Robert Atkins  

Winter's First Caress by Robert Atkins

November 2020 - Winter's First Caress

About the Image(s)

This image was captured in fall 2019 in the San Juan Mountain region of Colorado. It was shot in 4x5 format on Fuji Velvia100 then drum scanned. What attracted me to this scene was the peacefulness and quiet it imparted. Though right next to the road, it was high in the mountains and shot right after the snow had tapered off, so I was alone and it was very quiet.

I've tried to process it to retain and emphasize that quiet while giving the eye a focus in the center of the frame and a natural progression from the brighter ground elements near the front edge to the dominant aspens and brighter foliage in the back. I've emphasized that by shaping the light and by cooling down the shadows a bit. I have added a little bunch to the yellows and reds, but didn't want to go too far for fear of losing the quiet feel. I'd love everyone's thoughts generally, but specifically thoughts on whether I've pushed things too far with the processing generally. I want to make sure things still look real and believable - harder for me to judge knowing what I've done.

9 comments posted

Dan Mottaz   Dan Mottaz
Hi Robert, Winter's First Caress is a wonderful image. You have an eye for capturing nice, delicate scenes. For this image in particular, I really like how the highlights work behind the lower tree trunks. It has a slight dreamy look without going too far. The brightness in the foreground is a little too strong to my eyes, but the color there feels pleasing. I am a sucker for well shot Aspins, especially when I see the last remaining fall colors. For this downsized version, it seems a but oversharpened, but as I mentioned in another image, it's probably due to downsized, JPEG rendering. I bet this would show well on a large print. Thank you for sharing. I learn from your images and your insightful critiques.   Posted: 11/10/2020 12:44:29
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Dan. I was rushing a bit on this image, which I hadn't processed before, and did for this month's post. I think you are right about the brightness in the front - a little overdone. The whites look a bit blown out in the jpg looking at them now, although the histogram back on the original looks ok. I've never spent much time processing for web as my love is printing, so I should probably spend a little time making sure the jpg and sRGB conversions aren't botching things up. But still too bright in front - that's not the conversion. And I will look at the sharpening too.

Appreciate also your comment on the critiques. I really want to improve so I appreciate frank, open, insightful discussion. I tend toward the same in my comments because I really want to help. I try to be diplomatic, but I recognize that is not always my strength.   Posted: 11/14/2020 10:09:11

Cheryl LaLonde   Cheryl LaLonde
This is a very beautiful soft image. I do find the foreground a bit too bright but only a bit. I think the colors are well done. My tendency would be to try to add a little depth with some mild (very mild) burning between some of the trees in the background. I tend to like to add depth this way and it is a personal preference. It may not work well on this image because it is more of a high key image and you would have to use a very light hand. I quite like this image as is and it may not need it. This is the kind of image I would like to be able to capture myself. Very well done!   Posted: 11/11/2020 16:38:50
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Cheryl. I agree the front is a bit too bright, and I will not go as far there in the next version. I will also have to try your technique of burning between the trees to add depth - I now understand what you meant when you brought that up with respect to last month's image. I had not heard of that technique before, so thank you for the suggestion!   Posted: 11/14/2020 10:13:34

Gerard Blair   Gerard Blair
Robert - I think this is sort of magical. My favourite tree is the left foreground one with its curves and dark knots accentuated by snow - but the front floor is perfect particularly with the slight darkness on the right which seems to me to lead the eye into the wood.
Really hard to improve ... and I have tried. My goal would be to reduce the intensity/brightness of the yellow in the back, center of the trees. I think it is less subtle than the other elements.   Posted: 11/13/2020 08:54:57
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Gerard. You hit on one of the things in this image that I haven't been able to decide - how much pop to give the dominant yellow aspens. I have a problem in that I tend to want to push the pop pretty far. In this image in particular, however, a subtle touch is needed, since it is a softer, quieter image than others. I literally went back and forth. I would push the pop further, then come back a bit later, look again, decide it was too much and back off. Then I'd come back later and decide it needed more to pull the eye more dominantly to a center of interest, and add more back in. This continued through a few iterations. The light shaping (dodging and burning) which also helps with guiding the eye, went through a similar back and forth. Where I ended up is at the end of that cycle with more pop and more "brightness", hence your comments as well as Cheryl's and Dan's. So, I think the consensus is I've gone a bit too far. I will back off with the yellows and brights in front on the next iteration. Thank you for helping with this decision.   Posted: 11/14/2020 10:28:59

Emily Kawasaki   Emily Kawasaki
Wow, this is a beautiful image and amazing composition. I like crispness of the trees, grass and snow. I like how the yello and orange are contrasted by the white snow and the light colored tree. I haven't tried the dodge and burn technique, so it's helpful to see how you have worked with it in your images. Great shot!   Posted: 11/19/2020 10:48:59

Dale Yates   Dale Yates
Excellent image Robert! You have definitely achieved your goal of instilling a quietness effect. I like the excellent DOF and the overall sharpness. The yellow trees in the background provide depth to the image and was well handled. I agree with the others that the foreground appears a little too bright. I also think it would be interesting to see a little of the burning between trees as Cheryl suggested. Again, excellent image, very well done!   Posted: 11/20/2020 06:51:31

Wanda Krack   Wanda Krack
(Group 28)
A beautiful image and it gives the feeling of quietness for sure.   Posted: 11/23/2020 08:11:20


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