Oliver Morton  

The Garden Reader by Oliver Morton

April 2021 - The Garden Reader

April 2021 - Oliver Morton


About the Image(s)

This image was made 11 years ago in Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC. I was drawn to the serenity of the woman reading. She was enjoying the fresh air and the singing birds as she read her book.

Unfortunately, my camera was accidentally set to record jpg format instead of raw images. Nonetheless, I was able to use Photoshop and Camera Raw to convert the photograph to monochrome and make numerous lighting adjustments.

Data: Canon 5D Mark II with 28-135mm lens @ 120mm; f/5.6; 1/200 sec; ISO 400.

17 comments posted

LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher

This image caught my eye immediately upon viewing. This scene is very welcoming, calm, and quiet, something I need more of in my day. The woman is placed well on the golden ratio grid, and the light illuminates her well. Your handling of the elements around the young lady is well done. She still stands out with the busy trees because of the quality of light and its placement. There are no distractions, just a very inviting place to sit and read.

If I were to suggest any correction, I would say to recrop to allow more space above the gate's top; it seems a little tight.

Well done, my friend!

Are you planning to go to PSA Conference? I see the notice went out.

Best regards,

LuAnn   Posted: 04/03/2021 13:08:44
Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Thank you, LuAnn. I always appreciate your comments since they contain both detail and excellent constructive input. I agree with increasing the space above the top of the gates a bit. This would also place the woman slightly lower in the image which I think would be beneficial.

You mention the golden ratio. I'm currently taking the Image Evaluation course (which I believe you teach). Much of the course is quite useful. However, I struggle with the emphasis on determining which "rules" and techniques apply to the images I submit for each lesson. I understand that it's good to know the terminology used by photographers. However, I'm not sure how this emphasis will help with my photography or competition judging. Do you have any thoughts about this?

Not sure about the PSA Conference. I'll have to see how the pandemic is doing.

Take care and thank you for your input!
  Posted: 04/10/2021 08:51:06
LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
I am glad to hear you are taking the Image Evaluation course, Oliver. It sounds like you are working on lesson three, Understanding Composition - rules and techniques.

To answer your question, I can only speak from my own experience as a photographer, having taken the course myself. Learning there were more rules to consider in every image seemed daunting. But I started to realize something. There was more to photography than the rule of thirds, and I was on a journey that would take me to the next level in my photography, a place I wanted to go. So, I kept an open mind and gave it a chance.

The compositional rules you are learning about are helpful to you as a photographer and judge. They teach us about the placement of objects and elements that create images with impact, meaning the photograph will be successful in competition. These rules help us compose photos that appeal to the viewer/judge or even control what the viewer sees. Your image of the girl behind the gate is one example.

The more knowledgeable we are of our craft as photographers, the more helpful we can be to our colleagues when judging their work in competition. These composition rules are conventions developed as part of art theory, and the Dutch masters used many. This course is just a stepping stone to learning more about photography.

I hope this helps, Oliver. It took time for me to figure these elements out, but the time I invested in learning them was well worth my effort. I would be happy to help you with an image if you want a second opinion or clarification on a new rule.

Best regards,

  Posted: 04/10/2021 13:36:40
Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Thank you, LuAnn. I welcome and appreciate your advice... and respect your opinion. I don't typically think of "the rules" when photographing, but it might be useful to do so. Just because I consider them, certainly doesn't mean that I would be compelled to follow them.

Frankly, I don't enter competitions anymore, though I may change that in the future. I've found that a judge's opinion/input is sometimes useful, but definitely not always. I find it much more helpful to get the thoughts and suggestions of fellow photographers in our study group (and group 5 which I'm also a member of). It's refreshing not to have awards given since I think the goal (at least MY goal) is to improve my photography instead of being better than others. Smiles...

So, I'll continue with the Image Evaluation course.

Thanks again!

