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Senior Critic's review on - In the rain with strong wind - by Keren Wang

Published by Yvette Depaepe in collaboration with Mike Kreiten, Head of the Senior Critics

1x has a unique feature the founders are very proud of: the photo critique.
Members can submit pictures to a team of knowledgeable senior critics. Their feedback and different suggestions are useful, interesting and enriching even for the best of us.

Critique on the photo 'In the rain with strong wind' by Keren Wang.


Camera 5D3  .  Canon 70-200mm  .  200mm  .  5sec  .  ISO100
BEFORE submission to the critique

Thanks SC Mike for examining my profile and using my previous work to help me understand how to better utilize ICM technique in Critique area. His diligence made me think that I should reprocess some of my past pictures for the better.
One of the pictures Mike brought up is this picture

He said I used the technique right and it showed the intensity. When I looked at it again, I think even though the bright tone matches the view I saw at the time but it does not match the feeling I wanted to present people from this picture. So I toned it down and made it darker. Please let me know you like it better now and any changes still needed? I appreciate all efforts from SCs, you guys are great and I learned a lot from you ;-)


Senior critic Calin Hanchevici
It is nice to see another one of your images here. I love the post-processing, there is a 3d feel making your image looking like an impressionist knife painting. The tones are well balanced, and the long exposure softened everything.

For me the most interesting part are the upper half, I keep exploring the branches and the plants/leafs(?) hanging. I find the bottom part a bit difficult, the mystery is gone, and what remains is not telling much. Close the bottom of each tree there's a slightly brighter area of the bark giving the impression the water is receding, was this added in post-processing?

I think you can crop slightly from the empty area at the bottom, leaving maybe 10% (bringing the frame close to the lowest tree), you'll get a more panoramic image, (7x4), it will make, at least for me, a stronger image.

Karen, this is a beautiful image, and these are just personal opinions. I hope they will be of some use to you. Thank you again for the opportunity.

Karen Wang 
Thanks so much for examining my work and sharing your thoughts in the process with me. It helped me understand how it was perceived by advanced viewers. :-) I did not add anything to the bottom of the trees, they were from the shake of the camera. I will try your crop approach and also cut the tree on the far left since it is not align with other trees. I will submit this version. However, I also agree with Andreas that the water at the bottom has its purpose, but it is definitely a different approach than what you described. I will submit that approach as well. Just for the fun of it :-D

Senior critic Andreas Agazzi 
I agree with Calin, this is wonderful work. The comparison with your other processed work gives me a clear verdict, I definitely prefer this latest version here. It is much more powerful, the vivid texture and stronger contrast create this impressionistic look as Calin also already mentioned.

Difficult to give you any advice as in my opinion, as no changes are required. I understand that Calin suggested a crop from the bottom. This is a valid point, I personally would not do it. The water stands for this environment, a beautiful swamp and it becomes therefore a major element also from a documental point of view. But there is more. Mood is stronger and also not to underestimate, it emphasizes the depth very effectively.

The only change I could think of is maybe for the water a reduction of sharpness and the adding of a bit more contrast. Compared to the trees and leafs, the water could be receiving some more of the same kind of texture. But this is a minor remark and as said, not even necessary to apply.

Try to clean up the lower left corner. There are some darker elements above the water, they distract in my opinion. A slight darkening or vignetting over the top left corner would probably also help for an adjustment of the balance.

Awesome work Keren. This place jumps again and again on my 'to visit' list, one day I maybe make it :-) Thanks again and best regards!

Karen Wang 
Thanks you so much for letting me know your opinions! I agree with you more on the approach to keep the water, but I will try Calin's approach as a different version just for the fun of it. Thanks for your suggestions on the flaws of the picture, I will fix them and post again. I am sure a few years later when I look at this piece it will give me other ways to do it. This is one of the best pieces I believe in my short photography life and worth reprocessing again and again. When you decide to come to Caddo Lake, please let me know, I can be your personal tour guide. I think it will be a fun journey for both of us :-D The best time to come I believe is end of November, early December when leaves fall half way and color still remains.


Senior Critic Mike Kreiten 
As you know, I enjoyed exploring your portfolio and this one is the photograph I fell for. Thank you for the occasion to comment on it, and maybe even find ways to make this even stronger. I could not resist and played with it.

You used a pastel-like intensity of colors. A very good approach, but I felt sorry for the mix of autumn reds and brown-ish green. So I opened it in RAW, did a 20% warmer light and increased vibrance by 60% in a correction layer. I also added a strong vignette (darker) to get more focus on the middle. To have a main subject and the others are pleasant surrounding.

I liked that approach at least as much as yours, it would be fabulous if you tried and shared your opinion...


Senior critic Johanes Januar (jjanuar)
Your photo works are quite interesting for me too and this image has a very nice and interesting painterly colour.  It also caught the attention of my colleagues Calin, Andreas and Mike.  They provided very good input.

I also want to share something with you, but it's just a personal feeling!

In every photo work, the "composition" is a very important part.

This photo is displayed in a 'free landscape' format more than the 2x3 format. If I observe it well, the left side is lesser interesting than the row of trees on the right side.

Therefore, I like to make a suggestion to you.  What if you just show the right side of the image by using a square format?  But be  careful with the reddish tree leaves, don't cut them. 

This is all I want to say ;-)

Keren Wang  
Thank you for being so kind to me from day 1 when I started posting images on 1x. I appreciate your comments and suggestions.  I will try it, but I am not sure I will eventually fall for it with this image. But I do agree with you that the tree on the far left is not in the same rhythm as other trees. I will post the edited version to Critique as well for you to view :-)


AFTER submission to the critique 2x3 version

AFTER submission to the critique 1x1 version – PUBLISHED

Thanks SC Mike for inspiring me to bring this one of my proud creation back to re-process for the better. Thanks SC Calin, Andreas, Mike and Johanes for taking your time to examine my work and provide great suggestions! 

I incorporated your suggestions and my own thoughts and made this version that I like.

The following are the changes:
1) Cropped out the bottom water and left side tree and branches.
2) Brought down exposure further more and added vignette to show the "intensity" mood even more.
3) Cleaned up bottom left corner distractions.
4) Added a little bit of saturation overall.
5) Made the brownish dark tree branches lighter.
6) Brushed through the top left and right red branches to make them less saturated so the bottom left branch are more obvious and be the focal point.
7) Changed the whole picture white balance to be cooler than before.
I also created both 2x3 and 1x1 versions for you all to view. Please let me know what you think of the overall result. I appreciate all your time and effort to help me!


Critique is also open to all members, and we learn together here. If you see an image you'd like to comment on, your words would be welcome.


Awesome to see Johanes made your day. That was also the case for me once, the reason I became senior critic at the same time. Well, this is a very nice example of a very pleasant exchange in critique. Thank you Yvette for putting it together, and thank you Keren for sharing your work in our forum, keeping all versions in your portfolio and cooperating getting this example into the magazine!
Strong work! Congratulations!
Fine read and gorgeous advice of the Senior Critic team. Thanks Keren for posting the images before and after. So great to see the changes you did with as a result the publication of your beautiful photo. Congratulations! Cheers, Yvette
Yvette, thanks so much for sharing the story to all! So fellow photographers can all see how helpful SCs are, how great this Critique feature can help us learn. Your effort will encourage more photographers to learn from it. :-) Cheers, Keren