary subjects are included so there is no “balance” or counterbalance that is typically associated with negative space. The whole image is effectively negative space.

Score: 4

The lack of contrast and the lack of any subjects/POI make this a very hard image to get right. We need more “action”, a sense of movement which might have been acheived if we could see more of the landscape. Perhaps the leading edge of the sand dune.

I have had a look at your other work. You certainly have the skills and talent to make good photos. I don’t think this is one of your best.

It is important when you see something that moves you or inspires you, to step back and take a breath. Think about what you like about the scene, then think about how best to communicate your feelings to your viewers.
Total Score : 14 / 30

OwlMountain OwlMountain 80 posts

Holy man !! you really don’t get this caliber of professional critique and depth on any other forum or even online photography school !!! Steve, thanks for the image; it has evoked such a great response and BYRON… I tip my my hat to you, for your professional evaluation… the rest of us can learn so much from this…

thank you


BYRON BYRON 12555 posts

Hey OwlMountain,


Useful critique is one of my favourite crusades. It may hurt a bit, but it is the best way to learn what works and what does not.


Mary Campbell Mary Campbell 942 posts

Seems like a good learning vehicle, and excellent advice.

Steven Pearce Steven Pearce 23 posts

Byron… Phew!

That’s a critique and man I loved every bit of it such useful information. These type of shots are a new frontier in my photography and I am finding the beginning stages much the same as when I started shooting landscapes. I have plenty of shots from this afternoon with a horizon clouds distant trees and other POI (and I would like to show the group some) but I was particularly trying to challenge myself with presenting a familiar subject in a very different way.

Your Critique will send me back to the drawing board.. so to speak.

Thanks Mate!