  Posted: 04/11/2021 18:14:35
Bunny Laden   Bunny Laden
I took the Image Evaluation course too, which I found helpful. But I spent much more of my life studying music composition. In art, I learned that choice makes all the difference. Rules exit only because scholars examined art and found that, in most cases, rule of thirds, or in music, dominant to tonic, worked well. Great artists somehow know when to deviate from the norm. The only way one knows how to deviate is to understand all the options. Then you can make a conscious artistic choice. What is that saying? If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail? I think it is up to us to seek out what the options are and then make choices. I think it's the choices an artist makes that defines their style. This would be a great topic for our discussion board!   Posted: 04/11/2021 23:41:00
Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Thank you, Bunny. I suspect that your art background gave you a strong foundation for mastering photography. One of the skills (or inherent talents?) that I am trying to build, is pre-imagining my final image when taking a photograph. For me, this is quite challenging. I think part of the reason for that is the power of Photoshop/Camera Raw. Most of my images change significantly once I begin "playing with them".

BTW, I like your statement, "The only way one knows how to deviate is to understand all the options. Then you can make a conscious artistic choice." It makes sense... Thank you.

  Posted: 04/12/2021 08:17:47

Emil Davidzuk   Emil Davidzuk

You have this one edited to perfection. My eye goes right to the subject and I understand immediately the story being told. I also like the lighting of the decorative structures just inside the gate, just enough to give you foreground interest.


Emil   Posted: 04/06/2021 12:37:37
Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Thank you, Emil! I spent a fair amount of time editing this photograph. Probably one of the techniques that has helped me most with post-processing is a simple one... After I've "finished", I let it sit for a day or two and then come back and look at it again. Inevitably I find details that need some additional work.   Posted: 04/10/2021 08:55:15
Emil Davidzuk   Emil Davidzuk

A good practice

I wait to edit photos that that I have just taken to break the emotional tie, as well as waiting to finish editing. You see things differently after time has passed. I will also print a copy as well to see how it looks. All in the name of getting a good image.

Emil   Posted: 04/10/2021 10:30:17

Leah Konicki   Leah Konicki
I like the way you have edited this photo to bring the emphasis on the figure and deemphasize the other elements. Not an original comment, I see, from the thread, but I concur it makes the photo. I like your post-processing rule - I need to "wait a day" more often.
I'm not a post-processing guru - for me the joy is in being behind the camera, not the computer - but I wonder, and I believe at the same time, that it would be possible to edit the color version to create a similar effect. Nonetheless, it is very effective in black and white. More of a wonder than anything.   Posted: 04/10/2021 09:30:35
Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Thank you, Leah. My primary photographic goal is to create images that appeal to me. Having others like my work is certainly a huge bonus when/if that happens. So, for me the whole workflow is important... from initially seeing a potential image, to snapping the shutter and then doing post-processing. And, I've used Photoshop for so many years that the learning curve is a bit less steep now.

When I have time I will attempt to edit the color version of the image to see if it can be as effective as the b&W one.

  Posted: 04/12/2021 08:25:52
Leah Konicki   Leah Konicki
I'd be curious to see it if/when you do!   Posted: 04/13/2021 17:37:14
Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
For you...

  Posted: 04/13/2021 18:37:23
Comment Image

Bunny Laden   Bunny Laden
Hi Oliver,

Converting this image to monochrome was a great choice. It brings my eye right to reader, whereas the leaf and flower colors in the original distracted my eye. Your cropping and straightening choices further strengthen this image. I really enjoy the peacefulness of this image. Bravo!
  Posted: 04/11/2021 23:41:27
Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Thank you, Bunny. I also found the colors a bit distracting. However, in response to Leah, I tried to recreate the peaceful feeling of the image in color (see above), but I don't think it quite matches the appeal of the monochrome photograph.   Posted: 04/22/2021 13:48:22

Bob Legg   Bob Legg
Oliver, I like your editing on this image. The gate and lighting on the reader lead my eye in to the subject. I agree that the tops of the gate posts look better not cropped. I am not distracted by the background and might of slightly increased the tonality in the background leaves. I appreciate the editing on the reader, bench, stones and fence. All of your editing takes a static image and makes it pop. Well done.   Posted: 04/17/2021 17:05:21

Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Bob, I completely agree that the image is improved by leaving a bit of room above the gate posts. I played with the lighting quite a bit. My goal was to draw the viewer's eyes to the woman without making it seem too "artificial". Thank you for your input/comments!
  Posted: 04/22/2021 13:51:38


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